Raja Krishnamoorthi: Candidate Profile
8th Congressional District (Democratic)
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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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Family: Raja is married to Priya, a doctor at a local hospital. They live in Schaumburg with their sons Vijay, and Vikram, who attend public schools in District 54.
Occupation: President, Sivananthan Labs & Episolar Inc.
Education: The son of Indian immigrants to the U.S., Raja was raised in Peoria, Illinois, where he attended public schools and graduated a valedictorian of his high school class. Raja earned his bachelor's degree summa cum laude in mechanical engineering from Princeton University and graduated with honors from Harvard Law School. Following law school, Raja clerked for a federal judge in Chicago, served as issues director for Barack Obama's successful United States Senate campaign in 2004. Raja currently serves as President of Sivananthan Labs and Episolar, Inc., small businesses that develop and sell products in the national security and renewable energy industries.
Civic involvement: Raja is co-founder of InSPIRE, a non-profit organization that trains Illinois students and veterans in solar technology. Raja was Vice-Chairman of Illinois Innovation Council, which promotes innovative technologies supporting economic growth and job creation.
Elected offices held: Raja served as Deputy Treasurer of Illinois, and helped revamp the state's unclaimed property system by using technology to increase the amount of property returned to taxpayers and cut the program's costs. He helped run Illinois' technology venture capital fund, which supported the creation of hundreds of good-paying jobs in Illinois. In 2006, Raja was appointed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to serve as Special Assistant Attorney General in her Public Integrity Unit. Raja also served as a member of the Illinois Housing Development Authority, where he was Chairman of the Audit Committee.
How will you work to make Congress more productive and effective? What actions are needed to produce a healthy federal budget? Specifically, what changes do you advocate regarding how revenue is produced or what our spending priorities are? In particular, what effect does current policy have on your district and what changes, if any, are needed?
As a small businessman who formerly served as Deputy Treasurer of Illinois and policy director for Barack Obama, I am the only Democratic candidate with deep experience in both the public and private sectors. I would help form consensus in Congress between government and the private sector to pursue progressive policies that benefit seniors, women, and working families in the 8th District.
We cannot afford to balance the budget on the backs of America's middle class and seniors, and must do what it takes to strengthen Social Security and Medicare, including enabling the government to negotiate the price of prescription drugs.
I would work to end special interest handouts and use the proceeds to invest in a stronger economy. To jumpstart small businesses, I would end the carried interest loophole, a tax giveaway to billionaires, and use those funds to increase SBA loan guarantees for entrepreneurs, increase tax credits for business expenses, and provide student loan forgiveness to students who start businesses.
I would end the oil depletion allowance, a subsidy for oil companies, to start an infrastructure bank to fully fund projects here in the 8th District including the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway extension and Metra Star line to improve our infrastructure and spur local economic growth.
I would work to close the gender gap by ensuring equal work for equal pay for women, and help working families afford college education for their children by creating a tax credit to offset tuition payments and expanding Pell Grants for low income families.
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?
The 8th District is diverse, so our immigration policies will have a strong impact on local constituents. As an immigrant, I am grateful for the tremendous opportunities that this great nation has afforded me and my family. I am also aware of the ongoing challenges that immigrants confront, and understand that respecting law and borders is essential for keeping America strong.
A porous border is a danger to America's national security, the people who live near it and to those who cross it. I strongly support screening all visitors and potential immigrants thoroughly to prevent bad actors from entering the country.
We need a realistic and humane way of regularizing the status of millions of undocumented immigrants already in the United States. Individuals who have not committed any crimes, have learned English, and paid their back-taxes along with a fine for the violation of immigration laws, should be able to apply for legal resident status and eventually a pathway to citizenship. I support the DREAM Act to provide a path to citizenship for young people who have taken important steps in serving our country or becoming outstanding citizens.
Entrepreneurs who secured investment to start a business should be granted a temporary visa to come to the US to create jobs. Graduate students with post-graduate degrees in STEM should be allowed to remain in the U.S. if they have employment in areas where there is a shortage of local technical talent, or if they start thriving businesses that hire other Americans.
What should be the top priorities in Congress related to the Affordable Care Act? If you want changes, what specifically do you recommend? If you want the act entirely eliminated, please address these questions: Is that politically feasible? If it proves infeasible, where do you see the potential for compromise? If it is eliminated, what would you replace it with, if anything?
I believe that we must strengthen and improve the Affordable Care Act to address the rising cost of healthcare, and extend health insurance to more Illinoisans. I would work to slow the growth of healthcare costs by reining in out of control prescription drug prices, and tackling rising deductibles and co-pays to reduce out of pocket costs for working families.
Improving America's healthcare system requires strengthening and protecting Medicare. I oppose Republican efforts to end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher program, and want Congress to enable Medicare to control costs by negotiating prescription drug prices.
I support groups like Planned Parenthood that provide crucial health services, including contraception, to millions of Americans, especially low income women.
I would oppose all efforts by Governor Bruce Rauner and his allies in the state legislature to cut funding to crucial Illinois health programs that fund HIV/AIDS, Autism and Epilepsy treatment and research, and support our citizens who are most in need.
What military or diplomatic roles should the United States play to promote peace and stability in the Mideast? Under what circumstances, should we have military forces actively operating?
The U.S. should protect its national interests and those of its allies while promoting democracy and human rights abroad. Wherever possible, we should act in concert with our allies, and give them the training and support to combat terrorism in their regions.
I oppose an adventurist foreign policy such as the one that got us into Iraq, and I believe we must avoid mission creep such as the long-running war in Afghanistan, which started as a counter-terrorism mission that gradually morphed into an impossible nation-building exercise.
Any effort to promote peace and stability must include steps to thwart terrorism at home. We must make it harder for suspected terrorists and criminals to buy guns by closing the no-fly loophole, and banning assault weapons. Further, we must crack down on internet communications that draw recruits for radical groups and facilitate attacks on American soil.
Please list any elected office you have ever run for and what the result of that election was. Have you ever been appointed to fill an unexpired term?
I previously ran for Illinois Comptroller and for Congress in Illinois' 8th District, taking the silver medal in both contests. That said, I had the opportunity to meet the vibrant constituencies of Cook, DuPage, and Kane counties and experience the incredible contributions that the working families in our district make to our community and country.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
Social Security and Medicare are crucial lifelines for American seniors, and I strongly support efforts to strengthen these programs and defend them against efforts to privatize or voucher-ize them. By enacting reforms such as enabling Medicare to negotiate with drug providers and raising the cap on incomes paying into Social Security, we can begin to put these systems on a sound financial footing for decades to come.
I also believe that when women succeed, America succeeds, and would support legislation to ensure equal work for equal pay, guaranteed paid sick leave and maternity leave and raise the federal minimum wage.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
While I don't agree with him on all issues of public policy, Pope Francis is inspirational for his dedication to social upliftment and his humility.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
"There, but for the grace of God, go I" - always help the most vulnerable, and remember the humble roots we came from.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
Traveling abroad more during college.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
Mathematics was essential for completing my mechanical engineering degree, and it sharpened my analytical and problem solving skills that became handy in government.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
The United States is the greatest country the world has known, and you can go far if you Dream Big, Think Big and Act Big.