Juris Doctor, Chicago-Kent College of Law
Bachelor's Degree, Bethel University, Minnesota
Vice President of Marketing, Performance Trust Investment Advisors
Married, Wife, Christy
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?
My first vote as a Congressman was to repeal the president’s massive health care law in full, and I still believe the law must be repealed. However, we can still expand access to health care without the president’s law. Structural changes can be made to encourage preventive health care and also to separate health insurance from employment status, both of which will lower prices and will create stability for families. We can reform lawsuit abuse, which was a special pursuit of mine as a state legislator in Illinois. (The fear of lawsuits causes doctors to order all kinds of extra, preventive tests which may or may not be necessary for a patient, thus driving up costs for everyone.) We can especially encourage price disclosure. Can you think of any other sector where a customer can walk in and buy a ‘product’ without ever knowing its cost? Patients (and even doctors!) may decide together on a test or prescription, but may never know the cost to the insurer or if there was a cheaper version available. Making prices publicly available will put patients back in control and make health care more affordable for all.
Unemployment across the U.S. remains above 8 percent. What should Congress be doing to spur job growth?
Consistently, two of every three new jobs is created by a small business. With that in mind, I have met with more than 100 small business owners and job creators in the 14th district since last year. During each storefront visit and factory tour, I ask what it would take for that employer to create just one more job. There are nearly 30 million small businesses in the U.S., and 23 million people who are under-employed. If every small business could create just one job, we would have overemployment! What I hear over and over and over is that small business owners want some certainty from their government. They want lower taxes, and government regulations are frustrating their ability to grow and hire. Taxes have now topped poor sales as the single most important concern of small business owners. I’ve supported more than 30 jobs bills in the House. Some of them have even been passed by the Senate and signed by the President. All of them would free up employers in the private sector who would like to hire, but are hesitating.
Is it possible for Congress to stop deficit spending and start paying down the national debt without raising taxes? Be specific in your explanation.
I do think it’s possible. For the last ten years, as tax rates have not changed, Washington has increased spending by nearly 40 percent. The past three years have marked the weakest economic recovery our nation has seen since the Great Depression. This isn’t the right time to raise taxes on anyone. However, nothing- not even defense or entitlements- is off the table when it comes to cuts. It took years to reach this point, and it will take years to balance our budget again. Veterans and seniors within 10 years of retirement should, in my opinion, receive the benefits they have been counting on. However, for those younger than 55, entitlements will look different. There is waste to be found in every agency- and as one frugal governor put it, “You’d be amazed at how much government you’ll never miss.” Washington would like to treat the economy as a cash tree- a new tax for every program, chopping off as much as it wants, whenever it wants. What Washington doesn’t understand is that the best way to allow the tree to grow more jobs and tax revenue organically is to simply leave it alone.
What, if anything, should the U.S. be doing to help stabilize Syria?
I am extremely troubled by the bloodshed of innocent people and the ongoing atrocities being committed by the regime of Bashar al-Assad. At the same time, I am also concerned about embroiling the United States in yet another armed sectarian conflict overseas with no clear goals or outcome. The situation in Syria continues to develop, and I am generally supportive of the NATO mission there and believe the Arab League and Turkey must be partners in dealing with the Syrian leadership.
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
Having served in the Illinois House and Senate for years- and never in the majority- I’m well acquainted with the importance of coming to consensus with people you don’t agree with. In Springfield, if I ever wanted to get an initiative passed, I had to ask a friend on the other side of the aisle to carry it. There was no other option! I have always believed that leaders have to treat each other with civility. We won’t always agree, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s healthy. Democracy is messy, but it’s not a fight, and it’s not a performance. It takes a lot of time and commitment to sit down and come to consensus with someone who may agree with you on very little. It’s not glamorous. But it’s so important to take the time to listen to them and find that common ground. That’s the only way we’re going to reach actual change.
What should Congress do in regards to Social Security?
As with Medicare, I will not accept any cuts to current beneficiaries or those near retirement. Our government has made a promise to assist seniors in retirement and I will not permit this promise to be broken or undermined. For those under age 55, there will likely have to be some improvements in order for the program to remain solvent.
With all of the issues surrounding the economy, immigration reform has taken a back seat. What, if anything, should the federal government be doing?
Illegal immigration is an affront to both our existing laws and institutions, as well as to the legal immigrants who made the commitment to abide by our processes and respect our rules. Our porous border has also contributed to the high rates of violence in Mexico spilling over into the United States, the rampant growth of the drug trade and criminal enterprise, and ongoing human rights violations committed by human traffickers. Clearly, securing the border has to be our first priority. Then, I think we have to examine our visa system. Why limit visas for people seeking to tour and study in the U.S.? Why make it so difficult for agricultural workers to enter and exit the country in order to work jobs Americans are not taking anyway? I believe that if we encourage employers to hire legal workers and provide legal avenues for people to emigrate and bring their families to America, we will see a drop in illegal immigration. (Current wait times are several years for one immigrant and many more in order to bring a family member with them.)
Outside of jobs and the federal deficit, what are the one or two most important issues in the 14th Congressional District, and how do you plan to address them?
Without a doubt, it’s affordability of basic costs- especially healthcare. This issue comes up again and again as I’m talking to both residents of the 14th district and small business owners. A recent NFIB survey of small business owners actually listed healthcare costs as their #1 concern (poor sales was #26). At town halls, I’m hearing that losing or being unable to obtain health insurance is one of Kane County residents’ greatest fears. My goal for the 14th district is that everyone have a great job which provides great insurance, but of course there are also other steps we can take to help make healthcare more affordable.
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