The candidates vying for the 9th Congressional District seat in the November general election have starkly differing views on government's role in creating jobs and providing health care and on how to reduce the budget deficit -- expected to top $1 trillion for the fourth straight year.
Incumbent Jan Schakowsky, 68, an Evanston Democrat and staunch liberal who has represented the 9th District for 14 years, faces political newcomer Timothy Wolfe, 59, an Arlington Heights Republican who runs his own tax and accounting practice, on Nov. 6.
The newly drawn 9th District includes parts of Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Glenview, Mount Prospect, Niles, Palatine, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Rolling Meadows, Rosemont and Wheeling, as well as areas east of the Tri-State Tollway.
Schakowsky supports using more federal money to grow public sector jobs and is a strong proponent of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, while Wolfe believes government should leave job creation to small businesses and favors repealing the health care reform law.
"There is a role for government ... to make sure we can stimulate good jobs for people, that we can help those who can't help themselves, that we fix our infrastructure and that we make it a national priority to help make college more affordable, to improve our education system, all the ladders of opportunity that really help people climb into, and really stay in, the middle class in our country," Schakowsky said during a recent interview.
Schakowsky supports Obama's jobs plan, which she said was modeled on legislation she proposed.
"I have a jobs creation act that would create about 2.3 million jobs in a very straightforward way, by hiring teachers, cops, firefighters ... those are people who are being laid off right now," she said. Her proposal also calls for more federal funding for school construction projects and hiring youth to care for national parks and monuments.
"Our country needs these jobs," Schakowsky said. "We need to build things and do infrastructure improvement."
Wolfe said lowering tax rates for businesses and simplifying the tax code would go a long way toward reducing uncertainty and creating confidence in the current economic climate.
"We need to get government out of the way of the people who create jobs," Wolfe said. "We have a private market that can take care of generating jobs. I don't think we need the federal government to create jobs. It's a matter of providing the environment for businesses to grow. Public sector jobs will not generate more revenue."
Wolfe said "Obamacare" should be repealed in its entirety because he believes it oversteps peoples' religious freedoms and places unnecessary burdens on businesses.
Schakowsky said she would not support extending Bush-era tax cuts that expire in January for people with incomes above $250,000. She also introduced the Fairness in Taxation Act, establishing new tax rates starting at 45 percent for people with annual income of more than $1 million and up to 49 percent for people who earn more than $1 billion.
"That would still be lower than the highest tax bracket during the Reagan administration, and would generate significant dollars -- $800 billion -- that would go toward deficit reduction," she said. "No matter what the question is, the answer for Republicans is tax breaks for the wealthy."
Wolfe said while income taxes are necessary, they have become a burden on individuals and businesses alike. He favors shifting the burden of funding government away from income taxes to sales taxes.
"Ultimately, it's businesses that generate the revenue and generate the jobs," he said. "If we do need to keep the current tax code, we definitely need to simplify it and get rid of the loopholes. If we go to the sales tax, I think we're going to eliminate a lot of the issues of rich versus poor. The more you consume, the more you should pay, and maybe that's a better way to go."