Students got a lesson from an expert Friday when U.S. Rep. Steve Israel went to Whitman High School to discuss politics and world affairs.
The Huntington Democrat told members of an advanced-placement government class that the ultimate role of government was to determine "who gets what when."
In addition to listing some of the accomplishments of the last congressional term, such as repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy barring openly gays and lesbians from service in the military, ratification of an arms control treaty and extension of tax cuts, Israel talked extensively about the crisis in Egypt and the deficit.
Noting that he had met with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, he said that the current upheaval in Egypt could produce two radically different results: a government that develops into a true democracy with accountability to its citzens or one that takes a radical anti-American turn. He made no prediction as to which way Egypt would go.
He also drew a line between his views and those of Republicans on the deficit and general spending, saying that both parties wanted to reduce the deficit but that he believed subsidies to oil companies and big agribusinesses. His main interest, he said, was in supporting any idea that strengthened the middle class, reduced debt and created jobs.
Of particular importance, Israel said, was preparing students to compete in the global economy, saying he ranked supporting education second only to national security.
He took questions from the students ranging from Egypt to limits on lawsuits against doctors to health care. And he took a poke at former president George Bush, describing him as someone who he "fundamentally diasgreedwith but found him to be a nice guy" but who could discuss foreign affairs "for about 30 seconds."