Conversation with U.S. Representative Peter Welch

VERMONT CYNIC: I hope you’re enjoying your time off [with Congress being out of session].PETER WELCH: What a lot of people don’t understand about this job is that even when we have a recess, we still have a large portion of work to do. It’s not as though I can go out and play Frisbee.VC: How do you feel about both the Democratic majority in Congress and Barack Obama winning the presidency?PW: Well I think that the election was a stunning statement of the kind of change the American people want in this country. This sort of emphatic victory shows just how tired the American people are with the past eight years and how they hope to change it with an Obama administration. Young people really led the way with their support of Obama – this generation is really showing strong leadership.VC: Did you hear about the crowds of college students gathering in Burlington following the news?PW: Yes, I heard all about it and wish I could have been there to see it! The kind of enthusiasm exhibited there and around the country following this election reminded me a lot of the 1960 election of President Kennedy.VC: How does Congress plan on working with President-elect Obama in this new environment?PW: Well, we will work with President-Elect Obama to start working on a comprehensive energy policy, while trying to strengthen the middle class and end the war in Iraq.VC: How do you think the lack of a Republican challenger affected your election?PW: Well there was a huge difference from when I ran two years ago when the RNC put in $2 million to try and beat me. It helped me focus on my Congressional responsibilities and representing my district.VC: How do you plan to tackle the rising cost of college tuition?PW: I was focused on having schools with large endowments look at putting more money into their operating costs, so as to allow for lower tuition rates. We also need to fight inflation’s effect on tuition prices: as inflation goes up, so too does the cost of education. There needs to be something done at both the college leadership level and the policy arena.