Candidate Full Name: Janice D. Schakowsky
Office: U.S. Congress, 9th District
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Site: janschakowsky.org
Campaign Name: Schakowsky for Congress
Campaign Office Mailing Address: P.O. Box 5130, Evanston, IL 60204-5130
Survey Questions (Character limit of 2,000 per response)
1. Please tell us about yourself, your background and why you believe you are qualified to hold this office.
I started my public career in a successful effort to put freshness dates on products in supermarkets, working with a small group (six of us) of young mothers and housewives who ambitiously called ourselves National Consumers United. Later, I served as the program director at the Illinois Public Action Council, where I worked for more affordable energy prices, health care and consumer protections, and I fought for the health and well-being of older Illinoisans as the executive director of the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens. Immediately before coming to the U.S. House of Representatives, I served in the Illinois General Assembly from 1990 to 1998.
Since 1999, I have worked hard to represent the constituents of the 9th Congressional District, and I am proud of the work my staff and I have done to help solve problems, cut through bureaucratic red tape, and identify resources for local organizations and businesses. As part of the House Democratic leadership, and as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I am able to promote job creation, health care, pro-environment, and pro-consumer policies. I am also an integral participant in the major debates around balancing national security and personal privacy as a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
I am an animal lover, as is my district, judging from the fact that every single week animal rights issues appear among the top five communications to my office, this week being feral cats and saving pollinators. Having recently lost my two beloved Golden Retrievers, Buddy and Lucky, I am looking forward to rescuing more dogs - once I get past grieving the loss.
2. What are your thoughts on President Obama's plan for military action in Iraq and Syria?
I believe that President Obama has acted in a deliberate and thoughtful fashion as his Administration addresses the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The rise of ISIS and the threat they pose to individuals throughout the region can be traced directly back to our disastrous and ill-advised Bush/Cheney War in Iraq. I opposed this war from the very beginning. Unfortunately, the ISIS threat is one of many consequences of the war that we continue to be burdened with today.
I support the actions taken by President Obama so far to combat this threat. He has engaged diplomatically with our allies and regional partners to build a broad coalition, used targeted air strikes to halt and reverse ISIS's successes in Iraq, and delivered lifesaving humanitarian aid to those who would otherwise have perished. I share the President's view that we must not put U.S. ground forces back into combat operations to fight ISIS.
I recently voted in support of the McKeon Amendment, allowing President Obama's Administration to train and equip appropriately vetted Syrian opposition forces until December 11th of this year. These forces are our best on-the-ground opportunity to eliminate the ISIS safe haven in Syria, allowing us to fully eliminate the threat posed by this organization.
This narrowly tailored and time-limited Amendment will allow the Obama Administration to take immediate action to comprehensively address the ISIS threat, and give Members of Congress the ability to fully debate and vote on the broader U.S. goals and role in the region when we come back into session later this fall. I am a cosponsor of legislation to phase out the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military force and to enact a new policy that is limited in scope and targeted to address the current situation and challenge.
3. Several major retailers recently disclosed they experienced data breaches. What can Congress do to help prevent this?
Currently, there is no comprehensive federal law that requires companies to protect consumer or user data, nor is there a federal requirement that companies inform their customers in the event of a data breach. I believe we should have both. That is why I joined as an original cosponsor of H.R. 4400, the Data Accountability and Trust Act, bipartisan legislation that would require the FTC to establish clear standards for collecting, storing, and disposing of sensitive data and would require entities to inform the public in the event of a breach.
Data breach is growing problem. The breaches at Home Depot and Target - both announced in the past year - put more than one in three Americans personal or credit information at risk. Since 2006, more than 700 million records containing personal information have been compromised. I feel very strongly that the federal government has a role to play in protecting consumers.
So far, Speaker Boehner has not brought H.R. 4400 up for consideration. I will continue to urge him to do so and work to ensure that consumers can have confidence that their personal and financial information is well protected.
In the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade - on which I serve as the top Democrat - we held a hearing to learn more about what happened in the recent data breaches and to determine what action is needed from Congress to help reduce the risk of future breaches.
It is important to point out that there is no regulatory standard or encryption program that would completely eliminate the threat of data breach. Cyber criminals are incredibly innovative, and as soon as we invent and implement new technologies, they are hard at work looking for vulnerabilities.
However, our inability to guarantee the security of consumer data doesn't mean we shouldn't try to minimize the risk of theft. H.R. 4440 is an important first step in gaining a handle on this growing problem.
4. Can the budget deficit be controlled only by spending cuts or does the federal government need to raise more revenue? If you favor more revenue, should there be a general tax hike?
Achieving fiscal responsibility requires that we create good jobs and promote economic growth, while making responsible (not across-the-board) spending cuts that eliminate waste but not opportunity. To reach this goal I support enacting revenue raising measures that ask more from those who can afford to pay more. At the same time we need to cut unnecessary spending, including refocusing our military budget on 21st century threats and eliminating costly, outdated weapons systems. We also need to improve government procurement efforts to get the most value for our dollars and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse wherever it occurs. Nonetheless, we cannot slash needed investments in education, transportation and infrastructure, and cutting-edge innovation.
We have seen the effects of austerity budgets - near-historic levels of long-term unemployment, reduced economic growth, an erosion of the middle-class, and the loss of economic mobility for poor families. We need an aggressive investment strategy that is based on shared prosperity.
I do not support a general tax hike in order to have sufficient revenues to fund those national priorities and protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Instead, I believe we need to ask millionaires, billionaires and highly-profitable corporations to pay their fair share. Federal revenues are at their lowest levels in 60 years. I believe we should raise taxes on the top two percent and eliminate tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs overseas, and for oil companies and other highly-profitable corporations that do not need taxpayer assistance.
I have introduced H.R. 1124, the Fairness in Taxation Act (link), to establish new rates for income over $ 1 million - starting at 45 percent and rising to 49 percent for income over $1 billion. I also support H.R. 694, the Corporate Tax Fairness Act, which would end deferral of foreign source income, close loopholes that inflate the impact of foreign tax credits, and eliminate loopholes for big oil companies that disguise royalty payments to foreign governments as taxes. It would raise more than $600 billion in revenue over the next decade.
5. What are your thoughts on immigration reform?
The 9th Congressional District of Illinois is one of the most diverse in the country: One-third of our residents speak a language other than English at home; one-third are first generation immigrants; more than 50 languages are spoken in our schools, and at least half of the constituent service work in my district office is immigration and VISA related. I myself am a first generation American.
I believe we need comprehensive reform of our broken immigration system. We need to combine responsible enforcement of our laws with a pathway for citizenship for immigrants currently in the country, nearly all of whom simply want a better life for their families. We must protect our borders while also creating a mechanism by which people who are here illegally can come out of the shadows, register with the government, and, if they have no criminal history, obtain work permits, pay taxes, learn English, gain legal status and work toward citizenship.
All Americans would like to see our economy improve. Comprehensive immigration reform would be an enormous boost for our economy - the Congressional Budget Office projects that if the Senate immigration bill was enacted into law, our GDP would grow by more than $1 trillion in today's dollars by 2033.
I also support the DREAM Act, which would give eligible young people the opportunity to legalize their immigration status and work toward citizenship. Nearly 65,000 youth graduate high school in the U.S. each year but find themselves unable to work, join the military, or go to college because of their immigration status. We need to enact this bill but in meantime I strongly support the Obama Administration's action to halt deportation of DREAM Act-eligible young people.
Our immigration enforcement should prioritize real threats, not the deportation of hard-working immigrants who are seeking a college education, long-time residents, men and women who have been in the U.S. since childhood, and elderly individuals. I support the use of prosecutorial discretion to focus limited immigration resources on targeting individuals posing a clear risk to national security, and those who are felons or repeat offenders. Immigration reform should ensure that hard-working, law-biding people can have better lives.