Reed discusses national politics at Dems’ series

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., spoke to a half-full Salomon 101, addressing and fielding student questions about the economy and international strife Monday afternoon.

Reed, the senior senator from Rhode Island, was the second speaker in the Brown Democrats’ “Better Know Your District” series. The Dems hope the series will help Brown students learn more about local and state districts and their representatives, according to an e-mail Brown Democrats President Harrison Kreisberg ’10 sent to the group’s mailing list.

First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996, Reed, who is up for reelection this year, is a member of the Senate’s Armed Services; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; and Appropriations committees.

In his 20-minute speech, Reed addressed the nation’s diminished “economic, aspirational and military powers” undercutting its standing in the international community. He lauded Sen. Barack Obama as the candidate to vote for this November. “Senator Obama will help our standing in the world,” he said.

Reed said he supported Obama’s strategy of diplomacy in the Middle East. “Our next president will have to send an envoy to Palestine to help broker stability,” he said.

Reed also said multiple deployments have placed high strains on the military, citing a spike in military suicides.

A member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Reed also spoke about the housing debacle and Wall Street. He said the “lax regulatory environment” has perpetuated the economic downturn.

“America gives $470 billion to oil-producing nations in the Middle East without recognizing the environmental consequences,” Reed said, calling for changes to country’s energy policy.

Drew Harris ’11 told The Herald that he was glad to hear Reed speak on campus. “His presence was particularly relevant with the financial situation,” he said.

Talia Kagan ’12 said she enjoyed the event but wished more students had attended.

“In general this is a great way to make political figures more accessible to the greater student body,” she said. “The main demographic seems to be just Brown democrats, which makes sense,” given that the speech could have been better publicized, she said.

“You’d think because he’s a senator more people would have come,” Kagan added.

Kreisberg said he was pleased with the turnout for an event during lunch.

Though Reed recognized the current economic conditions, he said he remained hopeful for the future. “The good old boom days have passed for now, but they’ll be back,” he said.

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