Sol A. Flores
Democratic candidate for U.S. House (4th 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?
I am committed to fighting for families, young people, and children who have been left behind and are out of reach of the American Dream. That's why I took the business skills that I learned in the corporate world and started a non-profit, La Casa Norte. Using my background in business and management, I grew my organization from a two-person agency into an 80+ employee, multi-million dollar agency that delivers desperately needed housing and social services to homeless families, single parents, victims of domestic violence and abandoned youth. I fought to establish funding for youth homelessness at the state and federal levels and to make the case that our community needed more services focused specifically on Latino homelessness.
Over the years, I led fights to build a new homeless shelter against resistance from neighbors and gangs and to restore critical funding for my clients during Illinois' two-year budget impasse. Through this work, I have witnessed firsthand the impact that budget decisions have on people's everyday lives. I have also learned that we need a federal budget that supports working and middle class families. We should be investing in programs that support families and children, such as effective early childhood programs, K-12 and higher education, and access to housing; that grow the economy by supporting small businesses and investing in 21st century infrastructure; that provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans; that preserve a secure retirement for those who have worked hard their whole lives; and that provide a pathway out of poverty for the almost 45 million Americans living in poverty.
Can you identify any major federal expenditures or programs that you would eliminate?
Every day, hardworking Chicagoland families make tough choices about how to pay the bills and make ends meet. They at least deserve to know that their tax dollars are being spent wisely by their representatives in Congress. Unfortunately, Washington is broken by special interest favors and secret money.
I opposed the irresponsible Republican tax overhaul plan not only because it provides massive tax giveaways to large corporations and wealthy individuals at the expense of Illinois middle-class families, seniors and students, but also because it blows a $1.5 trillion hole in our nation's debt and poses a serious fiscal risk to our country's future. That's not smart, long-term growth that benefits the middle-class.
Taxpayers deserve accountability, and we should reign in wasteful spending where it exists, such as $125 billion of administrative waste that was recently uncovered by an internal Pentagon report, or unnecessary travel perks for Members of Congress that are paid for at the taxpayers' expense.
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.
I am running for Congress to ensure that every Illinoisan — and every American — has access to quality, affordable healthcare. That includes fighting to preserve Medicare and Medicaid. These programs provide health care for more than 120 million Americans, including 46 million seniors, 25 million women and 34 million children.
Medicaid has improved the health outcomes for families and children who otherwise would have no coverage option. Instead of imposing drastic cuts that could leave millions of women, children and other low-income people without any health care coverage, as the Republicans would do, we need to make sure that all Americans have access to health care.
What if anything should be the federal government's role in helping Americans obtain health insurance coverage?
Health care is a right, not a privilege. In my work to fight homelessness, I have seen firsthand what it means for families and children to have access to quality, affordable health care. They are better able to find jobs, support themselves and their families, and find and maintain stable housing. The Affordable Care Act was enormously helpful in providing health insurance for millions more Americans. We cannot go backwards now. We cannot afford to kick 13 million Americans, including millions of Illinois residents, off of health coverage, which is what the Republican tax law does. I will fight to preserve the important parts of the ACA that promote increased access to quality, affordable health care, and I will work with my colleagues in Congress to find ways to lower health care costs for working and middle class families.
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?
I stand with the millions of Americans who haven't seen a raise in 15 years and are disgusted by the Trump-Republican tax plan that will help millionaires and corporations pay even less in taxes while the rest of us struggle. All of my life, I have been fighting for and standing with families and young people who are suffering and need access to safe, affordable housing, jobs with a living wage, health care, and education. I will bring the skills and experience I have gained working in the community to fight for policies that lift people up and allow them to flourish.
Enhancing American prosperity will take a holistic approach that includes investing in programs to support families and children, such as effective early childhood programs, K-12 and higher education, and access to housing; that grow the economy by supporting small businesses and investing in 21st infrastructure; that provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans; and that preserve a secure retirement for those who have worked hard their whole lives.
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?
I am the proud daughter and granddaughter of emigrants from Puerto Rican and the proud stepdaughter and stepsister of immigrants from Ecuador. I have worked with immigrants to help them have the life of their dreams in a new country where they are often times experiencing shame, fear and isolation. I am enraged by Donald Trump's actions to cut off access to a safer life for so many would-be immigrants and instilling even more fear in the community. There are several aspects of our country's immigration system that need to be reformed.
To start, we need to provide a pathway to citizenship for the 11.5 million undocumented immigrants who are living and raising families in the United States and contributing to our economy and culture. We need to end for-profit and family detention and enforce immigration laws humanely. We need to promote policies that keep families together, protect women from discrimination, expand our support for refugees, and promote naturalization. Finally, we need to ensure access to health care and safe housing for immigrants who are suffering just as other Americans are through no fault of their own.
I am opposed to Donald Trump's mean-spirited and shortsighted abolition of the DACA program. More than 13,000 Dreamers have lost protection and lost access to the American Dream, and thousands more will lose access unless Congress does something to stop it. I support making permanent a pathway for immigrant students who grew up in the United States to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship. These young people are Americans just like anyone else.
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?
We certainly should not start by having our President engage with an unstable dictator on Twitter and antagonize him in a manner that is beneath the Office of the President. The United States should rely heavily on the advice of its diplomatic community and should work with a coalition of other leaders in the region. We have a shared interest in containing Kim Jong Un's access to and use of nuclear weapon technology and must stand strongly together to ensure that war is not the answer.
ISIS is contained in Syria and Iraq but terrorism remains a threat. What are your priorities in keeping the country safe?
Terrorism continues to be a threat throughout the world and in the United States. We must remain vigilant and tough in protecting the American people. However, that does not mean eroding our country's history of welcoming immigrants and refugees and recognizing the important role they have played in building our country. We cannot keep people out of the United States based solely on their country of origin or religion. Doing so only empowers ISIS and other terrorist groups and helps them recruit more followers.
We also cannot alienate our allies, but rather, must stand together to share the burden of protecting civilians from terrorism. Rather than slashing the budget for United States diplomatic work, we need to reinvest in the people who are experts. Finally, we must work with the countries most affected by terrorist groups to train and empower their local law enforcement to help fight terrorists.
Should the U.S. continue to abide by the terms of the nuclear agreement with Iran?
Yes, I support the agreement. Iran obtaining nuclear weapons would pose a very serious threat to American and Israeli interests and to peace and stability in the Middle East and around the world. I believe the agreement blocks Iran's path toward developing a nuclear weapon.
What is your position on the continued presence of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan?
Sixteen years of military presence with no end of the conflict in sight shows that the status quo is not working. More troops is certainly not the answer. We have a President who, in recent days, has threatened to use nuclear weapons and has made repeated, dangerous statements about the use of military force, a President who has decimated our diplomatic corps. Congress needs to reign him in, not give him more authority. That's what I'll do in Congress. I will fight for a political solution that will allow Afghanistan to finally be the free and Democratic country it should be.
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 unified federal background check system for gun sales. I support magazine limits. Surely, the Founding Fathers did not envision high-capacity magazines, bump stocks or automatic weapons. While the Second Amendment provides a general right to bear arms, we cannot hide behind it to prevent Congress from enacting common sense gun laws.
As a lifelong resident of Chicago, I have been heartbroken to witness the increased gun violence in our city and the toll it has taken on children and families. In addition to universal background checks and limits on high capacity magazines and bump stocks, we need to reduce gun trafficking, prevent unauthorized use — especially by children — institute federal gun licensing requirements, and make sure guns do not get into the hands of those who we know are dangerous, such as domestic abusers and those with records of violence and mental illness.
Should the U.S. government take steps to curb emissions of greenhouse gas? If so, what steps? If not, why not?
The US government must absolutely take steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions and support states in their efforts to do so. We owe it to future generations to ensure that we protect our environment today. Trump's announcement that he will withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Accord is irresponsible and reckless and shows a complete disregard for scientific evidence that the planet is getting warmer. It also compromises our position as a world leader and makes us a less trustworthy partner. Given Illinois' diverse economy and infrastructure, we should be investing in innovative renewable energy now to spur job creation and make Illinois a leader in clean energy sourcing down the road — and our federal government should support those efforts.
Tell us something about you that might surprise us.
I didn't have an opportunity to participate in any team sports as a kid. I first learned about fencing from books and movies and became interested and curious about the sport. I found a local center that gave lessons and was the only "teen" at 13 in a room of adults learning how to fence. I even did a little local competing at the junior level. While I haven't practiced in years, I still own my equipment and am fascinated by the physical agility and strength of the sport.
If you are an incumbent, tell us the most significant accomplishment of your current term.
I am not an incumbent.