Tom Tarter: Candidate profile
Office sought: U.S. Senate
Family: Married to wife Julie; sons, Andrei and Nikolai (22), and Sergei (20).
Occupation: Urological oncologist
Education: B.S. Biology from Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. Ph.D. in Anatomy from Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine in Portland, Oregon. M.D. from Albany Medical College, in Albany, New York.
Civic involvement: Southern Illinois University Faculty Senate for 2 years; member of the Health Policy Council of the North Central Section of the American Urological Association; chairman for the last six years of the Decatur Memorial Hospital Cancer Committee.
Elected offices held: None.
Incumbent? If yes, when were first elected: No.
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 believe President Donald Trump is like a highly skilled surgeon, who occasionally has a bad bedside manner.
Conventional leadership, including the conventional media, has led our country down the wrong path. This was the path of leading from behind, of a stagnant economy, of our southern border being overwhelmed by illegal immigration and drugs, of abusive trade agreements and pilfering intellectual property by China, of NATO partners not paying for their defense, of nuclear testing by North Korea, of unbridled terrorism sponsored by Iran, of national and international anti-Semitism, of the ISIS caliphate, and much more neglect.
President Donald Trump's unconventional leadership with tax cuts and regulatory relief has unleashed our economy with historic unemployment in every ethnic group, women, and workers without a high school diploma. The stock market has hit historic highs, including 401(k) plans from the President's critics. Wages are growing faster for low wage earners than in the previous administration. Capitalism, not socialism will bring prosperity to more Americans, and the developer from Queens knows it and has done more for more Americans than all Presidents since Ronald Reagan.
My only criticism is the high turnover of Cabinet-level officials.
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?
Dick Durbin is 100% partisan and most career politicians are, which can grind progress to a halt.
Appropriations usually pass because of bipartisan and bicameral compromise. Congress has passed appropriations bills and the MCMA, since the midterm elections in 2018, but not much else.
The singular focus of Democrats to reverse the 2016 election has stopped all progress, and the President is running the country through Executive Orders. Congress should convene at the 9/11 memorials to remember what it was like to be united.
In my campaign, I am talking with everyone. As a senator, I will actively seek common ground where compromise is possible. I believe there is bipartisan support for reducing the cost of health care through transparency in pricing and other common-sense market-driven measures.
As a non-career member, I will not just touch the third rail of entitlement reform, I will embrace it and find common ground in both parties and with the White House. Our government is purposely designed through the separation of powers to slow the process of legislating to prevent a tyranny of the majority.
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?
I will support the Department of Homeland Security appropriation request to fully fund Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with a wall and technology.
I will support the CBP Air and Marine Vision and Strategy 2030 ten-year plan to keep our country secure. I will support legislation to deal with asylum claims and illegal border crossings. Asylum claims need to be adjudicated fairly and humanely, but much more expeditiously.
Illegal immigrants should not be released into the interior with little hope of a voluntary court appearance. Illegal immigrants who have a criminal history need to be deported. Illegal immigrants cannot be allowed an asylum claim if they traveled through another country without seeking asylum in that country.
I will support a transition of the family-based legal immigration system to a merit-based system without country caps and a lottery. DACA will probably be ruled unconstitutional. However, the Dreamers have registered with the federal government. I would support no citizenship for felons.
I would support citizenship for the 900 who have served in the U.S. military, and develop a point system for citizenship for the remainder based on education, work history, and their willingness to contribute to our society.
4. Please define your position on health care reform, especially as it relates to the Affordable Care Act.
As a doctor for nearly 30 years, I will stop Dick Durbin and his fellow Democrats from socializing medicine with a single-payer system. Their plan would outlaw private insurance plans and lead to a decrease in the quality of medical care, loss of providers, long wait times, extreme rationing of care, and a harmful decline in research and innovation.
Instead, I will ensure Americans continue to have access to the best medical care in the world while instituting common-sense policies that make health care and insurance more affordable. This includes price and outcome transparency, expanded Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), regulatory relief on providers and hospitals, malpractice tort reform, small business insurance pools, low-cost short-term insurance plans, and primary care membership plans.
We should fix problems in our health care system and keep what works. Americans should be able to keep their insurance, whether provided by a union or employer, from a state or federal exchange, through Medicare or Medicare Advantage, through the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP), through the VA and through the Federal Employees Health Benefits program.
5. What is your position on federal funding for contraception, the Violence Against Women Act and reproductive rights?
I am pro-life. My Ph.D. was earned in the area of reproductive physiology, and I know when human life begins.
As a physician and cancer surgeon, my singular goal throughout my entire professional life has been to save lives.
At a minimum, third-term abortion should be illegal, as it constitutes the murder of an infant that could survive if born. A third-term abortion is not done to save the life of the mother. Third-term abortions only account for 1.3% of abortions, but the abortion industry will not yield to this simple compromise.
I believe that a 48-hour period of informed consent, counseling, and an ultrasound for women who are contemplating abortion should be mandated. Contraception should be available to men and women of reproductive age.
The Violence Against Women Act has a long history of mostly bipartisan support. I support the Act, and on the next reauthorization will work to make it fair to all stakeholders.
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?
The primary security role that the U.S. should play in world affairs is the protection of its own interests.
America has many interests throughout the world including national defense and protection of free commerce. Our foreign policy over the years has resulted in alliances with independent nations that value liberty and self-government.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization exists for the common defense of the U.S. and our European allies. The United States is less secure with an isolationist foreign policy.
We need to support oppressed people who seek liberty and independence. If emerging democracies seek our help to preserve their fragile democratic governments, or seek our advice on building democratic institutions, we should help.
What we should not do is exert dominance in countries by nation-building that could potentially lead to upheaval and conflict.
Today the United States is the single superpower nation, and we need to lead the world by promoting liberty and self-governance. Diplomacy throughout the world is our shield. However, if our national defense or free commerce is threatened, we have a sword, starting with economic sanctions, and, as a last resort, the strongest military force in the world.
7. Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should government be taking to address the issue?
There is consensus that the climate is changing, but we need to develop realistic solutions that will not destroy our economy and further overburden our taxpayers.
One of President Donald Trump's least-heralded accomplishments is increasing our domestic energy production to the point where we are now a net energy exporter and fully energy independent, which is a significant accomplishment that makes our country safer and more prosperous.
We should be taking steps to improve our environment and reduce our carbon output. The best solution is increasing our nuclear energy.
Here in Illinois, nuclear energy generates 52% of our state's electricity while emitting no greenhouse gases. It is also our most reliable power source, producing electricity round-the-clock.
On a larger scale, nuclear energy provides 55% of our country's clean energy, making it the largest domestic source of clean energy and the most reliable energy source. The U.S. government has invested $96 billion into the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository that was shut down by the Obama administration.
We need a central repository for waste that is open and utilized. We have the ability right now to increase nuclear energy in America to lower greenhouse gases and create jobs.