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PROPER 
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Ninth 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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    ALL
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    Ribeiro
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    Schakowsky
Ribeiro
Birthdate: 5/10/1981
Occupation: Archdiocese of Chicago
Marital status:
Spouse:

Education:

Evanston Township High School, Class of 2000.
Attended Drake University (Army ROTC, 36 credit hours).
Oakton Community College, A.A. in Liberal Arts, 2005.
Northeastern Illinois University, B.A. in Political Science, 2005.
Continued Studies at Oakton Community College (2008-2010).
Continued Studies at Northeastern Illinois University, a second major in History (2006-2011).
National-Louis University, M.A.T. in Secondary Education (2012).

I hold a Teaching Certificate in Secondary Education for Social Science (grades 6-12) with a Middle School Endorsement, and Endorsements in Political Science and History.

I teach high school history, business, and physical education currently.

I visited 13 nation-states in the Americas and Eurasia.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

US Army ROTC, Cyclone Battalion, at Drake University (Ranger Challenge cadet).

TKE Fraternity, Alpha-Xi Chapter, at Drake University (Executive Officer).

Phi Alpha Theta, Pi Gama Chapter- The National Honor Society in History at
Northeastern Illinois University.

The Politics Club of Northeastern Illinois University.

The NEA (National Education Association) educator union.

The IEA (Illinois Education Association) educator union.

The Catholic Church.

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

I worked as a Census Enumerator for the US Department of Commerce in 2010.

I also worked part-time for the City, County, and State throughout my years.

I worked for a state university and three public schools districts in Chicago, Evanston, and Skokie.

I was elected to be the 2010 Congressional Nominee in the 9th District's only contested established party primary over the 2008 Nominee representing the Green Party.

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

I was a substitute teacher at Chicago Public Schools (2007-2012)
I was a substitute teacher at Evanston/Skokie School District (2008-2012).
I was a teacher aid at Evanston/Skokie School District 65 (2008-2009).
I was a substitute teacher at Evanston Township High School (2008-2009).

I was a US Census Enumerator for the US Department of Commerce (2010).
I was an Election Judge and Equipment Manager for Cook County (2008-2011).
I trained in the US Army's ROTC program at Drake University (2000-2002).

I was a beach lifeguard for the City of Evanston (2008).
I was a lifeguard and swim coach for Chicago Public Schools (2005-2006).
I was a lifeguard and swim instructor (state employee) for Northeastern Illinois University (2002-2009).

I was a swim instructor for Evanston Township High School (1999).
I was a summer school aid for Evanston Township High School (1998).

My mom (Joanne D'Amato) was a professor of Italian at the State University of New York in Farmingdale.
My mom was a high school English and Italian teacher at New York City Schools and public schools in the Long Island area.
She was a substitute teacher for some public schools in Michigan as well.
She was a substitute teacher at Chicago Public Schools, Evanston Township High School, and Evanston/Skokie School District 65.

My Dad was a professor of Violin at Florida State University (1970s-1980s) and at Central Michigan University (1980s).

Schakowsky
Birthdate: 5/26/1944
Occupation: U.S Representative/People of IL's 9th Congressional District
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Robert Creamer

Education:

Graduated from the University of Illinois in 1965 with a B.S. in Elementary Education.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

In the House of Representatives:

Equality Caucus, founding member

Trade Working Group

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commissioner

Progressive Caucus

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus

Populist Caucus

Manufacturing Caucus

International Workers Rights Caucus, Chair

Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues

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

U.S Representative from 1999-present, State Representative from 1990-1999.

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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    ALL
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    Ribeiro
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    Schakowsky
Ribeiro

Campaign headquarters: 510 Sheridan Road # 211, Evanston, IL 60202
Website: SimonForCongress.com
Campaign manager: Simon Ribeiro
Campaign budget: It is roughly the $1,000 I spent making my website, traveling and campaigning, and getting the 1200+ signatures on my own.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
I, Simon Ribeiro, the candidate have spent (out of my own money) about $1,000.
No others have contributed financially.

Schakowsky

Campaign headquarters: PO Box 5130, Evanston, IL 60204-5130
Website: www.janschakowsky.org
Campaign manager: Alex Armour
Campaign budget: $1.25 Million
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
UNITE HERE $10,000
Sidley Austin LLP $5,200
American Assn for Justice $5,000
American Optometric Assn $5,000
Boilermakers Union $5,000

What are your top priorities for the nation?
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    ALL
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    Ribeiro
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    Schakowsky
Ribeiro

1. Universal Healthcare (High-Quality, Tax-funded, and Comprehensive);
2. Universal Higher Education (including Trade Schools);
3. A Simple and Fair Tax system.
4. A peaceful foreign policy (withdrawing from Wars and Conflict).
5. A livable Pension system (an improved Social Security system).
6. Nationalization of the Central Bank (the Federal Reserve System).
7. Reduction in pollution levels (Clean Energy, Clean Air, Water, Land, and Food).
8. A more fair Court system (Justice should be blind, not blinded by money).
9. A more simple rectangular districting system for Congress and the Legislatures.
10. Making money obsolete in the political campaign process.
11. Reform the Prison and Court system (minor offences equals overcrowded prisons and courts).
11. Implement innovative ways to cure disease, and reduce poverty and crime.

Schakowsky

We need to act aggressively to protect the middle-class and provide opportunities to those who aspire to it. Today, income inequality in the United States is at levels that we haven’t seen since 1928. Between 1979 and 2008, annual income for the wealthiest 1% of Americans grew by $1.1 trillion, while the annual income for the bottom 90% declined. More importantly, income immobility has increased. Today, a person born into the bottom fifth of incomes has only about a 50/50 chance of moving up the economic ladder – a worse opportunity than in Britain, Canada and other countries. Many Americans in the middle-class are threatened because of lay-offs, foreclosures, and the lack of loans for education or business ventures. For the first time, Americans believe that their children will be worse off economically than they have been. As Alan Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers warned this month, “inequality in incomes is causing an unhealthy division in opportunities, and is a threat to our economic growth.” As President Obama said, “Inequality also distorts our democracy. It gives an outsized voice to the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions, and runs the risk of selling our democracy to the highest bidder.”

This means that we need to be aggressive in creating good jobs – jobs that provide adequate pay and benefits. We need to make sure that children get the opportunities that are being lost – by expanding access to quality education and health care. We need to stop the housing foreclosure crisis that threatens so many families. And we need to protect Social Security’s and Medicare’s earned benefits and ensure that Medicaid is available to provide medical and long-term care services.

We need to restore the vision of America – that anyone who works hard and plays by the rules can succeed and leave the next generation better off.

What are your top priorities for your congressional district?
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    ALL
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    Ribeiro
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    Schakowsky
Ribeiro

Universal Education;
Universal Higher Education and Trade School;
Creating Jobs.

Schakowsky

I want to bring good jobs and opportunity to all my constituents – and I also want to provide the highest quality service to help them get the services they need and deserve. I am very proud of the Constituent Service operation in my district offices. Our Constituent Advocates do everything that they can to help solve constituents’ problems with government agencies, from postal problems to immigration matters to Medicare issues. We help people avoid foreclosure, find affordable housing, be reunited with their families, access Veterans benefits, and clear up tax problems. We help students and families learn about Pell grants and loans to help them afford a college education. In November, my office organized a small business event so that current and prospective small business owners could learn about federal contracting opportunities and programs that can provide them assistance. We cut through bureaucratic red tape, connect people to benefits and programs, and help identify and obtain grants. One of my constituent advocates has helped save constituents over $2.4 million since 2009, primarily in the area of health care.

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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    ALL
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    Ribeiro
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    Schakowsky
Ribeiro

The for-profit, private, predatory central banking and monetary system must be ended.
Only by nationalizing the central bank and the fiat monetary system, and by auditing the central bank and the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports of all governments, will you be able to have a sustainable and prosperous economy.

Innovative reforms, like implementing a True universal healthcare system (Not Obamacare), will empower business to hire more and pay more to workers.

Schakowsky

The housing crisis that have affected millions of Americans, financial deregulation that allowed Wall Street bankers to gamble (and lose) the hard-earned savings of American families and businesses, and the failure to make critical investments to keep us competitive in the 21st century are all problems that we must address. U.S. businesses were hit hard as Americans, without savings and confidence, stopped buying goods and services, leading to unacceptable unemployment and underemployment levels, that further eroded the U.S. customer base. Tax incentives to encouraged companies to outsource jobs also exacerbates the problem.

During the Great Recession, we lost 8 million jobs. Now, we are headed in the right direction, having added private sector jobs in each of the last 22 months – nearly 2 million last year alone – but we still have a long way to go and need an aggressive, job creation strategy in both the private and public sectors. I introduced H.R. 2914, the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act (http://schakowsky.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2975&Itemid=8), to accelerate our fragile recovery by creating over 2.2 million jobs, hiring Americans over the next 2 years as teachers, cops and firefighters; child development and health care workers, school construction and maintenance workers. In addition, I support providing assistance to states and localities, so that they are not forced to lay off public employees.

Immediate spending cuts that take money out of the pockets of middle-income and lower-income households will result in a course reversal. Smart investments will help put Americans back to work, spurring economic growth and helping us deal with long-term deficits.

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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    ALL
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    Ribeiro
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    Schakowsky
Ribeiro

Yes.
Getting rid of the subsidies, loopholes, tax shelters, and exemptions for the wealthy persons and corporations will bring in tons of revenue.

Raising rate only on the wealthy persons and corporations will significantly raise revenue.

Schakowsky

Increased revenues must be part of a balanced approach to restoring economic prosperity and reducing the deficit. Federal tax revenues is at its lowest level since 1950, leaving us without the funds we need to meet urgent national needs from job creation and aid to small businesses to medical research and our national laboratory system to homeland security. Those investments are needed to put Americans put to work and keep America strong. We need tax reform that simplifies a complicated system but raises sufficient revenues to meet those needs while reducing long-term deficits. The proposal I put forward as a member of the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to achieve primary budget balance by FY2015 (http://schakowsky.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2777:) raised revenues by eliminating tax breaks for high profitable industries such as the oil industry and corporations that outsource profits overseas. I have introduced H.R. 1124, the Fairness in Taxation Act (http://schakowsky.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2877%3Aschakowsky-introduces-bill-to-tax-millionaires-and-billionaires&catid=22%3A2011-press-releases&Itemid=44), to establish new rates for income over $ 1million – starting at 45% and rising to 49% for income over $1 billion.

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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    ALL
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    Ribeiro
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    Schakowsky
Ribeiro

No, signing this pledge is not a good policy.

Investors like Warren Buffet should be paying more as a percentage of their income then their secretaries.

Schakowsky

I have not and will not sign the Norquist pledge because I believe that we need to raise revenues from those who can afford it in order to meet national needs.

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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    Ribeiro
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    Schakowsky
Ribeiro

When you bargain, you must be firm with your goal in the beginning, and then maybe in the final move of compromise you will move closer to the half way point.

What Obama and his allies have done, was to bargain by going to the halfway point from the beginning, and then conceding further and further, until it is less than one-quarter of what he and his allies wanted.

One thing that works is to build on common agreement.

Pass a law for the common agreement separately (such as remove loopholes and/or cut taxes on the poor and struggling middle class).

And then in the next law, compromise on the controversy (bargain on the tax rates for the rich).

Lumping all sorts of different things together really amounts to bribery and selling-out.

Schakowsky

There are many areas where compromise is possible and has occurred. For example, I supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act because, while it fell short of my ideal such as including a public option, it provided critical improvements in health care quality, access and affordability. I have often voted for bills where I would have preferred different funding levels or provisions. There are other areas, however, where differences are so stark that compromise is difficult it not impossible. One instance of that is the budget debate – where Republicans have refused to agree to allow any revenues increases as part of a balanced approach or insist on eliminating guaranteed access to traditional Medicare for this or future generations – insisting that we balance the budget on the backs of seniors, the middle-class and the poor rather than asking millionaires, billionaires and highly-profitable corporations to pay their faire share.

Does the Social Security program need reform? What exactly should be done?
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    ALL
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    Ribeiro
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    Schakowsky
Ribeiro

Yes.
We must take care of our seniors.
Under the current system, social security tax should not stop at around the $100thousand income level.
Instead it should be taxed again at least at the same rate if not more at the $250thousand+ income bracket(s).
This would allow social security to keep pace with itself and the growing cost of living.

Holistically, a universal healthcare system, would dramatically decrease per-capita costs on healthcare that would have a ripple affect on all people, especially seniors (making bankruptcy, and cost of living reduced).

We should keep the retirement age from going over 65 (as this would allow more jobs for younger people, and be a more fair system for our seniors).

Schakowsky

First, it is important to remember that Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit and, by law, cannot borrow to pay benefits. The Trust Fund currently has a surplus of $2.4 trillion which will go up to $4 trillion, and without any changes the program can pay out full benefits until 2037. As a member of the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, to ensure that Social Security can pay full benefits for the next 75 years, I put forward a plan that would eliminate the wage cap on the employer side and raise it to cover 90% of aggregate wages on the employee side and establish a small legacy tax on wages above the cap. Those recommendations would result in surplus funding that can be used to improve the extremely modest benefits that are now provided.

How would you reform Medicare? Be as specific as possible.
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    ALL
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    Ribeiro
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    Schakowsky
Ribeiro

I would implement a universal healthcare system (a single-payer system) that would cover everybody for everything, and have no out of pocket pay.

This would be for legitimate medical needs, not things like breast implants, or botox.

You could call it "an Improved Medicare for All."

No out-of-pocket pay, and no "we're sorry our provider doesn't cover that..."

Schakowsky

While Medicare has done a remarkable job providing guaranteed benefits for older Americans and people with disabilities (with lower administrative costs and per capita increases than private insurance), I believe it can be improved. I support proposals to lower prescription drug costs by requiring that Medicare negotiate for discounts (like the VA), create a Medicare-administered drug plan to compete with private plans, and encourage the use of generic drugs. I voted for provisions in the Affordable Care Act to eliminate fraud and abuse, promote prevention and wellness efforts, and work to ensure that we improve quality while avoiding unnecessary and potentially dangerous services.

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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    ALL
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    Ribeiro
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    Schakowsky
Ribeiro

Yes, there is a problem with a growing inequality in the US.

That is why we must create systems of universal access for all- to optimize equal opportunity.
If you make college tuition free, you will make opportunity much more equal.
If you provide public healthcare freely, you will make opportunity much more equal.

Government is good when it is “We the People” government, rather than “Us the Corporations” government.

If "We the People" government can operate on behalf of the people's "general welfare" rather than allowing a "Us the Companies" government working for the Companies' greed, than we can have a monetary system that will be able to fund good programs for the "general welfare" of "We the People."

Schakowsky

As I indicated, I believe that the enormous growth in income inequality is the most serious challenge we face as a society and one that requires an immediate and aggressive response. There are multiple and serious consequences from this enormous shift in income and wealth: the erosion of the middle-class, problems for businesses unable to find customers for their goods and services, and a concentration of political power by the wealthiest Americans able to make large campaign contributions. This is not a healthy situation for our economy or for our democracy. This concentration of wealth is coming at the same time that income mobility is declining. It is becoming more and more difficult to achieve the American dream – that if you work hard, you can succeed. More and more American children are facing insurmountable odds – born into poverty, unable to obtain quality education or health care, limited in job opportunities.

This situation is the result of decades of policies, primarily the reduction of effective tax rates on the wealthiest Americans and profitable corporations that has brought federal tax revenues to a 60-year low. As a result, we have cut back in needed investments in education, child development and child care, health care, infrastructure development, R&D, and innovation. Many of the jobs that do exist provide insufficient wages and benefits leading to massive underemployment. Finally, the erosion in union membership has had an effect, since union wages are nearly 28% higher, 34% higher for women, 31% for African American, and 51% more for Latino workers and members are more likely to have health care and pension benefits.

The needed response is to reverse course by asking the very wealthy to pay their fair share, raise the resources necessary to provide opportunity for all Americans, and ensure that private and public workers are able to exercise rights at work.

Who is to blame for the home mortgages collapse?
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    Ribeiro
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    Schakowsky
Ribeiro

Most of the blame goes to the mortgage industry and the politicians that were bribed or blackmailed by them.

They were offering too many sub-prime mortgages with confusing language and tricky lines.

Some of the blame goes to irresponsible investors that were trying to flip too many homes around without ample reserves and contingency plans.

Schakowsky

Predatory lending and risky speculation had the most damaging impact on the housing sector. Criminal behavior, including “robosigning” millions of mortgages without evaluating individual loan applicants and working to write affordable loans, occurred at many of America’s largest lenders. They then avoided responsibility by packaging these subprime loans and selling them as highly-rated securities to pension funds and other honest investors. Those investors and the homeowners themselves suffered immeasurably when the market crashed, and too few lenders and banks have been held accountable for their actions leading up to the crash and too little has been done to protect homeowners and entire neighborhoods still facing the threat of foreclosure. The failure of regulatory agencies to understand the problems and intervene in a timely manner is a significant cause of the collapse.

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

We (the public) bailed out the big banks and financial firms.

Now, the big banks and financial firms should bail out the public.

"We the People" government ought to set up a fair mortgage modification system that the financial firms must abide to.

This system could work to do things such as put a freeze on any accruing interest, and then give much more time for struggling homeowners to pay off the principle.

"We the People" government should impose a property tax moratorium on homes, especially on homes of struggling households.

Then once the principles are paid off, the deed of the home will be with the homeowner.

"We the People" government should abolish property tax on homes, because homes are a necessity and not a luxury, and America is suppose to be a "free land," not a "property taxed land."

Revenue shortfalls from property tax can easily be made up from income tax revenues.

This would help homeowners that lost there job, got sick, got disabled, and/or retired due to advanced age.

Schakowsky

Much more should be done. I have been working with my colleagues in the House to put forward legislation to assist homeowners facing foreclosure. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 363, the HOME Act, which would enable homeowners with a GSE-backed mortgage to refinance their mortgage by extending their mortgage term to 40 years and waiving all fees or penalties from the original or adjusted mortgage. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 1477, the Preserving Homes and Communities Act, which would prevent lenders from foreclosing on a property without a good-faith effort to restructure the loan. I am also an original cosponsor of Rep. Maxine Waters’ Principal Reduction Act, which would allow underwater homeowners to reduce the principal owed on their home to 90 percent of the current value. Unfortunately the Republican Congress has decided not to take up any legislation to assist homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage.

Due to the inaction of House Republicans, my Democratic colleagues and I have encouraged the Obama Administration and federal agencies to take any measures available to them to protect homeowners without the consent of Congress. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), under Acting Director Edward Demarco, now administers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and has been ineffective in helping American homeowners. However, FHFA (an independent agency) announced an extension of forbearance for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the GSEs) mortgages from three to six months, allowing those who have lost their job through no fault of their own to put off payments for six months while they look for a new job. Additionally, the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) has been restructured to allow underwater homeowners with Fannie GSE loans – regardless of how far underwater they are – to lower their interest rate as long as they are current in their mortgage payments. Those are both small steps, and just a drop in the bucket in terms of what we need.

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

Global Pollution is real, man-made, and very dangerous.

We should not call it "Global Warming."
Because it detracts from the true and serious nature of the polution problem.

By calling Pollution "warming" it detracts from the authenticity of the problem when climate does not warm.
Some scientist say the Earth is headed towards an Ice Age.

The semantics allows skeptics an easy way to criticize environmentalists' concerns.

Global Warming is a terrible name for Global Pollution.

Pollution can be cold or hot- it really doesn't matter what the temperature of pollution is.

It is the level of pollution that should be the main concern.

Many scientist believe it is pollution that causes or contributes to cancer, birth defects, and death to all living things.

The best way to address global pollution is to create and/or expand the clean energy system, reduce the needs of dirty energy, and create nano-like technology that could clean up the air, water, land, and organisms of planet earth.

Schakowsky

Yes. We need to take our changing climate seriously and work toward a comprehensive program of carbon emissions reduction. I supported H.R. 2454, the cap-and-trade bill in the last Congress, and I believe that is exactly the type of legislation needed to reign in reckless pollution. The EPA recently reported that toxic chemical emissions increased 16 percent in 2010, stemming largely from the hazardous waste management and mining industries. The EPA has developed regulations that would curb those emissions, and this Congress has foolishly decided to take up legislation to prevent EPA from protecting human health and the environment.

Although this Congress has been resistant to any beneficial environmental policies, some things are being done. The President announced in November the agreement between the auto industry, labor and environmental groups to achieve a 54.5 miles per gallon average fuel economy for their cars by 2025. The 54.5 MPG Standard will allow the U.S. to reduce oil consumption by as much as 2.2 million barrels per day by 2025. That is more than half the oil we import from OPEC. I commend the President for using his authority to set such this attainable yet achievable standard.

What is the role of the federal government in promoting "green" alternatives to fossil fuels? What are those alternatives?
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    Ribeiro
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    Schakowsky
Ribeiro

The Federal Government, if it acts as "We the People" government, must implement the conditions for a clean energy system to flourish.

Schakowsky

American technological innovation has enabled us to lead the world in creating alternative energy technologies. Those include wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, and biomass energy.

The federal government has played an important role in incentivizing green energy development, and it must continue to do so. Over the next few decades, the green energy sector is projected to be worth trillions of dollars and to create millions of jobs, and we must ensure American companies are able to compete in the worldwide race to create the technology of the future. Through the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program, we have been able to provide innovative startup companies with the capital they need to thrive. Republicans have attacked the entire program as a result of Solyndra’s bankruptcy, but the Loan Guarantee has been an overall success thus far. A prominent group of American venture capitalists wrote just after Solyndra folded that the "nascent clean energy industry needs more than venture capital to succeed." They insist that the Loan Guarantee Program is required to fully promote our green energy economy. Furthermore, the Loan Guarantee Program’s sub-4 percent loan default rate compares favorably to almost every other sector of the economy. Unfortunately, the 2012 budget eliminated further funding for the Loan Guarantee Program, but I will work to restore funding for this and other innovative energy programs in next year’s budget.

The Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) has played a critical role in our green energy economy, particularly with the wind industry in Illinois. 100,000 people are employed in the wind industry alone, and much of that growth has resulted from the PTC. Wind energy provided 35 percent of new power capacity in the U.S. over the past four years. The PTC is set to expire at the end of this year, but we cannot allow that to happen. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 3307, which would extend the Production Tax Credit for four years and continue the smart investments made to stimulate job growth in the energy sector.

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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    ALL
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    Ribeiro
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    Schakowsky
Ribeiro

No.

Waterboarding is a form of torture.

Suppose the terror suspect truly does not know the answer(s)?

Suppose the suspect is truly innocent of the charged crime(s)?

Torturing him may make him talk only out of pain, but without the true answers.

Torture should not be practiced because it goes against the fundamental laws and foundation of our nation and our Constitution, and the international agreements we made with other nations (so they would not torture our people).

There are other, more effective, ways to extract important authentic information from suspects.

Schakowsky

Waterboarding is torture and the U.S. should not engage in waterboarding under any circumstances. It is explicitly forbidden by the Army Field Manual. Military experts have testified before congress and described the experience as one of slow-motion suffocation. People who have undergone waterboarding report that it is intensely painful, and brings the captive to a level of debasement and humiliation.

Waterboarding has been utilized by some of the most brutal regimes of recent decades, including Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, and U.S. military commissions successfully prosecuted Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American prisoners during World War II. A U.S. soldier was court-martialed in 1968 for participation in the waterboarding of a North Vietnamese soldier.

Countless experts have called waterboarding a form of torture. In 2007, Malcolm Nance, a former instructor at the U.S. Navy's Advanced Terrorism, Abduction and Hostage Survival program who was responsible for teaching American service members what to expect under torture, was asked “Is waterboarding torture,” and he answered “Yes, of course it is.”

Waterboarding is contrary to fundamental U.S. laws and values, and it should not be used under any circumstances. Further, it has proven an unreliable method of extracting information: interrogation experts have testified that coerced statements, like those extracted by torture, are extremely unreliable. Numerous current and former interrogators and Administration officials have stated that waterboarding and other forms of torture played little or no role in finding and successfully eliminating Osama Bin Laden.

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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    ALL
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    Ribeiro
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    Schakowsky
Ribeiro

Yes.
Marijuana should be legalized and regulated nationally (like alcohol).
We should never outlaw medicine.

Millions of Americans consume it for medical and/or recreational reasons.

Did Prohibition on alcohol work?

No, it made society worse by creating a violent and dangerous black-market.

Most experts claim that legalization/de-criminalization would lower crime, especially violent crime, and lower the high prison incarceration rate (especially among the poor and minority communities).

It would also allow the Police and Courts to focus on more serious and pressing issues.

Marijuana could be taxed and be restricted from minors better than it is today.


As a schoolteacher, I like to keep my private life private, out of respect for the students.

I am not a doctor or scientist, so I will not advise anyone to do it or not do it.

Schakowsky

I support ending the federal ban on marijuana. I believe current US marijuana policies do more harm than good. Our current stance towards marijuana use places unnecessary burdens on the criminal justice system as we prosecute and incarcerate individuals for marijuana use. Otherwise promising individuals may suffer the rest of their lives because of criminal records resulting from a victimless crime. Our unnecessarily aggressive stance costs both the federal and local governments large sums of money that could be much better spent.

Many municipalities (including Evanston here in the 9th District) have recently moved to reduce penalties for marijuana use in efforts to divert limited resources elsewhere. I welcome this move towards decriminalization, and I support similar efforts on a federal level.

I am a cosponsor of two important pieces of marijuana-related legislation the current Congress. The first is H.R. 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011. H.R. 2306 would end the federal government’s hostile stance towards marijuana use on a federal level. I am also a cosponsor of H.R. 1983, the State’s Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act. H.R. 1983 would prohibit the federal government from interfering with state policies legalizing medical marijuana use. Together, those two bills would give states the flexibility required to decide their own policies towards marijuana use.

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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    ALL
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    Ribeiro
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    Schakowsky
Ribeiro

Iran should not get the bomb.

All countries that signed nuclear non-proliferation treaties should keep their promise.

Nuclear weapons are terrible instruments of destruction and should never be in the wrong hands.

To make matters worse, it is very difficult to know for sure that a nation is abiding by its promise not to build the bomb.

The UN report may or may not be accurate.
The US report on Iraq's weapons was inaccurate at best, and deceptive at worst.

I wouldn't put it past Iran's government to be secretly working on the bomb, or already having it.

We don't know for sure.

If they already made one or more bombs, it is too late (like North Korea, but something that we can contain).
If they are on the cusp of making the bomb, we are on the threshold (like the Cuban-missile crisis, but we should not be impulsive).
If they are far, far, far away from making the bomb, we have more endless debate and may incite unnecessary conflict.

Just War and Unjust War.
Just Warfare and Unjust Warfare.
The great political scientist, St. Augustine, made those landmark distinctions regarding man's worse resort.

If we know an attack is imminent, we must act to defend ourselves.
But we must conduct warfare in a manner that minimizes civilian deaths.

If we allow time for Iran to make a nuclear bomb, will they use it offensively?
Or will they use it as a shield and/or bargaining chip?

I believe if they did have it, they would use it as a shield and/or bargaining chip. The Persians come from an Ancient Civilization that are very sophisticated to know the consequences of using nuclear warfare- an assured and total destruction on their entire nation.

One or a couple of bombs (from Iran) is still no match to thousands of bombs and better delivery systems (from the US).

Iran may feel cornered with the massive US military presence on both their fronts and with Israel's military and nuclear dominance in the region. This may be the motivator of why they may be seeking the nuclear weapon as a defense mechanism.

Furthermore, Iran claims to be working on their nuclear energy program, not on a nuclear weapons program- this may be something difficult for observers to distinguish, since the beginning processes of both may appear identical.

Iran, which claims to be an Islamic Republic, maintains that it would be acting against its own religion if it striked another country with millions of fellow Muslims in it with a massive indiscriminate force a nuclear weapon holds.

Israel is inhabited by millions of fellow Muslims and some of the holiest Muslim shrines and mosques all over.

Iran, which maintains strict submission to Islam, could not in good faith, kill and destroy so much of their beloved faith in Israel or Palestine as they call it.

We must hope war, especially on such a large scale, will never be needed.

But if war is trumpeted by our leaders, we must make sure it is absolutely necessary, and not just heralded in for the war profiteers.

I believe we should try to tame Iran, rather than incite it.
We should at least think about re-establishing a diplomatic exchange and a pathway for trade and economic partnership.

Nations that benefit from each other (especially economically) are much less inclined to war with each other.

Iran has a lot of oil we could use, and they could use our trade.

Schakowsky

Iran’s push toward nuclear weapons poses a grave threat to regional and global stability, and the United States has been a leader in efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions. While I do not believe we can take any options off the table, I strongly believe we need to first exhaust our full range of diplomatic and economic options, including biting sanctions, before discussing military alternatives. I cosponsored and voted for H.R. 1905, the Iran Threat Reduction Act. Strong sanctions have had a crippling effect on Iran’s economy, and I support President Obama’s efforts to mobilize the international community to enact multilateral sanctions and further isolate Iran. We must continue to work with Israel and other regional partners to push Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

In addition to critical efforts to halt Iran’s progress toward nuclear weapons, the U.S. has also been a leader in ensuring that the Straits of Hormuz remain open to international traffic. About one fifth of the world’s oil passes through the Straits annually, and Iran must abide by its international commitments and keep the Straits open. The U.S. also must continue to be a leading voice in encouraging the Iranian government to end its crackdown on civil society and to improve its abysmal human rights record.

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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    ALL
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    Ribeiro
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    Schakowsky
Ribeiro

Afghanistan is a tricky situation.

Success, at this point, would be a stable country.

If we pull out the fragile government we propped up may fall and extremist factions may come back to power.

However, bad this would be, it could be contained, and in time, fade to more moderate levels (somewhat like Vietnam, we were just delaying the inevitable).

Either, we make a commitment to get out (eventually).
Or we make a commitment to stay in (indefinitely).

Either choice is going to have difficult consequences.
I tend to believe we should get out militarily (if wanted by the natives), but stay in economically (if wanted by the natives).

This way we could try to help the people of that country economically, and minimize our military "footprint."

Schakowsky

“Success” in Afghanistan is a stable country that does not pose a threat to the United States. I support President Obama’s decision to begin to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. I do not believe that we can achieve our goals in Afghanistan through military means, nor do I feel that further involvement of U.S. troops will improve our national security. I support ending the war and bringing our troops home and have urged the President to accelerate his timeline for troop withdrawal. I concerned by the recent suggestion, by U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker, that the 2014 deadline for the full withdrawal of U.S. troops could be extended. I believe we must bring our troops home as swiftly and safely as possible.

The threats we face in Afghanistan are both real and serious. As we reduce our military footprint in Afghanistan, we need to invest in diplomatic and economic engagement with the Afghan people. Among other priorities, I support increased outreach to Afghan civil society, investment in women, development of infrastructure, and strengthening the rule of law. Instead of focusing our discussion on troop levels, we need to devote greater attention to our diplomatic and humanitarian efforts to build infrastructure and capacity, to fight corruption, and to promote peace and development in Afghanistan.

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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    ALL
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    Ribeiro
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Ribeiro

As a professional educator, I know this Act was flawed in its inception, but work was done to improve it.
I have to study all the provisions of the Act before I can render judgment.

In general, I think standardized tests (if they are done right) as a measure of student achievement are good.
They let us know where we are at and how we can improve.
But they should not be measures of school or teacher achievement.

Students in Poor communities and children with learning disabilities on average will not perform as well as their counterparts.

Teachers may be very good, but if a student is lazy or going through family problems, he or she will not perform well on the test.

Teachers and schools can and should be evaluated by expert observers rather than by students' tests.

It is good to have one national standard to assess states fairly.
The tests should not be the focal point of a student's education.

Disciplines outside of the test's usual core subjects of math and reading have and will continue to get marginalized even further, which is detrimental of a well-rounded education.

Studies show that more time devoted to inter-disciplinary studies, as well as the arts, such as music, drawing, dance, and physical education strengthen not only many other subjects, but also that they build on the core subjects as well.

Education should be more equitably funded. It should be funded by income tax more, and less by property tax (especially during a foreclosure crisis).

Schakowsky

Education is critical in allowing individuals to reach and stay in the middle-class and to provide the skilled workforce our businesses need. We need to work to provide quality education from pre-school through community college, vocational education, and higher-education. Skimping on investments in education will have lasting consequences for our nation. With the upcoming reauthorization of ESEA, we have an opportunity to move our education system into the 21st century – reducing class sizes, utilizing comprehensive growth models to measure student improvement, and improving access to supportive services that help underserved and impoverished youth remain in school. We should focus on increasing academic performance, reducing achievement gaps (which will also require us to address the consequences of poverty on education), and providing support for all students in all public schools. To that end, I believe the Administration’s blueprint does not go far enough in reforming the ESEA law. And, while I appreciate the work the Senate has done to advance a reauthorization bill, including leaving teacher evaluations to the state and local level and providing districts with more flexibility, I believe that more needs to be done to reduce the focus on testing.

We must work with teachers, parents and students to set up quality improvement standards that are fair, flexible, and, most importantly, adequately funded. Programs like Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act must receive adequate resources to provide access to a meaningful education and expanding opportunities for higher education to students who might otherwise go without. I believe that we need to make sure that we’re putting the most qualified and committed teachers in our classrooms, just as I believe that we need to create a work environment where teachers are treated like the professionals that they are. Orchestrated attacks on public school teachers – such as attempts to eliminate collective bargaining rights – harm the ability to attract and retain quality teachers.

It is clear that states need additional flexibility when it comes to turning around struggling schools. The definition of success in education should not rely solely on one test score. We need to improve accountability – not just through standardized testing – but by allowing states the flexibility to craft systems that work in their communities, for their schools, and for their students. Finally, no educational reform will be successful if we fail to address poverty and its consequences – homelessness, hunger, and poor health. Fact: “In 2009 U.S. Schools with fewer than 10 percent of students in poverty ranked first among all nations on the Programme for International Student Achievement tests in reading, while those serving more than 75 percent of students in poverty scored alongside nations like Serbia, ranking fiftieth” (The Nation, January 10, 2012).

The race
The candidates
Simon Ribeiro
Janice D. Schakowsky
The district
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