Thursday, Illinois Review interviewed Congressman Randy Hultgren, Representative for Illinois’ 14th congressional district, about his freshman term and what is to come if he is reelected in November.
According to the congressman, by far the largest challenge of his first term was dealing with the deficit, the budget and the debt ceiling. His number one priority if reelected, he said, is serving constituents; he wants to be accessible to them and take their concerns to Washington.
“We met with over 100 small and medium sized businesses all over the 14th district, asking: ‘What would it take for you to hire one more person?’”
Supporting legislation that reflects what job creators are looking for is his strategy for attempting to turn this economy around.
In the current 112th Congress, Hultgren serves on the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. The recently passed Transportation Bill (H.R. 4348) included an act that was introduced by the freshman congressman.
The VALOR Act allows veterans coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq an easier time finding a job. They will be given credit hours towards their commercial drivers license certifications for time spent driving heavy equipment for their service.
“Trucking firms in Illinois are one of the few areas looking to hire people,” Hultgren said.
As a first term congressman, it is rare to have a piece of legislation passed. Hultgren’s VALOR Act had bipartisan co-sponsorship.
“We all want opportunities for our women and men coming from oversees, the worst thing we can do is have them come home and be unemployed,” he said.
In addition to transportation, Hultgren also serves on the Agriculture Committee. Drought is currently having an impact on families and grocery prices throughout Illinois. Writing the 2012 Farm Bill, which will determine U.S. agriculture policy for the next five years, is an ongoing project that the congressman has been working on and will continue to work on if reelected.
In 2010, Congressman Hultgren pledged to the residents of the 14th District that he would not support any tax increases, he continues to honor his pledge through his strong opposition to the Affordable Care Act and has voted for its repeal twice now. However, he does believe in the necessity of health care reform.
Several reforms that are being introduced now are: allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines to increase competition, reforming lawsuit abuse that is causing high defensive medicine costs, repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board, allowing tax deductions for preventive health costs, and more complete disclosure of information about hospital charges.
According to the congressman, some of these possible reforms are further along than others.
“We need to do this in a much more strategic way, lowering the cost of health care while keeping a focus on quality and choices,” he said. “We shouldn’t destroy a whole system of healthcare, but focus on the 5-15% of people who are uninsurable and how to provide coverage for them.”
He said the comprehensive plan “becomes a bureaucratic nightmare, a huge tax increase and paralyzing for job creators”.
Hultgren is a supporter of allowing young people who don’t yet have jobs to stay on their parent’s health insurance plan.
“The election reflects a difference in the philosophy of our nation. Are we a nation of big government or are we a nation focused on opportunity and free enterprise?”
Congressman Hultgren hopes that the latter is the direction in which our nation is headed.