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updated: 9/21/2012 4:42 PM

Tammy Duckworth: Candidate Profile

8th District U.S. Representative (Democrat)

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  • Tammy Duckworth, running for 8th District U.S. Representative

    Tammy Duckworth, running for 8th 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: Rolling Meadows


Office sought: 8th District U.S. Representative

Age: 44

Family: Married

Occupation: Assistant Secretary ? U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2009-2011 Director ? Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, 2006-2009

Education: University of Hawaii, B.A. in Political Science George Washington University, M.A. in International Affairs Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, Northern Illinois University Doctoral Candidate, Health & Human Services, Capella University

Civic involvement: Lt. Colonel, Illinois Army National Guard Daughters of the American Revolution Public Relations Society of America Amputee Coalition of America DAV VFW American Legion AmVets Military Order of the Purple Heart

Elected offices held: N/A

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

My first priority is to develop and expand our economy. I propose a combination of short-term programs that will immediately help accelerate and reinvigorate our economy and long-term policy initiatives that will establish lasting growth. My jobs plan includes significant short-term investment in infrastructure, transportation, schools, communication, utilities and education. Long-term priorities include job training, an extension of the payroll tax credit, as well as business tax credits for research, clean energy development and for companies that hire returning Veterans and those who have been unemployed for more than six months.

Key Issue 2

My second priority is to address the extreme rhetoric and partisanship that is dominating Washington and prohibiting anything from getting accomplished. Party extremism has pushed our government to the brink of failure because Congress has been placing politics before sound policy and service to the nation. Based on my past successes working in a bipartisan way on Veterans issues, I know I can be effective in working across party lines on bipartisan legislation.

Key Issue 3

Finally, I will work with both sides of the aisle to develop a sensible plan to balance the budget. I will work to protect those in our society who are most vulnerable. I will preserve critical safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare and others like Pell Grants that give everyone a chance at the American Dream. We must take a hard look at federal contracting excesses, our defense budget and tax loopholes that let companies get away with not paying the corporate income tax or ship jobs overseas without keeping any at home.

Questions & Answers

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?

Good governing is about making tough, but responsible choices to put our country?s economy back on track. The budget deficit can only be reduced with a multi-faceted approach that includes cutting annual government spending, identifying additional savings opportunities and creating an equitable system that will balance the budget and forge a sustainable fiscal path for our economic future. We cannot afford to do nothing ? or keep squabbling while millions of families continue to live on the edge. Just like a family trying to balance its household budget, we have to be smart about what we can and cannot afford. We need to end subsidies to the oil and gas industry, as well as certain wasteful agricultural subsidies. Medicare must be allowed to negotiate for cheaper drug prices, like the Department of Veterans Affairs already does. We must make responsible, reasonable cuts to defense spending like unchecked defense contracts for weapons and other equipment the military does not need. I can speak with experience about the Department of Defense budget, which is the largest of any federal agency. ?As a member of the military, I have the first-hand knowledge needed to ask the right questions and push for better oversight of waste in runaway military contracts, while still protecting our military men and women and making sure they are well equipped and supported. I believe the tax code should be rewritten so that the burden is divided fairly. We can begin to simplify the tax code by eliminating many corporate loopholes. I do not believe we can ask working families, Veterans and low-income seniors to pay more taxes. It is simply not fair that small and medium-sized businesses pay their share of federal income taxes, but large companies exploit corporate loopholes and pay nothing. We must let the Bush-era tax breaks for the super wealthy making over $1 million expire and ensure that multinational conglomerates, many of which paid no federal income taxes last year, pay their fair share. These changes would be critical first steps towards deficit reduction while making our tax system fairer and more equitable. I support President Obama?s jobs plan because the federal government can help establish an environment for job growth. My proposal for a combination of short-term programs that will immediately help accelerate and reinvigorate our economy and long-term policy initiatives that will establish lasting growth will be critical to establishing a fairer tax code. Some of these priorities include job training, an extension of the payroll tax credit, as well as business tax credits for research, clean energy development and for companies that hire returning Veterans and those who have been unemployed for more than six months. Tax cuts, done right, can put money back in the hands of the people who need it most. They can prime the pump of consumer spending. Targeted tax cuts for businesses can encourage meaningful investment in our economy that will create jobs.

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?

In Congress, first and foremost, I will be a voice calling for reason in search of practical solutions to our most pressing problems. I will work with anyone who loves this country as much as I do to get us moving forward again. I have a proven record of working in a bipartisan way to get things done. While Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, I started the first bipartisan Veterans caucus in Illinois with the help of a Republican and Democratic legislator, both of whom are military Vets. One of my top priorities once elected will be to bring reason and leadership back to Congress. We must balance our commitment to our values with compromise for the greater good. Members need to represent their districts rather than any rigid personal or political ideologies. Too many are placing partisan rhetoric ahead of the national interest. This is true of both Democrats and Republicans. I am running to represent the people of the 8th Congressional District of Illinois and only them.

Do you agree with the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the health care law and why? Do you support or oppose repeal of the law? Which parts would you change and why? If you are elected, how, specifically, will you work to achieve those changes?

Our health care system is not perfect, but as someone who went through a serious health crisis, I understand how important it is to have affordable and quality health care. I am determined to make sure every American has access to health care without going bankrupt. Insurance companies should not be able to deny our families and our children coverage due to pre-existing conditions, they should not be able to put a cap on the amount of care they cover or continue to charge women higher premiums than men and they should not be able to drop coverage for seniors. Although I support ACA, I believe it has significant flaws. I am concerned that ACA places an unfair burden on employers, especially our small businesses. This is especially true of businesses with low profit margins and high numbers of employees, such as restaurants and retail stores, who must have a large number of employees due to the shift-work nature of the industry. I am committed to listening to all sides and rolling up my sleeves to fix the problems with ACA so that employees will have access to affordable health care while at the same time we do not place additional burdens on employers. If anything, I believe access to affordable health care for all Americans will help ease the burden on our businesses, helping them to be more competitive. My focus is to make sure all Americans have access to affordable health care while not unfairly placing the burden on our businesses. I believe we need to continue to work on health care reform and will listen and work with everyone to improve the system.

How do you believe marriage should be defined legally? Should the law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman be overturned or upheld? Why?

My view on marriage equality is rooted in love. While I was recovering at Walter Reed after being shot down in Iraq, my husband Bryan was at my bedside every day. Not only was he offering love and support during such a difficult time, but he was also making critical decisions for me that improved the quality of my life to this day. Often, those decisions were contrary to what my mother would have decided, but as my life partner, my husband knew me better and made the correct choices for me when I could not. I support the freedom to marry because everyone deserves the same level of access, support and love.

The Latino population in the suburbs is growing. What is the biggest challenge created by that growth? Do you support or oppose President Obama's directive to stop deportation of undocumented immigrants who are in college or the military and why?

The 8th District is one of the most diverse districts in the nation, with a population comprised of 22% Latino, 12% Asian and 4% African American. Every American should have a voice in this country, regardless of the color of their skin, their gender, their sexual orientation or their religious creed. This great country was founded by people from many different nations and backgrounds, on the principle that we are all created equal. We should celebrate our diversity and draw strength from it. As with any burgeoning population, we need to work to guarantee that their rights are protected and engage them in the political process. As more immigrant families move to this country, we need to protect those who followed the law. People who came here illegally should step forward, pay fines for violating our laws, pass a criminal background check, learn some English and pay their full share of taxes owed. They also must not be convicted of a felony. If an immigrant meets all of those requirements while continuing to be gainfully employed, he or she should be allowed to pursue legal status. The fines paid by those seeking legal status could pay for the investment required to process the requests and ensure cases are handled quickly and fairly. I support the President?s directive and I also support the DREAM Act. I am very proud that Illinois was the first state to pass our own DREAM Act legislation. If a child from an immigrant family is brought here at a young age, grows up in this country and is willing to work to make this country better, he or she should be able to pursue legal status. U.S. citizenship is a precious thing and there must be a pathway for people to legally pursue that goal.