Health care, Russia focus of Raja’s first town hall in Elgin
The Affordable Care Act and health care, President Donald Trump’s proposed tax plan, and the ongoing investigation into possible Russian interference in the U.S. election were among topics district residents asked U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-8th District) as he held at Town Hall meeting Monday night at Elgin Community College.
Nearly 70 people attended the visit with Krishnamoorthi, who was elected last November to the seat formerly held by Sen. Tammy Duckworth. It was his first town hall meeting in Elgin since his election.
The event was well-received by the audience, who often broke into applause following the representative’s answers to questions.
He spoke about his new job and the ongoing challenges faced by lawmakers.
When he was sworn in on Jan. 3, his 8-year-old son wanted to know “what bad words will you be saying today?” Krishnamoorthi laughed.
There have been times in the 10 months since then where he’s thought of a few bad words, Krishnamoorthi said.
“I am concerned about the direction of our country at a time we could use more stability, predictability and to come together. We are confronted with more instability and unfortunately are being pulled apart,” he said.
His first question from the audience — a three-parter — covered the ACA, the proposed tax plan and a request to do away with Daylight Savings Time.
Krishnamoorthi passed on the Daylight Savings Time question — “I have no answer on that” — but addressed some of the other concerns.
Whatever ultimately happens with the ACA, the U.S. government needs to observe the first principle of health care — “do no harm,” the congressman said.
The bills put forth in the current congress haven’t done that, he said, adding that so far the bills have been “an attempt to repeal a system that was covering tens of millions,” of citizens.
But to improve the current law, there needs to be either more teeth in the system to encourage individuals to purchase insurance, or plans that, while robust, are more affordable for young people who can’t or don’t have access to their parent’s insurance.
Later in the the event, one constituent suggested ACA should tie into student loan debt, and allow some sort of trade off to young people who have both student loans and must purchase insurance.
That is an idea Krishnamoorthi said he wouldn’t mind borrowing.
He also suggested a public option in the insurance exchanges, allowing purchasers to pay into and benefit from government-ran health insurance, and a plan which would allow adults age 50 to 64 to buy into Medicare before they hit retirement age.
Krishnamoorthi noted that as Trump’s proposed tax plan stood, he could not support it, particularly if it did away with the state and local tax deductions.
“I will not stand for any tax increase for middle class or working Americans, there is no way I will support that,” he said.
Eliminating the state and local tax deduction “would be a huge tax increase for everybody in this room,” and could cost Kane County families $5,000 in additional federal taxes each year, he said.
One resident directly asked Krishnamoorthi to support impeachment against Trump.
He serves on the oversight committee for those investigating allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. “We will hold the administration accountable for what happened in the campaign,” Krishnamoorthi said, adding that “our democracy is under attack from the Russians.”
What he has learned through the committee is that “Gen. Michael Flynn is one weird dude,” and there are other characters in the Trump administration, Krishnamoorthi said.
There are lawmakers on the “other side of the aisle who have come to the same conclusion but that impeachment, or invocation of the 25th Amendment will not happen without Republican support, Krishnamoorthi said.
As the investigation continues they will “let the facts lead to what they may,” he said. If that is allowed to happen, “the end results will be much stronger, if you know what I mean.”
The last questions of the night came from 15-year-old Nick Martino. The student told Krishnamoorthi he had been reading about corruption in Washington, D.C., and Wall Street, and wanted to know what he and others can do to stop that.
Much of the corruption comes because of the money involved in politics, the representative said. Bringing in more public funding of elections while forcing broadcasters to charge less for advertising may be one way to reduce the financial incentives, Krishnamoorthi said, but he also advocated overturning Citizen’s United, the Supreme Court case which allowed corporate money in elections.
That would need either a constitutional amendment or a new Supreme Court to overturn, he added.
Author: Janelle Walker, The Courier-News
Photo Credit: Janelle Walker, The Courier-News