arrow-down audio close email facebook googleinstagram link quote triangle-downtriangle-uptwitter
checkmark facebook-circle star-six star twitter-circle website-circle

EDITORIAL BOARD QUESTIONNAIRES

Jim Walz

Democratic candidate for U.S. House (14th district)

Jim Walz

Jim Walz

Democratic candidate for U.S. House (14th district)

Education
Western Illinois University- B.A.
Occupation
Customer Service, Outside Sales Rep
Home
Gurnee
Past Political/Civic Experience
Warren Township School Board, elected 2016 Democratic Nominee, elected 2016 primary run for U.S. Congress IL14

Responses to our questions

The U.S. government is now $20 trillion in debt. To address that historic level of public indebtedness, the country would need to raise revenue and/or decrease spending. What is your position on the budget and debt?

Immediately cancel the addition $1.5 trillion dollar addition to this problem created by the latest Republican Tax scam. Then, I would work to create a system of tax accountability and fairness through closing corporate loopholes that reward outsourcing and offshoring of jobs and tax breaks that reward investment income over labor. We must end income inequality through a graduated tax system where everyone pays their fair share. In addition, I would look to end Sequestration that is a job killer and waste in our military budget.

Can you identify any major federal expenditures or programs that you would eliminate?

Subsidy payments to fossil fuel companies need to end. These companies saw record profits at the same time they were spending millions to lobby against climate change regulations and serious efforts to meet the demands of the green economy for our national economic future.

Medicare and Medicaid costs continue to spiral. How can these programs be restructured to control costs and avoid collapse? Be specific about your willingness to change or reduce future benefits.

Expand Medicare to cover all Americans and allow the US government to act as an advocate for consumers by negotiating drug prices as we do for the VA. This provides a basic system of coverage to control costs and promote a proactive approach to help, allowing people to get diagnosed early if there is a problem.

This system works to control costs while also allowing people the choice to purchase more coverage through private insurers if they need it. As we have seen through states that expanded Medicaid, costs are knowable and reduced when people have basic coverage for annual health screenings and basic needs.

In addition, we need to bring the control costs of procedures in line with consumer demand and real expenses. Right now, simple tests like an MRI can vary from a few hundred to thousands of dollars and consumers have no way of knowing what those costs are beforehand.

I would also push to allow for the importation of drugs to end the practice of price gouging American consumers.

I would start by immediately lowering the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 years to 55 years. This allows workers to retire if they have the means to do so, thereby opening the job market to younger workers and providing the needed experience these older Americans can bring to other areas of the community such as volunteering or caring for their older family members. From there, we can work toward lowing the eligibility age every year so that all Americans can enjoy basic health coverage without the threat of medical bankruptcy or having to forego care and risk their lives.

Republican legislators have already shown their willingness to raise prices on TriCare, cut IU benefits for veterans, eliminate CHIP coverage for our children and eliminate Medicaid for our most vulnerable citizens. A national program of Medicare expansion protects every American who would no longer need to suffer for the greed of a few. We are already spending more than enough now to enact this program now, but we taxpayers aren't getting the benefit of our hard-earned dollars. It is time that we did while cutting costs for us and businesses in the process.

What if anything should be the federal government's role in helping Americans obtain health insurance coverage?

The role of government is to create a Free Market — that is, setting reasonable regulations to protect consumers from monopolies and price gouging. The basic role of government is to defend its people.

That hasn't been happening and this lack of reasonable consumer protections has allowed:

  • pharmaceutical companies to charge Americans 30 — 300% or more for the same prescription drugs than they do anywhere else in the world
  • health providers in the same area to have wildly different and unpublished prices for the same procedures
  • since 2015, the death rate of expectant mothers is now double that for American mothers compared to every other industrialized nation
  • groups like Doctors without Boards have to operate right here in our country to help prevent an epidemic of treatable diseases
  • the rise of an opioid epidemic that has already devastated our families and our communities, causing more deaths than the HIV/AIDs crisis

We are at a critical point in our national story. Some want to revive the ACA, (Obamacare) while others want to repeal it entirely and go back to a virtually lawless system. I believe we can do better and we must enact a national system of coverage working with private insurers to create basic coverage for all Americans through expanded Medicare.

Economic growth has been steady but wage growth is slow. Are you content with the state of the economy? What is your recipe for enhancing American prosperity?

Economic indicators largely measure investment growth. This is fine if your major source of wealth is investments as it is for the 1%. For working families, we see an entirely different America. We are asked to save for our retirement in 401Ks that are not immune to market correction like the recent Republican Recession. Most of us had 40-60% of our account value stolen. It took nearly a decade for those values to be made whole, an entire decade of lost investment savings, while big banks all received a bail out on our dime. Working families have struggled through artificial wage suppression for over 30 years. Today's median incomes have fallen or stagnated while corporate profits, taxes, and the general cost of living have gone up. Even home prices continue to climb while our buying power has not.

The growing rate of economic equality is a massive issue that isn't being addressed in Congress. This situation is getting worse while American worker productivity continues to rise, so it isn't us, the worker, at fault. For far too long we have allowed the minimum wage to stagnant, rewarded corporations for short-term unsustainable gains while ignoring their long-term plans to offshore profits. No one can ignore the findings of the Panama Papers that clearly show we are being robbed through tax loopholes and investment scams. This is exactly what is happening and why our hard earned money is being lost. This must end.

If you could fix longstanding problems with this country's immigration system tomorrow, what would you do? What is your position on the future of DACA and the Dreamers?

The Trump Administration introduced a tough stance of poor immigrants, but left the door wide open for his wealthy cohorts, regardless of nationality. That completely ignores the contributions being made today by our Dreamers, DACA applicants and those who stepped up to serve in our military. These hard-working people should be first in line because they have demonstrated not only a commitment to this county, but to our communities and they pay taxes and that is something that even Trump's cohorts can't say.

Americans are generous and giving people. I believe if they knew how the immigration system worked today, they would agree that basic fairness is not a part of the equation. What's more, the Trump Administration has done a great disservice to our FBI and other agencies who already had a three-tier background check process in place to ensure our boarders are protected. He also said he would not rip families apart and we can see he's broken that promise. Likewise, President Obama's policies deported more illegal immigrants than at any time before, neglecting to consider some of these migrant workers were being unfairly targeted and suffered human rights abuses at the hands of their American employers. Illegal employment needs to be addressed as part of this conversation.

North Korea's nuclear weapons program represents a direct threat to the security of the United States and its Pacific allies. How should the U.S. confront or contain Kim Jong Un's regime?

Kim Jung-un is a leader with whom we must negotiate. We need to fill the numerous vacancies at the State Department which would help clarify the U.S. position in the region. (We must use diplomacy as opposed to the twitter approach). If we and our allies in the region, Japan and South Korea, work with China and offered a comprehensive diplomatic strategy that included a combination of economic incentives and security assurances, that would be something we should consider. One of our objectives needs to be the lowering the danger of nuclear weapons and ultimately, eliminating them.

ISIS is contained in Syria and Iraq but terrorism remains a threat. What are your priorities in keeping the country safe?

The safety and security of all Americans is of utmost importance and we must also protect our civil liberties and constitutional rights. We have to deal with terrorism, both, foreign and domestic. The safety and well-being of our citizens here are tied to the safety and well-being of all others around the world. We must be a champion of freedom, justice and democracy. Lately, though, we have lost that moral authority when we have a President who issues travel bans that target the Muslim community.

Should the U.S. continue to abide by the terms of the nuclear agreement with Iran?

Yes, we should abide by the terms of the Iran deal. The Iran deal was not a bi-lateral agreement. The U.S. negotiated the deal along with Germany, France, the UK, China and Russia. We need to make certain that Iran does not acquire the means to produce a nuclear weapon; something that would destabilize the entire region. We should not listen to the same people who advocated for the invasion of Iraq.

What is your position on the continued presence of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan?

We still have over 15,000 troops stationed in the country with no clear goal. While we have a commitment to the people to help stabilize the area, we need to review this plan and the results we are getting in trade for blood and treasure as it is woefully inadequate. Our soldiers deserve better and taxpayers expect better management of their money.

Do you support a unified, federal background check system for gun sales? Do you support magazine limits or a ban on certain rifles? Describe, briefly, your position on how to balance safety with the Second Amendment.

I support a Federal background check system for use nation-wide that will also allow access for private sales. In the age of technology, we need to make better use of what is available and allow law-abiding gun owners the freedom and flexibility to help uphold background check laws. I would consider a limit on magazines if it was built around a program that actual works- mandatory safety training. Right now, some states have virtually no safety requirements, while here in Illinois we do. Having basic safety training requirements and reciprocity will help limit the straw purchasing that affects Chicago's streets which are being flooded with illegal gun sales that begin across the state border.

In addition, we can begin to address accidental shootings by gun owners accountable with mandatory training programs. Every right enumerated in our Constitution must be protected. Unfortunately, some lobby groups and politicians prefer to make this a wedge issue rather than work toward progress. We must not confuse the bad actions of the NRA with our neighbors who, on both sides of the aisle, have rights to lawful gun ownership as well as agree with those who want better safety for our communities. Basic safety training and baseline standards for that training are areas we can agree on as are universal background checks and closing the 'boyfriend' loophole for domestic violence. Vigorously enforce the laws we have to protect rights while also keeping guns out of the hands of those who should not have access to them.

Should the U.S. government take steps to curb emissions of greenhouse gas? If so, what steps? If not, why not?

Yes. Global climate change is a real and present danger that must the addressed. A direct link can be drawn between the influence of money in politics and policies written on behalf and for the benefit of the fossil fuel industry. We must invest in energy efficiency and sustainable energy technologies; and also assist in worker training and transition programs to help workers move into the "green" economy. One simple way to begin immediately is by ending the prohibition on industrial hemp which not only is a source of food, but can be used as a biofuel to help retool plastic manufacturing for biodegradable products. Allowing our family farmers to grow hemp also produces a high value crop that requires less water to produce. The only reason this isn't happening now is because of a Federal ban. Let's lift the ban and start making a real difference.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I met my wife on the night of September 1, 1983 at 8:00 pm. As we talked, she told me that if she had a son, his name would be Steven. I told her that if I had a daughter, her name would be Rachel. We have been together ever since and now, 34 years later, we have a son, Steven (27) and a daughter, Rachel (24). Yes, I believe in love at first sight and that it can endure anything this life may bring.

If you are an incumbent, tell us the most significant accomplishment of your current term.

Not an incumbent

Candidates for U.S. House (14th district)

DEMOCRATIC