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Sweet column: Obama's 2003 IVI-IPO questionnaire may be getting closer scrutiny. Read document here.

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UNIVERSAL CITY, CALIF.--Back in December, 2003, Barack Obama, running for a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois, filled out an extensive questionnaire from the unabashed liberal Independent Voters of Illinois – Independent Precinct Organization.

In the past months of the campaign, I have referred to Obama's answers in the questionnaire when various topics have been in the news and Obama's current positions were presented in a different light in the past.

But the spotlight is growing more intense as the crucial Jan. 3 Iowa caucus is just days away.

The IVI-IPO paper trail is being looked today in a story at Mike Allen and Ben Smith at Politico.com. They pored over the 1996 IVI-IPO questionnaire Obamal submitted when he was running for a state senate seat from Hyde Park, one of the most liberal enclaves in Illinois. The Allen-Smith lede stresss Obama's stands in 1996 and now.

When Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was seeking state office a dozen years ago, he took unabashedly liberal positions: flatly opposed to capital punishment, in support of a federal single-payer health plan, against any restrictions on abortion, and in support of state laws to ban the manufacture, sale and even possession of handguns.
LINK

The Clinton forces and the Republican National Committee were e-mailing the Politico story around this morning.

Portraying Obama as a liberal--even if he has moved to the center since 2003--speaks to the general election electability issue and puts Obama on the defensive over his liberal roots.

The Obama campaign has scheduled a conference call to discuss Obama's electabilty today with former Senate Majority Leader and Obama campaign National Co-Chair Tom Daschle, former Governor of Mississippi Ray Mabus, and U.S. Congressman and Missouri Co-Chair Russ Carnahan.

The Politico story said they got the 1996 document "with assistance from political sources opposed to Obama’s presidential campaign" and it "raises questions of whether Obama can be painted as too liberal and whether he is insufficiently consistent."

And the Politico story offers some interesting reaction from the Obama presidential campaign: "A week after Politico provided the questionnaire to the Obama campaign for comment, an aide called Monday night to say that Obama had said he did not fill out the form, and provided a contact for his campaign manager at the time, who said she filled it out. It includes first-person comments such as: “I have not previously been a candidate.”

I obtained the IVI-IPO questionnaire directly from the organization to assist my Obama coverage when he started running for president and without any assistance or suggestion from the Clinton forces or anyone else.


Here's the questionnaire in its entirety.

ivi-ipo
Independent Voters of Illinois – Independent Precinct Organization
1325 S. Wabash, Suite 105
Chicago, IL 60605
V
www.iviipo.org


December 15, 2003

Dear Candidate,

IVI-IPO will be conducting interviews of Democratic candidates for US Senator on Saturday, January 10, 2004, starting at 1pm.

The format for each candidate will be 2 minutes for an opening statement, 15 minutes of questions from our members, and a 1 minute closing statement. Candidates are interviewed individually and are not present for their opponents' interviews.

Please call our office after December 18 to schedule an appointment and return an electronic copy of your completed questionnaire by Monday, January 5, 2004.

Enclosed is the IVI-IPO questionnaire for your office along with a detailed explanation of our endorsement process. To request the questionnaire in Word format by email, contact info@iviipo.org. Please call the IVI-IPO office at (312) 939-XXXX or contact me directly at (312) 913-XXXX if you have any questions.

We look forward to meeting with you on the 10th.

Sincerely Yours,

Leslie Gryce Sturino
Political Action Chair


Independent Voters of Illinois- Independent Precinct Organization
2004 US SENATE CANDIDATE INSTRUCTIONS

In order to be favorably considered for an IVI-IPO endorsement, you should follow these instructions carefully.

IVI-IPO is widely recognized as having one of the most comprehensive issue questionnaires. We often receive requests from reporters who use candidate responses as background material for their stories. All or part of your questionnaire also may be posted to our web page. We hope you will consider this in completing your questionnaire and provide us with thoughtful, thorough responses.

Please be sure to complete the contact information and the 10 background questions in Section 1, as well as the numbered questions specific to the office you seek in Section 2.

MOST QUESTIONS CAN BE ANSWERED SIMPLY YES OR NO. Feel free to explain your answers in greater detail if you wish. Your responses should include both the questions and the answers; otherwise, the reader will be confused.

Your completed questionnaire, in Word format, must be submitted to our office by email by Monday, January 5, 2004. Please call our office if you did not receive the questionnaire electronically and we will email it to you.

You also will be asked to bring 50 copies of your completed questionnaire to the interviewing session. You must provide hard copies of your questionnaire. IVI-IPO will not make copies of your questionnaire for you.

Prior to the final endorsement, completed questionnaires will be available for review only by IVI-IPO members. Candidates, even if they are members, will not be able to view their opponents' responses until after the interviewing session. After an endorsement has been made, completed questionnaires will be available for review by members, candidates, the press or the public.

THE INTERVIEW

Candidates for each office are interviewed separately and consecutively by IVI-IPO members residing in the affected electoral district. Each candidate will make a brief presentation, followed by questions from our members. The allowed time in your race will be determined by the chair of your endorsement session.

Although every effort will be made to accommodate your personal schedule, the dates for the sessions are fixed, and it is not always possible to give each candidate the time slot of his or her choice. If you are unable to attend, you may send a surrogate to make a presentation and answer questions on your behalf.

Candidates may not be present for their opponents' interview, nor for the deliberations of members. With those exceptions, the entire interviewing process is open to the public and the press.

After candidates for an office have been heard, the members will evaluate each candidate on the basis of agreement with IVI-IPO positions, past record (for incumbents), political independence, and campaign viability. A vote will be taken to endorse one or more candidates or to make no endorsement. A 3/5 vote of a quorum of eligible members present is required to make a final endorsement of a candidate. If either the quorum or the 3/5 majority requirement is not met, the vote is a recommendation to the IVI-IPO Board.

REVIEW BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The IVI-IPO Board will meet January 28 to consider recommendations from the interview sessions. Candidates do not make additional presentations at this time. Board members will receive reports from the interview sessions, review the questionnaires, and vote to accept or reject the membership recommendation.

AFTER THE ENDORSEMENT

All candidates who appeared for an interview will be notified by mail or email of the endorsement decision. IVI-IPO will arrange a press conference to announce our endorsements. The Independent Campaign Committee (ICC) will work with IVI-IPO supported candidates to distribute literature, get press coverage and mobilize volunteers.

If you have any further questions, please contact our office at 312-939-5105. We wish you good luck in your endorsement application and in your campaign.


IVI-IPO 2004 US SENATE QUESTIONNAIRE – Section 1
DATE______ 1/5/04____________ PARTY: _____Democrat __________________________
NAME: _________ Barack Obama___________________________________________________________________________
VOTING ADDRESS: ______XXXX S. East View Park, Chicago, Illinois, 60615_______________________________________
HOME PHONE: _______773-XXX-XXXX_____________________ BUSINESS PHONE: ____312-XXX-XXXX_____________
CAMPAIGN ADDRESS: ________310 S. Michigan, Suite 1710, Chicago, 60604_____________
CAMPAIGN PHONE: ____312-427-6300________ FAX: _______312-427-6401___________________________
EMAIL: _____bobama@obamaforillinois.com_WEBSITE: __www.obamaforillinois.com______________________
CAMPAIGN MANAGER: _______Jim Cauley___________________________________________________
NUMBER OF PETITION SIGNATURES FILED: ____10,000______NUMBER REQUIRED: ___5000____

Please use an additional sheet to complete the following background information:
A) Elective or appointive public or party offices previously held including dates.
Illinois State Senator from 1996 through present.

B) Other elective offices for which you have been a candidate.
Candidate for Congress in 2000.

C) Principal business, education, professional and civic activities of the past ten years.
Illinois State Senator, constitutional law professor at University of Chicago, civil rights attorney, chair of Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Board of Directors of Joyce Foundation.

D) What subjects have you studied and what experience have you had which will be most helpful to you in the office you seek?

I studied political science in college with a concentration in international relations and then obtained a law degree with a focus on constitutional law. I am currently a state senator and am chairman of the senate public health and human services committee. I am the only Democratic candidate in the race for U.S. Senate who has had a record of legislative accomplishment. I believe that all these experiences will be extremely valuable in preparation for being a U.S. Senator.

E) Activities for other candidates. Please be specific.
I have campaigned for many progressive candidates during my years in Chicago. In the early 1990s, I ran Project Vote – a hugely successful voter registration program that added 100,000 mostly minority and low-income voters to the Illinois rolls, which helped elect President Bill Clinton and U.S. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun in 1992.

F) Please list all endorsements you have received so far.
I am proud to have received the endorsement of many leading progressive individuals and organizations, including U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky, Jesse Jackson Jr., Danny Davis, Lane Evans, former Congressman and judge Abner Mikva, state senator Carol Ronen, state representative Julie Hamos, Citizen Action, the SEIU, the executive committee of AFSCME Illinois, UNITE, and the Illinois Federation of Teachers. In addition, former U.S. Senator Paul Simon had agreed to endorse me before his untimely death. (A complete list of my endorsements is attached.)

G) As concisely as possible, please state why you feel you should be endorsed over the other candidate(s). What goals for the office you seek are most important to you personally?
First, I am grateful to have received your endorsement in my past campaigns for the Illinois Senate, and for the citations you have given me in recognition of my legislative work. For half a century, the IVI-IPO has promoted candidates who were willing to fight for progressive ideas and needed reforms, regardless of the political pressures. I am proud to stand in that tradition, which is reflected in my record as the only legislator in this race.
I led the fight in the Illinois Senate for the first meaningful campaign finance reform in a generation. I led the fight for landmark ethics reforms, which will begin to curb the culture of corruption that has pervaded our politics. I led the fight for the law mandating videotaping of police interrogations to prevent coerced confessions, and one to help end racial profiling by law enforcement agencies across our state.
I passed laws creating a state Earned Income Tax credit, which has meant $100 million in tax relief or the working poor, and one expanding health insurance to 20,000 Illinois children who lacked coverage as well as 65,000 of their working parents.
In the US Senate, I will be a champion for the progressive agenda the Bush Administration has tried to dismantle during the last few years. I am an outspoken advocate for a woman’s right to choose and an end to discrimination against gays and lesbians, and will not shy away from standing up for our basic liberties. No Senator will fight harder against the kind of right-wing judicial nominees who are bent on reversing 50 years of hard-fought civil rights legislation. As a constitutional law professor and civil rights attorney, I bring a unique arsenal of ideas and experiences to the U.S. Senate. I will use these strengths to help stop John Ashcroft from trampling on our liberties and freedoms, including opposing his call for an expansion of one of the more dangerous pieces of legislation to pass Congress in decades, the so-called U.S. Patriot Act.
Unlike my Democratic opponents in this race, including two of whom have stated publicly that they support the war (Dan Hynes and Maria Pappas), I was an early and outspoken opponent of the war in Iraq, and will support a foreign policy that rebuilds our relations in the world and projects American values, not just our might.
The Democratic Party and our country have suffered the past three years because too many of our representatives in Washington have failed to live up to the tradition of independence for which the IVI-IPO stands.

So in this election, the real question for the IVI-IPO should be whether the candidate for U.S. Senate it endorses has demonstrated the backbone and passion to really fight for progressive causes, even when the political winds are blowing in the other direction. Candidates can and should be asked to state their beliefs. But even more important is a public record of standing up and fighting for what is right for working Americans and the poor. That is the record I have established in the Illinois Senate during six long and sometimes lonely years. I am proud to have fought those fights, and I ask for your support in taking that battle to the floor of the U.S. Senate, where a strong and distinctive voice for the rights of working people – and those who’d like to be working -- is so badly needed today.

H) Please outline the place of patronage, personnel codes, race, gender, and sexual orientation in establishing criteria for hiring and promoting public employees.

Interestingly, the U.S. Senate has exempted itself from all employment laws. Nevertheless, if elected I will strive to hire a staff that reflects the full diversity of our state and nation in terms of racial and ethnic backgrounds, gender and sexual orientation. I believe that my campaign staff reflects that diversity to a greater extent than any other in this race.

I) What is your campaign budget? How much have you raised to date?
While we cannot match the plethora of millionaire candidates in this race who can simply write themselves a check, we are fully capable of raising the funds required to bring our superior record and ideas to the attention of primary voters. We estimate that this will require between $4 million to $5 million, and we are right on track to meet those goals. This will represent more – by far – than any minority candidate for statewide office has ever raised for a primary campaign in Illinois.

J) How many people are on your campaign staff? How many volunteers are on your list?
We are proud to have an ethnically diverse, full time staff of six women and five men. We also have approximately 2,500 volunteers in our volunteer database, and have several volunteers in our offices every day.

IVI-IPO 2004 US SENATE QUESTIONNAIRE – Section 2

Foreign and Military

1. a. What should be the US role in multi-national alliances such as the UN, NATO and the International Criminal Court?

The U.S. should play a constructive role in such alliances and institutions. For too long, the Bush Administration has shunned multi-lateral alliances in favor of a go-it-alone foreign policy. This policy has resulted in a bitter deadlock with our allies regarding many important issues, most notably Iraq. I was the first declared candidate to oppose the Bush Administration’s war in Iraq and did so before the war. One of the principal reasons for my opposition was the Administration’s utter failure to devise and execute a multi-lateral approach to dealing with Iraq. The result is that the U.S., almost alone, now is burdened with the ever-growing costs and casualties of this conflict.

b. What should be the policy of the IMF and World Bank toward countries that are essentially bankrupt?

The IMF and World Bank must craft individually tailored policies to help the governments achieve stability while their people escape poverty. Though the IMF and World Bank may require governments to enact certain reforms in order to receive assistance, such reforms must not leave the peoples of these countries worse off for having received IMF and World Bank “help” than before such assistance arrived.

2. What should be Congress' role in formulating foreign policy?

Congress should have a robust consultative role in formulating American foreign policy. It cannot abdicate its role to the President or merely rubber-stamp the President’s policies, as it did with Iraq. As the first candidate to oppose the President’s Iraq policies, I signaled that had I been in the US Senate at the time that the President proposed the Iraq war, I would have vigorously opposed his actions and voted against his policies.

3. Should the US wage war without a declaration from Congress?

No.

4. a. Do you support funding to assist conversion of the defense industry to civilian applications?

Yes.

b. Do you agree with the current proposed level of funding for the military? If you agree, explain. If you disagree, how would you distribute the funds?

Spending levels are too high because the Bush Administration has over-extended our military commitments and its unilateralist policies have cost us the assistance of numerous allies who could help share the burden. Today, for instance, we have embarked on an ill conceived, poorly executed occupation of Iraq, for which the Administration recently requested and received $87 billion in funding. At the same time, we continue to post troops in Afghanistan and even in Kosovo. The over-extension of our military is obvious when the majority of troops on duty in Iraq consist of reserves and our national guard. A foreign policy that sought better collaboration with our allies -- and emphasized diplomacy over military might -- would enable us to reduce our military budget, while focusing it more effectively on the fight against international terror. Ultimately, we should invest more in homeland security protection, jobs, education, and health care to achieve the kind of security all Americans deserve.

5. Do you support
a. continued funding for WHISC (the re-named Army School of the Americas)?

The Army School of Americas has had a sad history of training soldiers and paramilitaries who have committed human rights abuses throughout Latin America. I could not support such an institution unless I was confident that it never abided such behavior in the future.

b. fast-track authority?

I oppose fast-track trade authority because it is a usurpation of Congress’s role to ensure that negotiated trade agreements serve the best interests of our country, including protection of the environment, worker rights and human rights.

6. Do you support the way the drug war is being carried on, both abroad and at home? What would you change?

The drug war is a failure both abroad and at home. I believe that we must curtail demand in the United States if we are going to meaningfully stem the supply of drugs and reduce the other problems incident to a culture of drugs. Reducing demand means, among other things, (1) moving away from a policy of retribution and toward rehabilitation of those with drug problems; (2) rehabilitating prisoners currently in our jails and ending their drug habits before they get back on the streets; and (3) enacting fairness in our criminal sentencing laws so that all those who use and deal drugs are treated equitably before the law.

7. Do you support
a. normalization of relations with Cuba?

Our longstanding policies toward Cuba have been a miserable failure, evidenced by the fact that Fidel Castro is now the longest-serving head of state in the world. If our isolationist policies were meant to weaken him, they certainly haven’t worked. I believe that normalization of relations with Cuba would help the oppressed and poverty-stricken Cuban people while setting the stage for a more democratic government once Castro inevitably leaves the scene.

b. the Helms-Burton Act?

No, this legislation only makes adversaries of our allies and perpetuates our go-it-alone foreign policy.

Environment

8. Do you support the environmental policies of the current administration?

No. On behalf of its corporate sponsors, and with support from the Republican Congress, the White House is accelerating its efforts to weaken key environmental laws that protect our water, air, forests, and wildlife. One particularly egregious piece of legislation introduced by the White House is its Energy Bill, which provides billions of dollars to oil companies and big polluters while shortchanging efforts to promote conservation and renewable fuels. I would strongly oppose such measures as a U.S. Senator.

9. How do we balance the need to protect the environment with our need for economic development? Your comments should include water resources, air quality, wetlands, coastline development, deforestation, use of public lands, and pesticides and herbicides.

As one of only six state Senators who recently received a 100% Environmental Voting Record Award from the Illinois Environmental Council, I am very concerned about protecting our environment for future generations. I also believe, however, that economic development must be a top priority in order to create jobs during this recession, and that such development need not happen at the expense of the environment. In fact, I have promoted legislation that would help both. For instance, I sponsored the Biodiesel Fuel Act, which would require diesel fuel sold in Illinois to contain at least 2% biodiesel fuel by volume. Use of biodiesel fuel dramatically reduces emissions that contribute to global warming. Importantly, biodiesel fuel oil is produced in Illinois, helping Illinois farmers and the state’s economy. I have also supported legislation that would require a permit and mitigation before any wetlands can be filled, and provides extra protection to exceptionally high quality wetlands. Wetlands are critical for reducing water pollution and preventing floods, both of which hamper economic development in the long run. In the US Senate, I would pursue similar policies. I would oppose the Bush Administration’s Orwellian “Clear Skies” initiative and efforts to undermine the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act and work with aging power plants to install modern pollution controls. I would oppose legislation assisting corporate farming, which has introduced untold quantities of pesticides and herbicides into the environment and spawned, among other things, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). CAFOs have driven tens of thousands of family farms out of business, thus hurting rural economic development, while at the same time grievously polluting the environment with animal waste. I would also oppose needless coastline development and deforestation, which only hurt economic development in the long run through their harmful effect on water resources and flood control.

10. Do you support oil drilling in Alaska and other protected wilderness?

No

11. Do you support pollution credit schemes?

Many environmentalists believe that the trading of pollution credits has had a beneficial impact on our nation’s environment, and has led to a real reduction in dangerous emissions. The key is to set rigorous standards for overall emissions levels and to close any loopholes that allow corporations to evade accountability. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has provided little evidence that it can police environmental agreements in a way that achieves these goals.

Transportation

12. What transportation policy do you favor regarding
a. infrastructure improvements?

It makes no sense to invest billions of taxpayer dollars in the Iraqi infrastructure while allowing our own to continue to crumble – particularly when rebuilding our transportation infrastructure could create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Congress must enact pending transportation reauthorization legislation without further delay. In addition, under the current distribution formula Illinois receives only 92 cents for every $1 that it contributes to the federal government for transportation and infrastructure projects. The reauthorization legislation must change this formula, so Illinois begins to get its fair share.

b. highways?

I would seek to ensure that scheduled highway improvements take place as soon as possible to help jump-start Illinois’ stalled economy – particularly Downstate. I would insist that new highway projects be subject to rigorous local review, providing adequate opportunity for citizen and environmental concerns. I would also seek to ensure that new highway construction be balanced by federal investments in mass transit, commuter rail, and efforts to address urban sprawl.

c. mass transit?

Mass transit should be a high priority for our transportation system given its benefits in ameliorating pollution, energy demand and urban congestion. Obtaining federal funding for continued “L” improvements and to help extend commuter rail lines to the south Suburbs and other underserved areas will be among my goals in the U.S. Senate.

d. high-speed rail?

The East Coast is currently enjoying the benefits of a high-speed rail line introduced by Amtrak along the Boston to Washington corridor. The Midwest should receive federal support to seriously explore the potential success of similar high-speed lines between Chicago and cities such as St. Louis and Detroit.

e. Amtrak?

Amtrak is a necessary means of transport for millions of passengers every day, and provides an economic boost and lifeline for many rural communities. The federal government should continue investing to maintain, modernize and improve Amtrak.

f. Air transportation, particularly the proposed O'Hare expansion and third airport?

Airports are engines of economic development and a source of hundreds of thousands of jobs. I support the understanding reached by Mayor Daley and former Governor Ryan whereby O’Hare will be expanded. I also support the idea of a third airport being built in the South Suburban area in order to encourage balanced economic growth in the region, provided that such a project be considered in the context of the region’s broader transportation strategy.


Taxes and Economic Policy

13. Do you favor
a. a more progressive income tax?

Yes. In this campaign I have advocated rolling back the Bush tax cuts for the top one-percent of taxpayers (those with incomes of more than $293,000 a year) in order to finance a badly needed expansion of health care coverage for millions of children and the unemployed.

b. a flat tax?

No.

c. a national sales tax?

No.

d. reduction of the capital gains tax?

No.

e. reduction or elimination of the estate tax?

No.

f. elimination of the corporate alternative tax?

No. In fact, I have proposed the closing of notorious corporate tax loopholes that cost the Treasury billions of dollars each year.

g. tax cuts on stock dividends?

No.

h. any other changes in our tax structure? Please explain.

Under my REAL USA Corporations plan, I would eliminate tax loopholes and subsidies that encourage the movement of jobs and companies overseas. Instead, I would create tax incentives for corporations (and their shareholders) who locate the production of jobs and goods in the United States and follow certain other corporate best practices such as, among other things, providing portable health insurance, access to retirement savings plans, and maintaining reasonable ratios between what the highest and lowest paid workers earn.

14. Do you favor a roll-back of the Bush tax cuts?

Yes, for the wealthiest Americans. Any proposals for tax relief should be targeted at the working families who really need them. For example, as state senator, I spearheaded the state Earned Income Tax Credit, which has put $100 million into the pockets of low and middle-income families in Illinois. Not only are working families the driving force behind any economic recovery, but they need help to keep their heads above water.

15. Do you support total or partial privatization of the Social Security fund? Please explain.

No, I would oppose changes to the basic structure of Social Security, since it has ably served its purpose: providing a necessary safety net to our elderly. I would fight any attempt to privatize Social Security, which would further enrich the financial industry while putting that safety net at risk.

16. What is your position on federal deficit spending vs. balanced budget?

I believe that we must pursue a sensible fiscal policy. Today, we are providing large and extravagant tax cuts to the wealthy during a time when the government needs resources to invest in, among other things, jobs, homeland security, health care, education, and social security. The result is that our government is running an unsustainable budget deficit. We must move away from this perilous path of deficits toward a more sensible course by rolling back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and investing in job creation, better health care and education.

17. Do you support unfunded mandates to local government?

No, and the Bush Administration has been among the worst offenders. The No Child Left Behind Act is just such a mandate, providing rigorous new standards for local schools without the resources to achieve them. So are the various homeland security costs that are being borne by state and local governments without adequate federal support.

Consumer Rights

18. Do you support
a. granting consumers the right to an annual free copy of their consolidated credit report, including credit score?

Yes.

b. banning the use of Social Security numbers as identification in consumer transactions?

I would support limits on the use of Social Security numbers for identification purposes.

c. federal legislation to cap interest rates on consumer loans?

Yes. I have been a leader in the Illinois legislator in fighting predatory lenders, who prey primarily on minorities and the working poor.

d. federal legislation to regulate ATM fees and service charges on credit cards and other consumer loans?

Yes.

e. federal legislation to give banks and finance companies priority over other unsecured lenders in bankruptcy proceedings?

No. As someone who has staunchly defended the rights of consumers in Illinois (for instance, I opposed SBC’s efforts last year to circumvent the Illinois Commerce Commission on the issue of wholesale pricing for telecommunications services), I would oppose legislation that strengthens the hands of the financial industry at the expense of consumer rights.

f. allowing states to enact consumer laws which go beyond the protection of federal legislation?

Yes.

Government and Ethics

19. Do you support term limits? Describe briefly.

No; however, I support campaign financing laws and other reforms to give challengers a meaningful chance to unseat incumbents.

20. Do you support
a. public financing of Congressional campaigns?

I would support the provision of federal matching funds to candidates who raise small contributions from many contributors, as is done now in presidential campaigns. Ultimately, the escalating cost of campaigns is being driven by the cost of TV and radio advertising. Those airwaves belong to the public. I would support efforts to provide free or greatly reduced broadcast time to congressional candidates as the most effective means of reducing the impact of money on campaigns.

b. spending limits?

Yes.

c. abolition of PACs?

Political action committees have enabled labor unions and progressive groups to compete with the hundreds of millions of dollars that corporate interests have poured into political campaigns. The provision of federal matching funds, along with free broadcast time for candidates utilizing the public airwaves, would reduce the necessity and influence of PACs.

21. Would you support increased Congressional oversight of federal contracting? Why or why not?

The recent spectacle of the politically connected Halliburton firm receiving billions of dollars in no-bid federal contracts from the Bush Administration for the rebuilding of Iraq points up the need for much stronger Congressional oversight of that process. In Illinois, I was one of the chief architects (in partnership with the late Senator Paul Simon) of ethics laws to better police unscrupulous behavior by state officeholders. I also supported the ethics legislation recently signed into law by Governor Blagojevich that establishes greater financial disclosure, restricts the revolving door between public officials and private interests and establishes Inspectors General to help root out fraud. As U.S. Senator, I will push for similar measures at the federal level.

Health & Human Services

22. Do you support comprehensive, universal, single-payer health care? If not, how would you address the need for healthcare for the uninsured and underinsured?

As chief sponsor of the Cardinal Bernardin Amendment, which would guarantee the right of health care coverage to all Illinois residents, I strongly support the principle of universal health care. In this campaign, I have offered a detailed plan to expand health coverage to all children through college-age as well as poor adults, the unemployed, and elderly nearing retirement age, primarily through expanding existing programs such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and allowing those over 55 to buy into Medicare. I believe this is an affordable and politically achievable proposal that would move us much closer to our ultimate goal of health coverage for every American.

23. Do you favor funding changes for the following:
a. supplemental food programs for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)?

Yes. Funding must be increased here. If we can fund $20 billion in reconstruction aid for Iraq, we can, at the very least, adequately fund food programs for the most vulnerable members of our own nation. And investing in children’s health and nutrition at the earliest stages will save us money over the long-term.

b. food stamp allowances?

Yes. The jobless recovery being touted by this Administration has resulted in record demands on food pantries and private charities across the country. The federal government must recognize this reality by increasing its food assistance to those in need.

c. Head Start?

Yes, we must fully fund Head Start, while fighting off the Administration’s wrong-headed efforts to block-grant that highly successful program. As an Illinois State Senator, I co-sponsored legislation to help promote early childhood education and accessible, high-quality day care for working families, and I would do the same at the federal level. In this campaign, I have proposed a billion dollar a year increase in Head Start funding as a first-step toward providing universal preschool education to all children in the U.S.

d. school lunch programs?

Yes, we must fully fund this program. Children cannot learn if they are hungry. I would strongly oppose any efforts to reduce funding in this area and would advocate for its expansion to provide more breakfasts, after-school meals and summer feeding programs.

24. Do you support
a. increased funding to develop affordable housing?

Yes.

b. restrictions to ensure development of low-income rather than market rate housing?

Yes.

c. a National Affordable Housing Trust Fund to build, rehabilitate and preserve at least 1.5 million units of primarily rental, primarily deeply targeted housing?

Yes.

d. Protection against housing discrimination based on source of income?

Yes.

25. What services, if any, should be offered to those whose time on Welfare has run out and do not have adequate income to support themselves and their families?

When Congress passed welfare reform with work requirements in the mid-1990s, each state was left to design and implement its own plan. I played a leading role in helping design a plan in the Illinois legislature that provided the support welfare recipients needed to move successfully from welfare to work. This included significant childcare and transportation assistance, along with education and job training opportunities that would enable welfare recipients to make a successful transition to the private sector. I led the fight to craft this plan and pass it through the state legislature in which the house I served – the state Senate – was in Republican hands. As a result of that legislation, Illinois welfare rolls have been cut in half and tens of thousands of former recipients are holding jobs. Studies have shown that most former welfare recipients have improved their economic standing substantially – and that their children are even performing better in school.

Unfortunately, in reauthorizing welfare legislation this year, the Republican Congress has returned to a punitive rather than supportive model. Among other provisions, they increased work requirements to 40 hours a week and restricted exemptions for those who are in school or in training for a job. As U.S. Senator, I will fight in Washington for policies that assist welfare recipients to make a successful transition to productive work by providing them with the encouragement and support they need – particularly in the provision of adequate child care. For those whose time on welfare has run out and do not have adequate income to support themselves and their families, I would support a policy of tolling the deadline for finding a job while the recipient obtains the necessary job training, education, and child care to secure employment.

26. Do you favor
a. increased federal aid to public education?

Yes.

b. vouchers, tuition tax-credits or other any direct public support for parochial or private schools?

No.

27. Are the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act the appropriate way to advance student achievement?

No. The Bush Administration’s implementation of No Child Left Behind has left the money behind. We must fully fund No Child Left Behind and modify it so as to avoid an overemphasis on standardized tests and other measurements that prioritize testing over learning.

28. Do you support
a. the Human Life Amendment?

No. As a civil rights lawyer and constitutional law professor, I have taken the lead in fighting anti-choice bills in the Illinois legislature. Those efforts earned me the endorsement of the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council in my race for the Illinois State Senate in 2002. In the U.S. Senate, I will continue to be a strong advocate for protecting a woman’s constitutional right to choose.

b. parental or spousal notification or consent to obtain an abortion?

I oppose spousal notification or consent. Regarding parental notification, I would oppose any legislation that does not include a bypass provision for minors who have been victims of, or have reason to fear, physical or sexual abuse.

c. restoration of Medicaid coverage of abortion?

Yes.

d. a ban on so-called partial birth abortions?

I do not support the recently enacted ban on so-called partial birth abortions because it does not include an exception for the health of the mother.

e. insurance coverage for abortions for federal and military employees and their dependents?

Yes.

29. Do you support increased funding for HIV/AIDS research, education, prevention, and services? Please discuss compulsory licensing of essential drugs where needed, in the US, Africa, Asia and elsewhere.

Yes, HIV/AIDS has become an epidemic of historic proportions, and we must fully fund and make permanent the Ryan White Act and ADAP. Drug companies must be compelled to license essential drugs where necessary in order to check the spread of this disease.

30. Do you support
a. federal funding for stem cell research?

Yes, such research has the potential to treat and cure many diseases. The Bush Administration’s limitations on funding such research for ideological reasons is short-sighted and indefensible.

b. legislation prohibiting stem cell research?

No.

Law, Justice, and Correctional System

31. Do you support:
a. admissibility of illegally obtained evidence?

No.

b. electronic eavesdropping?

I would not support a continuation of the expansive eavesdropping permitted under the so-called Patriot Act.

c. roving wiretaps?

I would not support the expansive wiretap authority of the Patriot Act, but would permit wiretaps on cell phones where a judge finds probable cause that an individual is engaging in terrorist activity.

d. capital punishment?

In theory, I support capital punishment for a very narrow band of heinous crimes, such as serial killing, child murder, or the commission of terrorist acts resulting in death. I cannot, however, support the death penalty as currently administered in this country, and would favor a national moratorium on the death penalty similar to the one instituted in Illinois. I have led the fight to reform the flawed death penalty process in Illinois – and would work in the U.S. Senate to apply those reforms across the nation. In addition, I would demand other reforms in the way that our federal criminal justice system works. For example, in Illinois, I passed first-in-the nation legislation to require the videotaping of all homicide interrogations and confessions. I would fight for such a similar reform at the federal level.

e. criminal prosecution of juveniles as adults?

Yes, but only for certain heinous crimes and not as a routine measure, as it is too often practiced now.

f. mandatory sentencing?

No, judges must be given greater discretion in how sentences are crafted and handed down. I particularly oppose Attorney General John Ashcroft’s ongoing effort to force federal prosecutors to bring maximum charges in all cases and pressure federal judges to impose them.

g. criminalization of hate crimes?

Yes.

32. Do you support legislation prohibiting racial profiling in law enforcement?

Yes. I was the chief sponsor of landmark legislation that became effective January 1st requiring state and local law enforcement to record the race and ethnicity of those whom they stop and search. This law will help document and combat the practice of racial profiling.

33. Do you favor detention of suspects and material witnesses without charges and/or probable cause? Do
you favor giving such detainees access to counsel?

As a constitutional lawyer and civil rights attorney, I would oppose the detention of suspects and material witnesses without charges and/or probable cause. In addition, I would support giving detainees access to counsel. I believe what is occurring today in Guantanamo, where more than 600 detainees are being held without charges or counsel – and many not even identified – is an affront to our Constitution. We cannot allow terrorists to cause us to sacrifice the very rights that make our nation special.

34. Would you support legislation authorizing or prohibiting secret military tribunals? Please explain your position.

I oppose the use of secret military tribunals. As a constitutional law professor, I believe there are other measures we can take to avoid public disclosure of evidence that could compromise national security.

35. Do you support legislation to ban the manufacture, sale and possession of
a. handguns?

While a complete ban on handguns is not politically practicable, I believe reasonable restrictions on the sale and possession of handguns are necessary to protect the public safety. In the Illinois Senate last year, I supported a package of bills to limit individual Illinoisans to purchasing one handgun a month; require all promoters and sellers at firearms shows to carry a state license; allow civil liability for death or injuries caused by handguns; and require FOID applicants to apply in person. I would support similar efforts at the federal level, including retaining the Brady Law.

b. assault weapons?

Yes.

c. ammunition for handguns and assault weapons?

I would support banning the sale of ammunition for assault weapons and limiting the sale of ammunition for handguns.

36. Do you support legislation
a. mandating background checks of purchasers of weapons at gun shows, through the internet and through print advertisements?

Yes.

b. increasing penalties for illegal resale of weapons?

Yes.

37. a. Should funding for the Legal Services Corporation be increased?

Yes.

b. What restrictions, if any, should Congress enact or repeal regarding the scope of federally funded legal services for the poor?

Congress should repeal restrictions that, among other things, prevent or discourage advocates for the poor from initiating class actions and other types of lawsuits that give meaningful redress for widespread grievances.

Civil Liberties and Civil Rights

38. a. Do you favor repeal of the Patriot Act or any of its provisions?

Yes, I would favor repeal of those provisions that strip us of our privacy and freedom without enhancing our security. One example is Section 215 of the Act, which allows law enforcement to compel people such as librarians and others to disclose evidence regarding third parties without those persons’ knowledge and without even probable cause to suspect a crime. Such a provision goes against our fundamental notions of privacy.

b. Would you vote for Patriot Act II?

No.

39. Do you support
a. federal legislation to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, employment and education?

Yes, and I have sponsored Illinois Senate Bill 101, which would amend the Illinois Human Rights Act to outlaw housing and employment discrimination in Illinois.

b. repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act?

No.

c. a Constitutional amendment prohibiting states from recognizing gay civil unions or same sex unions?

No.

40. What is your position on gays and lesbians in the military?

I don’t believe it is appropriate that hundreds of our military personnel have been drummed out of the armed forces because their sexual orientation has become known. Just as throughout our history, there are thousands of gays and lesbians currently serving in the U.S. military -- many of whom are serving with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a member of the U.S. Senate, I would encourage the Armed Services to revisit the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which is unfair to those brave service people and is harming rather than strengthening our armed forces.

41. a. Do you support prior government restraint of the press?

No.

b. Do you support State censorship of the arts?

No.

c. What should be the guidelines in determining government support for the arts?

The guidelines should be left with the local agencies empowered to decide the recipients of government assistance for the arts.

d. Should funding for the NEA be increased, decreased or stay the same?

Increased.

42. Do you support
a. prayer in public schools?

Silent prayer in public schools is currently permissible under federal law. I do not believe that organized or state-sanctioned public prayer is appropriate – particularly when students are coerced to participate or when minority beliefs are not represented or respected.

b. moment of silence?

Depending on the context, a moment of silence may be appropriate.

43. Do you support mandatory drug testing in private and public employment? Briefly state the reasons for your answers.

Mandatory drug testing may be permissible when the job directly affects public health and safety. Otherwise, I oppose such testing without probable cause. In all cases, the results of drug tests should be kept confidential and appropriate safeguards must be in place to ensure the accuracy of such tests.

44. Do you support mandatory AIDS testing for insurance or employment?

No.

45. Do you support legislation to redress inequities in pension benefits for women?

Yes.

46. Would you support the acceptance of completed ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment?

Yes, and I co-sponsored a joint resolution in the Illinois General Assembly ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Labor

47. What changes, if any, in the Taft-Hartley Act would you work for?

I would work for changes that allow workers to organize and more expeditiously exercise their right to strike in the face of an impasse with management at the bargaining table.

48. Do you support a prohibition on permanent replacement of strikers?

Yes.

49. Do you favor giving federal employees the right to strike?

Yes – unless it would directly affect public health or safety.

50. What is your position on Affirmative Action with specific goals, targets and timetables for federal employment, grants and contracts and as a requirement for federal contractors and grantees?

We must strive to make opportunity available to all members of our national community – especially those who have been too often left out in the past. It will strengthen our society to provide opportunity for every American to participate in the full range of what this nation has to offer. To help achieve this goal, I support affirmative action at the federal level in, among other things, education, employment and contracting. I oppose quotas but support goals, if properly utilized, as part of affirmative action programs.

51. a. Do you support comparable worth legislation?

Yes, and I co-sponsored successful legislation in Illinois called the Equal Pay Act of 2003, which prohibits sex-discrimination in wages in Illinois.

b. What steps, if any, should the government take to monitor pay equity between men and women?

The government should regularly survey what men and women earn in comparable jobs at comparable seniority levels to determine whether there are any untoward pay discrepancies.

52. Do you support a federal living wage law? Please explain why or why not.
Yes, because the federal minimum wage fails to provide a “living wage” for workers. That is why I supported SB 600, which was signed by Gov. Blagojevich. This bill will increase the Illinois minimum wage by $1.35 per hour over the next 16 months, from $5.15 to $6.50 per hour. I would seek a similar increase at the federal level, looking ultimately towards achieving the goal of a federal living wage.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on December 11, 2007 9:34 AM.

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