Member of Congress, U.S. House of Representatives
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On The Record
Why are you the best candidate for Congress?
I have put families and small businesses first, and intensely focused on getting Illinoisans back to work. I pursued legislative solutions to create opportunities for job growth and hope for those facing rising food, transportation and healthcare costs. Locally, I convened community leaders to combat heroin and painkiller abuse, resolve healthcare challenges for our veterans and get qualified specialists into air traffic controller jobs. I worked with schools and parents to keep a close eye on the roll out of the Common Core Standards and called on the state to “pause” the effort until local education leaders could fully understand the impact. I have consistently said “no” to policies that grow the size of government and burden our children with more debt; and “yes” to legislation that helps them prosper. I have steadfastly fought to ensure Americans can practice what they believe, regardless of faith, as our forefathers intended. I have fought to preserve families—the backbone of our country. I still believe America can be a land of opportunity for honest and hardworking citizens. I want to continue to serve the people of the 14th District so that I can keep fighting for jobs, families, and limited government.
The U.S. faces a $17 trillion (and rising) debt burden. Can this debt be paid down without raising taxes? Where can spending be cut?
Washington has a spending problem, and both parties are to blame. Americans follow a budget every month, but the federal government spends more than it takes in, and borrows to pay its obligations. I have pushed for serious budget constraint tools, such as “zero-based” and biennial budgeting which frees legislators to eliminate costly and outdated programs through more oversight. The best way to grow jobs and tax revenue is reducing bloated government and letting people keep more of what they earn. It’s the wrong time to raise taxes after the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression. Instead, intelligent tax reform could fix existing economic distortions while raising overall tax revenue by broadening the base. The budget proposal the House passed in April outlines meaningful spending cuts while strengthening social safety net programs which are on an unsustainable path. It reduces spending by $5.1 trillion and balances in 10 years, lowers tax rates for individuals, businesses and families, reduces the size of government to 18.9% of GDP by 2017, and offers Medicare beneficiaries a premium support program. It maintains my promise to preserve Social Security and Medicare for those 55 and older, ensuring they experience no changes or benefits cuts.
Where do you stand on immigration reform?
Our country has always welcomed immigrants in search of better opportunities. My grandfather sailed from Sweden and began his pursuit of the American Dream as a doorman at Marshall Field’s in Chicago. Unfortunately, the current system is so flawed that fixing it requires a careful and measured approach. I believe the Senate bill falls into the same trap of the 1986 bill, throwing money at the problem without actually fixing it. My plan: 1. Secure the border by providing our law enforcement forces with officers and the latest technologies available, and a proper biometric entry-exit system. 2. Ensure businesses respect our nation’s laws and American workers by using electronic systems to verify legal status of potential hires. 3. Update our visa system to address necessary agricultural and high-skilled workers, and ensure we support the family as the best social safety net. While I cannot accept amnesty as a viable path forward, all undocumented immigrants must get right with the law, admit their guilt, and pay necessary fines and back taxes. We should welcome productive members of society who go through the legal process to obtain proper status.
What can be changed or improved about the Affordable Care Act? If you favor its repeal, what yould you replace it with?
Few Americans are able to make sound and affordable decisions for themselves and their families within our current confusing healthcare system, and few have felt secure under the President’s healthcare law. My constituents had plans canceled, benefits eliminated, or lost long-time family doctors. Every repeal vote in the House was a protest on behalf of my constituents against a broken roll out and against the repeated executive actions. In the same circumstance, I would vote that way again. Congress passed and the President signed into law several changes to the ACA to make it better, including eliminating the financially unsound long-term health CLASS Act program and repealing onerous tax reporting for small businesses. I believe there are better approaches which spur competition and provide incentives for people to maintain health insurance, expand access to Health Savings Accounts, reform medical malpractice laws and stop government’s intrusion on religious freedoms. Alternatives give greater flexibility to Medicare patients, tackle fraud, and address our doctor shortage through medical student loans. As more insurance companies compete in the Illinois health exchange, I welcome this movement toward offering more choice which should result in driving premium costs down.
Approval ratings for Congress are far from ideal, and that's largely because of partisan rhetoric and the inability to compromise. If elected, will you be willing to reach across the aisle and work with members of the opposite party to resolve this country's many issues? Explain.
I routinely work with my Democrat colleagues. I believe we can all agree on 80% of any issue facing the nation and we can make incremental change by focusing our solutions in that direction. We should concentrate on building relationships and working on common goals to help address the other 20% without being divisive. The House has passed dozens of bills to help create jobs and put families on more solid ground. Many of those bills that passed the House were bipartisan bills, but ended up stuck in the Senate. The best kept secret in the Capitol is that bipartisanship is working to tackle our nation’s bigger issues. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) and I worked to protect tax-exempt municipal bonds. On the Science Committee, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and I promote basic scientific research at national labs like Fermilab to support job growth. While I still support reforming the Export-Import Bank, I worked with my Democrat colleagues on a short term authorization to support dozens of employers in my district that depend on it to export their products. I cosponsored a bill which passed the House to permanently prevent government from taxing internet services which hurts families and small businesses.
No Child Left Behind and the Common Core State Standards are education initiatives that have – and will – dramatically impact students in this area. What specifically do you think those impacts should be? If not with Common Core, how do you propose improving U.S. education performance vs. foreign countries that are doing much better? How do you view the state of education in the U.S. and Illinois? And what if anything would you look to change?
Parents and teachers should have the freedom to decide what’s best for their children’s education—without federal intrusion. This principle of choice should extend throughout our education system. Flexibility allows schools to try new ideas and tailor their classrooms to students. No parent should be forced into a poor school because of their zip code. Our Illinois education system is in peril. The Common Core is one of several solutions proposed. After conducting a fact-finding effort with parents, educators and community leaders to pinpoint education solutions, I believe these nationalized standards threaten local control and impose a one-size-fits-all approach. Excessive testing hurts our students and costs local schools millions of dollars they don’t have and could spend elsewhere. Illinois should push the pause button on Common Core and return education control to parents and teachers. In the 14th District, I launched the Higher Education Advisory Committee of community college presidents to develop workforce and training solutions for high school students and beyond. As co-chair of the House STEM Education Caucus and co-chair of the House Science and National Labs Caucus, I participated in the “Hour of Code” computer science initiative, hosted a ‘hackathon’ at Fermilab, and supported local robotics teams.
What role should the U.S. play in regards to the ongoing conflicts throughout the Mideast, including conflicts instigated by terror groups?
When America is strong abroad, we are kept secure at home. When our leadership wavers, rogue elements and terrorist organizations seize the opportunity and assert themselves. Bullies like Russia, and terrorist organizations like ISIL, thrive on uncertainty and weakness. In August, I traveled with a bipartisan congressional group to Israel and saw firsthand the existential threats it faces every day. This tiny nation isn’t looking to expand — just to survive. We must strengthen our friendship with the only truly free democracy in the Middle East. Above all, we must protect American interests in the Middle East. The President claimed that the “the tide of war is receding” when pulling out the troops from Iraq, but it’s grown only more intense as ISIL carries out its bloodthirsty mission. The United States must project its authority in the region, or else the vacuum will be quickly filled by Iran or others. We need to act boldly to stop the advance of ISIL without empowering Iran or pulling ourselves into yet another conflict overseas. This includes ensuring the Iraqi government takes charge over internal security. We can’t keep propping up struggling governments. Iraq must be ready to defend its country without our help.