Money has been pouring into one contentious Congressional race in the Chicago suburbs. National SuperPACs are fueling the negative advertising dominating the airwaves in the new 8th district, which covers an area including Schaumburg, Elgin, and Lombard. Republican Congressman Joe Walsh faces Democrat Tammy Duckworth, an Iraqi War vet who most recently worked for the Veterans Administration in Washington.
Walsh’s campaign was contacted repeatedly by WNIJ over the past month, by phone and email, but they did not respond to our requests for an interview. The following answers for Walsh are based on an August 2011 interview he did with WNIJ’s Susan Stephens, his audience interactions at a town hall meeting at Northern Illinois University attended and recorded by Susan Stephens, and the issues pages on Walsh’s campaign website, www.walshforcongress.com.
Duckworth’s answers are excerpted from her campaign profile interview with WNIJ’s Susan Stephens on October 25th, 2012.
- Duckworth says Congress needs to take a bi-partisan and pragmatic approach to what should be cut and what shouldn’t in the federal budget. She does not support eliminating the guarantee of Social Security and Medicare before cutting wasteful defense spending.
- Walsh says Congress must wake up and raise the retirement age. He says that even the Ryan Budget Plan, which he supported, did not go far enough in reforming Medicare. He says there are creative ways to save Medicare, including a “means test” to determine if wealthier Americans should get benefits and allowing younger Americans to figure out how to save for retirement and pay for health care.
- Duckworth proposes tax credits for businesses that hire U.S. workers or someone who has been unemployed for more than six months. She says small business owners tell her their top need is access to capital, which she’d like to see come from smaller local banks. She says in the short term, the transportation bill can help get the economy jump-started with construction dollars.
- Walsh blames the president and Democrats for the “miserable job climate.” He says rather than use government money to stimulate the economy, the federal government must reduce regulations on businesses, simplify the tax code, and lower taxes. Walsh also noted the nation’s crumbling infrastructure could use more money, and he believes more oil drilling is necessary.
- Duckworth says she supports the framework put in place by the case Roe vs. Wade, the ruling that legalized abortion. She supports “safe, affordable reproductive health services” that include access to contraception. She says if a woman is paying for health insurance, contraception should be available to her through it.
- Walsh says“I want to make it very clear that I am in fact pro-life without exception. I believe there is nothing more sacred than human life, and it is our responsibility to do everything to protect it. Let me very clear that when I say I am pro-life, I mean that I am pro-life for the mother and I am pro-life for the unborn child. For me, there is no distinction between the two.” (Statement from Walsh’s campaign website.)
- Duckworth supports marriage equality. She says formerly, she thought civil unions were sufficient, but her mind was changed when she was hospitalized after being wounded in Iraq. Her husband was allowed to make decisions for her regarding her leg amputation instead of her mother, and she wants those types of decision-making relationships afforded to all couples.
- Walsh favors the Marriage Protection Act. He told an audience at NIU in 2011 that he does not want the government to give the same benefits to same sex couples. He feels it is the duty of government and society to “hold aloft marriage between a man and a woman.” (from NIU speech, August 2011.)
- Duckworth says she stands with Israel in the middle east and believes it is important, even if it means military intervention, to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons. She also feels it is important for America to resume its role as leader in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, where she feels China moved in to take advantage of a vacuum.
- Walsh is an outspoken supporter of Israel and has introduced legislation favoring the country. He has also taken lead on legislation regarding the U.S.’s relationships with Pakistan and Palestine. Walsh is on the Homeland Security Committee and reminds people to remain vigilant in the war on terror.