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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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Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Many Americans see gridlock as the greatest problem facing Washington today, and public opinions are at historic lows regarding the job their Senators and congressmen are doing. Specifically, what will you do to make Congress more productive and effective?
Rather than be discouraged by the hard challenges we face, I am optimistic. There is common ground to be found on some of the biggest problems we face as a nation. Recently, my bipartisan bill to combat Medicare fraud was taken up by the House Ways and Means Committee and we are working to enact it into law to combat waste, fraud and abuse and to ensure that healthcare dollars in the Medicare program are providing the services our seniors need and not lining the pockets of crooks. My Democratic House colleague John Carney and I, along with Republican Senator Tom Coburn and Democrat Senator Tom Carper put our heads together and worked on these very reasonable reforms that will make Medicare work better. That’s a win for all Americans, and it’s the model I want to use to continue to work on solutions that everyone can get behind.
What immigration policies do you support? Where, if at all, do you see room for compromise to produce an effective policy on immigration? How will these policies have an impact in your district?
First, we must address the current humanitarian crisis and secure the southern border. Our open border incentivizes criminals to traffic humans, weapons and drugs into the U.S., and creates a slew of problems from drug cartel violence to a huge wave of illegal migrants causing the health and safety crisis we hear so much about today. If our government will get serious about securing the border, we can then move on high-skilled visas; grant seasonal permits to agricultural workers; and set up a process by which undocumented immigrants can get right with the law. If we work through small bills that fix targeted problems, we will succeed in creating a smarter, more effective immigration system in a way that is transparent and easily understood. One thing we have seen time and again is that one big comprehensive bill just provides excuses to hide bad policy and produces a bad outcome.
How do you assess the state of the federal budget? Do you see a need for changes in how revenue is produced or in spending priorities? What specific changes do you consider necessary regarding federal tax policy and practice?
In order to strengthen our economy, Washington must work to lower the national debt and reform our broken tax code. In Congress, I have voted to cut wasteful government spending and balance the budget, and I continue to work on solutions to make our broken tax code simpler, fairer and more competitive for families and businesses alike. It’s been over 25 years since our tax code was reformed, and since then it has become riddled with loopholes, carve outs and crony capitalism. Our tax code is so broken that American companies are fleeing the country, moving their headquarters overseas to escape the record high taxes they face in the U.S. I strongly support eliminating loopholes and carve outs to create a flatter, fairer tax system for individuals so families can keep more of their hard earned money and fundamentally reforming the corporate tax code to keep and grow American jobs.
How would you work to produce a stable, affordable, effective federal health care policy? What shortcomings do you see in the Affordable Care Act, and how do you propose addressing them? If you favor scrapping the Act altogether, what do you propose as an alternative?
The president’s healthcare plan began with worthy goals: increasing access to quality care and lowering costs, but Obamacare as implemented has failed to deliver, with costs going up for many and the root causes in our healthcare system going unaddressed. We can achieve these goals by opening healthcare markets across state lines to allow purchasing healthcare in a competitive, nationwide system. This would force insurance companies to work to get and keep your business by producing high quality, affordable coverage options. By improving and expanding high-risk pools, even Americans with pre-existing conditions can access coverage. And by increasing transparency and accountability, doctors and patients will have better information about what medical treatments actually cost. I am focused on fixing the broken parts of our healthcare system, which is the biggest driver of our nation’s debt and will continue to grow as a problem for future generations unless tackled now.
What can be done at the federal level to aid Illinois' economy and your district in particular?
Illinois is a fiscal basket case. After 10 years of one-party control and avoidance behavior in Springfield, our pension crisis has grown to over $175 billion in unpaid pension and state debts. Instead of tackling underlying structural issues, the state of Illinois raised taxes again and again, driving up the cost of living. Businesses are fleeing our state to Indiana and Wisconsin, taking jobs with them. Illinois is what not to do, and what’s happening here exactly mirrors what’s going on in Washington. The federal government is over $17 trillion in debt and vital entitlement programs like Medicare will go bankrupt in fifteen years. The most impactful thing we can do is address the coming fiscal crisis now, making reforms that preserve the long-term health of our entitlement programs, reduce our debt, and get our economy back on track.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
Five years after the end of the great-recession, millions of Americans are either still out of work, have given up looking for jobs or are underemployed. My top priority continues to be getting our economy back on track and getting Americans back to work in high-quality, good-paying jobs. I am focused on policies to build a 21st Century economy where American innovation and hard work drives growth, so we can once again compete globally, creating jobs here at home. To do that, we must get the federal government out of the way by eliminating outdated, poorly working rules and regulations and replacing them with smarter, more effective ones. We must encourage success, not penalize it. And we must rein in the huge and growing federal government full of wasteful spending to get it off the backs of hardworking families and businesses so that they can thrive and grow.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
My friend Congressman Sam Johnson has had an incredible journey, and he inspires me with his tireless work on behalf of the American people.
What's the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Always listen before you speak.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I try to learn from past mistakes, but by the end of every season, I’m usually ready to reconsider being a Cubs fan.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
In Glen Ellyn, my fourth grade teacher inspired me to pursue public service when we learned about the three branches of the federal government.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
My dad always told me, “Life is choices. Make good choices.” I like to remind my four kids of those wise words as well.