High School, New Trier High School
Bachelor's Degree, International Relations, Stanford University
Juris Doctor, Northwestern University School of Law
Attorney, US House of Representatives
Married, Husband Rody
Four Children; Nine Grandchildren
On the Record
Now that the Supreme Court has OK’d most of President Obama’s health care reform act, what should Congress’ next steps be to make sure as many citizens as possible have access to more affordable health care?
Our nation’s health care system is badly in need of reform. The American people want lower costs, increased access, and better care. Unfortunately, the heavy-handed approach taken by the authors of the 2,700-page health law has produced unintended consequences that are driving up costs, leading to dropped coverage, and draining jobs from a fragile economy. For example, a McKinsey study that surveyed more than 1,300 employers of various sizes found that 30% of employers would “definitely” or “probably” stop offering coverage in 2014, when the law kicks in. We cannot fix what’s broken if people in Washington are unwilling to acknowledge their own mistakes. I support repealing the law and replacing these policies that are raising costs. In their place, we can enact consensus-driven, bipartisan solutions that Democrat leaders have ignored in the past, including Association Health Plans and medical malpractice reform. In fact, I recently cosponsored replacement legislation that would lower costs, increase competition, expand portability for those between jobs, and provide coverage for pre-existing conditions. These sorts of commonsense reforms would not only address the real issues in our health care system, I believe they’d be widely supported both in Congress and among the public.
Unemployment across the U.S. remains above 8 percent. What should Congress be doing to spur job growth?
My top priority is getting the economy back on track and putting people back to work. It’s clear that paralyzing economic uncertainty, driven by the policies coming out of Washington, has impeded recovery and suppressed growth rates well below those of other economic recoveries. To reinvigorate private-sector job creation, we should start with commonsense tax reform and with extending the tax cuts for everyone. Simplifying the tax code will help to create jobs and boost U.S. competitiveness. By closing loopholes, lowering tax rates, and giving taxpayers some certainty, we can create a pro-growth environment that rewards innovation and job creation. Secondly, we need to end the regulatory nightmare. In 2011 alone, the Administration proposed over 400 new regulations with the potential to burden job creators with more than $70 billion in new compliance costs. That’s why we need to review and defund regulations that stifle the ability of businesses to create jobs and expand their operations. Third, we should temporarily allow U.S. companies to repatriate, at a lower tax rate, profits earned abroad. This would encourage corporations to immediately bring home profits, with the potential to produce 1 million jobs alone in the first year.
Is it possible for Congress to stop deficit spending and start paying down the national debt without raising taxes? Be specific in your explanation.
Any serious reductions in the national debt can only be accomplished if policy makers on both sides agree to make spending cuts the primary focus. However, revenues can and should be part of the solution. Last year, I wrote to members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction encouraging them to seek revenue increases as the natural byproduct of effective broad-based tax reform and pro-growth financial policies. I supported the Republican proposals in the Supercommittee to raise $300 billion in new revenue while meeting the $1.2 trillion in statutory discretionary spending cuts over a decade. There are no easy solutions. But, with a national debt that now is larger than our entire economy, and unemployment hovering above eight percent for more than forty-three straight months, attempting to simply tax our way to a balanced budget would require tax rates to more than double. Raising taxes on our nation’s job creators would make it even more difficult for them to hire new workers, much less keep their doors open. Seniors and families working to make ends meet don’t deserve tax increases; they deserve tax relief.
What, if anything, should the U.S. be doing to help stabilize Syria?
The United States must pursue an international role that promotes the security of our citizens and safety of our allies. The Assad regime has long posed a serious threat to our interests in the Middle East and those of our allies. It has welcomed extremist organizations like Hezbollah into its midst and willingly received support from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. With the assistance of these terrorist organizations, the regime has slaughtered more than 20,000 of its own citizens over the last 17 months. To stabilize Syria, we must first thwart this dangerous and hostile regime. I was proud to support the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, which cracks down on Iran – the Assad regime’s principal supporter – to an extent never seen before. The law achieves this primarily by imposing new, biting, sanctions against Iran’s energy, financial, and transportation sectors, but it also imposes new requirements on the Administration to identify and sanction anyone who is carrying out human rights violations in Syria or those who are providing the resources and technologies that the Syrian government needs to restrict the free flow of information and cover up those abuses.
Congress’ approval ratings are abysmal, and that’s largely because of all the partisan rhetoric and the inability to compromise. If elected, will you be willing to reach across the aisle and work on compromise with members of the opposite party to resolve this country’s many issues? Explain.
I do not believe that compromise is a bad word. After all, the alternative is “my way or the highway,” and that’s why too little is being accomplished in Washington. As a former school board president and long-time community volunteer, I have a proven track record of listening to constituents and bringing people together to find solutions that work. I approach my work in Congress with the same spirit, which is why I was honored when my peers on the other side of the aisle elected me one of the “Ten Most Bipartisan” members of the House. For example, for over a decade I have led annual bipartisan efforts to ensure that the Office of Science (the primary source of funding for Fermilab and Argonne) has the resources they need to continue to push the boundaries of human knowledge. My work on their behalf has been recognized with numerous prestigious awards, including the Science Coalition’s “Champion of Science.” I’ve seen some people in Washington who claim that a “centrist voting record” means they are bipartisan. But I learned long ago that choosing how to vote is the easy part. It’s choosing when to lead that is difficult.
What should Congress do in regards to Social Security?
Millions of individuals have paid into Social Security with the understanding that they will receive a retirement benefit in exchange, and I have no intention of allowing the federal government to break that promise. This April, the Social Security Trustees announced that the Social Security Trust Fund would run dry in 2033, three years earlier than previously anticipated. It’s clear that we must act now, which is why I supported a plan requiring the Social Security Trustees, the President, and Congress to enact bipartisan reforms that will keep the Trust Fund solvent for future generations. The way to save Social Security is to reform it, not to fall back on the failed policies of the past. So-called reforms like raising payroll taxes, cutting benefits, raising the retirement age or means testing have been enacted in the past and have failed to produce a long-term solution. I believe the only way Congress will ever make the reforms needed to ensure Social Security’s long-term viability is through a comprehensive, bipartisan approach that makes tough decisions on the whole range of issues and ideas – not by simply raising taxes and calling it a success.
With all of the issues surrounding the economy, immigration reform has taken a back seat. What, if anything should the federal government be doing?
With between 12 and 13 million illegal immigrants living and working in the United States, our immigration system is clearly broken. Unfortunately, the partisan divide on this issue has grown so wide that some in Washington have written off hope of advancing a solution. That is because no proposal for immigration reform -- ranging from amnesty to incarceration -- can achieve this goal while our borders remain unsecured. Washington made that mistake in the 1980’s, when Congress accepted amnesty without first securing the borders. The result was even more illegal immigration, not less. There is much we can do to reform our legal immigration system of hard numerical caps to make it more efficient, effective, and responsive to U.S. labor needs. Labor conditions in the U.S. should dictate where the cap is set for our visa categories. But before we can address these issues effectively, we must first secure the borders. That means more boots on the ground and better use of electronic surveillance technology along points of entry. We also need to expand the use of tools like E-Verify to ensure that American employers are hiring legal workers.
Outside of jobs and the federal deficit, what are the one or two most important issues in the 11th Congressional District, and how do you plan to address them?
The danger posed by heroin in the western suburbs is growing, leading to ruined lives and tragic deaths. Some parents may not realize the easy availability of the drug – Interstate 88 and Roosevelt Road/State Street are referred to as “heroin highways” – nor its addictive properties, but too many are seeing the toll it takes. Tragically, heroin was the cause of seven deaths in Kane County last year, and seven more in Naperville. As a former school board president, and as a mother of four and a grandmother of nine, I’m deeply concerned about the threat heroin poses to our schools, our communities, and our families. I believe that knowledge is one of our most effective weapons, so I have worked to educate students and their parents about the dangers of heroin. In July, I partnered with community groups and government agencies to increase awareness through an education and prevention forum. Parents learned about warning signs of heroin use and students heard from those affected by the drug, including from a father who lost his son to an overdose. More must be done, and I remain committed to working side by side with others in the fight against this scourge.
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