Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) discussed the U.S. economy, health care reform, and the future of Social Security at a forum in Kalamazoo Monday.
Upton is one of twelve lawmakers selected to serve on a special Congressional committee. That committee will try to determine a compromise on long-term spending to help reduce the federal deficit.
Upton says the federal debt is “unsustainable”. He says the way to fix it is to get the economy moving so more people can get a job.
“That is going to be my underlining theme as I work with republicans and democrats on a solution that I think could be good for America.”
Seven of the twelve congressmen on the special committee will have to agree on a proposal in order to get it to the full Congress for approval. Upton called it “an enormous task.” If a proposal is not signed into law by the end of this year, cuts will automatically kick in by January of 2013.
Upton took several questions from senior citizens about the future of Medicare and Social Security. He says some changes will have to be made to both programs in order to sustain them in the long run.
He did not discuss specific changes he would support yet. He did say he would not support a cut to benefits for seniors currently in the programs.
Kalamazoo residents Catheryn Sirk and Louise Stegman were happy to hear that. Sirk hopes to see Upton take a strong leadership role in the special Congressional committee that will look at the future of the programs.
“He recognized that there needed to be some strong discussion and good bipartisan activity and he’s willing to do that,” Sirk said, “And this played true I think in his answers to all questions.” Stegman added, “The bipartisanship is really important because everyone is so gridlocked.”
The crowd of 200 people also demanded he talk about what he’s doing to create jobs and improve the economy. Several interrupted and shouted at Upton. Those doing the interrupting asked him about the economy.
Frank Cody is with the Kalamazoo County Advocates for Senior Issues, the group that invited Upton. He says they wanted Upton to talk about more specific topics pertaining to seniors.
“Because of the audience we had I thought it was necessary to fumble through the cards and find some things that we’re on topics of more general interest. Try to get some answers about jobs and things that we’re obviously concerning people yelling in the audience.”
You could see and hear at least another 50 people outside the building chanting throughout the forum.