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updated: 9/21/2012 4:36 PM

Dennis Anderson: Candidate Profile

14th District U.S. Representative (Democrat)

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  • Dennis Anderson, running for 14th District U.S. Representative

      Dennis Anderson, running for 14th 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

 

Bio

City: Gurnee

Website: http://www.dennisforcongress.com/

Office sought: 14th District U.S. Representative

Age: 61

Family: Married

Occupation: Retired

Education: BA - University of Wisconsin-Madison, Economics, Political Science Graduate Studies -University of Wisconsin-Madison, Public Administration Graduate Studies - Loyola University Chicago, Theology

Civic involvement: Board of Directors, Dane County (WI) Humane Society, 1988-1995 City of Madison (WI) Ethics Board, Mayoral Appointee, 1989-1996 U-CARE (HMO) Grievance Committee, 1990-1991 Board of Directors, Southern Wisconsin Foodbank, Inc., 1995-1996 Volunteer, Warren-Newport Public Library, Gurnee IL, 2007?Present Board of Directors, International Breast Cancer Research Foundation, 2007-Present Volunteer Tutor, Literacy Volunteers of Lake County, 2011 Board of Directors, Literacy Volunteers of Lake County, 2011-Present Member, Gurnee Rotary, 2011-Present; Board Member 2012-Present Various other volunteer activities

Elected offices held: None. I am a first time candidate.

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

The economic recovery has been sluggish and unemployment remains stubbornly high. This fall, the U.S. Census Bureau will release figures that are expected to show that the U.S. poverty rate has reached the highest level in fifty years, and in that poverty number is nearly one-quarter of America?s children. Nearly fifty million Americans live in households that are ?food insecure,? meaning that their resources were not always adequate to purchase needed food. That these things should be true in the United States, the richest and most powerful nation on earth, is a disgrace. American families and children should not have to suffer want until corporations are satisfied with the tax breaks they are offered before they repatriate profits held offshore and perhaps - perhaps - create jobs here in the U.S. at some future date. What does it say about us as a people when we would rather cut programs that serve the most vulnerable among us, such programs as school lunches, community health centers, and food support for mothers and children, than allow marginal increases in the tax rates paid by the most well-off among us? I know that we are a better people than this. Small businesses need easier access to capital, another element of the Administration?s Jobs Bill. According to the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), the value of bank loans to small businesses fell 47 percent from 2007 to 2009. In a 2010 Gallup poll approximately a third of small business owners reported that obtaining credit had become harder in the previous 12 months. Small business cannot expand and hire new workers without access to capital. Meanwhile, banks are sitting on more than $1.5 trillion in cash. America's infrastructure is crumbling, with roads, bridges, public water systems and schools are all in urgent need of repair and updating, work that would support supporting millions of jobs in our communities. Those who claim concern about burdening our children with debt would do well to read the American Society of Civil Engineers' infrastructure report, where they would find that the estimated cost of the backlog of needed work is mounting rapidly, rising by $500 billion between 2004 and 2009 alone. International trade agreements must include human rights and living wage protections for workers in nations with whom we do business. The offshoring of jobs must cease, and American corporations cannot be allowed to continue to hold profits offshore in anticipation of tax reductions. Efforts to erode collective bargaining rights at home must cease. The stagnation of middle class income and wealth has run in tandem with the fall of union membership in the U.S. Let?s not forget that organized labor brought us the 8-hour day, the weekend, paid vacations, and sick leave. The middle class was built through the efforts of organized labor.

Key Issue 2

Inseparable from the growing problem of poverty and lack of satisfactory economic growth is the fact that the House of Representatives is dysfunctional. Partisanship has replaced honest discussion and debate, and the Nation is paying the price. The primary responsibility for this dysfunction, even in the view of such conservative thinkers as Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and David Brooks, lies with the Republican majority. Brooks has suggested that the Republican Party is no longer interested in offering a ?practical, governing alternative.? The rating agencies that downgraded the Nation?s credit cited as a primary concern Congressional posturing over the raising of the debt ceiling, an issue that will soon be before Congress again, and not the level of debt itself. Obstructionism is not governing, but then one can hardly expect those who hold government in disdain to be good at practicing the art. While private enterprise has proven itself to be a marvelous engine for economic growth, a role it continues and will continue to play, not everything can or should be privatized, and not all regulation is bad. Everyone derives benefits from government, but not all programs are, nor can they be, aimed at providing direct benefit in equal share to every citizen. It is in striking a balance that good government is found, and it is in its unwillingness to find that balance, or to even demonstrate a willingness to try, that this House has been an abject failure. Congress needs to adopt a serious approach to addressing the Nation?s problems, but that effort is unlikely to be undertaken until the House is made up of members who take governing seriously.

Key Issue 3

Quality public education is vital to the Nation's future. If we do not ensure that all young people have meaningful access to modern, well-equipped and well-staffed schools, the U.S. will be left behind in an increasingly competitive world.

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?

The Bush-era tax cuts should be extended, except for those benefiting the top income earners. Middle- and low-income workers have been disproportionately harmed by the recession, job losses and the collapse of the housing market, and have endured decades of stagnant earnings. High-income earners, on the other hand, have benefitted disproportionately from those rate reductions, and even the Wall Street Journal reported last year that over 60% of those earning over $1 million per year felt that their taxes ought to be raised and now is the time to do so. The validity of the theory of trickle-down economics was disproved years ago, and there has been no resultant surge in job creation as some continue to claim should have resulted from the upper income tax rate reduction that has been in effect for a decade. Still, trickle-down economics, military spending and deregulation seem to be the only stimulus plans Republicans support. The unemployment picture could be greatly improved by Congress' passage of the President's Jobs Bill, which I support. As mentioned previously, I should think that undertaking these infrastructure repair and upgrade projects, the backlog of which grows annually, along with the cost of addressing that backlog, would appeal greatly to those who are concerned not only with getting people back to work, but with avoiding burdening future generations with debt. This work needs to be done and paid for either now or, at much greater cost, later. In addition, the Jobs Bill addresses the issue of small business access to credit, which is a critical factor in future economic growth. While all government programs need to be reviewed for possible savings, the Pentagon budget is often exempted from discussion of cuts. According to a December article in Forbes magazine, more than $100 billion has been spent over the past couple of decades on the development of weapons systems that were never fielded. According to the Government Accountability Office, management failures added nearly $30 billion to Pentagon costs in 2009-2010. The projected cost of some of the Pentagon?s largest programs grew by $135 billion, a 9% increase, between 2008 and 2011, with at least $75 billion of that increase due to inefficiencies and flawed initial estimates. A bipartisan Congressional Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan reported last year that at least 15% of U.S. spending in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade has been ?squandered? due to lax management and oversight, as well as the result of ?misconduct.? The defense budget is enormous, representing more than 50% of the Nation?s discretionary spending, and clearly needs to be included in any meaningful discussion of cuts. We continue to provide subsidies to such immensely profitable industries. The oil industry is heavily subsidized, even as it earns massive ? and record - profits. Nor is the oil industry alone in this, and all subsidies need to be reviewed.

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?

The makeup of the House needs to be changed. As stated in one of my previous responses, the current Congress has been deadlocked by members who are, by all appearances, far more interested in fostering the view that government is inept than in actually working to enable it to serve and protect the people. I am willing to discuss or debate any issue with anyone who is willing to engage in serious discussion. Campaign finance reform is also needed. According to a study published in ?The Hill? last year, incumbent members of Congress spend anywhere from 25%-50% of their time raising money, rather than doing their jobs. Being in a state of more or less permanent campaigning requires that members of Congress be always careful not to offend the donor base, too often at the expense of the constituency at large. The result is the posturing and harsh rhetoric with which we have become both too familiar and rightly disgusted. Politics is awash in money and that, in my view, is a very dangerous combination.

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?

I do agree with the Court?s decision to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA is the first meaningful reform of the American health care system since the establishment of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, both of which have made health care accessible to millions of Americans. According to a report by Families USA published in July, approximately 205,000 people in Kane, Kendall and McHenry Counties will benefit from the ACA. Finally, not only will the ACA improve access to health care for millions, it will, according to the Congressional Budget Office, do so at lower cost and will reduce the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars. I am opposed to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Repeal would not only mean that tens of millions of Americans would lose health care coverage, but would also, according to a Congressional Budget Office report to Speaker of the House John Boehner in July 2011, increase the deficit. Additionally it would not be surprising to once again see Insurance premiums start rising again at double-digit rates as they were for years prior to approval of the ACA. It is important to recognize that the issue of access to health care was brought to the Nation?s attention by Theodore Roosevelt in in 1912. I have tremendous respect and admiration for American entrepreneurs, and suggest that if there were a private sector solution to this problem, we would likely have seen it over the past century.

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?

Laws against interracial marriage existed in various states in the United States until 1967. In the House of Representatives, such marriage was described as ?destructive of moral supremacy.? Bob Jones University banned interracial dating as recently as 2000, presumably for some reason founded in the University?s interpretation of Divine law or teaching. I doubt that objectors to interracial marriage were any less convinced of the rightness of their position than are those who object today to same sex marriage. Interracial marriage is a fact of American life, and the Nation has survived. One couple?s marriage does not constitute a threat to or infringe on the rights of any other couple or individual. Most polls show that a majority of Americans support the right of same sex couples to marry. That view should be reflected in law.

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 two biggest challenges are the increased burden on the public school system and the stock of affordable housing. I support the President?s directive on immigration. The people targeted by this directive have already proven themselves to be productive members of our community.

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