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U.S. House, Dist. 14: Bill Foster

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Marital status: Married

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Campaign HQ address: 17 N. River St.

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What is your campaign budget- No response

What are your top priorities for the nation-

1. Creating Jobs and Rebuilding our Economy ￯﾿ᄑThe financial crisis of 2008 cost our economy over 8 million jobs and cost families more than 17.5 trillion dollars in net worth--more than $55,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States. This job loss came at the end of an 8-year period ending in March 2009 in which no net jobs were created--and in fact more jobs were lost than gained. Though we have acted to stabilize the economy, we must continue the recovery and get Americans back to work.

As a former small businessman that started a business that now provides hundreds of manufacturing jobs in the Midwest, I know that small businesses are the engine that drives economic recovery. This is why I have supported tax breaks for small businesses and tax credits for local entrepreneurs who are creating new jobs, while voting to crack down on tax loopholes for corporations shipping American jobs overseas. We also need to support innovative industries and established institutions that will create the jobs of the future, which is why I worked to provide funding that created hundreds of new jobs in my district at diverse places such as Winergy, Fermilab, Northern Illinois University, and others.

2. Reducing the Federal Deficit--After years of fiscal mismanagement, America must put its financial house in order. Leaving each of our children and grandchildren with tens of thousands of dollars of government debt is unacceptable and both parties have acted recklessly with regards to our nation's financial future. I have voted against the Democratic Budget every time it has come up because it did not include a detailed plan to begin paying down the national debt. In 2009 alone, I voted against 3.7 billion dollars of specific wasteful government spending and earmarks. Furthermore, I have co-sponsored a bill to cut the pay of legislators by 5% and most importantly, I have voted to cap all non-essential spending. It took us years to get into this kind of debt and we need to let the American citizens know that we have a path to return us to economic prosperity.

3. Taking Care of our Veterans--We owe the men and women who have served in our nation's military a debt that can never be repaid. While we can never thank them fully for their courageous actions and sacrifices, we must do everything in our power to meet their needs and show our gratitude. That is why I was a strong supporter of the GI Bill for the 21st Century, which expanded educational benefits for veterans serving after September 11th, 2001 by providing them with the resources needed to pursues a college education and achieve success after the conclusion of their military careers. I also introduced legislation (H.R. 1175) to create the National Military Family Relief Fund. Modeled after a successful program here in Illinois, this fund would provide grants, funded by voluntary contributions, to meet the needs of military families with loved ones who have served, or are currently serving, in Iraq or Afghanistan.

What are your top priorities for your congressional district-

Creating new jobs here in the district and putting people back to work are my top priorities. In my office, I have a plot of the unemployment numbers in each county of my district, which is updated monthly when new numbers are available. While other economic indicators are improving, unemployment numbers in the 14th District remain far too high. As a former small businessman who has created hundreds of jobs right here in the Midwest, I will use my background to pursue policies that foster economic development. I have worked on the Financial Services Committee to free up credit for small businesses, which is a crucial element for businesses to thrive and expand. I have also supported tax credits for companies that create new jobs and tax relief for small businesses providing health insurance to their employees.

As President Clinton reminded us in the 1990's, that what one earns is directly related to what one has learned. We need to help our current workforce improve and build on their skills so that American businesses can compete and win in the global economy. That is why I have fought to preserve and extend educational opportunities for our children and young adults in these tough economic times.

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

The recession was caused by the collapse of a debt-fueled real estate bubble, as well as secondary bubbles in the stock market and consumer debt. The real estate bubble was inflated primarily by the "Toxic Pipeline" that took poorly underwritten mortgages by unregulated storefront mortgage originators, bundled them into complex Mortgage Backed Securities by unregulated investment banks, and marketed them to investors who were unaware of their true risks until the underlying mortgages entered foreclosure and they became "Toxic Assets". Meanwhile the American consumer, lulled by the artificially inflated value of real estate and the "fake income" of rapidly appreciated housing prices, took on unsustainable levels of debt. Finally, our economy and the financial services industry became dangerously over-leveraged in their pursuit of profits: during the bubble years, financial services accounted for nearly 40% of all corporate profits even though it employs only 5% of Americans.

The recession will end--more slowly than people would wish--when consumers, businesses and banks pay down their excessive levels of debt. To accelerate this, a number of policies have been put into place: tax rates have been reduced to the lowest levels in 60 years, mortgage interest rates have been reduced to historically levels to encourage refinancing that puts cash into the hands of responsible homeowners, the Federal Reserve has provided support to the secondary mortgage markets, and temporary government "stimulus" spending has been used to replace a fraction of the catastrophic drop in aggregate demand that took place in 2008.

Our economy has begun to respond to this massive and unprecedented intervention. The GDP began growing in 3Q2009 and after-tax business profitability has now surpassed pre-crisis levels. Unfortunately, businesses and banks will have to use these profits to pay off excess debt and establish a "rainy day fund"--i.e. a better capital position--for a considerable period before they feel secure enough to begin re-hiring. Similarly, consumers are paying down debt and reducing consumption--both positive developments compared to the excesses of the bubble years--but this will also require years and will reduce overall demand for a considerable period.

This massive intervention, including stimulus spending, was both necessary and effective to avoid having our economy drop into a depression. It is notable that this spending actually reduced our deficit: Best estimates (for example by Mark Zandi, a Republican economist who was John McCain's financial advisor) indicate that without this intervention, the FY10 deficit would be over 2 Trillion dollars, unemployment would be over 16%, and household net worth would be lower by 7 Trillion dollars. Considering that the total cost of the intervention will be approximately 1-1.5 trillion dollars, this represents a fairly good return on investment.

As the economy recovers and becomes less dependent on stimulus spending for continued GDP growth, there must be a transition away from deficit spending and towards paying down the national debt. Thus our national budget should contain not only a short-term plan for the emergency intervention, but also a ten-year plan to pay down our national debt. The budgets while I have been in Congress contained no such plan, and I voted against this budget every single time it has come up for a vote--starting my first month in office, and six times since then. I serve as the co-chair of the Fiscal Responsibility Working Group of the New Democrat Caucus, a group of 70 Pro-Business moderate Democrats in Congress, and my best hope for fiscal responsibility in the near term is from the Bipartisan Deficit Panel, which I strongly support.

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-

As a scientist, I believe that global warming is real and that action is necessary. Developing an energy policy that increases efficiency and reduces our dependence on foreign oil is crucial to our long-term prosperity. That said, I broke with my own party and voted against Cap-And-Trade legislation because when I looked at the specifics of that bill it would not have reduced carbon emissions in a cost-effective manner and would have put a huge new burden on the cost of energy for families in my district, without making the necessary investments in efficiency and long-term research and development. I have always believed we have a responsibility to act in a way that comes with the lowest possible cost to the economy. That is why I introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R. 5423) designed to determine the most viable alternative energy sources so that we can invest in the energy forms that make the most economic sense.

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

Health insurance costs are out of control. They are undermining our businesses and our family budgets, and they simply are not sustainable. In addition, more and more Americans are becoming uninsurable through no fault of their own--each day, 14,000 Americans lose their coverage, roughly the equivalent to all the residents of North Aurora. I voted for health care reform because the system is broken--we are spending too much money, and we are insuring too few people. The health insurance reform bill is not perfect, but it was a necessary step in the right direction. It will eliminate pre-existing conditions and lifetime limits, and expands coverage to more Americans. As a former small businessman, I understand the unique challenges that small businesses face, which is why I was pleased to see that the final legislation provides tax incentives to help small businesses provide health insurance to their employees, while exempting most small businesses from a health insurance mandate.

Still, I recognize that additional improvements are necessary. . Drug costs for Medicare should be negotiated just the way that Veterans Administration does, instead of simply accepting whatever price the drug companies demand. I support transparency initiatives for price and quality of medical care providers that will empower consumers and greatly enhance competition between insurance companies. Additionally, while I agree with the principles of greater accountability and increased tax compliance, I would support repealing the 1099 provision of the recently passed legislation given the substantial burden it poses for small businesses.

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-

Our efforts in Afghanistan must be guided by our initial reason for sending troops there: eliminating terrorist groups like Al Qaeda that want to harm innocent civilians, bringing Osama Bin Laden to justice, and preventing Afghanistan from again becoming a staging ground for launching terrorist attacks. I am reassured that General Petraeus is now leading our efforts and I have a great deal of confidence in his ability to achieve our goals there. We cannot leave Afghanistan in the hands of those seeking to cause terror around the globe and we can only begin to withdrawal our forces when we are certain it is no longer a haven for terrorists.

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

Congress has an obligation to continue providing vigorous oversight of our operations in Iraq and that is a task I take seriously. As our military operations wind down, we must remain focused on training the Iraqi forces, addressing infrastructural needs, and helping the Iraqis to become self-sufficient.

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

Iran cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons and destabilize the Middle East. While military options can never be taken off the table, the recent sanctions imposed by the global community through the United Nations and independently by several countries must be given a chance to work. The early reports indicate that these sanctions are having the desired effects and possibly causing Iran to rethink its strategy of defiance. We should continue focusing on sanctions and diplomacy, but remain adamant that a nuclear-armed Iran is not an acceptable option under any circumstances.

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-

After passing immigration reform in the 1980s, Congress has failed to act to respond to the immigration crisis facing our nation. As a result of a lack of federal intervention, Arizona and other states have begun to take matters into their own hands.

I have personally visited the border, talked with law enforcement officials about the challenges they face, and seen the problems created by our broken system. I know immigration reform must begin with securing our borders, supporting and increasing the boots on the ground. We must also crack down on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants and provide them will a reliable database to verify a worker's employment eligibility. Undocumented workers currently in the United States must pay a fine for breaking our laws, undergo criminal background checks, pay their taxes, learn English, and go to the back of the line to apply for citizenship.

The best and only path forward on immigration is a bipartisan solution that truly addresses the issue and actually secures our nation's borders. I intend to be one of those working away at the center, taking criticism from all sides, and hammering out an agreement that is workable and fair to U.S. citizens, immigrants that wish to work here on a legal and controlled basis, and the businesses that need to employ them.

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

I am proud to say that both my children are products of public schools in the 14th District, and I have a deep commitment to public education. The future of our nation's economic competitiveness depends on a well-educated workforce, and that success is dependent on our public schools. We need to make sure every child receives the education he or she deserves and expand access to higher education by making it more affordable. Race to the Top is a promising initiative because it represents a significant new investment in education, injects more accountability into the system, and specifically focuses on underperforming schools. In relying on a wide variety of measurements and data--instead of an over-reliance on test scores-- it offers a way of actually evaluating what works and understanding what areas need improvement.

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

I oppose gay marriage, but I support Civil Unions that provide same sex couples with the legal rights and privileges enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.

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

The manufacture, sale and use of marijuana should remain illegal.

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-

Indefinite detention of uncharged "enemy combatants" violates the basic principles of our nation. America was founded on the rule of law and our moral leadership abroad rests upon an unwavering adherence to our own principles at home.

Military commissions provide an appropriate forum for trying enemy combatants. Those who commit acts of terrorism must be brought to justice, whether on the battlefield or through the judicial process. Military commissions appear to be the safest and fairest means of protecting civilians and determining the guilt or innocence of those currently being detained at Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. criminal justice system should be reserved for cases in which it will be the most effective means of swift justice.

List your educational background

B.A., Physics from University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1976, with Honors, Phi Beta Kappa.

Ph.D, Physics, Harvard University, 1984.

Ph.D Thesis: An Experimental Limit on Proton Decay

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

I am a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and an elected fellow of the American Physical Society. For many years I served on the board of the Batavia Foundation for Education Excellence, an organization dedicated to enhancing the public schools in Batavia, IL.

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

After a career as a businessman and scientist, I was successful in my first run for office, winning a special election in March of 2008 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Dennis Hastert. I was re-elected, earning the support of almost 58% of voters, to a full-term in November of 2008.

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

I worked for 22 years at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, IL. My wife also worked at Fermilab and for the Department of Energy, and now works for Brookhaven National Laboratory. My daughter Christine works for an educational software company in Palo Alto, CA that receives federal research grants.

Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed

I am grateful for the generous support I have received from thousands of donors during this campaign. All of my campaign contributions above $200 are listed on the FEC web site.

Please paste a brief biography here

Representative Bill Foster was elected to fill the remaining term of former Speaker Dennis Hastert and sworn in to represent the people of Illinois' 14th Congressional District on March 11, 2008.

Before being elected to Congress, Rep. Foster worked as a researcher at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) for 22 years. At Fermilab, Foster started his distinguished career by helping discover the top quark, the heaviest known form of matter. He also led the team that designed and built several scientific facilities and detectors still in use today including the Recycler Ring, a giant particle accelerator.

At 19 years old, Foster started a company out of his basement with his brother Fred. In 1975, they invested $500 and built ETC, Inc., a theater lighting company and turned it into a firm that now manufactures more than half of all the theater lighting equipment in the United States. When he decided to run for a public office in 2007, Foster sold his share in his company to avoid any conflicts of interest.

Rep. Foster is especially proud of his family, and is happy to follow in his parents' footsteps by choosing to be in public service. Bill's children, Billy and Christine, were born and raised in the Fox Valley and attended Batavia High School and Illinois Math and Science Academy, respectively. Billy is attending law school at Harvard University while Christine recently graduated from Stanford University and is working for a company in California developing educational software.

Bill Foster was born October 7, 1955 in Madison, Wisconsin. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1976, and graduated from Harvard University with a Ph.D in physics in 1983. He has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society, received the Rossi Prize for Cosmic Ray Physics for the discovery of the neutrino burst from Supernova SN1987a, received the Particle Accelerator Technology Prize from the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and was awarded an Energy Conservation award from the U.S. Department of Energy for his invention and application of permanent magnets for Fermilab's accelerator. He currently resides in Batavia with his wife Aesook.

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