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updated: 2/23/2012 1:30 PM

Bill Foster: Candidate Profile

11th District U.S. Representative (Democrat)

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  • Bill Foster, running for 11th District U.S. Representative

    Bill Foster, running for 11th District U.S. Representative




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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A


City: Naperville


Office sought: 11th District U.S. Representative

Age: 56

Family: Wife: Aesook Byon Children: Christine and Billy

Occupation: Businessman and Scientist

Education: B.A., Physics from University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1976, with Honors, Phi Beta Kappa; Ph.D, Physics, Harvard University, 1984; Ph.D Thesis: An Experimental Limit on Proton Decay

Civic involvement: I am a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and an elected fellow of the American Physical Society. For many years I served on the board of the Batavia Foundation for Education Excellence, an organization dedicated to enhancing the public schools in Batavia, IL. I currently serve on the Governing Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, but will go on leave from that Board during my campaign and time in office.

Elected offices held: U.S. House of Representatives, March 2008- January 2011

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

My top priority for the nation is getting our economy moving and creating jobs. As someone who started a small business from scratch, I know how important it is for families and for communities to have strong job creation. Since the economic meltdown of 2008, we've seen some economic recovery, but not enough. Wall Street may be coming back, but too many people are out of work and too many middle class families continue to struggle. It's important that Congress stop the political bickering and get to work on policies that can help get our economy back on track.

Key Issue 2

Restoring American manufacturing is another urgent priority. In the last decade we've seen the decimation of one third of American manufacturing jobs, due to many factors including poorly negotiated trade deals, toleration of currency manipulation by China and other countries, and policies that actually rewarded companies for shipping jobs overseas. Policies that, I might add, that my likely opponent in this race supported down the line. I know that manufacturing can work in America, because the company I started still manufactures lighting equipment right here in the Midwest, and provides hundreds of good jobs with good pay and benefits. America cannot become just a service and financial services economy -- and to prevent that, there is no substitute for having people with successful real-world manufacturing experience in Congress.

Key Issue 3

Two other priorities which I think never change: Education, and taking care of our veterans. Education, because to compete in this new global economy we have to have well educated children. And we must always take care of our veterans, because they sacrifice so much -- sometimes sacrificing everything -- to keep us safe here at home.

In both of these areas, Congress is unfortunately full of politicians who posture in support of veterans' issues or education, but then vote in ways that have badly hurt the futures of our veterans and children.

They must be held accountable for these votes.

Questions & Answers

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?

I don't think we've ever seen Congress as frustrating and dysfunctional as it was this past year.

Part of this is due to a large number of newly elected members in Washington that are philosophically opposed to compromise and whose views are unyielding, out of touch, and extreme. It's also clear that many members of Congress, from both parties, would rather grind all progress to a halt rather than stand up to Party leadership or the special interests that fund their campaigns. Compromise was sorely, and sadly missing, and has been for some time.

Members who take ?Pledges' never to compromise on various issues are probably the biggest impediment to bipartisan compromise.

These members are simply abdicating their responsibility to use their judgment to reach a reasonable compromise.

I was disappointed to see, for example, supposedly moderate members like Mark Kirk and Judy Biggert have taken the Grover Norquist pledge never to compromise on the budget.

I am afraid that gridlock will be inevitable as long as members that take these types of extremist pledges remain in office

I publicly supported the approach taken by the Simpson-Bowles committee to address our national debt: to start by negotiating a high-level agreement that the deficit problem will be solved by X% spending cuts and Y% revenue enhancements, and then to dig down into the details of the budget and tax code to share the pain equally and make the numbers work.

I was inspired in starting my own small business and in my career in science by a belief in the power of creative problem-solving, fact-based business negotiation, and common sense. I have built my work experience in every job I've had, including serving in the House, on prioritizing reasonable solutions and cooperation. I believe that Congress needs to come to the table and do the work that regular Illinois families are asking them to do?create jobs, reduce the deficit, and invest in our middle class'not succumb to politics as usual where only special interests and Washington insiders win.

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?

Our middle class is in trouble. It's been squeezed and there's not much more regular families can take. The growing disparity in this country risks the values that share: that hard work and good ideas are rewarded and that anyone can have a chance to succeed. I started my first business when I was 19 years old with my brother in our parents' basement. I am running because I worry that this opportunity might not be true now and in the future. And what we see coming out of Washington is frustratingly out of touch. Congress in the last year voted to protect tax breaks for billionaires and ends Medicare as we know it. Washington is squandering the opportunity to rebuild our country to last and for the better. Federal policies must understand the linkages between economic growth, social mobility, and a strong middle class. Countries with very unequal distributions of income suffer from low rates of growth, due to the low return-on-investment for investments made by the wealthy compared to investments by the middle class. An aggravating problem for the United States is that wealthy people tend to make an increasing fraction of their investments offshore -- so that the net effect of the Bush tax cuts with benefits skewed towards the wealthy was to simply speed up the flight of investment capital and the deindustrialization of the United States. Finally, we need to focus on creating jobs and rewarding what this country is best at: innovation. Washington needs to make sure that promote small businesses and local enterprise. We can rebuild but it's going to take our policy making a hard turn by making the middle class a priority.

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?

Military action should always be a last resort, but we need to take every step necessary to prevent a nuclear Iran. Currently, I believe international sanctions are beginning to have an effect, and we should continue to use those to put as much pressure as possible on Iran and stand with Israel. I believe that President Obama's multilateral engagement to get other countries in Europe and elsewhere to participate in sanctions with teeth has been more effective that President Bush's ?go-it-alone? philosophy.

As hard as it is to define success in this region, we must continue to work to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a haven for terrorists to use to launch attacks against the United States and our allies. Our nation-building ambitions should be very limited in this area.

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?

Unlike Social Security, Medicare and health care costs in general are the biggest drivers of our long-term national debt. What we must do, is bend the cost curve or we will be drowned in an avalanche of health care related spending. Many provisions in the health care reform bill -- such as electronic medical records -- are already starting to bend the cost curve in ways that will benefit both the Medicare program and health care cost for younger Americans, and must be allowed to continue.

Medical costs differ by more than a factor of two in different areas of the country, for reasons that are not explained by either demographics or tort law.

Many of the most important provisions of the health care bill are designed to encourage those best practices that have succeeded in producing lower costs and high-quality care, to be adopted across the country.

I recognize that additional improvements are necessary but we can't end the program as we know it. This past year the drumbeat coming from Congressional Republicans is to dismantle Medicare that seniors both currently like and rely upon. That's just plain wrong. Drug costs for Medicare should be negotiated just the way that Veterans Administration does, instead of simply accepting whatever price the drug companies demand. I support transparency initiatives for price and quality of medical care providers that will empower consumers and greatly enhance competition between insurance companies

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?

While I support the second amendment, I believe in sensible restrictions on the possession of firearms, and do not believe concealed carry gun laws are a good idea in Illinois. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman but that gay couples should be able to receive all of the rights and benefits of marriage in the form of civil unions. And I believe that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. Many clinics provide a wide array of women's reproductive health services and they should be eligible for and receive the same treatment as other facilities that look to get government funding.