Jim Oberweis: Candidate profile
City: Sugar Grove
Office sought: Congress, 14th District
Family: I am married, and my wife Julie works with me at Oberweis Dairy. I have five adult children, two stepchildren, and 20 grandchildren, most of whom call Illinois home.
Occupation: Chairman of Oberweis Dairy
Education: B.A. from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and, an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.
Previous elected offices held: State Senate 25th District.
Incumbent? If yes, when were you first elected? State Senate since 2012
Questions and Answers
1. What have the past three years of Donald Trump's unconventional leadership taught us about politics in the United States? What is the best thing his presidency has done? What is the most significant criticism you have of it?
I think the most important lesson from the Trump Administration is the need for elected officials to listen to the people instead of only just each other and other insiders. Trump resonates with a lot of voters because he follows through with his promises. I think voters are tired of politicians making promises they never intend to keep. President Trump is not like that.
The most significant accomplishment of his administration is the tax cuts and the rollback of various regulations. His management of the economy has contributed to 7 million jobs being created. This is great news for American families.
I do find his tariffs troubling. As long as these tariffs yield the intended results, I can live with them. But in general, I support free trade -- not tariffs.
2. What needs to be done to get Congress to work constructively, whether that be senators and representatives of both parties working with each other or Congress itself working with the president?
The Democratic Party has been co-opted by radical socialists like Lauren Underwood and instead of focusing on health care and other important issues, the Democratic majority in the House is focused on impeaching the President.
The anger and hostility directed toward President Trump is unprecedented and unfortunately the Democrats are so against Trump they will not do anything in a bipartisan way if it means the President would get even the slightest bit of credit. The Democrats cannot even get behind the President in the very dangerous situation between the U.S. and Iran. The days of leaving partisan politics at the water's edge are over.
I think the best thing Congress can do is heed the words of Ronald Reagan who once said, "There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit."
Congress should adopt this same philosophy and put the good of the country ahead of partisan politics. If Congress would do this, we could solve the problems facing our nation.
3. What do you see as the most important issues to address regarding immigration reform? If you oppose funding for a wall, what steps do you support to try to control illegal immigration?
First, we must secure our borders and stop the flow of illegal immigrants into our country. This can be done through technology as well as through a physical wall. We need to make border security a priority by hiring more border patrol agents. I would also support increasing fines for companies that hire people here illegally. Companies can avoid these fines by using E-Verify. Oberweis Dairy has used E-Verify for the last 15 years.
Second, we need to enforce our immigration laws. By not enforcing our nation's immigration laws, we have created incentives for people to cross the border illegally.
Third, once our borders are secure, we need to develop comprehensive reforms. I believe there should be a reasonable path to citizenship for children brought to the United States at an early age and who have grown up here, but I would not provide an automatic path to citizenship for parents who broke the law by coming here illegally. Trump's attempt to end DACA is a great negotiating tool to bring true reform, which in my mind involves a compromise for DREAMers while providing strong border security and ending birthright citizenship for those born in this country to parents who are here illegally. I believe this is a reasonable compromise and should be the approach we take to bring about meaningful immigration reform.
4. Please define your position on health care reform, especially as it relates to the Affordable Care Act.
We need to increase price transparency of health care services. Consumers have no idea what the actual cost of their health care is. We also need to encourage more competition in the open market. Another way to lower costs would be to allow health care plans to follow the individual rather than tie these plans to employment. Portability of health care costs could help substantially lower costs.
I support repealing the ACA, but I am not in favor of ending coverage for preexisting conditions. I believe Medicare for All eliminates choice and would be too expensive and is an unworkable, unrealistic solution.
We can make prescription drugs more affordable by allowing the reimportation of U.S. prescription medication from countries like Canada. This has been something I have advocated for the last 12 years. I am glad to see President Trump adopt this as part of his prescription drug plan.
5. What is your position on federal funding for contraception, the Violence Against Women Act and reproductive rights?
I am pro-life and have voted consistently pro-life throughout my tenure in the Illinois Senate. I have no issues with federal funding for the availability of contraception to low-income women. My preference would be that whatever contraception is provided is not abortifacient.
When the Violence Against Women Act was passed in the 1990s, it had strong bipartisan support because the legislation focused on dealing with the issue of violence against women. Fast forward to today, I have some serious concerns about the Act. For instance, it is my understanding that the House version of VAWA, H.R. 1585 does not have any language about sex trafficking or female genital mutilation. I would have to see the exact language of the Act before voting to renew it.
6. What do you consider America's role in world affairs? What are we doing correctly to fill that role? What else should we be doing?
One of the big issues when it comes to immigration is that people want to come to the United States to escape poor conditions in their native countries. We cannot accept every person who wants to come to the United States. It is important for these countries to become free nations and to develop a strong economy of their own. It is in our best interests to help other countries embrace capitalism and a democratic form of government.
7. Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should government be taking to address the issue?
I do believe climate change is real. The transition from fossil fuels to renewables should be the goal but it is not something that is going to happen overnight. We must work toward these goals with the objective of maintaining accessibility to affordable energy. We cannot jeopardize the availability of energy. Many of the advocates for wind and solar are not realistic with their timetables. We are nowhere near ready to make wind and solar the dominant source of our energy. It is not necessary or advisable to rush and use the force of government to set artificial timetables that have no basis in reality.
Finally, we need to focus on developing clean coal technology and safe nuclear energy while we work toward renewable energy solutions. The so-called Green New Deal is unrealistic and would badly damage our economy and the economies of many other countries throughout the world.