Congressman Adam Kinzinger and challenger Dani Brzozowski may meet just once to talk about topics important to voters – they had just Saturday’s debate scheduled.
But in the 60 minutes during the debate broadcast on WCMY radio, they answered questions about the future of Social Security, a future stimulus package during the coronavirus, the federal response to COVID-19, the future of the Affordable Care Act, law enforcement reform, the Equal Rights Amendment and the federal legalization of marijuana, among other items.
They are vying for the 16th District seat in the U.S. House.
Kinzinger, R-Channahon, who has been in Congress for 10 years, kept a theme of bringing civility and bipartisanship back to politics.
Brzozowski, a La Salle Democrat, challenged Kinzinger on a number of bills he’s voted for, or against.
At one point during Saturday’s debate, Brzozowski, after noting the district’s high unemployment rate, asked Kinzinger about Congress’ failure to pass an infrastructure bill, “You say it’s important to you, but why haven’t you passed one?”
“I’ve talked about infrastructure a lot,” Kinzinger said. “The problem is we live in a time where everybody is scared to death to do anything bipartisan, especially with something big like infrastructure. In fact, when the Democrats had total control of everything they didn’t move it either, right? Neither side, both sides have failed at this.”
Kinzinger said he believes both sides will get something done after the presidential election, whoever is elected.
He said the nation had a record good economy before the pandemic and said it’s unfair to throw today’s unemployment rate out as a failure because the pandemic plays a huge role in it. He also criticized the state’s government for leading to the high unemployment rate in the district, calling out the state’s corruption and high taxes.
“Illinois’ and 16th District’s unemployment rate, may not just be federal government’s fault, it may be the state of Illinois has done something wrong,” Kinzinger said.
Brzozowski then challenged Kinzinger about the trade war with China, saying he failed farmers.
“People in this district are struggling and suffering,” she said. “You’ve supported tax cuts for the wealthy, tax breaks for corporations.”
Kinzinger said the most patriotic people are farmers who come up to him, and are hurting from the trade war, but they know something has to be done with China.
Kinzinger, a member of the China task force, said the U.S. can’t sit pat while China threatens to cut off critical items, such as personal protective equipment. He said now is a good opportunity to create supply chains to protect the U.S. from threats faced by China.
On Social Security
Brzozowski acknowledged funding for Social Security will run out sooner than later, but she said a simple fix would be to lift the cap on earnings subject to the payroll tax. The first $137,000 of earnings are taxed for Social Security. She said Social Security is not a windfall for senior citizens and it provides the most basic needs, making it important to preserve.
Kinzinger also agreed Social Security will go bankrupt in 10 to 15 years, but he said Congress should look at delaying benefits to individuals for a couple of years who may be decades away from collecting them.
“I’m 42 years old, if you tell me I have to delay that a little bit to make sure my parents can keep their Social Security check coming in, I’m willing to do that so people in and nearing retirement there should be no changes,” Kinzinger said.
He said those decades away from collecting the benefit can plan their retirement if they know in advance the benefit will come later. He also noted people in his generation and younger generations are expected to live longer on average. He said the answer is not raising taxes.
“You heard it here,” Brzozowski replied. “He’s openly admitting he plans to delay Social Security for people like himself and people like me.”
Brzozowski said she found Kinzinger’s idea to be problematic and questions why he’s resistant to tax the wealthiest groups of people.
“An adult discussion about Social Security is what I called for and as you can see the reaction is a political thing, ‘he wants to take your Social Security away,’ it’s fear mongering,” Kinzinger said. “Nobody ever said that. But what I am saying is there’s going to have to be changes and we have to have a grown up discussion about it and too many people run away from that conversation because they think cheap political attacks are going to be used against them.”
Kinzinger said taxing the wealthy more, speaking to Illinois’ call for a graduated income tax, may lead them to move elsewhere.
On another stimulus package
Kinzinger believes another stimulus package will be passed. He said he wanted to see the Federal Paycheck Protection program extended. He also wants to look at state and local governments where they have taken a hit related to the pandemic. He also said he’d like to explore raising the federal gasoline tax at the pumps to put toward federal infrastructure spending.
Brzozowski criticized Kinzinger for not voting in favor of the $3 trillion coronavirus relief package floated by Democrats this summer, saying it would have spent on infrastructure and created millions of jobs.
Kinzinger said the $3 trillion coronavirus bill Democrats floated this summer was “election politics.” He said it was a bill used to help Democrats running in Congressional races say to incumbents they didn’t vote for it, so they are against different items within the bill.
Brzozowski said she would like to see a future spending bill extend payroll protection, bring more direct relief for small businesses, for the education system, families and give gratitude to essential workers.
Kinzinger called for more transparency for states, such as Illinois, on their coronavirus relief spending.
Federal response to COVID-19
Brzozowski said federal response has been poor. She credited Congress for acting quickly with its first stimulus, but said more needs to be done to help an unemployment rate that is 50% higher than the national average within the 16th District. She said voting against the latest stimulus package prevented workers from getting hazard pay.
She quoted Kinzinger saying: “He said ‘The best hazard pay you’re going to get is a good-paying job.’ I’ll tell you what people in this district don’t have good paying jobs, many working families have people working two or three jobs, you want people to have good paying jobs, create some.”
Kinzinger was critical of Brzozowski speaking out against the expansion of Illinois Cement, a company he said would create 150 high-paying jobs. She answered she believed the company was taking advantage of the community to create those jobs and would have put more than 150 people within the district at harm.
As far as the federal response to COVID-19, Kinzinger said there were areas the nation could do better, but he credited President Donald Trump with banning all flights from China. He said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the move racist, but it has paid off. He said the U.S. needs to continue to make itself independent from China.
On health care
Kinzinger said he initially supported repealing it, but now he wants to make the system better. He said there needs to be portability with insurance, so that if you leave a job, you take it with you. He was critical of the “skyrocketing costs of premiums” through the Affordable Care Act. He said he prefers aspects of health care to be left to the free market where he said prices would come down and quality would go up.
Prior to its passage, Brzozowski said there were 60,000 people in the district without insurance, now there are 37,000 without insurance prior to the pandemic. She said the Affordable Care Act did well, but it didn’t do well enough. She was critical of Kinzinger voting against healthcare for people with pre-existing conditions and for voting against capping prescription costs. She said Kinzinger is beholden to corporate donors.
“We all want to keep drug costs down,” Kinzinger said.
He said the free market is better suited for doing so. He said Brzozowski was using the playbook of running against a Republican incumbent by noting his political donations and stating corporations themselves are prohibited from donating in federal campaigns. He said he has 5,000 donors this cycle less than $100.
via “Illinois Politics” – Google News https://ift.tt/2TO8iP3
September 28, 2020 at 06:14AM