1) What is the No. 1 issue in your district and how would you address it?
The top issue in the newly drawn 16th Congressional District in Illinois is the need to strengthen our economy in order to get folks back to work. In order to achieve this, we must utilize the resources available in the new 16th.
This district will be one of the most energy intensive districts in the country, if not the most. From nuclear to hydropower, the 16th District will produce much of the energy that powers the Midwest, particularly the large manufacturers here. I’m proud to be a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee where we are working to find solutions that increase the supply of American made energy in all forms and reduce prices for Americans. With simpler regulations, America can become more energy independent while also protecting the environment and health of our citizens.
Presently, the surplus of natural gas that has been found in pockets of shale deposits across the country (including Illinois) is reshaping the energy market in the U.S. and providing a boom to many Illinois manufacturers due to the low price of energy. New horizontal drilling techniques, combined with hydraulic fracturing, have made obtaining these natural gas deposits economically feasible. On the Energy & Commerce Committee, we will be working to ensure hydraulic fracturing is done safely and proper procedures are in place to protect the environment.
These initiatives will help strengthen our manufacturing and bring us closer to becoming energy secure, which will in turn create an environment for job growth.
2) How would you promote job growth in your district?
If you listen to small business owners, the creators of most private sector jobs, they will tell you exactly what needs to be done. In the past year, I’ve heard resoundingly from small business owners that taxes are too high and government regulations are too burdensome. I take that to heart and have been working in Congress to reduce the regulatory impact on small businesses.
Last February, I heard directly from businesses that would be impacted by the EPA’s new Boiler MACT rules. I was told the standards were not achievable or the cost was so high that the manufacturing would be sent overseas where environmental regulations don’t exist. I led the effort in sending the EPA the message that these new rules need to be rewritten. Not long after my letter was sent, the EPA rewrote the rules so that businesses could fairly compete. Similarly, I heard directly from concrete manufactures that new EPA rules would destroy 20 percent of the nation’s cement industry. I worked with my colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee to pass legislation that would require the EPA to rewrite the rules and give more time for the cement industry to implement new requirements.
In order to turn our economy around, we need to listen to those who know best – the job creators – not career politicians in Washington. Over the last year, I’ve held small business roundtables all throughout my current district to hear their thoughts, concerns about what is hampering their business. Following these roundtables, I sent small business owners all throughout my District a letter as them what it would take from Washington to help them create just one more job. According to the U.S. Small Business Association's 2008 statistics, there are 1.1 million small businesses in Illinois. If only 10 percent of these businesses were able to create just a single job, it would add 110,000 new jobs in Illinois. The majority of these businesses tell me that fewer regulations, lower or simplified taxes, repealing the Obama administration's health care plan and providing various tax incentives would help their business to grow and thrive.
I'm a firm believer that in order to grow this economy, we need to get Washington out of the way so small businesses can thrive.
I’m not a small business owner. So if I went to Washington, DC and acted like an expert in small business but never talked to small business owners, then I would be disingenuous. In order for me to know how to advocate for exactly what needs to be done, I need to hear from them.
I will continue listening to the district’s small business owners and advocating on their behalf in Washington in order to refuel our economy.
3) Should the federal government cut spending and where?
I supported House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity budget resolution, which tackled our national debt in a responsible way by reforming the tax code, repealing President Obama’s health care law and restructuring entitlement programs while keeping promises to current seniors and those nearing retirement age. It took our country decades to get into this mess and it will take us decades to get out of it due to bad decisions by prior Administrations and Congresses. In stark contrast, this budget cuts more than $6 trillion in spending from the budget the President put forward over the next decade.
The reform of 1986 achieved great things by cleaning out all kinds of dubious deductions, credits, favors and the like. Since those reforms, Congress has inserted hundreds of different tax preferences, creating a complicated tax code that rewards those with close ties to Washington. I support tax reform that will remove or reduce tax advantages in all sectors while lowering the base rate for everyone. The tax code should be designed to extract the revenue we need to operate this country with the least amount of pain, in terms of foregone growth, that we can get.
For too long, the government has been in the business of picking winners and losers. If you are popular, you get special breaks; if you are not, you pay more. Instead of the government targeting specific industries for reward or punishment, we should aim to create a simplified tax code that broadens the tax base and lowers the rates for growth for all sectors of our economy in a fair, uniform way.
4) If Republican, which GOP presidential candidate do you support?
I have not endorsed a candidate for President.
5) Give an example of something you’ve done that is bipartisanship in nature.
Republicans and Democrats have fundamentally different opinions on how best to get Americans back to work and revive our economy. These ideological differences have resulted in the gridlock we’ve seen for the past year in Washington.
When I was elected in 2010, I knew it would be difficult to reduce spending and remove government barriers to job creation in a divided government. By taking a stand, the conversation in Washington has changed from how much we should spend to how much we should cut.
Both sides need to do a better job of working together to find common ground, and I’ve been just as frustrated by the gridlock as anyone else. However, the problems our country presently faces arose because too many members of Congress, for decades now, have gone along to get along. I’m happy to compromise, so long as we’re not compromising our nation’s future.
Presently, I’m excited to work with a Democrat member in the Illinois delegation on a manufacturing reform proposal that aims to promote manufacturing in the U.S. I will continue seeking out opportunities to reach across the aisle and find common ground.
6) Name one good policy idea that comes from the opposing party.
A historic moment for the United States throughout this war on terror was the death of the terrorist mastermind behind September 11th - Osama Bin Laden. The combined efforts under the Bush and Obama Administrations led toward not only eliminating terrorist activity here at home, but for countries around the world who are working to achieve freedom of their own.
Although this was a milestone for our nation, it is one victory in our continuing fight against terror and we must remain aggressive in our efforts to defend our country from potential terrorist enemies.
7) How do you define family values?
Family values are the principles that establish a strong, secure and loving relationship between a husband and wife and one in which children are raised and cared for in a stable, nurturing environment. These values include a traditional marriage between only a man and woman, parental rights, and pro-life principles.
8) What are your thoughts on the healthcare law?
I co-sponsored and voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I have been working to roll back provisions that the Obama Administration has also agreed are not needed including the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act which repeals the onerous 1099 reporting requirement for small businesses, as well as the Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act which repeals the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program.
First, we must focus on short term costs to long term costs through preventative care. Seventy-five percent of our nation’s health care spending is tied to the treatment of chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Some treatment that is excluded from coverage now should be covered because it shifts the focus to disease prevention, leading to cost reductions through the management of chronic diseases.
Secondly, I support the creation of Association or Small Business Health Plans. These plans allow groups of small employers to band together to increase purchasing power for their employees’ health insurance thereby receiving a more affordable rate. This would be a major step for people in small businesses or self-employed people to obtain affordable health coverage.
Anything that reduces costs will change the price of health insurance premiums, which affects the number of people who can afford coverage. To that end, I fully support federal income tax deductibility for health insurance premiums, uniform medical records and reimbursement forms will also streamline the system and reduce administrative costs and I’d like to see Congress extend and expand individual Health Savings Accounts and maintain their tax-free and tax deductible features. We also need tort reform, which will also help bring down costs.
I support measures to disconnect health insurance from employers and instead make it easily portable with a person through different jobs over the course of their lifetime. By focusing on the individual, not the employer, it will allow those who have pre-existing conditions to continue their insurance when they change jobs.
There is no easy answer in solving our health care crisis. However, by implementing these types of reforms, we will see the cost of health costs decline in the long-term. The creation of a whole new government bureaucracy, as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does, is not the answer nor are the reforms the American people are looking for.
9) Who is your political role model?
President Ronald Reagan
10) What’s on your iPod?
Linkin Park, 30 Seconds to Mars - Kings and Queens, Third Day, and Owl City “In Christ Alone”