By JO ANN HUSTIS
OTTAWA, Ill. — U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) hasn’t heard reports the Midwest farm lobby may be among the first of the sacrificial lambs “thrown under the bus” when President Barack Obama is finally forced to start cutting entitlements in creating the new federal budget.
“I haven’t heard specifically that,” Kinzinger said in a brief interview with local news media, during a public ribbon-cutting ceremony last week at his new 16th Congressional District office in Ottawa.
“But, what I’ll say is that obviously, when it comes to the farm bill cutting out some more (funding) for agriculture, ag has been very good at coming to the table and saying, ‘We all have to sacrifice and we’re willing to give up some stuff, but we need to keep our crop insurance.’ That’s very important.
“I think it’s important to recognize the fact the farm lobby has come and said, ‘We’re willing to give something to protect what (farmers) need.’ If everybody in government did what agriculture did, we might actually be able to get a balanced budget,” he said.
“But, you see a lot of lobbies that are willing to give nothing. So I commend agriculture in being able to come to the table, and I’m committed to fight for important programs like crop insurance.”
A crop insurance policy is a risk management tool available to agricultural producers. Crop insurance covers a portion of the crop lost in any given harvest year, such as the 2012 crop year. Sixty percent-funded by the federal government, crop insurance is available through the government or a private insurance company.
Kinzinger, 34, of Channahon, is a U.S. Air Force Reserve pilot who is beginning his second term in the House of Representatives. He said at the ceremony GOP House members have been focused on what is needed to create jobs, including those in agriculture.
“But, it seems like the President the last four months has been more focused on taxes than he has about job creation,” he opined. “We stand willing and ready to work with the President on some pro-good solutions, whether its reining in an out-of-control EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) – very important to agriculture – and setting a regulatory environment that makes sense.
“Ultimately, a tax code that’s simpler and makes sense will help grow this economy. We stand ready to work with him, but if he thinks he’s going to do another stimulus or something, that’s probably (not acceptable) in our House.”
Kinzinger also commented on the federal budget issue, saying Congress is required by law to release a budget, which he noted the House had done every year. The president also has produced a budget annually, whether it’s done on time or not. The Senate, however, has yet to produce a budget.
The House GOP would suspend pay for members of Congress unless both the House and Senate pass a budget blueprint for the next fiscal year, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal of Jan. 17.
“Our position – the adopted Republican position – is that we have a real spending problem in this country, and it just makes sense that the Senate has to produce a budget. Show us how we can get on the path to fiscal solvency, and if you don’t, you don’t get paid. I think it makes a lot of sense and I think the American people would be with us on this one,” Kinzinger said.
“I wish we didn’t have to go to this point. But I think if we do something this drastic to ensure that Congress does its job, then we’ll do it. I think there’s a question of just how it can be done – is (the pay) just withheld or taken away? Those are the issues that probably will be discussed over time. I think the theory is certainly it’s constitutional to withhold pay. The details have to be figured out.”
Immediately withholding pay from lawmakers may be unconstitutional. No law changing compensation for House or Senate members can take effect until after the next House election, which is almost two years away, the Journal article noted.
Kinzinger said the nation will see some action, “whatever that is,” on the debt limit, or ceiling, as it’s sometimes called.
On the issue of gun control, Kinzinger said he didn’t think any of Obama’s proposed restrictions will make it through the House. “But, I don’t think it’s wrong to have the conversation,” he said. “That’s democracy.
“The hope is, on some of the fundamental things like in getting our country back to prosperity and fighting for hard-working taxpayers, we can actually come together (in) agreement on certain things,” he said of the bipartisan wrangling in both House and Senate. “I think there’s a lot more common ground than people realize, but I would actually call on the President to stop campaigning and start leading.”