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Four seek chance to face Halvorson in November

GOP Congressional hopefuls discuss health care, tort reform, other issues

Four candidates are seeking the Republican nomination in the Feb. 2 primary to run for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 11th district in the November general election.

The winner of the primary will run against incumbent Democrat Debbie Halvorson.

Republican candidates are Adam Kinzinger of Bloomington, David McAloon of Bourbonnais, Henry Meers Jr. of Frankfort, and Darrel Miller of Danvers.

Adam Kinzinger, 31, is a pilot with the Air National Guard Special Operations Command, having served since 2003. Prior to that, he served two terms – having been elected in 1998 and 2002 — on the McLean County Board.

Kinzinger said he favors a freeze on discretionary spending, but with entitlements approaching 60 percent of the entire budget, serious reform is needed in that area.

Kinzinger also said the tax code needs to be reformed.

"I would like to see a tax code with many fewer deductions and special credits on both the personal and corporate side and a tax code that does more to encourage growth," he said. "We should eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax for middle-class families. Congress should act now to make the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 permanent."

"We should never have a tax on anyone where the government gets more than 50 percent of an additional dollar earned," he said.

Concerning health care, Kinzinger said there are fundamental distortions in the U.S. system that lead to spiraling costs and a growing number of people without health insurance.

Individuals and small businesses should be allowed to shop anywhere in the country for health insurance and should be able to band together to buy insurance as a group. Associations should also be allowed to band together and purchase health insurance as a group, taking advantage of larger risk pool.

Kinzinger said meaningful tort reform is also needed.

"At least 10 percent of all health care costs are thought to be the result of malpractice liability fear, roughly $200 billion, and potentially the number is far higher," he said.

A first step is a clear cap on non-economic damages.

"I believe government is at the heart of most problems with the health care system — from high costs to lack of coverage options and lack of reward for high quality care," Kingzinger said.

Kinzinger said he held eight town hall forums on health care and other issues that were attended by more than 2,000 people.

"I was the only candidate to hold such forums, not only to hear their concerns, but also discuss my vision for the 11th district," he said.

Afghanistan, he said, is one of the vital fronts in the war on terrorism.

"I commend President Obama for understanding the importance by sending 30,000 additional troops to quash the increased violence. Our military commanders can now effectively begin the process of preparing for the additional troops to reverse the Taliban's momentum," Kinzinger said.

In Irag, he said, "We need to keep the United States military engaged in a training and combat support role in assisting the Iraqi government in the mission of securing the nation."

"I have served two tours in Afghanistan and three in Iraq," he said, "and I cannot stress enough the importance of the mission of defeating terrorism."

David McAloon, 45, is the television and media producer for Family Harvest Church and owns McAloon Consulting. He has been a member of the church since 1994, and is a member of the board of Illinois Center Right Coalition.

McAloon and his wife, Barbara, have two sons.

"My personal and business experiences, as well as my comprehension of public policy, gives me a unique view point and wisdom for the position in the U.S. Congress," he said. "I have been a small business owner and active citizen since the age of 26."

He added, "Most importantly, I am not part of the corrupt political machine that has lead us down this path for 25 years."

Concerning health care reform, McAloon said the current proposals are a power grab for big government.

"I would work for real reform based on the foundation of privately owned, citizen controlled health care, not something controlled by bureaucrats in Washington D.C. Real tort reform is also needed," he said.

For the economy, McAloon said "we need lower taxes and fees on working families and small businesses. By simplifying the tax code, this will allow people to prosper by their hard work."

War has been declared on America and her citizens and it is being fought all over the world, not just Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

"The generals in the field have many times stated what they need to win. We need to give the soldiers the tools, weapons and intelligence they need to get the job done and come home," McAloon said.

Henry Meers Jr., 63, is currently a real estate investor. He received a bachelor's degree from Lake Forest College and worked for several companies, including A. G. Edwards and Merrill Lynch, before starting Spectrum Dispensing and developing a soft drink dispensing system.

He was on the board of the Rainbow Council Boy Scouts for four years and director of the USO board in Illinois.

He and his wife, Cecily, have three children.

Concerning health care, Meers said he would create competition by removing regulations, which allow insurance companies to operate only in select markets.

He would favor individuals being able to select insurance and maintain it as long as they chose to. It would be portable from job to job. He would cap premium increases to prevent large, sudden increases in the cost of coverage.

Medical savings accounts would augment basic coverage as a form of co-payment.

He also favors tort reform to protect doctors and hospitals from egregious judgments without unduly restricting the rights of patients who suffer genuine malpractice.

Concerning the deficit, Meers said, "I am no defender of the spending measures of the Bush Administration and the Congress that led to a deficit. However, it is duplicitous to complain about such past actions, then add an unprecedented additional burden on our children and grandchildren."

Darrel Miller, 56, is a self-employed farmer. He received a bachelor's degree in natural science from Goshen College.

He and his wife, Lynette, have three children.

Darrel Miller stressed fixing the financial system and bipartisam cooperation.

“I want to be part of capping the size of our largest financial institutions so that none are too big to fail,” Miller said. “Our government may not be fiscally capable of bailing out banks again. Financial institutions should be limited in size so they fail safely without threatening the stability of our financial system.”

More bipartisan effort and cooperation is needed on huge issues facing the country, like financial system, health care and immigration reform, and budget deficits. These efforts are shut out by the extremely partisan leaders from both parties, he said.

The mortgage relief program must work better. Like if a homeowner is faced with foreclosure and the bank takes the house and sells it at its appraised value — which the homeowner can afford — the bank should first offer the house to the homeowner at that price. It makes no difference to the bank, and is much better for the community and neighborhood.

On issues of health care and immigration, there are partial measures where agreement can serve as a bipartisan first step to more-comprehensive solutions in the future.

Miller hopes the nation can step back and take another start at health care reform. The hardest issues are pre-existing conditions and medical cost inflation. A more-vigorous health environment will help keep costs down, but it is not enough to keep rising costs in line. He does not, however, support the public option that has been proposed.

The nation’s  involvement in Iraq unfortunately diverted our focus from  Afghanistan, Miller said. An orderly transfer of authority needs to be continued in Iraq. President Bush had promised a Marshall Plan of development for Afghanistan that never materialized, but would have been the best time to try and win hearts and minds after 9/11, he said.

“Now we are doing wonderful projects to win hearts and minds, but I believe the window of opportunity for that may have largely closed,” he said. “The best option is to support development projects while we transfer security activities to Afghanis, and negotiate to bring marginal Taliban back into normal economic and civic activities.”

Miller supports the general time horizon of withdrawing most forces.

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