ST. CHARLES – Trying to dispel the idea that nobody agrees with anybody in Washington, U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton, said Tuesday Democrats and Republicans work together on some issues.
But both sides were hit hard by revelations that veterans were put on wait lists for services from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and some died without seeing a doctor, Roskam said.
“There is plenty of sincere division about the world view and the view of the economy,” Roskam said. “Both parties were really scandalized by and traumatized, in some ways, by the knowledge that veterans were being so poorly treated. And in fact, it was costing the loss of life of many, many people.”
Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, a conservative, negotiated with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, a socialist, to work out a bill to address those problems, showing they can work together, he said.
Roskam represents the 6th District, which includes parts of St. Charles.
Roskam spoke to and took questions from a lunch crowd of about 40 at the Hilton Garden Inn in St. Charles, hosted by the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce Legislative Committee with the Geneva Chamber of Commerce.
“My goal out of this, frankly, is to hear from you,” Roskam said. “Because my responsibility as your member of Congress is to reflect us to Washington, not to be Washington’s ambassador to this district.”
Despite Republicans and Democrats being able to work together on issues like veterans and trade agreements, Roskam noted “great divisions” between the sides based on different views of the economy and the world.
“The president’s view of the world is that he has a higher tolerance for borrowing than I do,” Roskam said. “Borrowing into the future, he would say that’s a good investment, to invest in things, and out of that is going to come prosperity.
“There’s others, like me, that said, behind that is really not satisfactory,” Roskam said. “There are things we do need to invest in, like infrastructure in particular. But we really need to get at these larger programs, the automatic spending programs like Medicare, Medicaid, interest on the debt ... that are just happening automatically. We’ve got to deal with them.”
Roskam said when he talks to representatives of other states, he tells them, “I come from the state of what not to do.”
“I come from the state of what avoidance behavior looks like,” Roskam said. “And if we put problems off, there’s no problem that gets better the longer you wait.”
Regarding the tax inversion debate, Roskam defended companies that relocate to other countries so they don’t have to pay the U.S. tax rate.
“The CEOs of companies are not looking to abandon a patriotic obligation,” Roskam said.
Instead, he said if they bring money earned overseas back to the states, they face a “confiscatory tax.”
“They are not being unpatriotic. They are dealing with an economic reality. They’ve got a duty to their shareholders to maximize shareholder value. They can’t pay a confiscatory tax ... simply put, they’re not going to,” Roskam said.
“What’s the remedy? Lower the corporate rate among other rates. Broaden the base. Go after some of the nonsense in the tax code ... that make no sense whatsoever,” Roskam said. “I’m not here suggesting that this is easy. And I’m not here suggesting that this is simple. What I am suggesting is, it is clearly needed.”