After Pledging Allegiance to the Flag, Congressman Joe Walsh, Congressman Don Manzullo, Senator Mark Kirk and Introducer Aaron Shepley, Mayor of Crystal Lake, prepare for the next part of the Town Hall Meeting.
Previously, McHenry County Blog has reported on the opening remarks of U.S. Senator Mark Kirk and Congressmen Don Manzullo and Joe Walsh. Next came Part 2 in which American Enterprise Resident Scholar Andrew Biggs told how other countries had dug out from under a huge debt, plus the first audience questions and answers from the Members of Congress. In Part 3, we continue in the question and answer section.
John Collins of Algonquin asked about the Senate Rules changes being proposed which would allow 51 votes to pass a bill. Now filibuster rules require 60 votes to allow consideration of legislation.
“I think that’s tremendously unfortunate,” Kirk said. ‘The genius of the Senate is to protect minority rights.”
Kirk went on the to point out that such a Rules change could backfire if Republicans took control of the Senate.
A Crystal Laker who started voting in 1952 said, “The Republicans have been disappointing me since then, except for 1964.”
He asked what the difference between Social Security and a Ponzi scheme.
His answer was “A Ponzi scheme is voluntary,” which brought a laugh from the audience.
A man familiar with agriculture issues argued for Congress to ban horse slaughter and a fair trade agreement with South Korea. He pointed out that Korea has a 53% tariff, while the US charges 12-14%.
Kirk argues for “free trade with Columbia in order to restate massive corn sales to Columbia,” as well as for Panama, which used the dollar as its currency.
Free trade with Korea would help beef producers.
I think it was Manzullo who pointed out that Korea has restrictions on the importation of American automobiles.
A woman from Harvard pointed out that while employers don’t ask for age on their applications, they do ask for date of high school graduation. She suggested that if Congress were going to allow children up to age 26 to be on a parents’ health insurance plan that perhaps they could allow parents to be on their children’s plans.
“Maybe you’d want to throw in that so they’d be able to cover us.”
The use she called “silver hairs.”
Jack Strickfaden from Fox River Grove wanted to know when Congress would shut down their pension and health insurance programs.
Manzullo replied that had been done as a part of the Contract with American in the mid-1990′s.
Congress has been in Social Security since 1980, he added, and have the same pension program as all Federal employees.
With regard to health insurance, he told the audience he and his family have a Blue Cross/Blue Shield policy that cost $500 a month. When his wife had cancer it cost $12,000 in out of pocket expense.
Walsh, who promised while he was campaigning a year ago not to participate in either the Congressional pension or health insurance program, explained, “We didn’t want to burden the United States taxpayers.
There was a question about what one would do to save the Federal government money and Walsh’s answer was to abolish Obamacare and privatize Freddi Mac and Fannie Mae.
Kirk mention ending the sugar subsidy, the Joint Forces Command and the “fifty CATO Institute’s corporate welfare plans.”
A retired Human Resources Vice President form Crtystal Lake said there were “tremendous abuses by health providers.”
I missed his first suggestion, but allowing people to buy policies across state lines and eliminating the lifetime limit on policies were his other ideas.
Manzullo reported that Republicans had had a plan on the table for association health plans and tort reform.
A Rockford neurosurgeon pays $550,000 a year for his medical malpractice insurance.
“We’ve been out there, but the press hasn’t been out there because it wasn’t (fancy),” Manzullo said.
He pointed out that Republicans in the House of Representative had done what they said they were going to do, regardless of the dim prospects of the Senate agreeing.
He added that 70% of doctors believe Obamacare will make health care worse and that 26 states are suing to void it.
Horticulturalist Janness Abraham, from Crystal Lake, asked about the Food Safety Act. She relayed concern from a blueberry grower.
“He is really afraid of the Federal government’s coming in and restricting him. Can you stop the funding?”
“I think we needed the Food Safety bill,” Kirk replied about the legislation that was passed in the lame duck session, shortly after Kirk replaced appointee Roland Burris.
“There has to be minimum standards.”
He pointed back to the beef export bans that were “devastating to our economy.”
Seneca Township’s Dale Berry stood to “re-enforce repeal of Obamacare (as) a good idea.”
He criticized the “command and control approach to the economy which results in a Ponzi scheme approach to government.”
“I am a capitalist and I’m for capitalism,” Kirk stated strongly.
“My goal is when I leave the Senate you will have more liberty and more income than when (I entered it).”
He asserted that capitalism requires
- a range of choices and
- knowledge of choices
not to mention anti-trust enforcement. Using that argument he supports the buying of health insurance policies across state lines.
Don Lativia pointed out that “not a word had been said abut people who are out of work, unemployed and people who don’t have a lot of money.”
“If one doesn’t have any money, what is one going to do?” he asked.
Kirk responded, “The greatest way to help people get a job is to expand the economy of the United States.”
He explained that the first to suffer when entering a recession were “young minority kids.”
Likewise, he continued, in a dynamic economy they are the first to benefit.
Walsh pointed the finger of blame broadly for turning a safety net of 30 years ago into an entitlement for the middle class.
Kirk asked if the stimulus had worked and got a general audience response of “No.”
Actually it was pretty loud.
A woman thanked the three for continuing to hold Town Meetings and, then, asked that “mental health (not) get lost in all of this.”
Manzullo noted that health insurance benefits no longer discriminated against those with “mental health maladies.”
Lakewood’s Mike Hanson wanted to know, “Why can’t I understand what I’m supposed to papy (in taxes)?
“Why can’t I understand what I’m supposed to pay (without consulting an accountant and a tax lawyer)?”
Walsh’s answer was an 11% flat tax.
Kirk said, “There are indications we are going to start a debate on tax reform. He would keep only the deductions for home mortgages and charity.
He decried the “hidden tax of tax preparation.”
“I feel American is broken. I’m worried about my grandchildren, my children and my country,” Diane Hanson said.
“Don’t lose your passion,” Walsh urged.
Kirk tried to being historical perspective into the discussion by asking people to think of how in 1932 one-fourth of the nation was unemployed and Germans and Japanese were mobilizing troops.
He asked people to compare that with 1952 when America was victorious and the economy was expanding.
“The less on of history is not that we are exempt from a test. So far, each generation has met and (conquered) that test.”
Charlie Eldredge express concern about infrastructure spending. traditionally a Republican issue going back to Abraham Lincoln.
He noted that the cross continental railroad construction was a private-public partnership.
Kirk suggested that private-public partnerships are needed now.
“Instead of that stupid stimulus we should have pumped $300 million into (infrastructure),” Manzullo said.
After Kirk pointed out this was his 6th Town Hall Meeting (the second in Crystal Lake), the meeting ended.
The three Congressmen answered one-on-one questions for about another half hour.