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Spirited Crowd Questions Dold at Town Hall Meeting

Congressman addresses group in Glenview hours after casting vote to cut $60 billion in federal spending.

A passionate group of more than 60 people came to U.S Rep. Bob Dold’s (R-IL) town hall meetingat on Saturday to hear what their congressman had to say about his first six weeks in Washington. 

The citizens wanted to hear Dold’s ideas and express their own. Some of the participants argued with each other while the first-term congressman acted as the peacemaker. Most had the economy and budget as their top priorities, and there were a myriad of suggestions to improve the situation. 

Dold was poised to discuss the issue after voting to cut $60 billion from the current federal budget just seven and a half hours before the meeting began. He cast his vote about 3:30 a.m. (CST) on the floor of the House. 

“We had to go back to the office [after the vote] to take care of some loose ends and then get on the plane,” Dold said. When one member of the crowd mentioned this effort, Dold received a round of applause from nearly everyone.

Dold began the meeting asking for a show of hands on who thought they were living better than their parents. Most raised their hands. He next asked if people thought their children would continue this pattern. Far fewer hands went up. 

“I believe American’s best days are ahead," Dold said. "I believe we can compete with anyone if we have a level playing field."

He then took out his wallet, where he keeps pictures of his young children. He explained one of the reasons he went to Congress was to leave the country a better place for them. 

After the informal poll, Dold continued the meeting with a slide show to illustrate the federal budget and deficit. His presentation showed areas of spending as well as the revenue stream from taxes. 

Northbrook resident Howard Brandeisky said the projected deficit reduction after 2012 shown on one of the slides was a result of the expiration of tax cuts passed in 2001 at the request of then President George W. Bush. Brandeisky suggested using the expiration of that legislation to help cut the deficit. 

“Would you be willing to let the Bush tax cuts expire if Democrats agreed to deep spending cuts?” Brandeisky asked. 

Dold indicated a desire to work with Democrats to reduce the budget deficit but stopped short of agreeing to end the Bush era tax cuts for the right amount of spending reduction. 

“I’m open, yes, to working with the Democrats," Dold said. “I want to know what the final bill looks like. Raising taxes is not my style.”

The last comment evoked applause from a portion of the audience. 

When pressed, Dold said he would not absolutely rule anything out. Anything that would cause people to pay more taxes is against his philosophical bent, he added. 

“I’m not for a tax increase,” the congressman said. “We’ll see how [the tax increase passed last month by the Illinois General Assembly] plays out in Illinois.”

Dold explained economic growth and job creation were his preferred ways to bring the U.S. out of its current economic and unemployment predicament. 

“I prefer to create and grow,” Dold said. “If we create jobs, more people will be working and paying taxes.” He indicated that would make a dent in the deficit. 

Some in the crowd expressed anger over the still gripping the country and wanted to rein in the mortgage lenders who made high-risk loans they believed led to the high rate of homeowners losing their properties. 

“How do we cull the bankers’ greed?” asked Glenview resident Steve Kay. “We need regulations to keep them from doing this again.” 

Dold replied that he wants to see reasonable regulation and eliminate unnecessary requirements. He did not specifically address curbs on banks. 

Dold then touted a bill he cosponsored to repeal a requirement forcing any company to file a report to the government if it does $600 of business with a person or organization. He sees this as an unnecessary regulation. That legislation has passed the House and Senate and awaits the President Barack Obama’s signature. 

Some who came to the meeting, including former Glenview Village President Nancy Firfer and current  were there to learn more about what their congressman was doing.

“I want to know what’s going on in Washington,” said Firfer. “I’m here for an update.” 

After the meeting, Dold was pleased with the spirited group and said he looked forward to more town hall meetings. 

“I represent everyone in the district whether we agree or not,” said Dold, who explained Democrats and Republicans agree 40 percent of the time and disagree the rest. 

“We have to reach across the aisle to find some common ground,” he said. “Let’s take some of the 40 percent we agree on and pass some legislation.”

David Zacher February 21, 2011 at 02:49 PM
What about rising real estate taxes for homes that lost 1/3 of their value. I agree with the above comment. We have a wide disparity among the haves and have nots. Our middle class is shrinking and the the GOP seems to be in the pocket of the banks and ceos of corporations that seem to have funds for political campaigns but not for hiring American workers. Taxing the upper 2% would make the deficit smaller and not have to come on the backs of people who can least defend themselves. Also Dold whats your stance on abortion. The amount of time your party is wasting on an issue that should be left to the parents or women is astounding.
Dave February 21, 2011 at 04:11 PM
@David Actually, it's the FED that's in the pocket of the banks and CEOs. People like Greenspan, Bernanke, Yellen, Donald Kohn, Warsh and their ilk are the ones that facilitate bailouts, crony capitalism, etc of their Wall Street kin. The GOP and its Neocon faction are responsible for out-of-control spending on 2 neoconserative wars and aid to Israel. If you want to cut the deficit start with ending the wars, they cost the most. Then we could welfare programs too, and therefore more taxation wouldn't be required. I agree there is blame all around: End the Warfare state, End the Welfare state
Ken February 23, 2011 at 10:16 PM
I'd like to give Dold the benefit of the doubt and see him emerge as an independent-minded Republican representing our mixed district. But I am afraid that, even if he were so inclined -- and that's not yet clear to me -- that politics would not allow it. But in terms of his inclination, it's not a good sign at all that he is unwilling to criticize (1) the Republican orgy of war spending and upper-bracket tax cutting that has put this country so deep in the hole (not to mention the massive revenue loss associated with the financial crisis, for which Republicans bear the majority of responsibility as the longtime proponents of an insanely deregulatory ideology), and (2) the perpetuation or worsening of the too-big-to-fail (TBTF) commercial banks. Republicans like to criticize the concept of bailouts, but they are so accustomed to being in the pockets of big business, they can't really muster the strength to collaborate with like-minded Democrats and progressives, to put reasonable limits on bank size and other risky financial practices. Congressman Dold: are you for too-big-to-fail banks or against them, and if the latter, what measures are you willing to sign on to in order to rein them in? You ran on your willingness to be independent. Put your votes where your mouth is.
Deep Dish Pizza February 25, 2011 at 07:12 AM
@Ken - You can give Dold the benefit of the doubt but keep in mind two of his first actions right after the election -- not even sworn in yet -- seemed hypocritical given his claims and promises during the election. Dold's first few post-election acts were to: 1. Have a tony high-priced fundraiser in DC to raise big bucks from lobbyists, and 2. Hire a lobbyist as his chief of staff - Eric Burgeson. Burgeson was a lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce in China (can you say "outsourcing"?) and was so tied up in the lobbying underworld that even John McCain nixed him from his 2008 pres. run. You can look all that up thru Google. Now that Dold's been sworn in we have to start paying attention to his votes in Congress and his actions outside of Congress. There too I see trouble on the horizon and not just with the votes you mentioned. Here's another example. Dold put together a "jobs advisory panel" to talk about getting people back to work. Sounds nice right? Trouble is the co-chair for Dold's jobs panel is Abbott Lab's chief lobbyist and this came to light the week after Abbott fired 2000 people because they told the news that the company was profitable but not profitable enough! Can you believe that? Lake County officials freaked out because Abbott is huge in Lake County.
Deep Dish Pizza February 25, 2011 at 07:14 AM
@ Pat - I mentioned below that Dold's notorious "jobs advisory panel" is headed up by Abbott Lab's chief lobbyist. This came to light the week AFTER Abbott pinkslipped 2000 people even though the company was profitable. Is Dold and his shiny new "jobs panel" going to find those 2000 people new jobs?

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