Incumbent Donald A. Manzullo, a Republican from Egan, is being challenged by George W. Gaulrapp, a Democrat from Freeport, for the 16th Congressional seat. Gaulrapp is the mayor of Freeport.
Q. What is your No. 1 campaign issue?
Manzullo. Helping employers put Americans back to work through sound fiscal policy that reduces taxes, spending and burdensome regulations, reduces our national debt, and limits the size and scope of the federal government. You can view my American Jobs Agenda at http://www.manzullo.org/anamericanjobsagendaaugust.pdf.
Q. What is your No. 2 campaign issue?
Manzullo. Transportation, infrastructure improvements such as road and rail construction and improvement and clean water projects such as on the Fox River and the Groundwater and Stormwater Protection program of McHenry County.
Q. What is your No. 3 campaign issue?
As I have campaigned over the past several months, job loss is the most important issue. From Crystal Lake to Freeport, Galena, Thomson, and Rockford, many people want and need jobs. Employment can and will solve many problems.
Manzullo. Improve access to affordable, quality health care.
Q. What are the suburbs' most pressing transportation needs? What will you advocate for to help with the state's infrastructure challenges? How do you, if at all, propose funding the STAR Line rail project? Do you support or oppose O'Hare expansion?
Gaulrapp. Upgrades to the transportation system.
The Metra Star line would link nearly 100 communities over a 55 mile route from O'Hare airport to Joliet and Elgin. Funding will come from a portion of the TEA-3 bill. This project is an estimated $1.2 billion dollar project which exceeds the prorated share to Illinois based on population. Unfortunately, Illinois would have difficulty with coming up with state matching funds at this time. The project has great economic potential that would need to be funded several budget cycles.
Manzullo. The only part of the Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) that I represent is most of McHenry County. Thus, my most pressing transportation need in the suburbs that I represent is building the Western Bypass in Algonquin (at the intersection of Illinois Routes 31 and 62). In 1998, I secured $9 million in the Surface Transportation bill for this project. During the next reauthorization of this bill in 2005, I joined Senators Durbin and Obama in securing another $10 million for this project. We need the state of Illinois to step up to the plate, expedite the studies, and start building the bypass. Thanks to the leadership of State Rep. Mike Tryon and State Sen. Pam Althoff, the state capital bill includes the remaining money needed to complete the Western Bypass project. Construction is scheduled to begin next year. Also, I secured nearly $20 million for seven other major transportation projects in McHenry County, above and beyond the regular allocation through the state highway funding formulas. I am a strong supporter of Metra and Amtrak, and the STAR Line rail project should receive special attention and focus during the upcoming debate over the surface transportation reauthorization. I also support O'Hare's expansion as well as expanded use of the less congested Chicago-Rockford International Airport.
Q. Is government debt a problem? If so, what should be done? If you were in Congress at the time, how did you vote on measures, including the financial reform bill? Are you against earmarks? Will you accept them? Should taxes be cut at the federal level?
Gaulrapp. Government debt is a serious concern, both in the amount and who holds the debt. As the Mayor of Freeport, we cut $900,000 out of the proposed budget. I froze my pay in the 2009 budget and cut 10 percent of my wages in 2010. Our Alderman followed in the next months and cut their pay 10 percent. All of Congress should make those concessions. Leadership starts at the top. We should be cutting across the board except in the Armed Forces. Financial reform is needed. Earmarks, if transparent, and used for necessary infrastructure like water treatment, roadways are good.
Tax cuts that retain or create jobs are good.
Manzullo. Yes, government debt is a significant problem because the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently estimated that if present trends continue, the per person debt burden will dramatically increase from the present level of $29,178 in 2010 to $279,738 by 2050. This is unsustainable. First, we need to focus on reigning in spending by reducing the size and scope of the federal government. We need to stop digging ourselves deeper in to the debt hole by opposing the creation or expansion of government programs. That is why from January 2009, I have voted over 280 times to cut spending by $1.43 trillion. We also need to focus on entitlement reform because mandatory spending, which primarily consists of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, comprises approximately 60 percent of the entire federal budget. The proposals as contained in the Road map for America's Future, authored by Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, the senior Republican on the House Budget Committee, shed insight on how to debate these issues (http://www.roadmap.republicans.budget.house.gov/).
I voted against the financial services regulatory reform bill because it provided unlimited authority to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to borrow from the Treasury to prevent banks that they determine are "too big to fail" from causing overall financial instability. With several large banks having over $1 trillion in assets, this establishes a troublesome precedent where large financial institutions can eventually go back to their risky ways knowing that there will always be a federal backstop in case their risky decisions go bad. Thus, this newly enacted law will privatize the profits and socialize the risks. In addition, there was not even one word in the so-called financial reform bill that did anything to reform the primary cause of the 2008 financial crisis the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two housing Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) that purchased the bad paper (subprime mortgages that had little or no prospect of being repaid) on the secondary market.
In principle, I am not against earmarks because they have been part of our nation's heritage since the First Congress appropriated funds to build the first federal public works project in 1789 the Cape Henry lighthouse near Virginia Beach, Virginia. The U.S. Constitution gives the sole authority to Congress in Article I in Section 9 to appropriate money from the Treasury. Cutting earmarks would only give nonelected officials full reign and discretion on how to spend the entire amount of money Congress appropriates to various programs. Without earmarks, northern Illinois would not have received anything in the last federal road bill because all of it would have been sent to the state of Illinois to be used at the Governor's discretion. More than $6.2 billion in federal road funds was sent to former Governor Rod Blagojevich in 2005, and it took until 2009 for the state of Illinois to finally get a capital plan passed on how to spend it.
Eliminating Congressional earmarks will also not save any money either. Earmarks come out of accounts in which the overall level of spending has already been determined. Also, both the Executive and Judicial Branches of our government also request Congress to enact earmarks into law on specific projects they deem important.
However, there needs to be further reforms to the Congressional earmarking process. That is why I support House Republicans' call for a one-year moratorium on earmarking until we can enact reforms to ensure earmarks are justified. I also co-sponsored H.Res. 1289 that urged House Democrats to join House Republicans in this earmark moratorium. As a result, I will not request, accept, or vote for an earmark during this moratorium period. Thus far in 2010, I have voted for every amendment that would eliminate a specific spending earmark.
With regard to federal tax issues, part of my American Jobs Agenda plan (http://www.manzullo.org/americanjobsagendajuly.pdf) contains a series of tax reform and tax cutting measures in Point 4 designed primarily to encourage private sector job creation. However, my primary focus in the coming months is to prevent a pending $2 trillion tax increase if Congress does nothing to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.
Q. Do you believe the country's immigration laws should change? If so, how? Do you favor or oppose Arizona's new immigration law and why? Would you support increasing the cap on the number of legal immigrants in the U. S.?
Gaulrapp. I believe that the borders should be secured, and running parallel with that would be immigration reform that would allow for a pathway to citizenship. This would not be an amnesty program. All undocumented immigrants would have to achieve citizenship by means of a rating system. Non Citizens would need to complete Constitutional education and efforts to reduce language barriers. Criminal record (or lack thereof), employment, and community service would weight in.
Manzullo. We must focus on border security first before we can tackle the other complex issues in immigration reform. The American people must have the confidence that the immigration laws currently on the books will be enforced before immigration policies are amended again. That is why I was pleased to support H.R. 6080 to provide an extra $600 million in border security measures when it passed the House on August 10, 2010. In 1986, when there were an estimated 3 million illegal immigrants, our nation tried amnesty (allowing a pathway to U.S. citizenship for those without authorization to be in this nation). Now, there are an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. One of the inducements for illegal entry is a belief that one day there will be amnesty in the future. I oppose amnesty, which is an affront to those who patiently followed all the rules and procedures to legally enter this country and eventually become welcomed naturalized citizens.
With regard to the Arizona immigration law, I support the right of states to make and enforce their own laws, particularly if the law is harmonized or complementary to federal law. What's ironic about this entire debate is the fact that we wouldn't even be having this discussion if the federal government simply just did its job to enforce border security. However, I am particularly frustrated that while the Justice Department took quick action to try to stop the Arizona law, the Obama administration has yet to take any action against "sanctuary cities" that specifically forbids cooperation with federal immigration authorities. What's good for the goose is good for the gander if the Justice Department believes that a state or locality is superseding federal immigration law, it should put a stop not just to those who want to halt illegal immigration but those who want to harbor illegal immigrants. That is why I co-sponsored H.R. 5840 to forbid the Justice Department from further pursuing this case against Arizona until the Attorney General reports to Congress on how it plans to enforce immigration laws in "sanctuary cities."
Q. What is your view on the Defense of Marriage Act? Should gay and lesbian couples receive the same benefits as heterosexuals? What's your view of "don't ask, don't tell" and why?
Gaulrapp. Defense of Marriage Act was put into law so that individual States were free (to) act upon the laws of their State.
Yes. This was done to avoid making the difficult decision.
Manzullo. I voted for and continue to support the bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife. DOMA was signed into law in 1996 by Democratic President Bill Clinton along with the overwhelming support of Congressional Democrats (64 percent of House Democrats and 70 percent of Senate Democrats voted for DOMA). Homosexual couples should be treated with respect but just as we do not award certain benefits and privileges to heterosexual couples who live together, Congress should not undermine the historical definition of married as contained in DOMA by giving all the benefits afforded to married heterosexual couples to homosexuals. Last May, I voted against the proposal to repeal "don't ask; don't tell" to allow openly homosexual persons to serve in the military because the top leadership of the various branches of the U.S. military asked Congress not to proceed with this repeal prior to the completion of their internal review. I am concerned about the effect this repeal will have on unit cohesion, military effectiveness, recruitment, and retention.
Q. Should there be more or less government oversight with oil drilling? What are your ideas for improving the U.S.'s response to the BP oil spill? What would you have done differently if you were in Congress at the time?
Gaulrapp. There should be inspection and oversight of all the oil drilling wells. I don't see the need to create a moratorium on drilling because of one incident even though it was major one. When we have a car crash, we don't stop all driving, when a plane crashes we don't close all the airports.
Manzullo. There first needs to be enforcement of existing law. It appears from what I have learned from the media and my colleagues on the House Natural Resources Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee is that the Minerals Management Service (MMS) of the Department of Interior seriously fell down on the job in terms of making sure that deepwater offshore oil and gas extraction was completely safe. Last July, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar received an implementation plan for restructuring the Department's offshore energy mission that will segregate the revenue-collection responsibilities of the MMS from its oversight and enforcement mission. Hopefully, this restructuring can be accomplished soon. However, this doesn't mean that we should stop all offshore oil exploration and extraction because 30 percent of our crude oil production comes from the waters in the Gulf Coast. A halt to offshore extraction would only lead to an increase in the price of gas at the pump and further our dependency upon foreign oil. In fact, allowing more offshore extraction closer to our shores in shallow water will ease up on the need to go into more environmentally-challenging deeper water for our oil and gas needs.
But the federal government needs to do a better job in listening to state and local community leaders. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal spent many days begging for permission from the federal government to build sand berms or barrier islands to protect Gulf Coast marshes from the oil. Then, too few were approved and for other areas, it was too late. I would have taken quicker action and experimented with a variety of solutions to find out what works best to stop the oil spill and limit its environmental damage. I also would have selected one point-person to be clearly in charge from the outset because there was much confusion as to the role BP, the federal, state, and local governments played in the response effort. In particular, there was confusion among the federal agencies as to which policy would prevail when giving guidance to state and local officials. This cannot happen again.