Representative Randy Hultgren (R IL-14) showed typical Republican spin at his Oswego Town Hall meeting recently. When asked direct questions regarding taxes, healthcare, social security, and Citizens United, he was long on spin, wrong on facts, and empty of solutions.
One frustrated attendant who tried to get a direct answer on healthcare, commented after the meeting that Hultgren “…seemed detached and unfeeling. His voice was just so syrupy and sweet he appeared unbelievable and unconcerned.”
His comments on Social Security were a surprise but shouldn’t have been, given the Republican Party’s relationship to corporate money and financial companies wanting to gamble with social security investment money.
“I’m not planning on Social Security,” Hultgren said. “Most people my age aren’t planning on Social Security.”
When he paused and noticed that those in attendance were at first silent, he appeared a little puzzled. As this was his first ‘Republican spin comment,’ it was his opportunity to feel the tenor of his audience. Perhaps they had an appetite for truth and facts, and not for spin.
Okay, so he’s not planning on getting Social Security, and really, people his age—-the mid-forties—are not planning on it either?
That’s a stretch in logic. A person would have to have saved $386,000 as of January 2012 in order to buy an annuity to guarantee a steady stream of retirement income equal to the average monthly Social Security check of $1,228. The possibility of saving that much money is highly unlikely given that in Illinois the median family income is $52,252. And that’s down more than $2,300 from the previous two years.
Several in attendance said in unison that they were indeed planning on getting Social Security and believed all Americans were as well. With that, Hultgren pulled the politically correct tactic with a quick recover by saying, “I don’t want Social Security to go away,” and then changed the topic by asking those in attendance for another question.
But he showed us the dark underbelly of Republican thoughts and plans about Social Security. Quite scary actually.
Healthcare was another important topic to those at the meeting. Hultgren’s Republican spin logic is that people have good healthcare when they have jobs. And that the last thing we should have in this country is a “bureaucratic healthcare system,” as in ‘Obamacare.’
When questioners pointed out we already have a ‘bureaucratic healthcare system’ with for-profit insurance companies making decisions about what they will and will not cover, his only answer was to deny this reality. When a gentleman from Oswego, David Edelman, pulled out a large poster demonstrating the efforts of many people to raise funds to help strangers pay for medical bills insurance companies had denied, Hultgren’s comment was that those people probably didn’t have jobs. Edelman stated that most did have jobs, but the insurance companies for one reason or another made decisions to terminate their coverage and the medical bills were very large.
Another in attendance countered Hultgren’s comments by telling him her daughter had a job but her company kept many employees at the part-time status of 30 hours per week just to keep them off employee provided medical insurance.
“How can you accept federal health insurance for you and your family and deny it to others?” Edelmen asked. “Does this bother you when you see it?” he continued, pointing to pictures of men, women, and children needing healthcare on his poster.
Hultgren’s only response: “We surely do not want bureaucratic healthcare, trust me on this.” He had no alternative suggestion. (See related story here.).
As an acknowledged signer of the Grover Norquist pledge to not raise taxes, Hultgren was also unwilling to listen to a woman who suggested that rescinding the Bush tax cuts on corporations and the wealthy 1% would be an effective tactic to reduce the debt and pay for essential social services.
Before allowing the woman to cite any facts and sources, Hultgren silenced her voice, saying he did not agree with her and citing the need to move on to other questions.
When a gentleman in the back of the room brought up the issue of the Supreme Court’s ruling known as Citizens United which allows unlimited hidden money to flow into candidates’ election campaigns, Hultgren again took the traditional Republican spin tactic of claiming money is speech and of attacking unions’ participation on the electoral process.
“We have competing constitutional rights here,” he said. “free speech versus one man one vote.”
The speech he is referring to, of course, is the speech of large corporations and Super PACs like ALEC which are funded by billionaires like the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson and others who throw millions of dollars into election campaigns for candidates they want to see elected. What is denied in this tilted thought is that huge money such as this guarantees a larger vote than one man’s vote could ever be.
“I support full disclosure,” Hultgren said. “Let’s find out if unions are funding them (Super PACs),” he added. Giving homage to the traditional Republican spin tactic of claiming huge union donations have undue influence on elections.
He must have been relieved when no one at the town hall meeting commented that within the past week a Supreme Court ruling all but eliminated that possibility by requiring unions to request permission from each of their members before donating any union funds to election campaigns—-a requirement completely absent in Super PAC money given by corporations for candidates.
In the interest of full disclosure, let’s see where Hultgren has gotten his money. Between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2011, he got a measly $3,400 from labor groups. Perhaps this accounts for his apparent desire to focus on union campaign donations? During the same time frame, he got $227,600 from the financial and insurance services industry. Social Security anyone? End ‘Obamacare?’ He took $27,050 from the energy and natural resources industry. Koch Industries was part of those contributions. And he took $188,673 from ideological and single-issue groups, frequently known as Political Action Committees. Citizens United and the Eagle Forum are in this category of donations.
Tags: campaign contributions, Citizens United, David Edelman, Dennis Anderson, healthcare, IL-14, Illinois, Kendall County, Oswego IL, Randy Hultgren, Social security, taxes, Town Hall Meeting, U. S. Supreme Court