2012 election candidate questionnaire: Rodney Davis, U.S. House, 13th District
Editor's note: The News-Gazette asked candidates to answer questions regarding themselves and the office they seek.
Name: Rodney Davis
Home address: 305 Beechwood Drive, Taylorville, IL 62568
Date of Birth: January 5, 1970
Political Experience: projects director, Congressman John Shimkus
Acting Executive Director, Illinois Republican Party
Victory 2010 Director
Education: BA, Political Science, Millikin University, 1992
1. Do you favor repealing the Affordable Care Act? If so, should Congress move quickly to approve an alternate health care program that would cover all or most Americans? And what kind of provisions should it include?
Obamacare must not only be repealed, but also replaced with a comprehensive plan that keeps the vital patient-doctor relationship in place and encourages innovative solutions to address our nation's health care needs.
A one-size-fits-all, government-mandated health care system is not the answer. The United States has the best health care in the world; health care that is delivered every day through a system of dedicated physicians, nurses and health care professionals who believe deeply in serving those who need their services. The last thing we need is a health care model run by the government. We must listen to the care providers — doctors, nurses, hospital administrators — to craft a system that gets away from a focus on government programs and instead puts the patient at the center of care.
I have several priorities for replacement of Obamacare:
— Give individuals control of their insurance through tax code changes which encourage individuals to manage their health insurance as opposed to the current employer-based model we have in place.
— Control of costs through tort reform. Defensive medicine practices are pervasive in today's health care. We must have commonsense tort reform which will control a system which has allowed too many frivolous lawsuits and led to very high malpractice insurance rates
— Allow pooling of insurance for individuals and the ability to purchase insurance across state lines.
— Allow insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions
— Allow children to stay on parent's insurance until age 26
— Support Federally Qualified Health Clinics and encourage FQHCs to work closely with hospitals and physicians to take the "frequent flyers" out of emergency rooms and into these health centers.
— Improve efforts to combat waste and abuse in federal health systems.
2. In view of the mounting federal debt, do you believe it is practical to call only for spending cuts? What share of federal deficit reduction should come from spending cuts and revenue increases? Please be specific about those shares, and about where you think cuts must be made and where revenue increases should be made?
We must cut federal spending and live within the means of our current annual federal revenue. I do not support raising taxes to achieve a balanced budget and I do not believe we have a "revenue problem" as some have espoused. We must enact policies which encourage private job creation to stimulate the economy. A robust economy, in combination with a restrained federal budget, will put us on the path to balancing our books and starting to pay down our national debt.
I do not support an "across the board" cut in spending, though I believe we must at least look at all options for spending reductions. Finding areas to eliminate fraud and abuse must be paramount.
3. Do you believe the United States should continue to play an activist role in world affairs, or pull back? What do you see as the U.S. role, for the next two years at least, in Afghanistan? In Iraq? In Iran? In Syria?
The United States role in world affairs should be active and promotive of our unique position in the world as the super power which defends democracy, liberty and freedom. We are approaching 2 1/2 centuries during which our country has stood out as a beacon for other countries to emulate. We must have a foreign policy which reflects our distinctive role in the world.
Given the recent events in the Middle East, we need to ensure our embassies are protected around the world. These facilities are sovereign ground for the United States. An attack on our embassies is an attack on the United States. It is totally unacceptable that an Al Qaeda flag flies over our embassies for any amount of time.
We must continue to be vigilant in Afghanistan to protect our citizens against the terrorist threat which has taken root there for far too long. I believe there is good reason why the United States has not seen an attack since September 11, 2001: we have taken the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and other parts of the world. It is certainly in our interest to transfer controlling power to the Afghans, but on a timetable which is set not by U.S. political means, but a decision made by the military commanders on the ground to protect the security interests of the United States.
Iran's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons, in direction violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and its own commitments under the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty, poses a direct threat to U.S. national security and an existential threat to the future of the State of Israel. A nuclear Iran would set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and would risk the transfer of nuclear weapons and materials to Iranian terrorist proxies like Hezbollah and Hamas. With the regime's plans for longer range ballistic missiles, a nuclear Iran would not only threaten Israel and Europe but could one day make U.S. soil a direct target as well. Therefore, when it comes to Iran's nuclear program, America must have a policy of prevention rather than containment.
I strongly support the Iran Threat Reduction Act and other efforts to increase sanctions against Iran. Alongside increased economic sanctions, the United States must do more to promote freedom, democracy and human rights inside Iran.
4. Do you view China as a threat to the United States?
As a growing power, and as a major trading nation with us, China is a country we must engage, but also one for which we must be wary. While Illinois and the 13th District rely greatly on grain, machinery and transportation exports to China, we must defend the economic interests of the United States, especially when dealing with China. I'm supportive of engaging China on trade policies which allow our businesses to flourish, but we must pay close attention to their currency as it continues to appreciate. A backslide of Chinese currency is something which would negatively impact the United States economy. The Chinese currency must reflect fair market.
5. What should the United States do to change its immigration system? Do you favor granting amnesty to illegal immigrants already here?
We must first continue to do to more to secure our borders to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. Increased border patrols, finishing border fences and continuing our vigilance through enforcement are keys to controlling the number of illegal immigrants coming to the United States. We must ensure employers are capable of quickly and accurately verifying the eligibility of those who they are hiring. We also must ensure that government benefits do not serve as an enticement for immigrants to illegally enter the United States.
Any path to citizenship for those here illegally must not be a path which places them before others who are going through the process legally.
6. Should the United States normalize relations with Cuba?
Yes. I have been to Cuba and was able to see first-hand what could be done if trade relations were open with Cuba. Our farmers have long advocated opening relations with Cuba because they know this would be a great market for their produce. I agree with our farm community that we should do all we can to normalize relations with Cuba.
7. In view of recent changes in domestic energy production, do you think it should still be a priority to reduce dependence on foreign oil? Are there particular energy sources you would want to increase or decrease reliance on? Should the Energy Department continue to invest in alternate fuels and production methods like FutureGen?
Given the continued instability in the Middle East, I certainly continue to believe we must lessen our dependence on foreign oil. Not only is this imperative for our own national security, but it is imperative for our national economy. Increased domestic energy supplies create jobs here at home.
I am supportive of an "all of the above" energy approach which utilizes all the domestic energy sources we can utilize. We need to increase our renewable fuel capacity, expand domestic production of fossil fuel and improve efforts at energy efficiency.
8. Do you believe it is imperative to block disposals of PCBs and any other hazardous chemicals at the Clinton landfill?
Yes. I share the concerns about the Mahomet Aquifer remaining as a viable source of drinking water for generations to come.
9. What steps should be taken immediately in this Congressional term to make the Medicare program more solvent? Does the Social Security program also face that kind of urgency?
Medicare will be insolvent in 12 years, which means today's first-graders will be seniors in high school when Medicare runs into the red. Social Security will be insolvent in 2033, when Gen Xers will be hitting retirement age. These programs are vital today and they must continue to be vital for our future seniors.
Any discussion about making either of these programs "more solvent" must be put in context of our entire federal budget. In the current fiscal year, these two mandatory-spending programs represented 43 percent of our federal budget. In total, mandatory spending represents almost two-thirds of all federal spending and matches all federal revenue, which means all other federal spending (Defense, transportation, education, agriculture, etc.) are financed through borrowing.
Our first task must be to get federal spending under control and to provide an atmosphere that promotes job growth and economic development. We must provide certainty to our employers so they can create more jobs which in turn will increase revenue. We cannot stifle new jobs through increased taxes.
We must enact a balanced budget amendment and pass annual federal budgets which are in balance. That is a first step we must take to get our fiscal house in order. We then must look at all mandatory spending programs for potential changes which will allow them to stay solvent into the future.
10. Do you believe in climate change/global warming, and if so would you vote for legislation that would mandate reductions in levels of global warming pollution by 2020 or 2025?
Many factors contribute to changes in climate, both man-made and natural. Regardless of your views on global warming, we should all agree that reducing our dependence on foreign oil and cutting air pollution without doing economic harm to our citizens will benefit our national security, environment and public health.
11. What is your position on abortion, and do you believe the federal government has any role in either restricting it or financing it in certain times?
I am pro-life but recognize the exceptions of rape, incest and life of the mother. I do not believe that taxpayer dollars should be used to finance abortions, outside of rape, incest or life of the mother.
12. Is a constitutional amendment needed to define marriage as only between one man and one woman?
I would support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between one man and one woman.
13. Would you vote for a constitutional amendment that would prevent the physical desecration of the American flag?
I would support a constitutional amendment to prevent the physical desecration of the American flag because the flag is not simply an object, it represents of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have fought and died to keep our country free. The importance of the symbolism of the American flag was underscored recently when our flag was taken down at our embassies and replaced with an al Qaeda flag.
14. What role should the federal government have in providing passenger rail service? Do you favor continued or even expanded funding for Amtrak? Would you support federal aid for high-speed (110 mph or more) rail service in central Illinois?
In the past 11 months, Amtrak ridership has increased in Illinois by 5.5 percent. The federal government should maintain its role in providing passenger rail service, especially in areas where it's working, such as central Illinois. I understand that passenger rail provides a vital service, especially to the university communities in the 13th District. I am committed to working with local stakeholders regarding their vision for High Speed Rail in Champaign to identify areas where the federal government can be an active partner. If elected, I will seek to obtain a seat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee so the 13th District would be represented directly on issues such as passenger rail and other transportation needs such as the vital interstates which serve Champaign-Urbana.
15. Do you favor vouchers, tuition tax credits, or any other federal aid for private or parochial schools?
I do not favor vouchers for an area such as the 13th District. I do not believe they make sense as it would be financially impossible to make vouchers work in an area with so many rural school districts.
16. Should the federal government continue to provide production tax credits for clean energy projects, such as wind energy?
I support an "all of the above" approach to a strong national energy policy; this includes production tax credits for clean energy projects.
17. What are your priorities for a new farm bill, given that it is unlikely a comprehensive farm bill will be approved by the current Congress
I believe that agriculture deserves a fair and streamlined farm policy. For too many years we have seen others push their agenda into agriculture and rural policies, we need to focus on what producers and rural communities truly need instead of allowing others to use farm policy as a platform to advance environmental and regulatory mandates. I'm hoping to obtain a seat on the House Agriculture Committee and I look forward to working on long-term farm bill if one is not passed in this session.
18. Should the federal government to subsidize crop insurance for farmers? Why or why not?
I believe in sensible crop insurance; a system that provides a safety net for farmers while allowing for more flexibility and other tools that help producers weather sudden downturns.
19. Do you think the federal government has gone too far in trying to protect the United States in the aftermath of 9/11? If so, what should be done?
One of the main reasons the United States has not suffered a terrorist attack since 9/11 is the fact that we have taken the fight to terrorists around the globe. We have succeeded on both the military and diplomatic fronts in combating terrorism. I believe we cannot allow terrorists to again establish a beachhead, such as was the case in Afghanistan, to serve as a base for carrying out attacks against the United States and our allies. We must continue to take the fight to the terrorists.
The coordinated attacks against our embassies and the fomenting of the recent Middle Eastern uprisings only underscores the absurdity of these terrorist groups and their desire to continue attacking Americans and American interests.
20. What do you think your Number One priority, as the representative of the broad and varied central Illinois district, is in Congress?
I will represent the values of the people of central and southwestern Illinois and advocate for the economic interests of the district. The top priority for the next Congress must be to manage our out-of-control Washington spending and finally get our nation on a track to pay down our $16 trillion national debt. Tackling this challenge will put more money in peoples' checkbooks, create a robust economy and allow us to put federal dollars to programs instead of paying off debt.