Democratic incumbent Danny Davis is the Sun-Times’ endorsed candidate in the 7th Congressional District race.
The Sun-Times also sent the candidates seeking the 7th congressional district seat a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois. Davis submitted the following answers to our questionnaire:
As a member of the U.S. House, what are or would be your top cause or causes?
Jobs. Jobs with a living wage and benefits including paid sick leave and vacation. Jobs that offer stability and security to families and communities. If we are to create these jobs there is a critical need for public leadership and investment. Investment paid for by a fair corporate and personal tax system based on ability to pay. Investment in: education, training new teachers, reducing class size, expanding programs in science, technology, language, the arts and technical and vocational education, repairing and replacing dilapidated buildings, expanding free public education to college and career vocational education, rather than closing schools, slashing support for our higher educational institutions and eliminating programs and libraries; in infrastructure we should be rebuilding our aged water and sewer system, replacing lead pipes and saving millions of gallons of water wasted by leaks, cleaning our waterways, protecting Lake Michigan and its shoreline, expanding sustainable programs for flood control; ensuring access to affordable high speed broadband in every community; expanding and modernizing our public transit systems and support network for emission free vehicles, repairing roads, bridges and overpasses and installing the latest safety upgrades, upgrading our rail system and the port of Chicago; giving small local businesses, community organizations and other non-profits access to credit to rehab our housing stock, eliminate environmental dangers and improve energy efficiency and redevelop neighborhoods as safe, healthy, sustainable, supportive places to live and work; expanding our public health and mental health network and ensuring on-demand access to evidence based addiction treatment.
I believe that key to realization of this goal is restoring the right of workers to organize which has been so profoundly degraded over the past half century. If workers cannot take the lead in securing their wages and rights there is little likelihood of success in attaining this goal and even less likelihood of sustaining it.
Please list three highly specific needs of your district that you would make priorities.
In addition to the response above: 1) Medicare for All: universal access to quality, culturally and linguistically appropriate health care including dental, vision and prescription drugs; 2) criminal justice reform: federal leadership in enforcing police accountability especially in communities of color, protection against government encroachment on the first amendment rights of speech and petitioning government, ending mass incarceration, rehabilitation and reentry programs, diversion for mental health and substance use issues, elimination of the criminalization of poverty, ending cash bail for non-violent offenders, support for indigent defense 3) protection of the environment: clean air via regulation of greenhouse gases, particulates, clean, safe water for consumption and recreation, protection of Lake Michigan and our rivers including the Chicago River and associated streams, decontamination and restoration of brownfields and contamination of living, working and recreating spaces.
These have been some of my priorities during my entire career.
Who is Danny K. Davis?
He is running for: Illinois 7th Congressional District His political/civic background: Alderman, 29th Ward, City of Chicago – 1979-1990; Cook County Commissioner, 1st District 1990-1996; Representative in Congress, 7th District – 1997-present; Ward Committeeman, 29th Ward, City of Chicago – 1984-2000; State Central Committeeman 7th District – 1998-Present His occupation: U.S. Congressman, 7th District His education: B.A. – Arkansas A.M. & N. College 1961 M.S. – Chicago State University 1968 Ph.D.- Union Institute 1977 Campaign website: dkdcongress.com Twitter: @RepDannyDavis Recent news: Danny K. Davis
Bipartisanship is virtually non-existent in the House. What would you do about that?
Demand leadership on civility from the highest levels of our government in governing and in our political discourse. It is up to the American people to reject appeals to race, national origin, misogyny, homophobia, jingoism, national and religious discrimination but our elected official need to be held accountable in the first place. Setting priorities on issues which are amenable to bipartisanship. I have been involved in a number of such attempts from finding solutions drug resistant diseases through research on new antibiotics to criminal justice reform.
Are you convinced that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election in support of the candidacy of Donald Trump? Please explain.
Yes. There is now extensive public evidence of Russian meddling and clear indications that at least one of the goals of the meddling, for whatever reason, was support for the candidacy of Donald Trump.
Do you support the investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller? Please explain.
Yes, I strongly support the investigation by special counsel Mueller and expect that the result of his investigation will be made available to the Congress and to the public. No one, including the President, is above the law and those who engaged in illegal activities should be held accountable legally by the justice system and morally and politically by the public.
If President Trump were to fire Mueller, directly or indirectly, what should Congress do?
I would not, and I do not believe the Congress would, stand idly by and permit the special counsel’s investigation to be sabotaged or suppressed.
If Trump were to pardon his former campaign aide Paul Manafort, what should Congress do?
The power of the pardon is special feature of our justice system, one which should be used with discretion and should be protected against use for corrupt or illegal acts or as a tool or reward for personal or political loyalty. If used to obstruct justice or in pursuit of other criminal acts the President should be held criminally liable and accountable.
Which three actions taken so far by the Trump administration do you most strongly support?
Which three actions taken by the Trump administration do you most strongly disagree with?
It is impossible to limit the list to three actions. In no particular order: the President’s attempts to undermine Obamacare, his attacks on immigration and families, his dismantling voting rights and environmental regulations, his disruption of our international alliances, his use of tariffs as a weapon of first choice rather than a last alternative in trade negotiations, his injection of race, national and religious hatred and misogyny into our political discourse, his reckless pursuit for expansion of our military budget and for military solutions to international conflict, his endless war on the press and the First Amendment and his general disregard for any semblance of truth telling, his attacks on workers rights and so many more.
The Trump administration has taken action to roll back Obama-era policies aimed at curbing climate change and limiting environmental pollution. The administration has done so in the name of supporting business growth and making the United States more energy self-sufficient. Most notably, the administration has begun to dismantle Obama’s federal rules over American coal plants, weakened automobile fuel-economy standards and ended American participation in the Paris climate agreement. What is your take on all this?
President Trump has ignored the overwhelming scientific evidence of global climate change and has adopted a policy of extreme subservience and commitment to a backward, narrow corporate agenda contributing to expanding and accelerating the social, economic, environmental and health effects of climate change on the world’s population including the American people.
To what extent is climate change a man-made phenomenon? How serious is the threat to our children’s future? What should be done?
Climate change is a scientific reality, that is, it does not depend on our belief or non-belief, but has been described, defined, and tested by physical evidence. The current phase of climate change is the most rapid in geological history and is the result of human activity, primarily the insertion of greenhouse gasses into the environment. It is an existential threat to all living things on earth on a global scale which is only rivaled by global thermonuclear war. The United States contributes a disproportionate share of these pollutants. We have a responsibility to our children, and the children everywhere on Earth to take immediate steps to reduce our contributions to the processes driving global warming by reducing our carbon footprint and other practices contributing to global warming and substituting a sustainable regime for energy, water use, manufacturing and mining, agriculture and other critical sectors and to explore the possibility of rational, sustainable remediation of past activities. We also have the serious responsibility to take global leadership in securing the cooperation of all nation states to move with us on an emergency bases for our common well being.
What is the single most important action Congress can take to curb gun violence?
There is no silver bullet, no single action to curb gun violence. I support a unified, comprehensive federal background check system for gun sales. I favor banning the sale and use of “bump stocks” or any other device which aims to achieve the same purpose. I favor other restrictions including banning concealed carry, the sale and use of large capacity weapons or feeding devices and closing all loopholes in sales and transfer of guns and minimum requirements for gun ownership.
I am the co-sponsor of numerous pieces of legislation on guns and I have introduced HR5103 – the Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act of 2018
HR 5103 increases revenues from the excise tax on guns and ammunition and allocates the revenues for law enforcement and public safety grant programs, including programs for research on gun violence and its prevention.
However, most fundamentally, we must recognize and address the social and economic causes underlying gun violence which are unique to our country among all other developed nations: poverty, racism, ignorance, a culture of intolerance, and a belief that comes with our love for guns akin to the notion of the hammer who believe that everything he/she see is a nail.
Is the media the “enemy of the people”? Please explain.
No, the media is not the “enemy of the people.” It is probably no accident that President Trump has adopted this slogan which seems to come from Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen who wrote a play by the same name in the 1880s. That play (and later a movie) was subsequently revived by Arthur Miller in the 1950s during the height of the McCarthy period. Donald Trump grew up under the mentorship of Roy Cohn, Joseph McCarthy’s right hand man. McCarthy and Cohn perfected the tactic of building an ever growing pyramid of lies and attacks on all who opposed them and labeling any who challenged their lies and attacks as “enemies of the people” as a method of intimidating and silencing all who spoke out against their crusade. McCarthyism eventually collapsed under the weight of its own rotten structure of lies. President Trump’s risky, dangerous revival of the anti-democratic and self-serving strategy will also collapse but not before, like McCarthy before him, he imposes great and lingering harm on our democracy and the well being of our people.
As an editorial board, our core criticism of the tax overhaul legislation pushed through Congress last December 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 the ‘silent hand’ of the market does not seem to be rewarding merit fairly. What’s your position on last December’s rewrite of the tax code? Would you push for further changes, or for the law’s repeal?
I opposed the Trump/GOP tax plan because the benefits flowed mainly to large businesses and the wealthiest families while low and middle income families would continue to be left behind. The Trump/GOP tax cuts have widened the income and wealth gap in America. This was not, and is not, the formula for sustained economic growth. The real question is how to make our economy work for working people, and address the persistent inequality that is undermining our democracy.
How did the Trump/GOP tax bill fare in this regard? A recent EPI study revealed that “. . .the tax cut shows no sign of boosting investment, and, this is a necessary (not sufficient, but necessary) condition for it to boost wages. In the end, we all know that this is just one more tax cut for corporations and the rich that will not trickle down at all to American workers.”
Further, according to another EPI study: “While the African American unemployment rate is at or below its pre-recession level in 17 states (of the 23 states and the District of Columbia for which these data are available), in 10 states and the District of Columbia, African American unemployment rates exceed white unemployment rates by a ratio of 2-to-1 or higher . . . The highest African American unemployment rate is in the District of Columbia (12.4 percent), followed by Illinois (9.0 percent), New York (8.1 percent), and South Carolina (8.1 percent).”
I support and continue to advocate and work for the repeal of the Trump/GOP tax bill and its replacement with a comprehensive tax reform to progressively raise sufficient revenue to (1) make investments that will grow the economy, and (2) set us on a path for long-term deficit reduction as put forward by the Progressive and Black Caucus.
Our plan would have these features:
Corporate Tax Reform Principles
1. Revenue Positive
2. Promote Responsible Corporate Behavior
3. Modernize our tax code by either ending deferral (and the excessive tax avoidance this encourages) or adopting a global minimum tax (rendering deferral largely irrelevant).
Individual Tax Reform Principles
1. Restore and Improve Progressivity
2. Fair Rates for the Wealthiest Taxpayers by adding additional tax brackets for the extremeely wealthy
3. Reexamine Expenditures that Benefit the Wealthy; Protect those that Help Working Families, the Poor, and Seniors
I continue to advocate for a massive public investment in our infrastructure (which President Trump campaigned on but has not even attempted to deliver) and strongly support the Congressional Progressive Caucus budget which would invest (and pay for) $2 trillion over 10 years, employing 2.5 million Americans in its first year, to rebuild our transportation, water, energy, and information systems, and overhauling our country’s unsafe and inefficient schools, homes, and public buildings while protecting the environment.
Speaking of income inequality, top executives of America’s biggest companies saw their average annual pay surge to $18.9 million in 2017, even as the pay of ordinary workers has remained flat for a decade. What, if anything, should be done to address the growing gap in wealth and income?
The first and most urgent task is to undo the explosion of anti-worker, anti-union legislation which has been implemented over the past half century. There is simply too great an imbalance between the power of labor and capital for any sustainable progress in address the gap in wealth and income. African Americans and other minorities and women have suffered disproportionately in this gap and we need to ensure that they are able to fully participate in organizations representing working people. Recent polling has demonstrated a great resurgence (reaching levels not seen in more than four decades) in interest in unions and organizing drives, while it is estimated that less than 1% of U.S. workers will be exposed to an organizing drive.
There is growing interest by many, including myself, in examining new ways which would create new, more democratic means of ensuring that all Americans benefit from our economy I believe that this will be the subject of a growing, positive discussion in political and scholarly circles over the coming years seeking a national consens.
Would it be appropriate at this time for President Trump to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the White House? Why so, or why not?
No. We certainly should be engaged with Russia on a host of issues but the record of this administration to date is shameful and inexcusable. Summitry has a place in international relations but it is not a substitute for solid diplomatic discussions exploring areas of mutual interest and areas where the risk of potential conflict can be reduced. I do not believe this administration has engaged in those discussions nor do I not believe that the best interests of the nation would be well served by President Trump’s erratic, ill informed, autocratic and inconsistent forays into the international arena.
How would you assess and grade the Trump administration’s efforts to recalibrate our nation’s relationships with Korea, NATO and Russia?
This administration’s diplomatic initiatives with Korea (North and South), NATO and Russia have been a disaster in planning, execution and outcome. There is no discernable consistent world view. There has been a hollowing out of our diplomatic corps. The President has indulged his personal political whims in the most arbitrary, egocentric manner eroding our relations all over the world and opening new areas of conflict.
In late June, the Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration’s travel ban on visitors and immigrants from seven countries, five of which have Muslim majorities. What is your view on this ban?
Our history, our culture, our economic growth and vitality as a nation has always been directly linked to immigration even though we, as a nation, have often been lured into anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric. Immigrants living in the U.S. today are an integral, productive part of our national tapestry and it is imperative that we create a pathway to fully incorporate them into our citizenry.
I have vigorously opposed the Trump Administration travel ban policy as not in our nation’s best social, economic or national security interests and inconsistent with the values we profess.
What three major reforms should be made to United States immigration policy?
I am a strong supporter of a “clean” DACA fix. I support and have been and continue to be a co-sponsor of legislation for comprehensive immigration and refugee reform, an end to family separation, protection of immigrant rights, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants; reform of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; reduction of the immigrant backlog; and the protection of immigrant labor from exploitation.
President Trump’s wall is a $25 billion boondoggle and a blatant appeal to the anti-immigrant stereotypes of our southern neighbors he has made into a centerpiece of his campaign rhetoric. I am opposed to wasting tax dollars needed for our real economic and social needs.
Do you support or oppose the family-based immigration policy sometimes called “chain migration”? Please explain. *
I support a family-based immigration policy and have for my entire career in public service.
The current family reunification system was enacted in 1965 with the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act. After a long struggle, our decades-long discriminatory immigration system that favored Nordic Europeans and excluded those from elsewhere in Europe such as Italians and Jews, and completely banned Arabs and Asians was rejected.
Since then our immigrant population has become more diverse and our country has become culturally and economically richer due to the work ethic, the experiences and the talents of these new additions to our population. We have turned our backs to the era of the Chinese Exclusion Act and of “No Irish Need Apply” and we are better as a nation for having moved forward.
I believe the 1965 act was a great step forward and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the isle to implement a comprehensive immigration reform to update and perfect immigration and asylum law, address weakness in the ’65 bill and offer solutions to the millions of undocumented who are overwhelmingly integrated into our society and economy.
What would you do, as a member of Congress, to improve race relations in the United States?
African Americans imported into America as slaves were never in doubt that there were two Americas. Native Americans whose land was taken were never in doubt that there were two Americas. Latino Americans and Puerto Ricans were never in doubt that there were two Americas. Asian Americans who were brought here to build the railroads and harvest the crops and then interned during World War II were never in doubt that there were two Americas. But when the best selling 1968 Kerner Commission Report was published noting the still growing existence of “two societies, one Black, one White,” it provoked great controversy and discussion.
I believe that status quo still exists today and that discussion still continues today. Until we fully confront that reality we will continue to struggle to improve race relations in the U.S. I know there are people of good will everywhere in this great nation and I have great faith in the American people, not just based on hope, but on our collective people’s history of constantly becoming and over coming. This is a process which I have immersed myself in for my entire adult life.
People are complex. Each individual brings their own experiences and perceptions to the society as a whole and these experience and perceptions change slowly and subtly.
I believe that if we strive for a more just and equal society the benefits will accrue to all Americans. I believe if we strive to build respect and tolerance and for all people the benefits will accrue to all Americans.
Progress in race relations has developed in waves, surging and receding, but as Dr. King noted, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Each step along this path had its own unique time and place, only to be supplanted by a next step which could only have been dimly seen until its own time and place. I am confident that if we in the Congress keep out eye on promoting justice, equality, dignity and respect history will continue to unfold along that great moral arc.
What is the biggest difference between you and your opponent?
I am energized by the regularly renewed mandate given by the people of the 7th Congressional District for the vision I have offered for the future of the District and the nation; enthused by the response to my outreach to involve residents in participating in the setting of an issues/legislative agenda and humbled and appreciative of the people’s response to the record of my tenure in the Congress.
Ahead of the historic 2018 elections, the Sun-Times is teaming up weekly with the Better Government Association, in print and online, to fact-check the truthfulness of the candidates. You can find all ofthe PolitiFact Illinois stories we’ve reported togetherhere.