Running for: US Congress, District 03
Political party affiliation: Democrat
Political/civic background: Former Illinois Spokesperson, Moms Demand Action, former candidate for Congress in IL-3, founder Team Up to Stop Bullying
Occupation: Small business owner
Education: BA, Journalism and Business, University of Wisconsin, Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership Delegate 2017, Laubach Literacy Certification
Campaign website: marienewmanforcongress.com
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent nominees for the U.S. House of Representatives a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing their districts, the state of Illinois and the country. Marie Newman submitted the following responses:
Are you satisfied with the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? Why or why not? What grade would you give President Donald Trump for his handling of the pandemic, and why?
The Trump Administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has added to and amplified the tragedy. Their mismanagement of this crisis can be traced all the way back to the dismantling of a critical group inside the federal government designed to address domestic health crises and pandemics, making us far less prepared. Their failure to lead our nation through this pandemic has led to 150,000 souls needlessly lost, an impending eviction crisis, and a lack of any comprehensive relief for millions of Americans now without jobs and without healthcare.
I would give the current president an “F” grade for his handling of the pandemic. A true leader would have kept the pandemic team in place, created a task force at the first warning of spread, worked with the international committee to implement best practices at all times, engaged both the private and public sector to find treatments and vaccines at the very first warning, worked to create cooperation amongst states instead of punishing them, and enacted the full power of the Defense Production Act early across all needs to empower public and private organizations to distribute PPE, treatments, medical equipment, professionals and vaccines faster and more effectively.
When we work together, we are at our best.
What should the federal government do to stimulate economic recovery from the pandemic shutdowns?
Our first goal must be passage of the Heroes Act and providing immediate relief to those who are struggling to feed their families. And while we need to continue with an emergency relief strategy, we simultaneously need to create a robust plan to invigorate the economy with strategic stimulus. With so many Americans out of work, our immediate focus should be job creation.
Economic recovery will depend on our ability to get people back to work when it is safe to do so, and to create new, good paying American jobs. I believe that one way to do this is through investing in infrastructure improvements and green technology innovation. We need to pass H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, and compliment unprecedented investment in infrastructure and public transit with additional business and job growth strategies.
Additionally, we need to understand that it is the health and vitality of Main Street, not Wall Street, that will pull struggling communities out of this slump. We must create an environment where small businesses and local economies can thrive. We get this done by repealing the Trump Tax Plan, passing Medicare for All, and expanding access to community banking.
In the wake of the death of George Floyd, President Trump signed an executive order on police reform. It calls for the creation of a database to track police officers with multiple instances of misconduct, federal grants to encourage police departments to meet higher certification standards on use of force, and the greater involvement of social workers and mental health professionals when the police respond to calls dealing with homelessness, mental illness and addiction. The order also calls for police departments to ban the use of chokeholds except when an officer feels his or her life is endangered. Will this be enough to address concerns about police brutality? If not, what other steps should be taken?
Stronger accountability measures and investments in non-violent crisis mediation are a start, however this executive order is nowhere near enough. I believe that we need a full reimagining of what community resourcing and policing looks like.
Right now we are asking police officers to be public safety experts, mental health experts, social services experts and much more. They do not have the training required to solve all of these problems. I recommend we invest in the creation of community resource centers where a policing unit can partner with mental health and social service professionals to address the problems of residents as needed. Public safety and community resources need to work together.
On a larger scale, we need to address the systemic causes of racism and racial inequities in order to stop violence. It is imperative that our federal government address racial inequities across education, housing, workplaces and in our criminal justice system.
Also in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the House passed the Justice in Policing Act, which would ban police departments from using chokeholds, develop a national standard for use of force, limit the transfer of military weapons to police departments, define lynching as a federal hate crime, establish a national police misconduct registry, and limit qualified immunity, which protects officers from lawsuits over alleged misconduct. Do you support this legislation? Why or why not? What other steps, if any, would you like to see the federal government take on police reform?
Yes, I support the Justice in Policing Act. Policing bodies must be held accountable to the communities they serve, and I believe that this legislation is an important step towards establishing that accountability.
But we can’t stop here. Our country has a long and ugly history of systemic racism in policing and within our criminal justice system. In addition to reimagining community policing and doing a better job of holding officers accountable, we must reform our broken criminal justice system. I am in favor of passing federal legalization of marijuana, working to roll back mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, banning for profit private prisons and detention centers, and ending cash bail.
What’s your view on President Trump’s decision to commute the sentence of Roger Stone?
While this was a travesty of justice, it is the least of our problems. I am focused on bringing the economy back, creating jobs and making sure all Americans have affordable healthcare.
Marie Newman submitted the following responses before the March primary:
Please tell us about your civic work in the last two years, whether it’s legislation you have sponsored or other paid or volunteer work to improve your community.
In 2017, I decided to run for Congress because I felt that our leaders in Washington could be doing more for us. Over the course of the campaign we registered voters and engaged thousands of infrequent voters in the electoral process. But I am most proud of the work our campaign did empowering voices who had been long ignored. We organized thousands of voters across the district, and though we ultimately lost the election by 2%, our coalition pushed the sitting Representative to change his position and vote for a $15/hr minimum wage, vote for the Dream Act and for protections for the LGBTQ community.
Following the 2018 primary election, I volunteered my time on nearly a dozen municipal, state and federal races in my community. I advised and campaigned for candidates running for alderman in two of Chicago’s wards within the district boundaries of IL-3, several county/state races and worked hard to help flip three Congressional seats and the Governor’s office. Similarly, we are now working with stakeholders across Chicago and the South West suburbs to elect change in the 3rd District.
What are your views on the decision by the U.S. House to impeach President Donald Trump? Has the impeachment process been fair or not? How so? If, in your view, the president should not have been impeached, would you have supported censure? Please explain.
The decision to impeach is a grave one and I believe that in this case, considering the blatant abuses of power identified throughout the hearings, it was necessary. We should expect our elected officials to stand up to corruption and to support the integrity of our constitution at all costs. The integrity of our constitution is the foundation of this democracy and we can not allow it to be eroded by the president or anyone else. I believe that the process has been fair. I do, however, take issue with the President using his position to power to compel witnesses to ignore Congressional subpoenas. I hope that the Senate leadership will commit to a full and fair trial.
How would you reduce the federal budget deficit, which now stands at about $1 trillion for 2020? What changes, if any, to the U.S. tax code do you support and why?
First, I would start by repealing the GOP Tax Bill, closing corporate tax loopholes, and raising taxes for the highest earners to ensure that those at the top and the ultra-wealthy are paying their fair share. Similarly, I would support legislation that would create more accountability on those who don’t pay their taxes at all and empower the IRS to implement.
Second, I would support defense spending reductions and a budget that slows the growth rate of future spending on defense, placing renewed emphasis on diplomatic and peace building programs.
What changes would you like to see made to our nation’s healthcare system? Would you shore up the Affordable Care Act or work to repeal it in full? What’s your view on Medicare for All? And what should be done, if anything, to bring down the cost of prescription drugs?
The Affordable Care act has made life easier for people and has brought insurance to over 20,000 people in my district. I would support any legislation meant to strengthen the program, but ultimately I believe that Medicare for All will give hard working families in my district the most security and peace of mind moving forward. Adopting Medicare for All will remove costs like doctor visits, ambulance trips, blood tests, and completely covers vision, dental, and prescription drugs as well. These costs are paid for by ensuring everyone in the country pays their taxes, raising taxes on the ultra-billionaires, and appropriating federal funds to ensure the process is administered smoothly.
I believe in a well-thought smooth transition over several years.
The Trump administration is awaiting a ruling from the Supreme Court as to whether it can end the DACA program — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — which shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Do you support or oppose DACA and why? Should a path to citizenship be created for the so-called DREAMers? Please explain.
Illinois Third Congressional District has the second highest number of DACA recipients of any Congressional District in the Midwest. These kids have grown up here, have gone to school here, this is their home. They should not have to live in fear of being uprooted by a xenophobic Trump administration. I fully support the DACA program and HR 6 the Dream and Promise Act which, if passed by the Senate, would create a pathway to citizenship for nearly 2.5 million DREAMERs and those protected under the Temporary Protected Status designation.
What are the three most important issues in your district on which the federal government can and should act?
The safety and security of our community in IL-3 is threatened by climate change, gun violence, soaring healthcare costs, transportation deserts, all of this underpinned by a growing unaffordability of life in this country that Congress is failing to address. The most pressing issues that I hope to address are fixing our broken healthcare system and working to build a system of healthcare for all, reducing the cost of prescription drugs and protecting and expanding social security, and fighting for necessary immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.
What is the biggest difference between you and your opponent(s)?
Since 2004, my opponent has ignored the concerns of wide swaths of his constituency. He voted against the Affordable Care Act, against the Dream Act, and has repeatedly stood with the Republican party to attack workers, women and the LGBTQ community. Unlike my opponent, I am a real Democrat with a real plan for the district that is informed by my community and not corporate special interests. Unlike my opponent, I will not defend the status quo when my constituents demand real change to make healthcare more affordable, to make life more affordable, to solve the climate crisis, to fix our immigration system or to deliver necessary protections to our most vulnerable populations.
What action should Congress take, if any, to reduce gun violence?
Gun violence is a public health crisis, and we need to begin addressing it as such. We need universal background checks for all gun sales, to reinstate the assault weapons ban, to require gun safety training with any issuance of a license and to pass red flag laws to prevent purchases of firearms by those who would be a threat to themselves or others.
Is climate change real? Is it significantly man-made? Is it a threat to humankind? What if anything should Congress and the federal government do about it?
Climate change is real and significantly man-made and it is absolutely necessary that our government play a role in solving the climate crisis. I firmly support the framework of the Green New Deal and building a plan to fulfill that framework as a means to modernize our economy, to create good paying union jobs and to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. Solving the climate crisis and growing our economy are not mutually exclusive, and with the right incentives and parameters set by the federal government, I believe we can follow both pursuits.
What should Congress do to ensure the solvency of Social Security and Medicare?
I support H.R.860, the Social Security 2100 Act, which would guarantee Social Security benefits for all and increase benefits for those receiving Social Security today, extend benefits to low-wage workers, protect Social Security for the remainder of the 21st century, and Include a tax cut for middle-income seniors and Social Security beneficiaries who are required to pay federal income tax on their benefits. Additionally, we must do all we can to prevent privatization of Social Security. Much like insurance companies today, privatizing Social Security will allow for more exemptions and seniors’ already-fixed incomes to stagnate and income inequality to grow. We can’t risk placing Social Security in the hands of private investors; doing so jeopardizes seniors’ life earnings. I would also support legislation to lower the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60.
What should Congress do to address the student loan crisis? Would you use the word “crisis”?
Outstanding student loan debt currently sits at higher than $1.7 trillion. I believe that it is absolutely necessary for Congress to intervene. I support debt cancellation of up to $50,000 for those with outstanding student loans and incomes of less than $100,000 a year. Additionally, I support robust debt cancellation on a sliding scale for those with incomes between $100,000 and $250,000. I also believe that we need to work toward creating state colleges, universities and trade schools that are much more affordable and, ultimately, phasing into free tuition at state colleges
What should our nation’s relationship be with Russia?
I believe our current relationship with Russia is not wise. Moving forward, we need to have diplomats at every level tasked with working out the clear differences we have with Russia in Syria, Ukraine and across the globe. Further, we need to have better and stronger controls over their misadventures across the Internet. Finally, our cyber experts need to be creating stronger protections for our election systems.
What’s your view on the use of tariffs in international commerce? Has President Trump imposed tariffs properly and effectively? Please explain.
I believe that, when used smartly to target specific trade practices, and to protect the interests of American workers, tariffs can be a useful tool. But we need to recognize that to this end, they are a bandaid. Ultimately, I believe it is important that we ensure strong enforcement mechanisms in standing trade deals and negotiate all future trade deals with strong enforcement mechanisms, strong worker protections and strong environmental protections. I believe President Trump has created great instability in international trade with ongoing trade wars and ultimately, our companies, farmers and consumers are feeling those effects in very real ways that will jeopardize our economy overall.
Does the United States have a responsibility to promote democracy in other countries? Please explain.
I believe the U.S. should always work with a coalition of countries when supporting new or evolving government models. We should always empower better lives, but never dictate a specific form of governance. We need to recognize that many cultures look at government differently. The residents of the country should determine and design their own government. We can act as a support.
What should Congress do to limit the proliferation of nuclear arms?
I believe that Congress should push for a budget that reduces defense spending and re-focuses our diplomatic position to one of peace building. I believe that we can maintain our position of nuclear deterrence with a smaller nuclear arsenal. Additionally, I believe that Congress should push for the re-negotiation of the Iran Deal.
Please list all relatives on public or campaign payrolls and their jobs on those payrolls.
What historical figure from Illinois, other than Abraham Lincoln (because everybody’s big on Abe), do you most admire or draw inspiration from? Please explain.
Paul Simon, our senator from 1985-97. Paul was a great fighter for civil rights, a very successful reformer against the Chicago Machine and an amazing bridge builder. He was the one and only Democratic Lt. Governor to a Republican governor and successfully passed our state’s first income tax.
What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time. Why?
West Wing: While sometimes unrealistic, it demonstrated our humanity and need for strength and compassion. I was often heartened and inspired by the strong and difficult choices of the characters.