Congressman delivers townhall at NIU

Ali Combs

Adam Kinzinger, U.S. Representative for the 16th District in Illinois, put himself in the hot seat at a town hall style meeting at the Holmes Student Center Saturday.

Kinzinger responded to questions about taxation, gun control and student issues.

Kinzinger has been a representative in the U.S. Congress since 2011. He visited NIU’s campus as part of a series of meetings around the 16th District to connect with constituents and assess flood damage in the region.

“Congressman Kinzinger’s roots run deep in Illinois,” said Mayor Kris Povlsen, who introduced Kinzinger at the meeting.

The congressman focused on economic issues as part of a presentation he gave. Kinzinger expressed concern about the job market for young adults with new degrees and the outlook of a possibly worsening economic situation.

“This is a multi-party, multi-year problem that got us into the position we are in today…,” Kinzinger said.

The congressman said irresponsible spending and the ever-growing federal budget are major contributors the nation’s financial difficulties.

Kinzinger said there are problems with the direction of programs like Social Security.

“Washington has been lying to you for decades,” he said. “Washington has been spending the money you paid into social security, and they’ve been spending it on the regular part of the budget.”

The Social Security plan can be fixed through taking several small steps, Kinzinger said. He suggested raising the age at which individuals stop paying in to Social Security.

Kinzinger said the best way to remedy the biggest issues facing America is through compromise. He said he can respect his opponents and realizes they are trying to make a better America.

Povlsen wanted to know how the federal government is planning on making changes.

“Why are we afraid to tax the rich?” Povslen said. “Everything I look at says what percent they’re paying versus what the rest of us are paying, so I would hope that in your compromise somewhere, we’re not afraid to go after those who are making millions and millions and millions of dollars….”

In his response to Povlsen’s question, Kinzinger said “the fastest way to increase revenue is not necessarily tax rate increases; it’s to get people back to work.”

One attendee asked Kinzinger why gun control laws haven’t been able to make it through Congress with high levels of support from citizens.

“I think everyone is in favor of having background checks,” Kinzinger said. “In Illinois we closed what’s called the gun show loophole…. I think when we begin to say [to] ban assault weapons, so-called assault weapons, or universal background checks are going to be the answer to everything, it’s not.”

Kinzinger went on to say he’s a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.

Mayor-elect John Rey is concerned with many of the issues Kinzinger touched upon.

“Clearly the deficit is an issue, but shutting down the deficit is not feasible,” Rey said. “So dealing with practical solutions for stimulating the economy, getting jobs and business growing again is the challenge.”

Rey also said he is looking for Congress to implement control in issues like new insurance regulations that are being implemented.

Students should be watchful of employment rates and the economy, Kinzinger said.

“I think that’s [the] No. 1 [issue for students], is ensuring with all this student loan debt that people are graduating with that people are able to pay it off…,” Kinzinger said. “You ultimately want to be left a nation where you’re not having to pay for, in all your taxes, the overspending of today, so I think being able to make tough choices today on what we can and can’t have is going to make your life a lot easier when you’re trying to raise kids and stuff.”