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Congress, District 5

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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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Mike Quigley
Political party: Democrat
Birthdate: 10/17/1958
Occupation: U.S. Representative
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Barbara

Education:

Mike completed his undergraduate work at Roosevelt University, earned a master's degree in public policy from the University of Chicago, and a law degree from the Loyola University School of Law, all in Chicago

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Mike has been active in our community for over 30 years and has attended a minimum of 3000 community meetings over this time.

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

Yes, I served as a Cook County Commissioner from 1999 to 2009.

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

Mike's brother currently works at the Cook County Assessor's Office.

Nancy L Wade
Political party: Green Party
Birthdate: Did not respond
Occupation: teacher
Marital status: married
Spouse: Frank W. Scott

Education:

In 2005 I earned a Masters of Teaching Language Arts from Northeastern Illinois University and graduated in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Communication from the University of Minnesota.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Illinois Green Party

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

Local School Council, Pritzker Elementary School

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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Quigley

Campaign headquarters: P.O. Box 13040, Chicago, IL 60613
Website: www.quigleyforcongress.com
Campaign manager: Mike Quigley
Campaign budget: $225,000.00
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
We have had several donors who have made maximum donations to Mike's campaign. All of our campaign donors can be found on Mike's website at www.quigleyforcongress.com.

Wade

Campaign headquarters: PO Box 408370, 4850 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640
Website: www.wadeincongress.org
Campaign manager: Walter Pituc
Campaign budget: 5,000
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
Monica Pinkey $500
Gena Wade $500
Sam Holloway $400
Mary Lou Wade $200
All other contributors are individuals and have donated $100 or less

What are your top three priorities for the nation?
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Quigley

#1 --
Job creation, by investing in infrastructure and encouraging small business growth. Only 7% of the Recovery Act went to infrastructure spending, but that 7% created 60% of the jobs. Good roads, bridges, and mass transit are essential public goods that support private sector growth and job creation, and both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO agree on this point.

#2 --
Budget reform, in the way of reforming our tax code and reducing our debt and deficit.

In order to get our fiscal house in order, any deficit reduction plan needs to include both spending cuts and revenue increases. I support the modified Simpson-Bowles approach, which uses that ratio to reach $4 trillion total in deficit reduction, while including language that protects Medicare. In March, I joined five of my colleagues in offering a budget guided by these principles on the House floor. It was the only budget that achieved what I like to call the 3B's: it was big ($4 trillion in deficit reduction), balanced ($1 of revenue increases for every $2 in spending cuts), and bipartisan (it was originally offered by three Democrats and three Republicans). For any deficit reduction plan to be credible, it has to achieve the 3B's.

In addition, I don't believe any area of the budget should be off-limits when it comes to deficit reduction. There can be no sacred cows when it comes to balancing our books the way families do every day. Last year, I published a deficit reduction report (called "Reinventing Government") which called for more transparency in budgeting and made 60 recommendations to save $2 trillion over the next 10 years. These recommendations included savings from reforms to health care, defense, domestic spending, and the tax code.

My approach to tax reform is similar to the approach taken by President Reagan and Congressman Rostenkowski years ago -- broaden the base and lower rates. We can broaden the base by clearing out most of the special interest tax breaks that cost a collective $1.2 trillion in lost revenue each year. With that extra revenue, we can lower rates accordingly.
#3 --
Government reform: ending waste, fraud and abuse and bringing more transparency to Washington. This was my focus for more than ten years when I served on the Cook County Board, and I've continued the fight in Washington by identifying efficiencies and eliminating duplicative government that wastes taxpayer dollars.

Legislation I authored to eliminate federal pension payouts for elected officials convicted of public corruption crimes was recently passed as part of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act).

I co-founded and chair the bipartisan Transparency Caucus and sponsored a bill to provide each taxpayer with a detailed receipt of how their tax dollars are spent by the government.

I was the lead Democrat on a bill to cut wasteful federal property spending that costs taxpayers $1.7 billion annually to maintain properties we no longer need or use.

And, since being elected to office, I've worked closely with Senator Mark Kirk on legislation - the State Ethics Law Protection Act - an effort that prohibits the Federal Highway Administration from withholding federal funds from states like Illinois that have enacted laws against pay-to-play practices in contracting decisions. We need to encourage ethical behavior, not corrode the integrity of the public works projects and allow individuals to profit at the expense of the American taxpayers.

Finally, I have authored a number of good-government bills including (1) The Transparency in Government Act, an omnibus reform bill that increases reporting on everything from earmarks, to financial disclosures of Members of Congress, to information regarding government contractors; (2) The Lobbyist Disclosure Enhancement Act, which improves reporting and transparency of interactions between lobbyists and Members of Congress; and (3) The Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act, a bipartisan measure that will make all Executive reports to Congress available to the public online for free.

Wade

1. Create green jobs that benefit our communities. Generate revenue by having the wealthiest among us pay their fair share. With this revenue convert our infrastructure to be green and sustainable, create youth corps, senior corps, park corps, educational improvements, local food initiatives, mental health facilities, and other services for communities hardest hit by the economic irresponsibility of regressive policies that have transferred wealth away from the 99% and to the 1%.
Pass the Buffet Rule to start undoing the inequities in our tax structure. Right now the top wealth-holders pay a significantly smaller percentage in income tax than do the rest of us. The marginal income tax on the top 1% should return to pre-1981 levels. A transaction tax should be charged on all Wall Street speculative transactions. Those who profit from gambling with our economic future must contribute a percentage of their profits to improving the common good.
2. End the wars and cut the basic military budget by 25 percent over the next decade. National defense has become the nation's biggest jobs program. We need to invest this money here at home to provide sustainable jobs for our young people.
3. Creating a National Climate Defense plan. We must have a livable planet. The U.S. should be the world leader in converting to a green, sustainable economy.

What are your specific priorities for your congressional district?
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Quigley

As I mention above, I believe investment in infrastructure can have an enormous impact on job creation, public safety, and community development. Investing in projects like the Elgin O'Hare Western Bypass, the Regional and Chicago Transit Authorities, and our local schools are all priorities in the 5th Congressional District.

I also want represent all parts of the district -- current and newly drawn -- with the utmost integrity. At the end of the day, even if we don't agree on every issue, it's most important to me that I am accessible to every constituent and understand their concerns.

Wade

Bring green jobs to the fifth district that benefit our communities. We can start in the 5th district to show the leadership needed to return good jobs to our communities through an Environmental Defense Initiative for the district. I will bring civic, academic, and business leaders together to create this initiative. We need to discover the environmental defense talents and initiatives already being pursued in the 5th district, and work together to develop new approaches. My priority is to bring the green, sustainable jobs of the new green, sustainable economy of the future to the 5th district now.

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

I have not signed this pledge, and will not be signing it for two reasons.

One, as a general rule, I do not sign on to pledges even if I do believe in their underlying intent. A pledge cannot grow and evolve, as a Member of Congress must do with those he or she represents. A pledge does not take into account each constituent, it generalizes. A pledge makes things black and white -- a nice idea in theory, but hardly practical.

Two, I do not support the intent of this pledge. Any deficit reduction plan needs to be balanced, and so it has to include some net revenue increases.

Wade

I would not. A large part of the economic difficulties we are in is the result of inequities in taxation. We absolutely must have tax increases on the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share. We must have a Wall Street transaction tax. We must close the off-shore tax haven loopholes. Corporations must pay their fair share of income taxes. I would not raise the tax burden on the poor or the middle class.

Which sitting Supreme Court justice do you admire most and why? Which current justice do you think has been the greatest disappointment and why?
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I believe that the Constitution is a living, breathing document -- a document that requires a pragmatic view. When interpreting these great words, oftentimes one must consider the greater, overarching intent of a law, and not face each line as if things are merely black or white. Justice Breyer was quoted as stating that he believes that when reviewing, one must consider "purpose and consequence," and I wholeheartedly agree.

As for disappointment in the Court's sitting justices -- I don't harbor such sentiments. I don't purport to be able to do the job of those serving the Court, and though I may disagree with their views, would never cite disappointment as the way I feel about how one justice may serve his or her country.

In my mind, one of the most important figures in Supreme Court history is also the man who served the longest, and was the most prolific, Justice William Douglas. It's fair to say that if Justice Douglas and I were to have served on the Court together, we would have conflicted greatly, and many times, as he's noted as "the most doctrinaire and committed civil libertarian ever to sit on the court." Still, an ardent advocate for the environment and an avid outdoorsman, like myself, he once argued in Sierra Club V. Morton that trees had the right to sue in court. Any man that gives the trees a voice is fine by me.

Wade

I particularly admire all of the women justices. I am from a generation of women who were told our options in life were severely limited by our gender. These women have persevered to become the highest judges in our country. I admire them for this achievement.

Clarence Thomas's wife has made a lot of money from lobbying against healthcare reform. He should have and did not recuse himself from ruling on the Affordable Care Act. This is unethical behavior not worthy of any judge, much less one sitting on the highest court.

Is there a problem of a growing income and wealth gap in the United States? If so, what's to be done about it?
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There is definitely a growing income and wealth gap in this country. Between 1977 and 2008, average incomes in the U.S. grew by $11,699. Income growth is good, but unfortunately all of that income growth went to the richest 10% of Americans, according to a study from the University of California, Berkeley. Income for the bottom 90% didn't just stagnate--it declined. This has led to a significant concentration of wealth among the richest Americans. According to a joint study between Harvard Business School and Duke University, the richest 20% of Americans own almost 85% of this country's wealth. The richest 40% of Americans own about 95%. That leaves just 5% of the wealth for 60% of Americans.

Closing this gap means providing opportunities for lower income Americans. Economic mobility should be a core component of the American dream, but as it turns out, the United States is not as economically mobile as many European countries. According to a 2007 report from the Brookings Institution, fathers' earnings predict about 47% of their sons' earnings in the United States. Contrast that with Germany, where fathers' earning predict 32% of sons' earnings, and Scandinavia, where fathers' earning predict less than 20% of sons' earning.

To restore the American dream of rewarding hard work with economic success, we need to invest in transportation, infrastructure, job training, and education. These public investments will help level the playing field for all Americans and ensure that the circumstances of one's birth do not deny anyone the opportunity to be successful.

Wade

The wealth held by the top 400 Americans is more than the combined wealth of the bottom 150 million, as economist Robert Reich pointed out earlier this year.

There are significant dangers in this. The American Dream is founded on opportunity for all. As the wealth gap widens it becomes more difficult for the great majority of us to have access to economic mobility and opportunity. The very wealthy have disproportionate access to politicians, lawmaking, and government institutions.

Is global warming real? What, if anything, should be done about it?
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Quigley

Global warming is real, and it's more than an environmental threat at this point -- it's a threat to our national public health, our economy, and our way of life.

Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, and a prominent climate change skeptic recently announced a change in his stance on the issue. "Call me a converted skeptic," he wrote this July. "Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I'm now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause."

The only way forward is to establish a national energy plan, something this great nation has always lacked, and to work with businesses and conservationists alike to get this done.

We must craft a plan that focuses on working with the business community, hand-in-hand, to be competitive internationally. Our focus should be public transportation and green infrastructure. Conservation, as demonstrated so adeptly by our own President's increase in CAFE standards earlier this year must be the primary tenant of our plans. And, we must -- we must -- be creative and business friendly.

Wade

Climate change is the gravest environmental, social and economic peril that humanity has ever met. It is a tragedy unfolding in slow motion and the human contribution has been identified by a consensus of scientists.

Accelerating climate change is a reality. The U.S. must rise to meet this challenge in a decisive, bold way worthy of our leadership in the world. I call for a National Environmental Defense policy to prevent further deterioration of our environment and climate.

We must have a National Climate Defense Plan to meet the challenges of climate change. It must include most of all a strong commitment to move away from fossil fuels and a fossil fuel-based economy. We must replace these energy sources with cleaner, sustainable energy and implement an ambitious drive to refit for conservation of energy.

The U.S. has taken on massive challenges before and triumphed. As the leader of the world in fossil fuel consumption we must be the leader in moving the world toward the green, sustainable future we must have.

At this time there are numerous policies within the grasp of Congress, such as mandating improved fuel economy in automobiles; investing in a comprehensive nationwide high-speed rail project and in local mass transit in order to reduce auto dependency; investing in renewable sources of energy and encouraging conservation (through tax credits and the like). There should be a halt to all hydraulic fracturing, the Keystone pipeline should not be built, off shore drilling should not expand, and we should enact a carbon tax to move the fossil fuel industry decisively towards developing green energy production. The revenue from a carbon tax should be used for research and development of green alternative energy solutions. The U.S. should abide by the Kyoto Protocol and immediately pursue the goal of reducing carbon emissions by 25% by 2022, significantly more than the 5.2% called for in the protocol.

We must move the environment and climate change to the top of our national priorities. Without a livable climate all other individual and national endeavors cannot be pursued.

President Obama, working with other nations, has pushed economic sanctions to compel Iran to cease work on a nuclear bomb. Critics say the sanctions are working too slowly and a military strike by the U.S or Israel is necessary. What should be done?
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First and foremost, we must implement crippling sanctions as quickly as possible. We must also use our political capital to ensure other nations, such as China, Russia, and India, follow suit. The U.S. and our allies in Europe are making great progress in implementing sanctions, and Iran is feeling the pressure. The key is to ensure Iran does not have a release valve in the form of trade with nations like China and Russia. The State Department cannot put its diplomatic relations with such nations ahead of pressing for full compliance with sanctions.

Second, we must keep the military option on the table. It is my sincere hope that military action will not be necessary, but taking any option off the table at this point would be premature. We must do everything in our power to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and protect our closest friend and ally in the region -- Israel.

Wade

The U.S. should not preemptively strike Iran. We should not support Israel doing so. If Iran succeeds in developing a nuclear bomb it would mean that the nuclear power of Israel in the region is countered by the nuclear power of Iran. This would deter either of them from resorting to nuclear force, just as has happened with Pakistan and India. Mutually assured destruction is a powerful deterrent to the use of nuclear weapons. Either the U.S. or Israel starting a conflict by attacking Iran would lead to widespread conventional war in the region, which would be extremely destructive and could lead to global war.

Republicans have criticized the Obama administration for cutting military spending. Democrats have defended spending cuts as necessary to balancing the federal budget, while insisting they are committed to a strong military. What's your view?
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Quigley

I don't believe any area of the budget should be off-limits when it comes to deficit reduction, and that includes military spending. Last year, I published a deficit reduction report called Reinventing Government, in which I made 60 recommendations to save $2 trillion over the next 10 years. These recommendations included savings from reforms to health care, defense, domestic spending, and the tax code.

On the issue of defense cuts, in my Reinventing report I propose $600 to $700 billion in cuts that could be made to our military budget, without harming our national security. A variety of military and defense experts have suggested a number of cuts that could be made to our defense budget while maintaining America's security.

The fact is, we have an oversized military budget that comprises almost 20 percent of our federal budget, and has doubled over the last ten years. Rather than realigning our military budget to meet today's threats -- global terrorists -- we continue to fund programs designed to fight enemies of the past. We no longer need permanent troops stationed in Europe and Japan to counter the communists or a nuclear arsenal big enough to fight the Soviets. We spend $500 billion on military bands alone. And we are flying blind. The Department of Defense's budget can't even be audited, and won't audit-ready until at least 2017.

We have to start spending smarter, not simply more. We need to invest in good intelligence, special operations (like the team that killed Osama Bin Laden), drones and other targeted military investments to go after terrorist wherever they are. Not only are large-scale ground war and rebuilding efforts, like the one we are undertaking in Afghanistan, hugely expensive, they are also ineffective.
We have limited resources, and that means making choices. I will spend whatever is necessary to keep America safe, but I think we spend a lot less than we currently do to achieve that goal. Because when we overspend on the military it means we have to make deep cuts to vital domestic investments such as education, infrastructure, and job training. In the end, have a vibrant economy and an educated, healthy workforce here at home is the best form of national defense. As Admiral Mike Mullen once said, "the greatest threat to our national security is our debt."

Wade

Cut the basic military budget by 25 percent over the next decade. The military eats up ever more of our national resources. Historically, societies that have devoted an excess of their resources to the military have ultimately bankrupted themselves. We are on such a path.

National defense has become the nation's biggest jobs program. We need to invest this money here at home to provide sustainable jobs for our young people. We must give them better choices than looking to the war machinery for employment because they see few other options.

How would you reform the financial time bomb of Medicare? Should there be a defined contribution (where the government decides what it will pay) or a defined benefit (where the government guarantees a level of coverage)?
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Quigley

My report, "Reinventing Government: The Federal Budget," outlines a menu of health reform that could save the federal government $300 billion to $500 billion over ten years.

First, we have to end the fee-for-service system, which pays health providers based on the quantity of care they provide rather than the quality of care. Our system currently incentivizes unnecessary care. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes a number of provisions that will help us make this transition to fee-for-quality. For instance, the bill authorized the CMS Innovation Center, which will fund pilots around the country to test which fee-for-value reform improves care and lowers costs.

Second, we have to reduce drug costs, which are one of the fastest growing sectors of health care. We can do this through a variety of reforms, such as shortening the exclusivity period for brand name biologic drugs, prohibiting pay-for-delay agreements that allow for-profit drug companies to pay generic companies to keep cheaper generics off the market, and requiring drug companies to pay Medicare rebates equal to those paid to Medicaid.

Third, we can empower the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to combat Medicare waste, fraud, and abuse in order to save millions.

As for the question of supporting a defined contribution versus a defined benefit, I believe our primary objective must be to ensure people get the health care they need. Simply giving Medicare recipients a lump sum that that does not keep up with health care costs is not the answer. Still, continuing to pay for increasingly expensive care is unsustainable. The key is to reduce underlying health care costs so that the coverage people need to stay healthy remains affordable, both for the government and for those paying through private insurance. We can reduce underlying health costs for everyone by changing our incentive system from one that pays for quantity of care to one that pays for quality of care. Health care providers around the country are conducting pilot programs as we speak that are reducing costs and improving care by rewarding efficiency.

For instance, one pilot project involving 5,000 physicians and 220,000 Medicare beneficiaries allowed physicians to share in savings if they met certain cost and quality targets and was able to achieve significant cost savings -- up to $532 for certain Medicare beneficiaries. The key is that these savings came, not from cutting needed benefits, but from improving quality, by for example, reducing
hospitalization rates. We can cut costs and improve care, but we have to start paying for quality not quantity.

Wade

The "Medicare time-bomb" can be solved by extending Medicare to all. This would remove the insurance companies whose only function is to skim a profit from a basic human right, thus dramatically reducing costs. In addition, we would move toward a more effective level of care, as other advanced countries with single payer healthcare enjoy.

Economist Robert Reich gives the rationale for this position:

Medicare's administrative costs are in the range of 3 percent. That's well below the 5 to 10 percent costs borne by large companies that self-insure. It's even further below the administrative costs of companies in the small-group market (amounting to 25 to 27 percent of premiums). It is much lower than the administrative costs of individual insurance (40 percent). It's even far below the 11 percent costs of private plans under Medicare Advantage, the current private-insurance option under Medicare.

In addition, allow Medicare and Medicaid to use their huge bargaining leverage to negotiate lower rates with hospitals, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies. This would help move health care from a fee-for-the-most-costly-service system into one designed to get the highest-quality outcomes most cheaply.

Estimates of how much would be saved by extending Medicare to cover the entire population range from $58 billion to $400 billion a year. More Americans would get quality health care, and the long-term budget crisis would be sharply reduced.

On the issue of abortion, the two major political parties take very different stands. The Democratic platform supports a woman's right to seek a "safe and legal" abortion, regardless of her ability to pay. The Republican platform states that the "unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed." The Republican platform does not address whether exceptions should be made to a ban on abortions, such rape or incest. Where, if anywhere, do you part company with your party's platform on abortion?
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Quigley

I believe abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. As for parting company, I believe the Republican Party, if anyone, has parted company from their own platform, as the tea party extremists have driven the party of Ronald Reagan to a far right, undistinguishable place.

For instance, those on the other side of the aisle claim to oppose abortion, and yet they continually attack access to birth control, which has been shown to reduce unintended pregnancies and therefore abortions. They have launched continual attacks against providing birth control through public programs, such as Title X (which funds Planned Parenthood), and even private insurance, paid for with private dollars.

I am a leader of the Pro-Choice Caucus and have continuously fought in both of my committees and on the House floor against measures aimed at restricting a woman's right to choose.

I have consistently voted against attempts to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, and I have spoken in support of the vital work they do on numerous occasions.

Wade

Women must have the right to control our own bodies. This includes the very personal choice of whether to have a child. I advocate Medicare for all with reproductive care, including abortion.

As a Green Party candidate I support my party's stance on abortion and reproductive rights. That is:

Women's right to control their bodies is non-negotiable. It is essential that the option of a safe, legal abortion remains available. The "morning- after" pill must be affordable and easily accessible without a prescription, together with a government-sponsored public relations campaign to educate women about this form of contraception. Clinics must be accessible and must offer advice on contraception and the means for contraception; consultation about abortion and the performance of abortions, and; abortion regardless of age or marital status.

We endorse women's right to use contraception and, when they choose, to have an abortion. This right cannot be limited to women's age or marital status. Contraception and abortion must be included in all health insurance policies in the U.S., and any state government must be able to legally offer these services free of charge to women at the poverty level. Public health agencies operating abroad should be allowed to offer family planning, contraception, and abortion in all countries that ask for those services. We oppose our government's habit of cutting family planning funds when those funds go to agencies in foreign countries that give out contraceptive devices, offer advice on abortion, and perform abortions.

The Democratic Party platform, for the first time, supports civil gay marriage, but adds that churches should be allowed to administer marriage as a sacrament as they see fit, "without government interference." The Republican Party platform calls for a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman." Where do you stand?
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Quigley

I believe in marriage equality, plain and simple. I support repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, (DOMA) a discriminatory policy that has no place on our books. Same-sex couples married under state laws serve their communities, pay taxes, and raise their families the same as anyone else.

Through DOMA, which was signed into law 13 years ago, on September 21, 1996, the federal government can single out legally married same-sex couples for discriminatory treatment under federal law, selectively denying them more than 1,100 federal protections and responsibilities -- including Social Security and immigration benefits -- that otherwise apply to married couples.

This policy is discriminatory and harmful to families, preventing the government from honoring its legal commitments and the needs of families, even though these couples have assumed the obligations of civil marriage under state law and contribute as citizens and taxpayers.

Wade

All people who wish to marry should have the right to do so. The same rights and responsibilities afforded to heterosexual couples must be extended to all others regardless of sexual orientation who want to enter into a contract of marriage.

On the issue of Social Security, the Republican Party platform proposes making no changes in the system for "any current or near-retiree" but envisions allowing younger workers to choose personal investment accounts as "supplements." The Democratic platform pledges to "find a solution" and warns of subjecting a retiree's benefits to the "whims of the stock market." What should be done?
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Quigley

I support modest changes to Social Security to put the program on a sustainable path, because Social Security represents one of the pillars of social justice in this country: the right of workers to retire in dignity instead of poverty.

First and foremost, any changes to Social Security should not be applicable to anyone in the workforce above the age of 55. Next, we should extend the Social Security payroll tax to capture 90% of wages. We should continue on to include non-covered state and local government workers in Social Security. As a last resort, we should consider marginal changes to the retirement age, again, only for people under the age of 55. And, we should also increase the minimum benefit for lower income individuals.

The very soul of Social Security centers on protecting the most vulnerable in our society, and we should ensure it achieves that goal.

Wade

The $110,100 wage base beyond which wages cannot be taxed for social security should be eliminated. Higher earners should continue to pay payroll taxes on amounts above $110,100 but their benefits should not be increased. In this way Social Security can remain solvent and in place for generations to come.

The recent economic crash most middle class people saw their savings that were invested in the stock market drastically decrease. We have not seen those savings return. With this example fresh in our experience it is beyond irresponsible to advocate placing Social Security funds at the whims of the stock market.

Do you support "right-to-work" laws, now in effect in 23 states and promoted in the Republican Party platform, that limit the extent to which labor unions can require membership and the paying of union dues as a condition of employment? Or do you agree with the Democratic Party platform that such laws are "attacks" on the right of workers to organize?
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Quigley

I oppose right-to-work laws. This is an unreasonable limitation on the rights of workers to organize.

Wade

The "right-to-work" laws are a direct attack on unions and the protections they give workers. "Right-to-work" laws form a race to the bottom in terms of worker protection from unfair labor practices, undermining of wages, and reduction of benefits. Under federal law, unions must represent all workers covered by a contract, even if some of those workers are not members of the union and do not pay for the union's representation. When a worker receives the benefit of union representation the worker should contribute to the cost of that representation.

What further federal legal restrictions should be imposed on guns of any kind?
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Quigley

Over the span of one weekend this past summer, six people were shot inside of fifteen minutes in our hometown, Chicago. Seven more victims were killed within weeks of that weekend including two 16 year old boys. In total in Chicago, since January, over 200 people have been killed in shootings. And, nationwide, everyday 34 people are killed by guns. We must implement further federal legal restrictions on gun purchases and ownership.

Sure, we can't stop would-be assassins with 100 percent certainty, but we can make it a lot harder for them to get their hands on automatic weapons. We can ensure every gun is purchased after a background check, rather only 60 percent of guns, as is currently the case. And, we can reduce the fatality rate by banning assault rifles and high-capacity magazines that are designed exclusively for killing dozens of people at once.

The gun lobby tries to argue that any attempt to regulate gun access is an attempt to restrict all gun access. This is simply not true. There is such a thing as common-sense middle ground gun reform -- and most gun owners support it. 81 percent of gun owners support requiring a background check on all firearm purchases.

Yet, 40 percent of U.S. gun sales are conducted by private sellers who are not required to perform background checks. These private sellers operate at gun shows where anyone can walk in and buy whatever gun they want. Convicted felons, domestic abusers, the severely mentally ill, and even people on the terrorist watch list can -- and do -- go into gun shows and buy any gun they want.

Ninety percent of all Americans also support strengthening databases to prevent the mentally ill from buying guns. But sadly, ten states have still failed to flag a single person as mentally ill in the national background check database, and 17 other states have fewer than 100 people listed as mentally ill. Over a million disqualifying mental health records are still missing from the database.

Finally, we must have a conversation about getting assault weapons and high-capacity magazines -- machines designed exclusively for killing a lot of people -- off the streets. When you have a high-volume magazine or an assault weapon, you're not hunting deer or protecting your home - you're out to hunt people.

Wade

All guns should be regulated as much as cars are. The Violence Policy Center reports that ninety percent of American households own a car while fewer than a third own firearms, yet in Colorado alone in 2009 there were more gun deaths than vehicle deaths: 583 gun deaths, 565 motor vehicle deaths. The same was true of nine other states.

As with cars, people should have to register their gun purchase, be educated about using it safely, have to buy insurance against the possibility of damage to people or property caused by its use, and guns for hunting should have improved safety mechanisms. In addition, every gun purchaser should have a background check, no loop holes, no exceptions. We need to reinstate the ban on assault weapons. They are designed with one purpose, to kill people, and have no place in a peaceful society.

The Republican Party platform calls for a mandatory requirement that employers verify the legal status of their employees and rejects any amnesty for illegal immigrants. The Democratic Party platform calls for reforming the American immigration system to bring "undocumented immigrants out of the shadows" and requires them to "get right with the law, learn English, and pay taxes in order to get on a path to earn citizenship." Which approach do you favor? Most specifically, what should be done?
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Quigley

I support the Democratic Party platform, and the desire to bring undocumented immigrants to a place where they can be made legal, U.S. citizens, contributing by working in a legal and equitable work environment, pay taxes, go to school, and serve in our U.S. military -- as many undocumented immigrants already do.

As globalization shrinks our world, establishing a fair system to account for the movement of people across and within our borders becomes increasingly important. I support comprehensive immigration reform that is right, just, and fair for all -- working towards concrete and pragmatic solutions for border security.

I support President Obama's directive to stop deportation of undocumented immigrants who are in college or the military, and was a strong supporter of the DREAM Act, giving everyone born in the United States an opportunity to attend college or serve in the military. Still, I believe we must document the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. I am hopeful the next Congress takes on Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Wade

It must be acknowledged that the trigger for such an influx of immigrants in this country has been largely due to unfair US trade policies. If it were economically possible to provide for their families many would choose to remain in their native countries. Any immigration policy should be seen a way to address all people's humanitarian needs as we undo the damage to local communities and chart a course toward sustainable local economies.

The U.S. needs a complete overhaul of its immigration laws. Our current situation has created extreme social injustice. Millions of people are living and working in the U.S. with no legal status, making them subject to extreme exploitation and abuse. Immigration raids are terrorizing the immigrant community. Families are being broken up. Employer abuses of undocumented workers are rampant. Countries do have a right to know the identity of persons seeking to enter. They also have the right to limit who can enter in order to protect public safety. My proposals may not yield perfect answers, but they provide better answers than the status quo.

We must recognize that there cannot be any true solutions to the conflicts created by immigration until we are able to organize globally to overcome the power of multinational corporations, which are engaged in an unending campaign to drive down workers' living standards everywhere. International cooperation and solidarity among labor organizations, to advance the rights of labor and raise such living standards globally, are essential to combat this trend. Until the power of the multinationals is curbed, we will continue to be confronted with seemingly "no win" choices.

Therefore, the undocumented immigrants who are already residing and working in the United States, and their families, should be granted a legal status which includes the chance to become U.S. citizens. Persons should be excluded from this process only if they present a clear and present danger to other members of our society. The level of fees required for this process should not be a burden on low income workers.

In any path to citizenship created to provide an orderly and appropriate resolution of the status of persons currently in the United States without proper documentation, there must be a recognition of past, uncredited payments into the Social Security System as part of any fees assessed for regularization of status.

I have additional recommendations in regard to who should have a right to come and live and work in the U.S. as detailed in the Green Party platform on immigration. All are based upon a respect for human rights, justice, and fairness. The understandable concern about immigrant workers competing for jobs with current citizens cannot and should not be addressed by criminalizing undocumented immigration or punishing fellow victims of U.S. corporatist policies.

I support the DREAM Act. I do not support a mandatory requirement that employers verify the legal status of their employees.

The candidates
Mike Quigley

Mike Quigley

Nancy L. Wade

Nancy L. Wade

 

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The district
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