On Jan. 9, Douglas Bennet appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. We asked him why he’s running for the GOP seat in the 10th Congressional district of Illinois in the March 2018 primary:
My name is Doug Bennett. I’m running for Congress in the 10th District of Illinois. I’m the West Deerfield Township Vice Town Chairman and I’ve been involved in my community on the North Shore for a long time, I guess, try to remember, 15 years or so.
There are several causes, but one of the most important things that I see facing people on the North Shore is runaway college tuition costs. When I went to school tuitions cost about what a car would cost and now they cost the equivalent of a new house and students and parents are being burdened by policies that we are promoting that just jack up the price and make college almost unaffordable and leave people burdened with that. Now we have some specific proposals and if people want to have more information they can go to my website at www.il10.org.
I think education is one specific need that we really have to address. I think we need to fix the dying health insurance marketplace. People are very concerned about losing their job and not having health insurance and a lot of people are being squeezed very hard already so I think that’s a very high priority for where we are.
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. Douglas Bennett 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: For far too long Washington bureaucrats have been handing down burdensome regulations which crush the potential of our economy. As a member of Congress I will work with my colleagues to review and reform the regulatory system to help grow our economy and create jobs and opportunities for hard-working Americans. Specifically, I support the REINS Act which would require Congressional approval for any new regulation that costs over $100 million.
Running for: 10th Congressional district (Illinois)
Political/civic background: Vice Chairman – West Deerfield Township Republican Organization
Occupation: Business Consultant
Education: B.S. Applied Mathematics – Northwestern University
Campaign website: IL10.org
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: The new tax bill recently signed into law limits the state and local income taxes deduction to only $10,000, hitting members of Illinois 10th District disproportionality high. I support raising or removing limit to help middle-class families who depend on the deduction to offset the growing burden of state and local taxes.
One of the most important issues to families in our district is the overwhelming cost of healthcare. Premiums and deductibles are skyrocketing putting a greater burden on families on a budget. I support reforms that reduce costs, encourage competition and increase portability.
I support cutting the red tape of regulations that hamper the potential of our local and national economy. Every year billions of dollars are taken away from businesses and manufacturers that are the backbone of our economy. To grow we must pass the REINs Act, review and reform current regulations and provide accountability for the bureaucrats in Washington.
RELATED ARTICLES: Douglas Bennett
TOPIC: President Donald Trump
QUESTION: What do you make of President Trump?
ANSWER: Despite the approach, President Trump has advocated for the lowering of taxes on hard-working businesses and families, reducing burdensome regulations that hurt our economy and repealing and replacing Obamacare with more affordable healthcare options. These three priorities are vital to getting our nation back on track.
QUESTION: Which three actions by the Trump administration do you support the most? Which three do you oppose the most?
ANSWER: Positive: The most important and consequential is the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. The appointment and subsequent appellate court nominees will have a proportionately large impact on the direction of the court and our nation. Judge Gorsuch is a constitutionalist who is highly qualified to uphold the rule of law.
I support reducing the tax and regulatory burden on American families and businesses. I oppose any and all tax increase because people deserve to keep more of their hard-earned money. I will reform the way the federal government imposes regulations and create an environment for businesses to grow and opportunities to spread.
Allowing our military leaders to take the fight directly to ISIS has helped our brave soldiers drive the terrorist organization out of nearly all their previous territory. We must not lose the opportunity to honor those sacrifices and help restore peace to the region.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 changes the deductions available to homeowners. These deductions are most important to new home buyers, as the sum of the interest and taxes currently encourage home ownership, particularly in high tax states like Illinois. The loss of this benefit will drive down housing prices, which are one of the primary assets people have for their retirement. This could radically reduce the retirement savings for people nearing retirement and seniors living in the 10th district, as they will not be able to obtain the current housing prices. This is something that the next Congress should revisit.
The failure of the President and the Congress to pass an Obamacare replacement during the first year a great disappointment. Every day 10th District families are being crushed under the weight of our healthcare system. Reforming healthcare must remain a priority of the administration. I support repealing and replacing Obamacare with affordable market-driven options that reduces costs and increases competition.
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: Any outside influence in our electoral process is unacceptable and I support the investigation.
QUESTION: What should Congress do to reduce the threat of terrorism at home, either from ISIS or from others?
ANSWER: I support a common-sense approach to protecting our homeland from terrorism including; securing our porous border so we know who’s in our country, improving our vetting process to keep dangerous individuals out and supporting local law enforcement’s effort to keep weapons out of the hands of potential terrorists.
TOPIC: Guns and violence
QUESTION: What is the single most important action Congress can take to curb gun violence in the United States?
ANSWER: We must commit to curbing gun violence in the United States while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens. Congress must do a better job making sure guns stay out of the hands of criminals. This includes criminal background checks before purchasing a weapon or applying for a concealed carry permit.
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: The bump stock should have been considered an automatic weapon from the beginning. There are already laws on the books limiting the availability of automatic weapons.
We need to begin a serious discussion of how we protect the privacy and constitution rights of Americans while finding ways to keep guns away from those vulnerable to hurting themselves or others.
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: Tax cuts for businesses and families are a good thing for our local community and economy. I trust that families and businesses in Illinois’ 10th District know how better to use their resources than a government official in a gray building in Washington. We see it here in Illinois; high tax rates are driving families and businesses out of the state. The same is happening across the country. Businesses are heading overseas, leaving less money for middle-income families. We need to return jobs back home, to our district, our state and our country.
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: Jerusalem is the actual capital of the state of Israel, and the location of our nation’s Embassy should reflect that. I am proud to stand in a long line of bipartisan support dating back to the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 under the President Bill Clinton. For twenty years, we have not recognized that fact as an inducement to bring Palestinians to the peace table, and for twenty years we have had no results from that policy. Now, we have implemented what we have known and supported since 1995.
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: Military response is an option for threats to the safety of the citizens of the United States. As a Member of Congress my first responsibility will be to help keep our nation safe. I will hold regimes that threaten our stability accountable for their actions by expanding sanctions targeting these dangerous enemies. Any military response would be considered in coordination with our strategic allies in the region and with consultation with China. The United States should work to strengthen our strategic partnerships in the region including South Korea, Japan and China.
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: An improved vetting process, especially for those coming from dangerous parts of the world, is a good policy and keeps Americans 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: The legal immigration level over the past decade has not been too high, however the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States has placed an undue burden on our country. We need to secure and improve our legal immigration policies while curbing the amount of illegal immigrants that cross into our nation.
QUESTION: Should the “wall” between the United States and Mexico be built? What might it accomplish?
ANSWER: I support increased border security between the United States and Mexico, which should include both electronic and physical barriers. We must provide our law enforcement personnel, including border patrol, the tools needed to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into our country.
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 Affordable Care Act was never economically viable in the first place. Obamacare’s individual mandate was a massive tax levied upon the American people to prop up an unsustainable government system. Even with the mandate in place Obamacare was not delivering the affordable and accessible healthcare individuals and families desperately need. We need to replace the Affordable Care Act to allow competition, portability, and choices in the insurance marketplace.
TOPIC: The opponent(s)
QUESTION: What is your biggest difference with your opponent(s)?
ANSWER: Both of my opponents are well-connected and well-funded politicians who moved to the community to run for political office. I am the only independent Republican in the race with the experience and skills to fight for the district’s shared values in Congress.