Candidate Full Name:
Paul J. Bryar
5th Congressional District
Map of 5th Cong. Dist.
Please tell us about yourself, your background and why you believe you are qualified to hold this office.
I graduated in 1989 from Georgetown University with a degree in Government/International Relations. In 1994, I graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago medical school. I completed my residency in Ophthalmic Surgery at Northwestern University in 1998 and my fellowship at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1999. Since 1999, I have been in practice and am a full time teacher at Northwestern University medical school. Since my first day in practice 10 years ago, I have dedicated one day each week to providing medical care in a community health center in Chicago's Cabrini Green neighborhood that serves patents regardless of their ability to pay.
As a doctor who sees patients in both a university and community health clinic settings, I am on the front lines every day. I know what challenges my patients face, and can lend much more to the process of solving this crisis than an entrenched politician who is looking to advance his or her political career. As a teacher, I know the struggles my students have with student loan debt. I see the results of federal mandates for students and teachers, and how they often prevent students from learning and teachers from teaching. As a professional, I do not have any ties to a corrupt Illinois political system where pay to play politics is business as usual. My degree in Government complements all of these aspects of my professional career. These experiences will make me an effective Congressman, who has the best interests of people, not politics in mind.
Please tell us your general views about the role of government and some of the most important things you would like to accomplish in office?
I am a professor at Northwestern University medical school and an eye surgeon. I will take my real life experience as a teacher, doctor and community advocate to Congress. My priorities will be to:
• I will support rebuilding our economy, create jobs with new infrastructure projects and fight for legislation to keep people in homes they can afford
• Lead by example with honesty and integrity
• Use my experience to ensure that health reform creates access for all, and preserves quality, choice, and efficiency
The current economic crisis is squeezing the middle class. What should Congress do about it? What specifically would you do if elected to Congress?
The government will need to allocate $350 billion from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) to the people, not the banks. I want to create a government backed loan program for 4% fixed rate 30-year mortgages for new and existing qualified home owners. This will stimulate the housing market, and more importantly, put bring relief to those home owners who pay their bills.
What are some of the main things you would do to help create jobs in Illinois?
Millions of people are without a job in this tough economy. By ensuring funding of the Economic Stimulus Bill, we will be able to jumpstart our economy. In order to create more jobs in Illinois we need to end wasteful spending of our tax dollars and pass a "Made In America" tax cut. This program will provide incentives for companies to create jobs here in America, and end tax breaks for those companies that send American jobs overseas.
In my community in the 5th District, I have seen my neighbors struggle in this tough economy by falling short on their mortgage payments or by losing their jobs entirely. When I am in Congress, I will work tirelessly to protect American jobs, I know when times are tough, our elected officials need to fight to protect families.
What do you think can be done to bring short-term stability to gas and energy prices? Also, what do you think is the best strategy - to both affordably and responsibly - provide for the nation's future energy needs?
In the short-term, we can address the speculation in the oil market, which can lead to increased oil prices. I believe that America needs to view the energy crisis as an opportunity. It is an opportunity to decrease our dependence on foreign oil, increase our national security, and create millions of new jobs in the green energy industry. We should encourage initiatives such as hybrid automobile technology, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and exploring sources of renewable energy.
Is there anything that can be done to make health care more accessible and affordable in Illinois? If so, what would you do?
Each week over the last 10 years, I have spent one day per week going to a community health center, Near North Health Services Corp., to provide care for patients regardless of their ability to pay. I have used my skills as a doctor to provide desperately needed services to working families, retirees, unemployed, and immigrants. I believe that we do need to reform our health care system, and we can offer healthcare to every person in America at an affordable price. My plan mirrors the Obama health care plan that guarantees universal access to health care, and provides a health plan for the millions of uninsured people in America today. This plan provides for quality, choice, access, and efficiency in health care.
Please state your general views about the war in Iraq.
I support President Obama's plan of a phased withdrawal of our troops in order to minimize further destabilization of the region. It must be done in a way that ensures the safety of our troops and helps the Iraqi government assume responsibility for its own security.
What are your thoughts on how to deal with illegal immigration? Also, what do you think should be done about illegal immigrants who are already here in the U.S.?
I support legislation regarding penalties for employers who habitually break immigration laws. I believe that overall we cannot support and reward illegal activity, and we must hold employers accountable for breaking the law in hiring undocumented immigrants. As for illegal immigrants that are here in the United States, I believe there should be a path to citizenship in a way that makes them productive members of our society.
What ideas do you have for improving our education system and for making our colleges and universities more affordable?
I have been a high school teacher, and currently am a full time professor at Northwestern University Medical School. Nearly 20 years in education has taught me that unfunded mandates and inflexible unrealistic benchmarks are not an effective way to improve education. I believe that the No Child Left Behind Act is seriously flawed and underfunded. I support accountability for progress; however I believe that NCLB is focused too much on test scores. Teachers and schools need to be held accountable, and efforts should be made to improve, not punish underperforming schools.
I am one hundred percent behind the idea of making universal access to early childhood education. I already created a task force to advise me on the best way to do this, and my oldest daughter had the opportunity to participate in a program. I have personally witnessed the benefits of these programs and would be a strong advocate for them.
I would support legislation that would require more grant aid for higher education. Every day I see college students burdened with large amounts of student loan debt. In addition to the significant financial burden, this debt directly effects decisions such as which job sector to enter or whether to pursue graduate level study. I will fight to make sure that our college graduates can make these decisions without huge levels of debt hanging over their heads.
What are your highest priorities for protecting the environment in Illinois?
I believe that we need a comprehensive energy plan that includes efforts to transition from fossil fuels to green, renewable energy sources. The U.S. has to end our dependency on foreign oil, and I believe we need to implement an aggressive plan to produce and harness renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power. Not only will this create more jobs and boost our economy, but renewable energy will reduce energy prices and make sure America is not dependent on other countries for foreign oil. It will also allow the people of the U.S. to lead a cleaner, healthier, and more efficient way of life.
In Illinois, we must protect the Great Lakes, and enforce laws that set environmental standards for industry. I support President Obama's goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
American Academy of Ophthalmology OPHTHPAC
American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery EYEPAC