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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
City: Hoffman Estates
Office sought: 8th District U.S. Representative
Family: Married, two children
Occupation: Attorney and small business executive
Education: B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering, Certificate from the Woodrow Wilson School of Internation and Public Affairs, summa cum laude, Princeton University, 1995; J.D, cum laude, Harvard Law School, 2000
Civic involvement: ? Member of Emerging Leader Program and Economics Roundtable for Chicago Council on Global Affairs; -- Past member of Board of Just the Beginning Foundation; -- Past member of Board of the Mikva Challenge Grant Foundation; -- Past member of the Economic Club of Chicago; -- Past member of Board of the Asian-American Action Fund of Greater Chicago; -- Member of the Indian-American Bar Association; and -- Member of the Illinois Bar.
Elected offices held: None.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
The most pressing problem facing our community and the country is reviving our economy.
In the new 8th Congressional District alone, more than 20,000 workers have lost their jobs, and at least 7,000 homes are in foreclosure.
Therefore, my number 1 issue is cultivating a robust economic recovery to create jobs and preserve and strengthen our middle class.
As the president of a high-tech small business, I am the candidate best suited to work on these issues.
As part of my campaign, I have released a comprehensive economic plan (found at http://rajaforcongress.com/economic-plan-pdf) which calls for, among other things: (a) jump-starting small businesses by easing their access to capital, providing payroll tax relief to make hiring easier, investing in innovation and research programs for small businesses, and attracting immigrant entrepreneurs; (b) restoring consumer demand by extending unemployment benefits and enlarging the payroll tax holiday; (c) promoting the green retrofitting and repair of our infrastructure with a National Infrastructure Bank and public-works jobs program; (d) tackling the housing crisis and providing relief for homeowners who find themselves 'underwater'; and (e) reviving our manufacturing sector through aggressively partnering the federal government with local governments, community colleges, and manufacturers as well as addressing unfair trade practices engaged in by foreign nations.
Key Issue 2
My number 2 issue is shoring up Social Security and Medicare so that they remain strong for future generations.
This means maintaining a robust system of benefits and finding sustainable ways to fund them.
By enacting reforms such as, for instance, enabling Medicare to negotiate with drug providers and raising the cap on incomes paying into Social Security, we can begin to place these important programs on a sound footing for decades to come.
Key Issue 3
As a product of the public school system, I believe all students should have the opportunity to attend a high-quality public school and pursue a post-secondary education that will prepare them for a good job in the 21st century global economy.
This means giving schools and teachers the resources to innovate, recruiting talented teachers, and upgrading school facilities.
It also means broadening post-secondary options so that a range of affordable college and vocational options are available to all Americans.
In all of these endeavors, I would strive to avoid a Washington-dictated one-size-fits-all approach.
Rather I would strongly advocate for all stakeholders (parents, teachers, administrators, employers, and government) to have a seat at the table as we hash out new approaches to addressing our educational challenges.
What would you do to help ease partisan gridlock? Are you willing to compromise on sticking points including spending cuts and taxes to produce results' How can Congress move from being a "crisis-driven" institution?
Partisan politics is not my passion.
In the public sector, my work has been geared toward fighting corruption and fostering economic development, not partisan bomb-throwing.
In the private sector as the president of a small business, my focus has been on driving the growth of our business, not driving any partisan political agenda.
Further, I grew up in Peoria where Democrats and Republicans like then-Congressman Ray LaHood largely worked together over the years to fashion public policy in the best interests of the entire community, not just one party, and this ethic was instilled in me early on.
Indeed, I applauded efforts by Congressman LaHood to bring the two parties together through bi-partisan retreats where Representatives got to know each other not just as public officials, but also as private citizens raising families.
I would advocate for more of these types of efforts in Congress. I am willing to compromise, but this does not mean that I would support legislation just because it is a compromise proposal.
Both sides will probably need to make sacrifices as we move forward on big issues such as entitlement reform and deficit reduction; however, when altering a program would violate the basic social contract and do little to solve an actual policy problem, I would not support it.
For instance, I would not support Representative Paul Ryan's plan to 'voucher-ize' Medicare because his plan would merely shift the cost of Medicare to seniors unable to bear the rising costs of health care, thus eviscerating the basic purpose of the program which was to ensure access to health care in their old age.
Making Congress into a less crisis-driven institution starts with electing members of Congress who can take the long view.
Indeed, I believe that voters want Representatives who actively seek solutions to our nation's long-term problems.
In the 8th District, we have an incumbent, Congressman Joe Walsh, who is not so much driven to prevent partisan crises as to create them in order to attract media attention.
As the president of a cutting-edge research and development firm, I deal with the development of solutions to long-term national security and renewable energy problems every day and will bring this same perspective to Congress.
Should tax breaks be extended? Why or why not? If so, for whom? What should Congress do to improve unemployment? Why do you support or oppose President Obama's jobs plan? What cuts or revenue increases do you support for deficit reduction?
The most pressing problem facing our district and country is reviving our economy and reducing unemployment in order to strengthen the middle class and working families.
In the near-term, we must embark on a number of initiatives.
First, we should extend the payroll tax holiday for employees for a full year, optimally at the 3.1% rate proposed by President Obama, and maintain unemployment benefits to keep consumer demand buoyant.
Economists universally agree that our economy may stall, and unemployment may rise unless we pass these measures.
Next, we must assist small businesses by empowering small community banks to lend to these businesses and by preserving Small Business Administration programs, which are currently under attack in Congress, so that small businesses can expand and hire new employees.
We should also offer payroll tax relief for small businesses that hire new employees.
Furthermore, it is crucial that we re-authorize the Surface Transportation bill as well as promote the green retrofitting and repair of infrastructure through mechanisms such as a National Infrastructure Bank, which will spur productive investment in our economy as well as put skilled people to work.
In the long-term, we must re-invigorate our workforce.
The cruel irony today is that there are 3 million job vacancies at a time when we have 14 million unemployed workers.
Therefore, we must retool our workforce so that they can fill existing and future job vacancies.
First, we must consolidate the $20 billion spent across 47 different federal job training programs so that a greater proportion of these dollars are directed to small employers for on-the-job training efforts.
Next, for unemployed workers, especially those in declining industries, the federal government needs to partner with local governments, employers and technical education programs to create targeted job-training programs to prepare our workforce for jobs in growing sectors such as high-tech manufacturing.
For example, in Michigan, manufacturer Tenneco and the local Kellogg Community College developed an 8-week welding course with support from the Michigan state government to enroll students in the course for high-paying welding jobs following completion of the course. The community college provided the training, the state helped fund the training, and Tenneco agreed to hire the workers as soon as the training was completed.
Kellogg Community College has trained over 1,000 Tenneco employees and works with over 150 Michigan companies in a similar capacity. Overall, I support many elements in President Obama's jobs plan because the plan puts money in the pockets of middle class families, makes it easier for employers to hire and retain workers, and invests in our basic infrastructure. The plan is a safeguard against another recession, which we absolutely cannot afford.
We must get the budget deficit under control and do so in a way that does not jeopardize the economic recovery.
To this end, I support, among other things, ending the war in Afghanistan, rolling back the Bush tax cuts for the highest earners, ending most corporate tax expenditures, and ruthlessly scrutinizing individual tax expenditures to root out tax loopholes that drain the nation's Treasury while providing no collective benefit for taxpayers.
What steps should the country now be taking in the war on terrorism? What policy should the U.S. have toward Iran and North Korea? What is your view of terrorism policies that pit public safety against civil liberty?
We must remain resolute in the war on terrorism, and we must deal rapidly and effectively with any credible threats to our national security.
That said, the most important step we can take in the current war is to draw down our forces from Afghanistan as soon as possible and re-deploy those resources elsewhere.
Now that we have rid Afghanistan of sanctuaries for Al-Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden is dead, our operations in Afghanistan have dubious value for counterterrorism, and thus the most expensive front in the war on terrorism is also the one where our presence is least efficacious.
Elsewhere, counterterrorism operations should continue, as necessary, in concert with our allies.
In addition, operations should be targeted and with a limited mandate, e.g., precision strikes against Somalia's al-Shabaab would be justified in response to a credible threat to our interests abroad, while an invasion and occupation of Somalia would not be justifiable as part of the 'war on terrorism.'
We can and should use economic sanctions to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons.
Indeed, Iran is clearly feeling pressure from the latest round of sanctions, and these should be continued.
Although I would support keeping all options on the table, I think military intervention would be very counter-productive at this juncture.
We have withdrawn our troops from Iraq and are winding down our military intervention in Afghanistan.
Moreover, military action in Iran could seriously destabilize the region and lead to devastating attacks on our friends in the area.
Sanctions should put the pressure on Iran and bring it back to the negotiating table in a position to make real concessions.
In the case of North Korea, we must work with countries in the region to engage the North Korean government in taking constructive steps forward.
Disengagement gave North Korea the space to develop nuclear weapons, and the regime has clearly been unfazed by sanctions imposed so far.
I support resumption of the Six-Party talks. America can be kept safe from terrorism without cutting corners on the enforcement of existing anti-terrorism legislation such as the Patriot Act.
Our intelligence and law-enforcement agencies have access to sufficient tools to effectively thwart terrorist attacks, and it is important that Congress exercise its oversight powers with diligence.
Moreover, the employment of anti-terrorism tools should be subject to careful scrutiny by the judiciary on a case-by-case basis.
How should Medicare and Medicaid be changed overall to fix fund gaps' How should Medicare be changed for those currently enrolled? How should it change for the Baby Boomer generation?
Measures in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to end one-sided deals favoring Medicare Advantage insurers were a solid first step to make Medicare more efficient.
As a straightforward next step, I would introduce legislation allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prices with prescription drug suppliers, which could save us as much as $500 billion over ten years.
I am also open to other reforms that reduce cost while maintaining high-quality care.
To make immediate gains in cost control, we should strengthen the President's commitment to fighting fraud and abuse, which by conservative estimates costs taxpayers $30 billion per year and takes advantage of vulnerable elders.
In addition, assisting providers in making a smooth transition to electronic medical records will help to improve on a currently fragmented health care system that often wastes money and is prone to error.
I oppose Paul Ryan's plan to turn Medicaid into a block-grant program.
This would not spur innovation by states; rather, it would simply deprive our neediest citizens of government services, especially in a recessionary environment like now.
I am supportive of measures such as Medicaid HMO plans, which can help provide high-quality care at lower costs to Medicaid beneficiaries.
I would oppose significant changes that would adversely affect current enrollees or Baby Boomers because they have planned their economic lives around the way Medicare is currently configured.
It would be wrong to adversely change the program at this late date, leaving these seniors in the lurch.
I would be open to considering other changes, but would need to examine them on a case-by-case basis.
What is your position on concealed carry gun laws' How do you believe marriage should be defined legally? What is your position on abortion? What, if any, abortion exceptions do you support? Should abortion clinics receive government funding?
I do not support legalizing concealed weapons.
Advocates of concealed carry have not convinced me that there are problems in society that would be solved by allowing people to carry concealed weapons.
I believe that the legal definition of marriage should not impose any requirements on the sex or gender of the two adults who marry.
There should not be different sets of rights and benefits accorded to opposite-sex couples as compared to same-sex couples. I am strongly pro-choice.
Decisions on how and when to terminate a pregnancy should be a private matter between a woman and her doctor, as circumscribed by Roe v. Wade and state laws enacted pursuant to Roe.
Government-funded health insurance plans should provide women with access to a full range of reproductive health services.