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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.
Office sought: 9th District U.S. Representative
Family: Schakowsky resides in Evanston, Illinois with her husband Robert Creamer. She has three children, Ian, Mary, and stepdaughter Lauren Creamer, and four grandchildren, Isabel, Eve, Lucy, and William.
Occupation: Member of Congress
Education: Graduated from the University of Illinois in 1965 with a B.S. in Elementary Education.
Civic involvement: Have served in the House of Representatives since January 1999, prior to that served as a State Representative from 1990-1999.
Elected offices held: State Representative, 1990-1999
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
We need to act aggressively to protect the middle-class and provide opportunities to those who aspire to it.
Today, income inequality in the United States is at levels that we haven't seen since 1928.
Between 1979 and 2008, annual income for the wealthiest 1% of Americans grew by $1.1 trillion, while the annual income for the bottom 90% declined.
More importantly, income immobility has increased. Today, a person born into the bottom fifth of incomes has only about a 50/50 chance of moving up the economic ladder -- a worse opportunity than in Britain, Canada and other countries.
Many Americans in the middle-class are threatened because of lay-offs, foreclosures, and the lack of loans for education or business ventures.
For the first time, Americans believe that their children will be worse off economically than they have been.
As Alan Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers warned this month, 'inequality in incomes is causing an unhealthy division in opportunities, and is a threat to our economic growth.'
This means that we need to be aggressive in creating good jobs -- jobs that provide adequate pay and benefits.
We need to make sure that children get the opportunities that are being lost -- by expanding access to quality education and health care.
We need to stop the housing foreclosure crisis that threatens so many families.
And we need to protect Social Security's and Medicare's earned benefits.
We need to restore the vision of America -- that anyone who works hard and plays by the rules can succeed and leave the next generation better off.
Key Issue 2
Being a member of Congress is not just about passing laws, it is about helping constituents
get the services they need and deserve.
I am very proud of the Constituent Service operation in my district offices. Our Constituent Advocates do everything that they can to help solve constituents' problems with government agencies, from postal problems to immigration matters to Medicare issues.
We help people avoid foreclosure, find affordable housing, be reunited with their families, access Veterans benefits, and clear up tax problems.
We help students and families learn about Pell grants and loans to help them afford a college education.
In November, my office organized a small business event so that current and prospective small business owners could learn about federal contracting opportunities and programs that can provide them assistance.
We cut through bureaucratic red tape, connect people to benefits and programs, and help identify and obtain grants.
One of my constituent advocates has helped save constituents over $2.4 million since 2009, primarily in the area of health care.
Key Issue 3
I believe we have to eliminate the role of money in politics. As President Obama said, "Inequality also distorts our democracy.
It gives an outsized voice to the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions, and runs the risk of selling our democracy to the highest bidder."
Large corporate and other donors have disproportionate influence in a system that increasingly requires millions of dollars to run for office.
With the Citizens United decision, corporations have been able to spend unlimited amounts of money through Super PACs that are exempt from disclosure laws.
We need to restore transparency and increase disclosure -- voters, constituents and shareholders have a right to know who is giving what to whom.
We also need more comprehensive reform.
I am a cosponsor of H.R. 1404, the Fair Elections now Act, which would make it possible for candidates to run for Congress without having to rely on large contributions or donations from corporate lobbyists.
Candidates and elected officials would not have to spend time raising money and, once freed from the burden of constant fundraising, can focus more on the concerns of all their constituents.
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?
Elections matter! 87 'Tea Party' freshmen who believe that compromise is a dirty word, have taken over the Republican Party in Congress and refuse to work in a bi-partisan manner to move our country forward.
Having said that, I have a long history, whether in the majority or minority, of working with my Republican colleagues on important consumer protection, health care, budget, tax, and foreign policy legislation.
The American people themselves need to demand cooperation from those reluctant to act that way.
Even 30 year veterans of the Congress say they have never seen this before.
Perhaps the next election will help break the gridlock.
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 believe we should not extend the Bush tax cuts for those with incomes above $250,000.
In addition, I have introduced H.R. 1124, the Fairness in Taxation Act (http://schakowsky.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2877%3Aschakowsky-introduces-bill-to-tax-millionaires-and-billionaires&catid=22%3A2011-press-releases&Itemid=44), to establish new tax rates, starting at 45% for annual income over $1 million and rising to 49% for income over $1 billion.
While those rates are still lower than those in place during the Reagan administration, they would raise $800 billion.
We should not be balancing the budget on the backs of seniors, the middle-class and low-income families without asking the millionaires, billionaires and highly profitable corporations to pay their fair share.
We need an aggressive strategy to create good jobs, which will also help us reduce the deficit, and
I support the President's American Jobs Act.
I am the sponsor of the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act, H.R. 2914 (http://schakowsky.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2975&Itemid=8), which would create 2.2 million jobs -- including teachers, law enforcement officials and firefighters and constructions workers to repair our dilapidated schools.
I am pleased that those proposals are incorporated in the American Jobs Act.
I am also the sponsor of the Patriot Corporations of America Act (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z'd112:h.r.1163:) to provide preference in federal contracts and lower tax rates for American companies that produce at least 90% of goods and services and conduct at least 50% of their R&D in the United States.
It would pay for this by eliminating tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs and profits.
As a member of the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, I put forward my own proposal to achieve primary budget balance by FY2015 (http://schakowsky.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2777:).
My plan included $200 billion in job creation investments over two years (including infrastructure, education, domestic manufacturing and green jobs initiatives); cuts in defense, non-defense and mandatory spending; and additional revenues by closing tax loopholes.
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 need to be smarter about our use of military force, as well as with our allocation of defense resources.
Instead of fighting large-footprint military operations, like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we need to utilize a much more targeted and flexible approach.
Terrorism still poses a serious threat, but it is a mobile menace that is not rooted in a single country.
I support the President's decision to remove U.S. troops from Iraq, and I believe we must also end the war in Afghanistan and instead increase our investment in diplomatic and economic engagement with the Afghan people.
I also support greater engagement with our allies to combat shared threats.
Iran's push toward nuclear weapons poses a grave threat to regional and global stability, and the United States has been a leader in efforts to halt Iran's nuclear ambitions.
While I do not believe we can take any options off the table, I strongly believe we need to first exhaust our full range of diplomatic and economic options, including biting sanctions, before discussing military alternatives.
I cosponsored and voted for H.R. 1905, the Iran Threat Reduction Act.
Strong sanctions have had a crippling effect on Iran's economy, and I support President Obama's efforts to mobilize the international community to enact multilateral sanctions and further isolate Iran.
We must continue to work with Israel and other regional partners to push Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
In addition to critical efforts to halt Iran's progress toward nuclear weapons, the U.S. has also been a leader in ensuring that the Straits of Hormuz remain open to international traffic.
About one fifth of the world's oil passes through the Straits annually, and Iran must abide by its international commitments and keep the Straits open.
The U.S. also must continue to be a leading voice in encouraging the Iranian government to end its crackdown on civil society and to improve its abysmal human rights record.
North Korea is undergoing a transition right now.
U.S. priorities remain the same, however: North Korea must comply with its international obligations, including denuclearization; work to improve relations with neighboring nations; and respect the human rights of its citizens.
We need to work with our allies in the region to ensure a stable transition in North Korea and to continue to push the regime to become a responsible member of the international community.
I do not believe we have to choose between our national security and our fundamental American values.
I recently voted against the National Defense Authorization Act, in large part because that legislation allowed for indefinite detention without charge or trial in military custody and other similar provisions that I believe are at odds with the U.S. Constitution.
As a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I believe we can protect our national security without jeopardizing our fundamental rights and freedoms.
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?
While we need to improve Medicare and Medicaid, it is important to realize the critical role that they play in providing health care in a cost-efficient manner.
Medicare's per capita spending increases have been lower than the private sector over the 1969 to 2009 period and are projected to grow by 3.5% between 2010 and 2019, compared to 5.4% for private insurance.
Medicaid's recent cost growth is mainly because it has picked up the cost of coverage for children and families who lost private insurance during the Great Recession.
We need to address the underlying causes of health care inflation -- but cutting back on Medicare and Medicaid and cost-shifting to individuals and families, businesses and state and local governments is not the answer.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act makes many improvements, including new tools to go after fraud and abuse, new emphasis on prevention and wellness, elimination of overpayments to private Medicare Advantage plans, better care coordination, and a focus on improving patient care, rather than encouraging overuse of technologies and services that don't add value but result in higher payments.
We can do more to lower costs.
I am the sponsor of H.R. 999, the Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act, which would create a Medicare-administered Part D drug benefit, to compete with private plans.
Like the public option (which I also strongly support), it would expand choice and lower costs.
I also support requiring that Medicare negotiate for drug prices, using its market power to negotiate for deep discounts as the VA does.
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 support Illinois' decision not to allow concealed-carry.
Allowing people to carry concealed weapons does not make our communities and neighborhoods safer.
At least 385 people have been killed since 2007 by concealed-carry permit holders.
Eleven of these were law enforcement officials.
Gun violence claims 32,000 lives a year in America -- allowing more firearms on our streets is not the answer.
I voted against H.R. 822, the National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, that would force Illinois to recognize every other state's concealed carry permits.
I am a strong supporter of marriage equality, and co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus.
I believe that discrimination against individuals due to their sexual orientation is wrong and I actively fight to further the interests of equality.
I am an original cosponsor of H.R. 1116, the Respect for Marriage Act, which would amend the Defense of Marriage Act to give equal protections to same-sex and heterosexual.
As a leader in the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, I support access to the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion.
I believe we need to eliminate restrictions on access to abortion which prevent low-income women, federal employees and women in the military from obtaining this Constitutionally-protected service. I also steadfastly oppose any effort to eliminate Title X funding to the more than 4,400 clinics in the United States, including Planned Parenthood clinics, that rely on that funding to serve approximately 5 million young and low-income women and men each year.
Title X clinics provide preventive care, including lifesaving cancer screenings, routine gynecological examinations, contraceptive services, immunizations and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
Title X clinics are critical to achieving the goal of improving quality health care in this country, including efforts to improve women's health, lowering the rate of unintended pregnancies, and decreasing infant mortality.