To the editor:
Newly elected Congressman Tim Huelskamp came to Marion County Friday afternoon for his first town hall meeting. I attended the meeting in the Marion County Courthouse out of curiosity to see what issue Huelskamp would emphasize in his presentation.
I followed his campaign leading up to the primary election in August and heard that he was the beneficiary of a well-funded media blitz in the last weeks of the campaign that resulted in his victory over State Senator Jim Barnett, the front-runner until that point. The ads painted Barnett as an out-of-control tax and spend liberal because he voted for the 2010 state sales tax increase to fund education and keep the Kansas state budget balanced. The ads were funded by the “Club for Growth,” a hyper rightwing group fronted by Steve Forbes, that has lobbied for the dismantlement of Social Security and Medicare.
As Huelskamp launched into his presentation about our sorry, debt-ridden economy and bankrupt Medicare and Social Security system, complete with charts covered with massive amounts of red ink, I started the feel a sense of dread that we are doomed. But then he delivered the good news — all of us who are 55 years or older will not be affected and will get the Medicare and Social Security that our parents had and that we were counting on. Unfortunately or fortunately, those 54 years and younger will be in the new privatized Medicare system that will have a robust profit incentive for private health insurance providers to wade into the goldmine of healthcare coverage for the oldest Americans.
One fellow in the audience stated that he wanted Huelskamp to help keep the federal government out of his healthcare and just allow him to accumulate a “401k-like” healthcare savings account for $2 million. Gosh, some folks have all the luck to have a job that allows that kind of savings.
In the question-and-answer part of the meeting, one member of the audience made a suggestion that, in light of the record energy company profits being reported this week, maybe the oil companies could help by paying more taxes and perhaps giving up some of the government subsidies. Huelskamp shot back asking if the questioner wanted to confiscate the oil company’s profits. This provided a lesson for us in the room of the political “newspeak” that has any suggestion of taxing the wealthy as a confiscatory action.
In another set of questions, we established that Huelskamp doesn’t believe in the science behind climate change and denies that the increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere could lead to a “greenhouse effect.” Parents should be careful that their children not come in contact with the “leftwing rag” National Geographic, with its seeming obsession with climate-change related articles and photos. The youngsters could become confused and unnecessarily worried about the future of the planet (they already have enough to worry about with the demise of Social Security and Medicare).
At the end of the meeting as I left, I stopped to ask one last question of Huelskamp. I wanted to know how he felt about the 10-year TransCanada property tax exemption that he voted for in 2006 while serving in the Kansas State Senate. He said he was as proud as punch of the exemption and Marion County will be as happy as clams in 10 years when we can finally collect some property tax, or in “newspeak”, confiscate some funds from a foreign energy company. It is obvious that the “Club for Growth” and the Koch brothers have backed a “good horse” and can look forward to a profitable future with Huelskamp in Congress. I am sure he will do for the whole country what he has done for Kansas in the past.
Harry E. Bennett