Q&A with Ann Callis, Democrat, Edwardsville, candidate for 13th District, U.S. House.
1. Do you favor repeal of the Affordable Care Act? If so, should Congress move quickly to approve an alternate health care program that would cover all or most Americans? What kind of provisions, coverage do you think it should include?
I know middle-class families want healthcare solutions that lower costs and expand care, not more partisan politics. I want to find reforms that fix and improve the Affordable Care Act. The roll-out was abysmal, but I think it's wrong to hurt the middle-class by going backwards. I oppose spending more time and money to push a political agenda. We can't just shutdown our government and cost our economy billions of dollars because we disagree with a law. I'll work to ensure we cover pre-existing conditions, women are not discriminated against, and we keep the cost of prescription drugs low.
2. Would you support a "single payer" health care program?
Again, I care about accessibility and affordability of health care. I think we need to wait and see what the Affordable Healthcare Act does to achieve those goals. I know we have over 60,000 people who are uninsured across our district and those with insurance are concerned about their costs going up. So I will work to bring people together and find common-sense solutions to this problem.
3. 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?
I'm very serious about tackling our debt and believe it's in our country's economic interests to balance the budget in a smart, targeted way to produce a strong economy and help create jobs. However, I strongly oppose efforts to balance the budget by hurting the priorities of middle-class families. I believe any deficit reduction deals need to cut wisely, while protecting priorities like Social Security, Medicare, and education funding. I also think any deal should get rid of corporate subsidies that allow major corporations to ship American jobs overseas and include ideas like the Buffet Rule, which eliminates tax loopholes that only benefit the wealthy.
4. Do you support construction of the Keystone XL pipeline through the United States?
Although creating jobs is an extremely important goal, I also think we can make decisions that protect our environment. Since recent news has come out on the pipeline, I think we need to wait and see what will happen in courts. Then we should be bringing all people together to make responsible and informed decisions that will foster job growth and at the same time protect our environment.
5. Would you support increasing the use of nuclear power for electricity generation?
I think we need to diversify our energy policy and incentivize growth in alternative sources like wind, solar and biofuels. I am very concerned about the safety of nuclear power. We are still seeing the damaging effects from the crisis in Japan. I would like to study the evidence more before making a final decision on increasing the use of nuclear power.
6. Would you support repealing the federal death penalty?
As a Judge, I have tried thousands of cases, many of them the worst kinds of crime known to mankind. I've also seen the power of rehabilitation and the importance of restorative justice programs. I believe states should continue to set their own guidelines in this area and do not believe we should change federal law.
7. Do you think there is a need to further regulate federal campaign finance laws? If so, what kind of legislation would you propose? Would you favor a constitutional amendment to regulate campaign financing?
Yes, it is incredibly important to reform our campaign finance laws. I hear all the time from everyday people who feel like they are locked out of our political process, and it's because of our broken campaign finance system. I will work in Congress on legislation that ensures our elections stay fair, that secret money does not have such a large influence, and that individuals are given the power to have a say in our political process..
8. Would you support a federal flat tax?
I think we need to make our tax system fairer and incentivize companies to create jobs here at home. I do not support a federal flat tax because it would raise taxes on middle class families.
9. Should Congress do anything to regulate the use of drones, either by the government or by private citizens?
I am a strong believer in our laws and the right to privacy. I will uphold the rule of law and protect individuals and their rights when in Congress. I believe there needs to be increased judicial oversight for domestic drone use.
10. Under what circumstances would you be wiling to commit U.S. troops to foreign wars?
This is an issue that hits very close to home with me, as my son is an Army Ranger and was just deployed a few weeks ago. I believe in diplomacy and also know how important it is for us to be able to protect ourselves and our allies from attacks. As I did as a Judge, I will consider all the facts, evidence and arguments before making a deliberative and thoughtful decision.
11. Do you support eliminating the estate tax?
Again, I believe in reforming our tax system to make it fairer and to incentivize job growth in this country. I would be open to finding reforms that ensure our family farmers can pass on their farms to their children.
12. Is there a need to restrict the National Security Agency? How?
I think there is an important balance between keeping our country safe and protecting individuals' rights provided under the constitution. I will work to uphold the law and ensure the NSA is operating under its allowed parameters.
13. Do you believe that federal sentencing rules for non-violent drug offenders are too harsh and that judges should have more leeway in setting sentences?
As a judge, I have seen this issue first-hand. I believe we need to give more discretion to judges to determine sentencing for non-violent drug offenders. There have been some reforms in this area recently, and we should be expanding on that. I also believe in problem solving courts, and as Chief Judge supported the increasingly successful drug court program in Madison County.
14. What should the United States do to revise its immigration system? Do you favor granting amnesty to illegal immigrants already here?
Once again, our immigration system is broken and it's broken because Washington has failed to address this issue. I think we need a comprehensive immigration policy that secures the border, and ensures that those who broke the law pay a penalty. That's why I support the bipartisan Senate immigration bill. And I would also like to see the DREAM Act, which was sponsored in the Senate by Dick Durbin, passed in the House. Children who were brought to this country at no fault of their own deserve to live the American dream and become productive citizens of our great country.
15. As the 13th Congressional District representative, what would you do to block disposal of PCBs and other hazardous chemicals at the Clinton landfill?
I will do everything in my power to make sure the PCBs and other hazardous chemicals are not disposed of at the Clinton landfill. Having worked in college on superfund sites, I've seen firsthand the impact that these chemicals can have on our natural resources. We must protect the water our families drink by blocking all PCBs from entering the Clinton landfill.
16. 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 believe in the vast scientific evidence that man-made pollution is contributing to climate change. This winter has shown us the volatility of our current weather, and by looking at 30 year trends there is no denying the rapidly changing environment. I will work to preserve our natural resources and protect the air we breathe and the water we drink. We must leave our world in a better place for future generations, and that starts with reducing pollution.
17. Is a constitutional amendment needed to define marriage as only between one man and one woman?
I support marriage equality and will champion legislation that expands basic human rights to all Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation.
18. Should the federal government continue to provide production tax credits for clean energy projects, such as wind energy?
Yes, we should be using tax incentives to encourage job growth in the clean energy sector. I think our district has a unique ability to be a leader in biofuels and green technology, which both help us tackle climate change. We need to create tax incentives to foster this economic growth. With our great agriculture sector, we can be a regional leader on creating new biofuel products. I also see opportunities for us to grow on the wonderful research happening on our campuses. I will work to connect researchers with local labor forces to create highly technologically sound jobs right here in our district that manufactures green products like wind turbines and solar panels.
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 our country's military and diplomatic efforts have made us safer in the last 13 years, and keeping us safe will be my first priority when I weigh foreign policy decisions.
20. Are you willing to vote for an increase in the federal gasoline tax to fund more infrastructure improvements? If not, how else can we afford to pay for needed highway, mass transit, railroad and airport improvements?
I believe we must invest in our infrastructure, not only to create jobs right now, but to better our business environment for generations to come. I do not support an increase in the federal gasoline tax, and instead would work to cut subsidies for big oil companies or companies that ship jobs overseas and put that towards needed infrastructure projects in our communities.
21. What do you think your Number One priority, as the representative of the broad and varied central Illinois district, is in Congress?
The most important issue to our community is how we can grow our economy and create jobs. That will be my focus from day one if I am honored to be elected. I truly believe we can grow jobs here in our district. That means we stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas. Congress shamefully allowed the tax credit to encourage companies to hire veterans to expire. I'll fight to bring it back. And here at home, I will support stronger relationships with our universities and expand on the wonderful research that is being done there. We should be linking the universities, local businesses, and our local labor force to expand on apprenticeship programs so that our young people graduate these programs with highly technological skills and are ready to work in the jobs of the 21st Century. I also will support current efforts to rebuild blighted neighborhoods, by creating construction jobs and giving people the opportunity to become first time homeowners.