Callahan: U.S. needs mandatory public service program

Adriana Colindres

Democratic congressional hopeful Colleen Callahan says she’d like to see the United States adopt a mandatory public service program, in part to encourage participation “in the life of our country.”

But she doesn’t expect that kind of program to materialize anytime soon.

Still, she added: “We should all take a more active role in what I call the life of our country. I think we give patriotism some lip service oftentimes. We get up, we participate in our own lives, but I don’t know how many of us get up every morning and think about the life of our country.”

Mandatory public service was one of several topics discussed when Callahan appeared Tuesday at a meeting of The (Springfield) State Journal-Register editorial board. The editorial board interviews political candidates as part of the newspaper’s process of making endorsements for the Nov. 4 election.

The idea of mandatory public service came up when Callahan was questioned about a comment she made a few weeks ago concerning the possible reinstitution of a mandatory military draft.

“The fairest way for us to rebuild the strength in our military is with a draft,” she told the editorial board, adding that she isn’t referring to the revival of a 1960s-style draft.

Military service could be one way to fulfill the terms of a mandatory public service program, but there also would be other options, she said. Federal government should “reprioritize” the way it spends money so that financial incentives could be offered to people performing certain kinds of public service, Callahan added.

Here’s a synopsis of her comments on a couple of other subjects.

*The $700 billion federal bailout plan of the financial industry:

Callahan said she would not have supported the version of the plan the U.S. House rejected Sept. 29. But the revised version, which the House, Senate and president OK’d later in the week, addressed many of her concerns, and she said she would have voted for it. For example, she said, the revised plan includes an oversight committee and calls for distributing the bailout money on an incremental basis.

*The federal estate tax, which some call the “death tax,” that presently gets imposed on estates worth more than $1 million:

Callahan, a businesswoman and former farm broadcaster who lives in Kickapoo, said she favors changes that would result in changing the level at which the estate tax would take effect. She thinks the tax should not apply to individual estates of $5 million or less, or for joint estates of $10 million or less. Larger estates would be taxed at 15 percent, she said.

Callahan, Republican state Rep. Aaron Schock and Green Party candidate Sheldon Schafer seek election in the 18th Congressional District, a post that U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Peoria, is leaving early next year. The district is a 20-county region in central and west-central Illinois that includes the city of Peoria and part of Springfield.

Adriana Colindres can be reached at (217) 782-6292.