The two candidates for Illinois’ 18th Congressional District had interviews air on “What’s On Your Mind?” this morning on WLDS.
The question-and-answer sessions are with Democratic candidate Darrel Miller and Republican incumbent Aaron Schock, who is running for his third term.
Miller defeated Rob Mellon in the spring primary. He had run for the 18th District on the Republican ticket in 2012. As he indicated in the primary campaign, his goal is to end gridlock in Washington. Of course, one person alone can’t break that gridlock, but Miller indicates he’d have some help.
“There’s many groups that are already trying to approach politics this way. There’s a group in the House called “No Labels,” and they try to come together in this way and make at least small progress on bipartisan issues. There’s groups like the Bipartisan Policy Center and Third Way, and I use these groups as resources and as networks to join together to try to make more progress in this logjam in Washington that is being made now,” says Miller.
Miller argues that his opponent “grandstands” and points out that he’s voted for repeals of the Affordable Care Act over 40 times.
Schock, who refused to do a live debate with Miller, says the “gridlock” Miller speaks of doesn’t come from the House. It comes from the Senate.
“The House of Representatives has actually worked quite well. We have passed 400 pieces of legislation this year. 350 bills have passed on a bipartisan vote. So, I would humbly submit to him and the listening audience that the house has been working in a very bipartisan way. The Senate, however, has voted in total 21 times this year. The challenge is in the Senate; the Senate is really the do-nothing chamber,” Schock says.
“Harry Reid, the leader of the Senate, has been the best blocker and tackler that the President could ask for. It’s stopped a lot of good legislation.”
Miller, who is from Danvers, describes himself as a “Mennonite farmer” on his campaign website. Miller says increases to crop insurance levels are “inappropriate” for future federal Farm Bills.
He says crop insurance premiums should be subsidized to a certain level, followed by a farmer purchasing crop insurance at the full rate.
“The premium subsidies that each farmer gets for their crop insurance policy should be capped at a certain level. The levels that are being talked about are somewhere around $70,000, which would work out in my area of the country, something like a 3,200-acre corn-bean farm,” Miller says.
“We have wonderful programs to help beginning farmers get into capital-intensive agriculture, but when a farmer gets the same subsidy on his 10,000th acre as a beginning farmer gets on his 500th acre, that distorts the market.”
Schock recognizes that the number one industry in his district is agriculture.
“Making sure that our commodity prices stay high so that our farmers can continue to make a nice profit. Looking for more markets for them to sell to the other 95 percent of the world’s population that lives outside the United States,” says Schock.
“It’s important making sure that our tax policies make sense for farmers, that we don’t have an estate tax that takes away people’s hard-earned money and their farmground, and forcing folks to sell the family farm, if and when they pass on.”
The two candidates were asked about a number of other topics.
Schock has served on committees that work to address America’s over-the-years-growing deficit. The current debt is estimated to be about $17 trillion, which is nearly $6 trillion more than it was in 2009, when Schock was sworn in for his first term.
Schock blames the uptick on a trillion-dollar stimulus bill passed by Democrats that hasn’t been repaid, among other things.
“The President said he would cut the deficit in half in the first term as President. He has doubled the debt under his term as President in the sex years he’s been there,” he says.
“The House Republicans are the only group who have proposed budgets that actually balance, and the House of Representatives budgets that we have voted on- not just talked about, but actually put in black-and-white bill form and voted on- bend the cost curve on entitlements, preserve Social Security and Medicare for the next generation, do tax reform, and balance the budget over the next ten years,” Schock continues.
Miller says America’s faltering infrastructure, which was given a D+ by the American Society of Civil Engineers, is a “vital” issue.
“I would support raising the Motor Fuel Tax to… [the] 8-9-10 cent level to help found our highways and transportation infrastructure,” he says.
“Now, that said, that’s a very regressive measure. The last time we raised the Motor Fuel Tax in 1993, Congress also adjusted the Earned Income Tax Credit, because raising the fuel tax falls hardest on the shoulders of these who are having trouble keeping their tanks full the way it is.”