GENEVA – U.S. Reps. Randy Hultgren, R-Plano, and Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton, said Aug. 3 that they are focused on a variety of current issues, including health care, tax reform and economic growth.
Hultgren and Roskam both spoke to – and took questions from – a lunch crowd of about 50 people at Eagle Brook Country Club in Geneva hosted by the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce Legislative Committee.
On banking regulations, Hultgren said small community banks are bearing the brunt of compliance costs from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. He said more than 1,000 community banks have closed their doors or sold out in the eight years since Dodd-Frank was passed.
“That is a loss for people who want to start or grow businesses,” said Hultgren, who serves on the House Financial Services Committee. “We need good, strong regulation in financial services. ... But we also have to recognize that regulation should not be one-size-fits-all.”
Roskam, who is chairman of the Ways and Means Tax Policy Committee, said his committee is expected to play a leading role in overhauling the 70,000-page tax code – the first overhaul in 30 years.
“Nobody is defending the status quo," Roskam said. "Nobody says, ‘I love that thing; don’t touch it.’ Nobody says that.”
Roskam said an overhaul would be a “transformational tax reform effort” that would reduce the number of tax brackets for individuals, corporations and investment income.
Unless changes are made, Roskam said, the nation would lose from a global point of view.
On tax cuts, Roskam said he advocates figuring out how to pay for them, as going into debt to support tax cuts “is not the wise path.”
To a question about keeping up with other countries on renewable energy, Hultgren responded that investing in research is key.
“We have not found that next source of clean, cheap, renewable energy,” Hultgren said. “We are continuing to look at as many options as we can of energy resources, doing as much as we can to make sure our use [is] in a responsible way.”
To a question about health care premiums being unaffordable, Roskam spoke about being called by a doctor at the Wheaton Eye Clinic whose patient cried about not being able to afford the $7,500 deductible.
“‘I have coverage, but I don’t have health care,’” Roskam said the doctor told him the woman said. “Therein lies the rub. We’ve got to really sort this out.”
Both Roskam and Hultgren voted for the American Health Care Act.
"Let’s hope the Senate just does not become so frozen, as an institution, that they say, ‘We can’t do anything.’ That would be a shame," Roskam said. "I am absolutely convinced we cannot stay here.”
To a question about taking federal funds from public schools and using them for vouchers, Hultgren said he supports strong public schools and giving parents choices for their children’s education when they are faced with underperforming public schools.
“It’s tragic when you can look at a ZIP code and determine if someone is going to get a good education or not; that’s unacceptable,” Hultgren said. " ... What’s sacred is the kids, making sure the kids are well educated."
Glenbard High School District 87 Board member Mary Fitzgerald-Ozog said the district's Title 1 students depend on federal funding. Title 1 funds help support education for low-income students.
"We hope they would continue to support public education," Fitzgerald-Ozog said.