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Lipinski: Congress Needs to Put the Country Ahead of Parties

Rep. Dan Lipinski shared his frustrations about stalled deficit-reduction talks on the eve of sequestration in Washington, after opening a new office in Orland Park.

Rep. Dan Lipinski opened up a new office Thursday within the redistricted 3rd Congressional District, in Orland Park’s Frederick T. Owens Village Hall.

The office will be staffed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for people to bring their concerns about federal issues. Lipinski spoke with Patch shortly after the office opened about service within the new office, sequestration, and what it will actually take for the federal government to resolve the growing deficit.

What kind of services can people expect to receive here?

Any issues that anyone has with federal issues, such as social security, Medicare, veterans’ benefits, if they are interested in appointments to military academy. Any issues that regard the federal government, they can come in and talk to my staff. We’ll have someone here Monday through Friday 9 to 5. They can come in, they can call. It’s an opportunity to have a space here, if they come in for the Secretary of State’s office here, and any other service through the village of Orland Park.

Since the last election, what concerns are you hearing from constituents? Plenty no doubt are asking about the economy, but are you getting questions about anything else?

Certainly the economy remains the number one issue right now. We’re facing the sequestration, which is across the board budget cuts that will take place on March 1. That’s something in the next couple of weeks, I think there might be some action in Washington on. We’re hearing a lot of talk in the news media on it. I don’t think people really understand what that means.

How would you describe it then?

They cut everything that government does. It’s a bad idea because you’re cutting the good effective programs along with the programs that probably should be cut. We’re going to be cutting down, for example, at airports. You might be more delayed because of cutting people within the TSA (Transportation Security Administration). There’s just going to be cuts all across the board. Every federal office is going to have to somehow save money, most likely by furloughing workers. So there will be fewer workers in each office. You also have an issue with cuts to the military, those will be significant. It’s just a bad way to make policy. We have to reduce our debt, but this is not a smart way to do it.

I think we should get rid of the sequester and replace it with a balanced package of cuts and some more revenue. This week, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson came out with a new debt reduction plan. It will cut $2.4 trillion over 10 years. I think Congress and the President should get back to Washington next week, sit down and use that as an outline and finally come to an agreement on a grand bargain to reduce the debt. If we can do that, we get rid of the sequester. That’s the way to go.

What do you think it will take to cross the partisan split that seems to be impeding all of the progress on this issue?

I had great hope at the end of last year when we were facing the fiscal cliff that it would be enough of a push to get both sides to sit down and come to an agreement. Unfortunately it did not. I’m trying to maintain some optimism, but it’s very difficult. There are fewer members now that I believe would really…we lost members from the last congress to this congress who were interested in compromise, and I think there’s a lot of frustration people have in Washington. I’m frustrated but I’m sticking in there and I have to remain hopeful, because we need to do something. It has to be done for the good of the country. Somehow, both sides have to be convinced to put the country ahead of the party. That’s the only way we’re going to get through this.

Anything else people should know about the new office?

This has always been something I’ve tried to do, put my office close together with other local and state offices, to be sort of a one stop shop for people looking for help from the government. I’m very thankful to the village and everyone here that they made room for me. I appreciate that and I look forward to serving people in Orland Park and Orland Township.

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