Danny K. Davis, 7th Congressional District Democratic nominee profile

He wants continued unemployment aid and more assistance for small businesses and nonprofits during the pandemic.

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Danny K. Davis, 7th Congressional District Democratic nominee and incumbent, 2020 general election

Danny K. Davis, 7th Congressional District Democratic nominee and incumbent.

James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Candidate profile

Danny K. Davis

Running for: Representative in Congress – 7th District - Illinois

Political party affiliation: Democrat

Political/civic background:

  • Alderman, 29th Ward 1979-1990
  • Cook County Commissioner, 1st District 1990-1996
  • Ward Committeeman 29th Ward 1984-2000
  • Democratic State Central Committeeman, 7th District, IL 1998-present
  • Board Member, National Corporation for Housing Partnerships 1994-1996
  • U.S. Congressman, 7th District 1997 - present

Occupation: Member of Congress

Education: BA Arkansas A.M. & N. College MA Chicago State University PhD Union Institute

Campaign website: DannyKDavis.com

Facebook: Congressmandkd

Twitter: DannyKDavis7th

Instagram: dannykdavis7th

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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. Danny K. Davis 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?

No, I am not satisfied. The lack of leadership by the federal government is starkly indicated by the numbers. Compare the United States with the European Union (approximately equal populations) At the end of last week, the 27 nations of the European Union were averaging 81 deaths a day from covid-19; the United States more than 900. Comparisons with Asian countries such as China, South Korea, and Vietnam reveal similar results. Science has charted a clear and uncomplicated path to slowing the virus while we seek a vaccine and more effective treatments. Social distancing, face coverings, hand washing, avoiding crowds. Yet, we continue to get mixed messages and unclear direction from the leadership of the federal government. We have a severe shortage in our ability to test for the virus and a lack of quality control on the tests. We have significant shortages of personal protective equipment but weak or missing response from the federal government. We have gross misinformation about the virus being spread on an almost daily basis from the leadership of the federal government. The federal government has offered unscientific and conflicting advice on how to reopen after shut downs and how to open schools. The federal government has failed to respond to the great racial disparities in virus cases and deaths. The federal government has politicized our response to the virus when any rational response would have focused on unifying our nation around a common challenge which could only be met by unity of action and shared responsibility. Our response to the virus as the wealthiest nation in the world, one with tremendous health care resources, has been unacceptable, shameful even, unworthy of our value systems, and inexcusable. The incompetence in our federal executive’s response to the virus, even though our scientists pointed out a road map for us early on, is directly responsible for the economic devastation we are experiencing. It is likely that the economic consequences of that incompetence will persist and worsen unless we undertake an urgent and sweeping national program to reverse the damage.

What should the federal government do to stimulate economic recovery from the pandemic shutdowns?

Our immediate needs are clearly delineated in the HEROS Act: Unemployment Insurance extension (without reduction), assistance for the health care system, assistance for small businesses and nonprofits (loan forgiveness, grants for payroll and other regular business expenses), another round of direct payments, money for schools, colleges and universities to reopen safely, conduct on-line education and student loan relief, assistance for states, cities and transportation systems, assistance for homelessness, mortgage and rent relief, food assistance, and an eviction moratorium extension, assistance for the postal service and for elections. Once we have taken these emergency steps to stabilize our economy and protect those who have been dislocated from the economy we can begin to address the great persistent inequalities which have plagued our nation and hindered its development with appropriate vision and investments. The HEROES act pegs the price tag for this interim emergency program at $3.4 trillion. I believe this is a necessary and appropriate figure. Failure to act soon, and act on this scale, will only increase the costs in the future. Ultimately, the people in November, and history, subsequently, will judge the President’s actions in failing to negotiate in good faith, and with concern for the welfare of the American people. I believe that judgement will be harsh.

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?

No. Please see response to next question.

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 was an original co-sponsor of the legislation. Our nation has been plagued by great inequities in law enforcement throughout our history. In my lifetime I have personally seen and experienced the impact of these injustices and I have been involved in rectifying these injustices from my first days as an activist and later as an elected official. The Justice in Policing Act is a good first step but it does not fully address some of the underlying issues. We continue to ignore profound, persistent institutional social problems such as racism, poverty, lack of opportunity, discrimination, lack of education, mental and physical health care. I hope and believe we have arrived at a time in our history as a nation where we can address these issues in a significant and fundamental manner.

What’s your view on President Trump’s decision to commute the sentence of Roger Stone?

I view the decision to commute the sentence of Roger Stone as another in a long series of corrupt actions by the President who has used and abused his office and the levers of state power to pervert our democracy and undermine the national interest.

Danny K. Davis 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.

As Representative in Congress I have had the privilege and the responsibility of interacting with the people of the 7th District in all the various facets of their life activities on a daily basis:social, economic, religious, political, personal. I am in theDistrict each week meeting with constituents, participating in their organizations, listening to their concerns, responding to their inquiries, finding solutions to urgent issues they bring to my office.

Selected Davis Legislation in the 116th Congress

H.R. 2967, Grandfamilies Act H.R. 3180, RISE from Trauma Act H.R. 4980, Family First Transition Act (Passed House & Senate) Foster Youth and Driving Act (Introduce Early 2020) Foster and Homeless Youth Food Act (Introduce Early 2020) PARENT Act Supporting Meaningful Relationships with Incarcerated Parents (Introduce Early 2020) H.R. 556, ELEVATE Act H.R. 3298, Child Care Quality & Access Act H.R. 3336, the DEMO Act (Passed House) H.R. 3398, Pathways to Health Careers (Passed House) H.R. 4768, Home Visiting to Reduce Maternal Mortality (Passed House) Child Poverty Reduction Act (Introduce Early 2020) H.R. 3250, Julius Rosenwald & Rosenwald Schools Study Act (Hearing 10/29/19) H.R. 2233, Bail Fairness Act H.R. 885, Private Student Loan Bankruptcy H.R. 2168, REAL Act (Passed Committee) H.R. 2966, Fostering Success in Higher Education (Passed Committee) H.R. 3470, Earl Williams, Sr., First Chance Act (Passed Committee) H.R. 4584, FAFSA Act to Repeal Student Aid Drug Penalty (Passed Committee) H.R. 4590, End Capitalization for Struggling Borrowers Act (Passed Committee) Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act (Introduce Early 2020) Close Tax Loopholes for Automatic Weapons (Introduce Early 2020)H.R. 1969, Colorectal Cancer ActH.R. 2710, Patient Access to End Stage Renal Disease InnovativeMedical Device ActH.AMDT. 283 to HR 2740 Increase SCD Treatment Funds by $2 million (Passed House)H.R. 4100, DISARM ActAntimicrobial Resistant Microorganisms Act (Introduce Early 2020)H.R. 5478, Inventor’s Rights ActP.L. 116-25, VITA Permanence Act (H.R. 1875 incorporated into H.R.3151: Taxpayer First Act)H.R. 1260, Universal Charitable Giving ActH.R. 1967, Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit Enhancement Act (PassedCommittee) H.R. 2089, Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Act (Passed House & Senate) H.R. 2169, Rent Relief Act H.R. 2964, Improved Employment Outcomes for Foster Youth H.R. 2965, Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act H.R. 4518, ED ACCESS Act H.R. 4849, Upward Mobility Enhancement Act H.R. 4865, Housing for Homeless Students Act H.R. 4953, Private Foundation Excise Tax (Passed House & Senate) H.R. 4954, Foster Opportunity EITC (Passed Committee) H.R. 5168, Pricing Greenhouse Gases Reporting Act H.R. 5269, Unclaimed Savings Bond ActFairness and Opportunities for Married Households with Student Loans Act (Introduce Early 2020) Income-Based Repayment Debt Forgiveness Act (Introduce Early 2020) AOTC Reform Act (Introduce Early 2020)

I am working on a number of additional pieces of major legislation including: lynching and guns.

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.

I believe the decision to impeach President Donald Trump was (and is) necessary based on evidence that has come forth in the Mueller Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election and as a result of the evidence that has come forth from the proceedings of the relevant committee hearings examining the withholding of aid to Ukraine to pressure Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 U.S. elections to benefit President Trump. Our nation has never before seen a President attempt to involve foreign nations into our elections for his own political benefit. When designing the structure of our government the danger of this scenario was uppermost in the minds of the authors of our constitution because of their direct experience with the unchecked and corrupting power of a king. The response of President Trump has been to cover-up, to lie, to stonewall, to prevaricate and to misuse the power of his office to further his personal political ambitions. This President’s actions have challenged the most fundamental principles and notions of our democratic system, our elections and ultimately for the people to maintain the right to select their representatives. It is difficult to imagine anything more worthy of impeachment. The process has been fair and transparent, has offered the President every opportunity to defend himself against these extraordinary charges. The President has chosen not to engage on the facts and has relied on whipping up an ugly, multi-faceted ultra-right offensive against those who challenge him. This is a test of the ability of our democracy to endure comparable to the challenge our nation faced with the CivilWar.

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?

As a member of the Ways and Means Committee I have noted that just a few years ago the budget deficit was a major topic of concern from“deficit hawks.” The voice of the “hawks” has not been heard much in the past three years. The screams of the “hawks” seems to be loudest when Democrats are in the White House and fades when Republicans are in the White House or when major tax cuts for the 1% are up for consideration. Progressives, myself included, backed up by most economists, predicted that the $1.5 trillion Trump tax cuts would be financed by a decade of massive increases in the deficit and the debt. When the Trump tax cuts expire, we will once again be faced with another so-called “fiscal cliff.”

Claims that tax cuts for the ultra wealthy and for the giant transnational corporations will “pay for themselves” have been disproved in theory and practice over and over.

• President Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut overwhelmingly benefitted the wealthy and corporations and did not create a significant increase in GDP. In fact, by most measures it slowed growth and increased inequality. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy“White households in the highest-earning 1 percent receive 23.7percent of the law’s total tax cuts, far more than the 13.8 percentage share that the bottom 60 percent of households of all races receive.”

• Black unemployment remains much higher than White unemployment.

• Long-term unemployment as a share of all unemployment remains high.

• In a very troubling development, the growth in workers’ earnings stopped rising in 2019 despite low unemployment.

• The share of the economy going to workers wages and benefits not risen in proportion to the growth in productivity.

• Wages for many workers will be going up in 2020, but not because ofPresident Trump’s economic policies. According to the National Employment Law Center “On January 1, 2020 (December 31, 2019 in New York) the minimum wage will increase in 21 states and 26 cities and counties. In 17 of those jurisdictions, the minimum wage will reach or surpass $15 per hour. Later in 2020, four more states and 23additional localities will also raise their minimum wages—15 of them to $15 or more.” I believe we need a national $15 per hour minimum wage and we need to raise the overtime salary threshold.

Just as certainly as day follows night, the increase in the deficit and the debt always leads to calls for massive cuts to human needs in the budget and to massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare andMedicaid and, on cue, President Trump who made his commitment not to cut Social Security and Medicare a major talking point of his campaign, has now begun indicating his intent to seek such cuts.

I reject those attempts to reduce human needs in the budget and attempts to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and I favor increases in Social Security such as those in HR 860 Social Security 2100 Act (I am an original co-sponsor of this legislation) which:

• increases Social Security benefits by increasing the percentage of the beneficiary’s average indexed monthly earnings used to calculate the amount.

• institutes a Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers to calculate cost-of-living adjustments to benefits

• increases the minimum benefit amount for individuals who worked for more than 10 years by creating an alternative minimum benefit

• increases the income threshold that a beneficiary must reach beforeSocial Security benefits are taxable.

• does not count as income when determining an individual’s eligibility or benefit amounts for Medicaid, the Children’s HealthInsurance Program, or the Supplemental Security Income program.

• includes income above $400,000 when calculating Social Security benefits and taxes

The struggle for a fair, progressive tax system, where each contribution to funding our national budget is proportional to ability to pay, is inextricably woven into our history. Income taxes were first signed into law by President Lincoln after the Civil War and was later struck down by the Supreme Court. The 16th Amendment enshrined the principle of an income tax in the Constitution and since World WarII the income tax (and payroll taxes) have become the major source of funding for the federal budget. We are engaged in a perpetual tug of war setting rates, opening and closing loop holes, allotting tax shares to personal and corporate sources.

We live in the wealthiest nation in history and we, as a nation, are more than capable of funding our needs, if we do it fairly and proportionately – if we insist on tax justice our budget – our economy will thrive. There are other proposals for taxes, including wealth taxes and auctioning off government granted monopolies for patents and copyrights and it is possible these and other options may come to theCongress for consideration but they are not yet on the table and may not be needed.

Of course, there are also questions of allocation of our resources and I remain deeply concerned about the share of our national budget allocated to the military. We remain enmeshed in multiple “endless wars,” we have troops stationed in more than 150 countries andPresident Trump is proposing to spend trillions on “up-grading” our nuclear weapons at a time when we should be seeking to reduce nuclear weapons. We now spend more that half of our discretionary budget on defense, more on national defense than China, Saudi Arabia, India,France, Russia, United Kingdom, and Germany combined. We devote a larger share of our economy that other nations.

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?

There are significant improvements which could and should be made to the ACA in the areas of cost, coverage and efficiency. However, the best long term fix for problems with the ACA would be the adoption of Medicare-for-All, everybody in, nobody out. I am a cosponsor of HR 1384 Medicare-for-All which provides comprehensive medical coverage including dental, vision, hearing and long term care to all of our people while lowering costs by eliminating the profit-driven private insurance industry with its massive overhead, now, according to the latest research, estimated at $2500 per person/per year – 34% of health care costs in the U.S. (https://time.com/5759972/health-care-administrative-costs/) in the United States. Other recent research pegs our current health care system as an $8000/per year poll tax on every American family.(https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/01/07/every-american-family-basically-pays-an-poll-tax-under-us-health-system-top-economists-say/) Hospitals, nursing homes, and other provider facilities would be nonprofit, and paid global operating budgets rather than fees for each service. Physicians could opt to be paid on a fee-for-service basis, but with fees adjusted to better reward primary care providers, or by salaries in facilities paid by global budgets. The initial increase in government costs would be offset by savings in premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and the rate of medical inflation would slow, freeing up resources for unmet medical and public health needs. Anyone who has seriously looked at the numbers knows that Medicare-for-All is the only sustainable way to provide for our health care. It is the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies which keep the current system alive.

HR 1384 would cover all medically necessary prescription medications, devices and supplies. It would directly negotiate prices with manufacturers, producing substantial savings. An expert panel would establish and update a national formulary, which would specify the use of the lowest cost medications among therapeutically equivalent drugs (with exceptions where clinically required). If necessary, government contracts could be bid out to produce drugs at competitive prices.

Full drug coverage is an essential component of Medicare-for-All.Co-payments reduce adherence to medications and worsen clinical outcomes. (Note: currently, the Veterans Administration pays only 56-63% as much as Medicare does for drugs because Medicare is prohibited from negotiating for lower prices.)

I have been a co-sponsor of Medicare-for-All in every Congress since I was first elected to that office. Before that time I was an advocate and activist for Medicare-for-All in my work as a health care planner, as President of the National Association of Community Health CareCenters, and as a Chicago Alderman and Cook County Commissioner (which included budget approval and oversight of one of the largest public hospitals in the U.S.)

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.

I was, and remain, a strong and outspoken supporter of DACA, President Obama’s executive branch memorandum to protect undocumented youth who had spent their entire lives in the United States and knew no other home. I also supported President Obama’s attempt to expand DACA to a broader category of undocumented persons which was subsequently blocked by an evenly divided Supreme Court. I was, and remain, a strong and outspoken supporter of the DREAM Act. I voted for the DREAM act in 2010 but the legislation was filibustered in the Senate and did not become law. I proudly voted for H.R. 6 - American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 again last year. The principle here is simple: our nation is a nation of immigrants, even though, as a matter of law and public opinion, we have not always had a consistent, humane, social or economically just policy of how we have treated immigrants. Our nation is richer, in every sense of the word, for having absorbed the best from all of the wonderful, diverse peoples who call the United States home. We continue to be enriched from immigration and when we stand up for a humane and moral policy of protecting refugees we set a global standard.

What are the three most important issues in your district on which the federal government can and should act?

Jobs (at minimum wage), health care, environmental quality, and, as a bonus issue: education.

What is the biggest difference between you and your opponent(s)?

I believe my opponents echo the positions I have championed on most or all major policy positions and my commitment to open, honest, accountable and accessible government.

What action should Congress take, if any, to reduce gun violence?

As far back as the 1880s towns such as Tombstone, Deadwood, Dodge City, Abilene and frontier towns throughout Nevada, Kansas, Montana, and South Dakota had significantly more restrictive gun control laws then they do today. The practice of requiring the surrender of guns and knives to law enforcement when entering a municipality was started in the Southern states where local ordinance forbid concealed carry of guns and knives from the early 1800s. An 1840 Alabama court decision upholding that state’s ban, ruled that the right to bear arms under the state constitution “is not to bear arms upon all occasions and in all places.” Courts in Louisiana and Kentucky also upheld the right of the State to regulate the right to carry arms.

At the Federal level the first gun control legislation was the 1934 National Firearms Act, part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal for Crime” in response to organized crime violence associated with Al Capone and others. President Lyndon Johnson lead the effort to enact the Gun Control Act of 1968 in response to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in1968. That legislation prohibited the sale of mail-order guns, banned all convicted felons, drug users, and those found “mentally incompetent” from owning a gun, and changed the age of legal purchase to 21.

The modern political/ideological battle over gun control originated with the National Rifle Association (which originally supported gun control and the 1968 Gun Control Act) campaign to utilize the tactic of opposing gun control to the Second Amendment as a means of advancing a right wing political agenda and enhance its political influence to lobby Congress and influence elections. The majority ofAmericans support reasonable gun control measures.

It has been a long and difficult struggle to break through the extraordinarily well financed gun lobby’s ability to use this issue to divide our nation. It is only as the cost of mass shootings has become so massive and the human cost has become so increasingly unbearable in all communities, rural and urban, White, Black, Latinx that we are beginning to see the ideological grip of the gun lobby loosened.36,000 Americans are killed by guns each year—an average of 100 per day. 100,000 Americans are shot and injured each year. According to the Giffords Law Center:

• The United States accounts for just 4% of the world’s population but 35% of global firearm suicides and 9% of global firearm homicides.

• The US gun homicide rate is 25 times that of other high-income countries.

• The US gun suicide rate is 10 times that of other high-income countries.

• Women in the United States are 21 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than women in other high-income countries.

• One-third of gun deaths are homicides, and guns are used in more than 70% of all homicides.

• For every person killed in a gun homicide, six more are injured in a gun assault.

• Access to a gun doubles the risk of homicide.

• Unarmed Black civilians are nearly five times more likely to be shot and killed by police than unarmed White civilians.

• The racial disparity in police shootings is not a reflection of increased crime in communities of color. Rather, police shooting disparities are amplified by residential segregation and the resulting racial biases.

• 1,500 children are shot and killed each year.

• Gun violence is the second-leading cause of death among children overall and the first-leading cause of death among black children.

• Black children are 10 times more likely to be killed in a gun homicide than white children.

“Common sense” gun legislation is increasingly on our national agenda and ultra-right attempts to connect the issue of guns with artificial, superficial notions of “freedom” and link the issue to other divisive themes will ultimately bend to democratic will.

I have co-sponsored an array of common sense gun legislation over the years and have written and introduced legislation reforming taxes on guns and ammunition and using the proceeds to permit and fund research on gun violence (which is currently banned by law inspired by the NRA.) I am currently working on additional major gun legislation which will be introduced this year.

Gun legislation I have co-sponsored in 116th Congress

H.R.3435 — Local Public Health And Safety Protection Act

RESOLUTION H.Res. 231 — Keeping guns out of classrooms.

H.R. 2867 — Ethan’s Law

H.R. 1296 — Assault Weapons Ban of 2019

H.R. 1111 — Department of Peace building Act of 2019

H.R. 1116 — Keeping Guns from High-Risk Individuals Act

RESOLUTION H.Res. 702 — Recognizing that the United States has a moral obligation to meet its foundational promise of guaranteed justice for all.

H.R. 33 — Gun Trafficking Prohibition Act

H.R. 4339 — Racial Profiling Act of 2019

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?

It is sadly true that many Americans think climate change is still atopic of significant scientific disagreement or that climate change is not the result of human activity. Neither of those doubts are true. 97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and that it is the result of human activity depositing greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. There have been thousands of studies, conferences, forums and position statements by all of our leading science organizations, testing and reaffirming that basic truth. Those findings have been echoed by scientists and their organizations around the world and international scientific bodies around the world.

Climate change is real, the science is unequivocal despite the protestations of some who ignore the overwhelming scientific consensus and the on-the-ground reality we are experiencing world wide. Global temperatures are on track to exceed the range of what has been experienced over millions of years. The average global temperature has increased by about 1.4° F over the last 100 years. Sea levels have risen 7.8 inches and sea surface temperatures have risen an average of .13° F per decade over that period islands have disappeared and coastlines are being inundated. Arctic sea ice has been in decline for decades. Extreme events such as heat waves, hurricanes, drought, heavy precipitation and flooding have become more common and more intense. Global climate change has significantly impacted ecosystems, with plants and animals, even bacteria and viruses being forced to change habitats or physically adapt to change. Our military planners have made clear that climate change is expected to become a causal and operational factor in local and global conflict.

I have been an advocate for a national and international response to global climate change for a number of years including in my response to questionnaires from the Sun-Times and other Chicagoland newspapers. I am a proud cosponsor and advocate of H. Res. 109 which lays out a pathway to addressing the climate crisis we are experiencing.

This resolution calls for the creation of a Green New Deal with the goals of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions; establishing millions of high-wage jobs and ensuring economic security for all; investing in infrastructure, housing and industry; securing clean air and water, climate and community resiliency, healthy food, access to nature, and a sustainable environment for all; and promoting justice and equality.

The resolution calls for accomplishment of these goals through a 10-year national mobilization effort. The resolution also enumerates the goals and projects of the mobilization effort, including building smart power grids (power grids that enable customers to reduce their power use during peak demand periods); upgrading all existing buildings and constructing new buildings to achieve maximum energy and water efficiency; removing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation and agricultural sectors; cleaning up existing hazardous waste and abandoned sites; ensuring business persons are free from unfair competition; and providing higher education, high-quality health care, and affordable, safe, and adequate housing to all.

What should Congress do to ensure the solvency of Social Security and Medicare?

Please see response to above questions on taxes and health care.

What should Congress do to address the student loan crisis? Would you use the word “crisis?”

Student debt is a crisis. Student debt is second only to home mortgage and is, for all practical purposes, impossible to discharge through bankruptcy. College costs have been increasing three times as fast as the cost of living and the average student leaves school over $39,000 in debt. There are now more than 44 million students and former students holding a debt of almost 1.5 trillion dollars. Women and minority students bear a hugely disproportionate share of this debt which profoundly negatively impacts their future careers, their ability to own a home and their ability to accumulate adequate resources for retirement. Student loans have become a significant profit center for Wall Street. I favor federal legislation to make public colleges tuition free and to liquidate current student debt.

What should our nation’s relationship be with Russia?

Regardless of areas of conflict we have critical common interests in avoiding nuclear war, addressing nuclear proliferation and the militarization of space, de-escalating conflict in key areas, addressing global climate change, maintaining safety on air and sea travel, addressing global health threats, and exploration of space. Success in finding such common ground and concluding mutually advantageous agreements in these areas can define and build areas of trust and stabilize our relationship.

What’s your view on the use of tariffs in international commerce? Has President Trump imposed tariffs properly and effectively? Please explain.

Trump is simply flat out wrong in his constant insistence that China or other targeted countries are paying tariffs to the U.S. Treasury. A tariff is a tax on imports and the immediate cost is largely bourne by the consumer – the American people.

There is little or no historical evidence that trade wars result in a satisfactory result for either side and there is no evidence for any positive results from the Trump tariffs which seem to be imposed or threatened without consistent strategy, vision, rhyme or reason onChina, Mexico or Europe. There is massive evidence that the tariffs have been costly for our people, especially for farmers and the taxpayers who have had to subsidize billions in farm losses.

Tariffs may have a role in addressing some types of trade imbalances but only as a last resort and only with sober consideration of the potential consequences.

Does the United States have a responsibility to promote democracy in other countries? Please explain.

United States policy should be a model for what we expect from other nations. We should practice democracy here at home and we should be proud to point to that democracy as the means of building a stable society which values and enhances the well being of its people and reflects their hopes and dreams. We should promote diplomacy and collective action over a “go it alone” and a “military action/intervention without regards to the consequences” approach.

Our policy should not be about rebuilding the world in our image, itis about seeking understanding and respecting differences, about seeking enduring, mutually beneficial relationships. National security is about more than military might and economic sanctions, it is also about building trust, it is about respect for sovereignty of other nations as well as our own, it is about ensuring that our words and our promises mean something, about building the instruments and institutions for a lasting, stable peace.

The United States has active duty military troops stationed in at least 150 countries, not including Navy or Marine Corps personnel at sea, in the name of combating terrorism and promoting democracy. These deployments have not made the world a safer place or more democratic place. Too often those deployments have made us into an aggressor, or oppressor, or at best a constant irritant, intervening in the internal affairs of other nations in the eyes of the people of those nations.

The policies of the Trump administration: counterproductive, wasteful military spending seeking military superpower status; abandoning the multiparty nuclear agreement with Iran and the Paris climate agreement; threatening to use nuclear weapons; confrontation, blackmail, disrespect for international law and international norms; disrespecting, ignoring and seeking to take advantage of our friends and allies; arbitrary and short-sighted action without regard for potential consequences or a vision of a long-term, sustainable future; and kinetic intervention rather than diplomacy have been a disaster and the inverse of an effective, rational national security policy much less an exhortation for democracy.

What should Congress do to limit the proliferation of nuclear arms?

First of all, we should press to reassert U.S. policy of No First Use of nuclear weapons and our commitment to nuclear disarmament.

The Congress should press for rejoining The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached by Iran and the P5+1 (China France, Germany,Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) in 2015 under the leadership of President Obama.

We should press to energetically re-engage with Russia on nuclear weapons and missiles.

We should press India and Pakistan, perhaps the most dangerous nuclear confrontation in the world, to find a pathway for them to open talks for nuclear disarmament.

We should press to engage with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on a more stable basis advancing the talks via experienced diplomatic channels rather than erratic, political grandstanding.

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.

Just as a note – Abraham Lincoln once represented the 7th Congressional District of Illinois. I don’t have a single historical figure I draw inspiration from but I was especially pleased to have had a recent opportunity to speak at the reveal of a monument to Oscar Stanton De Priest who is unfortunately not well remembered in Chicago even though we have an Oscar De Priest Elementary School in the Austin neighborhood where I live.

Oscar De Priest was a path breaking advocate for civil rights and for African American equality in Chicago. After moving to Chicago he worked as a painter, became a contractor and eventually a very successful real estate broker who pioneered the breaking of the race barrier by helping to move African Americans into formerly exclusively white communities. His political career had some parallels to my own. He served on the Cook County Board and the Chicago City Council. He was elected to Congress from the First Congressional District ofIllinois in 1929 as a Republican, when Republicans were still in the leadership of Reconstruction following the Civil War. His work in the Congress continued his leadership in civil rights and African American equality.

Congressman De Priest had many “firsts” in his Congressional career: first African-American U.S. Representative from outside the southern states, first since the Reconstruction Era, and first since the exit of North Carolina representative George Henry White from Congress in1901. In his time in the Congress he was the only Black representative in Congress. He introduced anti-discrimination legislation (passed into law) and anti-lynching bills (failed to become law) and legislation to permit a transfer of jurisdiction if a defendant believed he or she could not get a fair trial because of race or religion (passed by a later Congress), he defended the right of African American students from Howard University to eat in the public section of the segregated House restaurant.

Oscar De Priest helped to set into motion the modern agenda for African American equality which continues, unfinished, to this day.

What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time. Why?

Politics Nation with Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC.

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