Bill Foster: Candidate Profile

11th District U.S. Representative (Democratic)

  • Bill Foster, running for 11th District U.S. Representative

    Bill Foster, running for 11th District U.S. Representative

Updated 10/10/2014 3:54 PM

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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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City: Naperville


Office sought:

11th District U.S. Representative

Age: 58

Family: Bill lives in Naperville with his wife Aesook, who is also a physicist. Bill has two grown children, Billy and Christine.

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Occupation: High Energy Particle Physicist, Manufacturer and Entrepreneur, U.S. Congressman

Education: B.A., Physics from University of Wisconsin­Madison, 1976, with Honors, Phi Beta Kappa; Ph.D, Physics, Harvard University, 1984; Ph.D Thesis: An Experimental Limit on Proton Decay

Civic involvement: I am a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and an elected fellow of the American Physical Society. For many years I served on the board of the Batavia Foundation for Education Excellence, an organization dedicated to enhancing the public schools in Batavia, IL. I served on the Governing Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists from 2011-2012, but am currently on leave from that board for the duration of my time in office.

Elected offices held: U.S. Congress

Questions & Answers

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?

When I first ran for congress, I decided that I would not take pledges to vote for or against any issue. I believe the practice of taking pledges contributes to the worst of the partisan gridlock in Washington, preventing many members of congress from even considering a reasonable compromise offered by the other side. As a scientist and successful businessman, I understand that no one has a monopoly on good ideas. Though it often feels like Democrats and Republicans can't compromise on anything, there are examples each week where the two parties work together to pass legislation. We managed to find common ground and pass the Violence Against Women Act and a Water Resources bill that will have an important positive impact here in Illinois. I have also worked with several Republican colleagues to introduce bipartisan legislation to help a veteran from Joliet and to promote American innovation.

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?

I am a strong supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, and I am a co-sponsor of the House version of the bipartisan immigration reform legislation already passed by the Senate. Leaders from the business community, labor, law enforcement and the religious community have united around this issue. It's time for Congress to start listening and pass this legislation that will secure our borders, improve our legal immigration system, unite families, and provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants who are currently in limbo. Passing comprehensive immigration reform would add a much-needed boost to Illinois' economy. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that H.R. 15 would increase GDP and reduce the deficit by $900 billion over 20 years. Additionally, a study done by the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy showed that immigration reform would increase state and local taxes in Illinois by almost $150 million a year.


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?

While we still have work to do, we have made significant progress in reducing the deficit in recent years. In 2009, President Obama inherited a $1.4 trillion deficit, which is now under half a trillion. This success has largely been thanks to the ongoing economic recovery. There has also been a significant improvement in long-term deficit projections and improvements in the quality of medical care due to recent structural reforms of our medical system, as well as federal investments in Medical Information Technology. I believe we need a balanced, bipartisan approach to debt reduction that includes a combination of spending cuts, investments in economic growth, and simplification of the tax code that closes corporate loopholes that incentivize companies to ship jobs overseas. Most importantly, we need to stop shifting the burden onto the middle class and make sure that millionaires and corporations pay their fair share.

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 Affordable Care Act is succeeding in its goals of increasing access to quality, affordable health care and reducing the growth in health care costs. But the law is not perfect, so I have supported a number of commonsense changes, including allowing people to keep their health insurance plans that were slated for cancellation, and requiring insurance companies to provide additional information and notification to anyone whose plan was cancelled. I also support increased pricing transparency from drug companies and allowing the government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare the same way they do for the VA. Additionally, I supported legislation to ensure women are able to receive the comprehensive health care coverage they need. I am a co-sponsor of H.R.5051, legislation that would protect women from being denied contraception coverage following the Supreme Court ruling that for-profit companies do not have to provide their employees access to contraception.

What can be done at the federal level to aid Illinois' economy and your district in particular?

The federal government needs to invest more in research and development. Study after study has shown that federal funding of research has a high return on investment. In addition to fundamental scientific research, the majority of major technological breakthroughs in the last century -- including the Internet, GPS, passenger jet planes and medical imaging technology -- were driven by federally supported research. Despite this, federal investments in research and development (R&D) are at a historic low, comprising merely 3.8 percent of the federal budget and 0.8 percent of GDP. By underfunding basic science research, the U.S. is slowly chipping away at our global competitiveness. Properly funding federal research at Argonne National Labs and Fermi National Accelerator Labs will also create jobs and directly benefit the Eleventh District.

What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?

One issue I have been focused on is the epidemic of heroin abuse. I have heard from too many families that have been impacted by heroin addiction. We must take action to reverse this growing epidemic. Countless community groups, municipalities and law enforcement officials are working to combat heroin abuse, but we must do more to support them at the federal level. Each year drug abuse and addiction costs over $534 billion, but studies show that we could save $4-$7 in criminal justice costs for every dollar invested in treatment and prevention. Earlier this year I introduced the Expanding Opportunities for Recovery Act, legislation that would create a grant program to increase access to in-patient rehabilitation services for heroin and other opiates. I will also be introducing legislation in September to reduce prescription drug abuse, a common gateway to heroin abuse, and increase access to life saving drugs like naloxone.

Please name one current leader who most inspires you.

Angela Merkel €" she's a fellow physicist who stepped away from a career in science to become one of the leaders of the western world.

What's the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?

The importance of giving back. My father gave up a career in science, devoting his life to public service and the fight for civil rights.

If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?

Our company developed but did not market digital modems in the 1980's €" it would have been huge!

What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?

Science! It has taught me to solve problems and find solutions by looking at the data and facts.

If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Expect to change careers several times in your life!