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Second Congressional District, Democratic Primary

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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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    Halvorson
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    Jackson
Halvorson
Birthdate: 3/1/1958
Occupation: Owner/Solutions Unlimited
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Jim Bush

Education:

Prairie State College, A.S.
Governors State University, B.A., M.S.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Rosie Fund, Founder; Member; League of Women Voters, Member; Crete Women's Club, Member, National Council for Jewish Women, South Suburban Chapter, Member; Alumni Association of Governor's State University, Member

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

Crete Township Clerk, 1993-1996; Illinois State Senator, 1996-2008 (Majority leader, 2005-08); State Central Committeewoman, 2002-present; Member of Congress, 2009-2011.

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

Stephanie Halvorson Faraci (Daughter). Illinois Department of Natural Resources Legislative Liaison, 2005.

Jay Bush (Stepson), Major, US Army Special Forces

Jackson
Birthdate: 3/11/1965
Occupation: U.S. Representative, U.S. Government, Dec. 12, 1995-to-Present
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Sandi Jackson

Education:

B. S., Business Management (magna cum laude), N.C. A&T State University, 1987; M.A. Theology, Chicago Theological Seminary, 1990; J.D., University of Illinois College of Law, 1993.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

RainbowPUSHCoalition, Member of Salem Baptist Church, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity

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

Yes, Legislative, U.S. Congressman, IL 2nd CD, December 12, 1995-to-Present.

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

My wife Sandi Jackson has been Alderman of the 7th Ward in Chicago from May 21, 2007-to-Present.

Campaign information
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    Halvorson
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Halvorson

Campaign headquarters: 1395b Main Street, Crete, IL 60417
Website: www.debbiehalvorson.com
Campaign manager: Jamie Crain
Campaign budget: Our campaign is grassroots and supported by volunteers across the district. Our budget fluctuates because it depends on our needs as the campaign progresses but we will raise and spend enough money to be competitive.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
I'm proud to have a broad base of support throughout the 2nd District and the State of Illinois from contributors from both parties. All contributions can be found on the Federal Election Commission's website (www.FEC.gov), the agency responsible for enforcing the high level of transparency required for all federal candidates.

Jackson

Campaign headquarters: 7129 South Yates Blvd
Website: www.jessejacksonjr.com
Campaign manager: Sandi Jackson
Campaign budget: $450,000-to-$1 million
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
Terrazzo & Marble Supply - $10,200
Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers - $10,000
Exelon Corp - $9,500
Royal Brush Manufacturing - $7,300
American Hospital Assn - $7,000

What are your top priorities for the nation?
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    Halvorson
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    Jackson
Halvorson

My top priority continues to be creating jobs and ensuring we don't go back to the irresponsible policies that resulted in the economic crisis of 2008 where millions of Americans lost their jobs, tens of thousands of families lost their homes, and 17 trillion dollars of personal wealth was lost including retirement, college, and other savings for hard-working families.

It is clear that our economic recovery is happening slower than most of us had hoped, but progress is being made. When I was a member of Congress I strongly supported and fought for job creating initiatives that help small businesses grow, invest in infrastructure, and encourage investments in emergent American industries like clean energy. I strongly support tax credits for small businesses that invest in their business and hire more workers. I believe we must invest in our transportation infrastructure and local constructions jobs by passing a highway authorization bill. I will work to bring manufacturing jobs back to America through increased emphasis on a national manufacturing strategy and the elimination of incentives for companies to ship jobs overseas. We can and should give incentives to those who make and produce things here in this country.

My other top priority will continue to be ensuring we provide for our military, their families and our veterans. As the daughter, wife, and stepmother to those who have served our country, I believe it is my duty if elected to another term to ensure this great nation is living up to the promises we made to our service members and their families. We must ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs has adequate resources to provide the necessary services to our veterans, and continue pushing the VA to reduce the bureaucracy and increase their level of service. We must ensure that our veterans have access to the best care when they return home and we must ensure that after serving, our veterans are able to find work to continue supporting their families.

Additional priorities include mortgage reform, keeping people in their homes and improving vocational education.

Jackson

1. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.
2. Education.
3. Health Care.
4. Democracy - voter registraton, political participation.

What are your top priorities for your congressional district?
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    Halvorson
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Halvorson

My top priority for the 2nd Congressional District of Illinois is creating good paying local jobs that cannot be shipped overseas by providing businesses the necessary tools and resources to grow and expand. Extending the payroll tax cut for another year will incentivize businesses to hire additional workers and put money in the pockets of middle-income Americans to increase demand for goods and services. Eliminating tax incentives to ship manufacturing jobs overseas will save good paying American jobs and providing tax incentives to small businesses—our true job creators—to hire more workers.

I grew up in the 2nd District, raised my kids in the 2nd District and have had the opportunity to represented large portions of the 2nd District in the past while a State Senator. While some communities are prospering, many communities in our district have struggled over the past 14 years—there are too many unemployed and too many empty store fronts and vacant, foreclosed homes.

I believe that because the 2nd District is at the crossroads of several modes of transportation—roads, rail, waterways, and more—there is an opportunity to attract businesses and manufacturers by investing in new transportation infrastructure to meet the growing population and ensure manufacturers have access to raw materials and customers across the country. I will fight to secure a seat on the powerful Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and to pass a highway authorization bill that will allow for long-term investments in transportation infrastructure to create jobs and support economic development.

By working with state and local officials, I have made it a priority to fight for investments in projects that will allow local businesses to expand and attract new businesses to the region. One project I was proud to be part of was the development of a new intermodal facility in Will County. This project created 7,000 construction and long-term jobs and will attract manufacturers that want to access necessary transportation infrastructure to transport their goods putting people in the southland back to work. We can do the same thing in the 2nd District and that's what I plan to do.

I will continue to work with state and local leaders on large scale projects like the development of the Illiana and the Third Airport. These long-term, large-scale projects will create thousands of jobs. However, projects like this will not happen overnight. I have a proven record of getting the job done instead of just talking about it, and I understand it is necessary to bring together leaders from the federal, state and local levels as well as the private-sector to deliver on these types of projects. Projects like these will never become a reality if the 2nd District has a representative distracted by ethical problems and determined to work alone and without the support of state and local leaders.

I am also working with the NAACP to change the Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Law because under the current law a bank doesn't have to prove that they own the property and families are being forced into foreclosure.

Jackson

1. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.
2. The Abraham Lincoln National Airport with is the source of 16,000 jobs (1,000 to build it, 15,000 on the day it opens). It is the largest jobs creating project in the State of Illinois.
3. Education.
4. Health Care.
5. Citizen safety.
6. Housing foreclosure crisis.
7. Business & Economic Development.
8. Democracy - voter registration, political participation.

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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    Halvorson
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Halvorson

The reality is that the weak economy is the result of 8 years of bad economic policy. Under the Bush Administration, Congress spent money we didn't have and gave tax cuts to the wealthy that we couldn't afford. Furthermore, regulators turned a blind eye to problems in the housing markets and the financial industry because of their dedication to right-wing ideology that all regulations are bad. The result was an economic crisis from which it will take years to recover.

However, we can and must implement common sense policies that will speed up our economic recovery. While I believe we must get our national debt under control, it is important that we prioritize job creation. Our short-term goals must be to put people back to work and strengthen the middle-class. I've outlined above how I believe we can best create good-paying jobs here at home.

Jackson

The most fundamental problem confronting our economy is the lack of aggregate demand which is primarily the result of two things: high unemployment and the massive maldistribution of wealth and income - the most unjust since the 1920s. The lack of business and financial regulation (e.g., the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999) started with the housing crisis in 2007 and brought about the other risky banking and financial deals that caused the financial crisis in 2008 with the collapse of Lehman Brothers on September 15. It was a mistake to bail out the banks (Wall Street) without attaching strings that then made them more helpful in bailing out Main Street. The Obama Stimulus in 2009 worked to keep us from going into the abyss, but the hole was deeper than originally thought and it wasn't enough to bring us back to full employment. What is needed now is the application of what we learned during FDR's New Deal - direct massive investment in public works projects. I have proposed a $2.4 trillion, six-year ($900 the first year, $500, $400, $300, $200, $100 billion) public investment program in education, health care, housing, roads, bridges, public transportation, railroads, high speed rail, replacement of old sewer and water systems, levees, ports, airports, etc. modeled after what the American Society of Civil Engineers has proposed. Also in the first year I have added $200 billion to bail out the states and another $100 billion to bail out most municipalities and counties (e.g., $700 million in Chicago). There is plenty of work that needs to be done to make us competitive in the new world marketplace of the 21st Century and many skilled and unskilled unemployed workers to do it. That would create the aggregate demand; bring the $2-to-$2.5 trillion in private money currently sitting on the sideline into the game, creating even more jobs and aggregate demand; both those receiving jobs from the public sector and the private sectors would all be paying taxes; this amount of aggregate demand would bring about greater balanced economic growth; and the resulting increased taxes would reduce the deficits and debt faster than anything else I have seen proposed.

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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    Halvorson
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Halvorson

I believe our number one priority should be getting our economy back on track and creating jobs. When people are working they no longer need social services such as unemployment insurance. Instead they pay taxes and our local, state, and federal governments receive more revenue. This will reduce our budget deficits and reduce our national debt.

However, this alone will not solve the problem. For 8 years under the Bush Administration, Congress spent money we didn't have and gave tax cuts to the wealthy that we couldn't afford. Now as we face a record national debt, almost every expert on the budget as well as the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform concluded that raising revenue must be part of the overall solution to reducing the national debt along with reductions in spending. I believe everyone needs to pay their fair share of taxes and for too long the top 1% of earners in this country have received tax breaks as middle-income Americans have struggled to pay for basic necessities. This problem is exemplified by recent reports that Warren Buffet's tax rate is lower than his secretary's tax rate. This is simply unfair. We must fix this problem and we must also ensure that the most vulnerable in our society—seniors, extremely low-income individuals, the disabled—do not go without basic needs just to provide tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires.

Jackson

Absolutely. The current common sense example is that Warren Buffett should not be paying a lower rate in taxes than his secretary. Tax cuts were justified on the basis that they were given to the job generators. President Bush gave the "job creators" - the rich and large corporations - some of the largest tax cuts in history in 2001 and 2003. Where are the jobs? The result, accompanied with deregulation, was the collapse of the economy and the loss of 750,000 jobs per month when he left office in 2009. The Economic Golden Age in the U.S. was between 1945 and 1973 and taxes were much higher on the wealthy and big corporations during that period. In fact, under President Eisenhower the official rate was 90%. I'm not recommending that we return to that rate, but a return to the rate during the Clinton years would certainly be a moderate proposal by any reasonable measure.

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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Halvorson

No, I have not nor do I plan on signing Grover Norquist's pledge. In my opinion, because the pledge is singularly focused on not raising taxes it encourages behavior that created our current budget deficit. When Bush took office he was handed a surplus by the Clinton Administration. During the 8 years of the Bush Administration, Congress passed legislation without paying for it. This allowed the Bush Administration to claim victory by passing legislation (in some cases very good legislation) without having to pay for the legislation. When Bush left office our country faced record deficits and a huge national debt. Going back to this type of legislating is irresponsible and something I cannot support.

When I was a member of Congress, I strongly supported PayGO (Pay-As-You-Go) legislation that required all non-emergency spending be paid for.

Jackson

No. Only someone who doesn't think for themselves would sign such a pledge. The world and life are too organic to sign any pledge that is that static. It is good to have political principles - I have them as well - but in the end there is no substitute for sound and reasoned political judgment that takes into account all of the information available and as many of the current circumstances that one can be made aware of.

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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    Halvorson
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Halvorson

While I believe that everything should be on the table when discussing reducing our deficit, I also believe it is necessary to ensure that we keep the promises we have made to our seniors by opposing cuts to Medicare and Social Security for current and soon-to-be recipients. The only way to truly reduce our deficit is for there to be a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases. When one or both sides refuse to compromise on getting our deficit under control, our children and grandchildren are the ones that suffer. I will continue my record of staying true to my values and fighting for my constituents while still finding ways to work with those that don't always agree with me—whether they be within my own party or across the aisle.

Jackson

By definition, legislators are compromisers. No one gets everything they want. I'm not aware that I have ever voted for or against any piece of legisation with which I was in total agreement or disagreement. So, by my definition, I don't really believe that the Tea Party Republicans are true legislators. They are more interested in ideology and concerned with propaganda than they are passing effective legislation. Reason, accurate information, fairness and good faith on both sides is the basis of compromise. For example, Social Security reform. It is unreasonable and unfair that average workers pay into the Society Security Trust Fund (SSTF) on all of their income while persons like Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey and Warren Beatty will only pay until they reach $110,100 in 2012. If we include those who earn more than $110,100, we can make the SSTF stable for the next 75-100 years. Medicare and Medicaid also need reform, but why bar negotiating for the lowest prices for equally good and effective prescription drugs? If the issue is actually "health care" why pay 20-30% for profits, administrative costs, advertising, etc. when Medicare For All would only cost in the neighborhood of 3% in administrative costs? I'm sure there are areas of compromise in that framework, but it is unreasonable, not the best information, unfair and not negotiating in good faith for a compromise to ignore those facts and that basic framework.

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

Social Security is and has long been a successful program. It is a promise to Americans – work hard, pay into the system, and you can enjoy a more secure retirement with peace of mind and dignity. It is especially crucial in tough economic times like these, where seniors, through no fault of their own, find themselves struggling to pay the bills. Through 13 recessions Social Security has always been there – never once missing a payment. It is a promise we can and we must keep to retirees, now and in the future.

Social Security needs some small adjustments to make it solvent over the next 75 years. The reason is pretty simple - in coming years, there will be a lot more retirees in America (members of the Baby Boom Generation, which includes me) than we've had in previous decades, and less workers paying into the system. Luckily, the Social Security Trust Fund has run surpluses for many decades and the generation known as the Millennials (a group larger than the Baby Boomers) will help restore a more stable worker-to-retiree ratio. This leaves a funding gap, but one that is manageable.

I am strongly opposed to further raising the retirement age, as it is already scheduled to increase to 67 for retirees in 2022. Proposals like those from the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, to raise the full retirement age to 70, mean a cut to beneficiaries of nearly 20 percent. Raising the retirement age also puts a disproportionate burden on senior women and minorities. For example, 45 percent of senior women who live alone are in poverty and 40 percent of African Americans seniors rely on Social Security as their sole income.

I am sensitive to across the board tax increases to fund Social Security, knowing that if they are raised too much in too short of time, they could have a negative effect on job growth. However, changing the $106,800 taxable maximum should be on the table. The average worker in the 2nd District, making around $42,000 year, pays Social Security taxes on 6.6 percent of his or her income, while someone who makes over $1 million, does not even pay 0.6 percent of his or her income to Social Security. And of course, the disparity grows when you look at higher incomes. To ensure that Social Security remains strong in the long term, this is a good place to start.

I am willing to consider changes to the benefit formula, but we need to ensure benefits for our seniors are adequate. Perhaps we could change the formula to look at a slightly longer period of work, which would reward workers who pay into the system longer.

Jackson

Yes, along the lines that I described above. Most Americans aren't aware that the rich and the corporations (since they pay half) will not have to pay any more into FICA once they reach $110,100 in 2012. That's unfair and regressive. Even paying the 6.2% (or currently 4.2%) is regressive and not progressive, but not paying after you reach the FICA limit is doubly unfair.

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

Medicare is a successful program that ensures seniors have access to quality healthcare. It is necessary that we keep the promise we have made to millions of Americans that when they reach 65 they will Medicare receive benefits, something they have paid into all their lives.

While Medicare has a high approval rating by the seniors that use the program, it continues to be an expensive program because of rising healthcare costs. Unfortunately, simply cutting reimbursement rates for doctors that take Medicare patients has done little to bend the cost curve. The Health Care Reform bill that I strongly supported and voted for last Congress will help keep healthcare costs and included reforms to Medicare that will save $575 billion over the next ten years by strengthen Medicare for our seniors. There are several more things we can do to further reduce the cost of Medicare without cutting vital benefits for our seniors. We can make further investments in electronic record keeping to reduce administrative costs. These investments will improve the quality of care provided to our seniors and will reduce medical mistakes. We should also consider improving the federal government's negotiating position when it comes to providing services under Medicare and negotiating better prescription medication costs similar to how Veterans Affairs does. This could significantly reduce healthcare costs for Medicare and strengthen the program for our seniors.

Jackson

As I suggested above there are reforms within the current system that could cut some costs - competition in buying prescription drugs, the public option, electronic records of patients, etc. I supported the Obama Administration's health proposal, even though I would have preferred that it include the public option. Personally I support a single payer system or Medicare For All. I don't see health care as a commodity like Pepsi, Coca Cola, Miller Lite and Lays Potato chips to be bought and sold for a profit on the open market. We are the only industrialized nation in the world that does not provide health care as a human right to all of its citizens, even though we pay almost twice what all other developed nations pay (ca. $3 trillion and 16% of our GDP). We currently have about 50 million citizens without health insurance and our system ranks 37th in the world. Except those who can afford the best, it doesn't seem that we're getting our money's worth.

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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Halvorson

Yes, there continues to be a growing income gap in US. Our middle-class is shrinking, those in poverty are becoming poorer, and the wealthiest in our society are becoming richer. While there are efforts underway to provide families with job training, higher education, and other income growth opportunities there are too many government-subsidized advantages given to the wealthiest in our society. The Bush tax cuts for the richest one percent have not proven to encourage investment or job creation. Instead, they have simply increased our national deficit. Our tax system is complicated and favors wealthier families who are able to use tax deductions and credits to reduce their tax burden, in some cases significantly below the tax burden of many low- and middle-income families. Additionally, the very services targeted to underserved communities—including many minority communities—are the very services under attack and facing budget cuts.

I strongly support reforming our tax system by eliminating many of the tax deductions and credits used by the wealthiest households. This will make it so most Americans are paying their fair share. We must also fight off budget cuts for services for the most vulnerable in our society as well as cuts for programs that provide job training and assistance for higher education. Ensuring that everyone that wants to has an opportunity to earn a living is fundamental to a strong nation.

Jackson

Yes, there is a massive problem of unequal income and wealth - the most unequal and unfair since the 1920s, which helped to bring about the Great Depression. If, as I believe, there are only two sources of material power in the world - economic and political, almost always with the economic being the most powerful - there is no way we can have this degree of unequal wealth and income and at the same time have equal opportunity for all. Take our schools, since real estate taxes pay the dominate share of public education costs. Schools in wealthy neighborhoods pay less as a percentage of their income for education, yet spend more on their public schools. The opposite is true in poorer neighborhoods. Yet upon graduation both are expected to compete equally for entrance to the college or university; compete for the job; and compete for a business opportunity. In politics, the Citizen United Supreme Court case again gives a massive advantage to the most conservative and wealthiest candidates who are most likely to be supported by the wealthy and large corporations, thus, contributing to inequality in the political arena.

Who is to blame for the home mortgages collapse?
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    Halvorson
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Halvorson

No one person or group is solely to blame for the foreclosure crisis. Everyone from the homeowners that took on mortgages they couldn't afford to the mortgage brokers that engaged in predatory practices to sell mortgages homeowners couldn't afford; from the mortgage lenders and bankers that failed to properly underwrite mortgages and gave incentives to mortgage brokers to sell mortgages homeowners couldn't afford to the largest banks and investment firms that purchased mortgages, packaged them, repackaged them, and sold them to investors without understanding the risks; from the credit rating agencies that gave AAA ratings to securities and collateralized debt obligations that were based on high-risk mortgages that were almost guaranteed to default to the federal regulators that failed to act when it became clear there was a problem. It is unfortunate that with so many people and companies involved, very few came forward and said something is wrong and even fewer acted to stop it. The result was a foreclosure crisis that created the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

While there were a large number of irresponsible and in some cases criminal actors, the worst actors were the mortgage brokers that engaged in predatory practices and sold mortgages to homeowners that clearly cold not afford the homes they were buying and the largest banks and investment firms on Wall Street that knew they were using the credit rating agencies to turn coal into gold and selling mortgage-backed securities to investors. I strongly supported the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protect Act that held many of these actors responsible and addressed the issues that caused the foreclosure crisis.

Jackson

Mostly the banks. Yes, some people bought homes that they couldn't afford, but the banks mostly knew that when they sold the home and made the loan. They were just greedy and were determined to make as much money as they could as fast as they could. The housing foreclosure crisis did not come about because millions of individual people and individual families all of a sudden simultaneously made all of these bad decisions. It was the "systematic" financial schemes by our largest financial institutions and banks that brought about the crisis. And even after their greed brought castastrophy to the national and world economy and American taxpayers bailed them out, they are back making record profits while they starve main street and average homeowners continue to suffered from the housing foreclosre crisis.

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

In addition to the large number of families facing foreclosure because they are unemployed or under employed, there are many more facing foreclosure because they are underwater on their mortgage. Almost 1 out of 5 mortgages in the US are underwater because home values have fallen almost 30% in some areas since the beginning of the foreclosure crisis in 2008. This has created a situation where families facing foreclosure are unable to modify or refinance without bringing thousands of dollars (in some cases tens of thousands of dollars) to the table. This results in even more foreclosures destabilizing entire communities as homes sit vacant.

The only way to truly solve this problem is to allow homeowners to modify their mortgages and reduce the principal balance of their mortgage. While there are several federal programs that allow homeowners to modify or refinance their mortgages, only a fraction of those at risk of foreclosure have been helped because the principal balance is simply too high. Investors should be encouraged to reduce the principal balance of the mortgage allowing more families to stay in their homes and reduce the number of vacant, foreclosed homes destabilizing neighborhoods.

Jackson

The banks, by now, have made it clear that they won't do much to end the crisis and will continue to exploit the crisis if they can still make money off the foreclosed homes. The Federal Government, like FDR did during the Great Depression with the New Deal, should directly intervene and devise a variety of programs to help people save their property and end the housing foreclosure crisis. It the banks will not reduce the principle and allow people to come from "under water" then the Federal Government must come to their rescue. To me, that is what it means to have a government, a democracy, of, by and for the people. Now, too often, it seems we have a government of, by and for the banks and financial institutions.

Is global warming real? Is it man-made? What, if anything, should be done about it?
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Halvorson

Yes, I agree with the vast majority of scientists who have concluded that changes to our climate are caused in part by human activity.

However, regardless of one's beliefs about the origins of climate change or concern for the environment, two facts cannot be ignored: our major sources of energy—fossil fuels—are not infinite resources and our reliance on foreign oil is directly related to our national security. Thus, we must adopt policies that invest in and support the development of a diverse portfolio of US-produced renewable and clean resources, including nuclear and renewable energy.

I voted in favor of H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, because this bill will reduce our reliance on oil while investing in US-produced energy resources that will create jobs that cannot be shipped overseas. The bill invests in nuclear energy and will directly benefit Illinois which is home to more nuclear reactors than anywhere in the country employing over 3640 people. The energy bill provides a revolving loan fund for manufacturers so they can retrofit their equipment to become more energy-efficient to compete on a level playing field globally. This bill also encourages the development of wind energy, which supports the steel industry in Illinois and a field in which Illinois is poised to be a leader.

Jackson

Yes. Humans contribute to global warming. Through reasonable regulation and economic incentives the Federal Government can gradually reduce toxins in our air, ground and water and/or eliminate others from getting into the air, ground and water in the first place. Increasing fuel standards, increasing public transportation and mass transit, stronger enforcement by the Environmental Protection Agency are just a few of the ways in which we can combate 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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Halvorson

I believe the federal government must promote green alternatives to fossil fuels. While some green energy alternatives have advanced significantly in the past decade, it is still necessary to provide incentives in the form of tax deductions and credits for the private sector to invest in those alternatives. In addition to the benefits to the environment, green energy production here at home creates good paying green energy jobs that cannot be shipped overseas and ensures that we do not have to rely on foreign sources of energy.

Jackson

The Federal Government can provide "seed" money and other "financial incentives" that advance the "green revolution." Again, a massive investment in public transportation and mass transit would also help since fossil fuels for cars are one of the biggest - if not the biggest - contributor to global warming. If the Federal Government helped to build the infrastucture for electric cars, that would be a big help in this direction. Financial incentives for the research and development of necessary future technologies for "green" alternatives is another way the Federal Government can help.

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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    Halvorson
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    Jackson
Halvorson

I do believe that simulated drowning or waterboarding constitutes a form of torture. In the international community waterboarding is widely considered to be torture and this was long the position of the United States prior to its authorization by the Bush Administration. In fact, even within the Bush Administration there was much disagreement on this topic. Many interrogation experts have concluded that the use of waterboarding can produce unreliable or false intelligence. The Army Field Manual, which prohibits the use of waterboarding, does authorize various interrogation methods that do not violate international law and that are proven to produce actionable intelligence.

Jackson

Yes. On the basis of International Law (Geneva Conventions) and common sense. If members of our military are captured by a foreign power do we feel it is "legal," "humane" and "fair" that they be waterboarded? I think not. Few if any of our military leaders support waterboarding as a legitimate means of extracting information from those we capture in times or war or conflicts. Probably, the biggest reason for not using it is that, according to the best that I have heard or known, it's ineffective! It's not the best way of gaining accurate information. Professionals, experienced in interviewing captured enemies, say gaining the trust of the captive is considered the most effective way of securing accurate and helpful information.

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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Halvorson

I do not support legalization of marijuana at this time, however, I believe that our national policy should be to allow this issue to be decided by the states on an individual basis.

Jackson

I support the de-criminalizaton of marijuana at the Federal level. Smoking is a health and may be an addiction issue. It may be more appropriate, make more sense and be more socially redemptive and economically feasible to treat those addicted to marijuana than to punish them with jail sentences. No. I have never smoked marijuana.

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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Halvorson

The United States should take strong action to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear capability. A nuclear Iran presents an existential threat to Israel and would be a destabilizing force in the region. In the 111th Congress I co-sponsored the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010, a new law signed by President Obama that strengthened economic sanctions against Iran. The United States should continue working with the international community to implement further sanctions that will pressure Iran to halt its nuclear program. When it comes to matters of national security we should not take any options off the table, however the immediate focus should be on international sanctions before any consideration of military action.

Jackson

If Iran were able to build a nuclear bomb and develop the appropriate means of delivering it, it would destablize the Middle East region and, because we are now so interconnected, it would inevitably make the world and its economy more unstable. Other nations in the Middle East (e.g., Saudi Arabia and others) would likely be inclined to develop nuclear weapons and we would be back into a nuclear arms race. We should do everything within our power to prevent Iran from achieving this goal, with international sanctions and isolation being the primary means of stopping them. While I don't think we can theoretically rule out the use of military action, I think the use of military force should be a last resort which unfortunately might escalate into something even worse than Iran reaching their goal and the rest of the world devising ways of containing them.

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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Halvorson

The goal of our mission in Afghanistan is to eliminate the presence of Al-Qaeda and to degrade the Taliban's ability to provide safe haven for Al-Qaeda within Afghanistan's borders. Following President Obama's announcement of a troop surge in 2010, we have made significant progress toward meeting our objectives. Al Qaeda is on the run, the Taliban's momentum has been reversed, and major strides have been made in training the Afghan National Security Forces. As the mother of a stepson who was injured while serving in Afghanistan, I understand the sacrifices made by the men and women in uniform who are serving honorably there. Decisions on troop withdrawal should be based on conditions on the ground, however if we are meeting the benchmarks laid out in the President's plan, we should make every effort to stick to his timetable for bringing home our troops.

Jackson

I'm not sure I know what "success" means in Afghanistan. Success, as we would normally define it, would take too long and cost too much in American lives and treasure to be sustained politically and economically. I think, currently, I would define"success" as the following: The U.S. has given the government in Afghanistan the opportunity to achieve a more stable society with the potential ability to protect itself and establish a better society and greater opportunities for the Afghan people.

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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Halvorson

There is generally consensus support for the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act: implementing higher standards, increasing teacher accountability, and closing achievement gaps in student performance. While I agree with these goals, I have long been critical of the implementation of NCLB. The standards and deadlines were unrealistic and school districts were not provided with adequate resources to meet the goals. There was also too much emphasis on standardized testing to measure adequate yearly progress. NCLB was due for reauthorization several years ago but Congress has not yet acted on it. The blueprint released by the Obama Administration and the bill recently passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee are both good starting points for reauthorization. Both versions are much less punitive than the current law. I also support the movement toward a growth model for student assessments that more accurately and more fairly measures student performance. As Congress works to reconcile the different reauthorization proposals, it must ensure that necessary funds are appropriated for successful implementation that will provide an excellent education for our children.

Jackson

The reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act has support from this office. However, the Senate bill in its current form is not adequate. We support the administration's effort to improve our nation's schools and also to ensure that students are being taught by high quality professionals. In order to ensure the effectiveness of No Child Left Behind there needs to be increased program funding, as well as, more effective testing and benchmark measures. The recently passed Senate bill has cut funding to 40 education programs and has not addressed teacher concerns that the current testing methods are inadequate. In order for this bill, and No Child Left Behind, to be as effective as possible more funding is required, more teacher support is required, and current testing procedures need to be reexamined to ensure that student progress is accurately measured.

Do you support a third airport in the region? If so, how would you make it happen?
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Halvorson

Yes, I support the development of the Third Airport in the region. I have a proven record of getting the job done when it comes to completing large-scale projects instead of just talking about it. I delivered on overcoming the final obstacle to develop the CenterPoint Intermodal facility creating 7,000 local jobs and I succeeded in urging the Department of Veteran Affairs to locate a mega-clinic in the southland—and I was able to work with state and local leaders to accomplish these projects in two short years as a member of Congress. I know how to work with state and local leaders to identify what needs to be accomplished, prioritize the best opportunities for job creation and success, and utilize my relationships in Illinois and DC to get the job done.

I have worked on the Third Airport for many years and will continue to work on the project. I introduced legislation when I was a State Senator to provide for a governing authority for the Third Airport that was locally controlled. I have supported the state of Illinois in its actions to obtain land for the use of the airport. I have worked with Will County to support the development of planning documents to ensure the proper zoning and other plans necessary to support the development of the Third Airport. The Third Airport is possible but it will not happen overnight and it must be locally controlled. Anyone who suggests otherwise does not understand the process for building an airport and is not listening to local leaders that have demanded local control for years.

Jackson

Yes. I initially ran on it and I have consistently fought to build the Abraham Lincoln National Airport and I've put together the process for making it happen. I put together the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commisson (ALNAC); found the airport developers; and persuated them to spend $700 million of their own money to build it. The ALNAC has been open to Cook, Will and Kankakee County representatives serving on the commission to give over-all direction to the project. It is not true that they have been excluded and I believe they are now closer than ever to becoming members. No one else has a functioning legal airport authority that has been thoroughly vetted, with capable world class developers and adequate money to build it. My opponent gives lip service to supporting it, but has put up roadblocks every step of the way with misinformation and has proposed means of blocking the current proposal without a viable alternative. At every turn she has sided with the people who have consistently been the organized opposition against building it in the first place.

The race
The candidates
Deborah "Debbie" Halvorson
Jesse L. Jackson Jr.
The district
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Updated: October 5, 2012 10:31AM



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