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U.S. House, Dist. 9: Jan Schakowsky


Political affiliation: Democrat

City: Evanston, IL

Marital status: Married

Occupation/Firm name: Consultant, Strategic Consulting Group N.A.

Campaign HQ address: Schakowsky for Congress PO Box 5130 Evanston, IL 60204-5130

Campaign website: www.janschakowsky.org

What is your campaign budget- No response

What are your top priorities for the nation-

My top priorities are to create good jobs at home; to achieve a strong economic recovery; to ensure effective implementation of health care reform and also to improve upon it; and to provide retirement security by protecting and improving Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

What are your top priorities for your congressional district-

One of my top priorities for the 9th Congressional District of Illinois is to support federal, state and local programs that will continue to stimulate economic growth to spur hiring, create jobs and boost small businesses. I believe we must also push for comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. Congress in order to address the currently broken system that impacts so many of my constituents. It is also essential to me that healthcare reform is properly and effectively implemented so that every person in the district has access to quality, affordable healthcare. Finally, my office's unwavering dedication to service in the district continues to be a top priority; through our team of "constituent advocates" we will keep providing help with government services and solving individuals' problems with federal agencies.

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

Despite some positive economic signs, millions of Americans still can't find work. With state budgets stretched thin and consumer confidence low, the federal government has an important role to play in job creation and economic growth.

Last year's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided economic investment to help communities and create jobs. ARRA was a success, with the Congressional Budget Office estimating that it will be responsible for saving or creating up to 3.5 million jobs.

I believe that more stimulus spending is necessary, which is why I recently voted for the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act. The bill includes funding to save 161,000 teacher jobs--5,700 in Illinois alone--and provides Medicaid assistance to the states that, by reducing shortfalls, will help keep many others on the job, including police officers and firefighters.

We also have to continue to help those who are still looking for work. Extending unemployment benefits is the moral thing to do, and it is smart economically. Every dollar of unemployment insurance benefits generates $1.61 in economic activity, in turn creating more jobs.

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-

I believe that climate change poses one of the biggest threats to our environment, our health, and our national security. Scientists have predicted that dangerous and irreversible climate change will occur if the Earth's temperature rises more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Already, we are seeing the drastic effects of climate change: melting ice caps, species migrating north, and violent storms increasing in number and intensity.

In order to address this crisis, the United States must adopt an aggressive program in order to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. We must also invest in clean, domestically-generated renewable energy like biofuels, wind, thermal and solar power. Creating a new, robust "green" jobs sector will also inject long-term growth into our economy.

As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee I worked closely with my colleagues to pass H.R. 2454, American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) last year. This bill is a comprehensive approach to America's energy policy that will create millions of new clean energy jobs in the U.S., save consumers hundreds of billions of dollars in energy costs, enhance America's energy independence, and cut global warming pollution.

The bill achieves reductions by implementing a comprehensive cap-and-trade program on carbon emissions. I support cap-and-trade and believe it's the most effective way to control greenhouse gases because it can be designed to guarantee steady emissions reductions, encourage innovation, and ensure a measure of fairness to low-income consumers and coal-dependent regions like the Midwest.

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

The enactment of the Affordable Care Act is an historic accomplishment, expanding health coverage to over 30 million Americans while improving health care affordability and quality for everyone. At the same time, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects it will decrease the federal deficit by $143 billion through 2019. Included in the new law are many initiatives to improve how we deliver health care services, so that we reward quality--not merely quantity--and promote wellness and prevention to keep people healthy and avoid preventable and costly diseases. Those health promotion efforts will also lower costs beyond the savings that CBO estimated.

At the same time, I believe we have to look at the Affordable Care Act as a foundation can be built upon and improved. While some of those improvements will depend on what we learn from implementation, there are two measures that I believe should be taken immediately.

First, we need to add a public option to the health insurance choices that consumers will have some the state-based Exchanges are up and running in 2014. The House included a public option in its version of the bill, but it was not part of the final package. I am an original cosponsor of H.R. 5808, legislation to add that choice of a public option. The CBO estimates it would provide premiums that are, on average, 5-7% lower than private insurance and save the federal government $68 billion from 2014 to 2020, $15 billion in 2020 alone.

Second, I believe we need to provide more tools to prevent excessive health insurance premium increases. I successfully offered an amendment in the House Energy and Commerce Committee to require prior review of premium rate hikes, and the final Act includes legislation that for the first time requires that health insurers provide an explanation of increases before they go into effect. Insurers that are found to charge excessive rates would be prohibited from participating in the Exchanges. I believe more consumer protections are needed for Illinois and half of all states that do not provide their Insurance Departments with the authority to actually block excessive rate hikes. That is why I have introduced H.R. 4757, the Health Insurance Rate Authority Act, which would give the Secretary of Health and Human Services the ability to prevent unreasonable premium increases when states do not have the authority to do so.

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-

We face serious threats in Afghanistan, but I do not believe we can solve those problems through military force. We need to develop a clear exit plan to withdraw U.S. troops and to implement a comprehensive strategy to reduce the threat of extremism in both Afghanistan and Pakistan that fully utilizes our diplomatic, economic, and development options.

Afghan women must be part of the political solution. I am very concerned about the fate of women under a resurgent Taliban, and I strongly feel that their voices must be heard in discussions about Afghanistan's future. Women have borne the brunt of warfare, but they will also be the cornerstones of any peaceful and prosperous future for Afghanistan.

We've spent over $1 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, lost over 5,000 young military men and women, and yet terrorists continue to train, recruit, and organize around the world. Our current strategy of military engagement in Afghanistan is not making us safer, and I believe we need to bring our troops home.

I am a cosponsor of H.R.5015, introduced by Congressman James McGovern, requiring a plan and a timetable for drawing down our forces in Afghanistan. I recently voted in favor of a similar amendment offered during debate of the Supplemental Appropriations bill, as well as for an amendment requiring the withdrawal of U.S. troops offered by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. I voted against the final version of the war supplemental, because, particularly without a clearly defined exit strategy for Afghanistan, I oppose further war funding.

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

I support President Obama's plan to remove U.S. troops from Iraq, and I believe the United States must stick to the timetable that the President laid out in February 2009, completing the withdrawal of all U.S. troops by the end of next year.

I opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, and I continue to support an end to U.S. military involvement in Iraq. I support ongoing political engagement with Iraq, and I believe that the United States should put greater emphasis on promoting civil society development and strengthening Iraqi infrastructure.

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

I strongly believe that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. A nuclear Iran would pose an unacceptable threat to our friend and ally Israel as well as to the stability of the region and the entire world. We must act immediately to employ a full range of diplomatic and economic tools to halt Tehran's nuclear advancement.

Recently, President Obama led global efforts at the United Nations to pass a strengthened sanctions regime, applying the strongest international pressure against Iran to date. To complement these international efforts, Congress passed the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010, which I cosponsored, establishing crippling unilateral sanctions targeting key sectors of the Iranian economy.

I strongly support both those efforts, and I believe the United States must fully enforce all existing sanctions against Tehran.

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-

As a first-generation American, I know firsthand the tremendous contributions immigrants have made to our country. The 9th Congressional District of Illinois is one of the most diverse in the country: 40% of our residents speak a language other than English at home; one-third came as immigrants, and fifty-some languages are spoken in our schools.

But America's immigration system is broken and in desperate need of a solution. It is this dire need that will propel us to passage of comprehensive immigration reform. We've already seen an extreme example of misguided policy put forth by Arizona's recently-passed immigration law. Not only excessive and draconian, the Arizona law allows basic civil rights to be trampled by suspicion and prejudice. While an appellate court ruling struck down key provisions, the Arizona law must be scrapped entirely.

Instead, I support an approach that protects our borders, allows people to fill jobs that don't attract American workers, requires those who are here illegally to step forward, register with the government so we can know who's here, and, if they have no criminal history, requires them to get work permits, pay their taxes, learn English, get legal status and eventually qualify for citizenship. These principles are all part of the legislation that I cosponsored, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for American Security and Prosperity Act, H.R. 4321.

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

The Race to the Top competition has created an incentive for school districts and local organizations to partner with one another to implement new ideas. A number of people have raised serious questions about certain aspects of the President's agenda for education, such as the move towards charter schools or the use of competitive grants. That said, the Race to the Top program has jumpstarted the national conversation about how to make education work better for this country's children and has already begun to implement real change.

An estimated seven thousand students drop out of school every single day, and only 55% of African American students graduate on time. I say estimated because, as of right now, we can not accurately compare graduation rates from one state to another, let alone achievement rates in core subjects. These varying standards make identifying and implementing innovative education programs on a large scale extremely difficult, and I applaud recent state efforts largely undertaken because of Race to the Top to adopt national standards. The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act will provide an opportunity to build upon these ideas by reducing class sizes, utilizing comprehensive growth models to measure student improvement and improving access to supportive services that help underserved youth.

The experiences with merit pay in the Chicago Public School system suggest that this experiment has not worked. A recent study by Mathematica Policy Research reports that schools in the city that have participated in this program have not improved standardized test scores, or teacher retention--two of the most often cited goals of any merit pay program. I caution against the creation of national merit pay requirements.

I also believe that this country cannot have a conversation about success in education when that definition rests on a single test score, as it does with the current Adequate Yearly Progress model. Success is about students being either career ready or college ready. Success is about creating a work environment where teachers are treated like the professionals that they are, and where students are in an environment that encourages higher learning. We need a way to improve quality and ensure accountability that does not rely solely on one test score.

Recently, I have heard from local school districts, teachers, and parents about the immediate challenge facing our state, which is the need to prevent thousands of educator layoffs in the upcoming school year. With my support, Congress has passed HR 1586, which provides $10 billion dollars to help reduce teacher layoffs due to massive shortfalls in state budgets. This legislation will help ensure that teachers are not greeted with class sizes of 50 students on their first day of school, and will prevent 5,700 educator layoffs in Illinois alone.

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

I fully support the right of gay and lesbian couples to wed, to be recognized as legal partners in marriage, and to be afforded all the rights and partner benefits currently given to heterosexual married couples.

I do not believe that marriage should be limited to the definition of the union of one man and one woman and I oppose the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The law is woefully misguided and I look forward to a day when it is overturned.

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

The war at the border of Mexico is tied in great part to the illegal marijuana trade and I believe we need a new strategy to replace the "War on Drugs." While the decades-long effort has supplied many with tough-sounding talking points, the billions we've spent on the War on Drugs have failed quite miserably.

Any new tactic must focus less on incarceration and more on prevention and treatment. While my views on decriminalizing marijuana are not entirely settled, the Congress needs to have a fact-based debate on how that approach would impact our society, our economy, and our criminal justice system.

In the past, I have supported legislation to enable patients, doctors and pharmacists to use, prescribe or supply marijuana for medical purposes without fear of legal repercussions. I've also supported prohibiting the use of federal funds to prosecute patients or doctors in states that allow medical marijuana use. I will continue to back similar legislation in the future.

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-

On August 20, I met with Retired General David Maddox, former Commander in Chief, U.S. Army in Europe; retired Lt. General Harry Soyster, former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency; and retired Major General William Nash, who served in the U.S. Army for 34 years and was the civilian administrator for the UN in Kosovo. They are part of a non-partisan group of retired Admirals and Generals working with Human Rights First and who have put together a four-point agenda on Guantanamo designed to address Guantanamo Bay issues in a way that improves our national security and keep America safe.

I fully support their agenda which I believe will prevent Guantanamo from being used as a recruiting tool by terrorists and protect U.S. security. First, the United States should not torture prisoners. Second, the prison at Guantanamo Bay should be closed quickly. Third, Guantanamo prisoners should be tried in civilian courts. As the generals told me, "Trial in military courts accords terrorists the status of warriors. Treating terrorists as soldiers instead of criminals supports their claim that their murderous attacks are justifiable acts of war. This is a profound tactical mistake. It dishonors every American who wears our uniform." Fourth, we need to carefully and individually review the cases of Category 5 prisoners--those designated as the most dangerous prisoners--and so that we can determine the best course of action to take in removing them from Guantanamo Bay.

List your educational background

B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois, 1965

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

Interfaith House, Advisory Board; Citizen Action/Illinois, Policy Council Member; Midwest Palliative and Hospice Care Center, Advisory Council; Illinois Women's Institute for Leadership, Advisory Board; Women's Treatment Center, Advisory Board; Between Friends, Advisory Board; Women Employed, Working Women for Change initiative, Honorary Committee; Wilbur Wright College, Advisory Board on HIV/STI Prevention Education; Friends of Tsad Kadima, Honorary Board of Directors; Inspiration Corporation, Catalyst Campaign Honorary Committee; Public Pride Alliance, Advisory Committee

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

Prior to my election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998, I represented the 18th District in the Illinois General Assembly for eight years. I served as a Democratic Floor Leader and as Secretary of the Conference of Women Legislators.

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

Strategic Consulting Group N.A., the company owned by my husband, Robert Creamer, has one contract with the Village of Niles, which is worth several thousand dollars per year.

Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed

The biggest contributors to Schakowsky for Congress in this election cycle have all given $10,000 between the primary and the general elections. They are: AFSCME, American Association for Justice, American Optometric Association, Communication Workers of America, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, International Union of Operating Engineers, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, UNITE HERE!, United Auto Workers, and United Brotherhood of Carpenters.

Please paste a brief biography here

Schakowsky serves in the House Democratic Leadership as Chief Deputy Whip and as a member of the Steering and Policy Committee. She is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, where she was a leader in passing legislation to provide quality, affordable healthcare coverage for Americans. On that Committee, she serves as Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection and as a member of the Subcommittee on Health and the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

In 2007, Speaker Pelosi appointed Schakowsky to serve on the House Select Committee on Intelligence. On that Committee, Schakowsky serves as the Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

In 2010, Speaker Pelosi appointed Schakowsky to serve on President Obama's 18-member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Schakowsky is committed to finding solutions that reduce the deficit without undermining the essential protections provided by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Schakowsky has won major legislative victories throughout her time in Congress. She played a critical role in the passage of comprehensive health care reform in the 111th Congress and was responsible for provisions to require improved review of insurance company premiums, nursing home quality protections, and initiatives to increase the number of health care providers.

A longtime grassroots organizer and consumer protection advocate, Schakowsky continues the tradition in Congress. She sponsored and led the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act to passage in the 110th Congress, a major legislative victory that includes Schakowsky's provisions to put in place the strongest mandatory safety standards and testing of infant and toddler products including cribs and high chairs, and also to ensure children's products come with a postage-paid recall registration card so consumers can be notified by the manufacturer should a problem arise. Schakowsky also successfully passed legislation that requires safety improvements be built into all new cars and SUVs to protect drivers and children from auto-related tragedies. Wall Street Reform, which recently passed in the 111th Congress and overhauled the financial industry and created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, included Schakowsky's amendment to protect seniors from abusive terms in reverse mortgages.

A champion for the nation's seniors, Schakowsky spearheaded the creation of the Seniors Task Force in the 111th Congress and serves as Co-Chair, where she continues her work to ensure for the needs of seniors are addressed. A leading advocate for women domestically and internationally, Schakowsky also serves as Democratic Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues in the 111th Congress.

Schakowsky also continues to work toward reducing and eliminating the U.S. military's reliance on private security contractors. Her legislation, the Stop Outsourcing Security Act, would take vital governmental and military functions, including intelligence, out of the hands of contractors, reducing our reliance on unaccountable private security contractors in the theater of battle.

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