Bobby Schilling, 17th District U.S. House Republican candidate
1. How would you improve the economy and jobs outlook?
Schilling: Economic uncertainty in federal policy was a major problem that prolonged the Great Depression and it’s the major problem prolonging our economic downturn today. I am the only candidate who has signed a pledge in this race not to raise taxes.
Small business owners are less willing to consider expansion when they face the reality of higher taxes. We need to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, repeal the new taxes and mandates in the health care legislation, permanently table the Cap and Trade National Energy Tax and Value Added Tax proposals, and give our small businesses and families some certainty about the economic future of this country again.
I strongly believe that we should make every effort to keep jobs here in the United States. The best way to do that is to create a positive, predictable business environment that rewards economic growth, private investment and job creation. We need to take back our government with low taxes, less spending, and limited government.
2. What, if any, changes to the new health care law need to be made?
Schilling: This is a central issue in this campaign — the government take-over of health care is resulting in higher costs to consumers, $500 billion in cuts to Medicare, slow job creation and more debt. I have always opposed the government take-over of health care.
The first step is for Congress to repeal the harmful provisions in the bill and replace them with patient-centered and market-based reforms that encourage job creation, bend the cost curve down, increase access to quality medical care, and improve medical outcomes without damaging our economy or stealing Medicare from our seniors.
Specifically, I support significant tort reform that would lower malpractice insurance costs and thus lower prices. I support allowing insurance to be sold across state lines, promoting associated health plans, improving cost transparency, and improving health care information technology with strong privacy protections.
3. How long do you believe U.S. troops should continue to stay in Afghanistan and Iraq?
Schilling: We should not set a premature or artificially deadline for withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq. Setting such a timeline would signal to our enemies a lack of resolve in our mission and afford them costly strategic advantages in the War on Terror. Our president and our NATO military allies are committed to ensuring victory in Afghanistan to ensure that the Taliban does not return to power to continue breeding terrorist operations that would further destabilize the region and put our national security at greater risk. While our troops are abroad we must support them with our financial and moral support. There’s no excuse to fail in providing our troops with the tools they need to win. Our military commanders know best how to fight and win the War on Terror.
I also believe we owe our veterans a great deal for their sacrifice to this country and for preserving our liberty and freedom. Because they and their families have paid great sacrifices we must repay them with honor, dignity and respect. I strongly believe that we must fulfill and, in many areas, improve our financial commitment to services and benefits that would make their transition to civilian life as smooth as possible.
4. Do you believe global climate change is a threat, and how would you deal with it?
Schilling: I believe climate change is real, but the scientific data is inconclusive at this point as to how grave the threat is, or whether it is caused by humans or is a natural phenomenon. The policies that have been proposed in Congress would be ineffective in lowering the emissions of CO2 gases globally. Therefore, I don’t support any policy that handicaps our economy against China and India’s economies. I am opposed to the Cap and Trade National Energy Tax, and I will not support any climate change legislation that kills jobs when the evidence of global warming is inconclusive and when China and India, two rival economies with growing manufacturing sectors, are not bound or willing to agree to the proposed regulations. The Cap and Trade National Energy Tax would cost Illinois nearly 120,000 jobs and put our country at a long-term strategic disadvantage in the manufacturing fields compared to countries like India and China.
Our energy objective should be to promote American energy production made by American workers, and decrease our reliance on hostile foreign nations. I support a traditional “above all” approach to energy policy including: off-shore drilling, natural gas, oil shale, clean coal technology, ANWR, and alternative energy sources such as wind and solar. I also strongly support domestic nuclear energy production, which can be done in an efficient, safe and environmentally friendly way. Foremost, we need to eliminate federal government barriers to develop domestic energy resources, which would also create good paying jobs. By eliminating the bureaucratic red tape of the federal government we can more easily equip our nation with the ability to produce our own energy resources, create thousands of new jobs, and strengthen our national security.
5. How would you lower or eliminate the federal budget deficit?
Schilling: Our national debt is $13.5 trillion, 90 percent of our GDP. At 95 percent of GDP, our interest payments will be increased substantially because our country may lose its credit rating. This is a critical issue for our country and I firmly believe spending must be cut and the deficit must be paid off.
America needs to find consensus solutions to reduce spending. The focus needs to start with defeating the idea of any future Wall Street bailout bills and proposals to allow Wall Street executives to receive millions in bonuses on the taxpayer’s dime. The stimulus was a failure because we were promised 3.6 million jobs as a result of its passage; we’ve actually lost 2.7 million since. That bill added over $800 billion to the deficit. The $2.5 trillion health care bill cut Medicare by $500 billion. These policies are putting our country on the wrong path, ballooning the cost of government beyond comprehension.
Another place where we can start addressing the deficit is by narrowly curtailing the annual growth in discretionary spending. Before Congress passes a bill, revenues need to be clearly identified to pay for them. Once Congress stops its huge expenditures, it needs to start looking at individual government programs to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. Finally, we need to seriously reform our earmark process. I oppose the “move-margins-at-midnight-mentality” in Washington, where there’s a mad dash to write in each congressman’s pet project into a big appropriations bill. I believe that each bill should be voted on for its own merits. If an earmark is a good earmark, it will pass. If it’s for swamp mice in California, it won’t. This is the way our Constitution intended it, and it will significantly cut back on wasteful spending.
6. What changes do you believe need to be made in Social Security to ensure its long-term solvency?
Schilling: Congress should work to fully fulfill our commitment to our seniors taking into account the maximum benefits that are available. I do not support raising the retirement age, lowering benefits for seniors, increasing payroll taxes or privatizing the Social Security Trust Fund.
A major problem with ensuring long-term solvency in Social Security is the politicians who keep using it as if it is a slush fund for other spending projects. Social Security is a sacred promise that the government has made to its citizens, and it should not be broken.
Ultimately, lowering the unemployment rate and building the private sector with good-paying jobs will help solve part of the problem. Illinois is facing 10 percent unemployment, which is putting the Social Security Trust Fund at greater risk. If we can foster a positive business environment that creates jobs in the private sector, it will go a long way toward keeping Social Security solvent.
7. What, if any, changes would you make to Medicare and Medicaid to slow their rate of growth?
Schilling: First, let me state that I opposed the government takeover of health care.
Specifically, I support Rep. Roskam’s legislation, H.R. 5546, a bill that would establish fraud protections that could save the government over $100 billion over the next 10 years. We also need to find a system that improves the health care of dual-eligible enrollees, those that receive benefits from both federal aid programs. Dual-eligible enrollees often times get prescriptions, treatments and medical attention that could be managed in ways that lowers costs, eliminates bureaucracy and improves quality care for those who need it most.
We need to improve physician access for Medicare patients, not cut Medicare from our seniors. Furthermore, we must oppose proposals to increase payroll taxes for these programs. I am the only candidate in this race who has signed a pledge not to raise taxes.
And again, getting back to full employment with policies that grow the economy and encourage new employment opportunities will help alleviate these problems in the Medicare and Medicaid system. We must continue to work to maintain the solvency of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid into the future.
8. Do you support continued subsidies for ethanol? If so, how, if at all, would you change them?
Schilling: Ethanol and renewable fuels are an important domestic industry and as it is imperative for our nation to produce our own fuel within our borders. As a matter of national security, we should always be able to feed ourselves and provide for our own energy. In the future, our ultimate goal should be for this industry to thrive and stand on its own without federal subsidies.
9. Do you support changes in federal law dealing with abortion?
Schilling: We should promote a culture of life in America and work to reduce the incidence of abortion. I am pro-life, and I believe natural law tells us that life is sacred.
Congress should strengthen the long-standing, bipartisan Hyde Amendment that bans federal funding of abortion. Congress should also discourage tying federal foreign aid packages to organizations that seek to use federal funds to promote abortion overseas; our greatest export should be our goods and services, not our tax dollars for overseas abortions.
10. Do you support the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry?
Schilling: I believe and support a traditional definition of marriage between a man and a woman, and I support the federal marriage amendment.