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Kinzinger ‘evolves’ thinking on tariffs

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, speaks with editors from Shaw Media newspapers Tuesday in Ottawa. Kinzinger is running for re-election in the 16th Congressional District.
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, speaks with editors from Shaw Media newspapers Tuesday in Ottawa. Kinzinger is running for re-election in the 16th Congressional District.

OTTAWA – U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger has served the 16th Congressional District since 2013 and has been in Congress since 2011 and in that time he’s learned to not be afraid to shift his perspective on issues.

In a meeting with Shaw Media editors Tuesday at The Ottawa Times office, Kinzinger, R-Channahon, said specifically he’s “evolved” his thinking on tariffs and while he doesn’t support all tariffs he does see value in some of them.

“I initially recoiled at the thought of any version of a tariff anywhere,” said Kinzinger, who met with the Shaw Media Editorial Board on Tuesday in Ottawa. “I’m a free trader and I’m a believer that American products on the market can crush anyone else’s.”

Kinzinger said he originally opposed all tariffs considered by the Trump administration, and although he still opposes some, such as on steel and aluminum from places such as Canada and Europe, he now sees the need for using them to put the squeeze on China. Kinzinger said throughout his visits in the district he’s heard about American businesses struggling over targeted tariffs from China designed to drive prices down, ploys to steal technology used in manufacturing products there, and other government interference.

“That’s unfair, and right now I think our best way to push back against that is through using our economic system, especially because the Chinese system is very tenuous,” Kinzinger said. “So, while I’m nervous about it and frankly I don’t know if I’d do the additional $200 billion in sanctions, I certainly hope the president is successful.”

Kinzinger faces a challenge this fall from Sara Dady, a Rockford Democrat and immigration lawyer. Both are vying to represent the 16th District, which includes most of DeKalb along with western DeKalb County. President Donald Trump carried the district by more than 17 points in 2016.

A future meeting is scheduled with Dady.

Health care reform

Kinzinger said health care reform was one area where partisan politics were impeding progress in Washington. Kinzinger voted to replace the Affordable Health Care Act with The American Health Care Act, which passed in the House but failed by two votes in the Senate, with all Democrats opposed.

He said his hope is that Congress will work toward making health care accessible and affordable for the poor, middle class and wealthy.

“I don’t think your pocketbook should be a determination whether you live or die,” Kinzinger said.

He hopes to do this by working to bring costs down and finding a way to encourage transparency in billing so consumers recognize cost differences from hospitals and clinics as well as generate competition between institutions. He said he would like to see protections for those with pre-existing conditions included as well as penalties for people who try to game the system by picking up insurance when they’re sick and dropping it when they’re not.

Kinzinger admitted that it’s difficult to bridge the gap between Republicans and Democrats when Trump continues to divide the parties with Twitter attacks.

“I think if you talk with most Republicans, they’re conflicted with policies we agree with and tone we don’t,” Kinzinger said. “So, I’ll just continue to be a counterexample.”

He said he’s supportive of Trump’s actions to this point and credits him with the recent economic upswing, but he is reminded a new generation of Republicans will be quick to succeed him.

“I hope he’s president for another six years, but he’ll be done at some point and there will be this generation that’s my age and younger that’s going to define what the Republican Party looks like,” Kinzinger said.

“Whether I’ll be in this job or not by then, to the extent that I can have a piece of that conversation now is essential,” he added.

Opioid epidemic

Kinzinger said grass-roots campaigns are vital to combating the opioid epidemic, but noted there are some potential regulatory aids that can help.

He said treatment facilities are sometimes limited in the number of beds they can have by federal regulations imposed decades ago meant to prevent people from becoming institutionalized; these regulations should be revised, he said.

He added that alternatives to opioid painkillers should be used, including medical marijuana, which he supports. He said that he supported a measure allowing Veterans Administration doctors to prescribe medical marijuana in states that allow it.

Kinzinger also said it’s up to others to be aware if they have prescription medications within reach of children, as some pick up the habit through finding pain relievers at home.

Wind farms

Kinzinger said he thinks wind power is important, but understands the frustrations of some who say they’ve become too prevalent.

He said the government should encourage a level playing field and occasionally should step in to give advantages to new technologies to help get them off the ground and be able to rely on them. Now, wind power provides a great deal of power and the government is phasing out its tax credits to wind farms.

“I think wind power is important. I share the frustrations of a lot of people that when I drive or fly my little plane and I see nothing but wind turbines it can be a bit of an eyesore, so it’s a give and take, but I think the federal government helps to stand up technologies but it needs to walk away too and that’s the role we’re playing right now,” he said.

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