Former Congressmen say ‘increase taxes’

By Missy Katner

Lumen Assistant Editor

When asked about Gov. Walker’s Budget Repair Bill and the cutting of collective bargaining rights for the public sector, Dennis Hastert and Bill Lipinski admitted that they did not know all the details, but they had watched the events in Wiscon­sin last Feb. with great interest.

Hastert replied, “A lot of us in Il­linois looked at Wisconsin and said it’s tough but somebody’s got to do something [to balance the budget].”

Lipinski agreed saying, “In good times everybody spent, everybody gave great benefits. It’s not good times anymore.”

In recognition of Constitution Day, Viterbo hosted former Speak­er of the House of Representatives Hon. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and for­mer congressman Hon. Bill Lipinski (D-IL). From Sept. 19 to 21, they gave presentations on campus and discussed recent political issues with students and members of the community.

The event was part of the Con­gress to Campus program which brings bipartisan pairs of former congressmen to colleges. The pro­gram was created to provide insight into the realities of the political pro­cess and to emphasize the impor­tance of bipartisan cooperation. Congress to Campus also intends to foster interest in careers in public service.

Both former congressmen would encourage young people to pursue careers in politics. But the realities of politics surprised Hastert. “I taught economics, I taught history, but [the political process] is different. It’s not practical, not realistic.”

When asked about the cur­rent political standoff in Congress, Lipinski stated the importance of bi­partisan cooperation in government. “I have been there when Democrats were in control and when Republi­cans were in control. Let’s get away from one party control,” Lipinski said.

During his term, Hastert was a strong advocate of working with both sides of the isle to pass bud­get legislation. “Congress should be constantly trying to find a balance. You have to find a compromise. No compromise and you can’t get any­thing done.”

Currently, the Congress remains divided on how to solve the debt crisis. Neither side wanting to heed to the other, legislation is not getting passed.

The former congressmen weighed in on the debt issue. Lipinski said, “Increase taxes. That’s the only way I see us getting out of the hole. Fifty percent of people who work in this country do not pay any income tax.”

Hastert agreed, saying even the poor need to be taxed. “Everybody has to have a little skin in the game. Everybody has to participate.”

Some members of the crowd voiced concern about the lack of term limits for congressmen, say­ing that it contributed to the current deadlock. Hastert responded that he was a better legislator the tenth year than his first year. “You run every year. You can get voted out by the people,” Hastert said.

Lipinski said, “The longer you’re there, the more important you are and the more you can do. Seniority counts in Congress.”

The Congress to Campus events at Viterbo were organized by Vit­erbo professor Keith Knutson and Anthony Slaby of Communications and Marketing.

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