Democrat incumbent Bill Foster seeks his second term representing the 14th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, while Republican challenger Randy Hultgren and Green Party candidate Dan Kairis seek to replace him in Washington.
Family: Married; two children
Education, employment, and political background: Currently serves as U.S. Representative for the 14th District. Spent more than 20 years as scientist at Fermilab; started manufacturing business. Graduated University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1975, earned graduate degree from Harvard University in 1983
Member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); elected fellow of the American Physical Society. Served on the board of the Batavia Foundation for Education Excellence, an organization dedicated to enhancing the public schools in Batavia; was a youth soccer coach in the Tri-Cities for several years.
Bill Foster said he is seeking a second term because he has shown the type of independent voice needed in Washington. He cited a National Journal article ranking him as the second-most centrist member of Congress, and said endorsements from growth suck as the Illinois Farm Bureau and VFW-PaC demonstrate his centrist approach to policy positions.
â€œI value facts over ideology or partisan politics, which is why I voted against the flawed cap and trade bill and why I voted against my own party’s budget every time because it failed to include a long-term plan to reduce the deficit and pay down the debt,â€ Foster said.
Foster said the nationâ€™s priority should be creating jobs and improving the economy.
â€œPutting America back to work requires leaders with independent solutions, not more career politicians who only repeat partisan talking points,â€ Foster said. â€œAs a small businessman and scientist, I know what it takes to create jobs, and I am committed to helping our economy fully recover.â€
His background as a small businessman has helped him understand what is needed to help the economy recover, he said.
â€œI know that small businesses are the engine that drives economic recovery,â€ Foster said. â€œThis is why I have supported tax breaks for small businesses and tax credits for local entrepreneurs who are creating new jobs, while voting to crack down on tax loopholes for corporations shipping American jobs overseas.â€
To help manufacturing jobs remain in the United States, Foster said he supports making the research and development tax credit permanent, and linking it to a commitment to manufacture in the U.S.
Foster supported several tax breaks and tax credits for small businesses, and specified ones targeted at creating new jobs. He explained that due to these types of pro-business policies he has supported, after-tax business profits are larger than pre-crisis levels.
â€œBusinesses are using these record profits first to de-leverage from the unhealthy debt levels of the last decade, then to invest in new equipment to raise productivity, and will then finally begin hiringâ€”a healthy, inevitable, but painfully slow process,â€ he said.
From a long-term perspective, Foster said the nation needs to focus on its debt by reducing unnecessary and wasteful spending. In 2009, Foster against $3.7 billion in specific wasteful government spending and earmarks, and co-sponsored a bill that would cut the pay of legislators by 5 percent. He also voted to cap all non-essential spending.
â€œWe simply cannot continue to saddle our children and grandchildren with tens of thousands of debt to pay for services being provided to the present generation. My record proves my commitment to bringing fiscal responsibility back to Washington,â€ Foster said. â€œUnfortunately, it took us years to get into this mess and getting out of it will also take time, but we need to let the American citizens know that we have a path to return us to economic prosperity.â€
Family: Married, four children
Education, employment, and political background: Graduate, Bethel University, 1988; JD, Chicago-Kent College of Law, 1993; Financial Certificates: Series 7, 6, 63; is an investment adviser; served in the Illinois State Senate from 2007 to present; served in the Illinois State House of Representatives from 1999-2007; served on the DuPage County Board from 1994-1998
Community involvement: Has served on the Board of Directors for the DuPage Homeownership Center; Metropolitan Family Services Board; Koinonia Ministry Board; Serenity House Board; President of the Wheaton Academy Alumni Board
Randy Hultgren said he is seeking the office because he wants to bring â€œcommonsense policies to Washington.â€
He said he would focus on helping people get back to work, cutting government spending by restoring fiscal sanity, and passing a new healthcare reform that will control the cost of care.
If the federal government follows the policies he supports, Hultgren said the nation would experience a reversal of its current direction.
â€œIt is no secret that the only segment of growth in our economy is government,â€ Hultgren said. â€œAnd still the economy doesn’t improve; one in 10 is unemployed; and we are on the verge of an enormous tax increase impacting all Americans on Jan. 1. Our nation is going in the wrong direction, and I will fight to stop this dangerous slide.â€
Hultgren said that the nationâ€™s recovery will be based on more than a single bill or policy proposal.
â€œI think the single most important thing we can do to spur economic recovery is change the fundamental philosophy in Congress from one that penalizes job creators and believes the government knows best, to one that empowers free-enterprise to innovate and employ,â€ he said.
Hultgren pointed out that the federal budget is nearly a quarter of the entire federal economy, saying that the government does not have a revenue problem, it has an expenditure one.
â€œAddressing the wasteful and inappropriate spendingâ€”not raising taxes in a recessionâ€”needs to be our priority,â€ he said.
He supports lowing payroll taxes or forgiving payroll taxes on new employees, passing long-term extensions of the Research and Development tax credit, exemptions for the Alternative Minimum Tax and repeal of the death tax, and the extension of higher expensing limits for capital expenditures and outlays.
â€œAs a long-term solution, I strongly support comprehensive tax reform that universally lowers rates, has simpler rules, and produces faster filing,â€ he said. â€œTitle 26 of the US Code and federal tax regulations in 26 C.F.R. amount to thousands upon thousands of tax regulations that are producing a very real drag on our economic productivity and competitiveness. Families, individuals, and businesses shouldn’t have to spend 10s or 100s of hours complying with an overly complicated tax code.â€
Part of his plan for ensuring long-term and sustainable economic growth is to deal with the federal debt. Calling it an â€œunsustainable burden on future generations,â€ he said he would have opposed recent measures such as the financial reform bill passed this summer.
â€œI would have strenuously opposed the financial reform bill because it institutionalizes bailouts and does nothing to address the problem posed by government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae, which were the root cause of the financial crisis,â€ he said. â€œTaxes should be lowered; high taxes are hindering investment and hurting our international competitiveness.â€
Green Party, Challenger
Family: Married, two children
Hometown: South Elgin
Education, employment, and political background: Bachelor of Science degree from Northern Illinois University in 1972; semi-retired/substitute teacher; member of United We Stand America Bylaws Committee; Treasurer of Independents Party of Illinois
Community involvement: U-46 Strategic Planning Committee; South Elgin Intergovernmental Affairs Committee Chair: first/second-grade basketball coach in South Elgin; Vice President Citizens Against the Balefill; “Odyssey of the Mind” Judge; MS Walk; Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run Volunteer; “Little Angels Run”; South Elgin “Bikes and Badges Run for Special Olympics; Motorcycle Charity Ride for the Ecker Center; AOPA Pilot Mentor Program; Vagabond Flying Association Membership Chair
Dan Kairis said that a vote for him and fellow Green Party candidates would send a message to politicians from both parties that the public deserves better. He said that special interests and campaign finances have led to many of the problems the nation is currently facing.
â€œThe phrases â€˜best government money can buyâ€™ and â€˜pay for play politicsâ€™ continues to be perpetuated by the entrenched political parties and the special interests that fund their campaigns,â€ Kairis said. â€œI am the only established candidate who is taking no special interest campaign contributions. Thus I can represent the citizens without the undue influence of the special interests.â€
To help bolster the national economy, Kairis pointed to his 2020 Green Energy Plan, which he said would create millions of jobs. In addition, he said millions of American jobs are lost due to trade imbalances with other nations, specifically China.
â€œWe need to end the unfair trade practices that allow other countries to dump their government subsidized products at the expense of our workers. We need to stop our dependency on foreign oil. We need to stop the subsidization of multi-national corporations. All of these policies have cost millions of American jobs,â€ Kairis said.
Kairis pointed to an updated study by G. William Domhoff that said in 2007, the top 20 wealthiest Americans owned nearly 85 percent of the nationâ€™s wealth. In addition, he cited a report by the New York Timesâ€™ David Cay Johnston that said the income of the top 400 richest Americans tripled during the Clinton administration and doubled again during the Bush administration.
â€œTheir undue influence with the two major parties have caused the â€˜trickle downâ€™ economic theory to (become) a â€˜torrent to the top,â€™ with the richest benefitting from the taxes the rest of us pay,â€ Kairis said. â€œIt is time for them to pay their fair share and end the offshore accounts and loopholes.â€
Kairis said that an additional, significant economic problem is the size of our federal debt. Calling it a â€œtremendous problem for our children,â€ Kairis said that reducing our dependence on foreign oil and focusing on our trade deficit with China would begin to address the problem.
â€œKeeping that wealth here would provide to essential steps to reducing the debt,â€ he said. â€œProviding those jobs would provide extra taxes and would reduce the cost of government services for the unemployed.â€
Those two areas of focus would also have a foreign relations benefit as well, he said.
â€œWe need to end our dependence on foreign oil. Our economy can be held hostage at any time by a country that disagrees with any of our policies,â€ Kairis said. â€œThe 2020 Green Energy Plan I have been helping to develop would be a practical step in addressing many of our economic and environmental problems.â€