1) What is the No. 1 issue in your district and how would you address it?
My top priority is getting the economy back on track and putting people back to work. For millions of families in Illinois and around the country, no other challenge is more urgent than addressing the day-by-day stress and wrenching uncertainty that have resulted from the loss of a paycheck, a drop in income, or uncertainty about having a job next week or next month.
Over the last year, Congress and the President have only just begun to take the steps needed to achieve recovery, with a handful of major bipartisan breakthroughs, including landmark patent reform and three new trade agreements that will open new markets for an estimated $13 billion in American exports. In addition, last summer’s budget agreement will trim $2.1 trillion in excess spending over the next decade. These measures, which I fought to enact, should serve as a model for future bipartisan cooperation on legislation to restore our Triple-A economy.
But Congress must do more to cut the debt and give American businesses the economic security they need to grow. One area that holds enormous potential to create jobs and boost U.S. competitiveness is broad-based tax reform. By simplifying the tax code, closing loopholes, lowering tax rates, and giving taxpayers some certainty, we can create a pro-growth environment that rewards innovation and job creation. But to do this, we must enact a tax policy guided by sound economic principles, and not simply increase taxes on job creators and investors.
Secondly, we need to end the regulatory nightmare. In 2011 alone, the Administration proposed over 400 new regulations that have the potential to burden job creators with more than $70 billion in new compliance costs. Businesses cannot grow and invest when they face that kind of uncertainty and red tape. That’s why we need to review and de-fund economically significant regulations that will stifle the ability of businesses to produce more goods and put people back to work.
2) How would you promote job growth in your district?
As I outlined in the question above, my top priority is getting the economy back on track and putting people back to work. In Washington, that means tearing down trade barriers, increasing the flow of credit, and liberating job creators from needless regulations.
Locally, I have focused my efforts on helping unemployed and underemployed workers find jobs and helping small business owners find new business opportunities. With the help of many great employers, agencies, municipalities and other talented personnel, I have been holding jobs and business fairs to help people in these tough times. I plan to continue this outreach so area residents know my office and I are here to help.
I also am focused on unemployment among young veterans returning home. Recent reports estimate our youngest veterans, aged 18 to 24, experience a 30.4 percent unemployment rate compared to 16.9 percent for non-veterans in the same age group. Minority veteran unemployment is even higher. We must work with local veteran organizations, businesses, and workforce investment boards to give our brave men and women the assistance they need to find employment and succeed in civilian life. We cannot forget the sacrifices they’ve made for our country.
In addition, transportation infrastructure is a top economic priority here in the new 11th CD, where population growth has been explosive. That is why I am working to pass a long-term transportation reauthorization bill so we can give our communities the resources they need to provide a modern, safe and efficient transportation system.
We also must build on our local science assets, including Argonne and Fermi National Laboratories, the Illinois Math and Science Aacademy, and our outstanding universities. Science research and education is the foundation for the innovative solutions that will enable us to overcome many of our greatest challenges – from economic stagnation and dependence on foreign energy to curing diseases and addressing national security threats. Support for math and science education, ensuring local research institution funding, and helping small businesses commercialize research innovations are vital to the future of job creation and are among my top priorities for the district.
3) Should the federal government cut spending and where?
The national debt now has surpassed $15 trillion – larger than our entire economy. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate continues to hover near double digits. We cannot afford to sit idly by while out-of-control federal spending and ever-growing debt continue to drive down economic growth and paralyze job creators.
To restore our Triple-A economy, I’ve voted to cut more than $6 trillion in spending from the federal budget, cap future spending near 2008 levels, and enact a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to the Constitution. The BBA, which I cosponsored, would require Congress and the President to spend within our means and make the same hard financial choices that all Americans face each day. I’ve also worked with my colleagues in the House to secure – for the first time in modern history -- two years in a row of discretionary spending reductions, despite intense opposition from the White House and the Senate.
4) If Republican, which GOP presidential candidate do you support?
Mitt Romney's focus on jobs and extensive real-world experience hves earned him my support.
5) Give an example of something you’ve done that is bipartisanship in nature.
Americans have had enough of "my way or the highway" governing. They want solutions. And whether it’s cutting waste or creating jobs, I put results over politics.
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.
This past year, I again put that philosophy to work as Chairman of the House Insurance and Housing Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the nation’s flood insurance program. Working with every group – from insurers to consumers to environmentalists, realtors and others – and every member of Congress, representing diverse areas across the nation, we crafted compromise legislation to finally revamp and reauthorize our nation’s outdated flood insurance program. Starting with a working draft (instead of a bill), and taking input from all sides, we addressed everyone’s concerns; no one got everything but everyone was satisfied. Passed out of committee by a vote of 54-0 and by the full House by a vote of 406-22, the bill became one of a handful of major reform packages passed by the House in 2011.
6) Name one good policy idea that comes from the opposing party.
I am a cosponsor of H.R. 2376, the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act of 2011. Authored by Diana DeGette (D-Colorado), this legislation would expand federal support for research on stem cells. According to scientists, these cells may hold the keys to curing conditions like diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Under Rep. DeGette’s legislation, new research opportunities would be opened on cells that were donated following fertility treatments – cells that would otherwise be destroyed. It’s simply tragic to let something so valuable go to waste when it has so much potential to alleviate so much suffering.
7) How do you define family values?
Family values encompass those principals, morals, and ideals that are passed on to us through our role models at home. From our respect for the traditions of faith, to the drive that we feel to serve others – America has always derived great strength from the values passed on to us by previous generations. But it is not the government’s place to define those values. Instead, it is our responsibility as individuals to demonstrate those values to younger generations through our actions and our decisions. And as a mother of four and a grandmother of nine, it’s a responsibility that I take very seriously.
8) What are your thoughts on the healthcare law?
We should repeal the Pelosi/Reid/Obama healthcare law and replace it with reforms that deliver the results Americans were promised. During debate on the new law, my colleagues and I offered a commonsense alternative that would lower costs, increase competition, expand portability for those between jobs, and provide better coverage for pre-existing conditions. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), our alternative plan would have lowered health insurance premiums for American families and small businesses by as much as 10 percent.
Unfortunately, Democrat leaders ignored the voices of the American people and forced a deeply flawed, one-sided bill though Congress. As a result, patients, doctors, small business owners, and taxpayers are suffering the unintended consequences of new taxes, burdensome regulations, and higher costs. Medicare was slashed by $500 billion and employer-sponsored benefits have been dropped, threatening the care that many families enjoy today. The American people deserve better, and that is why I voted for H.R. 2, a full repeal of the Administration’s health overhaul.
9) Who is your political role model?
I began my legal career as a clerk to the Honorable Luther Swygert, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. He always challenged me and inspired me to set my goals high.
10) What’s on your iPod?
Heart-thumping work-out tunes