3rd Congressional District Democratic candidate: Daniel W. Lipinski

SHARE 3rd Congressional District Democratic candidate: Daniel W. Lipinski

U.S. Representative Dan Lipinski. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

On Jan. 24, Rep. Daniel W. Lipinski appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. We asked him why he’s running for the Democratic seat in the 3rd Congressional district of Illinois in the March 2018 primary:

I’m Dan Lipinski, I’m in my seventh term as a member of the U.S. Congress representing the people of the 3rd Congressional district of Illinois. My top priority is to continue serving my constituents by bringing people together to fight against the status quo of gridlock and bickering that we’re suffering from.

We really need to do more to create jobs good for the middle class, improve transportation. Those are things I’ve been most focused on, but issues such as healthcare, education, are critically important.

We need to do more to help the middle class who continue to suffer. Even though the economy is doing well, the wages are still too low. The middle class needs a champion, I’ve been their champion and will continue to do that.

A specific cause is to continue to bring back money for transportation projects or to improve transportation, not just roads, but also public transit. I sit on the House Transportation Committee, and that’s what I have done through my career in Congress and I will continue to do that to make commutes easier and to make everyday life easier for my constituents and those in the area.

The Chicago Sun-Times sent the candidates seeking nominations for Congress a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois. Rep. Daniel Lipinski submitted the following answers to our questionnaire:

QUESTION: As a member of the House from Illinois, please explain what your specific cause or causes will be. Please avoid a generic topic or issue in your answer.

ANSWER: Since I was first elected to Congress my priority has been fighting to improve the everyday lives of my constituents, especially middle class families. Even before the last recession, middle class workers were struggling with job loss and uncertainty along with stagnant wages. That is why the creation of good-paying jobs has been and continues to be my top priority. I am our state’s most senior member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee because I know how critical a good, efficient transportation system is for individuals to get to work and for businesses to create more jobs. Building and repairing transportation infrastructure, whether it is roads, public transit, rails, airports, or waterways – all of which are prevalent in my district, immediately creates jobs, and I have been very successful in bringing back funding for specific projects and helping increase levels of federal funding for all these modes of transportation.

I have also been a champion of manufacturing which produces high-quality jobs and has a significant multiplier effect in creating additional jobs. Thanks to a bill I authored, every four years the presidential administration will need to create a plan to promote American manufacturing; the first one is required to be published in May and will be the first American manufacturing strategy since Alexander Hamilton. I have been able to add and strengthen Buy American provisions in a number of bills in the Transportation Committee so that our taxpayer dollars create American jobs. I have also fought against bad trade deals that have resulted in the outsourcing of millions of manufacturing jobs, many in the Third District. I will continue this work and more to lead in promoting manufacturing jobs.

Finally, I will continue my work on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee to facilitate the creation of jobs through technological innovation.  I helped establish and expand the Innovation Corps program, first at the National Science Foundation and now throughout the government, to provide university, national laboratory, and government researchers with the necessary skills and tools to take their ideas from the lab to the market, enabling greater small business job creation.  With Argonne National Lab in the district and many great research universities in the vicinity, I will continue to work on ways to advance American research and technology and facilitate the creation of new jobs.

Daniel W. Lipinski

District running for: 3rd Congressional district (Illinois)

Political/civic background: Current U.S. Congressman (7th term), Former university professor, former congressional staff

Occupation: U.S. Representative, 3rd District of Illinois

Education: BS – Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern University, MS – Engineering-Economic Systems, Stanford University, Ph.D. – Political Science, Duke University

 Campaign website:  lipinkskiforcongress.com

QUESTION: Please list three district-specific needs that will be your priorities. This could be a project that is needed in your district, or a rule that needs to be changed, or some federal matter that has been ignored.

ANSWER: Improving local transportation

Our region is a transportation hub for the nation but we have some of the country’s worst congestion on our roads, rails, and airports, which means lost time, wasted energy, more pollution, and a less competitive economy.  I have brought back over $375 million for local transportation projects, helped expand federal support for road, transit, and bike/ped infrastructure, expanded transit options in the district, and worked to keep Midway Airport a vital economic engine while improving safety and protecting the surrounding neighborhood. I will continue to work to build upon these local transportation improvements including more funding that will ease congestion on terribly congested roads.

Growing local job opportunities

We need to grow more good-paying jobs locally. I will continue to help local job growth by getting additional policies passed that promote manufacturing, improve educational opportunities especially in STEM, facilitate technology transfer from universities and national labs, advance better trade agreements, and strengthen Buy American laws. I will also continue direct action when necessary, such as when I was able to help a local manufacturer in Bedford Park win a federal contract by promoting their appeal of a contract unfairly granted to a foreign company.

Protecting retirement security

Social Security and Medicare are vital programs for so many people in their retirement. It is critical that we maintain the long-term viability of these programs and the retirement security for so many middle class and working class individuals is not threatened. As companies have closed or moved overseas, pensions that many workers have earned have been left in doubt with possible benefit cuts. To prevent this and protect retirement security, I support legislation that would provide federal financing to multiemployer, union pensions to prop up retiree’s benefits and better ensure the long-term solvency of these plans.

QUESTION: If you are running as a Democrat, what is your best idea for getting any initiative you may propose advanced if the House continues to be controlled by the GOP after the 2018 elections?

ANSWER: I am hopeful and cautiously optimistic that Democrats will win control of the House in the 2018 election. No matter what happens, I will continue my work in the Problem Solvers Caucus which is a group of 24 Democrats and 24 Republicans who work on solutions to important problems our nation faces. I helped develop a plan endorsed by the caucus that would significantly lower, by approximately 30%, premiums for insurance available through the Affordable Care Act. I am also a member of two working groups within the caucus, one that is developing details for a compromise plan to provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrants protected under DACA (as agreed to in principle by Leaders Pelosi and Schumer and President Trump) and another that is developing an infrastructure plan.

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TOPIC: President Donald Trump

QUESTION: What do you make of President Trump?

ANSWER: Donald Trump has said and done many things that are offensive and that personally disgust me, especially in regard to certain groups of people who are especially vulnerable. At a time when our nation was already divided and needing a leader who could rally Americans to face our challenges together, Donald Trump has instead further divided us and preyed upon weaknesses and fear. He has also been an unsteady hand in foreign relations, risking alliances and potentially making conflict more likely. On top of all of this, we have Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether there were any links or possibly coordination between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. All of this is very troubling for our nation and the Mueller investigation must be allowed to play out; anyone who has committed a crime, including the President, must be punished if there is sufficient evidence.

But while Donald Trump appealed to some of the worst feelings in our nation, he did raise some real issues that need to be addressed such as our crumbling infrastructure, trade agreements that have helped multinational corporations at the expense of American workers, declining American manufacturing, the need for solutions to problems in rural America, and the general struggles of America’s middle class. However he has proved himself to be uninterested or incapable of proposing solutions to most of these issues and instead has made some of them worse. I will continue working on solutions to these problems and I am hopeful – but doubtful – that President Trump will finally turn his attention to these issues and we can pass some real solutions for the middle class.

QUESTION: Which three actions by the Trump administration do you support the most? Which three do you oppose the most?

ANSWER: It was challenging to come up with these, but here are three actions by the Trump Administration that I can voice support for. First, while the Trans-Pacific Partnership – which I fought hard against – was politically dead when Donald Trump became president, I applaud his formal removal of the United States from the deal. The TPP would have been terrible for American jobs in manufacturing and other industries, and provisions of it would have jeopardized our health and safety regulations and given foreign corporations means to undermine American rule of law and courts. Similarly, I support the Administration’s action in self-initiating antidumping and countervailing duty investigations of steel and aluminum imports from China and other foreign producers. For too long China and others have been able to overproduce metals and dump them on American and other open markets, undermining our domestic steel and aluminum industries, and costing us jobs. I am pleased to see real action moving forward to protect American steel and aluminum producers. Finally, I think that the President’s nomination of General Jim Mattis as the Secretary of Defense was a wise choice. He has unchallengeable experience leading U.S. troops in battle, is reportedly a ‘soldiers’ solider’ seeking to understand and appreciate the needs of rank and file servicemembers, and he appears to be serving as a steady and calm hand in leading the Defense Department in challenging times.

 Keeping my list of Trump administration actions I oppose to only three was an even bigger challenge. The President’s termination of James Comey as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was a politically and legally questionable move. It undermined confidence in the FBI and may have been intended to undermine the then-ongoing FBI investigation into Russian attempts to interfere in our election. Second, the nomination of Scott Pruitt to be the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is dangerous to our environment and public health. Pruitt has brought an extreme agenda to the EPA, casting out important environmental regulations related to clean air, clean water, and climate change, while attacking the integrity of science. He had obvious ties to the oil and gas industry as the Attorney General of Oklahoma, and his service to date has shown a fealty to industry over protection of the environment. Finally, I believe the President has generally lowered the standards for truth and decency in politics. The harm here cannot be overstated – the American people had low levels of trust in government and elected officials already, and he has made this worse. We have big problems to solve on behalf of the American people, and if we steer towards bullying, locker-room name-calling, and denigrating compromise and bipartisanship as ‘weakness’ then we will be less able to reach resolution of the challenges we face.

QUESTION: What is your view of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian tampering in the 2016 election, including possible collusion by the Trump campaign. Does Mueller have your support?

ANSWER: There is overwhelming evidence that there were efforts by the Russian government to interfere in and influence our election. However, whether anyone in the Trump campaign colluded or in any way coordinated with these efforts is yet unproven. It is important for the United States government, and the American public, to have an honest and clear understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 election. We need to know what the Russian government and others connected with the government did and attempted to do, and whether there were links or coordination with any Americans – especially anyone connected with the Trump campaign. The Trump Administration will remain under a cloud of suspicion and we will remain unprepared to counter any future attempts at interference in our elections until we have a trustworthy report on what happened and who was involved. For these reasons, it is critical that Special Counsel Robert Mueller be allowed to continue and complete his investigation without interruption or interference. I believe that Mueller is the right person for this role, having served under two Presidents of different political parties as the Director of the FBI, has a stellar reputation, and can most ably and accurately establish the facts and, if necessary, pursue justice.

TOPIC: Terrorism

QUESTION: What should Congress do to reduce the threat of terrorism at home, either from ISIS or from others?

ANSWER: In regard to threats of terrorism at home, it is important that we continue to provide local law enforcement and federal counter-terrorism agencies with the tools that they need as they protect us. But we cannot allow the threat to facilitate the removal of vital civil liberties. That is why we need to continue to re-evaluate federal laws that have been put in place to foil potential terrorists to make sure that we are protecting civil liberties.

Specifically when it comes to threats from ISIS, the self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria has largely been defeated but this does not mean that the threat from terrorism at home has been defeated. The United States must continue to work closely with our allies and regional partners to take away ISIS sanctuaries that still exist around the world. We must also coordinate our intelligence and law enforcement resources and agencies to identify individuals who may have fought with ISIS and who are returning to Europe, the United States, and elsewhere, and bring those people to justice before they may commit attacks. Self-radicalization appears to be the greatest threat that we now face. Law enforcement must pursue positive outreach and communication with Muslim communities in America to help prevent, or identify, any radicalization of individuals who reside here. As I have heard from local Muslim leaders, radicalized individuals are a great threat to their communities. I applaud the work that is being done locally by mosques and Muslim community groups to prevent radicalization.

TOPIC: Guns and violence

QUESTION: What is the single most important action Congress can take to curb gun violence in the United States?

ANSWER: Our communities and families have borne far too much pain from senseless gun violence. Gun violence is a multifaceted problem and no one solution will solve the problem. But one step we need to take is to do more to keep guns out the hands of criminals and those suffering mental health challenges. While the vast majority of gun owners in the U.S. are responsible individuals who are not threats to their community, any irresponsible, unstable, or dangerous individual with a gun poses a great risk to others and to themselves.  I have strongly supported measures to improve our background check system, and I am a co-sponsor of H.R. 4240 to require background checks on all gun sales, including at gun shows and between private individuals.. We must also do more to maintain sufficient information in these systems about who cannot or should not be allowed to buy a weapon.  Many states and even some federal agencies are not updating their systems with sufficient criminal background and mental health status information, and that leaves background checks less able to prevent gun sales to risky individuals. That’s why I opposed H.Con.Res. 40 and H.R. 1181 which would weaken the federal background check system.

QUESTION: Do you favor a law banning the sale and use of “bump stocks” that increase the firing speed of semi-automatic weapons? Why? Do you favor any further legal limits on guns of any kind? Or, conversely, what gun restrictions should be done away with?

ANSWER: I helped introduce the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act (H.R. 3947) which prohibits the manufacture, possession, sale, and transfer of devices designed to convert a semi-automatic weapon into the near-equivalent of a fully automatic machine gun.  Automatic fire guns are already very strictly limited so this bill is simply in line with the intent of current federal law.  Passing this bill is just common sense, and hopefully something that the majority of my colleagues in Washington will support.

Overall, our laws must be updated to prevent and increase penalties for gun trafficking and straw purchases with legislation such as H.R. 1475 which I have co-sponsored. Too many of the guns involved in crimes in Chicago and elsewhere get into criminals’ hands through ‘straw purchases,’ where a person with a clean record buys firearms for someone who would get blocked.  This must stop.  We must also better prevent individuals from selling or transferring guns with the intent of subverting the background check system or other gun restrictions (H.R. 4240), and work to find ways to prevent guns from being trafficked from states with lax controls to others.

We must also do a better job with education and research.  Congress has prevented the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health from conducting research on the causes of and consequences from gun availability and gun crime.  I am a co-sponsor of H.R. 1478 that ends that ban and let research tell us what we may not yet know.  Any new knowledge that can reduce harm is something that we should pursue.  And we should use that research and other material to better educate gun owners and the public about firearms, the threats posed by the irresponsible use of guns, and about gun safety.

In order to assess these and other proposals in a comprehensive fashion, I support the establishment of a select committee on gun violence (H.Res. 367).  Congress needs to take a serious, unvarnished and across-the-board look at what policies would work best to keep America safe from gun violence.  Our current committee structure, and the interest of some politicians to sit on their hands when it comes to gun violence, necessitates a higher-level, special approach.

I also support limiting the size of ammunition clips that can be sold. These large clips make it too easy for individuals intent on massacring large numbers of people to fire off a large number of rounds without reloading or taking time to change weapons. Unfortunately, there are so many of these clips already available and it is becoming much easier to create these large ammunition clips so this would not end the availability of them.

I am aware of no gun restrictions that should be eliminated.  In fact, in the current Congress, I have voted three times against efforts to undermine reasonable regulation of firearms. I opposed legislation that would undermine Illinois rules on concealed carry permits (H.R. 38) and two bills that weaken the federal background check system and make it more difficult to stop people with mental illness from getting guns (H.Con.Res. 40 and H.R. 1181).

I also oppose the SHARE Act which, among other provisions, would deregulate silencers for firearms.  Silencers have been strictly regulated, and making them widely available would reduce safety in our communities, threaten police, and increase the potential for violent crime.  Numerous police organizations have stated their opposition to relaxing gun laws like this, and making these devices more available is the wrong direction for our national policy.

TOPIC: America’s Growing Wealth Gap

QUESTION: As an editorial board, our core criticism of the tax overhaul legislation supported by the Republican majorities in the House and Senate is that it lowers taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans at a time of historic inequalities of wealth and income in the United States. We believe in free markets, but it does not look to us like the “silent hand” of the market is functioning properly, rewarding merit fairly. We are troubled that the top 1 percent of Americans own 38.6 percent of the nation’s wealth and the bottom 90 percent own just 22.8 percent of the wealth. Tell us how we are right or wrong about this. Does the growing income and wealth gap trouble you?

ANSWER: The growing income and wealth gap in our nation troubles me, and the tax bill that just passed will likely exacerbate that situation to the detriment of our nation. There was general agreement that our federal tax code needed to be reformed. I set out my principles for tax reform which started with prioritizing the middle class, fixing the broken trust fund that pays for roads and transit, helping small businesses, and not adding to our federal debt. I voted against the Republican tax bill because it doesn’t serve these principles and shifts the tax burden from corporations and the wealthy to middle-class families.

The Republican tax bill gives large permanent tax breaks to corporations while keeping changes for middle-class individuals and families temporary in order to claim the cost of the bill is “only” $1.5 trillion over ten years. The corporate tax rate permanently goes down from 35% to 21% without cutting many deductions which shifts the tax burden away from corporations and to individuals. Tax relief for families gets eroded and becomes smaller and smaller over time even before the provisions expire in 2026. Once temporary provisions fully expire, families in the bottom 80% of income will generally see no tax relief or tax increases, while the top 1% are estimated to see continued effective tax cuts according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. The capping of the deduction for state and local taxes also hurts families who pay high taxes locally.

In a competitive and vibrant economy, there will always be some who reap outsize success from innovative ideas and new ways of doing business. There is nothing wrong with financially benefiting from success when it is based on real competition and merit. But we should be worried when we see evidence that everyday Americans are losing the opportunity to better their lives and ensure their families’ economic wellbeing. The stock market may be booming, but millions of families continue to struggle with flat wages, unpredictable or unstable jobs, and the ballooning cost of core needs like housing, healthcare, childcare, and education. This means that families face tough obstacles when planning and saving for the future. Good policymaking should help families who are hurt by rising costs. Government should also help provide middle class families, especially children, with the skills they need to compete in our rapidly changing economy. But by piling on at least $1.5 trillion onto our national debt over ten years, the Republican tax bill will create more pressure to cut programs that help the middle class. The tax bill is just another example of Congress not being focused on the needs of middle class families and exacerbates disproportionate gains made by those at the very top.

TOPIC: International Affairs

QUESTION: Do you support the Trump administration’s decision to move the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem? How will this help or hinder efforts to secure a lasting peace between Israel and its Middle East neighbors?

ANSWER: The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and said that the U.S. Embassy would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by 1999. The Act also allowed whoever was president to issue six-month waivers of this requirement for “national security” reasons. East Jerusalem is where many want the capital of a future Palestinian state to be, and the Old City is home to the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, the third most holy site in the Islamic faith. This creates great tension over Jerusalem and every six months since 1998 the president has signed a waiver of the Act. Even after declaring on December 5, 2017, that he was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital, President Trump signed another six-month waiver of the Jerusalem Embassy Act. In effect President Trump did not change United States policy as declared by Congress in 1995, but he did very needlessly provoke more tension between Israel and its Arab neighbors and set back our nation’s efforts to aid in the negotiation of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. His subsequent tweets have added further confusion to U.S. policy concerning Jerusalem and peace talks. This is bad for the region and the world.

QUESTION: Is military action by the United States a plausible response to the nuclear weapons threat posed by North Korea? How might a U.S. military response play out for South Korea, Japan and China? What alternative do you support?

ANSWER: North Korea presents an increasing and alarming threat to the United States and its allies. Clearly, North Korea’s development of new and more capable intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons is a danger to the United States, and its rhetoric is belligerent. However, I think that the United States and President Trump should undertake all possible measures to avoid a conflict and deter North Korea rather than provoking the country and its leadership and risking a potential miscalculation or even intentional conflict. Seoul is within 35 miles of the border with North Korea, and is targeted by countless artillery and other weaponry, while most of Japan is in range of North Korean missiles. Tens of thousands of American military personnel and their families reside in South Korea and Japan, and would be imminently at risk if a conventional conflict were to break out between the U.S. and North Korea, not to mention the millions of South Koreans and Japanese civilians who could be harmed if fighting broke out. And at the same time, North Korea has hidden its conventional weaponry and missile systems well, so it appears unlikely that the United States could take them all out quickly if we chose to act preemptively or otherwise.

That does not mean that the United States should kowtow to North Korea’s threats. We can and should continue to expand and improve our missile defense arsenal, something that I have long supported. Not only can this aid in the defense of American soil and military bases, as well as our allies, it also serves as a deterrent – if Kim Jong-un thinks his missiles might get shot down but he still faces a counter-attack if his effort fails, it increases the likelihood of discouraging him from an initial attack. We must continue to pursue diplomacy directly with North Korea, indirectly through intermediaries like China and Russia, and to encourage multi-party talks. Reportedly, the U.S. State Department has engaged in unofficial talks with North Korean diplomats, and this should continue, instead of the playground name-calling and bluster that has more publicly reflected U.S. posture towards North Korea. We should also increase American and UN sanctions on non-humanitarian imports into North Korea, and better enforce the sanctions currently on the books – for instance, if we determine that Russian or Chinese vessels are smuggling oil to North Korea, we should permit seizure of those vessels, penalize owners, or even sanction the owners’ nation.

Ultimately, the President needs to keep Americans safe, and it is nearly impossible for forecast what actions Kim Jong-un and North Korea will take in the future. Their missile and nuclear break out during the last few years has been largely a surprise, so discounting any heightened threat from North Korea would be folly. The United States should continue to maintain a strong military presence in the region, and be prepared to react if North Korea poses an immediate threat of armed conflict.

TOPIC: Immigration

QUESTION: The Supreme Court has ruled that the third version of the Trump Administration’s travel ban on eight countries with predominantly Muslim populations can go into effect while legal challenges against the ban continue. What is your position on this travel ban?

ANSWER: While modestly more limited in response to court rulings, the third version of the Trump Administration’s travel ban builds on and continues the bulk of the policies developed through the previous versions. It adds new restrictions on North Korea and Chad, as well as certain Venezuelan government officials, while dropping Sudan from the list of restricted countries. But it continues an overall restriction on immigrants and visitor visas to nationals of five nations covered by previous travel bans with limited exceptions. The initial orders were ill-conceived and harmful to innocent individuals, and the Trump Administration continues to fail to explain how it makes us safer, not less safe with the amended version. This appears to be another policy designed to send a message rather than an effective strategy to keep Americans safer, and in doing so it makes us less safe.

QUESTION: Has the United States in the last decade been accepting too many immigrants, and does this pose a threat to the American way of life?

ANSWER: America is a nation of immigrants and we are made stronger by the contributions of people of diverse backgrounds to our society. We are also a nation based on the rule of law. But our immigration system is broken. Congress should pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation that reforms our legal immigration system and provides an opportunity for immigrants contributing to our nation to remain, while providing for strong border security and enforcement of laws. America needs immigrants who want to live and contribute to the American way of life in the way that immigrants have done throughout our nation’s history.

QUESTION: Should the “wall” between the United States and Mexico be built? What might it accomplish?

ANSWER: Improved border security is an important part of protecting national security but building a 2,000 mile wall between the United States and Mexico makes no sense. Decisions on whether to deploy specific methods or tools at the border should be based on on-the-ground assessments of security needs, evidence that they are effective, and determinations as to how any method fits within an overall border security strategy.

TOPIC: Affordable Care Act

QUESTION: The tax reform plan created by Republican majorities in the House and Senate would eliminate the Obamacare “individual mandate” that most Americans must have health insurance or pay a fine. Does this threaten the viability of the Affordable Care Act? What more on this, if anything, should be done?

ANSWER: The individual mandate was intended to stabilize the health insurance market by encouraging people to purchase insurance and discouraging signing up for health insurance only when benefits were needed. This policy was included in the law in exchange for requiring insurance companies to accept all customers and use community rating so that individuals would not be charged more if they have pre-existing conditions. Removing the individual mandate — without providing for other ways to encourage everyone to get covered before illness strikes — increases instability in the health insurance market and will likely drive increases in premiums. Increased costs put insurance out of reach for some who want it, leave those who remain in the market digging deeper into their pockets to pay premiums, and could encourage more insurers to leave the ACA markets.

The elimination of the mandate makes it even more critical that we do more to lower costs for individuals purchasing insurance through the Affordable Care Act and help stabilize the market. In 2017, I helped lead the development of bipartisan legislation by the Congressional Problem Solvers’ Caucus that would help accomplish these tasks. This plan would guarantee cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments are made to insurers. The abrupt cut-off in CSR payments by President Trump this past fall accounts for a 20% jump in premiums in 2018 according the Congressional Budget Office. The Problem Solvers’ plan also provides for a dedicated stability fund for states to facilitate reinsurance programs or other innovative methods to pay for high-cost enrollees, which could reduce premiums by another 10% from what they’d otherwise be according to the Congressional Budget Office. Passage of the Problem Solvers’ legislation could significantly help lower costs and stabilize ACA markets and I am hopeful we may be able to accomplish this soon because Senate Majority Leader McConnell has promised Sen. Collins that similar legislation will be brought to the floor in January.

The Problem Solvers’ plan is just the start of what Congress will need to do to make our healthcare system work better for all Americans. We should enact this plan and use it as a springboard to develop additional bipartisan ideas to control medical costs, expand access to high-quality coverage, and reduce waste and abuse in the health system.

TOPIC: The opponent

QUESTION: What is your biggest difference with your opponent(s)?

ANSWER: Most Americans are tired of all the bickering and tribalism in Washington that is adding to the divisions in our nation and resulting in gridlock.  They want to see their elected officials working hard to study issues and bring people together to solve problems for the good of our communities and our country. That is what I have always done and what has enabled me to improve local transportation, bring back hundreds of millions of dollars for the district, and have more than two dozen bills and amendments I authored or co-led become law. Over the past few years I have been honored for my efforts to resolve gridlock in Washington.  I am currently helping lead the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of 48 members of the House of Representatives, which is working to develop solutions to many of the important issues facing the American people including making health care more affordable, giving DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship, and fixing our crumbling infrastructure.  I am proud to be a Democrat because I believe the Democratic Party has better answers for many of the problems our nation faces. But above all else we are all Americans, and it is critical for our country’s future that we join together to find workable solutions to the everyday problems that Americans face.  This approach that requires negotiation and compromise is not universally accepted, but I believe it is the best way to serve my constituents and the country.

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