By: Brian Huber of the Waukesha Freeman
WAUKESHA — Wisconsin U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner on Thursday said no more U.S. aid or food would go to the “rogue state” of North Korea in the foreseeable future, and called on China to help defuse growing tensions on its neighboring peninsula.
The comments came during a Thursday interview ahead of the Menomonee Falls Republican’s series of town hall meetings with constituents in his district over the next few weeks. Sensenbrenner will have conducted more than 110 meetings in his district this year by the end of October. He said people have predominantly been discussing health care, tax reform and foreign policy, particularly as the rhetoric between North Korean and U.S. leaders escalates.
Sensenbrenner said North Korea has violated previous agreements not to develop nuclear weapons, and where things go from here “all depend upon China.”
“North Korea is essentially a client state of China and the Chinese are going to have to be the adults in the room because nobody wants to have a nuclear war and the more bellicose the young dictator of North Korea is, the closer we come to something that is accidental that will happen,” he said.
“Certainly North Korea is going to have to be required to uphold all the U.N. sanctions that have been passed against them for both their nuclear program and their ballistic missile program. They’ve completely blown those sanctions and U.N. resolutions off. They definitely are a rogue state and frankly I don’t know what the young dictator wishes to accomplish on this. What I can say is there is no way President Trump will propose or Congress will approve any more food or other aid to North Korea as a result of the fact that ever since Kim Jong Un became dictator things have gotten worse, almost exponentially.”
Turning to the comprehensive tax reform Republicans want to undertake, he said the failure to repeal Obamacare means that its taxes remain in place and $1 trillion less is available for tax relief, and he pinned the blame on Democrats: “Because of the universal Democratic opposition to doing anything with Obamacare, there will be less money for tax relief for middle- income Americans, and they are the ones who are not only going to be paying for this obstructionism on the part of Democrats, also Wisconsin residents who are under Obamacare — and let me make this clear, it’s a relatively small percentage because most people are covered either by Medicare or Medicaid or by an employersponsored health insurance program — they are going to be seeing double-digit increases in the cost of their Obamacare policies that are offered through the exchanges.
“Let me say that members of Congress are under Obamacare; that was a part of the Obamacare law. We are the only federal employees that are required to be under Obamacare if we get health insurance as a part of our employment by the federal government.”
Messages left late Thursday for the men challenging Sensenbrenner in next year’s elections, Democrats Tom Palzewicz and Ramon Hyron Garcia, were not immediately returned.
Tax reform, privacy legislation on deck
Regarding tax reform and the standard mortgage interest deductions enjoyed by homeowners, “there is no proposal that is on the table to do away with” that, Sensenbrenner said. But he predicted fewer state residents would itemize their tax deductions because he expects more exemptions in the tax code, all in the name of simplifying things.
“First of all, it is important to have the tax relief go to middle-income people.
“There will be some tax relief for upper-income people because the top 10 percent pay 70 percent (of federal taxes),” Sensenbrenner said. “You’re going to see people opposed to tax reform zeroing in on that. But No. 1, we have to concentrate it on middle- income people so they can spend more of their own money.
“The president said his proposal for tax reform will basically put $4,000 a year more in the average middle-income person’s pocket. But the other thing we have to look at very strongly is reducing business tax rates.
“We have the highest corporate income tax rate in the world, and that has caused businesses like Johnson Controls to move their headquarters overseas where the business tax rate is much lower, but most small businesses in the country are established as the so-called Subchapter S corporations, so their income and profits are taxed at personal income tax rates.
“Small businesses are what generates economic growth and generates jobs in this country, and the president has proposed reducing the top tax rates for these types of small businesses from the current 39.6 percent top rate to 25 percent. That’ll allow small businesses No. 1 to hire
more people because they will have more disposable income and secondly to give their existing employees bigger raises because they will have more money to do that rather than send it in to the IRS,” Sensenbrenner said.
Sensenbrenner also predicted the passage of the USA LIBERTY Act, to protect Americans from government searches of their communications. The current law on it, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, expires on Dec. 31, “so it has to be extended in one form or another,” he said. The bipartisan effort balances the need to protect Americans’ privacy with the need to protect national security, he said. He added it was important to require the government to get a warrant for gaining access to Americans’ phone logs and records and go before a judge to show a need for that before information can be seized; foreigners are not entitled to such Fourth Amendment rights, he said.
Lastly, Sensenbrenner was asked his thoughts on the national anthem demonstrations in the NFL and President Trump’s call for firing players who participate in them. He said he believes everyone should stand for the anthem out of respect for what the flag stands for and sacrifices of those who fight and have fought to defend it throughout our history.
“This was a case of the NFL owners initially deciding that they were going to be backing their employees rather than backing their customers. Now it seems to me if you are in business, and the NFL is in big business, the customers should come first. I think that’s what the president was stating. But there is no way the government can force anybody to do anything on that,” he said.
“That’s up to the owners in deciding what their employees should do as a way of keeping their customers happy. I certainly don’t want to see politics being injected into sports. I am a great Green Bay Packers fan, my wife and I have season tickets to the Packers, and we go to as many games as we should, and I don’t go to Lambeau Field for a political rally, I go there to watch the Packers win.”
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