High School, Glenbard West High School
Bachelor's Degree, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Juris Doctor, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
Congressman, United States House of Representatives
Married, Elizabeth Roskam
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 colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee and I are engaged in a robust effort to improve our health care system. First and foremost, the president’s Affordable Care Act must be repealed and replaced with reforms that will reduce exploding costs, increase access to quality services, save Medicare, and remove burdensome regulations. Existing bureaucratic regulations slow down medical innovations and prevent job growth. Specifically, the approval process for prescription drugs and medical devices by the FDA takes too long, and does so at the expense of patients. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is conducting a series of hearings to address these burdensome regulations. By eliminating inherent waste, fraud and abuse, we will be able to take important steps in reducing bloated costs. Limiting runaway lawsuits will cut down on defensive medicine and further drive down costs. When nearly 50 million Americans uninsured, we must be considering innovative solutions to cut expenses and ensure affordability. One such solution is widening state-run, high-risk insurance pools for those with pre-existing conditions. Enhancing the doctor-patient relationship and ensuring that Americans have greater transparency with their providers will similarly reduce health costs and access will necessarily increase.
Unemployment across the U.S. remains above 8 percent. What should Congress be doing to spur job growth?
The House Republicans recently unveiled A Plan for America’s Job Creators, which sets a path forward and eliminates the obstacles that hinder job creation. It builds on an earlier effort that I helped craft, the Pledge to America, and focuses on empowering families, small businesses, and entrepreneurs, the backbone of our economy. This plan was instrumental in orchestrating the passage of free trade agreements with Korea, Panama, and Colombia, which will advance exports and boost small business productivity. To help local businesses learn how to best utilize these new export markets, I hosted a forum with over 100 participants that featured various trade experts who discussed the opportunities and benefits now available to them. One of the best ways we can create sustainable economic growth is by alleviating the financial pressure our families and small business owners are currently experiencing. With bold tax reform, job creators will be able to expand their workforce instead of shrinking them. A more streamlined, less burdensome code is absolutely necessary to move forward with an economic plan that makes sense.
Is it possible for Congress to stop deficit spending and start paying down the national debt without raising taxes? Be specific in your explanation.
The House has passed two budgets that prove that the budget can be balanced over time, and our debt paid off, without raising taxes. Compared to the President’s budget request, that failed to receive a single vote of support in both the House and Senate, our Path to Prosperity budget cuts $5 trillion in government spending over the next decade. It brings government spending to below 20 percent of the economy by 2015 and reduces deficits by $3 trillion over the next decade, relative to the President’s budget. This plan will bring government spending back down to its historically normal level, and will likewise return revenue to historically normal levels as well. Restoring the economy to its previous robust activity will allow us to pay off the debt that has burdened us for too long, and will ultimately lead us to solvency.
What should the U.S. be doing to help stabilize Syria?
Over the past few years, we witnessed numerous attempts at establishing democracy in the Middle East, led by the very citizens of nations like Syria and Iran. Those uprisings gave evidence to the fact that men and women repressed by dictatorships and civil war demand freedom, even at the cost of their own lives. While we in the U.S. have concentrated on stabilizing our economy and ensuring the safety of American citizens, we have not lost the mantle of “world leader.” It is imperative that our stance be known, that we not lead from behind, and that people around the world understand that the United States will not condone or cooperate with violent, oppressive regimes. This year, I co-sponsored the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act, a bipartisan agreement recently signed by the president that expands sanctions on human rights violators and sends a clear message: that the calls for support and freedom in the Middle East will not go unanswered.
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.
Common sense bipartisan solutions to the biggest problems we face as a nation are both necessary and attainable. I believe if we are only willing to identify a problem at its roots and come together, real solutions are within reach. My record of bipartisanship dates back to my years in the Illinois State House, and continues today as a Member of Congress. One piece of legislation I am currently working on is a source of particular pride and has garnered bipartisan support; my bill to combat Medicare fraud is backed by the AARP, the White House, and co-sponsored by Democrats in both the House and Senate. Each year, Medicare fraud costs America’s elderly a staggering $60 billion. Both parties understand how waste, fraud and abuse undermine such a vital program for our seniors, but the private sector offers a common sense, proven solution: predictive modeling technology to prevent fraud before it happens. Credit card companies use similar tactics, which would successfully shift away from the current “pay-and-chase” model that is costing Medicare billions.
What should Congress do in regards to Social Security?
One thing is for sure about Social Security and Medicare: Congress must act to save these programs, or they will disappear. In fact, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has reported that without immediate action, Social Security will go broke in 2037 and cease to exist for future generations. But instead of addressing these serious problems, President Obama proposed a budget that included more than $1 trillion in new job-crushing taxes and ignored entitlements altogether, leaving them on their current path to bankruptcy. House Republicans, on the other hand, have proposed a budget that includes bold, fundamental tax reform and a process for protecting Social Security. To ensure the fiscal viability of the program, the Path to Prosperity compels bipartisan collaboration between the president, Congress and the Social Security Board of Trustees.
With all of the issues surrounding the economy, immigration reform has taken a back seat. What should the federal government be doing?
As a nation of immigrants, the United States welcomes those who have obtained lawful permanent residence, and every year we draw more legal immigrants than every other country in the world combined. However, when illegal immigrants receive taxpayer-funded benefits, it is a financial strain on our systems and state governments, and is fundamentally unfair to those who played by the rules when coming to America. Granting blanket amnesty is not the solution. We must also find a solution that deals with undocumented immigrants currently in the United States, without encouraging more people to cross our borders illegally. The president’s recent decision to sidestep Congress and enact a temporary immigration policy was a disappointment, as a permanent resolution to our country’s immigration problems must be originate with a bipartisan agreement between the House, Senate and White House. The president’s promise to accomplish this kind of solution in his first term went unfulfilled, and his choice to “go it alone” on this important issue is a concern to those of us hoping to enact lasting, meaningful change.
Outside of jobs and the federal deficit, what are the one or two most important issues in the 6th Congressional District, and how do you plan to address them?
Our current tax code is a mess of loopholes, carve outs and crony capitalism. What’s worse, with compliance costs and endless complications, it’s actually holding back U.S. job creation. Under the current tax code, there are a number of small business owners who pay taxes through their individual returns called pass throughs, and when we talk about raising taxes on the “wealthy,” these small business owners often get hit instead. Ultimately, they are forced to reduce investments, payroll—and yes, employees—in order to pay the higher taxes. The 6th Congressional District is home to a number of these small business pass throughs, run by generations of families, entrepreneurs and community leaders. Bringing both sides together to fundamentally reform the code would create greater certainty for business owners and give them the necessary flexibility to build on their futures and their communities.
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Kathleen Bergan Schmidt