Jan Schakowsky: Candidate Profile
9th District U.S. Representative (Democrat)
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: 9th District U.S. Representative
Family: Schakowsky lives in Evanston, Illinois with her husband Robert Creamer. She has three children, Ian, Mary, and stepdaughter Lauren McLaughlin, and four grandchildren, Isabel, Eve, Lucy, and William.
Occupation: Member of Congress
Education: B.S. in Elementary Education, University of Illinois
Civic involvement: A longtime grassroots organizer and consumer advocate, Schakowsky began her leadership career in 1969 when she led the fight that put freshness dates on products sold in the supermarket. Prior to her election to Congress, Schakowsky represented the 18th District in the Illinois General Assembly for eight years. She served as a Democratic Floor Leader and as Secretary of the Conference of Women Legislators.
Elected offices held: State Representative 1990-1998
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
We need to act aggressively to protect the middle-class and provide opportunities to those who aspire to it. Today, income inequality in the United States is at levels that we haven?t seen since 1928. Between 1979 and 2008, annual income for the wealthiest 1% of Americans grew by $1.1 trillion, while the annual income for the bottom 90% declined. More importantly, income immobility has increased. Today, a person born into the bottom fifth of incomes has only about a 50/50 chance of moving up the economic ladder ? a worse opportunity than in Britain, Canada and other countries. Many Americans in the middle-class are threatened because of lay-offs, foreclosures, and the lack of loans for education or business ventures. As Alan Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers warned this month, ?inequality in incomes is causing an unhealthy division in opportunities, and is a threat to our economic growth.? This means that we need to be aggressive in creating good jobs ? jobs that provide adequate pay and benefits. We need to make sure that children get the opportunities that are being lost ? by expanding access to quality education and health care. We need to stop the housing foreclosure crisis that threatens so many families. And we need to protect Social Security?s and Medicare?s earned benefits. We need to restore the vision of America ? that anyone who works hard and plays by the rules can succeed and leave the next generation better off.
Key Issue 2
Constituent service. Being a member of Congress is not just about passing laws, it is about helping constituents get the services they need and deserve. I am very proud of the Constituent Service operation in my district offices. Our Constituent Advocates do everything that they can to help solve constituents? problems with government agencies, from postal problems to immigration matters to Medicare issues. We help people avoid foreclosure, find affordable housing, be reunited with their families, access Veterans benefits, and clear up tax problems. We help students and families learn about Pell grants and loans to help them afford a college education. In November, my office organized a small business event so that current and prospective small business owners could learn about federal contracting opportunities and programs that can provide them assistance. We cut through bureaucratic red tape, connect people to benefits and programs, and help identify and obtain grants. One of my constituent advocates has helped save constituents over $2.4 million since 2009, primarily in the area of health care.
Key Issue 3
I believe we have to eliminate the role of money in politics. Large corporate and other donors have disproportionate influence in a system that increasingly requires millions of dollars to run for office. With the Citizens United decision, corporations have been able to spend unlimited amounts of money through Super PACs that are exempt from disclosure laws. We need to restore transparency and increase disclosure ? voters, constituents and shareholders have a right to know who is giving what to whom. We also need more comprehensive reform. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 1404, the Fair Elections now Act, which would make it possible for candidates to run for Congress without having to rely on large contributions or donations from corporate lobbyists. Candidates and elected officials would not have to spend time raising money and, once freed from the burden of constant fundraising, can focus more on the concerns of all their constituents.
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?
We should not extend the Bush tax cuts for those with incomes above $250,000. In addition, I have introduced H.R. 1124, the Fairness in Taxation Act, to establish new tax rates, starting at 45% for annual income over $1 million and rising to 49% for income over $1 billion. Those rates -- lower than rates during the Reagan administration -- would raise $800 billion. We shouldn?t balance the budget on the backs of seniors, middle-class and low-income families without asking the millionaires, billionaires and highly-profitable corporations to pay their fair share. We need an aggressive strategy to create good jobs, which will reduce the deficit. I support the President?s American Jobs Act. I am the sponsor of the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act to create 2.2 million jobs ? including teachers, law enforcement officials, firefighters and construction workers to repair dilapidated schools. Those proposals are incorporated in the American Jobs Act. I sponsored the Patriot Corporations of America Act to provide preference in federal contracts and lower tax rates for American companies that hire U.S. workers and conduct research here at home, paid for by eliminating tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs and profits. As a member of the President?s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, I offered my own proposal to reduce the deficit. My plan included $200 billion in job creation investments (including infrastructure, education, manufacturing and green jobs initiatives); cuts in defense, non-defense and mandatory spending; and additional revenues.
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?
Elections matter! 87 ?Tea Party? freshmen who believe that compromise is a dirty word, have taken over the Republican Party in Congress and refuse to work in a bi-partisan manner to move our country forward. Having said that, I have a long history, whether in the majority or minority, of working with my Republican colleagues on important consumer protection, health care, budget, tax and foreign policy legislation. The American people themselves need to demand cooperation from those reluctant to act that way. Even 30-year veterans of the Congress say they have never seen this before. Perhaps the next election will help break the gridlock.
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 support the Court?s ruling and oppose repeal efforts. Obamacare solves many problems my constituents face in obtaining care for themselves and their families. Today, Obamacare, as I proudly call it, means: ? Insurance companies can?t drop people when they get sick and need coverage ? Children with pre-existing conditions can?t be denied coverage; ? Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition, ? Preventive services like mammograms, vaccinations, and diabetes tests are free ? Drug costs are lower for people on Medicare; and ? Children up to age 26 can stay on their parents? policies. In 2014, 30 million uninsured Americans will receive coverage. Caps on lifetime and annual benefits that leave families with large medical bills will disappear. There will be more long-term care options and higher quality. Obamacare is a solid foundation on which to build. As a member of the Health Subcommittee, I?m working on these improvements. First, I support inclusion of a public option which, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, would save $88 billion over 10 years. Second, I support Medicare negotiating authority to lower drug costs, like the VA does. Third, I authored provisions requiring insurance companies to publicly justify premium increases, but states like Illinois still lack rate authority. I?ve sponsored H.R. 416, the Health Insurance Rate Review Act, to provide new authority to prevent unreasonable rates from going into effect Fourth, we need to build on the health equality efforts included in the Affordable Care Act to end disparities.
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 believe that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as a relationship between a man and woman, is not only bad law but also unconstitutional. As a founding member of the LGBT Equality Caucus, I believe that two consenting adults should be able to enter into a lawful marriage -- regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. As a result of DOMA, individuals in same-sex relationships are denied over 1,100 federal benefits and protections afforded to heterosexual marriages ? even when same-sex couples get married in a state that legally recognizes their relationship. That discrimination is wrong, and I am dedicated to ending it. I am the co-sponsor of several important bills aimed at ensuring that LGBT individuals receive equal protection under the law. Those include the Respect for Marriage Act, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and the Uniting American Families Act. In addition to legislative efforts, I strongly support legal challenges to DOMA. Last year, I joined over 130 House Democrats in filing an amicus brief to challenge it in federal court, and I hope and believe that DOMA will soon be struck down as unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause.
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?
I am proud to represent one of the most diverse districts in the country, compared of people from all over the globe. Our community benefits from immigrants who come to the United States to work hard and make better lives for their families. Like everyone else, Latinos want good schools, safe neighborhoods, quality health care and good jobs ? which is why I support budget policies that make those investments. I also support President Obama?s plan to halt the deportation of undocumented young people who meet certain criteria. Nearly 65,000 youth graduate high school in the US each year but find themselves unable to work, join the military, or go to college because of their immigration status. The President?s policy of allowing them to stay in this country, finish their education, and work legally could benefit nearly 4,000 youth in my district alone. We need to do more, however, and I also support passage of the DREAM Act, which would give these young people the opportunity to work toward citizenship. Passage of the DREAM Act would allow these young men and women, who consider themselves to be Americans, the opportunity to pursue their American dream. Our immigration enforcement should prioritize real threats, not the deportation of hard-working kids who a seeking a college education, long-time lawful permanent residents, men and women who have been in the U.S. since childhood, and elderly individuals.