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Hultgren hears from constituents seeking answers on jobs

SANDWICH – Jobs was the key word on many lips Wednesday night when U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren conducted a town hall meeting in Sandwich.

Hultgren – R-Winfield, who represents the state’s 14th Congressional District – and his staff were greeted with homemade signs reading “Tax Wall Street millionaires” and “Jobs: So simple even a caveman knows it.” Others with signs and handouts urged him to support House Resolution 870, also known as the Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act.

After a brief welcome by Sandwich Mayor Tom Thomas, Hultgren introduced himself as the son of a small-business owner, then talked about 15 minutes about what has been done in Washington in the eight months since he took office.

He talked about government “living within its means” and “increasing competitiveness and encouraging entrepreneurship” as well as balancing the budget and allowing Medicare recipients to choose a plan that suits their needs.

“Democracy is messy, and it’s challenging,” Hultgren said before taking questions from the audience of about 50 people. He also urged audience members to be respectful of each other, even though they might disagree.

“When we leave here, I’m sure we’ll still disagree, and that’s OK,” he said.

In response to a question about raising taxes, Hultgren said his “commitment is to my constituents. I’ve said all along I would not raise taxes.” Later, an audience member asked how he could make that commitment without knowing what the future holds.

“The problem with the economy is not a lack of revenue, it’s out-of-control spending,” Hultgren said. “The best thing we can do is get people jobs so they can get benefits. Most people would rather have a paycheck than a welfare check.”

In talking with small-business owners, Hultgren said he’s heard their biggest concern about hiring is the uncertainty of tax and health care issues. He also touched on the issue of regulations that “need to make sense.”

“We’ve forgotten how to invent,” Joseph Bassett told Hultgren. Bassett is director of operations for Dawn Equipment Company in Sycamore and invited Hultgren to visit his agricultural equipment company.

“Inventions have created wealth. What I need is mechanisms to take ideas and put them into my business,” Bassett said.

Dean Edelman of Oswego quoted a recent opinion piece by Warren Buffett that appeared in The New York Times in which the billionaire urged Congress to “stop coddling” the country’s superwealthy citizens.

“We have to be there for our veterans and our seniors. My question to you is, who are you fighting for, the working people?” Edelman asked. “Words don’t mean as much as actions.”

In answering Edelman’s question, Hultgren said the tax code needs to be cleaned up.

At least two people asked about Medicare issues.

“Why is it OK to take money from Medicare?” one man asked, suggesting a line-by-line review of the budget.

“I’m all for looking into that. Let’s be transparent and accountable,” Hultgren said.

Hultgren has another town hall meeting scheduled from 6-7 p.m. today at the Geneva Public Works facility, 1801 South St. in Geneva. Another will be held from 6-7 p.m. Aug. 25 at the Yorkville City Council chambers, 800 Game Farm Road in Yorkville.

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