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Office sought: 10th District U.S. Representative
Family: Married, three children
Occupation: Small Business Owner, Rose Pest Solutions
Education: Bachelors Degree, Denison University Law Degree, Indiana University MBA, Northwestern Kellogg School of Management
Civic involvement: Boy Scout Leader, Troop 213 Kenilworth, IL
Elected offices held: Congress, 2011-Present
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Putting America Back to Work
Our economy has been dealt a terrible blow. Nearly 10% of Illinois residents are out of work. This is unacceptable. Quality jobs provide the foundation for our economic well-being and for the prosperity of every American family. Before being elected to Congress in 2010, I owned and operated a small business in Northfield, IL employing just under 100 individuals. I understand the pressures and challenges facing small businesses: Pressure to meet payroll, to provide health benefits for employees and their families, and to invest in equipment and technology to continue being competitive. I also understand the pressures on our working families to work hard and succeed, and to save money for the future and for our children's education. Fundamentally, American families want a stable job in a steady economy. But we also want more. We want innovation and we want new and better ideas about how to deliver goods and services. We need an environment that encourages and fosters ideas, entrepreneurship and economic opportunity for all.
In order to build a strong foundation for the future we need to focus on permanent sustainable solutions rather than relying on temporary measures.
The limited recovery has to date been largely subsidized by massive spending by the federal government. Yet after almost $1 trillion of stimulus funding, uncertainty dominates the economy: Uncertainty over tax rates, regulatory changes, financial and health care reforms, and the growing federal debt.
There is a better way.
My plan includes helping small businesses grow and compete by reforming and simplifying the tax code, promoting access to capital for small businesses, increasing access to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education to prepare students for jobs going unfilled, investing in transportation and infrastructure, fixing the FDA approval process that threatens thousands of pharmaceutical jobs here in the Chicagoland area, maximizing North American energy production to lower fuel prices, reducing excessive regulations that are hindering job growth, and helping domestic manufacturers compete around
Following this path will put our country back on track to prosperity and put America back to work.
Key Issue 2
Reining In Wasteful Washington Spending
Washington has buried our children and our grandchildren under a mountain of debt that is $15 trillion and growing.
In 2011, the federal government collected $2.3 trillion in revenues and spent $3.6 trillion while borrowing $1.3 trillion to finance the rest of our budget obligations. Today forty cents of every dollar spent by the federal government is borrowed. This is the equivalent of a family of four earning $75,000 but spending $125,000 every year.
Clearly Washington is broken.
The national debt is not just a domestic crisis, either. It is the single biggest threat to national security, according to Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He recently reported that taxpayers in 2012 will pay around $600 billion in interest on the national debt, the equivalent of one year of the defense budget.
This irresponsible, misguided and wasteful spending must end.
There are two competing views on how we address this challenge: Take more money from hardworking families that will continue to feed Washington's wasteful spending; or alternatively, put money back in the hands of individuals and small businesses, entrusting them to make their own investment decisions and create jobs.
Erskine Bowles -- Co-chairman of President Obama's Debt Commission and former Chief of Staff to President Clinton -- recently warned that Congress can't tax its way out of a national debt crisis. He's right.
In fact we need to look no further than our own back yard to see this approach does not work.
Last year, Governor Quinn raised taxes by 67% on individuals and 46% on businesses and today we know that our state's credit rating is last among all states, our businesses are leaving and we have $8.5 billion in unpaid bills.
It would be irresponsible to allow Washington to travel down the same path that Governor Quinn has taken.
To put our country back on firm financial ground we must cut wasteful spending. Federal spending levels should return to 20% of Gross Domestic Product, the historical average, instead of letting it balloon to nearly 25% as currently proposed.
We need a government that is efficient and effective, not wasteful.
In Congress, I am working to lead us out of our spending addiction and get our country back on track.
I was the first freshman this year to pass a bill, H.R. 830, bipartisan legislation which terminated an ineffective government program and would save the hardworking taxpayers over $8 billion dollars.
The House passed a comprehensive budget, which I supported, to significantly drive down government spending over the next ten years.
It has been almost 1,000 days since the United States Senate last passed a budget and my legislation to save taxpayers $8 billion has been sitting at the Senate doorstep for almost a year.
We need Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid to join us in passing common sense legislation to put America on a fiscally sustainable course.
After years of runaway, wasteful spending in Washington, I am pleased that we have finally managed to shift the focus to fiscal responsibility.
However, there is much more work that needs to be done. I will continue to push for a serious bipartisan deficit reduction package that honestly and effectively confronts the size and nature of our crushing debt burden.
Key Issue 3
Providing Independent Leadership Focused on Serving the 10th District
Providing independent leadership for the 10th District has been a key focus of my first term in Congress. I understand the importance of developing bipartisan support for ideas, and I have consistently made the extra effort to work with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
I have been actively engaged in efforts to promote job creation by creating an environment that helps businesses thrive and grow, improve local education, stabilize housing, and clean up Lake Michigan, among other priorities.
All the while, I have been working to ensure my office is staying in touch with constituents and providing good constituent service.
Within the first two months in office I put together a Jobs Task Force which included local residents seeking work, employers, lenders, and educators.
To date I've held two job fairs - one at Harper College and the other at the Lake Forest School of Management - bringing together 850 job seekers and 100 employers and organizations. We provided training for job seekers on how to interview, write a resume and effectively network. We have many success stories from those events and plan to do more in the future.
One not so well known fact is that the 10th Congressional District is the number one manufacturing district in the country.
To help ensure it remains so, I brought together 60 local manufacturers and the Department of Commerce to discuss how to take advantage of the new trade agreements and sell our local products made here in the 10th around the globe. In another event I brought in the Chairman of the Export-Import Bank to explain lending options that are available to area companies to help them expand their exports overseas.
A consistent message I hear from our area manufacturers is a frustrating difficulty finding qualified applicants to fill open jobs despite high unemployment rates. I am focusing on working with these local businesses and area community colleges and vocational schools to bridge this divide and promote appropriate STEM education.
In North Chicago I was pleased to support a new Innovation Zone near the Great Lakes Naval Base to encourage business development.
The first bill I introduced was bipartisan legislation to protect our area's greatest natural resource, Lake Michigan.
Consistent with my commitment to the Great Lakes, I have been actively involved in helping overcome obstacles that could have delayed the EPA's cleanup of the Waukegan Harbor.
I have also been working with the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the active harbor to keep it open and prosperous.
Through my 10th District Educational Advisory board, I have given our local educators a strong voice in Washington, working to convey their legislative recommendations to the Chairman of the House Education Committee.
Meanwhile I worked with our local high schools to host a Model Congress with over 100 students to teach them how their government operates.
I have worked with Senator's Kirk and Durbin to ensure impact aid funding for local schools was not cut this year and am working to protect it from cuts in the future. This funding is critical to the North Chicago, Glenview and Highland Park schools which serve military housed families.
To ensure I am listening to the needs of our senior citizens I have visited nearly all of the 10th District Senior Centers and held a round table meeting with the leaders of the centers.
At the meeting I learned about the difficulty family members have encountered caring for elderly loved ones and the need to advertise all of the community resources available to caregivers.
In response I hosted a successful Senior and Caregivers Resource Fair in Vernon Hills.
I also held a Medicare telephone town hall with a Medicare expert to help answer questions from constituents before their annual Medicare enrollment period ended.
An exciting project my office is participating in is collecting oral histories from local veterans so their stories will never be lost and will be recorded in the Library of Congress.
To start off 2012 we held a housing summit with area experts to get their feedback on how to address the housing crisis.
This is the first of many discussions I plan to have on this extremely important issue.
My office has dedicated a staff person to specifically help constituents going through home foreclosure and home loan modifications.
Listening and interacting with constituents has been an important part of my job. I have corresponded with tens of thousands of constituents, held numerous town hall meetings, telephone town hall meetings, pioneered Facebook & Twitter town halls while sending regular email updates and surveys to ensure I am best serving and representing area residents. I look forward to continuing this type of local leadership and representing the new communities that will be added to the 10th District.
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?
As evidence of my consistent commitment to bipartisanship and independence, Congressional Quarterly, after taking a comprehensive look at the voting record of all Members of Congress, determined that I am ranked the #1 House Republican most willing to work with the President.
This analysis is consistent with the findings of multiple organizations, which have looked at my voting record and ranked me as one of the most independent Members of Congress.
My willingness to do what is best and break from my party when needed is what I promised when I first ran for Congress in 2010, and it is what I will continue to bring to Washington in the years ahead.
Nearly every piece of legislation I have introduced has been bipartisan because I truly believe the only way we can move our country forward is by working together.
I recently joined the No Labels movement, a group of bipartisan lawmakers that is calling for an end to the gridlock in Washington. And this year I will again sit with a Democrat colleague, Representative John Carney from Delaware, during the State of the Union to show our willingness to work in a bipartisan manner.
In recognition of the need to honestly confront our nation's crushing-and growing-debt burden, I have consistently called for a bold, bipartisan plan.
This past October, I joined a bipartisan group of members who stepped forward and reached across party lines urging the Joint Deficit Reduction Committee or Supercommittee to 'go big' and put forth a proposal that would reduce our deficit by at least $4 trillion.
To achieve this, I called for all options to be on the table for discussion - including spending cuts, entitlement reforms and revenues.
Congress could move from being a "crisis-driven" institution if we send to Washington more leaders who are willing to look beyond the party labels, reach across the aisle, and make the extra effort to find common ground.
Governing in a democracy requires compromise, and we need leaders who understand that - America can't be run in any other way.
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?
I agree with President Obama when he said raising taxes in an economic downturn is the wrong thing to do. The effect of taking more money from the taxpayers would be extremely harmful to the small businesses we are counting on to get us out of this recession.
My number one focus since coming to Congress has been to promote an environment that fosters job creation in the private sector.
We must eliminate special corporate tax loopholes, eliminate special interest subsidies and lower overall tax rates so that we are more competitive globally.
We need to create an environment that levels the playing field and ensures that everyone follows the rules and everyone benefits, as opposed to one or two large corporations.
Earlier this year I introduced a bill to create an incentive for employers to hire unemployed workers through a payroll tax cut.
I was pleased to see President Obama adopt a similar proposal as part of his jobs plan.
I supported the President's call for passage of trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea and urged my colleagues to pass these important job creating bills, which we did and the President signed into law last year.
I have said all along that while I may not agree with all of the President's jobs plan I am willing to support those areas where we have common ground and move those forward.
I support his goals to invest in infrastructure and supported the repeal of a special tax on small businesses that do work with the government.
I am committed to working with the President and members of both parties to take meaningful action that helps our country.
I remain disappointed in the inability of the Supercommittee to ?go big? and put forward a bold, bipartisan plan that addresses our nation's crushing $15 trillion debt. At this time, we must focus on putting our country first and making the tough decisions needed to get our nation back on track -- we must strive to rise above another round of partisan bickering and political games. We must address the true drivers of our debt, the unchecked growth in government programs, and maximize revenues by growing our economy and giving the millions of people who are out of work the opportunity to earn a paycheck in career they want.
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?
One of my main priorities in Congress is keeping America safe and free.
I believe that this Iranian regime and its pursuit of a nuclear weapon poses an historic national security threat to the United States and to our allies, and that it is an existential threat to our one true ally in the Middle East -- Israel.
I entered Congress in 2010 with an understanding of the transcendent threat posed by Iran's nuclear weapons program and with a determination to ratchet up the pressure on the Iranian regime.
In my first speech on the House floor, I called Iran the greatest threat to the national security of the United States. I have introduced bipartisan legislation that is aimed at promoting human rights and democracy inside Iran.
Further, I have cosponsored and voted for comprehensive Iran sanctions legislation, and I have worked in the House to support Senator Kirk's amendment to sanction the Central Bank of Iran.
As a Member of Congress, I will continue hold the administration accountable by ensuring that these sanctions are implemented aggressively.
A nuclear-armed Iran is simply unacceptable, and we must continue to press ahead with urgency until this threat is effectively and affirmatively dismantled.
In addition to confronting Iran's nuclear weapons program, it is important to not lose sight of the fact that Iran is the largest state-sponsor of terror in the world, with proxies all around the Middle East.
Overall, I believe that this is a region of the world that best responds to strength, and this requires determined, focused, and unambiguous leadership by the United States.
In this moment of transition for the North Korean leadership, from Kim Jong Il to his son Kim Jong-un, the United States must not lose focus on the extraordinary threat still posed by North Korea. The notion that North Korea will give up international leverage for inducements is faulty. Kim Jong Il showed himself to lead a brutal and irrational regime, and we must be careful not be fooled by the reign of Kim Jong-un. Our efforts toward North Korea must be multidimensional: Deterrence, counter-proliferation alliances, and financial initiatives to degrade the authority of the tyrannical regime.
We must continue to remain vigilant against Al Qaeda, and be aware of new regions in the world where the terrorist network is growing in strength. In the summer of 2011, I joined with other Members of Congress to send a letter to Secretary Clinton, urging the U.S. Department of State to develop a strategic plan that confronts the threat of Al Qaeda's expansion in Yemen.
As U.S. security officials and law enforcement officers continue to work to prevent new terror attacks on our homeland, I do believe that we must always keep an eye on protecting and striking an appropriate balance between civil liberties and security. It is important to recognize that we cannot afford to just ignore or minimize one side of the equation, for the sake of the other -- rather, part of the strength of this country lies in the healthy respect we have for both our security and our Constitutionally-protected civil liberties.
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?
Medicare is a vital program, and I do not support making any changes to the system that would impact individuals age 55 and older.
However, even if we succeed at getting waste, fraud, and abuse out of the system, the truth is that Medicare still faces a significant budget shortfall.
Medicare obligations are growing faster than we can pay for them, and according to the May 2011 official Medicare Trustee report, if we do not act to preserve the program, Medicare's largest trust fund (the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund) will be exhausted by 2024 -- five years sooner than previously believed.
I continue to believe that we are better as a country when we have leaders who are willing to step forward and honestly recognize the magnitude of this financial reality.
The American people simply people deserve better than getting dragged down by those who find it easier to demagogue the other side's search for solutions.
Our nation's debt currently exceeds an historic $15 trillion, and it will only continue to skyrocket if we fail to address Medicare's looming insolvency.
Left unchanged, Medicare is one of the primary drivers of our nation's debt.
I support a bi-partisan reform plan that has been put forth by Republican Congressman Paul Ryan and Democrat Senator Ron Wyden that would rein in costs and expand choice for seniors by allowing them to choose between a traditional Medicare plan or a Medicare-approved private plan on a federally regulated Medicare exchange.
This plan would protect low income seniors by ensuring that Medicaid and Medicare provide full support to pay for their out of pocket expenses.
Additionally, this plan would include key consumer protections that would prohibit participating private plans from charging discriminatory premiums, and it would require coverage of retirees regardless of age or pre-existing health conditions.
I believe this bipartisan proposal is a good and serious proposal, but I certainly remain open to other ideas and working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle so that we can do what needs to be done strengthen Medicare for the future.
We must honor the commitment we made to our nation's seniors and recognize that future reforms must be made if we want our children and grandchildren to be able to share in the promise of Medicare when they retire.
It is time for real leadership and leadership at time calls for addressing the big issues others are afraid to deal with.
Our nation's future depends on it.
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 my focus has been, and will always be, on improving the economy, I have established myself in this Congress as a centrist on social issues.
As a social moderate, I have shown a continued willingness and ability to break from my party and work to bridge the gap between the social conservative right and the progressive left.
I know how important community safety and gun control is to the 10th District, which is why I opposed H.R. 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act.
I voted against this legislation because forcing states to recognize each others' concealed carry permits would eliminate the ability of individual states to craft gun control laws that match the specific needs and concerns of their local communities.
On the issue of same-sex marriage, like President Obama, I feel marriage should be between a man and a woman.
However, I do support civil unions for same-sex couples and look for ways to work with the LGBT community and listen to their ideas and concern.
As such, I am a cosponsor H.R. 2088, which treats equitably employer-provided health care benefits for domestic partners.
On the issue of abortion, I am one of the currently 7 pro-choice Republicans in Congress.
I support a woman's fundamental right to choose on this very difficult, personal decision, and I have been upfront in my view - which many on both sides of this issue share -- that this private decision should be paid for with private dollars.
I believe clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, which provide a wide-range of health care services including for abortion should not be barred
from receiving generally available health care funds like for the Title X program, so long as those funds are not used to provide abortions.
As such, I was the only Republican to speak out on the House floor to oppose an amendment targeting Planned Parenthood and defunding it from the Title X health program.
Overall, I am proud to be viewed as a Member of Congress who can work with all sides to find and promote common ground in these areas.