Local Elections

Bill Foster, Candidate for Congress (11th District)

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Candidate Full Name: Bill Foster

Office: U. S. House of Representatives U. S. Congressional District 11

Party: Democrat

Web Site: www.billfoster.com

Survey Questions (Character limit of 2,000 per response)

1. Can the budget deficit be controlled only by spending cuts or does the federal government need to raise more revenue? If you favor more revenue, should there be a general tax hike?

Every serious proposal has had a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases and that is the approach we will need. The Simpson-Bowles compromise was 3 parts spending cuts to 1 part revenue increases; when Ronald Reagan had to re-balance the budget he compromised on 3 parts revenue increase to 1 part spending cuts. While I'm willing to compromise on the exact figures, what I'm not willing to do is ask the middle class to do all of the sacrificing and trying to balance the entire budget on the backs of Social Security and Medicare recipients. We must have a shared sacrifice from all if we are going to get this problem under control.

Some specific spending cuts: 1) I believe that subsidies to millionaire farmers should end. 2) The lifetime cost of the next-generation manned fighter plane is $1.4T  six times the inflation-adjusted cost of building the Interstate Highway system over 40 years  while unmanned drones can perform the same missions at a small fraction of the cost. 3) Our country spends $300B per year  $3T per decade  on costs related to drug abuse, while there are very promising antidote drugs undergoing development and field trials that deaden the craving for both opiates and alcohol. The federal government should aggressively promote their rapid development and deployment.

On the revenue side, I do not support raising taxes on middle class families. I am willing to see the tax rates for the very wealthiest among us go back to the rates they were under President Clinton, a time when both the very wealthy and the middle class prospered. I believe we should end subsidies to the oil companies. I believe we should simplify the tax code, and am generally supportive of most types of tax reforms proposed by the Simpson-Bowles committee. I am also very concerned about the effect on economic growth of the distributional effects of proposed tax changes. One of the lessons of recent decades is that economic growth is highest in countries with a thriving middle class, due to the higher return on investments made by the middle class compared to investments made by the wealthy, as well as the increasing propensity of the wealthy to move their investments offshore.

2. Did you favor the 2011 pullout of U.S. military forces from Iraq? Why or why not?

America can be a strong leader without alienating the rest of the world. Contrast the recent success in Libya  which was achieved at very little cost to the U.S. by leading a true international coalition to take responsibility for both the war and its aftermath  with the Bush Administration's misguided unilateral actions in Iraq that cost over 4000 American lives and more than $1 trillion. The Iraqis now feel that they can govern their country, and we had agreed to pull out when they asked.

3. Do you favor President Obama's planned 2014 military withdrawal from Afghanistan? Why or why not?

As hard as it is to define success in this region, we must continue to work to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a haven for terrorists to use to launch attacks against the United States and our allies. Our nation-building ambitions should be very limited in this area. Although flexibility will be needed, and a residual presence will be needed for drone capability and diplomatic protection, the 2014 military withdrawal date is a reasonable goal.

4. Do you believe there is global warming? If so, is any of it man made and can we do anything about it?

I worked as a scientist for over 25 years and learned to look at facts. The facts tell us that global warming is real, and that man contributes to it. We need to focus on how global warming affects our families and our future security and economy and what we need to do about it. I don't think Congress has put forth a comprehensive proposal that can reasonably handle the realities of our energy needs and our environmental and industrial concerns. I broke with my own party and voted against Cap-And-Trade legislation because 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. We need to invest in new technologies and new innovation to create jobs, expand industry, and promote energy independence that protects our nation's long-term environmental assets. We also need competent advocates for existing technologies  like efficiency improvements, safe and proliferation-resistant nuclear energy, and the temporary replacement of coal-fired industrial processes with natural-gas-fired processes.

5. How will you balance your personal views and beliefs with those of your constituents and the need to compromise for legislation to pass?

I do not sign pledges. Members of Congress who do sign pledges are abdicating their responsibility to govern in a rational and bipartisan manner. I was very disappointed in recent years to see the Grover Norquist pledge signed by all Republican members of the Illinois delegation.

I believe that pledges such as these are a large contributor the dysfunction and gridlock in the current Congress. Over the past year, we've seen Congressional Republicans vote to end Medicare as we know it just to protect tax breaks for billionaires  just to keep their pledges to Norquist and other right-wing interest groups. Outside special interests have drowned out the voices of regular people, and I am running to represent hard working middle income families here in Illinois. My commitments are to them not to Grover Norquist. As a scientist for 30 years at Fermi Lab in Batavia, I learned to look at the facts and let those facts dictate the best course of action  a posture that frequently gets me in hot water with the leadership of my own party. I believe Washington would be well served to follow this example, and not blindly pledge to follow the lead of special interest groups.

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