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Sen. Mark Kirk Lays Out Plan for Economic Recovery at Elmhurst College Sunday

The Illinois junior senator shared his thoughts on the economy and fielded questions from the audience.

Americans know tough times are ahead, and they want leaders that will level with them in order to do the hard work to “master the challenges of a new century,” Sen. told a full auditorium Sunday night at Elmhurst College.

Kirk was the guest speaker in the college’s series, The Democracy Forum.

In broad strokes, Kirk outlined an economic recovery plan he said would “save the economic future of the country.” Kirk, a Highland Park Republican, said the plan includes closing lobbying loopholes in the federal tax code that would allow the government to lower income tax levels for the top tiers from 39 percent to 29 percent. Additionally, the plan calls for ending agricultural subsidies and reforming Social Security and Medicare.

Kirk said the plan has the support of about 45 senators from both sides of the political aisle, including Illinois’ senior Sen. Dick Durbin. Additionally the plan calls for the D.C. Super Committee, comprised of members of the Senate and House, to “go big” by seeking $4 trillion in debt reduction, rather than its mandate of $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

The Super Committee has until Nov. 23 to come up with its recommendations or face automatic cuts in military and entitlement spending. Kirk said he was fairly confident the committee would meet its deadlines for a plan to reduce the nations’ $15 trillion deficit, so it can take advantage of a special dispensation that would allow the Senate to pass recommendations with only 51 votes.

Kirk warned that if federal lawmakers don’t get control of the national “spending problem,” the nation could face financial unrest of the likes currently seen in Greece and other European countries.

During his 30 minute address, Kirk hinted at the need to end military aide to Pakistan in light of accusations of that country’s intelligence organization’s involvement with terrorism. He also pointed out the threat of Iran and highlighted the political corruption in Illinois. 

Kirk took the time to respond to questions from the audience, which ranged from immigration reform to taxes to jobs.

Kirk said improving the national infrastructure, which he said could be paid for through public and private partnerships like the type used by Abraham Lincoln to fund the transcontinental railroad, could put about $100 billion into the economy.

“We could give new life to Lincoln's economic legacy by building roads, airports and railroads using public-private partnerships," Kirk said.

Kirk also touted the need for a 401(kids) program, which would allow parents to set up a tax-deferred account to begin saving for their children’s future. He said parents could use it as a teaching tool to “teach savings and investments to young Americans.” Such a savings plan would have resources under the control of average Americans and not the government, he said.

Rachel Nelson, a student at Elmhurst College, asked Kirk about supporting the DREAM Act, which would help those brought to this country illegally as children by providing a path to citizenship if they go to college or join the military.

Kirk, who has not supported the DREAM Act, said the southern U.S. border needs to be secured to protect national security interests before any real discussion of illegal immigration can take place. 

Former Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives Lee Daniels, also an Elmhurst College staff member, called Illinois’ junior senator one of the top leaders in the United States “representing all that is good and just in our complex society.”

“We need, more than ever, a leader that will guide us through these challenging and tumultuous times. Sen. Kirk is just such a man,” Daniels said.

KMCR November 07, 2011 at 09:39 PM
I'm a Democrat...but do we not have a leader of the caliber of Jim Edgar, who was a Republican, and whom I supported? When you identify with one party or another in Illinois NOW, you identify with a very broad-brush philosophy. In my opinion, we need a leader who rejects party politics. Is there anyone left out there? Sadly, no! It's so discouraging to think that we "raise" candidates that are so party controlled/party centric/party supported/ that there is no creative thinking left. We need a creative thinker, who is willing to go against the party politics. But.....she won't be elected :( I'm so afraid that we'll become Wisconsin. "The Mississippi of the North"! God help us.
Jim Court November 07, 2011 at 10:30 PM
Please expand on your comment about Wisconsin.
John Q Public November 07, 2011 at 11:14 PM
KMCR, your comments are right on, but realistically, because of the control of the radical fringe on both sides, even if that person existed, there is little to no chance they ever get the job. To survive a primary in either party, one has to move dramatically left or right to win. Sadly, the majority of Americans don't vote in general elections. Even fewer vote in primaries. Those that do vote in the primaries are the radical wing nuts on both sides. Those voters tend not to like pragmatic leaders. They tend to like politicans who support what they support (2nd amendment, abortion, tax increases, etc). Then, the primary winners try to come back to center, but have a tough time governing because of positions they took/groups they aligned with in the primaries. Just ask Obama. Jim Edgar in his prime probably does not get elected today because of what the system has become. I don't have the answer, or even a proposal for a solution, but it is scary. I'm curious as to who the "she" is in your second to last sentence. I hope not Palin, Clinton or Bachman. Please tell me that isn't the case...
Doremus Jessup November 07, 2011 at 11:35 PM
So we have to put up an electric fence before Senator Kirk will talk about the Dream Act. I say pass the Dream Act now. Why pay to educate someone with our tax money only to ship them back to the country of their parents? Legitimize these dreamers and we boost our taxes, our Social Security and we drive up demand in our housing sector as well.
Steven Bayne November 08, 2011 at 03:31 PM
Mark Kirk says one thing at home and another thing in D.C. He is a leapard. Given a choice, as a strong fiscal conservative, my preference for U.S. Senate would be Rahm Emanuel over Kirk, such is the value of actions over words.

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