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November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
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United States

U.S. House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 6

Photo of Peter J. Roskam

Peter J. Roskam

Republican
Attorney & Elected Official
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Protecting citizens and small business from Washington overreach
  • Taking care of families by providing better solutions to rising health care and education costs
  • Restoring America's role as a leader on the global stage

Questions & Answers

Questions from Chicago Sun-Times (18)

What is your biggest difference with your opponent(s)?
Answer from Peter J. Roskam:

I have built a proven track record of legislative accomplishments. I have worked with other Members of Congress, regardless of political or ideological position, to advance important legislation and bring results to the people of the western suburbs. As Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee for Ways and Means, I authored legislation recently signed into law to reform the IRS and protect citizens from being targeted for unfair tax treatment based on their personal, political, religious, or educational beliefs. I’ve worked to reform Medicare to reduce the $60 billion a year we spend on improper payments and fraudulent claims. I’ve stood up to the Obama Administration’s disastrous Iran policy and am leading the fight to hold the Islamic Republic accountable for its support for terrorism and abysmal human rights record.

Congress has declined to formally authorize America’s undeclared war against ISIS. Should Congress take a vote to authorize the use of military force against ISIS?
Answer from Peter J. Roskam:

When evaluating this situation, we would be wise to look at recent conflicts, many of which have not gone as planned or expected, with plenty of blame to go around. For example, rather than listen to our military commanders on the ground, President Obama decided to remove combat troops from Iraq based on an arbitrary withdrawal window in order to fulfill a campaign promise that was a rhetoric-driven decision, not a strategy-driven one.  It was a costly mistake that created a power vacuum currently being filled by jihadi extremists known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL). The United States is uniquely positioned to lead on the global stage and be a force for good in this volatile part of the world. However, the Administration’s choice of politically motivated military decisions has left Iraq perhaps more unstable than ever before and created the environment where ISIL could rise to power. Learning from past presidents’ and Congress’ mistakes, President Obama needs to present Congress and the American people with a clear strategy for defeating ISIL and the threat it poses to the United States and our Western allies. There are a number of steps we can take besides putting boots on the ground, but they should rely on the unique knowledge and expertise of our nation’s leading military experts, not the staff responsible for creating personal wins and photo ops.

More generally, what should Congress do to reduce the threat of ISIS abroad and at home? 
Answer from Peter J. Roskam:

The federal government has no greater responsibility than protecting the safety and security of the American people. Despite President Obama’s previous warm assurances, Al Qaeda is not “on the run” and ISIS is not a “JV team.” These are radical Islamic terrorists who seek the destruction of our way of life, and their influence, and reach, is growing. We must fight to destroy and degrade the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and end their terrible campaign of violence against the innocent around the world.

Donald Trump has called for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration. Do you support such action? What restrictions, if any, do you support on the admission of Muslims into the United States? 
Answer from Peter J. Roskam:

A ban on a specific religious group flies in the face of our nation’s foundational ideals and values. There are wiser, fairer, and more effective ways to ensure the security of our homeland, including reforms recently signed into law such as the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act, which prohibits individuals who have travelled to Syria or Iraq from using this expedited entry system to enter our country with less scrutiny. I also strongly favor legislation such as the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act which requires the FBI & DHS secretary and their departments to thoroughly vet and certify each and every individual from Syria & Iraq attempting to enter the United States has received a thorough background check and does not present a tangible security risk.

The United States’ nuclear deal with Iran turned one year old on July 14, 2016. Should the deal be maintained as it is, revised or scrapped completely? What is right or wrong with the Iran deal? And should the next president feel bound by it?
Answer from Peter J. Roskam:

President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran has been an unmitigated disaster. An emboldened Iran, flush with $100 billion in cash provided by this administration, is now illegally testing ballistic missiles, firing rockets within close range of U.S. Navy ships, kidnapping American citizens for ransom, and fomenting violence across the region. Iran has once again been declared the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism by President Obama’s own State Department this year, and for every year of the president’s administration. Even still, President Obama continues to defend his disastrous deal to provide financial resources, trade benefits, and even the potential for military-use equipment to the Iranians, while the U.S. has received nothing to show for it.

 

The next president should absolutely not feel bound to an agreement overwhelmingly rejected by the American people. The administration never revealed all the details to Congress as required by a law he himself signed, and the deal was not ratified or approved as treaties must be under the Constitution. I hope to work with the next president to rigorously enforce existing sanctions and prevent Iran from gaining access to the U.S. financial system that is allowing them to fund their murderous missions throughout the region. I am also leading an effort to block the sale of militarily-fungible products from Boeing and Airbus to the Iranian government. Iran has been sanctioned by the Treasury Department specifically for using commercial aircraft to support international terrorism.

Should the United States build a physical wall along our nation’s entire border with Mexico? Should a “path to citizenship” be created for the millions of people already living here without proper documentation? Would you support legislation to prevent the deportations of so-called “Dreamers” — youth who came to the U.S. illegally as small children with their parents?
Answer from Peter J. Roskam:

First and foremost we need to get serious about securing our borders. Any immigration reform we want to discuss is irrelevant if we are unable to control who enters and exits our country moving forward, because control of our borders is the most fundamental requirement upon which any immigration system can exist. This isn’t just an economic and social issue – it’s also a matter of national security. In the wake of terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, California, Orlando, Florida and around the globe we need to take a long, hard look at our immigration policies and close loopholes that can be exploited by those who mean us harm. There is opportunity to develop a better immigration system, but it will require a firm foundation of security.

 

We should rely on the latest technology, intelligence, and common sense. In some areas along the border, fencing and physical barriers make sense. In some places, we have been using these tools effectively for years. In others areas, we should rely on cameras, sensors, drone surveillance, and the expertise of our border patrol agents. The tools exist to control our porous borders so we know who, and what, is coming into our country. It’s time the public, the president, and Congress summoned the willpower to get the job done so that then we can have a rational conversation about what kind of immigration reforms will best serve our nation’s interests.

Federal judges in July ruled against voter identification laws in Wisconsin and Texas, concluding that they disproportionately impact minority voters and violate the U.S. Voting Rights Act. Should voters be required to show a photo ID when voting? And should the federal government have a say in this, or is it strictly a matter for the individual states to decide? 
Answer from Peter J. Roskam:

The sanctity of the ballot box is a cornerstone of our democracy. In Chicagoland, the jokes abound about even those who have died voting. Far from humorous, a system that can’t accurately reflect the choices of the American people is unwise and unworthy of the great American democracy that has guided this country to many successes. I believe we should always respect the constitutional rights of Americans to participate in the democratic process, and one way to respect that right is to requiring some form of identification so that every single vote counts fairly and equally. Common sense says this is absolutely not an unreasonable burden to confirm an individual is who they say they are—states require ID for countless activities from driving to flying to picking up a package at the local post office. Election integrity laws should be crafted in a way that respects the constitutional rights of all citizens and provide the lowest barrier to entry possible to ensure our elections are truly free and fair and accurately count the votes of all eligible voters.

Should all or certain federal public lands, including national parks, wildlife refuges and forests, be given to states to control? Do you support the opening of public lands and the outer continental shelf to exploration for oil and other fossil fuels, even if those resources are not immediately developed? 
Answer from Peter J. Roskam:

I certainly believe there is some middle ground to be found when it comes to the vast amount of land which is owned by the federal government. No one is suggesting selling Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon to the highest bidder, but the federal government’s track record of managing the vast swaths of land in the west, for example, is less than stellar. I sympathize with communities surrounded by federal land that face layer upon layer of red tape and bureaucracy which, at a moment’s notice, can bring economic activity to a grinding halt.

What changes, if any, to the U.S. tax code do you support and why?
Answer from Peter J. Roskam:

The Tax Code has become so complex and burdensome that individuals and businesses spend over seven billion hours completing the paperwork and billions of dollars in compliance costs each year. That kind of confusion, complexity, and toil makes absolutely no sense. Our tax code is so broken that American companies are fleeing the country, moving their headquarters overseas to escape the record high taxes they face here in the U.S. in a process called inversion. Put simply, our tax code is making America a bad place to do business and that means jobs and economic growth suffers.

 

President Obama has paid lip service to tax reform, only indicating a willingness to reform the corporate tax structure if it means he can get increased tax rates and raise new and higher tax revenues for new and higher government spending, which is not the kind of change that will help the economy. What the economy needs is a reform package similar to the successful tax reform plan of 1986. Under such a model, the savings from closing loopholes and carve outs for special interests is used to lower the rates for everyone and create a fairer, simpler system. With lower tax rates, companies have the ability to invest in their business, creating more jobs, paying higher wages and lifting the economy. From an economics perspective, the federal government would actually enjoy increased revenue because businesses are allowed to flourish, grow and hire, not because of the higher rates that make investment and growth unattractive and put downward pressure on the economy.

 

Reforming the corporate tax code to make American businesses more competitive is vital, but we must also reform the personal income tax code to create a flatter, fairer system and let families and individuals keep more of their hard earned money. No one is defending the status quo. Regardless of who is elected president in November, bipartisan tax reform should be at the top of the agenda. A number of independent economists have called for revenue-neutral comprehensive tax reform, estimating that with reduced government spending, it could lead to one million new jobs in the first year alone.

 

As a senior member of the Ways & Means Committee, I am proud to have worked to create a detailed blueprint for a better way forward on tax policy. Read more about the plan at better.gop

What are the most important actions Congress can take to ensure the solvency of Social Security?
Answer from Peter J. Roskam:

I‘m from Illinois so I’m acutely aware of what happens to an economy weighed down by debt and over-promised future liabilities that the state can’t afford to pay as the bills come due. One-party control and avoidance behavior in Springfield have burdened our state with the largest pension shortfall in the country and a tax burden that keeps increasing but still can’t keep up with ever-growing spending. In short, Illinois is a fiscal basket case and our financial woes are holding back job growth and increasing the cost of living. Illinois is a case study in what not to do, and what’s happening here today is the future that awaits the whole United States should we continue on the current unsustainable path of over-spending and increasing debt.

 

The federal government owes an almost unimaginable $19.4 trillion in debt. Independent auditors believe vital programs like Social Security will go bankrupt in as few as fifteen years without common-sense reforms enacted immediately. These problems will get dramatically and exponentially worse just a few years down the road. When you look at the math, those are the facts. We must address the coming fiscal crisis now by making reforms that preserve the long-term health of Social Security and Medicare, reduce our debt, and get our economy back on track. In Congress I have voted to cut wasteful spending and balance the budget. Of course those proposals mean cutting back on some federal programs many have come to expect from Washington. I strongly believe my friends and neighbors elected me to make the tough choices based on the best options and information available rather than bury my head in the sand and ignore the big challenges that are happening around us, whether we like them or not. Making these choices now will be the difference between opportunity for our children and grandchildren or a bleak future in which the American Dream is but a distant memory. There are those who continue to say we can keep getting whatever we want paid for by the federal government through ever-increasing personal income taxes without creating downward pressure on the economy. That’s just not true, and wishing won’t make it so. It’s time for us to make wise choices to actually fix the problems before us, not just put them off for another year, and another one after that.

The Republican Party platform defines marriage as between a man and a woman. What is your view? The Obama Administration has issued guidelines to schools, saying they must allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. What is your view? And do you believe parents of LGBT children should be allowed to force their children into conversion therapy?
Answer from Peter J. Roskam:

It is important to respect the views and backgrounds of our fellow citizens and respect an individual’s constitutional rights as enshrined by our nation’s founders. I believe marriage is between one man and one woman.

 

I represent the Palatine School District in Congress and opposed the Obama Administration’s federal overreach into a local education matter. Fundamentally, I believe local leaders are better equipped to address such matters. One-size-fits-all decrees from Washington bureaucrats who have never seen the real world consequences of their decisions are not the answer that best serves our families and communities. In the case of Palatine specifically, the federal regulatory guidance is vague and does nothing to address the legitimate concerns of school officials and parents over how to best protect the privacy and dignity of all students.

What is the single most important action Congress can take to reduce U.S. gun violence?
Answer from Peter J. Roskam:

Congress took a major step forward by addressing some of the root causes of mass gun violence in the United States when the House and Senate passed mental health reform legislation earlier this year. While this was an important step, there is still much work to be done. We can and must do more to actually enforce the tough current laws on the books and improve the flow of information between all 50 states and the federal background check system so we don’t let these heinous criminals slip through the cracks.

The “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act” would give the Department of Justice authority to keep suspected terrorists on the federal “no fly” list from buying firearms. The bill was voted down in Congress late last year but pushed again in June after the Orlando massacre of 49 people. Do you support or oppose this bill, and why?
Answer from Peter J. Roskam:

I support legislation offered by Senator John Cornyn to prevent terrorists from buying firearms while also protecting ordinary citizens’ basic constitutional right to due process under the law.

Should Obamacare be repealed, left intact, or changed — and if so, how? 
Answer from Peter J. Roskam:

Unfortunately for those who have been hurt by the Affordable Care Act, it has been a total failure in meeting the heath insurance and healthcare needs of families and individuals. Americans have seen their healthcare plans cancelled and our options for doctors and treatments limited. Obamacare was designed so that most Americans pay more for less, and that’s just what we’ve seen so far. I share the belief by many that we can do better, and that will require repealing and replacing this misguided and harmful law. However, repealing the law is unlikely in divided government, and in the meantime we must do all that we can to ensure taxpayer dollars are not squandered, and in case after case, they are being squandered by waste, mismanagement, and outright fraud. That is why I have introduced legislation to create a single, independent, high-level inspector general office with the ability to look beyond just one department or agency, and have the ability to release the facts, the data, and the decision-making that's behind Obamacare implementation in a way that no oversight official currently can. Inspectors general for other agencies, who aren’t beholden to those they audit and investigate, are working in other areas of the federal government to expose fraud and abuse and save literally billions in taxpayer dollars. This will both cut down on the billions of dollars wasted and mismanaged in setting up and running Obamacare, and also give us important data to inform our decisions about how to create a better alternative that actually works for ordinary Americans.

 

Simply repealing Obamacare without a viable alternative is not an option. As a member of the Health Subcommittee on the House Ways and Means Committee, I was proud to help author our better way forward on healthcare. Our patient-centered approach is designed to increase access to affordable, portable health insurance and spur competition among providers to lower costs and increase the choices patients have for who and where to get their healthcare from. 

 

 

 

A plan to replace Obamacare, presented by House Speaker Paul Ryan in June, would gradually increase the eligibility age for Medicare, which is now 65. Starting in 2020, the Medicare age would rise along with the eligibility age for full Social Security benefits, eventually reaching 67. Do you support this change in the eligibility age for Medicare? 
Answer from Peter J. Roskam:

Without reform, Medicare will be insolvent within the next 15 years. To ignore the structural problems that Medicare faces would result in significant cuts to Medicare benefits for those enrolled in the program and higher taxes for those still working, a lose-lose. If we act now we can reform the system and ensure it remains solvent without changing benefits for American’s at or near retirement, and gradually build in changes for younger Americans to change the structure of the program going forward so that it is financially sustainable.

One great place to start these reforms is Medicare fraud – it costs hard-working taxpayers an eye popping one billion dollars each and every week. The waste and mismanagement is absolutely staggering. That’s why I authored the PRIME Act to start tackling this issue head on. It was signed into law in April, though there’s still much more work to be done on this important issue.

 

The most recent Medicare Trustees report estimates that Medicare will soon go bankrupt. We must act now on reforms to protect and preserve Medicare for current seniors and future generations. The premium support reforms I have supported build off the success of programs like Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D, giving seniors the choice between traditional Medicare and the option to select coverage that best fits their needs from a number of private plans. This reform uses the massive buying power of America’s seniors to force insurance companies to start working hard to get and keep their business by producing high quality, affordable coverage options, with no changes for those at or near retirement. These types of reforms will ensure Medicare’s long term fiscal health and that these vital programs will be around for years to come. If we do nothing, the simple math will require benefits to be reduced and payroll taxes to rise.

The GOP platform opposes the use of public funds for Planned Parenthood and other groups that “perform or advocate” abortion. It also opposes funding health care that includes abortion coverage. In contrast, the Democratic Party’s platform called for continued funding of Planned Parenthood and repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which bars the direct use of federal funds to pay for abortion. Where do you stand?  
Answer from Peter J. Roskam:

I believe in the sanctity of every human life. I had the great honor and responsibility of succeeding the late Congressman Henry Hyde, an icon of the pro-life movement. I am proud to continue his work and have consistently supported the celebration and protection of every human life throughout my time in public service.

President Obama has proposed making two years of community college free nationally. Do you support or oppose this proposal? If you support it, how would you have the nation pay for it? 
Answer from Peter J. Roskam:

Community colleges are bright spots in our higher education system, demonstrating innovative ways of providing quality education at affordable prices. While we must work together to find ways to slow the rapidly increasing costs associated with higher education, I believe it is important students have some “skin in the game”. Higher education is important, but it is not a guarantee of future success. I want to ensure everyone who would like to attend college has the opportunity, but this can’t simply be another big federal giveaway that’s unpaid for and unsustainable. We can do more to increase opportunity, but that starts with getting at the drivers of rising tuition prices first.

College costs have risen at twice the rate of inflation for about 30 years. What is driving this increase and what should be done about it?
Answer from Peter J. Roskam:

There is no silver bullet or single quick solution to stop the costs of higher education from rising. As the father of four children, the last of whom is currently in college, I understand the inherent angst and worry that students and their parents feel in what should be a momentous occasion in a young person’s life. As Oversight Chairman for the House tax writing committee, I am leading an investigation into college endowments and the relationship between the rising costs of education and the special preferences college and university endowments—many valued at more than one billion dollars—enjoy under the tax code, despite the fact that they are only minimally used to improve education or make tuition more affordable. I held a hearing last year on this subject and sent letters of inquiry to colleges and universities across the country requesting detailed information about their endowment spending. My team and I will continue to look closely into this data to identify problems and propose common-sense solutions to help stop the constant climb of college prices.

Who gave money to this candidate?

Contributions

Total money raised: $3,011,960

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

1
Exelon and employees
$26,700
2
Employees of Kirkland & Ellis
$17,150
3
Employees of Citadel LLC
$17,000
4
Fidelity and employees
$16,500
5
NORPAC
$14,582

More information about contributions

By State:

Illinois 42.50%
District of Columbia 22.34%
Virginia 7.19%
New York 3.72%
Other 24.26%
42.50%22.34%24.26%

By Size:

Large contributions (94.42%)
Small contributions (5.58%)
94.42%

By Type:

From organizations (56.20%)
From individuals (43.80%)
56.20%43.80%
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission.

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