Rep. Tim Huelskamp is less concerned about the upcoming election than about what will happen to the national debt afterward.
“In the First District, folks in general just don’t like what’s going on in Washington,” Huelskamp said during a visit to Manhattan Monday. He said they “see some changes and recognize some pretty critical decisions ahead of us.”
One of those critical decisions comes in the form of tax reform. Huelskamp, who is unopposed for re-election in November, said the House has not passed any tax reform for the past two years because politicians are more worried about adhering to party lines and keeping their jobs than doing what is right for the country.
“I think the more wealthy should have less deductions,” Huelskamp said. “For two years, the House didn’t want to pass any because of political concerns about that.”
He said tax reform is necessary with Congress borrowing $1.1 trillion to keep the current federal spending in place through January 2013. There are about $1 trillion in tax deductions currently being taken by taxpayers.
Huelskamp said he does not believe in raising taxes, but does support closing loopholes in the tax codes that are unnecessary. He gave one example as the deductions some homeowners can take on mortgages. He said that while the deduction is good for less wealthy home owners who own only one home, the wealthy take advantage of the deduction by taking it on their second, third, and fourth homes. He said he didn’t think the wealthy needed to take deductions on secondary homes and that tax break should be eliminated.
Huelskamp said Congress is currently considering sequestration, which involves across-the-board spending cuts.
“Best guess by Jan. 11, we will be through the debt ceiling again,” Hueslkamp said. “If the sequestration doesn’t happen, we will have to borrow and spend $2.1 trillion and not make any cuts by the time we hit that debt ceiling.”
Huelskamp said the Standard and Poors credit agency is also looking hard at Washington’s willingness to reduce spending. If the plans they have already laid out are not enacted, then the U.S. will have its credit rating lowered again. “So, there’s a lot at stake in this election, but there’s a lot more at stake after,” he said.
Another concern for Huelskamp is entitlement reform. He said Medicare will go bankrupt within the next nine years if Congress does not act, and added that Social Security will disappear in another 20 years.
“Almost every hospital in Kansas, in my district, could disappear,” Huelskamp said. “Washington won’t even talk about Social Security, we are still on health care reform. They are looking at what we are going to do on entitlement reform.”
Huelskamp said he supports parts of the Simpson-Bowles reform plan, but he does not agree with other parts. But at the end of the day, he added, he will support doing something to reduce spending and keeping hospitals open in Kansas.
Huelskamp said the federal government needs to reduce spending and pay back the national debt whether that means a Republican or divided Congress with a Republican president or a Democratic one.
“I think all levels of spending need to be looked at,” Huelskamp said. “My frustration in Washington has been there’s some spending Republicans don’t want to look at and there’s some spending Democrats don’t want to look at. At the end of the day, we still borrowed $1.1 trillion last year. It doesn’t matter how it all got spent, it will have to be paid back eventually.”
Huelskamp was in Manhattan meeting local business members, Kansas State University officials and other area residents and gauging public opinion on what is happening in Washington. Huelskamp will officially represent Manhattan and Riley County beginning in January.