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U.S. Senate: Mark Steven Kirk


Political affiliation: Republican

City: Highland Park

Marital status: Not married

Occupation/Firm name: U.S. Representative

Campaign HQ address: 3100 Dundee Rd #108, Northbrook, IL 60062

Campaign website: www.kirkforsenate.com

What is your campaign budget- No response

What are your top priorities for the nation-

America remains in economic crisis and we need a new direction to rescue our economy. On the home front, we must get our fiscal house in order to promote economic growth. At the same time, we must keep our focus on the President's mission in Afghanistan and stop Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

My top five national priorities would be:

Pass a small business bill of rights to create jobs: To promote job creation and economic growth I have put forward a Small Business Bill of Rights that would:

o Protect secret ballots in union elections

o Lower health costs in lawsuit reforms and interstate competition

o Lower energy costs with credits for efficient equipment and hybrids

o Permit children to continue business with low/no death tax

o Exempt small businesses from capital gains tax for 10 years

o Make immigration laws easy to comply with

o Create a Patent Office fast lane for small business innovation

o SBA to limit federal paperwork for small businesses to 200 hours annually

o Prevent AMT from taxing the middle class

o Reduce the deficit to encourage jobs and improve credit

Cut wasteful government spending:￯﾿ᄑ I was the first member of the House Appropriations Committee to reject pork-barrel earmark spending.￯﾿ᄑ It was the Kirk Amendment that canceled House funding for the Alaskan "Bridge to Nowhere."￯﾿ᄑ

By eliminating earmarks, enacting the line-item veto and passing the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, we can dramatically reduce wasteful spending and restore fiscal discipline. We should end wasteful programs like the federal sugar program and fight fraud, waste and abuse. We should change Congressional rules to require a supermajority vote to spend beyond our means.

Keep taxes low: Before the end of the year, Congress will decide whether to extend the tax relief passed in 2001 and 2003--or allow that tax relief to expire. If the tax relief expires, marginal income tax rates will increase across the board. Capital gains taxes on investments will go up and slow our economic recovery. The marriage penalty and death tax will return--and the child tax credit will be cut in half.

I support current tax relief. To protect families and support small business growth, we should also repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax, lower the capital gains rate to 10 percent and lift the annual capital loss deduction to $20,000.

Back up the Troops in Afghanistan: America has a no-failure option in Afghanistan. I supported the President's decision to surge. I agree with the President's strategy to expand the Afghan police and army and remove corrupt Afghan government officials from office. While gains by our NATO forces and the Afghan government will be very difficult, September 11th reminds us that ignoring Afghanistan will not keep our families safe.

Stop Iran's Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons: Iran's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons poses a direct long-term threat to American national security, presents an existential threat to the future of the State of Israel and threatens to destabilize the Middle East. The administration must enforce current sanctions laws--covering oil, natural gas, gasoline and banking sectors--to force Iran's leaders to comply with their commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

What are your top priorities for the state-

With unemployment still over 10 percent, the state's debt spiraling out of control and families struggling to stay afloat, we need leadership at the state and Federal level to put Illinois back on track. As I outlined above, I will make job creation and economic growth a top priority--and I will oppose attempts to raise federal taxes for Illinois families or impose crippling regulations on Illinois small business owners. I will fight for infrastructure investments and middle class relief.

At the same time, we cannot understate the economic cost of corruption and the devastating impact George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich had on our state. During the past several years, Illinois was misrepresented by corrupt politicians who served themselves instead of the people who elected them.

To begin down a path of reform, we must first choose leaders who do not become criminals -- men and women who are not afraid to stand alone to fight corruption, back prosecutors and help pass tough ethics laws to restore the people's trust.

For the Chicago metropolitan area, I will continue my support for the O'Hare modernization project and public transportation. I will advance an agenda--for the city and the suburbs--to promote economic growth, protect green space, keep our kids safe from dangerous drug gangs and improve education. But I will also be a Senator for all of Illinois.

Since I announced for Senate last year, I travelled across the state to learn about the specific challenges and opportunities facing Illinois families and employers. As of August 25th, I have made 584 stops in 124 different communities. We need a Senator who will fight for everyone. I am the only candidate in this race to put forward local agendas to promote job creation, raise incomes and improve quality of life for our citizens.

Peoria is not Chicago. Rockford is not Rock Island. I've learned that many communities share the same concerns: protecting small business, curbing gang violence and drug abuse, and investing in infrastructure. But many community priorities are also unique: saving an Air National Guard air wing in Springfield, bringing hydropower to Quincy, and defending access to health care in Southern Illinois.

I have already presented my priorities for Rockford, Peoria, Southern Illinois, Quincy, and Springfield. In the weeks ahead, I will unveil agendas for Bloomington, Champaign, Metro East and the Quad Cities.

The recession continues. What are its causes and how do we end it- Do you favor more federal "stimulus" spending to create more jobs-

Since the stimulus bill became law, Illinois lost about 155,000 jobs. Unemployment in our state remains above 10% after we were told the stimulus would cap unemployment at 8%. I supported a skinny stimulus targeted toward infrastructure and small business support--not the wasteful budget busting stimulus we received.

Following a near trillion dollar stimulus, Congress passed a trillion dollar health care bill along with 10 new federal taxes. The bill provided the administration with wide-ranging regulatory power--a set of new health rules that will be announced in the months ahead.

Some in Congress are saving other radical legislation for a potential "lame duck" session after the November election, which could include a Value Added Tax or card check legislation opposed by small business.

Meanwhile, without action, current tax relief will expire at the end of the year--a huge shock to the American economy with one of the largest tax increases in history.

In my view, the uncertainty surrounding the health care bill implementation, a potentially massive tax increase and anxiety over other anti-jobs legislation in the lame duck are combining to prevent risk and capital from re-entering the market--thus slowing our economic recovery. A presidential and congressional leadership pledge to extend current tax relief and withhold any non-essential, non-emergency legislation from the lame duck session will send a positive signal to American employers, innovators and investors.

Is global warming real- Is it man-made- What, if anything, should be done about it- And do you favor a national cap-and-trade program to put a price on carbon emissions-

Climate change is real; its causes both man-made and natural. I strongly support policies that end our dependence on foreign oil and improve our environment. But as a Senator fighting for jobs throughout the state of Illinois, I cannot support legislation that would directly harm jobs in our state's agriculture, manufacturing and coal sectors. If we want to advance legislation that lowers our dependence on foreign oil and improves the environment, we need to do it in a way that does not adversely affect jobs and economic growth in our state.

I believe we can do just that. We should support wind, solar, geothermal, fuel cell, ethanol, biodiesel and other alternative energy research to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil and protect the environment. We should build 50 new nuclear power plants in America and complete the trans-Canada natural gas pipeline. We should back innovators like FutureGen, Argonne and Fermilab. These are ideas that would 1) lower our dependence on foreign oil, 2) create jobs, not wipe them out, and 3) receive bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

As senator, would you favor changes in the health care reforms pushed through Congress by President Obama- What exactly-

After listening to thousands of people across Illinois in dozens of live and telephone town hall meetings, I heard clearly what we need: lower health care costs, lower taxes and more jobs.

That is why I authored the Medical Rights and Reform Act (H.R. 3970) to lower costs, cover pre-existing conditions and protect seniors on Medicare without raising taxes. Our centrist Medical Rights and Reform Act would:

Enact the Medical Rights Act (H.R. 2516), ensuring that Congress shall make no law interfering with decisions you make with your doctor;

Save money by reducing expensive defensive medicine with lawsuit reforms;

Grant Americans the right to buy insurance coverage from any state in the union if they find a plan that is less expensive for their family or small business; and

Not raise taxes, add to the deficit or hurt seniors who depend on Medicare.

Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi rejected these centrist reforms. Instead, Congressional leaders adopted a new trillion-dollar spending program that will burden our children with tremendous debts while raising taxes, cutting Medicare services and putting thousands of Illinois jobs at risk.

I voted against the final healthcare bill because it cost too much, imposed 10 new federal taxes and cut more than $500 billion from senior health care under Medicare. In addition, it ignored lawsuit reform, which is critical to lowering the cost of health care. I support efforts to protect Illinois families and employers from the new taxes and cuts to Medicare contained in the health care bill while still expanding coverage and lowering costs.

What should the American military and political strategy be in Afghanistan- How would you define "success" for the United States in the war, and at what point could we withdraw our troops-

I served in Afghanistan twice. Failure in Afghanistan is not an option. We tried to ignore Afghanistan in the 1990s. According to the 9/11 Commission, this led to the attack on our homeland. I supported President Obama's decision to surge to Afghanistan. To succeed in Afghanistan, we must train the Afghan police and army to provide for its own security and deny the narco-Taliban its primary source of funding--heroin.

Our goal should be a stable and secure Afghanistan, which provides for its own security and cannot again become a base for launching attacks against the United States. In my view, this goal is achievable. However, I do not believe the administration's 2011 deadline is realistic to fully train and equip the Afghan army and police.

I have great confidence in General Petraeus and the courageous men and women who serve under his command.

What should be the American military and political strategy in Iraq-

Thanks to the incredible work of our brave men and women in uniform, the Iraqi government is capable of providing for its own security. As American forces continue to leave Iraq, we must strengthen our diplomatic and political engagement to maintain the security we built and support the democratically elected government. I remain concerned for the security of Iraq's religious minorities, especially the Chaldo-Assyrian Christians. Protecting these minorities and providing for their long-term security must remain a high priority for American diplomacy.

What should be done to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons-

As co-chair of the bipartisan House Iran Working Group, I focus on the growing threat posed by Iran more than most.

In 2005, Congressman Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) and I conducted a careful analysis of Iran's economy and discovered a surprising weakness. Despite its status as a leading OPEC oil nation, the regime so mishandled its economy that it lacks sufficient refining capacity to turn its own oil into gasoline.

In 2005 and again in 2006, we introduced resolutions calling for a multilateral restriction of gasoline deliveries to Iran as the most effective economic sanction to bring Iran's leaders into compliance with their commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Recognizing its exposed weakness, Iran implemented a nationwide gasoline rationing program to reduce its dependence--and hired international firms to help develop domestic refineries. Even with these measures, most experts still put imports at 25-40% of Iran's total gasoline supply--a critical weakness we must exploit.

In 2007, we authored the Iran Sanctions Enhancement Act, which extended current U.S. sanctions to the provision of gasoline to Iran. A version of our legislation was included in the final comprehensive Iran sanctions bill signed into law on July 1st.

Last year, I successfully offered an amendment to the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Act prohibiting U.S. Export-Import Bank financing for any company involved in providing gasoline to Iran--the first gasoline sanction to pass the House of Representatives. The House also passed my amendment to the Financial Services Appropriations Act requiring the Securities and Exchange Commission to publicly disclose business dealings with or in Iran conducted by U.S.-listed companies.

In my view, we should move forward in the weeks ahead with a five-pronged strategy.

First, enforce the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) of 1996, which prohibits investment in Iran's oil and gas sectors. The Congressional Research Service identified 25 companies that may have violated ISA. Congressman Ron Klein (D-FL) and I have written to the administration repeatedly on this issue.

Second, enforce the new gasoline sanctions enacted in the comprehensive Iran sanctions bill. While we have seen reports of several companies ending their business with Iran since enactment, we see others moving in to supply the regime. Sanctions are meaningless if never enforced. Targeting the Russian firm LUKOIL would be a good first step.

Third, enforce the new banking sanctions enacted in the comprehensive Iran sanctions bill. Under the new law, banks must stop doing business with banks that do business with Iran. If enforced, the provisions will make it more difficult for Iran to access the dollar and, potentially, other major currencies.

Fourth, continue targeted financial sanctions against individuals and entities that support terrorism and proliferation--especially entities with ties to the IRGC. Treasury Under Secretary Stuart Levey has done a great job on this front to date and we should support his continued efforts.

Finally, we must do more to help Iran's "Green Movement" and promote human rights inside the regime. With the recent sentencing of Iran's Baha'i leadership to 20 years in prison just for practicing their religion, this mission should be personal for Illinois families. As Ronald Reagan did during the Cold War, the President should speak out regularly about human rights abuses in Iran and make individual political prisoners household names throughout America. An Iranian government that respects the rights of its own citizens will be less likely to sponsor international terrorism or seek the destruction of her neighbors.

Will the United States ever have a comprehensive policy on immigration- What should it be- And what is your view of Arizona Senate Bill 1070 and the recent federal appellate court ruling striking down its key provisions-

One of the primary duties of the federal government is to control the border and know who is entering our country. Border security equals homeland security. Most illegal drugs and nearly all foreign drug gang members illegally cross our borders. With Mexican drug cartel violence continuing to threaten our border, the urgency for comprehensive border security has never been greater.

For some states like Arizona, the danger level is rising as cartel violence spills over the border. Given the failure of the federal government to properly secure the border, I understand the anxiety felt by border state citizens and the motives behind initiatives like Arizona Senate Bill 1070. However, no state can address this problem alone. Border security is a federal problem that must be addressed by the federal government.

Last year, I voted to provide $10.1 billion for customs and border protection, including funds for border security fencing, infrastructure, technology, facility construction, border patrol agents and the Southwest Border Counterdrug Initiative. I previously voted to fund unmanned aerial vehicles, ground-based sensors, satellites, radar coverage, and cameras.

I will continue to fight for stronger security until the federal government and our border states can certify that we are in control of the border. With such a certification, I believe other reforms are possible. But until we control our border, hold employers accountable and properly engage Mexico, no immigration reforms will work.

Please comment on the president's education agenda, specifically on the Race to the Top competition that emphasizes core national standards and tests and the use of student test data to evaluate and reward teachers.

Recently, the Department of Education decided not to include Illinois in its "Race to the Top" program. Ensuring that every child has access to a first-rate public education must remain a top priority. Students deserve to be taught by highly qualified individuals. Parents deserve accountability so that they know their children are learning at a level that will allow them to obtain a higher education and compete in our global economy. Originally enacted in 2002, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) established these tenets as goals for our school systems to achieve. Progress has been made at improving learning and closing achievement gaps, but improvements can be made to the law to ensure that policy is consistent with everyday realities.

In preparation to reauthorize NCLB, I met with my Education Advisory Board to discuss ways to improve the legislation. The advisory board consists of K-12 school teachers, administrators, school board members and others.

With their recommendations, I authored the Education Assessment Technical Corrections Act (H.R. 3292, 110th Congress). By revising the assessments for measuring the adequate yearly progress of student achievement and by authorizing the testing of disabled students at their instructional level rather than grade level, my legislation ensured that all students and individuals with disabilities are being evaluated properly.

In short, my plan would:

Extend the deadline for 100% of teachers to meet NCLB's "highly qualified" requirements in hard-to-staff areas.

Provide common￯﾿ᄑsense flexibility by allowing use of growth models to measure student achievement over more than one year. The use of growth model is a critical change essential to a more effective accountability system in NCLB.

Align NCLB assessments with Individualized Education Plans for students with disabilities.

Require a report from the Secretary of Education on recommendations for increasing the percentage of limited English proficient students.

Only identify a subgroup as not making Adequate Yearly Progress if it does not reach state proficiency for two consecutive years in the same subject.

Parents deserve assurances that students are achieving proficiency on their state tests and that those tests are rigorous enough to be compared to international assessments. Teachers deserve assurances that they can get the professional development they need based on proven programs and practices. But the Federal government should not replace local school boards.

Last March, President Obama presented a preliminary agenda that backed many of these principles. Among his ideas, the President called for national education standards and merit pay for teachers but presented few details. While these are ideas all Americans should support in principle, future discussions should bring all stakeholders to the table to build on the strengths of NCLB, defend local control of school curriculums and provide states with a common basis for assessment.

What is your position on gay marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act-

I support civil unions, oppose gay marriage and support the Defense of Marriage Act. I am an original cosponsor of the hate crimes legislation now in law and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 3017).

What should be our nation's policy toward the manufacture, sale and use of marijuana-

I do not support the legalization of marijuana.

The United States continues to hold "enemy combatants," uncharged, at the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Is indefinite detention without charges acceptable- If so, for how long- And are military commissions an acceptable alternative to civilian courts-

The men detained at Guantanamo Bay did not abide by the laws of war that would have classified them as POWs, nor do they qualify as common criminals under U.S. law. While the Constitution guarantees our rights (including those under the Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendments) and those of foreign nationals arrested on U.S. soil, there is no legal precedent to extend our rights to foreign born, foreign captured individuals who wage war on the United States wearing no uniform of any state. Since these enemies held no state allegiance, wore no uniform and attacked civilians, they are not military POWs under the definitions of the Geneva Conventions.

In a major speech at the National Archives last year, President Obama acknowledged that there are a certain number of Guantanamo detainees "who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people." At the time, he promised legislation that would authorize these terrorists' indefinite detention but, to date, no such proposals have moved forward.

While I respect the views of those who favor eventual closing of the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, I have yet to see an alternative that guarantees Americans the same level of security, adding no new risk.

For enemy combatants who can be brought to trial without compromising our intelligence sources and methods, I support moving forward with military commissions held at Guantanamo. This follows the legal precedents established by President Lincoln and President Roosevelt that were upheld by the Supreme Court.

As Attorney General Holder revealed last year, there are many unanswered questions regarding the trial of enemy combatants in civilian courts. Our legal history has no precedent for bringing a foreign battlefield combatant before a U.S. civilian court. Obviously, these individuals were never read Miranda rights when they were captured. Attorneys were not provided before our intelligence professionals interrogated them. Evidence that proves guilt may be classified--and its exposure could endanger our sources and hinder our intelligence community from doing its job. But once a defendant is granted the jurisdiction of a civilian court, it will be difficult to prosecute the case successfully without reversing legal precedent protecting our own rights.

List your educational background

High School:

New Trier Township High School (Winnetka)

Undergraduate:

Blackburn College (Carlinville)

Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

Cornell University, B.A. with Honors

Graduate:

London School of Economics, M.Sc.

Georgetown University Law Center, J.D.

Please list civic, professional, fraternal or other organizations to which you belong

Board, National Endowment for Democracy

Board of Advisors, National Student Leadership Conference

Board of Advisors, Close Up

Member, Highland Park VFW

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

U.S. Representative (2001-Present)

Counsel, House International Relations Committee (1995-1999)

Aide/Chief of Staff, U.S. Rep. John Porter (1984-1989)

Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State, U.S. State Department (1991-1993)

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

No response

Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed

Federal law allows individuals to contribute a maximum of $2,400 per election period and limits political action committees to $5,000 per election period. Hundreds of individuals have contributed the federal maximum to Kirk for Senate. In accordance with federal law, all contributions over $200 are itemized on the campaign's quarterly filings with the Federal Election Commission and available for public review online.

Please paste a brief biography here

Mark Kirk represents the 10th Congressional District of Illinois located in the suburbs north of Chicago.

Now in his fifth term, Congressman Kirk is a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and is co-chairman of the moderate GOP Tuesday Group and the bipartisan House US-China Working Group.

In Congress, Congressman Kirk works to advance a suburban agenda that is pro-defense, pro-personal responsibility, pro-environment, and pro-science. He wrote a number of provisions which became law, including funding for commuter rail, improving veteran's health care, ensuring military voting, and boosting aviation security.

Mark Kirk's father was from Sullivan and his mother from Park Ridge. Kirk was born in Champaign and grew up in Chatham, Downers Grove and Kenilworth. Representative Kirk graduated from New Trier High School (Winnetka) and attended Blackburn College (Carlinville) and the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico before earning a B.A. from Cornell. He holds a Masters Degree from the London School of Economics and a law degree from Georgetown.

Congressman Kirk began his career on the staff of his predecessor, Congressman John Porter. He later served in the World Bank, the State Department, the law firm of Baker & McKenzie, and the U.S. House International Relations Committee.

Kirk, who holds the rank of Commander, is a Naval Reserve intelligence officer and has served during conflicts with Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, and Bosnia.

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