Name: Randy Hultgren
Town of residence: Plano
Office sought: U.S. Representative, 14th District
1. What are the key differences between you and your opponent?
The major differences between my opponent and me regards our views on taxes and the size, scope and cost of the federal government. I am a firm believer in lower taxes, and have consistently voted to reduce the tax burden on Illinois families.
I do believe the federal government has an important role to play, especially in protecting our citizens and promoting free market economic solutions, but when we have micromanagement coming from Washington back to the 14th District it is not good for individuals and families. Whether that is overregulation of small businesses, or a federal healthcare regime, ultimately I want individuals to be able to have more opportunity and greater freedom to make the choices about what is good for their families.
This is especially true in the area of health care. While my opponent believes the federal government ought to have a predominant role, I am deeply concerned about Illinois families who are suffering under the Affordable Care Act and its lack of choices, a restricted ability to choose to see the doctor they wish, and big increases in premiums, deductibles and out of pocket costs.
2. The amount of state and local taxes that can be deducted on federal returns was capped this year at $10,000. Illinoisans pay some of the highest property taxes in the country and recently were hit with a state income tax hike to boot. How will you work to protect residents from double-taxation?
Illinois really needs to get its act together. Illinois is an overtaxed state, and we especially feel that here in the 14th District. We see it time and time again with Wisconsin bordering us to the north, as too many companies and entities are choosing to move there and to other states because of the high taxes in Illinois. We should be doing so much better than Wisconsin and Indiana are doing because we have so much to offer, but because of the taxation coming out of Springfield, that is simply not the case.
That’s why I am pleased the overwhelming majority of Illinois families and small businesses will receive a tax cut as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The new law is already working to help create jobs and put people back to work. Having said that, in large bills like the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, we don't always agree with every provision in it. I still do not think the cap on SALT deductions is perfect, and a number of Members fought the original proposal which sought to do away with the deduction entirely. We also fought to allow for the combining of both property tax and income tax, to maximize that value.
This is an indictment on Springfield and a challenge on Illinois to do better. The vast majority of states are doing a better job of living within their means and not having these exorbitant property taxes that are crushing families. The bottom line, however, is that even with the cap, 9 out of 10 families here in the 14th District will see real benefits from the tax cut bill. Especially with the doubling of the standard deduction, most families will not need to itemize and will see real benefits when it comes time to file taxes.
3. Do you believe any additional federal gun control measures are warranted? If so, what? If not, why not?
The federal government's primary goal should be keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. Its core responsibility in this area is maintaining the background check system made available to all states and local jurisdictions. I voted for bipartisan legislation to improve this background check system and the sharing of information. Outside of regulations we place on licensed dealers, any additional background check requirements need to be at the state and local level.
The federal government has a key role to play in improving school safety. One way it can do this is through grants to local schools, which I have supported, and I will continue to listen to students, teachers, principals and superintendents on how the federal government can best provide the necessary funds to improve their safety and harden security where needed.
It is also imperative that we improve the mental health system in our country, to get help for those who need it. And we clearly need to keep guns out of the hands of those who’ve threatened themselves or others.
4. What is your opinion on the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election? Would you vote to impeach President Trump?
I have consistently supported the investigation and will continue to do so until the case is complete. Nothing I have seen rises to the level of "high crimes and misdemeanors," which is the standard for impeachment.
5. Do you agree with the Trump administration's approach to immigration policy? What is the proper way to enforce America's immigration laws?
Our broken immigration system clearly needs to be fixed. If there is an immigration deal that includes funding for a wall, I would support it and have voted that way in the past. I also believe that something must be done to address the DACA population and other young people who were brought here by their parents at a young age. These kids contribute to our communities and should be allowed an opportunity to legally stay and work in the United States, and I have voted for legislation that would establish legal status for DACA recipients.
As a further part of immigration reform, in situations where American workers are not harmed, there ought to be an efficient legal process for temporary guest workers and others who bring valuable contributions to the nation.
And as co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, I have been exposed to the plight of those persecuted and driven from their homes from around the world. I believe the United States must remain a beacon of freedom and hope for refugees from around the world and extend a welcoming hand to those in need within our capacity to do so.
6. Please tell us your position on abortion. Should it be a matter of federal law, or should states be free to regulate it as they see fit?
I am pro-life. I have always believed it is a moral imperative to defend life at all stages, including the lives of the unborn. To the extent that the federal government can protect the lives of unborn children, I think that is a just cause.
7. What role should the federal government play in America's health care system? Should the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) be repealed?
My constituents have struggled under the ACA because the law has resulted in the consolidation of plans and doctors, which restricts their choice and the quality of care they receive and means they are no longer in control of their health care decisions.
Many of them face higher out-of-pocket costs under the high deductible plans the ACA created. And without alternatives, they are often forced to ration their care.
I do believe we need to reform the health care regime, to lower costs and expand access to care. One piece of that is greater transparency, and another is a more robust waiver system to enable states to innovate and improve care. I also support the steps the Administration has already taken to improve the ability of individuals, small businesses and nonprofits to band together like large businesses can do and form pools to negotiate for lower prices and higher quality care.
In addition, I have cosponsored legislation to guarantee protections for those with pre-existing health conditions, and nothing I have voted for would allow them to be denied insurance coverage.
8. What is your stance on international trade? Do you agree with the tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration in the name of national security?
I believe free and fair trade is good for Illinois and the country. The recent trade tariffs are clearly an important issue for our state as the tariffs have had both a negative and positive impact in Illinois depending on the industry and where companies source their raw materials. Now, I understand the need for a tough negotiating posture that the president has taken with some of our trading partners, and the administration’s actions have yielded some positive results already with trading partners like South Korea and the EU. Most recently the threat of tariffs and a firm negotiating position has yielded a new, re-negotiated multi-lateral trade pact with Mexico and Canada that at first blush appears to have the United States in a better position than it was under NAFTA.
Having said that, I am philosophically opposed to tariffs, which represent a tax on consumers and manufacturers and our farmers. Soon after the president announced his tariff policy, I signed onto a letter asking him to carefully reconsider the impact on American manufacturers and consumers and explore other options that would be less harmful. The economy is booming and the last thing we need is to create a disruption to this robust growth. I have met with a number of manufacturers and farmers in my district who are deeply concerned about this escalating trade war and the disruption of markets for our goods. Manufacturers, for example, can often only buy certain types of steel and other raw materials from foreign suppliers, and the new tariffs have driven up costs dramatically. The bottom line for me is we need to fix what is broken but not disrupt what is working.
9. What’s your assessment of the job the federal government does in caring for military veterans? How can services be improved?
I strongly believe we must support the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much in the defense of our freedoms and country. I have held forums across the 14th District to hear directly from veterans to help address the issues that are important to them. I have worked to develop strategies to address delays in VA benefits, challenges assimilating to civilian life, employment opportunities and more. One of the key initiatives was supporting legislation that would allow veterans to receive care from a private doctor if they live 40 miles or more from a VA facility or aren’t seen by a physician within 30 days of requesting an appointment.
In addition I continue to support and fight for legislation that improves veteran’s access to education and employment programs, including cosponsoring the Hire More Heroes Act, which encourages small businesses to hire veterans. I re-introduced the Protecting Veterans Credit Act to provide veterans with consumer protections when they receive adverse credit reporting as a result of VA mishandling. I also voted for the Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act to assist veterans in their efforts to overcome opioid addiction and the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act that allows homeless veterans to access federal grants to assist in securing housing. These are just some examples of what I am doing to help improve our service to veterans and enhance the quality of their lives.
10. Is there an important issue in the federal government that has not received adequate attention? How would you solve it?
I strongly support the Social Security and Medicare programs. We need to preserve them for current and future beneficiaries. Workers have paid into the system during their working years, and deserve the benefits they have earned. The best way to preserve and protect these important programs is through a growing economy and fiscal discipline in other parts of the government so politicians are not tempted to raid these important programs, as was done under the ACA. I also believe we need to root out fraud and abuse in Medicare, which has seen billion dollar fraud schemes that target the most vulnerable beneficiaries.