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First Congressional District, Democratic primary

Updated: October 2, 2012 10:42AM



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The questions

All candidates were invited to respond to questionnaires, although not all chose to participate. Click on a candidate's name to see the unedited response to each question.

Biographical information & experience
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    ALL
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    Bailey
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    Lodato
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    Rush
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    Sims
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    Smith
Bailey
Birthdate: Did not respond
Occupation: NA
Marital status: Single
Spouse:

Education:

I have a BA from Bethune Cookman College

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

None

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

Yes, I was employed with the Chicago Park District.

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

I was employed as a Regional Manager with the Chicago Park District.

Lodato
Birthdate: 12/5/1961
Occupation: NORC at the University of Chicago
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Bronwyn Nichols Lodato

Education:

Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1997
A.M., University of Chicago, 1987
B.A., Manhattan College, 1984

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

American Political Science Association
Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO)
Fifth Ward Democratic Organization

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

Elective Office:
Local School Council, Wm. H. Ray Elementary School, 2008-10

Employment
Fifth Ward Aldermanic Office--May 1999-August 2001
Fourth Ward Aldermanic Office--August 1997-April 1999
Fifth Ward Aldermanic Office--July 1989-July 1992

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

None.

Rush
Birthdate: 11/23/1946
Occupation: U. S. House of Representatives
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Carolyn A. Rush

Education:

B. A. General Studies, Roosevelt University;
M. A. Political Science, University of Illinois at Chicago;
M.Th., McCormick Theological Seminary

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Beloved Community Christian Church
Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc.
100 Black Men of Chicago Inc.

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

Alderman - Chicago City Council, 1983-1993
Ward Committeeman – Cook County Democratic Party, 1984-2008
State Central Committeeman – Democratic Party of Illinois, 1990 – present

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

Flynn Rush - Cook County Assessor's Office
Judy Rush - Chicago Board of Elections
Kacy Rush - Chicago Park District

Sims
Birthdate: 6/17/1986
Occupation: Unemployed
Marital status: Single
Spouse:

Education:

University of Illinois at Chicago

Duke University, B.A., 2008 (Political Science)

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

None

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

No

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

None

Smith
Birthdate: 3/8/1969
Occupation: Program Direct/Maryville Academy
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Pamela Smith

Education:

I have earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Northeastern Illinois University. I have also earned Master Degrees in Business Administration (MBA) and in Public Health (MPH) from Saint Xavier University.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Boulevard Federation Safety Net, Balance and Restorative of Justice, the PROMISE Task Force, Fatherhood Initiative, and Veteran of Foreign Wars (VFW).

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

No, I have never held public office. I served in the U.S. Army and Desert Storm.

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

None

Campaign information
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Bailey

Campaign headquarters:
Website:
Campaign manager:
Campaign budget: $150,000
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
None

Lodato

Campaign headquarters: P.O. Box 15354, Chicago, IL 60615
Website: www.lodato4congress.com
Campaign manager: Ivory D. Mitchell
Campaign budget: We expect to raise and spend $100,000.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
Francis & Patricia Lodato--$600
Linda Erf Swift--$500
Michael & Cora Leibig--$250
John Clement & Lauren Moltz--$250
Gustavus Swift IV--$200

Rush

Campaign headquarters: 3361 South Dr. King Dr., Chicago
Website:
Campaign manager: Carolyn A. Rush
Campaign budget:
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.

Sims

Campaign headquarters: 11738 S. Campbell Ave., Chicago, IL 60655
Website: simsforcongress.com
Campaign manager: Rodney R. Sims
Campaign budget:
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
Julia Bolling-$2,500
Barbara Sims-$ 2,500
Bertram Scott- $2,000
Charles Commerford $250
Milton Johnson- $200

Smith

Campaign headquarters:
Website: www.fredsmithforcongress.com
Campaign manager: Pamela Drake
Campaign budget:
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.

What are your top priorities for the nation?
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Bailey

My top 5 priorities for the nation include making health-care affordable, providing standardized education for our youth, providing opportunities to decrease unemployment, advocating for small businesses and job creation, as well as eradicating corporate tax loopholes.

Lodato

I believe that we have to aggressively and decisively move to solve the jobs crisis, which has had ripple effects throughout our economy. Public policy should emphasize the creation of jobs to stabilize families and communities, stem the tide of home foreclosures, and ensure a better future for our children.

Rush

Notwithstanding the downward movement of our nation's jobless rate, my top priority remains the economy and the creation of jobs, with a focus on job creation in the manufacturing sector. I am also focused on helping our nation's homeowners address home foreclosures and/or the devaluation of their homes, youth issues including education, and healthcare. We have made great strides in certain areas during the last few years, but we now must look to ways to put people back to work, stimulate a sustainable economy, and put our youth on a better trajectory in preparation for their future.

Sims

Deficit reduction and restoring fiscal soundless to the economy are key to the future growth of the United States. Unfortunately, government usually cuts the meat, not the fat. The result is a heavy burden for states and individuals who are already in a precarious position. No sector is sacrosanct but reform of discretionary and entitlement programs must occur before broad and ill-advised cuts.

Military spending is subject to a harsh review, but defense reductions can affect local economies and businesses that are entirely dependent on Pentagon contracts. Cut too much and the hemorrhaging will resume. While chiseling away at entitlement programs will adversely affect communities and families already struggling.

Vigilance is part of the solution. Cracking down on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security fraud along with stringent reviews of government contracts and grants, ensures that spending is not wasteful.

Smith

Creating jobs is an important aspect of economic development and job growth in the First Congressional District of Illinois. My plan will be to provide significant tax relief for middle class families and small businesses in the First Congressional District and America. I will fight for investment in the district's infrastructure to help boost the economy. I will work to make the First District and America the leaders in green jobs, clean energy, and internet technology. The plan will also ensure that the First District receives its fair share of taxes from Washington so that we can stop the increase of property taxes and start to improve the educational system.

What are your top priorities for your congressional district?
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Bailey

My primary goal is to support and introduce legislation that will have a measureable impact on the lives and welfare of residents, primarily on Chicago's South Side and throughout the South Suburbs. Key points of emphasis will be to promote access to capital for small businesses, and raise awareness on the Minority and Women Business Enterprise Program and other programs designed to help create and sustain new business and jobs.

I also recognize that the public school system throughout Chicago and surrounding suburbs is failing, and I strongly believe that this issue is not only one of personal responsibility, but misappropriation of resources that can be re-directed to bring about mission critical programs. Our focus will be to go beyond dialogue to implement more public/private partnerships in education that will benefit children, and bring more resources to the District for after-school programs, which have been shown to reduce crime and gang activity.

I am also very much committed to Senior Citizens, and acknowledges that they have worked long and hard throughout their life and must be supported in order for them to receive the quality of life they deserve. As such, I plan to work with local financial institutions to educate seniors on ways to secure and grow their finances; ensure that seniors understand their entitlements under Medicaid and Medicare; educate seniors on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps low-income citizens pay their winter heating, and summer cooling bills.

I am adamant that every person desires to have a sense of security, whether they are in their homes, on their jobs, or in schools, and will address this by working with the Chicago Police Departments, Gang Task Force, religious institutions, non-profit organizations and neighborhood organizations to collectively and effectively address the public safety issues across the 1st Congressional District.

Lodato

I will support policies to increase the use of alternative energy so as to create jobs in clean energy production and generation for residents of the First District. I will also support increases in funding for high-speed rail projects that will connect Chicago with other Midwestern cities, many of which will come through the First District and can provide jobs for our residents.

Rush

My national concerns and priorities are also local concerns and priorities. My district has a high unemployment rate, as adverse economic conditions often reverberate the most in less economically well off districts such as mine. Furthermore, many of our Chicago-area youth are in a state of crisis as a result of our nation's jobs situation and our education system. These issues are inextricably linked to my national concerns and priorities, for if we properly address the economy and our youth concerns nationally in the proper manner, my district can benefit as well.

Sims

Unemployment plagues communities from tip to tip within the district. We must a find way to create demand in the marketplace so that people can get back to work and contribute not only to society but also to the government’s coffers, through tax revenue.

Unemployment is directly affected by a weak housing market. If we reduce the number of foreclosures, stop the decline in housing prices, and give homeowners relief so they have money to spend on goods, demand will rise and progress will accelerate.

Smith

My top priorities will be the economy and violence. We must create good paying jobs and get Americans back to work. We have to invest in the nation's infrastructure to help boost the economy. We also have to make sure that the small business owners have the capital they need to invest and hire. Violence is also a major concern in the district. As Congressman, I am committed to bring to Congress the crisis that afflicts the district and remedies to combat them. I will work jointly with federal, state, and local officials to find resources and solutions on ways to resolve this problem.

The nation's economy has yet to recover. What are the causes of the weak economy, and what should be done to speed its recovery?
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Bailey

Our economy is weak because and consumer debt has spiraled out of control in part because of the mortgage boom and subsequent implosion. We lost our base of manufacturing jobs and became a nation that turned a blind eye while Corporate America outsourced jobs overseas. Subsequently, millions of Americans are unemployed. Many of those that have a job are saddled with debt and their personal finances are unsettled. More people than ever before live paycheck to paycheck. We need to focus on keeping jobs in America, and take away corporate loopholes that have provided incentives for companies to continue to outsource. Our main focus needs to be on helping our people instead of bailing out banks, corporations, or our congressman's favorite campaign contributor.

Lodato

The causes of the continuation of weakness in the economy are largely related to lack of demand, which is itself a result of high rates of unemployment and underemployment. I believe that government spending should be directed, wherever possible, toward projects that will create jobs in the U.S., including clean energy and building high-speed rail.

Rush

Addressing jobs and the economy are achievable through several areas, such as an emerging green economy which relies on our commitment to energy independence. One of the underlying causes of our sustained weak economy is the near absence of credit to small businesses. Small business growth and expansion has historically fueled a strong economy in the US and absent an concerted effort on the part of government to help loosen the flow of credit, the economic recovery will be slowed.

Sims

Confidence and a weak housing market are to blame for a slow recovery. Last year’s battle over the debt ceiling was not an even keeled debate but an instance where political posturing put the fiscal health of the nation at risk. As a result of such stubbornness, the United States even lost its S&P AAA rating. Washington’s inability to rationally negotiate without making a public spectacle is disheartening. It is difficult to encourage banks to lend, businesses to hire, and consumers to spend when the government’s actions are perceived as erratic and impetuous. Of course, there will always be partisan disagreements but when squabbles turn personal and seize the cogs of government, all will suffer.

However, beyond confidence, a weak housing market is also to blame. When foreclosures flooded the market prices dropped so rapidly that people lost equity in their homes. Today, these same individuals are saddled with mortgages they can barely afford to pay. Instead of spending money on a new pair of shoes or a light fixture for the kitchen, homeowners allocate every penny toward non-discretionary expenses. The economy will continue to languish if a mortgage remains both a primary and secondary expense of homeowners. To drive greater demand, and subsequent employment, we need consumers to have discretionary funds so they can purchase additional goods and services.

Smith

We need to make sure that no company gets too big to fail. We allowed a hand full of companies to bring our great country to the brink of a second great depression. We do need more regulations in the financial and banking system. I think that the Federal Reserve Board is too influenced by Wall Street to be the overseer. We must have regulations in place to protect the American economy.

Should revenue increases, in the form of new taxes, higher taxes or more broadly imposed taxes, be part of the solution to crafting a more balanced federal budget and reducing the national debt?
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Bailey

The tax system should be reformed so it is simpler and more understandable, while removing opportunities to take advantage of exceptions not available to the average person or game the system. This is necessary independent of any need to increase revenue.

Lodato

Yes. I support the President's plan to repeal the Bush tax cuts for earners making over $250,000 per year.

Rush

Yes.

Sims

The key to revenue growth is through reforming the tax code. I do not necessarily think that higher income taxes on the wealthy will solve the problem; rather we should eliminate nearly all tax breaks available to individual earners. There is little reason the government should grant tax credits because one purchases a hybrid automobile or an energy efficient furnace. Granting incentives through the tax code is irresponsible and unsustainable.

Taxing capital gains and dividends within brackets, comparable to the income tax, would provide more revenue and mimics how short-term capital gains are currently calculated.

Corporations should also be subject to the same reforms. Tax breaks for these entities sap valuable revenue from the government’s coffers. However, lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent and establishing a territorial tax system, are reasonable initiatives that will keep American businesses competitive both domestically and internationally.

Smith

I think that the Bush federal tax cuts should be allowed to expire. In these trying times, we need everyone to pay his or her fair share of taxes. We should only fund programs that are of a necessity. With unemployment at a 26 year high, we must find ways to cut the budget. At the federal, state, and county level, there is a short fall in tax revue because of the high unemployment rate. We must cut spending to programs that are not working. Each department budget must be reviewed and what is not needed must be cut out of that department, in other words, we must go line-by-line in the budget and cut the waste out.
We need to make sure that no company gets too big to fail. We allowed a hand full of companies to bring our great country to the brink of a second great depression. We do need more regulations in the financial and banking system. I think that the Federal Reserve Board is too influenced by Wall Street to be the overseer. We must have regulations in place to protect the American economy.

Many Republican members of Congress have signed the Grover Norquist pledge not to support a tax increase of any kind at any time. Have you, or would you, sign this pledge? Why or why not?
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Bailey

Pledges oversimplify issues and make them inherently divisive. I propose to invest my constituent's time in solving their problems instead of posturing.

Lodato

I would not sign the Norquist pledge. I believe that it is inappropriate to tie government's hands with regard to its ability to provide necessary services to its citizens.

Rush

No. Last July, in an appearance with the Washington Post Editorial Board, Mr. Norquist, a high profile lobbyist, created a stir when he indicated that he did not consider ending the Bush-era tax cuts a violation of his organization’s pledge to vote against any tax hike. “Not continuing a tax cut is not technically a tax increase,” Mr. Norquist told The Post. “There are certain things you can do technically and not violate the pledge but that the general public would clearly understand is a tax increase,” he said. It's clearly a pledge with wiggle room, but more importantly, it is not an effective way for any responsible legislator to make informed public policy decisions from.

Sims

I would never sign this pledge because one cannot blindly commit themselves to an unsound principle that is in need of sincere reassessment.

Smith

No. The only pledge that any member of Congress should signed is to up hold U.S. Constitution and work for the American people.

What is the role of compromise in ending the political deadlock on fundamental goals such as entitlement reform and deficit reduction? When and how would you compromise?
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Bailey

We need to stop thinking of ourselves in terms of winners and losers. Agreements are met because they benefit all parties. I will serve my neighbors not pursue political vanity.

Lodato

Compromise is an essential element in ending political deadlock, but it cannot be that only one party compromises. President Obama and congressional Democrats have offered compromises on entitlements and deficit reduction that have been rejected by Republicans, who are actively opposing policies they supported prior to the President's election. I would support compromises that preserved the integrity of our social safety net, but only after serious concessions had been made by Republicans as well.

Rush

Compromise is a necessary part of the important work of any legislative body in addressing difficult and complex issues, including entitlement and deficit reform. I have had the opportunity to work with my colleagues in the House to pass meaningful legislation where compromise was achieved. In a body such as the U.S. Congress, where you have a wide range of parochial, regional and political interests, compromise becomes even more important particularly when the lack of compromise has the potential to endanger the Nation’s overall well-being.

Sims

Unfortunately legislators treat entitlement reform and deficit reduction as mutually exclusive, but to combat debt we must tackle Medicare waste and the endless raiding of Social Security funds. Democrat’s decry entitlement reform because it will upset their base but inaction does not equal progress, The same goes for Republicans, whose tactics call for broad cuts as a means of deficit reduction, yet such treatment will leave many without the support they need to survive. It is a give and take relationship, neither side will get all they desire, but as a Democrat, if I can find some reasonable issue in a Republican proposal I will do my best to use it as a starting point for negotiation.

Smith

The deficit is a major problem and must be addressed. The American people expect for congress to get things done. The only way to get things done for the American people, you must be willing to compromise on some things. I think that one of the problems is that we must take a look at what is an entitlement program. To me, any program you pay into is not and should not be called an entitlement program. In saying that, the Social Security program is not an entitlement program. I will be willing to work with the GOP to ensure that the American people can once again believe in their government.

Does the Social Security program need reform? What exactly should be done?
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Bailey

Social security is money invested by us our entire working life. We are entitled to every dollar we receive because it's our money. Our seniors lived a long, honorable life. Collectively they built the world we inherited. It's not necessary to ask any of our elders to worry about how they can afford to eat.

Lodato

Yes, the Social Security program needs reform in order to assure its long-term viability. The most sensible reform is to remove the ceiling on earnings that can be taxed to fund the program.

Rush

I do not support legislation that would address the deficit in any way that would reduce Social Security benefits for more than 55 million older and disabled Americans and for the young children and spouses of deceased and disabled workers. In addition, Social Security provides modest (and in many cases, essential) financial support to retired workers based on contributions they have paid into Social Security over their working lifetimes. Social Security does not contribute to the current Federal budget deficit and it does not possess any borrowing authority.

Sims

Though cutting the payroll tax is a priority for the current administration, such a move fails to protect Social Security and ensure its future. This program is vital because it provides many retirees with their only source of income.

Reform comes through shared sacrifice; which means that the benefit formula ought to provide more assistance to those who are in lower income brackets and reduce the payout for those who have savings, retirement plans, pensions, and the like. Additionally we must raise the cap on the payroll tax above the current $110,100 threshold. Such a measure will inject billions of dollars into the system.

Smith

The federal government has to stop pulling money from Social Security to pay for other programs. The other problem that has to be addressed is the amount of people paying into Social Security and the amount of people receiving it. There has to be an increase in the amount that is being paid to the social security fund by each American that pays into the fund.

How would you reform Medicare? Be as specific as possible.
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Bailey

We must be fiscally prudent. We need to make Medicare more efficient. Implement electronic medical records to allow better communication between doctors, avoid unnecessary duplication of service, and provide doctors with a more complete understanding of their patients. Eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy associated with claims. Encourage healthy lifestyles and preventative behavior to reduce the demand for health care

Lodato

I favor expanding Medicare eligibility to all Americans ("Medicare for All"). By expanding the pool of beneficiaries, we would increase the number of participants while adding healthier participants who will use less services.

Rush

Medicare costs have been on the increase as a result of longer hospital stays, increased institutionalization, more frequent physician visits and unfortunately waste, fraud and abuse.

I have constantly supported sensible reforms to Medicare, especially those that provide affordable health care coverage to as many needy Americans and their families as possible while instituting curbs and controls on governmental fraud, waste and abuse. In addition, my proposed reforms to Medicare would encourage robust competition among health care and medical device suppliers to drive down soaring healthcare costs and eliminate market inefficiencies.

Some of the measures I support are HR 676, the Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act, which would permit public and non-profit institutions, including nonprofit HMOs that deliver care in their own facilities, to provide US residents with free health care, including primary care and prevention, dietary and nutritional therapies, prescription drugs, emergency care, long-term care, mental health services, dental services and vision care. Patients under such programs would have the freedom to choose from participating physicians and institutions. Importantly, this program would be funded to a large extent by increasing personal income taxes on the top 5% of income earners and a modest and progressive excise tax on payroll, self-employment income, and unearned income.

I have also authored legislative bills (including the Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act of 2007 in the 110th Congress) and co-sponsored others in the 112th Congress, including the bi-partisan Fairness in Medicare Bidding Act, H.R. 1041, which would repeal and re-design a non-competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment and prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies. Under the existing bidding program, which is administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, patients are being harmed because services are being curtailed as a result of unsustainable pricing and quality and delivery of such items and services have slipped significantly.

Sims

Efficacy of treatment and prevention should drive Medicare, not the frequency and/ or type of procedure. Simply cutting payments to doctors and hospitals does not promote change, but rather derision. The goal is to cut spending and promote the resourceful use of medical devices, treatments, and proper diagnoses. A suitable medical examination can go a long way. There is no need to perform a chest x-ray on someone who suffers from the common cold.

Additionally, a reform of the cost-sharing program would weaken Medigap plans that encourage the over-utilization of medical providers and consequently contribute to enhanced spending. Though these plans are effective in helping people pay for prescriptions and frequent doctor visits, they are only for those who can afford the additional costs. In some cases, these recurrent doctor visits are frivolous and they contribute to heightened Medicare expenditures. By combining the Part A and B deductibles for an annual total of $550, a 20 percent co-payment for services exceeding the deductible, and a $7,500 cap, the programs will saves tens of billions of dollars in the long term. Unfortunately, patients will pay more out of pocket but if the government wants to provide more affordable coverage, it must reign in healthcare spending first and foremost.

Smith

We must reform health care to ensure that we save Medicare. We also need to simplify Medicare benefits and lower the cost of prescription drugs. We also have to do means testing for Medicare. We have some people who are receiving Medicare benefit that could cover themselves. This process would be away to cut the cost of Medicare.

Is there a problem of a growing income and wealth gap in the United States? Is there a problem of unequal opportunity? What, if anything, should government do about this?
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Bailey

There is a growing income and wealth gap problem within the United States. The problem begins with the method in which individuals are taxed. I am in favor of increasing taxes for the very wealthy. As it stands today, the poor and the middle class are more heavily taxed, based on a percentage of income than the wealthy.

One of the great equalizers to income disparity and unequal opportunity has been access to education. I want to bring about more availability of funds for financial aid programs to enable more students who have the desire and aptitude to be able to attend college. Also we must recognize that college is not for everyone, and thus my goal is to provide resources for young adults to attend apprentice programs to be trained for skilled labor jobs.

Lodato

Yes, there is a growing problem with the growing income and wealth gap, and it is inextricably tied to unequal opportunity. Wages for most Americans have remained flat for the past 30 years, while higher earners have garnered almost all of the benefits of an expanding economy. This is tied to the fact that not all of our schools provide an equal education for all students. In order to help resolve this, government should make sure that there is a strong social safety net by providing universal health care, equal funding for all schools, and encouraging job growth in new areas of the economy.

Rush

There certainly is a growing problem of income and wealth disparity in the United States. These conclusions are corroborated by U. S. Department of Commerce, Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and the Internal Revenue Service data. Further, recent polls show that almost 75 percent of respondents view income inequality as being a problem for our society. The emergence of long-lived protest movements, such as Occupy Wall Street, only underscore and affirm these observations. Recent statistics have made the empirical case that the top one percent of American earners now control 40 percent of the country’s wealth. And other studies, released recently by the CBO reveal that the top one percent of earners experienced rises in income of close to 275 percent between 1979 and 2007, while the bottom 20 percent of earners experienced less than one-tenth of that almost three-fold increase in income over that same period of time.

Sims

One would like to think that in 21st century America, equality reigns supreme; but that is far from the truth. With more exponential wealth, a dwindling middle class, and a growing roster of poor citizens, the gap between the affluent and the latter two groups is expanding. Regardless of socioeconomic status, the government has a duty to ensure that all citizens are able to live a productive and decent life. The best way to ensure equal opportunity is through equal pay. Raising the minimum wage to a level that is commensurate with the increased costs of living is a means of equality. We cannot treat the wealthy with kid gloves; rather, they must pay their taxes and contribute their fair share back to society. This is not punishment, but it is the price of success.

Access to more affordable college education is another remedy. As higher education increasingly becomes a requirement for employment, we cannot continue to saddle students with tens of thousands of dollars in debt with little relief in sight. Congress can also ensure that regulators protect citizens from monopolies, which burden households with a lack of choice and force consumers to pay higher prices for a particular good or service.

Smith

Yes, over the past ten years the wages for the working class has flat-lined while the top wage earner pay has sky rocketed. With so many cuts in education and cuts to the Pell grant programs for college students, this could lead to unequal opportunity. The government has to make sure that low income families have the same opportunities at a free and good education.

Who is to blame for the home mortgages collapse?
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Bailey

This isn't as simple of an issue to point a finger at someone. A combination of factors led to the real pain many people are feeling right now, many of which are beyond the everyday experiences and concerns of the average person.

A decision was made by an unelected board of officials at the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates artificially low. The intended consequence of this was to make credit cheaper, ie make it easier to borrow money throughout the economy. At the same time well intended policies enacted in Washington became filled with incentives that encouraged banks to make loans with less concern about the borrowers ability to repay. Unregulated, exotic derivatives were used to transfer the risk to uninformed investors, and in turn the money recouped was used to issue more suspect loans. Lending standards were lowered and ordinary people were offered more money than before. Not long after energy prices began to soar and it became more expensive to heat our homes, fuel our cars, and power our lights. Food prices also climbed and we had to pay more to feed our families. Money become tight.

Many changes occurred over the last decade that contributed the current situation we are facing. We care how these problems will be solved, not about finding a scapegoat.

Lodato

Several agencies (the Federal Reserve chief among them) are to blame for a lack of oversight and regulation of the sub-prime housing market.

Rush

The blame for the home mortgages collapse cannot be assigned to any single industry, sub-prime lender, government regulator, or other actor in a home purchase or equity transaction. Most of the blame is properly assignable to industry participants who took advantage of the credit bubble and enticed unwitting consumers through deceptive practices to take on more credit and risk than was prudent under conventional lending guidelines. As a result, many home mortgage borrowers found themselves dangerously exposed to financial ruin and liabilities to banks and other lenders, when they found themselves on the hook to pay back unmanageable debts and balances exceeding the true equity values they held in their primary residences.

Sims

Banks, regulators and consumers are to blame for the home mortgage collapse. Banks were reckless in not requiring suitable creditworthiness from potential mortgage holders. Regulators failed to adequately reprimand banks for their lax polices and irresponsible lending. Furthermore, the inability to regulate mortgage bonds (mortgage-backed securities) eventually crippled the investment banking sector, which froze the credit markets and prevented businesses from accessing capital. Consumers also had a role in the collapse, because they pursued dreams they could not afford. Without a suitable down payment or a salary that could handle the balloon payments of an adjustable rate mortgage, many homeowners were destined to default.

Smith

The banks and mortgage companies that use Sub-Prime loans. People who took on loans that they could not afford. Also, the use of credit default swaps.

What, if anything, should be done to assist Americans whose homes are financially "under water" and face foreclosure?
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Bailey

I am in favor of many of the modification programs that are currently being offered, while at the same time recognizing that depending on payback provisions, not everyone can be helped. While TARP funds were allocated to address this issue, many of these modifications are not being finalized in a timely fashion. I would add an oversight program that would monitor the administration aspect to ensure that the money is being distributed and modifications are being offered to appropriate homeowners in need.

Lodato

Recent news reports have detailed how banks are voluntarily lowering the principal that homeowners owe on their mortgages as a way to reduce the number of foreclosures and to keep homeowners in their homes. This program should be made a matter of national policy in order to stabilize communities and give relief to struggling families.

Rush

The federal government certainly moved aggressively to come to the assistance of the lending institutions whose balance sheets were adversely impacted by burst in the housing "bubble', and so I have been steadfast in advocating that we work to assist Americans whose homes are underwater and are facing foreclosure. With nearly 3 million housing loans in foreclosure and another potential 4 million in the foreclosure "pipeline", I support increasing federal funding for housing counseling to help owners going through this difficult ordeal. I support the ongoing efforts of the Dept. of Justice and state Attorneys General to take on shady and illegal mortgage lending practices that deny the rights of home borrowers to settle their arrearages and remain in their primary residences.

Sims

The recent $25 billon housing settlement is a step in the right direction to assist those whose mortgages exceed a home’s market price; however, this settlement only covers five private banks. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which are government sponsored entities, control a majority of the country’s under water mortgages. So far, the Home Affordable Refinancing Program (which refinances loans) and the Home Affordable Modification Program (which reduces monthly loan payments based on income) are voluntary initiatives that have been unsuccessful. If the government wants to put the housing market back on track, it has to actively seek out those who are at the risk of foreclosure and in need of principal reductions, regardless of their financial situation. If congress cannot take the first step to rectify its short-sidedness there is little hope that private lenders will be yearning to assist.

Smith

To make sure that the lending companies are adhering to the Dodd-Frank Act. Also, that they follow the Home Affordable Care Act.

Is global warming real? Is it man-made? What, if anything, should be done about it?
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The temperature of the Earth is determined by energy balance. If more energy is added, the system heats up. If more energy escapes, it cools down. The light from the sun is the energy source the powers our weather. One of two things can occur to the light incident upon the earth; it is either reflected back into space or it is absorbed into the earth environment..

Many factors effect the balance of energy that is reflected vs absorbed. Ground covered by snow reflects more light and absorbs less energy than ground without snow cover. Ocean currents influence the transport of energy around the globe, in turn impacting how much heat is absorbed and emitted. When light passes through any gas, energy is absorbed by the gas at specific wavelengths dependant upon the atomic structure of the atoms comprising the gas. Carbon dioxide absorbs light efficiently in the infrared, making it difficult for light of these wavelengths to escape when passing through it thus trapping heat inside.

There is no question that the presence of additional carbon dioxide effects the quantity of energy trapped in our atmosphere. It is also true that the earth has a long history of climate change well before man industrialized. This is not an acceptable excuse to dismiss the issue. We must understand and prepare for the consequences that result from climate change.

Lodato

According to every credible climate scientist, global warming is real and it is man-made. We know that greenhouse gases are the cause of the warming of our planet, and we know that such gases are the by-products of the burning of fossil fuels. We need to undertake an aggressive program of investment in clean energy technologies in order to halt the build-up of greenhouse gases while we transition to alternative fuels.

Rush

I know intimately from my experience in recent congressional hearings that I have participated in as the Ranking Democratic Member of the House Energy and Power subcommittee, which have included the testimony of leading climate scientists and ecologists, that global warming is very linkable to human activity.

Global warming is real. The International Energy Agency (IEA), which recently issued a country-by-country analysis of the levels of carbon pollution that the world will emit over the coming decades from existing energy infrastructure in the power generation, industrial, transportation, and building sectors, World Energy Outlook (WEO) for 2011, has predicted that the world has just five years to shift more aggressively to clean energy before we encounter large temperature increases and likely devastating effects. That report also stated that for every one dollar of investment avoided in the power sector in this decade, over four dollars will need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions with more expensive, aggressive technologies and policies. Global warming is real and it is having tangible and costly effects.

Sims

Through there may be a cyclical aspect to global warming, the increase in average temperature, and rise in sea level is definitely the result of man-made carbon dioxide production.

China surpassed the United States in carbon emissions some years ago, but our industrial economies still engage in practices that jeopardize the life and safety of the entire global populace.

The United States has failed to sign onto any global initiative that reduces carbon output (the Kyoto protocol). Developing nations are just as reluctant, since their growth is dependent on expanding industry. Last year talks in Durban, South Africa produced a tentative agreement to address climate change by 2020 but staving off this conversation is doing little to preserve the environment. The world still looks towards the United States as a leader in the fight to reduce carbon emissions. We have the capital, workforce and drive to lead substantive change. But if America fails to sign a global pledge that addresses this issue there is little chance that other skeptical nations will follow; for they have plenty to lose.

Smith

Yes, global warming is real. Yes, it is man-made. The government has to enforce the Cap-and-Trade Bill. The Cap-and-Trade Bill will limit the emissions of greenhouse gases that causes global warming.

What is the role of the federal government in promoting "green" alternatives to fossil fuels? What are those alternatives?
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The appropriate alternative depends on the application. The process of becoming “green” isn't about choosing one source or technology over another. We need to improve efficiency and develop new technology for all the ways we use energy. Our devices today are powered by multiple sources of energy, tomorrow they will be as well.

The improvement in energy technology and efficiency is simply good for the environment. Increased energy independence will enhance our nation's security and reinvest money into our economy instead those of other countries.

Lodato

The Federal government should require utilities to make greater use of alternative fuels (wind, solar, and geothermal, just to name three). This will encourage the development of the clean energy industry and create jobs. Also, the Federal government should make greater use of alternative energy in its own buildings, which will help to create the market for this by lowering costs.

Rush

The federal government should assume the primary responsibility in promoting "green" alternatives to fossil fuels. If the federal government does not take the leading role, it is very unlikely that the requisite investments in basic research and development would be undertaken by any individual actor, sector, or financing sources. None of them would individually have the wherewithal or find it to be enough in their immediate financial interests to make investments of the necessary scale and scope to commercialize meaningful “green” alternatives to fossil fuels.

Some of the measures we should be taking as a Nation to promote alternative energy sources, such as biofuels, wind, solar, electricity, natural gas, and coal-to-liquid technologies, just to name a few, would be to: (i) focus on education in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics; (ii) assess continually the status of the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and devise ways to overcome RFS implementation challenges for regulators, producers, and marketers of renewable fuels; and (iii) heavily support federal research into alternative vehicle and factory production technologies and the prospects for increased manufacture and greater consumer adoption of alternative vehicles and industrial adoption of cleaner and renewable fuels.

Sims

The only way to reduce carbon emissions and rein in the buildup of greenhouse gases is through the adoption of cleaner technologies that burn little to no fossil fuel. Finding new ways to power automobiles, trucks, trains, and ships is crucial. The advent of hybrid and electric vehicles is still a novelty. A concerted effort to roll out new, more affordable products, along with a 21st century government fleet that is dependent on such technologies may help usher in a new car culture in the United States.

Likewise, as we close coal-fired power plants, the country is obliged to adopt an energy policy that relies on wind, solar, geothermal, and even nuclear power. The latter, though controversial, serves as a bridge to develop less dangerous and more stable power sources. Moreover, nuclear is the only clean energy that can sustain the base load power necessary to provide on demand electrical use. The government has provided subsidies to wind and solar companies but these technologies have yet to catch on because of both costs and consumer skepticism. A 25% renewable energy standard by 2025 is a decent goal but it still falls short because it presents these “green” alternatives as an option and not a necessity. Instead, we need a strict mandate that calls for the rapid rollout of renewable alternatives. Developing a means to sustain base load power will still be a concern but such widespread usage will alleviate the issue of costs.

Smith

Yes, the federal government should be promoting green energy. The use of fossil fuels is causing global warming, increasing the national debt, and hurts are national security.

Is waterboarding a form of torture? On what basis do you make this assertion? Should the United States engage in waterboarding under any circumstances?
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We are the most powerful and advanced country in the world. It is not in our interest to use torture and we have no need to do so. Waterboarding is torture and the leaders of our military have agreed as such.

Lodato

According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, waterboarding is torture. The U.S. should not engage in waterboarding under any circumstances.

Rush

Waterboarding is torture. I base this definition on the expertise of international organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. As it is a form of torture, I believe that the United States should not be using this as a method of interrogation under any circumstances.

Sims

Waterboarding is the simulated drowning of a suspect within a controlled setting, to extract information. It is torture, and thankfully the president banned this interrogation technique (which enjoyed widespread use under the Bush administration) in 2009. Such tactics are adverse to human decency and counter the principles that the United States is fighting for.

Smith

Yes, water-boarding is a form of torture. Any time you use a form of physical punishment to obtain information its torture. No, we should not engage in water-boarding under any circumstances.

Do you support the legalization or de-criminalization of marijuana, either on a state or national level? Have you ever personally smoked marijuana?
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I am not in support of the legalization of marijuana and I have never smoked marijuana.

Lodato

Yes and yes.

Rush

Did not respond

Sims

I do not support the legalization or de-criminalization of marijuana on a state or national level, nor have I smoked cannabis.

Smith

I never smoked marijuana. I think this is a question for the states and local government. At the cost to the court systems and local police department de-criminalization should be looked at.

Iran, according to a new United Nations report, is covertly at work building a nuclear bomb. Should Iran be stopped, and how? Please explain the merits of international sanctions versus military action.
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Bailey

We should seek to eliminate all nuclear weapons. Obviously we should approach this with diplomacy, but as the cases of Iran and North Korea demonstrate, countries won't give them up while they see a strategic benefit to possessing them. We need to direct focus on developing technology that eliminates this strategic value. Let's build missile defenses to make it more difficult to deliver a nuclear payload. Let's design advanced weapons that makes nuclear weapons obsolete. Let's tie our nuclear treaties to other weapons, so countries are forced to choose between possessing more advanced weapons or less effective nuclear devices.

Lodato

All the reliable sources agree that Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb. The U.S. government and its allies understand that Iran's extremist government can not be trusted with such a weapon. They might use it or share it with terrorists. It would be best if the U.N. Security Council would authorize effective sanctions against Iran but neither Russia nor China will support this step. Recently, however, Congress passed, and President Obama signed, legislation authorizing economic sanctions against any company dealing with Iran's Central Bank. Since any company seeking to purchase Iranian oil must go through Iran's Central Bank, this measure will lead to a great reduction in Iranian oil exports. It is clear from Iran's recent threat to close the Straits of Hormuz that they fear this action. Because we now have effective economic sanctions in place which will inflict severe damage on Iran's economy, any consideration of military action to destroy Iran's nuclear's facilities would be premature.

Rush

I believe President Obama should continue to seek international support in pursuing diplomatic, economic, and political avenues to get the Iranians to comply with international standards and demands. At this point, it is highly unlikely that the U.S. can or should pursue another unilateral war in the Middle East, so it is important to exhaust diplomatic and political channels to bring the Iranians into compliance with United Nations and International Atomic Energy Agency demands.

Sims

Negotiation and mediation are part of a responsible course of action in Iran. Sanctions have been effective in hindering the course of business for the Iranian government, but this tactic is also fomenting ire in the region and exacerbating an already tenuous atmosphere. Iran must grant International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors access to nuclear plants and processing sites, while the group of six (Britain, France, Russia, Germany, China and the United States) and Israel ought to resume talks with an intermediary such as Qatar or Turkey. Any talk of preemptive military action is irresponsible, especially by government officials in the public sphere.

Smith

We have to be looking at international sanction on Iran. We have to look toward our international partners for help with Iran. The American troops has been at war for the past 10 plus years and the American people cannot foot the bill for another war.

How would you define "success" for the United States in the war in Afghanistan? Do you support the President's plan and timetable for withdrawing American troops?
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Bailey

The Taliban rule that was implicit in 9/11 has been defeated, Osama Bin Laden has been killed, al Queda has been dismantled, and Afghanistan has a government freely elected by its people. Our troops will be victorious the moment they come home.

Lodato

"Success" will be defined by the establishment of a stable government in Afghanistan that can successfully thwart the development of terrorist groups. I support the President's plan and timetable for withdrawing American troops.

Rush

Success in Afghanistan is creating an environment where the Afghan people have the ability to influence their own destiny, as opposed to having a model imposed on them from the outside. Accordingly, I support the President’s plan for the withdrawal of American troops.

Sims

Success would manifest itself through a stable Afghan civilian government whose military is fully capable of handling any internal threat and is adept at securing the border. The United States wants a successful transition, but a planned withdrawal by 2013 may be futile. Afghan civilians, American troops, and coalition forces have suffered major loses in the war against terror. If the Taliban and other insurgents endanger our efforts, military and civilian lives were lost in vein.

Smith

It is time to rework our plan in the Middle East. We must decrease the amount of troops we have in the region and focus on anti-terrorism programs. It is time for the Afghanistan government to take control of security in their country. We should only be a support system in the region. Our purpose should only be to ensure America's safety.

The No Child Left Behind Act is overdue for reauthorization. Do you support the Administration's blueprint for reauthorization, the bill that recently passed the Senate Education Committee, or some other alternative?
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Bailey

I support the Administration's reauthorized bill which allows states more flexibility and control.

Lodato

I support the Administration's blueprint for modifying the No Child Left Behind law. Secretary Duncan has made sensible proposals for modifying this law. He would not require that all schools be 100 percent proficient in reading and math by 2014. He waives this standard for schools that have adopted sufficient testing and accountability programs of their own and are making good progress. Secretary Duncan is correct when he offers to partner with states that have assessed the needs of their students and are working effectively to improve their schools. The requirements that he opposes actually hurt schools that are working with student who are the farthest behind and suffer from challenging disabilities. We need to encourage working with students who need the most help, not encourage schools to cherry-pick students. I know that strong neighborhood schools can serve a range of students, and I will work toward equality of educational opportunity for all children.

Rush

Did not respond

Sims

No Child Left Behind does not adequately provide children with a quality education. The talk of accountability for teachers, administrators, and school boards fails to recognize that a strong curriculum, which stresses the basics (reading, writing, arithmetic) and allows a student space to grow, is crucial to future success. The Department of Education should set a benchmark so that every student has the same set of basic skills regardless of what state they reside in. A student in a 5th grade math class in Illinois should understand the same material if they move to California.

A test however cannot fairly judge the advancement of a student and a school. Only grades, graduation, and teachers and administrators assessments are capable of making that decision.

Smith

I believe that there are workable solutions available that will enhance the quality of education to all children in America. The first step is to work with parents and educators to find ways to lower the drop-out rate. The current drop-out is around 50 percent in the First Congressional district. We must work together to create a re-entry program for kids that have dropped-out of school. The second solution, is to provide funding for the training of teachers and school administrators to adapt to new and up-to-date teaching techniques as well as the ever- changing technology in today's society. I will also fight to increase funding for vocational training and college education that all students who want to attend college or vocational training will be able to do so.
When it comes to student loans, my quest will be to increase the time span in which students will have to begin their payback process. Students have up to six months after graduation before they are required to start paying back their student loans, my goal would be to increase that grace period by six months. That would give graduating students one year before they will have to begin paying back their loans. As a result, to this, it will give the student ample time to find a job and adjust to their new independence and responsibility.

The race
The candidates
Harold Bailey
Raymond M. Lodato
Bobby L. Rush
Jordan Sims

Not pictured:
Clifford M. Russell, Jr.
Jordan Sims
Fred Smith

The district
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