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Huelskamp hints at increasing retirement age





LA CROSSE -- Rep. Tim Huelskamp had most of the right answers to questions posed by a friendly group of Rush County residents.

He's still on the bandwagon for reducing the nation's debt, but he's softened some on just how to solve the funding dilemma facing Social Security.

"I'm 44," said Huelskamp, R-Fowler. "I think I should work a little longer."

Not so for people close to retirement age, he told a gathering of approximately 25 people at a town hall meeting in the back room of the Rush County Extension office.

"I'm in favor of raising the retirement age for young people to 68," he said.

But one woman started to raise questions about boosting the retirement age.

"It's tough for someone 38 to have a job," she said. "How can someone 68 have a job?"

Huelskamp quickly suggested there are more jobs available in rural areas and said businesses say regulations hamper hiring plans.

Huelskamp also is in favor of implementing some sort of means-testing program that effectively would limit how much Social Security wealthy people receive.

He also suggested the idea of taxing people with higher incomes to help pay for Medicare.

"I'm not in favor of that, but it's got to be done," he said.

Residents raised a wide range of issues for the second-term congressman who more than once brought up his removal from the House Agriculture Committee, retaliation for being unwilling to work with House leaders.

One of the questions focused on continuing the tax credit for wind farms, a couple of which are in the pipeline for Rush County.

"The fiscal cliff deal," he said, "included a one-year extension on the production tax credit."

Wind farms that get up and running yet this year will be eligible for a 10-year subsidy.

The one-year extension, he said, will cost the government nearly $12 billion.

One observer wanted to know if Congress would pass a bill allowing taxes on online purchases.

"It's in the Senate now," Huelskamp said, adding he wants to see what comes over to the House before deciding how to vote. "What bothers me is they didn't have a committee hearing on that.

"If it's revenue neutral, I'd say absolutely. But it's not designed to be revenue neutral."

As for immigration reform, Huelskamp said he "thinks we need to define when there's adequate border security and start there first."

The Senate's already working on a bill to reform immigration, he said.

"The Senate might try to pass a comprehensive bill, and the House will try to pass a series of specific bills."