10th Congressional District Republican nominee: Douglas R. Bennett
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On Sept. 17, Republican Douglas R. Bennett appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. Watch the video above to find out why he’s running for the 10th District Congressional seat in Illinois in the 2018 general election.
The Chicago Sun-Times also sent the candidates seeking the 10th Congressional District seat a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing their district and the country. Bennett submitted the following responses:
As a member of the U.S. House, what are or would be your top cause or causes?
Bennett: Washington’s culture is corrupt and far too often the special interests get heard over the voices of everyday Americans. I am running for Congress to take my experience working with Fortune 500 companies to fix Washington and to fight for our shared values with real solutions. We can’t afford to let career politicians destroy what has made the United States the beacon of hope for the world.
The issues that I care most about are reducing our health care costs, fixing the broken immigration system and working to lower the tax burden.
Please list three highly specific needs of your district that you would make priorities.
Bennett: The 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.
More locally, North Chicago is a food desert. The town has no local grocery stores and has been unable to attract one for a variety of reasons. Most importantly grocery stores keep our families eating healthy and not relying on junk food which is damaging to future health outcomes. Grocery stores also provide entry level jobs, property taxes for school districts and local roads, and can form the core of a new retail community. I intend to work with North Chicago to bring expertise on solving this issue.
The lakes on the Fox River have a major silt problem. This wonderful, natural gem in our district needs our attention. I intend to work with local officials to lead the way to preserve this essential part of the 10th district environment.
Who is Douglas Bennett?
He’s running for: 10th Congressional district (Illinois)
His political/civic background: Vice Chairman – West Deerfield Township Republican Organization
His occupation: Business Consultant
His education: B.S. Applied Mathematics – Northwestern University
Campaign website: IL10.org
Bipartisanship is virtually non-existent in the House. What would you do about that?
Bennett: Too often we view our Congressman as capable of only the two words “Yes” and “No”. In that limited zero-sum world, you can either be with your leadership or against it. Being a Representative involves bringing new ideas to the discussion and changing the legislation being considered so that a potential solution becomes a new law or program. I have spent my corporate career devising innovative solutions to difficult or intractable problems and when I speak on immigration, education, healthcare, or other issues, I try to bring new approaches to problems that have been left unsolved for too long.
I would have no problem standing up to anyone in Washington because as a Congressman I would be working for (and reporting to) the citizens of the 10th Congressional District in Illinois, but the goal would always be to build a better future for the people I would be representing.
Are you convinced that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election in support of the candidacy of Donald Trump? Please explain.
Bennett: Russians tried to influence the 2016 presidential election. The extent and impact of their efforts must be investigated and I support finding the truth to further protect our electoral process.
Do you support the investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller? Please explain.
Bennett: Any outside influence in our electoral process is unacceptable and I fully support the investigation.
If President Trump were to fire Mueller, directly or indirectly, what should Congress do?
Bennett: The only power Congress has is to allow the President to fire Mueller and then act after either through impeachment or funding the Department of Justice at adequate levels to continue the investigation. What is more important is where are we on the investigation, what is remaining and what direction is it moving towards. The lack of transparency is a problem.
If Trump were to pardon his former campaign aide Paul Manafort, what should Congress do?
Bennett: The only people who can hold the President accountable for pardoning anyone is through the next election. Congress has no ability to interfere with the President’s power to pardon individuals.
Which three actions taken so far by the Trump administration do you most strongly support?
Bennett: 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.
Which three actions taken by the Trump administration do you most strongly disagree with?
Bennett: I do not support the zero-tolerance policy that was put in place by the Administration that separated children from their parents at the border. I am pleased this policy has ended.
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 must revisit.
The failure of the President and the Congress to reform the healthcare system during the first year was 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.
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?
Bennett: The Paris agreement was signed unilaterally without the ratification of the Senate. It was a bad accord for Americans, especially those in the lower and middle class whose cost of energy would have skyrocketed under this plan. We must encourage the free market to expand the energy sector in all areas, including existing sources and of power and those of the forefront of technology. I am confident in American ingenuity to curb climate change while also encouraging job creation.
To what extent is climate change a man-made phenomenon? How serious is the threat to our children’s future? What should be done?
Bennett: A vast majority of scientists believe climate change is real; I agree. We must encourage true energy independence, by doing so we can ensure we pass down a clean environment for future generations. Our energy strategy must use a smart and comprehensive approach using both older sources of fuels and using the latest scientific means to improve them, while also using a combination of wind, solar, and nuclear power. We must look at this challenge as just not a problem, but an opportunity to both protect our environment while creating new cutting-edge American jobs.
What is the single most important action Congress can take to curb gun violence?
Bennett: 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. I support instituting gun violence restraining orders which would give police the ability to remove guns for people who have made credible threats of violence. As always, I believe in due process, that none of us can be deprived of any liberty without probable cause, a warrant and a hearing.
Is the media the “enemy of the people”? Please explain.
Bennett: The media is not the enemy of the people. The onset of social media has made it harder to tell the difference between responsible journalism and political advertising passing as news. I believe that this phase will pass as social media platforms mature.
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?
Bennett: I supported the tax cut legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President last year. No, the legislation is not perfect, but it a starting off point toward keeping our economy on track for the long term.
Specifically, Illinois’ increasingly high property taxes are driving residents out of our state. I will work to restore the full state and local tax deduction (SALT) to help Illinoisans to offset the outrageous property taxes they pay to local units of government throughout the state. I also believe we should expand tuition deductions to help families with the ever-growing cost of college education, as well as other provisions designed to help people reduce their tax burden. As a Member of Congress, I will be a strong voice with my state leaders for reigning in all taxes that are crushing homeowners and businesses and fight against any plans to raise Illinois’ income taxes.
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?
Bennett: We need to work to make sure everyone has access to good schools, safe neighborhoods, decent jobs and the opportunity to follow their dreams whatever they may be. We also need to make sure that there is a strong safety net in place for those who find themselves are in need.
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?
Bennett: I firmly believe in dialog with all nations, even those that we have vast disagreements with. Talking with each other helps each nation humanize each other and bring them closer to understanding each other’s perspective.
How would you assess and grade the Trump administration’s efforts to recalibrate our nation’s relationships with Korea, NATO and Russia?
Bennett: NATO has been the cornerstone of a peaceful post-war age. It was important for the President to bring the message that they should contribute more to their own defense. That was a hard conversation, but a necessary one. The United States and Europe have deep ties and common interests that will not be shaken by momentary disagreements.
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?
Bennett: I do not support banning people from entering this country based solely on their religion as the President stated during his campaign. However, 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 and improving our vetting process to keep dangerous individuals out.
What three major reforms should be made to United States immigration policy?
Bennett: Our immigration debate centers now around illegal immigration, though there is also widespread understanding that some of our legal immigration policies are also broken, particularly the H1-B program where people have waited over a decade for their responses.
The main immigration points that need to be addressed about illegal immigration are
- a) We need a serious post 9/11 enforcement of US borders to know who is entering the country to protect American citizens from harm.
- b) Modernize our visa system to improve legal immigration. We must have a system in place to efficiently support those who enter the county legally, ending lengthy waits.
- c) Find a permanent solution for undocumented families while prioritizing those who entered legally.
Do you support or oppose the family-based immigration policy sometimes called “chain migration”? Please explain.
Bennett: Direct unification with parents, children, I support. Restricting it to immediate family would be a reasonable decision.
What would you do, as a member of Congress, to improve race relations in the United States?
Bennett: As a parent of biracial children, I believe that we need to have more honest conversations about race and race relations. Unfortunately, we are in a time when even innocent comments can be used as weapons and our current scorched earth internet shaming approach to statements we find offensive leaves little room for honest in discussion about race. I think that if we want honest conversations, then we all need to be able to hear things we don’t like without retaliating.
What is the biggest difference between you and your opponent?
Bennett: Brad Schneider has not been an effective Congressman for this district. I come from a business background where your performance determines whether you are retained and to get projects accomplished you need buy-in from all the major stakeholders. A Congressman needs a strong understanding of not only their positions, but of everyone positions and priorities. This is key to bring people together to get our issues resolved. This inability to understand each other is a major reason why Washington is so dysfunctional.
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 of the PolitiFact Illinois stories we’ve reported together here.