Jan Schakowsky: Candidate Profile
9th Congressional District (Democrat)
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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: Husband, Bob Creamer
Children, Ian, Mary, and Lauren
Grandchildren, Isabel, Eve, Lucy, William, Aidan, and Alice
Dogs, Franklin and Eleanor
Occupation: Member of Congress
Education: BA, Elementary Education, University of Illinois
Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond.
Elected offices held: Member of Congress
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?
Americans deserve a government that works. Obstruction, government shutdown, and threats of default are bad for our country and bad for our economy. Both this year and last year, I led my Democratic colleagues on letters to House leadership and the Appropriations Committee calling for spending bills without controversial policy provisions. Congress can and should debate contentious issues, but we shouldn't bog down efforts to keep our government running in the process.
We need a sustainable budget that invests in education, infrastructure, retirement security, and other national priorities. That requires both responsible spending and sufficient revenue. I believe there are areas in the federal budget where we could reduce spending, such as the billions of dollars that go to outdated or unreliable weapons and transport systems. This wasteful military spending doesn't protect our troops, and the military isn't asking for it. Ultimately, though, we need more revenue to address the needs of our country without increasing budget deficits.
I believe revenue must be raised in a fair manner that reduces economic inequality. I introduced the Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act to end tax provisions that let multinational corporations shift jobs and profits overseas. I have proposed a Patriot Employer Tax Credit to reward businesses that stay in the U.S. and create good jobs for American workers. In addition, I have also introduced the Fairness in Taxation Act to make sure millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share of taxes and end special tax breaks for capital gains and dividends.
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 affect your district?
I support the historic Paris climate agreement. Under this agreement, each nation will reduce its carbon emissions and contribute to the global effort to address the threat of climate change. We increasingly see the impacts of climate change all over the world, and we must respond.
I have pushed to fund the U.S. pledge of $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) established in the Paris agreement to help developing nations adapt to climate change. Last year, I worked successfully with my House colleagues to contribute the first $500 million of that pledge.
As a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I will continue working to make sure the U.S. makes progress on climate change. I have supported efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to curb emissions. I'm also fighting for investments in clean energy and energy efficiency. That is why I introduced H.R. 3733, the Prioritizing Energy-Efficient Renewables Act, which makes tax credits for wind, geothermal, hydropower, and solar energy permanent while repealing tax deductions for oil and natural gas production.
Climate change is real, and it is happening at an alarming rate. The U.S. must work cooperatively with the rest of the world by fulfilling its commitments under the Paris climate agreement. We must take meaningful steps to reduce carbon emissions. That means setting strong standards and investing in clean energy technology. Future generations are relying on us to step up and take action.
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?
Our immigration system is broken. I hear from families in my district living with the constant fear that someone they love will be deported. I hear from children growing up without their parents because of our failed immigration system. My district needs reform that keeps families together, brings people out of the shadows, and strengthens our economy.
Last Congress, I cosponsored H.R. 15, which closely resembled bipartisan legislation passed by the Senate. The legislation would secure our borders and provide the border patrol with adequate resources while providing a pathway to earned citizenship. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives refused to act on either this bill or the Senate's bill. I will continue fighting to bring similar bipartisan legislation up for a vote on the House floor.
Providing a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants would benefit our entire economy. Immigrants are twice as likely to start businesses as native-born Americans; 28% of all current small business owners in the U.S. are immigrants. Bringing workers out of the shadows also helps ensure they are decently paid and don't drive down wages for American workers.
In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, I support the President's executive actions on Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Those programs help keep families together. I was disappointed by the Supreme Court's split decision that has delayed these actions, and I support the Justice Department's petition to the Supreme Court to rehear the case.
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?
I support a smart, aggressive strategy in the Middle East. ISIS poses a significant threat to American interests and to stability in the region. I support targeted airstrikes against ISIS and regional ground troops, but I do not support sending American ground troops. I agree with President Obama's actions to pull together a strong international coalition. Because of those efforts, ISIS has now lost much of its territory although it can still inspire terrorist acts.
Currently, the U.S. action against ISIS is based on the authorization of use of military force (AUMF) passed 15 years ago - before ISIS even existed. We need a new AUMF that addresses the threats we currently face. AUMFs should be narrow and time-limited so that Congress truly engages in the debate over use of the military every time a president wants to go to war.
We must cooperate with the Muslim community here in the United States to ensure against radicalization. That cooperation is built on trust and respect. That's why it is so critical that we reject hateful rhetoric that drives Islamophobia. In addition, we must close Guantanamo Bay, which has become a recruitment tool for ISIS.
I believe that the United States should play an active role in encouraging the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. I support a two-state solution. While any comprehensive final agreement must be negotiated directly between the two parties, we can play an active role creating the climate for successful negotiations.
Will you uphold the international climate change treaty? If not, what alternative steps would you advocate? If so, what steps will you take to meet U.S. obligations under the accord?
I believe we must build upon the progress of the Affordable Care Act, which I proudly call Obamacare. Thanks to Obamacare, people with pre-existing conditions cannot be charged more or denied coverage. Women don't face higher premiums just because they are women. Prescription drug costs are lower for seniors on Medicare. Consumers are getting more bang for their buck because insurers have to spend at least 80 cents out of every premium dollar on health care. Those guarantees would be gone under the Republican plan to repeal the law.
Obamacare provides a solid foundation to build upon, and I agree with President Obama that we need to build on that progress by adding a public option and lowering prescription drug prices.
I introduced H.R. 265, the Public Option Deficit Reduction Act. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that adding a public option would reduce premiums by 5 to 7 percent and offer a lower cost option for consumers.
I also introduced H.R. 5573, the PRICED Act. This bipartisan legislation, supported by consumer organizations and health care industry leaders, would reduce long monopoly protections for high-cost biologic drugs.
Finally, we need to prevent unjustified premium increases. While the Illinois state government doesn't have the power to do this, other states have been able to win significant reductions in proposed rate increases through "backup authority." If Illinois doesn't get that authority, I believe we need federal backup authority to protect health care consumers and small businesses.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
We need to create good jobs with good wages and benefits. That means raising the minimum wage, investing in building America, and ensuring that every worker has the right to join a union. Women and men who work hard deserve to know that they can meet their families' needs.
I am committed to ending discrimination throughout society. I am fighting for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act to at long last win equal pay for women and the Equality Act to promote stop discrimination against LGBTQ Americans in the workplace, education, credit, and housing.
In June, I was part of a historic sit-in on the House floor to call for action on the gun violence that has shocked communities for Chicago to Orlando. I continue fighting for commonsense gun safety legislation such as comprehensive background checks.
As co-chair of the Democratic Caucus Seniors Task Force, I am committed to improving retirement security by protecting and expanding Social Security's earned benefits, providing affordable long-term care options, and making health care more affordable (including by adding hearing aids, dental benefits, and vision benefits to Medicare).
Finally, I believe that we need to protect the right of each woman to make her own personal health decisions, including when and whether to have children. I am a lead cosponsor of the EACH Woman Act to ensure every woman - regardless of where she lives, what she earns, or how she is insured - can access the full range of reproductive health services, including abortions.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
I most admire Hillary Clinton for her work with children and families and her commitment to never giving up despite very difficult challenges
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
My parents taught me to always do what I believe is right, especially when it's difficult or unpopular
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
If I could do it all over again, I'd have more dog
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
My favorite subject was English because it taught me to appreciate good writing.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
I tell my kids and my grandkids to always be kind to others.