By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Hutchinson, hosted a town hall forum Wednesday at Rose Garden Banquet Hall to address health care, the national debt, domestic spying and other topics.
On the heels of his 200th town hall in Plainville, the representative from Kansas's First Congressional District spoke to approximately 80 people.
Huelskamp said his constituents do not support the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. It is an attack on religious liberty to force people to pay into a health care system that covers abortion and contraceptives, he said.
"I'm here for Kansans to say, 'Hey, we are not participating. Send us the fine or penalty, we're not paying that either,' " he said. "We refuse to be coerced by Washington."
The representative said he has been unable to sign up for Obamacare since Oct. 1. Republicans oppose a clause in the system that grants Congress special privileges with their coverage, he said.
"This is from the same folks who said Obamacare is good enough for you, but it's not good enough for them," he said.
Huelskamp also questioned why certain big businesses are exempt from providing coverage and unions do not have to pay certain fees. Approximately 10 million to 15 million Americans will have their plans canceled because of the new regulations, Huelskamp said.
The representative also said Obamacare's website was a failure.
"How can you spend hundreds of millions of dollars more than Facebook does and come up with a product like that?" he said.
Huelskamp said he does not expect another government shutdown in January because Congress likely will renew the current budget.
He said the government has not been forthcoming about the National Security Agency's domestic and international spying program.
"Every time they have told us something in closed-door hearings, I usually read about it on the front page paper a day later that said it was untrue," Huelskamp said. "They have lied to me."
One attendee said the local Community Based Outreach Clinic for veterans does not serve females or employ veterans. Huelskamp said Republicans have challenged Veterans Affairs to cover access to other health care providers and address its systematic failures.
Huelskamp also said proposals for immigration reform are misguided.
"The plan, in my opinion, is a sham on border security," he said. "It does border security after it begins the process of a path to citizenship. I think that's backwards."
Huelskamp said he has proposed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
"I have 50 co-sponsors, which makes absolutely clear in our federal Constitution that marriage is a union between one man and one woman," he said.
Huelskamp criticized the government for barricading the World War II Memorial, running a $17.1 trillion debt, risking inflation by printing new money every month and not allowing Congress to audit the Federal Reserve.
The representative also targeted excessive regulations and pointed to ones that require braille on drive-up ATM machines and dust control on farms.