Republican candidate for U.S. House (10th district)
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?
To support our families and job creators, we have to stop increasing taxes and taking more of their hard-earned money. As government spending continues to increase, taxes go up, and yet it never seems to be enough. Taxpayers rightfully wonder why they have to keep paying more to receive less, while over 10% of their tax bill goes to China to service debt. We pay $25 billion per month in interest, the penalty for overspending in prior years. We must change our approach to budgeting and how we tax and spend. Our government spends heavily, then taxes us based on how much they spent. Instead, it should determine the optimal taxation levels and then prioritize spending based on what is available. I will be a champion for common sense balanced budgets. I will change the discussion from spending amounts of money to spending percentages of total revenue. I will demand balanced budgets, spending caps, and a plan to finally begin reducing our massive national debt. Ultimately we have to spend only what we generate in revenue, with debt servicing included, to stop the growth of our national debt.
Can you identify any major federal expenditures or programs that you would eliminate?
Tinkering at the margins will not solve anything. The problem is so large, we need systemic changes. Ordinately viewing programs or expenditures as fully funded or eliminated is just politics. I believe we need to change our approach to focus on spending percentages of total revenue rather than amounts of money. Congress should have to agree on the percentage that goes towards each priority, which would force our government to prioritize. We would no longer have problems achieving a balanced budget each year, and our policymakers would be incentivized to foster economic growth to generate more funding for their priorities.
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.
We must demand that our elected officials start telling the truth. Politicians keep increasing benefits and inflating the expectations of Americans, all to assure their own re-election as we speed towards unsustainability.
We have seen unsustainable increases to Medicaid in recent years, to the point that 37% of Illinois' entire budget is for Medicaid. Illinois has increased the benefit rolls even though it cannot make payments to doctors who actually see and treat these patients. Such unfulfilled promises are commonplace for entrenched politicians — we must change this culture and mindset.
Those of us in health care understand that government has made a set of promises that are impossible to keep, covering it up by complicating and contorting healthcare benefits. They intentionally misled the public and ignored the fact that the dollars do not exist to fund these programs and pay for these medical costs. Politicians are entirely unwilling to admit their mistake and explain that they promised too much, so they keep doubling down on a broken system and hoping the full-blown crisis doesn't occur until after they have retired with their taxpayer-funded Cadillac health care coverage and lavish government pensions.
It's well past time we started spending only what we have, stopped making promises to Americans that we cannot keep, modernized our entitlement programs so they can sustainably support those in need, and stabilized health care so that future generations can affordably enjoy the greatest medical care in the world.
I will end the games and get to work fixing our health care system. Medicare and Medicaid have several tenable cost saving improvements that are achievable now.
First, we must correct payment disparities between independent providers and hospital providers based on location of service. Additional facility fees in these circumstances are unfair and inefficient — they overpay hospitals for the same care that can be delivered cheaper at independent surgery centers or physician offices.
Second, we must promote price transparency in healthcare so patients know the cost of the healthcare they are consuming and can make better decisions on where and from whom to receive care. This reduces costs without reducing benefits.
Third, we should look at Medicaid carefully for how much indemnification should be provided. Currently in Illinois, the copay for an outpatient Medicaid visit or ER visit is less than $4 and there is no copay at all for other types visit. These copays are too low and the indemnification for healthcare too high — such levels of coverage promote utilization instead of striking a balance for valuable utilization. We can improve costs here considerably.
What if anything should be the federal government's role in helping Americans obtain health insurance coverage?
We need to reduce medical costs and heal our broken health care system, making it more affordable for Americans to obtain health insurance coverage and afford their medical care. As doctors, we live under an oath to "do no harm." It seems that politicians in D.C. live under no such oath.
America has the greatest heath care in the world, which is why everyone comes here for their medical care, yet Washington continues to do all it can to break our health care system. Government is manipulating the healthcare marketplace to the detriment of patients and taxpayers. For many, premiums have skyrocketed despite higher deductibles and less coverage. Individuals have limited insurance options and are often left to struggle with back-breaking medical costs. Patients facing health challenges are left to fend for themselves within a confusing marketplace with fewer options.
Americans demand, and deserve, the best medical care in the world. As a doctor who has spent his entire adult life in and around the medical field, I am uniquely qualified to address the health care crisis we find ourselves in today. I spend every day supporting our medical professionals, especially those in private practice, so they can better care for patients and their families.
It's time we reduced health care costs by reducing medical costs overall. We need to embrace and support competition and transparency in healthcare. Competition for healthcare services, especially items falling within deductibles, is very good for bringing costs down. This puts individuals back in charge of their own health care by giving them options — empowering individuals over government.
We need to support independent physicians, hospitals and entrepreneurs that want to innovate to help patients reduce healthcare costs. Also, Americans should be free to choose affordable insurance plans from anywhere in the country that meets the needs of their families. Fostering greater insurance company competition on top of greater consumerism in healthcare will compound cost savings for patients in our district.
Medical costs will go down further with common sense legal reform that recognizes the complexity of medicine and unique expectations of modern healthcare. Fostering a climate that is not so negative towards doctors and hospitals will reduce repetitive testing and decrease indemnification costs.
While our current system is lucrative for trial lawyers, it is overly burdensome to the medical field and leads to significantly higher medical costs. We should be rewarding good doctors for being here and serving our communities, especially since these small businesses create considerable jobs and economic activity.
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?
It is my hope that the newly passed tax reform bill will result in significant growth. According to the liberal leaning Tax Policy Center, the recent tax reform bill will save money for 80% of Americans. Included in the tax package is the doubling of the standard deduction from $12k to $24k and the doubling of the childcare tax credit. These are gains for lower income Americans which should stimulate the economy and grow wages. Also, the cut in the corporate tax will be a boon for millions of small businesses — the backbone of the American economy. Those small businesses should in turn be able to hire more workers, providing more opportunities for Americans.
Moving forward, my priority would be to cut spending, further reduce taxes on low and middle income Americans, and support our job creators. As a successful entrepreneur and small business owner, I have experienced the impact that government policies have on businesses and the lives of everyday people. And with my experience working with venture capitalists and angel investors, I have seen how entrepreneurs with big ideas can jumpstart a local economy. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, with half of the employees in this country being employed by a small business. Entrepreneurs take risks and make investments that expand and create new businesses which support job creation and economic growth.
Yet instead of supporting them, our government seems to be doing everything it can to stifle the entrepreneurial spirit and keep people from achieving the American dream. Larger government stymies small business through over-regulation and an ever-increasing tax burden. When small business owners face government headwinds or greater taxation, they are less likely to invest in new businesses, expand to new locations, or grow additional jobs. This a huge loss for our communities.
To help cultivate small business and job growth, we need to get government out of the way. Businesses have a better chance to thrive and create wealth and opportunity when they are not artificially burdened by government. All they need from their government is stability and predictability, as entrepreneurs are more likely to take a risk when they see a stable government and environment functioning as expected. We must make the environment as conducive as possible for our entrepreneurs to take risks and foster new jobs and economic growth.
In our 10th District, I will be a leader that is pro-business and pro-competition. This district is unique, with some of the largest corporations in the world as well as small businesses and mom-and-pop shops. I will strive to clear the way for the activities of the talented people of the district, helping where and when I can. I will work in Washington to ensure a climate where more small businesses can be born and flourish in the world economy. I will fight to reduce taxes on families and businesses to energize our economy and improve our international competitiveness. With this economic growth will come more jobs for the hard-working people of the 10th District.
The Chicagoland area is known for the quality of our workforce, combining the energy of an urban environment with our strong Midwestern work ethic. As we bring more opportunity to this area, that means better-paying jobs and more opportunities for professionals looking to progress in their careers, parents struggling to take care of their families, graduates looking for a place to put down their roots, and kids looking for their first job.
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?
America is the greatest country in the world and will continue to offer great economic opportunities not available in other countries, resulting in a strong desire from good people in those countries to come here. However, we must insist on legal immigration and controlled entry to preserve our security as well as resources.
My parents immigrated to America legally before I was born in Waukegan. Other members of my extended family waited patiently in line to immigrate legally per American immigration laws and quotas.
I believe we need to do everything we can to curb illegal immigration, as a nation has the sovereign right to control who enters its territory, both for national security and independence. I believe DACA recipients are a unique category in that they were minors when they were brought to this country illegally. We have to acknowledge that minors do not have the same culpability as adults and cannot be liable for the actions of their parents or guardians. We must resolve the status question for Dreamers independent of other illegal immigrants.
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?
Our focus needs to be the safety of Americans. We need to continue to aggressively pursue sanctions against North Korea, support our ally South Korea, and pressure China to assist in the effort to keep North Korea in check. We also need to be consistent in our policy towards North Korea while avoiding directly engaging with Kim Jong Un, which only serves to prop him up and strengthen his regime. Only if North Korea harms American citizens should we pursue military action, but in such a case our response should be swift and unequivocal.
ISIS is contained in Syria and Iraq but terrorism remains a threat. What are your priorities in keeping the country safe?
An area not talked about enough is the need to continue to modernize our defense, as future threats are highly likely to be at least partially technological in nature. We can too often be stuck in the past in how we approach funding and prioritizing our defense. This is an area in which we have purportedly made some progress recently, but not nearly enough — it must be a major priority moving forward.
Should the U.S. continue to abide by the terms of the nuclear agreement with Iran?
No. And it is disappointing that Congressman Schneider continues to support the disastrous Iran deal, even endorsing an Illinois gubernatorial candidate with an extreme anti-Israel running mate. We must rally around our ally Israel and make sure Iran does not become a nuclear power, which I believe means we need to revisit instituting sanctions.
This, by the way, is just one example of how incumbent Brad Schneider has consistently put partisan political games in Washington ahead of making real progress. Despite promising to be the independent voice the 10th District demands, he's voted with Nancy Pelosi 92% of the time since going to DC. When legislators in Washington attempted to fix our broken healthcare system, Schneider refused to work with his fellow members to lower health care costs. When Congress passed tax reform giving lower- and middle-income Americans tax relief and creating jobs, Schneider voted against tax relief for Americans, which isn't surprising considering he has advocated for job-killing tax increases. Voters are tired of politicians who say one thing and do another. Frankly, they're tired of politicians altogether. That's why we need citizen legislators in Washington, not entrenched, career politicians.
What is your position on the continued presence of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan?
We need to end this sixteen year conflict and bring our troops home. To accomplish this, I believe we need to develop a clear strategy and timeline for ending this conflict. That plan should include a temporary increase in our presence in the region, especially support and training personnel, with the aim of strengthening the Afghan position and better training their forces. We need to put increased pressure on Pakistan to stop providing support and shelter for terrorists, which this administration has begun doing. And we also need to work with our allies and partners in the region, especially India, to help rebuild Afghanistan, because they benefit most from a stabilized region with reduced terrorism. All of this must be done in concern, with the primary goal of ending this conflict as quickly as possible.
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.
The 2nd Amendment gives Americans the right to bear arms, which I support. I believe common sense measures like identity and background checks are reasonable and rational.
Should the U.S. government take steps to curb emissions of greenhouse gas? If so, what steps? If not, why not?
We must acknowledge the great deal of science indicating the climate is changing. However, the focus should be on balancing the interests of our economy and businesses with the dynamics of climate change. There should not be an either/or approach. The unreported story on carbon emissions is that we have actually made tremendous progress over the last three years, with carbon emissions essentially flat. While more progress needs to be made, this is a positive development.
I believe that the private sector, being propelled by public sentiment, is the driver of this progress, and it will continue. We are making tremendous strides at cultivating renewable energy sources, and technological advances continue to decrease our energy consumption overall. More than government, the public deserves credit for this progress, as the more the public demands energy efficiency, the more the private sector invests in developing the technologies that drive improvement in our carbon emissions.
Tell us something about you that might surprise us.
Surprising only because I continue to stick with my team, but I am a huge Bears fan and the best Christmas present I received this year was a Bears jersey with my name and the number 10 for the 10th Congressional District. I joked with my family that I certainly hope to have a better year this year than the Bears did!
If you are an incumbent, tell us the most significant accomplishment of your current term.