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What the 1st Congressional District Candidates Say About Creating Jobs

Republicans and Democrats vying for the a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives offered their thoughts on what government’s role could be in creating jobs – if any.

There is one economic area that politicians, pundits and citizens all seem to agree on: we need more jobs. The question then is what should government’s role be in creating them?

Some cite the federal bailout as a major reason to stay out of the private sector, and yet others say deregulation and lack of oversight is what brought on the collapse of 2008 that we are still experiencing.

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With that in mind, we asked candidates campaigning for the Democrat and Republican spots in the 1st Illinois Congressional District race in next week’s primary what should the government do to create more jobs?

Answers are listed in the order we received them.

(R)

Get out of the way and let the private sector create the jobs, not government.

(D)

Restoring confidence is crucial for future job creation. If a company believes that the country does not have a stable fiscal footing, then they will likely wait before they make any sort of capital-intensive decision, such as hiring more employees. 

Nevertheless, on a substantive level, the government must address the foreclosure crisis. With millions of homes in or near foreclosure, the housing market has yet to bounce back. Homeowners have lost equity in their residences while others are struggling to keep up with their mortgage. Non-discretionary funds within households still exist but families are more concerned with keeping food on the table and not buying a new table.

The only way to boost employment is through demand. If consumers have all of their money tied up in their homes, there is little chance they will go out and purchase the goods and services needed to bolster economic activity.

(R)

The financial disaster has left a permanent emotional and physical scar on our nation. We now feel the tight grip of uncertainty as we face an overwhelming unfairness and disparity that is seen in the eyes of our family, friends and neighbors. 

With the current downgrade of U.S. debt, unemployment tipping over eight percent and the lowest GDP growth in recent history, I have questioned: where is this so-called recovery and how has giving billions of tax dollars to banks and failed green technology companies helped us? Small businesses cannot acquire credit, grow financially nor add employees. Citizens cannot buy homes or cars. So – where is the economy going?

2009-2010 was the window for investment in stimulus and infrastructure programs that would assure employers and markets alike. However, the government failed to act and unemployment proposals faced legislative gridlock until after the following election.
The problem is twofold: businesses will not invest in human capital if they believe that the general economy is neither stable nor on the road to solid ground.

Employers will also avoid hiring when the government is relying on their goodwill, rather than boldly taking secure steps to restart the economy with measures that promote spending and fiscal growth.

To boost confidence, businesses need tangible incentives to hire employees. Compensating business owners for on-the-job-training or temporarily supplementing salaries of new hires are short-term solutions to reduce unemployment but not a comprehensive answer to the problems we face in the current economy.

We must realize that to grow our economy, the muscle power we need to use is not just in our arms and back, but within our minds. By utilizing the creativity, wisdom and knowledge that lie within ourselves, we can set forth a new path for prosperity for all who dream of a promising tomorrow. 

With this combination punch – partnered with a ready and willing work force that is also well educated – we will be a nation second to none. A great American once said: “Some people see things as they are and say why? I dream of things that never were and say why not?”

Developing a system of national high-speed railways is a perfect example of public investment. Private companies have the chance to create this new industry.

Towns, villages, and cities could benefit from the influx of jobs, faster transportation and resulting tourism income. Government spurs economic activity and fosters new industry across the country without being the sole operator or a continuous provider of subsidies.

Our lawmakers in Washington need to embrace pragmatism instead of blankly staring at the jobless question. Spending is not the sole solution; the key is trust between the public and private sectors. The reality is that no one will hire without incentives. Businesses need to be confident that profits that will rise, so that people can be offered work – moving America toward vibrant growth and strength.

(D)

It is imperative that we revitalize the manufacturing sector of the economy. I am in favor of providing tax incentives to automakers and parts companies to encourage retooling of facilities to produce advanced technology vehicles and their key components. I support efforts across the board to provide manufacturers access to low-interest loans to help convert factories and modernize equipment. In an effort to re-train our workforce, I advocate funding apprentice programs as well as partnering with community colleges to allow workers to re-tool in order to meet the demands of local industry.

We also need to focus on creating new jobs by rebuilding America’s infrastructure. I support the idea of a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank designed to leverage private investment in infrastructure improvements, and create over a million new jobs. In addition to focusing on roads and bridges, we must modernize our power grid, which will help conservation and spur the development and distribution of clean energy. 

A critical component of my jobs plan has an emphasis on supporting Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Small businesses have traditionally been the lifeblood of the American economy and we should encourage this vessel of job creation that has been vital to small towns and cities throughout this great nation. In an effort to accomplish this, I support exempting all start-up companies from capital gains taxes as well as providing a tax credit for small businesses that offer quality health insurance to their employees. The goal is also to help small businesses find access to capital by doubling down on SBA loan funding and eliminating bureaucratic barriers for small and start-up businesses at both the State and Federal level.

(D)

I believe that the policies of the United States government should emphasize job creation. My platform calls for the enactment of policies that require utilities to use an increasing percentage of renewable energy. The Environmental Law and Policy Center has recently published a report that lists the number of clean energy firms in Chicago and Cook County, many of which are poised to create jobs. Government should help to create this market, which will have ancillary benefits as well in terms of increasing employment, lowering social safety net expenditures, and reducing dependence on foreign oil.

I have also called for a continuation of President Obama’s investments in high-speed rail. We need to build the transportation system of the 21st Century. Chicago has always been the transportation hub of the nation, from the beginning of passenger rail service to the growth of O’Hare Airport today. The Midwest High Speed Rail Association has developed detailed plans for high-speed rail to nine midwestern cities. Many of these lines will come through the 1st District and can employ 1st District residents in jobs that cannot be outsourced. 
Finally, I would revive the Superfund program and increase the number of toxic waste sites that are cleaned and ready to return to productive use.

(D)

Congress should pass President Obama’s America Jobs Act. That legislation would have created shovel-ready jobs. It would have also positively impacted far more American lives, household budgets, and citizens’ savings and employee retirement accounts than the much weaker and far less ambitious Republican counter-proposals, like the Keystone XL pipeline. 

Even though the U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace in more than a year and a half in the fourth quarter, there is much more that needs to be done to turn our economy around and promote job growth in the nation and in my district. My district, particularly in Chicago, has a high unemployment rate, as adverse economic conditions often reverberate the most in less economically well off districts. As a result, job creation remains the number one issue facing my district.

Job growth in the 1st Congressional district will have to come from sectors that need a large number of workers who are from a wide cross-section of the population (age, educational attainment, household income). It will also be important for the district to leverage the skills and knowledge of its residents as they relate to five industries in particular that have shown themselves able to generate a number of fast growing companies supporting higher-wage jobs, including Information Technology services, Business Products and Services, Advertising and Marketing, Consumer Products and Services, and Software.

I would also expect to see the continued establishment and expansion of new and small businesses, which contributed almost 23,000 new jobs to the Chicago metropolitan region, especially those providing the professional, scientific, and technical services (18.6 percent of new business starts in 2011), administrative and support services (almost 10 percent of new business starts in 2011), and ambulatory health care services (estimated 6 percent of new business starts in 2011). As Congressman, I will continue to engage stakeholders to encourage growth of existing firms, seek out new growth industries and work fields, and design legislation that will spur business growth and job creation.

Candidates Fred Smith, Clifford R. Russell Jr. and Jimmy Lee Tillman II did not respond to Patch’s questionnaire.

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