Janice Schakowsky: Candidate Profile

9th District U.S. Representative (Democrat)

  • Janice Schakowsky, running for 9th District U.S. Representative

    Janice Schakowsky, running for 9th District U.S. Representative

Updated 10/10/2014 3:53 PM

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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.

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City: Evanston

Website: janschakowsky.org

Office sought:

9th District U.S. Representative

Age: 70

Family: Jan lives in Evanston, Illinois, with her husband Robert Creamer and their golden retriever, Lucky. She has three marvelous children, Ian, Mary and step-daughter Lauren, and six exceptional grandchildren " Isabel, Eve, Lucy, William, Aidan and Alice.

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Occupation: Member of Congress

Education: She graduated from the University of Illinois in 1965 with a B.S. in Elementary Education.

Civic involvement: Member of Congress.

Elected offices held: State Representative 1990-1998

Questions & Answers

Many Americans see gridlock as the greatest problem facing Washington today, and public opinions are at historic lows regarding the job their Senators and congressmen are doing. Specifically, what will you do to make Congress more productive and effective?

January 1999, when I first began serving in Congress, was hardly a "Kumbaya" moment of goodwill between parties. Bill Clinton had recently been impeached; Newt Gingrich had just left. Yet the definition of the job included the word "compromise" and much was accomplished during the Bush Administration, including the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which I negotiated and which passed nearly unanimously. Then came the election of President Barack Obama and the rise of the Tea Party. To quote It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism: "Republicans greeted the new President with a unified strategy of opposing, obstructing, discrediting, and nullifying every one of his important initiatives." One of the authors is Norman Ornstein of the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute. Obstruction has reigned unabated. To make Congress more productive and efficient, I'm working hard to elect a Democratic majority.

What immigration policies do you support? Where, if at all, do you see room for compromise to produce an effective policy on immigration? How will these policies have an impact in your district?

Fiscal responsibility requires us to create good jobs, promote economic growth and make responsible (not across-the-board) spending cuts that eliminate waste, not opportunity. We should refocus our military budget on 21st century threats " eliminating costly, outdated weapons systems. We must improve government procurement to get value for our dollars and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. We need an aggressive investment strategy based on shared prosperity " slashing needed investments in education, transportation and infrastructure, and cutting-edge innovation or cutting Social Security and Medicare earned benefits is bad for families and our economy. I do not support a general tax hike. We should raise revenues from those who can afford to pay more: establishing new rates for income over $1 million [see my bill HR1124, the Fairness in Taxation Act and eliminating tax breaks for companies that ship jobs and profits overseas and highly-profitable corporations like oil and gas companies.

How do you assess the state of the federal budget? Do you see a need for changes in how revenue is produced or in spending priorities? What specific changes do you consider necessary regarding federal tax policy and practice?

The 9th District is incredibly diverse -- one-third of us are first generation immigrants (as am I) and more than 50 languages are spoken in our schools. Comprehensive reform should combine responsible enforcement of our laws and border enforcement with a pathway to citizenship for immigrants currently in the country, nearly all of whom simply want a better life for their families. Undocumented immigrants should be able to come out of the shadows, register with the government, and, if they have no criminal history, obtain work permits, pay taxes, learn English, gain legal status and work toward citizenship. The Congressional Budget Office projects the Senate immigration bill would increase our GDP more than $1 trillion by 2033. I support the DREAM Act to give young undocumented immigrants the opportunity to legalize their immigration status and, in the meantime, the Obama Administration's action to halt deportation of DREAM Act-eligible young people.


How would you work to produce a stable, affordable, effective federal health care policy? What shortcomings do you see in the Affordable Care Act, and how do you propose addressing them? If you favor scrapping the Act altogether, what do you propose as an alternative?

One of the proudest days of my life was when the Affordable Care Act became law on March 23, 2010 and we took a huge step to provide every American with access to quality, affordable health care. As of July 2014, 20,000 previously uninsured residents in my district are now covered. In our community, seniors and people with disabilities have saved $13.8 million in drug costs. Women and people with pre-existing conditions cannot be turned down or charged higher insurance premiums. Businesses and families are saving money. Many Americans now have the peace of mind that they are no longer a major health crisis away from bankruptcy I will continue to work to improve the law, and I've sponsored legislation to add a public option and provide federal backup authority to help lower costs in states like Illinois that lack the authority to deny or modify unreasonable health insurance premiums.

What can be done at the federal level to aid Illinois' economy and your district in particular?

Business leaders need customers, a skilled workforce, improved transportation, and a little help to grow. The federal government can help. Raising the minimum wage, guaranteeing union organizing rights (union workers make 27% more) and extending unemployment benefits would increase household budgets and consumer spending. We can strengthen the workforce by improving STEM education and improving college affordability, linking employers with students, and helping veterans transfer their skills into civilian life. We need a stronger commitment to transportation, and that's why I support better funding " including a National Infrastructure Bank. I have helped local small and large businesses in my district obtain millions of dollars in grants and contracts. I also worked with Senator Dick Durbin and other members of the Illinois delegation to make CTA projects eligible for "core capacity" improvements, and the CTA was recently awarded a $35 million federal grant to improve the Red and Purple lines.

What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?

I am deeply concerned about retirement security. Estimates project that the average household nearing retirement only has $12,000 in savings " some have no savings " and that almost half of baby boomers could run out of money in retirement. We need to protect and expand Social Security benefits, relied on by most retirees for the majority of their income. With the demise of defined benefit pensions, Social Security will be even more important for millennials. We must protect private and public pensions and create more opportunities for savings. I am also committed to fighting climate change. I support efforts to curb carbon pollution and have introduced my own legislation to achieve that goal. One of my bills, the PEER Act, would permanently extend the tax credit for wind and other renewable energy sources and eliminate tax breaks for oil and gas companies, saving taxpayers money in the process.

Please name one current leader who most inspires you.

Barack Obama

What's the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?

That I could be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up.

If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?


What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?

English. I learned to be a good writer.

If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?

If at first you don't succeed, try try again.