Deficit spending was a hot topic for U.S. Representative Greg Walden when he stopped by for an exclusive interview with the Hermiston Herald last Thursday.

"What happens federally affects what occurs locally," Walden said. "I'm very concerned about some of these new mandates and costs coming out of the federal government."

Walden is the house representative for the 2nd district of Oregon and the only Republican to represent the state at a national level.

"The only thing lonelier than being the only Republican is being a Duck and representing Eastern Oregon," said Walden, who graduated from the University of Oregon in 1981.

In spite of his green and yellow persuasion, Walden tackled issues that score high for Beavers and Ducks.

"This is the first year in modern history that the House has not voted on a budget," said Walden. "Failure to address one of the most looming problems we face is an abdication of leadership."

Recently Walden and two other lawmakers requested an investigation of the dispersement of funds from the Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

The results of the investigation were that as many as 9 percent of recipients that benefit from the program were fraudulently receiving funds. According to Walden, up to $116 million was disbursed to people who were either ineligible or who were signing up for the program using the names of prisoners and the deceased.

"You have to control the little stuff before you can control the big stuff. June 30 was the biggest one-day deficit in United States history," he said in reference to the $166 billion dollars tacked onto the end of the national deficit that day.

"The point is we need to get back to the basics that government needs to provide and we need to provide them efficiently, affordably and effectively."

After his interview with the Hermiston Herald, Walden spent the rest of the morning visiting with community leaders at the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce. Topics such as agriculture, water management and energy were high on their list of topics for discussion.

Walden also toured Shearers Foods, NORPAC Hermiston Foods and Pioneer HiBred to gain a better understanding of how those businesses impact the local economy.

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