Manhattan’s new congressman Tim Huelskamp spoke last Friday, Aug. 23, about issues facing Americans today. In 2012, Manhattan was moved into Kansas’ 1st Congressional District. Huelskamp said this was the first town hall meeting to be held in the city for years.
“Every day in America about 10,000 Americans turn 65,” Huelskamp said. “The issues we face today are going to get more difficult as our population ages.”
Looking around the Manhattan Public Library meeting space, Huelskamp said, “People here won’t be paying the debt.”
Though there were few young people in attendance, Huelskamp was not shy about criticizing the nation’s older generations, whom he said are borrowing more money than their descendants will be able to pay off.
“We’re not just borrowing a lot from Americans,” Huelskamp said. “We’re borrowing from foreign countries.”
Huelskamp warned that Americans are allowing the government to grow to an unprecedented size and that it is becoming oppressive. On several levels, said the congressman, government regulators are needlessly interfering in civilians’ daily lives.
In Washington, the National Security Agency is violating the Fourth Amendment on a large scale, according to Huelskamp. In March the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, told Congress that the NSA does not collect any data on millions of Americans. In June, however, leaked documents revealed that the agency was collecting all of Verizon’s cell phone records on a regular basis.
Huelskamp said that Clapper had misled Congress and must be held accountable. He argued that, while some operations need to be classified, Congress must be allowed to oversee these operations.
“We live in a republic,” Huelskamp said. “Even the author of the Patriot Act has said that we’ve gone too far.”
Speaking to the Collegian after the event, Huelskamp encouraged K-State students to be more active in politics.
“The folks who are going to get impacted the most are the ones who aren’t engaged,” he said. “Students are graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. The downturn is going to hit students the hardest.”
George Weston, a K-State graduate with master’s in public administration and sociology, said the meeting was unique.
The congressman “did not really avoid any individuals or questions,” Weston said. “Huelskamp seemed to welcome dissent and understand that his job is to represent his constituents.”
Weston said he appreciated that Huelskamp, a Republican, stands by his principles and is willing to stand up to Republican party leaders.