(Wikimedia Commons)
February 25, 2013

White Houses Outlines Sequester Impact on Illinois

Congress has until the end of the week to come up with a deficit-reduction plan, or risk $85 billion in automatic spending cuts. The White House on Monday released a report, giving a snapshot of what the sequester would mean for Illinois.

The sequester could affect everything from commercial flights to classrooms to meat inspections. Domestic and defense spending alike would be trimmed, leading to furloughs for hundreds of thousands of government workers and contractors.

Specifically in Illinois, the White House outlined the impact that the cuts would have this year:

Teachers and Schools: Illinois will lose approximately $33.4 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 460 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 39,000 fewer students would be served and approximately120 fewer schools would receive funding:

  • Education for Children with Disabilities: In addition, Illinois will lose approximately $24.7 million in funds for about 300 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.

Work-Study Jobs: Around 3,280 fewer low income students in Illinois would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 2,650 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.

Head Start: Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 2,700 children in Illinois, reducing access to critical early education.

Protections for Clean Air and Clean Water: Illinois would lose about $6.4 million in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. In addition, Illinois could lose another $974,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.

Military Readiness: In Illinois, approximately 14,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $83.5 million in total.

  • Army: Base operation funding would be cut by about $19 million in Illinois.
  • Air Force: Funding for Air Force operations in Illinois would be cut by about $7 million.
  • Navy: Four planned Naval Station Great Lakes demolition projects ($2 million) could be canceled and a scheduled Blue Angels show in Rockford could be canceled.

Law Enforcement and Public Safety Funds for Crime Prevention and Prosecution: Illinois will lose about $587,000 in Justice Assistance Grants that support law enforcement, prosecution and courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.

Job Search Assistance to Help those in Illinois find Employment and Training: Illinois will lose about $1.4 million in funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement, meaning around 50,780 fewer people will get the help and skills they need to find employment.

Child Care: Up to 1,100 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to child care, which is also essential for working parents to hold down a job.

Vaccines for Children: In Illinois around 5,230 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B due to reduced funding for vaccinations of about $357,000.

Public Health: Illinois will lose approximately $968,000 in funds to help upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events. In addition, Illinois will lose about $3.5 million in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 3,900 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. And the Illinois State Department of Public Health will lose about $186,000 resulting in around 4,600 fewer HIV tests.

STOP Violence Against Women Program: Illinois could lose up to $273,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 1,000 fewer victims being served.


Speaking from Washington on Monday afternoon, Congressman John Shimkus (R-Collinsville) said the sequester cuts are going to happen.

“The question is where will these cuts occur?” he said.

Shimkus maintains entitlement reforms are critical to spare other programs and services from enduring devastating cuts. He added that he believes Congress will pass a resolution to allow cabinet secretaries to have a say in which services should be cut and by how much.

“Sequester will hit,” Shimkus said. “The world will not collapse, and that will get us to the table in empowering secretaries to make decisions on the good programs to the wasteful programs.”

Congressman Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) said he hopes Congress gives agency heads flexibility of how to administer the sequester cuts should they go through.

“So, if sequestration…if this lazy, bad policy is going to go into effect,” Davis said. “The cabinet secretaries ought to make sure that they do what they can to avoid direct impacts to our school children, to our soldiers on the ground, and to others that are serving – to our meat inspectors and our agricultural community – that are going to be affected right in Illinois.”

On Monday, President Obama said the impact on the economy will be deeper the longer the cuts are in place.

"The uncertainty is already having an effect," Obama said. "Companies are preparing layoff notices. Families are preparing to cut back on expenses. The longer these cuts are in place, the bigger the impact will become."

With Congress back from a weeklong recess, House Speaker John Boehner showed little willingness to move off his long-held position that the sequester be offset through targeted spending cuts, not the package of cuts and tax increases Obama supports.

"Mr. President, you got your tax increase," Boehner said, referring to the tax rate increases that took effect on Jan. 1. "It's time to cut spending here in Washington."

The White House continued laying out in stark terms what the cuts would mean for government services, dispatching Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to warn of the implications for critical security functions.

"I don't think we can maintain the same level of security at all places around the country with sequester as without sequester," said Napolitano, adding that the impact would be "'like a rolling ball. It will keep growing."

Napolitano focused in particular on the impact to the border, saying her agency would be forced to furlough 5,000 patrol agents. She tamped down the notion that budget cuts would make the nation more vulnerable to terrorism, but said the sequester would make it "awfully, awfully tough" to minimize that risk.

Also Monday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said visiting hours would be cut at all 398 national parks, just as they prepare for an influx of spring and summer visitors.

Elsewhere in the government, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the cuts would harm the readiness of U.S. fighting forces. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said travelers could see delayed flights. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said 70,000 fewer children from low-income families would have access to Head Start programs. And furloughed meat inspectors could leave plants idled.

Obama will seek to build public support for his sequester offset plan Tuesday when he travels to Newport News, Va., a community that would be impacted by the defense cuts.

The sequester was designed as an unpalatable fallback, meant to take effect only if a congressional super-committee failed to come up with at least $1 trillion in savings from benefit programs.

February 19, 2013

Former Congressional Candidate Sues IRS Over Campaign Regulations

A 2012 Democratic candidate for Congress is suing the Internal Revenue Service, saying a tax loophole allows groups like the American Action Network to spend millions on negative campaign ads.

Former 13th district candidate and Bloomington physician David Gill is filing the suit, along with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The plaintiffs contend the IRS has failed to act against 501(c)(4) organizations that accept large contributions to influence elections. 

Gill said attack ads contributed to his loss to Republican Rodney Davis, and forced him to spend more than a million dollars himself to counter those ads.  Gill says campaigns should be transparent

“It is offensive that the IRS turns a blind eye to reality and allows partisan political groups to seek refuge in a provision of the IRS code that is meant to govern companies like volunteer fire organizations and homeowners associations," Gill said. "In joining the benefit of exemption from federal income taxes, and permitting them to hide the identity of donors."

The plaintiffs contend groups have been able to accept large donations for electioneering in the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling favoring Citizens United.  Gill said lots of complaints have been filed, but he said the IRS has only noted ‘it’s aware of public concern.’ 

Gill lost to Davis by 0.3 percent of the vote.  Gill says the ads falsely claimed that he wanted to destroy Medicare and raise taxes, and he spent a lot of time and money to counter those ads.

“It was shameful to be out and about on the campaign trail and talk to people who indicated ‘oh, my mom is a Medicare recipient and she would have voted for you until she heard that you wanted to tear Medicare apart' when it fact, for all my career, I have stood for exactly the opposite of that.”

Former campaign manager Sherry Greenberg says campaign staff received a ‘tremendous’ number of phone calls, e-mails, and Facebook posts about what was seen in those ads.

“We had to spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with refuting these claims as well as trying to tailor our own media to counteract, or attempt to counteract what was being put forth in these ads,” she said.  “We basically didn’t know who it was that we were going against because the donors aren’t disclosed.”

The lawsuit asks a federal court to strike down the IRS regulation, and require 501(c)(4) groups to run exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.

February 11, 2013

Rep. Davis: Not Witness to Alleged Violation

Republican Congressman Rodney Davis of Taylorville maintains he did nothing wrong by not cooperating with the Office of Congressional Ethics about campaign finance violations allegedly committed by a fellow Congressman.

The ethics office said Davis was the contact between several Political Action Committees and Peoria Republican Aaron Schock, who’s accused of soliciting a large donation for a super PAC to help fellow Republican Adam Kinzinger’s re-election bid. The request was reportedly five times more than the legal limit for that type of contribution.

Davis denies any wrongdoing, saying he couldn’t have provided the Office of Congressional Ethics with useful information, but he said he intends to cooperate if the probe continues.

“I wasn’t witness to anything regarding an alleged violation, or the alleged violation that is being put forth on somebody else, not me," Davis said. "Again, I was not a member of Congress at the time, and I look forward to working with the House Ethics Committee if they decide to pursue this against Congressman Schock or any others.”

Congressman Schock, who is mulling over a gubernatorial run, maintains his innocence. No charges have been filed.

January 16, 2013

US Rep Davis Praises Taylorville Coach on House Floor

Congressman Rodney Davis has given a shout-out to Taylorville High School basketball coach Carey McVickers on the floor of the U.S. House.

The Republican from Taylorville used his first one-minute speech on the House floor to honor McVickers on his 500th career victory.

McVickers has been coaching for 31 years in half a dozen central Illinois communities. His teams combined have won 12 conference championships, nine regional championships and 19 tournament championships.

McVickers was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame last year.

In their one-minute speeches, members of Congress can address the House on any subject they wish, usually a congressional district issue.

Davis himself does a little coaching in his free time with his sons’ Little League team and Taylorville Junior Football.


Watch Congressman Davis' speech on the House floor:

David Gill, Rodney David, and John Hartman
November 01, 2012

Millions Spent on Campaign Ads in 13th Congressional Race

Millions of dollars have been spent on campaign ads in the race in Illinois’ new 13th congressional district.

What should have been a fairly routine race by an incumbent to congress changed last spring, when U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Urbana) announced he would not seek reelection, just weeks after winning the GOP party primary.

In addition, the district had been redrawn by Illinois' Democratic controlled legislature to a more favorable, from their viewpoint, configuration. Rodney Davis is the man appointed by party leaders as the Republican candidate for the 13th congressional district.

Davis faces Doctor David Gill of Bloomington, the winner of the Democratic nomination. Joining the two, Independent Candidate John Hartman of Edwardsville, the Chief Financial Officer for a Saint Louis based genetics firm.

David Gill said he knows it is one of a handful of elections that could determine control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

"I think there's probably ten to twenty that are, that the control of congress hinges upon, and I would say that we are one of those," Gill said.

That helps explain why the major parties and other outside groups have poured $4.6 million into the race, which is paying for, among other things, all the campaign ads and flyers in central and southwestern Illinois.

Some of the ads have been so nasty it prompted the retiring incumbent, Tim Johnson, earlier this month to ask both sides to tone it down.

"My constituents, Republican, Democrat, Gill and Davis, liberal and conservative all say this is bad stuff, and you've got to change it," Johnson said.

Rodney Davis claims Gill started the negative ads.

"Now, we talk about negative advertising," Davis said. "I got the nomination for this seat on May 19, and the same day, five minutes after, I was, five minutes after I got the nomination, I was attacked by David Gill."

A political advertisement paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has aired, connecting Rodney Davis to imprisoned former Gov. George Ryan.

During an interview, Gill denied running negative ads, until just days before he sat down for an interview on Oct. 16.

"Until three days ago, my campaign had run zero negative TV or radio ads," Gill said.

But Gill said there are plenty of others paying for the ads.

"The American Action Network, which is a disguise for AETNA insurance for the most part, the U.S. chamber of commerce, dominated by somewhat large corporations including oil companies and drug companies, the Republican party, the Democratic party," he said.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court Decision known as "Citizens United," outside parties can spend freely in elections as part of their freedom of speech rights, and need not disclose where the money comes from.

Congressman Tim Johnson said the money, and tone of the race for the 13th district is troubling:

"You know quite frankly I think it reflects campaigns all over the country," Johnson said.

In his scolding of both the Democrat and Republican seeking the seat he'll soon vacate, Johnson also warned continued attack ads would only benefit independent candidate John Hartman.

Hartman said he hopes voters disenchanted with the negativity will give his campaign another look, but also says it may simply serve to turn more voters off on the entire political process.

"I wish that we would not have acrimony," Hartman said. "I wish that we could have constructive debate. And to answer your question more specifically, I think it reinforces something that I heard when I spoke to about 8,000 when I was collecting my signatures to get on the ballot, and they were disgusted with the way politics is going on."

The bitterness is also spilling over into debates. At an appearance in Springfield, Rodney Davis turned an accusation from David Gill that Republican policies would ship jobs overseas into a jab on campaign financing.

"David, you know I'm not for any tax credit that's going to ship jobs overseas, David, you have consistently talked about not taking corporate PAC money to fund your ads, and what you have done is broken that pledge," Davis said.

Davis and Gill also clash over who's the insider. Gill calls Davis a career politician because he has most recently been an aide to U.S. Representative John Shimkus of Collinsville. Davis is also a failed candidate for mayor of Taylorville, and he was an employee in the Secretary of State's office.  

Davis is calling Gill a "Career Politician wannabe" in reference to Gill's three losses to Johnson.

Johnson said he never resorted to negative attacks while pursuing his decades long political career. Prior to the democratic reconfiguration of the district, it had been a safely Republican zone, which favored Johnson.

In his announcement, Tim Johnson said he could no longer remain silent as the race descended into name-calling and half-truths.

"And I didn't feel that in good conscious that I can sit back and allow that to maintain itself,"Johnson said.

It is perhaps a mark of the stakes in this election cycle that the race for the 13th district has been both acrimonious and expensive.

However, the Good government website "OpenSecrets.org" notes its not even in the top ten races national when it comes to money spent.

David Gill, Rodney David, and John Hartman
October 31, 2012

13th District Candidates: Political Gridlock Gone Too Far

At a time when Congress cannot seem to agree on how the federal government should approach the nation’s problems, the candidates running in Illinois' 13th Congressional District all say that the disagreement among lawmakers has gone too far.

"I think it’s obviously the case that we are stagnated by opposition," said Independent candidate John Hartman of Edwardsville. "What we used to have in Washington --- even not that long ago, in the era of Bob Michel, for example in the House – it was the country first, and kind of my political orthodoxy or my party orthodoxy second. … and we’ve developed norms that are contrary to that.

On his campaign website, Hartman argues that political gridlock based on conflict between the two major parties keeps government from considering alternative solutions from independents like him. But Hartman’s not the only candidate in the race complaining about gridlock.

"I agree that American has become too polarized," said Taylorville Republican Rodney Davis.

Davis said he would compromise to get his ideas implemented.

"You need somebody who’s not just going to go out to Washington and vote the way that their party leaders tell them to," Davis said. "You need somebody who’s going to go out there with ideas, with plans, like I have, to be able to provide that leadership from Day One, and work with Democrats and Republicans."

In a similar vein, Democratic candidate David Gill of Bloomington said there is a “desperate” need for compromise in Congress in order to get anything done.

"I might talk about Medicare-For-All being the solution that brings us far more health and far more wealth," Gill said. "But if I can’t convince people that overnight, then maybe I have to take half a loaf and see a public option, see the extension of Medicare to people 55-to-65, and let our businesses see the wealth that that brings us, by opening up. Sometimes things have to be done in step-wise fashion, and I recognize that."

The three 13th District candidates share similar starting points when asked to define the essential work of government.

Gill mentions a strong military and regulating such things as food safety.

Davis lists a strong national defense and investing in infrastructure.

Hartman emphasizes maintaining a sound justice system. He also prefers smaller government. Among the things Hartman would remove -- tax credits.

"I think that the tax credits that we provide are generally misplaced, and reflect lobbying efforts in Washington," Hartman said. "A basic tax credit is back door spending. Instead of sending a check to a company, you just, say, send me a lesser check in your taxes."

Gill has a list of things he thinks the federal government should not be involved with --- including subsidies for oil and gas companies and the U-S military presence in Afghanistan.  But Gill said his Medicare-For-All proposal is just the thing that federal government should be doing, to ensure wider access to healthcare  --- the same way that public schools ensure access to education.

"Because Uncle Sam isn’t taking care of senior citizens in this country to make money, Uncle Sam is able to run things in a more cost-effective manner than the Blue Cross/Blue Shields of the world," Gill said. "We don’t disallow private education. There’s still plenty of private schools out there. There can be private health insurance, but I think Uncle Sam can make available a more cost-effective alternative for people in those areas."

In contrast, Davis said Congress should turn away from what he sees as government-run health care, and remake the regulatory environment of the Obama administration, which he accuses of hindering job creation.

"I intend to go to Washington and look at every single regulatory issue, make sure that we keep America safe and provide that regulatory environment that we need, but also ensure that there’s a cost-benefit analysis to where it doesn’t impact America’s ability to remain the country that we know it is," Davis said.

The candidates’ views on government’s basic role in society provide background for their proposals on specific issues. It will be up to voters to choose which candidate best matches their own principles, and which they think is most likely to live up to them, once elected.


October 31, 2012

Congressional Candidates Weigh in on Education Reform

The candidates running in Illinois’ 13th Congressional district have their own thoughts about the federal government’s role in funding education and making it more effective.

About 10 percent of the funding for primary and secondary education in Illinois comes from the federal government. That may not seem like a lot, but when some school districts are making tough choices, like closing buildings and cutting staff, every penny counts.

Democrat David Gill of Bloomington said the federal government needs to step up to the plate by making education a higher priority. For example, Gill said money spent on the war in Iraq could now be diverted to funding education at home.

“If we could go back in time and take the money we poured into that intervention, and instead say, ‘You know what? How about making education of our young people one of the highest priorities?’” Gill said. “You could fund college for every B average kid coming out of high school. You could fund college for 50-to-100 years.”

Gill also said he would like to increase funding for Pell Grants for college students, rather than relying so much on student loans. One way he would do that is by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

“When you say, ‘Alright, we will tax millionaires and billionaires. We will have corporations begin to pay taxes again in this country,’ then you have the money to put into Pell Grants rather than going the opposite way,” he said.

Republican Rodney Davis of Taylorville said there is a role for the federal government in supporting schools, but he wants control to remain at the local level.

“I think if you look overall at the federal rule in our primary and secondary education system, it’s tantamount to not enough money, too many regulations,” Davis said.

For many people who are unemployed, a next option is going back to school. But Davis said that is not easy for everyone to do.

He said people risk losing their unemployment benefits when they get into a workers training program, or a college or university. If elected, he would push to change that.

“Let’s imagine if we allowed those who are unemployed, looking for a new career to go back to school or to go through that training program - maybe at their own dime – let’s allow them the opportunity to do that while still remaining on unemployment so that they can raise their families,” Davis said.

The third contender in the race is Independent Candidate John Hartman of Edwardsville, who is the only person running with experience teaching in a classroom. He worked in public schools in Missouri for several years. Hartman said he doesn’t have a problem with the way schools are currently funded.

“If we’re going to have fiscal discipline on the federal level, it’s going to apply to across the board,” Hartman said. “You know if we don’t have the money to match our revenues, we need to both raise revenues and cut spending, and that applies to all areas of spending, including education. Until we can get back in balance.”

Hartman believes the federal government needs to have a limited role in operating schools since it provides the smallest amount of education funding. When it comes to assessing classroom performance; he thinks standardized testing shouldn’t be the only measurement of a student’s progress.

“You can’t teach unless you you’re continually assessing and adjusting learning activity for the student based on what they know, and I feel I was able to do that fairly well,” Hartman said. “A lot of my assignment was to challenge the high achieving students in math and science, and I gave it to them and they responded.”

The winner of the 13th Congressional race may vote on re-authorizing No Child Left Behind, which seeks to raise reading and math scores for all students by 2014.

The nation is far behind on reaching that goal, and Hartman and Gill say they worry No Child Left Behind leads to a heavy emphasis on teaching to the test.

All three candidates support revising the law.


Democrat David Gill, Republican Rodney Davis, Independent candidate John Hartman
October 29, 2012

13th District Candidates Differ on Health Care

The three men vying for Illinois’ 13th Congressional have very different views about the future of health care in America. Democrat David Gill, Republican Rodney Davis, and Independent John Hartman all think very differently about the Affordable Care Act.

Gill said he would not have voted for it, had he been in Congress in 2010, because of its private health insurance mandate. 

“The most important part of the bill, in my opinion, is that it maintains the need to purchase private health insurance,” Gill said. “It brings 32 million more customers into the clutches of the private health insurance industry.”

But Gill, who has touted his experience as a family practice physician and emergency room doctor throughout the campaign, stresses he does not think the health insurance industry is evil.

“They simply have a different mission than the mission should be of health care providers and of governmental leaders,” Gill said. “My mission as a health care provider is to make sure that people are healthy.”

Dr. Gill does believe some elements of the Affordable Care Act do serve that purpose, including provisions that keep insurers from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, keep young adults under 26 insured through their parents’ coverage, and address the so-called Medicare “donut hole.”

He would have liked something else though.

“I would have put a public option in there,” Gill said. “If nothing else as a demonstration project. I believe that the preservation and protection and ultimately the expansion of Medicare will pave the way toward us being healthier, and also being substantially wealthier in this country.”

Rodney Davis agrees with Gill about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act covering pre-existing conditions, and younger adults staying on their parents’ plan. He also likes that it lifts lifetime caps.

Nevertheless, Davis has consistently stated that, if elected, he would work in Congress to repeal and replace the legislation with what he calls a “market-based solution.” 

It is a conclusion he attributes to his wife’s successful battle with colon cancer.

“My wife was misdiagnosed for months before she was correctly diagnosed, after being told it was in her head that she had colon cancer,” Davis recalled. “And the only reason why we were able to get that diagnosis was because we had the ability to move beyond our primary care physician and go to a specialist, who thought he would find Crohn’s disease and unfortunately found a colon cancer tumor.”

Shannon Davis recently celebrated 13 years since her last chemotherapy treatment.

Rodney Davis said that experience has solidified his view that patients need to be able to choose where and when to seek medical treatment.

“My health care plan talks about putting forth an opportunity to where we can do some simple changes in the country by allowing insurance to be sold across state lines, by allowing larger pools to be able to be put together to reduce rates,” Davis said. “That’s going to be the solution that’s still going to make paramount that doctor-patient relationship.”

John Hartman, meanwhile, is generally satisfied with the legislation passed in 2010, and wants to see it preserved.

“The Affordable Care Act is projected to cover 32 million more Americans, and we certainly should not repeal that because if we do, we’ll go back to arguing with each other, we won’t have anything,” Hartman argued. “And those 32 million Americans won’t have insurance. So, it’s ethically responsible for us to maintain that.”

Yet, Hartman notes controlling health care costs has to be a priority. He points to the Mayo Clinic as an example of how quality care can also be economical.

“What they do is they pay their doctors on a salary,” Hartman said. “They don’t pay them on a, the more tests, the procedures you perform, the more money you make. You get to make the same amount of money. Then, that takes that out of the equation – you just concentrate on what’s best for the patient.”

All three candidates believe there’s more than can be done to ensure the nation’s health and well-being. ‘

David Gill believes the best path to a healthier country lies in his concept of “Medicare for everyone.”

According to Gill, “we’ve got a lot of American ingenuity and creativity in this country, and we can design a Medicare that allows for appropriate counseling, and whether it be dietary counseling or sitting down with a physician to talk for 30 minutes about options to stop smoking – those types of things. To push forward before these things mount up and become a crisis ultimately.”

Rodney Davis believes we should expand the use of community health care centers nationwide, as a more cost-effective health care safety net.

“We can do it, and provide those who are uninsured, underinsured and underserved the ability to get that primary care access that they need, to be able to have a doctor that walks them through the wellness process and through any health issues that they may or may not have,” Davis said.

John Hartman, meanwhile, emphasizes the importance of education as means to a healthier nation.

“We’ve got great advances in technology and science…but we have problems in disseminating that knowledge,” Hartman said. “And what we need to do, probably starting with our public schools, have a re-invigorated understanding of how our behavior affects our health, and make that part of our approach to health throughout our lifetimes, including our doctors, and our doctors doing a better job of listening to us as patients, and taking in consideration our values and where we’re coming from and what we want in health care.”

David Gill, Rodney Davis, and John Hartman offer three sets of ideas, three very different philosophies. They would also likely debate and ultimately vote in different ways in Congress, on behalf of Illinois’ 13th district.


October 29, 2012

13th District Candidates Agree, Differ on Economic Issues

The re-drawing of political boundaries brought a new challenge to candidates in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District – forcing them to campaign in unfamiliar territory.

Then the race changed in scope when Republican incumbent Tim Johnson of Urbana announced his retirement.  The result: a three-way race in which the two major party candidates have engaged in sniping and negative ads - a development that Johnson believes could garner some votes for the independent candidate.

Democrat and Bloomington physician David Gill said getting the country on firm financial footing again starts with getting the rich to pay their fair share in taxes. He said those earning $250,000 a year or more should be paying at the same rate they did when President Clinton was in office. 

“I think that the deficit is very important – but there’s more than one way to beat a deficit," he said. "There’s spending cuts, and there’s also revenue increases. To have our millionaires and billionaires pay once more is just pivotal to restoring our economic health in this country.”

Republican 13th District nominee Rodney Davis of Taylorville said existing Bush-era tax cuts should be extended. He said business owners’ uncertainty over their tax bill is keeping them from investing in new employees.

But if elected, Davis also pledged to seek out bipartisan ways to reduce a $16-trillion debt.

“I’m not someone who favors across the board spending cuts," he said. "But what we have to do is go line by line in the federal budget, every single agency, and ensure that we’re able to cut out all the waste and fraud.”

Independent John Hartman of Edwardsville agrees with Davis that reducing the debt provides the best opportunity for getting the economy back on track. 

Hartman also believes there’s an upside to allowing the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ to kick in, forcing budget cuts that lawmakers have, thus far, been unable to agree on, which, if nothing else, will reduce the deficit.

Yet, Hartman believes a short-term stimulus is necessary. But he said it will require pay-as-you go discipline, and suggests a 2-percent payroll tax in the first year of that stimulus.   

“That we pay for that in years two, three, or four – built into this very same stimulus legislation," he said. "Pay for it by higher revenue, then to make up for it, or by cutting programs. But we’ve got to go back to that pay as you go discipline that we had, as was effective, in the 1990s, and led us to a balanced budget.”

Hartman also supports the Simpson-Bowles Commission plan to reign in national debt, while Davis said he likes parts of it. 

Democrat David Gill also blames Wall Street’s influence on government for problems ranging from the jobless rate to finding affordable health care. He cited the 2003 prescription drug bill as an example. Gill said it barred the country from negotiating on drug prices.

“When you have the bargaining power of 50-million Medicare lives to forgo that bargaining power, to give that up, ultimately it was a $2-trillion gift to the drug companies," he said. "And it’s the Pfizers and the Mercks who are putting money in the campaign pocketbooks of campaign politicians.”

Rodney Davis said he has an ‘all of the above’ energy policy, which includes offshore drilling for oil, research into clean-coal technology, and continuing subsidies for alternative sources.

“That means building new baseload generating facilities. Be nuclear, be it coal, be it natural gas," Davis said. "And I’m also in favor of continuing to invest in wind, solar, and hydropower. But we have to have that all of the above approach so that America, in the end, should be an energy exporter, but we are not.”

John Hartman said data from various agencies, like NASA and the National Science Foundation, prove that carbon emissions are contributing to climate change. He said Americans should be concerned with how it’s effecting the environment, and suggests one measure passed by Congress as well as some states.

“I think we've had a cap trade experience with acid rain in the northeast that was effective," Hartman said. "Basically all parties believe and have confidence that was an effective policy.  And that has cleaned up the problem.”

Hartman said cap and trade will make emissions expensive, and then the free market will fill in with its own sources of alternative energy that don’t contribute to climate change. 

David Gill also cites concerns about climate change, but believes Congress has been hurt by corporate donations, and subsidies to large oil companies. He said that money should instead be invested in wind energy and other alternative sources of power.

Whoever wins this race will be a freshman in Illinois’ new 13th Congressional District, and face an uphill battle to convince a Congress that’s spent a lot and cut taxes to be more fiscally responsible.


October 25, 2012

Gill, Davis, Spar Over Ads, Health Care, in Second Debate

The issue of negative campaign ads quickly made its way into the second debate between two of the candidates for Illinois’ 13th Congressional District.

In Springfield Wednesday night, Bloomington Democrat David Gill was again accused of using funds from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  Republican Rodney Davis of Taylorville says Gill broke a campaign pledge, stating there’s no grass roots fund of private donors.

"It’s ironic that in the same commercial, you say you won’t take a penny of corporate PAC money, it’s the same commercial is that’s paid for by corporate PAC money.  You broke your pledge, David.”

Gill denied the claim, saying unlike Davis, he’s taken a stand against ‘corporate dominance’, accepting only small, online donations through the DCCC.

“I’ve signed a pledge that I’d like to work toward a constitutional amendment to undo the impact of Citizens United, so that we can get the money out of politics, but this is what happens when all that funding comes in from corporate America and the Wall Street banks," he said.

Independent John Hartman has no campaign ads, saying he prefer the focus of the race shift to foreign policy or the environment.

“I think the media has been caught up in a gladiator sport of negative advertising.  And I know that people expect better from us, and this is not the way it’s supposed to be.”

The topic of health care found its way into the conversation Wednesday, even when debate panelists were on other topics.

Davis favors a market-based approach of selling insurance across state lines. He believes that plan would make the market more competitive.  Davis says having the ability to choose providers allowed for proper diagnosis of his wife, who’s a colon cancer survivor.

But Gill, an emergency room physician, says a market-based approach doesn’t mean much to people who can’t afford private health insurance.

“What I would ask – I can’t think of anything more hypocritical than watching that save your wife’s life and denying that then to all the American citizens that could use that very thing, and have our country be healthier and wealthier in the process," he said.

Davis responded by saying he wants all Americans to be able to choose their own medical destiny, but refutes the idea that a House measure Gill supports seeks Medicare for all.

“It is not Medicare for all – it would destroy Medicare as we know it," he said.  "You’ve even said it in your own words David.  This is a plan that would create a bureaucracy that will cost $1.7 trillion per year.  And wouldn’t allow new clinics, new doctor’s office to be cited without federal government approval.”

Davis also pledges he’ll vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, calling it a $2.6 dollar boondoggle.

Hartman simply chose to endorse the legislation, saying it will cover 32-million more Americans. 

“After decades of trying to get a comprehensive health care bill in this country, we’ve got one," he said.  "I’m afraid if we repeal it, we’ll have nothing again, and we’ll go backwards on those 32-million Americans, and that is unconscionable.”

The debate was hosted by WICS Channel 20 in Springfield, and held at the Hoagland Center for the Arts. 

The third and final debate between the 13th district candidates will be Thursday, November 1st at 7 p.m. at WILL TV.  It will also be carried live on AM 580, WCIX-TV, and streamed live at will.illinois.edu.

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