Schakowsky Responds to Citizens' Frustrations
Congresswoman listens to constituents’ disillusions and adds some of her own.
Schakowsky answered their questions and expressed some of her own frustrations both during her speech and when she responded to issues raised by the audience.
Lawrence Elegant of Wilmette voiced a concern heard nationwide of the inability of Congress to pass legislation. “Why should we reelect any of you?” he asked.
Schakowsky acknowledged members of Congress were regarded “just below used car salesmen” as she recognized his feelings. Then she suggested he express his priorities to help find the best representative for him.
“Tell members and candidates what it is you want to have them do,” Schakowsky said. “Ask what they would support. Vote for the person with views that most match yours.”
A few questions later, Stuart Goodman of Highland Park demanded to know why members of Congress could not compromise to pass President Barack Obama’s American Jobs Act.
Schakowsky explained every section of the proposed legislation was supported by a majority of the Republican members over the last few years. She also opined they had a problem supporting the same ideas when proposed by the President.
“I’ve never seen such disrespect for the President of the United States,” Schakowsky said. “The jobs bill is as much of a compromise as we’ve seen. It was all good then (when it was not the President’s idea) but not now.”
Don Packard of Highland Park had his own concerns with the American Jobs Act. He said he had heard the stimulus plan passed in 2009 did not create any jobs. Schakowsky explained millions of jobs arose from that bill.
“Between 1.9 million and 3 million jobs were created or saved,” Schakowsky said, citing non partisan analysis of the program.
Schakowsky was also critical of some of her colleagues who opposed the legislation and quickly took advantage of the projects’ success. “They proudly go to the ribbon cuttings,” she said expressing displeasure when they take credit.
During her speech, Schakowsky listed certain things she would defend and others she would never support. She made it clear she will always support Medicare and Social Security.
“I will never support the (Rep.) Paul Ryan (R-WI) budget,” Schakowsky said. “It fundamentally changes what Medicare is,” she added, describing the plan to replace Medicare with a voucher system to be applied to private health insurance.
John Cartland of Northbrook told Schakowsky a voucher system was used in Switzerland and the Netherlands. “It works in Germany and France as well,” he said, wanting to know the reason for her opposition.
“The governments there control the price,” Schakowsky said. “You can sell private insurance but they can only offer different plans and packages. Under the Ryan budget the only control is on what you have to spend. The insurers determine the price.”
Schakowsky also made it clear she wants to change the reference to programs like Medicare and Social Security as entitlements. She does not see it that way.
“The very idea of calling them entitlements is wrong,” Schakowsky said. “They are earned benefit programs. You pay in your money. You earned it. It’s a middle class tax.”
The seven-term Congresswoman explained only a portion of the first $106,800 of a person’s income is paid into the Social Security Trust Fund to be used for future benefits. She also explained why payments cannot be reduced.
“Do you know what the average Social Security benefit is?” she asked rhetorically. “It’s $14,000 a year. For two thirds of the people receiving Social Security it’s 70 percent of what they live on. For 10 percent it’s everything.”