by: PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Congressman Kurt Schrader assures a room crowded with retirees at Clackamas Town Center Village they won't see cuts to their Social Security checks.Veterans and seniors will not be affected by last week’s federal sequester or other across-the-board cuts avoiding Social Security and Medicare, Congressman Kurt Schrader assured a room crowded with retirees at Clackamas Town Center Village.

“We’re pretty mindful of the Greatest Generation, who gave a lot, and who my generation frankly isn’t living up to,” the local “No Labels” Democrat noted as part of a frank discussion frequently attracting questions from seniors. It was the sophomore politician’s first visit to the facility, which since redistricting and his 2012 re-election, is part of a region between Milwaukie and Happy Valley that Schrader has newly represented at the federal level.

Schrader wanted to know whether the retirees would be willing to give up their Social Security cost-of-living increases so they don’t receive 25 percent cuts in benefits. Schrader said that health care and Social Security are threatening to eat up the entire federal budget in 20 years.

“We’ve got to do something to be responsible,” he said.

Schrader noted that he filled out his own tax forms 35 years ago when he first started his Oregon City veterinary practice, but he’s been “afraid to” file himself for the past 30 years so that he can take advantage of tax loopholes. He said that he’d be willing give up some of his own tax loopholes and receive a lower overall tax rate so that he could fill out his own tax forms again.

Another solution he suggested at the Feb. 22 meeting would raise the retirement age, exempting people who are engaged in “hard labor” professions. Budget reductions to education will hit an area that has already been cut to the bone, he argued.

“This sequester that’s going to reduce our deficit isn’t actually going to do hardly anything in terms of overall spending,” Schrader said, noting that most of the spending will hit areas that are already at historic lows. “We’re not dealing with the big issues in terms of tax reforms and health care reform.”

Schrader also noted the need for immigration reform to address fairness for farmers and track visas, drawing from his own experience running a strawberry farm and not being able to hire from the local workforce.

“I tried to recruit from the local employment office, and it was a frickin’ joke,” he said.

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