Congressman Peter Roskam began his speech Tuesday at a chamber of commerce luncheon in St. Charles with a call to tax reform, but he soon found himself fielding questions about the Keystone Pipeline and immigration and health care reform.
Roskam said too many taxpayers mail their returns either thinking they are getting cheated out of money by a complicated code or living in fear of making costly errors on the forms. He said he favors keeping the mortgage interest and charitable contributions deductions. But the corporate tax rate must be lowered to prevent companies from moving their headquarters overseas, Roskam said.
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"These companies are not being unpatriotic," Roskam said. "They are dealing with an economic reality. They have a duty to their shareholders to maximize shareholder value."
Business leaders at the lunch asked what outlook Roskam has for the future and President Barack Obama's health care law. Roskam predicted an implosion is inevitable, and that may be exactly what some Democrats want, the Wheaton Republican said.
"I don't think this law is going to be existing in its current form in some point in the future," Roskam said. "What's likely to happen is the architects of the Affordable Care Act, I think, created it so that it would collapse into a single-payer system. And I think they put it together so quickly that it is collapsing even as they're trying to put it together. It's my hope that we are able to move this into a much more consumer-oriented system."
Roskam also told the audience he believes the Keystone XL Pipeline will be built, but probably not during Obama's tenure.
"It is widely supported on both sides of the political aisle," Roskam said. "It is now becoming absurd and ridiculous for the administration to continue to say there's more that needs to be studied or evaluated. And if President Obama doesn't find it in his capacity to say 'yes,' I have a high level of confidence that the next president of the United States, regardless of who that person is, is likely to say 'yes.' It is not credible any more to say that there are substantive objections to it."
Nebraska's state Supreme Court is set to tackle a case next month about whether or not the governor has the power to approve pipeline routes, but Roskam pointed to the U.S. State Department report issued earlier this year that said there would be no significant environment damage caused by the pipeline as evidence for his stance.
Finally, Roskam told the audience as long as the focus is on voting on one piece of comprehensive immigration reform, actual reform is unlikely.
"The word 'comprehensive' is about the most toxic word in American public life today," Roskam said. "The idea of coming in with one solution that's going to fix it all, I think, is a pipe dream."
Roskam said Republicans want to see measures to secure the border with Mexico first. Second, they want to beef up monitoring of immigrant visas to prevent the millions of cases of immigrants who stay after the visas expire. After those two steps, then the remaining pieces of immigration can be considered individually, Roskam said.
"The Senate immigration proposal is an all-or-nothing proposal," he said. "I think that if it's an all-or-nothing solution, I've found that you get nothing every time."