U.S. Representative - 14th District
Voting will take place Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Voters will be able to select 1 candidates in this race. The 1 candidates with the most votes will be elected.
Winner in this race will be elected for a term of 2 years.
Click a question below to display the candidates' answers to that question.
Why are you the best candidate for Congress?
I am a citizen candidate, raised by two Republicans who, were they still alive, would not recognize their Party. I am running to represent people like them, people who believe that we Americans are all in this together. While we may disagree about some issues, we all want the same things – good jobs, reasonable hope of a comfortable retirement, safe neighborhoods and good schools for our children. I will work with anyone, regardless of party, who is willing to sit down and have serious, fact-based discussions. I carry no political debts or obligations; I am not seeking to begin a new career. Like most Americans, I am simply frustrated with Congressional gridlock and believe that the voices of average Americans are not being heard in Washington.
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?
Cutting the debt and deficit should be viewed not as ends, but as means. If cutting does not stimulate the economy, and there is no evidence that it has, then perhaps we ought to rethink our approach. During the last Administration, Congress by and large had no problem running up huge deficits and adding to the debt with income tax cuts not paid for and two unfunded wars. During this Administration, many of those same people have focused on cutting programs that support the least well-off of our fellow citizens while continuing to cut taxes for the most well off. There is no large organization, public or private, that does not suffer inefficiencies, and government should seek to reduce spending wherever returns do not merit existing levels of spending. If we can save by negotiating Medicare drug prices, by reducing tax privileges and subsidies for massively profitable corporations, cutting expenditures on weapons systems that no one wants (or that don’t work), let’s do it. One thing is certain – we should take care that whatever cuts we make do not make life more difficult for average and poor Americans who have not benefitted from the current recovery nearly so much as corporations and the wealthiest among us.
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?
We need comprehensive immigration reform; something that some public polling has consistently shown is popular with the American people. The Senate’s 2013 bill, supported by both Illinois Senators Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Mark Kirk, met the requirements set by the Republican majority in both the Senate and the House. I am generally supportive of the bill, although I feel that it spends too much on militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border. Since 1993, the budget of the U.S. Border Patrol has increased nearly 10-fold. The number of Border Patrol agents has doubled since 2003. Benchmarks set in previous bills for border control personnel, fencing, and surveillance have been met, and yet the undocumented population has grown to an estimated 11 million. While it may appeal to those who want to “get tough”, the “enforcement-first” immigration control strategy, like the “War on Drugs”, has been a failure. We need a comprehensive approach, the American people want a comprehensive approach, and I support a comprehensive approach.
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?
I would not vote to repeal the ACA. Some 8 million people have signed up under the ACA, and the number of uninsured Americans is at the lowest level since Gallup began tracking it. The percentage of uninsured poor has dropped from 28% to 17% in Medicaid expansion states. These numbers would be even better if all of the Nation’s governors had embraced the expansion, and had there not been efforts by many members of Congress to discourage people from enrolling. The private sector, which has fewer uninsured people, is a good thing for American families, for business, and for health care costs. Clearly, the ACA can be improved, and Congress should focus on improvement. Control of pharmaceutical prices is critical to control of health care costs. Increasing evidence exists that insurers, now unable to deny insurance due to preexisting conditions, are changing their plans to discourage people on high-cost drug regimens (e.g. HIV, cancer and hepatitis C patients) from enrolling in their plans. We need to look at the effects of the ACA on such preexisting health insurance schemes as multiemployer plans to ensure that good plans that meet ACA requirements are not penalized.
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 am absolutely ready to work across the aisle in the House. Americans are united in wanting the same things: secure jobs, faith that we will be able to retire without sinking into poverty, good schools, a clean environment, and the hope that our children will do better than we did. While there may be differences of opinion as to how our shared goals can be achieved, we absolutely will not arrive at solutions unless there is meaningful debate of the possible alternative courses we might take. It is in the almost complete lack of such debate that the current Congress, and in particular the House, is failing. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent or other, the House has done nothing for you in recent years, focused as they have been on multiple and redundant investigations, suing the President, or voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act in excess of 50 times. Meanwhile, the economic recovery has barely reached Middle America, with middle class salaries and wages continuing their decades-long stagnation. I am running to represent all of the people of the 14th District, not just Democrats, Republicans, Independents or others, but all the people. Governing requires compromise.
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?
Quality public education ought to be the right of all American children, and our public schools ought to be the very best schools available anywhere. When I was in grade school, the Nation committed itself to improve science and mathematics education in response to the challenges of the then-young space exploration race. We need to commit as a Nation to another such effort. The challenges now are even greater, given our international standings and the stakes in an increasingly competitive world. We need to be concerned about the cost of post-secondary education, given the mounting debts with which so many students are faced. We need to recognize that education is an investment in the future not only of our students, but also of the Nation itself. Teaching should be treated as the vital activity it is, and our teachers ought to well trained, well paid and respected for the work they do. Standards ought to be high, and the public ought to be concerned about the adoption of curricula that fail to adequately train their children. We must ensure that all students have access to the latest educational technology. It is a truism that ignorance will cost us far more than will education.
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 deciding upon our policy course in the Mideast – or elsewhere – we must ask “What is the long-term outcome we hope for, and is that outcome likely to be achieved by our proposed policy?” The disintegration of Iraq following our withdrawal was predictable in February of 2003. We took apart two governments, both highly objectionable, apparently in the belief that we could replace them with a form of governance highly foreign to those nations. No one will benefit by doubling down on an ill-conceived policy and the sacrifice more mothers’ sons and daughters to a military venture that is unlikely to bring about a stable and democratic Middle East unless we and/or our allies are committed to staying on, possibly for decades, to foster the growth of democracy. Our role should be to engage in meaningful dialogue with nations in the region, along with others in the international community, with the goal of stabilizing the region. We can also play a limited role in containing the terrorist groups that continue to threated regional stability.
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.