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updated: 9/21/2012 4:36 PM

Judy Biggert: Candidate Profile

11th District U.S. Representative (Republican)

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  • Judy Biggert, running for 11th District U.S. Representative

    Judy Biggert, 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: Hinsdale


Office sought: 11th District U.S. Representative

Age: 75

Family: Married, four children, nine grandchildren

Occupation: Lawyer; Member, House of Representatives

Education: Northwestern University School of Law, JD, 1963 (Member, Board of Editors, Law Review) Stanford University, BA (International Relations), 1959 New Trier High School, 1955

Civic involvement: Chairman, Village of Hinsdale Plan Commission, 1989-1993 Chairman, Visiting Nurse Association of Chicago, 1989-1991 President, Board of Education, Hinsdale Township High School District 86, 1983-1985; Member, 1978-1985 Chairman, Hinsdale Assembly of the Hinsdale Hospital, 1987-1988 President, Junior League of Chicago, 1976-1978 Treasurer, Women?s Board of Brookfield Zoo, 1970-1971 President, Chicago Junior Board of Travelers Aid Society, 1969 Board of Directors, Salt Creek Ballet, 1990-1999 Chairman, Hinsdale Antiques Show, 1980 Board of Governors, Illinois Lincoln Series, 1994-1996 President, Oak School PTA, 1974-1976 Sunday School Teacher, Grace Episcopal Church, 1974-1984 Assistant Soccer Coach, American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), 1983

Elected offices held: Political Experience: Member, U.S. House of Representatives, 1999-Present Member, Illinois House of Representatives, 1993-1999 President, Hinsdale Board of Education, Hinsdale Township High School District 86, 1983-1985 Member, Hinsdale Board of Education, Hinsdale Township High School District 86, 1978-1985 Chairman, Village of Hinsdale Plan Commission, 1989-1993

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Tax Reform: To help job-creators put more people back to work and expand their businesses, we should enact broad-based, permanent tax reform that will simplify the tax code, close loopholes, and lower and make permanent the tax rates. Such reforms would not only create a pro-growth environment that rewards innovation and encourages job creation, it would make a code that is fairer for all Americans. At the same time, we must reduce government regulations that are placing billions of dollars of new burdens and uncertainty on job-creators.

Key Issue 2

Government Spending: Businesses cannot grow and hire more people if they are competing with a government that spends too much and borrows too much. We must rein in out-of-control spending that has led to our nation?s $15 trillion debt, and enact structural spending reforms, such as a Balanced Budget Amendment, so that Washington cannot spend more money than it takes in.

Key Issue 3

Preserving and protecting Medicare for future generations: Without reforms, Medicare will go bankrupt. If we can set politics aside and focus on solutions today, we can avoid harmful cuts in the future. Unfortunately, I?m the only candidate in this race who supports a plan to preserve, protect and strengthen Medicare for current and future generations. As a first step, we should repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which my opponent voted for, and which cuts more than $700 billion from Medicare and creates an Independent Payment Advisory Board of 15 unelected bureaucrats, empowered to slash Medicare payments with little accountability.

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?

TAXES: Seniors and families working to make ends meet don?t deserve tax increases; they deserve tax relief. At the same time, raising taxes on our nation?s job creators now would make it even more difficult for them to hire new workers, much less keep their doors open. Raising taxes during this difficult economy will hurt our efforts to get this economy back on track. That is why I support extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for all individuals and small businesses. 75% of small businesses, including two-thirds of small manufacturing firms, are taxed as individuals, and allowing the tax cuts to expire would subject nearly 50% of small business income to a tax increase. Failure to extend the cuts also would result in a return of the marriage penalty and death tax; individual, capital gains, and dividend rates would increase; the childcare tax credit would decline, and millions of seniors and low-income Americans who now pay no taxes would be back on the tax rolls. In fact, failure to extend the cuts for all Americans, according to a study recently released by the non-partisan Ernst & Young firm, would result in the loss of 700,000 jobs nationwide, and 30,000 jobs in Illinois. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office sounded a similarly dire warning that failure to address this fiscal cliff could force the national unemployment rate back above 9 percent, with as much as a half point decline in our already sluggish real GDP growth rate. American consumers already are being squeezed by flat wages and high costs for energy, food, tuition, and other bills ? not to mention high property and state and local taxes. The last thing that the federal government should do is add to their burden with higher taxes that could plunge our economy back in to another recession. JOBS: One area that holds enormous potential to create jobs and boost U.S. competitiveness is broad-based tax reform. By simplifying the tax code, closing loopholes, lowering tax rates, and giving taxpayers some certainty, we can create a pro-growth environment that rewards innovation and job creation. But to accomplish these goals, we have to enact a tax policy guided by sound economic principles, and not simply increase taxes on job creators and investors. Secondly, we need to end the regulatory nightmare. In 2011 alone, the Administration proposed over 400 new regulations that have the potential to burden job creators with more than $70 billion in new compliance costs. Businesses cannot grow and invest when they face that kind of uncertainty and red tape. That?s why we need to review and de-fund economically significant regulations that will stifle the ability of businesses to produce more goods and put people back to work. Third, Congress must avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, including the kind of wasteful spending on political pet projects that were enacted under the first stimulus, which has clearly failed to stem the rise of unemployment. A second round of stimulus spending, as the President proposed last year, is a recipe for deficit explosion and a double-dip recession. Parts of the Administration?s proposal ? including certain tax cuts, deductions on new equipment, and tearing down trade barriers to U.S. exports ? were greeted with bipartisan support, including my own, and I was pleased to support them when they were brought up in the House. Unfortunately, the bulk of the plan consisted of new spending priorities that mirrored the failed policies of 2009. Disappointingly, the President also left the task of paying for his spending to the ?super committee,? which has since disbanded. Subsequently, Democrat leaders advocated paying for the President?s jobs bill with massive tax increases that threaten to halt ? not encourage ? job creation. DEBT REDUCTION: The national debt is now nearing $16 trillion ? larger than our entire economy. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate continues to stagnate above eight percent for 42 months in a row. We cannot afford to sit idly by while out-of-control federal spending and ever-growing debt continue to drive down economic growth and paralyze job creators. To restore our Triple-A economy, I?ve voted to cut more than $6 trillion in spending from the federal budget, cap future spending near 2008 levels, and enact a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to the Constitution. The BBA, which I cosponsored, would require Congress and the President to spend within our means and make the same hard financial choices that all Americans make each day. I?ve also worked with my colleagues in the House to secure -- for the first time in modern history -- two years in a row of discretionary spending reductions, despite intense opposition from the White House and the Senate. These cuts should be at the core of any deficit reduction efforts. However, revenues can be part of the solution. During negotiations last year, I wrote to members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction encouraging them to seek revenue increases as the natural byproduct of effective broad-based tax reform and pro-growth financial policies. As outlined above, commonsense tax reform would generate revenues through economic growth, eliminate shelters used predominantly by upper-income taxpayers, and yield lower rates on wage earners. The result is a stronger, more competitive economy.

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 do not believe that compromise is a bad word. After all, the alternative is ?my way or the highway,? and that?s why too little is being accomplished in Washington. When facing a problem, Congress has an unfortunate tendency to do one of two things: nothing or overreact. The result, as with the nation?s out-of-control debt, is that reasonable solutions are too often neglected while the problem continues to grow into a crisis. In other areas, as with the Administration?s health care overhaul, a Democrat-dominated Congress threw caution to the wind and adopted a policy driven by politics rather than common sense. Now patients, doctors, small business owners, and taxpayers are suffering the unintended consequences of new taxes, burdensome regulations, and higher costs. The American people deserve better, and that is why I continue to push my colleagues to remember that the voters sent us there to solve problems ? not just to get re-elected or make the opposition look bad. As a former school board president and long-time community volunteer, I have a proven track record of listening to constituents and bringing people together to find solutions that work. I approach my work in Congress with the same spirit, which is why I was honored when my peers on the other side of the aisle elected me one of the "Ten Most Bipartisan" members of the House. During this Congress, I put that philosophy to work as Chairman of the House Insurance and Housing Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Because of partisan gridlock, a comprehensive NFIP bill seemed impossible. In fact, since 2008, there were 16 extensions to the program because the parties could not reach agreement. But I set out to work with every group ? from insurers to consumers to environmentalists, realtors and others ? and every member of Congress, representing diverse areas across the nation, and together we crafted compromise legislation to finally revamp and reauthorize our nation?s outdated flood insurance program. Starting with a working draft (instead of a bill), and taking input from all sides, we addressed everyone?s concerns; no one got everything but everyone was satisfied. In the end, the 17th time was a charm and it passed out of Financial Services Committee 54 ? 0, on the House floor 406 ? 22, and the Biggert-Waters Act was signed into law by the President on July 6, 2012. In short, Americans have had enough of "my way or the highway" governing. They want solutions. And whether it?s cutting waste, creating jobs, or reforming the tax code, I?ll continue to put results over politics.

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 nation?s health care system is badly in need of reform. The American people want lower costs, increased access, and better care. Unfortunately, the heavy-handed approach taken by the authors of the 2,700-page health law has produced unintended consequences that are driving up costs, leading to dropped coverage, and draining jobs from a fragile economy. We cannot fix what?s broken if people in Washington are unwilling to acknowledge their own mistakes. The Supreme Court?s decision, declaring the health mandate a tax, only reinforced the primary concern that I hear from small businesses leaders nearly every day: specifically, that uncertainly over the cost of new mandates is making it nearly impossible to invest in growth. There are over 20 distinct tax increases in the health law. And the greatest barrier to reliable coverage for many families continues to be the lack of a steady paycheck. We cannot continue to ignore the impact of this law on jobs while millions of Americans remain out of work. Nor should we cut $700 billion from Medicare, or leave in place new rules that the CBO estimates will eliminate employer-sponsored insurance for millions of Americans. That?s why I support repealing the law and replacing these policies that are raising costs. In their place, we can enact consensus-driven, bipartisan solutions that Democrat leaders have ignored in the past, including Association Health Plans and medical malpractice reform. At the same time, there?s no reason we can?t maintain coverage for pre-existing conditions and young adults age 26 and under. In fact, during debate on the new law, my colleagues and I offered an alternative that would have lowered health insurance premiums for American families and small businesses by as much as 10 percent. This Congress, I am a cosponsor of multi-faceted health care reform bill, the Patient Centered Healthcare Savings Act, that will lower costs, increase competition, expand portability for those between jobs, and provide coverage for pre-existing conditions. Here are just a few of the steps we take in our bill: Enact medical malpractice reform: to curb junk lawsuits and stop forcing doctors to practice costly defensive medicine. The other side of the aisle has consistently refused to enact this measure because of the influence of trial attorneys. Allow Association Health Plans (AHPs): so that small businesses can band together and offer their employees the same discounted health insurance coverage enjoyed by employees of large corporations and union members. Expand Health Savings Accounts (HSAs): HSAs allow families and individuals to save money tax-free for their health care needs and shop for the best deals. Purchase insurance across state lines: By allowing individuals to purchase from any one of the more than 1,000 insurers in the country, we can increase competition, lower health insurance premiums, and increase choices for the consumer. Prevent insurers from imposing unfair caps: Our plan prevents insurers from imposing annual or lifetime spending caps. Given that this alternative would enable young adults to stay on their parents? insurance, eliminate lifetime coverage caps, and provide coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions, I believe it would constitute a commonsense starting point for discussions with members on both sides of the aisle, enabling us to work towards effect reforms that lower costs and increase access to quality healthcare.

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?

I personally view marriage as a traditional institution, between one man and one woman, but I?ve never believed that Congress should inject that view into the Constitution. Marriage is an issue that our Founding Fathers wisely left to the states. No Congress ever has seen fit to amend the Constitution to address any issue related to marriage. No Constitutional Amendment was needed to ban polygamy or bigamy, nor was a Constitutional Amendment needed to set a uniform age of majority to ban child marriage. The states should be free to pursue their own course with respect to marriage, and that can be accomplished with no additional influence from Washington. Current law preserves a traditional federal perspective while allowing states to maintain their ultimate authority over the issue. As for the states, I take a very open view towards civil unions and legal rights among same-sex couples, including the right to visit each other in the hospital, share a bank account, and other key commonsense rights that heterosexual couples take for granted. I don?t think that definitions need to stand in the way. I also continue to support allowing LGBT individuals to serve in the military, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, legislation to combat hate crimes, and an inclusive Violence Against Women Act.

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?

As with many fast-growing communities, Chicago?s suburbs are increasingly diverse. I don?t view that growth as a challenge, but rather as a sign that we are doing something right ? building better schools, roads, homes, businesses, and opportunities. That growth is all the more remarkable given the weak economy and the poor fiscal track record of our leaders in Springfield. We should embrace that growth, while strengthening the unique qualities that make our suburban community such a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family. In part, that means enforcing the law, so that that our hospitals, schools, and other service providers can focus on meeting the needs of a growing population of American citizens and legal immigrants. Our nation has a legal "path to citizenship," and caseworkers in my office have helped thousands of individuals who play by the rules and do not break the law. Some of these individuals have waited ten years or more to enter the United States legally through our existing immigration and naturalization structure. Unfortunately, a unilateral declaration of amnesty by the President risks creating an additional incentive for illegal immigration. Much as my sympathy lies with those who came here illegally through no fault of their own, I have real problems with rewarding behavior that is outside of the law. Washington made that mistake in the 1980?s, when Congress accepted amnesty without first securing the borders. The result was even more illegal immigration, not less. There is much we can do to reform our legal immigration system of hard numerical caps to make it more efficient, effective, and responsive to U.S. labor needs. Labor conditions in the U.S. should dictate where the cap is set for our visa categories. And there is no reason that our immigration policies cannot reflect America?s long-held traditions of flexibility and compassion for those escaping oppression or seeking to reunite with family. But before we can address these issues effectively, we must first secure the borders. That means more boots on the ground and better use of electronic surveillance technology along points of entry. We also need to end the primary incentive for illegal immigration by expanding the use of tools like E-Verify to ensure that American employers are hiring legal workers. And we have to promote international policies that deter illegal immigration.