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: 5th District U.S. Representative
Family: Married with two daughters.
Occupation: U.S. Representative for Illinois' 5th District
Education: B.A. at Roosevelt University in Political Science, Master's Degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago, J.D. from Loyola University
Civic involvement: Extensive community involvement for over 30 years prior to election to Congress with a reasonable estimate of attendance to over 3000 business and community meetings
Elected offices held: Cook County Commissioner 1999 to 2009
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Job creation, by investing in infrastructure and encouraging small business growth. Only 7% of the Recovery Act went to infrastructure spending, but that 7% created 60% of the jobs. Good roads, bridges, and mass transit are essential public goods that support private sector growth and job creation, and both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO agree on this point. I would pay for infrastructure spending with net revenues increases gained from tax reform. As I describe in more detail below, not only will tax reform improve fairness and generate revenue for the federal government, but it will also spur private sector job growth. Currently, the tax code is impossibly complex and arbitrarily picks winners and losers according to whoever successfully lobbied Congress over the past 25 years. By passing tax reform, we?ll remove a huge obstacle to private sector growth and job creation.
Key Issue 2
Financial reform, in the way of reforming our tax code and reducing our debt and deficit. My approach to tax reform, which is outlined in more detail in a question below, is similar to the approach taken by President Reagan and Congressman Rostenkowski years ago -- broaden the base and lower rates. We can broaden the base by clearing out most of the special interest tax breaks that cost a collective $1.2 trillion in lost revenue each year. With that extra revenue, we can lower rates accordingly. However, I think that in order to get our fiscal house in order, a plan needs to include both spending cuts and revenue increases. I support the modified Simpson-Bowles approach, which uses that ratio to reach $4 trillion total in deficit reduction, while including language that protects Medicare. In March, I joined five of my colleagues in offering a budget guided by these principles on the House floor. It was the only budget that achieved what I like to call the 3B?s: it was big ($4 trillion in deficit reduction), balanced ($1 of revenue increases for every $2 in spending cuts), and bipartisan (it was originally offered by three Democrats and three Republicans). For any deficit reduction plan to be credible, it has to achieve the 3B?s. In addition, I don?t believe any area of the budget should be off-limits when it comes to deficit reduction. There can be no sacred cows when it comes to balancing our books the way families do every day. Last year, I published a deficit reduction report (called ?Reinventing Washington?) which called for more transparency in budgeting and made 60 recommendations to save $2 trillion over the next 10 years. These recommendations included savings from reforms to health care, defense, domestic spending, and the tax code.
Key Issue 3
Government reform: ending waste, fraud and abuse and bringing more transparency to Washington. This was my focus for more than ten years when I served on the Cook County Board, and I?ve continued the fight in Washington by identifying efficiencies and eliminating duplicative government that wastes taxpayer dollars. To that end, I?ve written two reports detailing how I would go about making the federal government more effective. Reinventing Government Parts I & II offer recommendations to reform the budget to make it more transparent and accountable to taxpayers. Part I focused on the need to bring all federal spending into the budget and better accounting for our long-term financial health. Part II included a detailed deficit reduction plan (60 specific recommendations to reduce the deficit by $2 trillion over ten years) to aggressively rein in federal spending by targeting all parts of the budget including defense, the tax code, and health care. All of these reports are available on my website under ?Reinventing.? I have also fought tirelessly to advance numerous good government initiatives: Legislation I authored to eliminate federal pension payouts for elected officials convicted of public corruption crimes was recently passed as part of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act). I co-founded and chair the bipartisan Transparency Caucus and sponsored a bill to provide each taxpayer with a detailed receipt of how their tax dollars are spent by the government. I was the lead Democrat on a bill to cut wasteful federal property spending that costs taxpayers $1.7 billion annually to maintain properties we no longer need or use. And, since being elected to office, I?ve worked closely with Senator Mark Kirk on legislation - the State Ethics Law Protection Act - an effort that prohibits the Federal Highway Administration from withholding federal funds from states like Illinois that have enacted laws against pay-to-play practices in contracting decisions. We need to encourage ethical behavior, not corrode the integrity of the public works projects and allow individuals to profit at the expense of the American taxpayers.
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?
Tax breaks should be extended for small businesses, and for those job creators who have proven effective and can expand and hire today. Additionally, I support reforming the payroll tax, which will keep more money in workers? pockets. But a bigger issue is the fact that Congress should rewrite the tax code. In 1986, President Reagan and my predecessor, Ways and Means Chairman Rostenkowski, joined together to bridge partisan differences and pass a sweeping tax reform that broadened the tax base while lowering rates. Since then, special breaks in the tax code (generally referred to as ?tax expenditures?) have come creeping back. We?ve ended up in a situation where the tax code, not the market, picks winners and losers. Corporations who can hire the best accountants benefit from this system while small local businesses often end up paying higher, uncompetitive rates. My approach to tax reform would be the same approach taken by President Reagan and Congressman Rostenkowski: broaden the base and lower rates. We can broaden the base by clearing out most of the special interest tax breaks that cost a collective $1.2 trillion in lost revenue reach year. With that extra revenue, we can lower rates accordingly. However, just as in the Simpson-Bowles plan, I think tax reform should generate net revenue. Simpson-Bowles set a target of $80 billion annually, which I think is an appropriate number. As I mentioned in my three primary campaign issues, in order to lower the unemployment rate, we should encourage an environment conducive to job creation by investing in infrastructure and providing support for small businesses to thrive. Additionally, tax reform itself is a job creator. Tax reform will improve fairness and generate revenue for the federal government, but it will also spur private sector job growth. Currently, the tax code is impossibly complex and arbitrarily picks winners and losers according to whoever successfully lobbied Congress over the past 25 years. By passing tax reform, we?ll remove a huge obstacle to private sector growth and job creation. I support the President?s jobs plan because he?s focused on the same things I am: investments in infrastructure, and an environment that allows small businesses to thrive. His plan includes a roadmap that will put people back to work by filling the gaps left by state-budget cuts that have left first responders, veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and teachers out of a job. In addition to what I have stated previously regarding deficit reduction, there are several specific efforts I have supported to that end: 1. SIMPSON-BOWLES: Introduced the big, bipartisan, and balanced Simpson-Bowles budget to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years. 2. REINVENTING PART II: Wrote a deficit reduction plan that makes 60 specific recommendations to save taxpayers $2 trillion over 10 years. 3. EXCESS PROPERTY: Wrote a bill to help the federal government get rid of excess property, which was passed by the House earlier this year. 4. DEFENSE R&D: Offered an amendment to cut the bloated defense R&D budget by $8 billion, or 10%. 5. YACHTS: Introduced a bill to save $158 million by cutting a tax loophole that allows yacht owners to benefit from a tax incentive for home ownership. 6. V-22 OSPREY: Offered an amendment to cut the failed V-22 Osprey, which was 186% over-budget and cased 36 fatalities in six accidents. 7. BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT: Introduced a balanced budget amendment, but with sensible exemptions for emergencies. 8. OIL TAX BREAKS: Introduced legislation to save tens of billions of dollars in tax breaks benefitting oil companies. 9. PAY-GO: Introduced pay-as-you-go legislation, which requires bills to be paid for and took effect for the first time since it had lapsed in 2002. 10. OFF-BUDGET SPENDING: Introduced a bipartisan budget reform bill that would prevent Congress from hiding spending off-budget.
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?
When I came to Congress, I heard one thing consistently from everybody: that it?s important to work together. Sadly, when I began to practice what was being preached, it became apparent that not everyone was heeding their own words. Congress spends a lot of time bickering about very unimportant things, when we should be focused on long-term transportation bills, creating jobs, and continuing our economic recovery. Since coming to Congress, I?ve cofounded the Transparency Caucus with Congressman Issa and the group is split almost evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Congressman Dold and I worked together on the pension reform legislation that was signed into law as part of the STOCK Act. It ends pensions for federal lawmakers convicted of public corruption crimes at any level of government. Congressman Renacci and I authored the Budget Process Improvement Act, which ends deceptive federal accounting practices and brings much-needed transparency and accountability to billions of dollars in annual spending. Congressman Sensenbrenner and I worked together on the Clean Up Government Act, which includes information I authored to restore the ?honest services? provision that prosecutors across the country have used for decades to root out and respond to public corruption. I?ve even reached across chambers to work with Senator Kirk on several initiatives including the Visa Waiver Program Enhanced Security and Reform Act, and Senators Blunt, Rubio and Lee on the JOLT Act. As for becoming a body that is allowed to proactively improve the state of the nation, rather than simply put out fires, we?ve got to agree that our economic recovery is bigger than one election ? compromise can?t be a dirty word. I?ve been living this belief every day since coming to Congress, and I intend to continue to work with pragmatic, solution-oriented Members regardless of party affiliation.
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 voted in support of the ACA, and support the Supreme Court?s decision to uphold the law. The ACA includes many vital reforms that finally put power in the hands of Americans rather than insurance companies. We can?t repeal the bill and go back to a time when insurance companies could kick people off their insurance when they got sick and needed it most; when children and their parents with pre-existing conditions would be denied coverage; when insurance companies could raise rates anytime they wanted, without justification; and when seniors had to choose between food and medication. And while some Americans have concerns about the ACA, the vast majority support these individual reforms. Additionally, repealing health reform would cost $109 billion over 10 years. My report, ?Reinventing Government: The Federal Budget,? outlines a menu of health reform that could save the federal government $300 billion to $500 billion over ten years. First, we have to end the fee-for-service system, which pays health providers based on the quantity of care they provide rather than the quality of care. Our system currently incentivizes unnecessary care. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes a number of provisions that will help us make this transition to fee-for-quality. For instance, the bill authorized the CMS Innovation Center, which will fund pilots around the country to test which fee-for-value reform improves care and lowers costs. Second, we have to reduce drug costs., which are one of the fastest growing sectors of health care. We can do this through a variety of reforms, such as shortening the exclusivity period for brand name biologic drugs, prohibiting pay-for-delay agreements that allow for-profit drug companies to pay generic companies to keep cheaper generics off the market, and requiring drug companies to pay Medicare rebates equal to those paid to Medicaid. Third, we can empower the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to combat Medicare waste, fraud, and abuse in order to save millions.
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 repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, (DOMA) a discriminatory policy that has no place on our books. Same-sex couples married under state laws serve their communities, pay taxes, and raise their families the same as anyone else. Through DOMA, which was signed into law 13 years ago, on September 21, 1996, the federal government can single out legally married same-sex couples for discriminatory treatment under federal law, selectively denying them more than 1,100 federal protections and responsibilities ? including Social Security and immigration benefits ? that otherwise apply to married couples. This policy is discriminatory and harmful to families, preventing the government from honoring its legal commitments and the needs of families, even though these couples have assumed the obligations of civil marriage under state law and contribute as citizens and taxpayers.
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 globalization shrinks our world, establishing a fair system to account for the movement of people across and within our borders becomes increasingly important. I support comprehensive immigration reform that is right, just, and fair for all ? working towards concrete and pragmatic solutions for border security. I support President Obama?s directive to stop deportation of undocumented immigrants who are in college or the military, and was a strong supporter of the DREAM Act, giving everyone born in the United States an opportunity to attend college or serve in the military. Still, I believe we must document the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. I am hopeful the next Congress takes on Comprehensive Immigration Reform.