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: 10th District U.S. Representative
Family: Married,three children
Occupation: Congressman, Small Business Owner
Education: Bachelors, Denison University JD, Indiana MBA, Kellogg School of Management
Civic involvement: Troop Leader, Senior Scouts, Kenilworth, IL Precinct Captain, New Trier Republican Organization
Elected offices held: Congress, Illinois' 10th CD (2010-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 I continue to have faith in the enduring resilience of the American people and the American economy, but it is clear that our country is not yet on the right track to a strong economic recovery. It has been over three years since the recession ended, yet over 23 million Americans are currently unemployed, underemployed, or have simply given up looking for work. The national unemployment rate has been stuck above 8% for over 42 straight months, and unemployment in both Lake County and Illinois remain above the national average. This is unacceptable. Fortunately, there are many things I believe we can do to finally realize our country?s job-creating potential. 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 and four straight years of spending-fueled trillion dollar deficits, 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, the ?Main Street Jobs Agenda,? focuses on measures which will foster an environment to help small businesses grow, compete, and create good-paying jobs. The key components of my plan include achieving comprehensive tax code reform that is guided by a firm commitment to economic growth and simplifying the code; increasing exports by helping domestic manufacturers compete around the globe; 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; expanding North American energy production to lower fuel prices, and improving the regulatory climate to ensure smarter regulations that do not suffocate America?s employers. Following this path will promote economic growth and put America back to work.
Key Issue 2
Reining In Government Spending Our country is rapidly approaching the most predictable economic crisis in our history, and both political parties should be held accountable. Washington is burying our children and our grandchildren under a mountain of debt that has tripled since 2001 to $16 trillion ? and which is scheduled to grow by trillions of dollars more in the next few years. Last year, 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 spending 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. Simply put, this trend is unsustainable, and it endangers our economic future. This irresponsible, misguided and wasteful spending must end. Despite the clear warnings, the U.S. Senate has refused for more than three years to put a budget in place. As a fiscal conservative, I believe that a core responsibility of legislators is to establish a yearly budget for the federal government to operate within ? something that American families and businesses around this country are forced to do every day. There are two competing views on how we address this challenge: Taking 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 to 67% on individuals and 58% on businesses and today we know that our state?s credit rating is last among all states, our businesses are leaving and we still owe billions more in unpaid bills. It would be irresponsible to allow Washington to travel down the same path that Governor Quinn & the Illinois Legislature 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. After a decade of runaway spending in Washington, Congress needs to understand the lessons that the taxpayers of Illinois have been forced to learn the hard way. 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 making that extra effort to develop bipartisan support for ideas, and I am proud that multiple news organizations, after having taken a look at my voting record, have consistently recognized me as one of the most independent Members of Congress. 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 four job fairs in areas all around our district including Palatine, Lake Forest, Waukegan and Wheeling bringing together 3,500 job seekers and 375 hiring employers. 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 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 an annual Model Congress with over 200 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 roundtable 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 constituents before their annual Medicare enrollment. 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. This year we held a housing roundtable 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 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 my constituents. I look forward to continuing this type of local leadership and representing the new areas that will be added to the 10th District.
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 in 2010 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 drive economic growth and lower the unemployment rate. The economy was growing at 3.5% then and it is growing at 1.5% now. 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 where everyone follows the rules and an environment where everyone benefits. I have said all along that while I may not agree with the President?s entire jobs plan, I am willing to support those areas where we have common ground and move those forward. Last year I introduced a bill targeted at incentivizing employers to hire unemployed workers through a payroll tax cut. This was before the President proposed a payroll tax holiday. 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 support his goals to invest in infrastructure and supported the repeal of a special tax on small businesses doing work with the government, which was included in his jobs plan. Going forward, I am certainly committed to working with the President and members of both parties to take meaningful action that helps our country. I have supported budget proposals that present alternatives to the current, reckless spending path. I was proud to be one of the lead cosponsors of the sole bipartisan budget resolution offered in the House of Representatives this year, because I believe it?s important to advance ideas with bipartisan support. This budget was based on the principles outlined in the Bowles-Simpson commission, and earned wide praise for its plan to reduce the deficit by over $4 trillion. This budget put everything on the table for discussion, including spending cuts, entitlement reforms, and ways to generate revenues. Regrettably this legislation did not become law, and so I also supported what ultimately became the House-passed budget because it provided a serious alternative to the status quo of skyrocketing debt and deficits. My decision to support these budget proposals was not made lightly, but I believe that tough and honest choices must be made if we want to preserve a bright economic future for our children and grandchildren. These budgets both recognized the need for comprehensive tax code reform by putting forth key principles that promote economic growth. We should reform the tax code with an eye towards increasing the competitiveness of American businesses large and small, and providing much-needed relief to American families. This means simplifying and restructuring the tax code to broaden the base, lower rates on everyone, and eliminate lobbyist tax loopholes.
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 other side of the aisle. 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. This ability and willingness to break from party that I have consistently shown is what the people of the 10th District deserve, it 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. I was one of the first House Members to join the No Labels movement, a group of bipartisan lawmakers that is calling for an end to the gridlock in Washington. And for two years in a row I sat with a Democrat colleague during the State of the Union to show our willingness to work in a bipartisan manner. By sponsoring and voting for the only bi-partisan budget to come before the House in a decade, I have shown a willingness to compromise and work to move our country forward. I am proud that a number of Democrats in the House recognize me as someone that they can work with. Whether it has been to build bipartisan support for legislation I?ve introduced, join with fellow Illinois legislators on matters important to the state, or co-author letters to the administration and congressional leadership in order to advance important ideas, I have a proven record of trying to break through the gridlock. It is this approach that I will continue to bring to Congress and urge my colleagues to do the same. 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.
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?
Washington missed a golden opportunity when it passed health care reform because the legislation focused more on access to insurance rather than deal with the major problems of cost or quality of health care. What is certain is that small businesses ? the backbone of our economy ? are saddled with higher health care costs for employees along with costly new regulatory mandates. I am deeply concerned that the new health care law will hurt American seniors. It cut $716 billion in Medicare benefits and transferred that money to pay for new federal healthcare bureaucracies. According to Medicare?s Chief Actuary, more than seven million Americans will lose their current Medicare Advantage plans, and other provisions will result in less generous benefit packages. The legislation was much too expensive and will steadily increase taxes on hard working taxpayers, while adding to an already unsustainable federal debt. A key component of my plan for health care reform is implementing tort reform. An incredible amount of waste occurs because of a mentality that is caused by unchecked lawsuits. The cost of ?defensive? medicine ? tests, procedures, referrals, hospitalizations, or prescriptions ordered by physicians fearful of lawsuits ? is huge and widespread. This must be changed to protect the solvency of our healthcare system. I believe we can do more to eliminate corruption and waste in Medicare. To take steps in that direction, I cosponsored the Medicare Common Access Card Act, which is bipartisan legislation to secure and verify the identities of both Medicare beneficiaries and providers. It is estimated this could save over $60 billion. My plan also offers choice across state lines. In nearly every other sector of the economy, consumers are free to choose across state lines and companies are free to market across state lines. This change would expand the choices available to consumers and increase the competition for each insurer, thereby driving down prices and improving service. Real reform also requires greater transparency of pricing and outcomes data. Today it is nearly impossible to compare price and outcomes, and effectiveness. The current system does not encourage providers to report data with any kind of consistency and as such, price and outcomes comparisons are complicated and almost certainly ?apples-to-oranges.? Ultimately, I believe we must empower individuals by giving them the ability to make their own personal decisions on health care. As a small business owner I know first-hand the pressure to provide affordable care for employees and have seen health care costs rise year after year. I am committed to implementing a plan that will address cost, quality and access to health care for all Americans.
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 support civil unions and support marriage laws being handled on the state level. If the voters of a particular state want it, I support letting that particular state?s laws take effect without federal intervention to block it. I do not support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. In Congress, I work closely with the Log Cabin Republicans and have an open door policy to make sure that I hear their concerns and can help them advance legislation important to the LGBT community. I am one of the few Republican cosponsors of a taxpayer parity bill for LGBT domestic partners, I oppose the reinstatement of ?Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell,? and have advocated for a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that includes protections for members of the LGBT community. I am not for discrimination of anyone in the workplace, period, and believe that everyone has the right to enjoy and expect equal protection under the 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?
America is a land of laws and everyone in the United States should be here legally. The federal government has struggled to adequately to deal with immigration and the 12 million immigrants who are here illegally. We have found that comprehensive immigration reform has been difficult to pass no matter which party is in control in Washington. I believe we should attempt a different route and address immigration reform in a step by step process. First, we must control our borders and ensure that illegal immigration can be reduced dramatically. This should entail more border patrol staff, building a fence where possible and using new technologies to monitor the border. Second, our legal immigration process must be reformed. Our country will benefit from a system that is fairer, more efficient and more secure. Foreign visitors, students and workers provide many benefits to our economy and society. We need to make sure that it doesn?t take four months for a tourist to get a visa to come to the United States to visit and spend their money at our hotels and restaurants. Nor should a foreign student have to go home after graduating from college to start applying for citizenship in our country. This is why I am an original cosponsor and strong advocate for the Startup Act 2.0, which provides a green card to foreign students who graduate with an advanced degree in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields from American universities. This would address the problem of foreign students coming here to get educated, only to take their valuable skill set back to their home country. Retaining these foreign graduates in the U.S. would be a net positive for the American economy, and would help our American businesses better compete and grow. And last, we need to deal with the millions of illegal immigrants who are currently living in our country. I support allowing children who were brought to our country illegally by their parents to earn a path to permanent residency by either serving in our military, or serving our government in another way such as in an organization like AmeriCorps. While I do think there is room to ultimately work together and develop consensus on this issue of children, I disagree with the highly-unilateral approach the President has taken. I agree with what the President said in a July 2011 speech, when he spoke about whether he can just bypass Congress and change laws on his own: ?That?s not how our system works. That?s not how our democracy functions. That?s not how our Constitution is written.? Rather than circumvent the elected representatives of the American people with a temporary measure, I believe that the President should have focused on working with Congress to develop legislation that could earn bipartisan support, passage, and thus legitimacy in the eyes of the American people. The issue of the remaining illegal residents can only be addressed once we have adequately secured the border and fixed our legal immigration process. Deporting 12 million people is simply not a reasonable option. Our country deserves such a common-sense solution to our broken immigration system that strengthens the rule of law and treats hardworking immigrant families with respect and dignity.