Editor's note: The News-Gazette asked candidates to answer questions regarding themselves and the office they seek.
Name: David Gill
24 Conway Circle
Date of Birth: Dec. 25, 1959.
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?
I don't favor repealing it. I've said for many years that I would like to see an improved Medicare for all. Contrary to some of the TV commercials that are running — 180 degrees contracy to the TV commercials that are running — I'd like to see every American citizen within an improved and expanded Medicare program.
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?
This is another area where there have been some very loud lies trumpeted about me by my opponent and some of the groups that support my opponent. I'm someone who believes that we need spending cuts and revenue increases, with those revenue increases coming in the form of having the millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share once again in this country. And making sure that corporations pay their fair share, rather than having a large number of corporations that currently pay zero or even a negative effective tax rate. Frankly I get tired of listening to the lies about me. I don't want to see taxes raised on any family that is making less than a quarter-million dollars a year. I think that would be wrong, especially in these economic times. Listening to my opponent say otherwise, it gets old. I think certainly we ought to have spending cuts as well. It's a matter of priorities. We have a priorities problem in this country. I think that the defense budget need not be so bloated as it is. I'm somebody who thinks we ought to be getting out of Afghanistan now, rather than somewhere down the road. I'm someone who has long said that we ought not be giving subsidies to the fossil fuel companies like Exxon-Mobil. It's difficult to make that kind of change when you've got a Congress that has a lot of guys who take checks from Exxon-Mobil. I'm running against a guy who took a check from Exxon-Mobil. Those are areas that jump to mind in terms of reducing spending.
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?
Yes, we should continue to play an activist role. For the most part it should be as part of a multilateral arrangement. I think we should be out of Afghanistan. For all intents and purposes we are out of Iraq. I think in Iran we should be involved as part of a multilateral consortium of countries. Things are obviously very concerning there. We should be working with the IAEA, the UN and Israel, in regards to addressing the concerns with regards to Iran. Syria is an extremely complex problem that you don't see discussed in all of its details within the mainstream media. Syria has really turned into a Shia versus Sunni, almost a holy war. There are fighters there from many different countries and I think we need to be very careful there. We should explore every diplomatic option with regard to Iran and Syria before we go and put the lives of young Americans on the line in places like that. They involve issues that are far more complex than what many people understand at this point.
4. Do you view China as a threat to the United States?
I view China as a very strong competitor. I think threat would overstate my feelings about China. They obviously are a strong global competitor economically. We need to be forceful and be strong in terms of standing up against China when they are manipulating their currency. I think we need to ask ourselves why they should continue to have Most Favored Nation status when they are manipulating their currency. On the other hand I think there are some wonderful partnerships to be developed within China in terms of our ability to market our products overseas, when you make sure they are not manipulating their currency and they are acting as a fair trading partner. It's a big marketplace.
5. What should the United States do to change its immigration system? Do you favor granting amnesty to illegal immigrants already here?
I've said for a long time that we need a comprehensive immigration reform. The last time we reviewed this in any comprehensive sort of way was in the mid-1980s under President Reagan. I tip my cap to him for his ability to look at the big picture and address the wide variety of items that are needed when you talk about this. The opposition has been very intransigent in stating that they won't do anything other than securing our borders. That's a necessary part of it but it's also important to state that we will deal effectively with the businesses that hire the undocumented workers and I think that realistically we can't deport 12 million people. I think you have to acknowledge that and develop some process where they get to the back of the line and pay whatever fine. I'm not talking about criminals, people who have committed a crime while here. Those people should be deported but I think there should be some pathway to citizenship, particularly for the young people. I like what President Obama did in terms of not having his Justice Department take action against minors who got brought here by their parents and who otherwise have been good residents of this country.
6. Should the United States 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?
It should still be a priority to reduce dependence on foreign oil. I think it's important to us economically and for our security. And I do think we should continue to publicly invest in alternative fuels such as wind and solar and biomass. I think there are tremendous accomplishments to be had there, both in terms of national security and economics and in terms of the well-being of this planet. Those are the places I'd like to see the federal government investing in.
8. Do you believe it is imperative to block disposals of PCBs and any other hazardous chemicals at the Clinton landfill?
I've been talking about this for years and years. I used to live in Clinton for many years and started talking about it before I moved away from Clinton. I believe it is imperative to block those.
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?
I think that Medicare becomes a more solvent and better program when you expand it to include more American citizens. I've talked about this for years. I think Medicare is a very good program. It functions at an overhead of 2 1/2 to 4 percent while taking care of the oldest and sickest members of our society. That's a tremendous achievement, especially when compared with private health insurance which is 10 times that, 20 to 40 percent overhead. It could be be even more efficient when you bring in large numbers of younger and healthier citizens. It would do even better than its already remarkable results. I would do away with the Medicare Advantage program. That ends up costing more than traditional Medicare because you're having to pay the profiteering private health insurance companies whose number one concern is their own bottom line. Yes, there is an urgency with regard to Social Security but a very ready and available fix to Social Security would be to raise that cap on the taxable earnings with regard to Social Security. It's currently just over $110,000, and when you make anything over that you're not being taxed so it becomes a very regressive system. I think raising that cap to a higher figure would immediately ease the pressures upon our Social Security system.
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?
I've studied this at great length so I don't mean to be pejorative when I say that it's not a question of believing in it. That's like saying do I believe that two plus two is four. Global climate change is occurring and we ignore it at great risk to our grandchildren and their children. I believe that we should invest ourselves as fully as possible in reducing our carbon footprint and involving ourselves in the alternative energy sources that I mentioned earlier. It's not something that can be put off any longer. We've already crossed that mark where irreversible change is starting to take place. The costs associated with ignoring it dwarf any cost in facing up to it now. It's not something that we can kick down the road. It will make for a very different way of life for generations to come if we don't get serious about it today. That's part of why I run for Congress and don't take a penny from the big corporations, and why I chastise candidates like my opponent who take money from Exxon-Mobil. This is far too serious to play political games with.
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 a pro-choice candidate. I think that a woman's body is hers to make decisions with regards to. It's her body and her health and that should be respected. The Hyde Amendment has been in place since the mid-1970s and to be frank, traveling the district and talking with thousands of people, I'm not hearing anybody calling for the Hyde Amendment to be done away with. It's not my intention to go to Washington and work toward doing away with the Hyde Amendment.
12. Is a constitutional amendment needed to define 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?
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?
I think there's an important role for the federal government to play in this, especially with these trains that cross over state lines. We've talked about security related to energy and about global climate change and I think in view of my feelings on those issues it would be good for the federal government to continue investing in rail and in high-speed rail, and providing more cost- and energy-efficient ways to move Americans around.
15. Do you favor vouchers, tuition tax credits, or any other federal aid for private or parochial schools?
16. Should the federal government continue to provide production tax credits for clean energy projects, such as wind energy?
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 think whatever steps we can take to protect our farmers are important. Our farmers are playing a vital role and making sure that crop insurance subsidies remain available, that would probably be my highest priority. Farming is a dangerous business and a risky business and trying to reduce the risks associated with these guys who are feeding the planet to some extent, that's a noble and good role for the federal government.
18. Should the federal government subsidize crop insurance for farmers? Why or why not?
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?
I think it's the number one job of the government to provide security to America citizens. That said, I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said something like if someone gives up liberty in trying to provide security you wind up with neither. There are areas where the government has gone too far; the ability to spy on American citizens without a warrant, those types of things. I guess when it comes to this I side with our current congressman, Tim Johnson, who has repeatedly voted to try to take away some of the powers that the federal government has had added to it since 9/11.
20. What do you think your Number One priority, as the representative of the broad and varied central Illinois district, is in Congress?
I speak very thematically about this but my number one priority would be to restore some faith in the federal government. Traveling around all these counties and talking to so many people, the one common bond that everyone has is cynicism about politics and government, appropriately. I share their cynicism. It's the reason I try to insist on not being funded by Wall Street banks and the large corporations that have made life so difficult for so many people. You've got so many members of both parties in Congress who take that cash and then you end up with bad legislation. You end up with Medicare prescription drug bills where we can't negotiate on price. You end up with questionable wars. You end up with tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires that my opponent wants to see go on forever. You end up tearing down Glass-Steigall, and setting up the recession we're still trying to get out of here in real America. It all stems from whose financing these guys in Washington and who they're working on behalf of. The only way to get back some faith that government is working for you is by making it plain that you won't engage in that quid pro quo that so many congresspeople do engage in. I would like to be a part of Americans being able to look at their government and say, "Wow, it's there, actually working on my behalf."