- Position sought: U.S. House of Representatives 1st District, Illinois
- Political party: Democrat
- Previously elected or appointed offices: Alderman, Chicago City Council (1983-1993); Democratic Committeeman, Cook County Democratic Party (1984-2008); State Central Committeeman, Democratic Party of Illinois (1990 – Present); Deputy Campaign Manager, Bill Clinton for President Campaign (1992)
- Website: http://rush.house.gov/
- Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Social Media: http://facebook.com/citizensforrush, http://twitter.com/BobbyLRushMC
- Mailing address: Citizens For Rush, P. O. Box 7292, Chicago, Illinois 60680-7292
- Age: 65
- Immediate Family: Spouse: Carolyn A. Rush. Children: Four sons, two daughters
- Education: I am a 1973 honors graduate of Roosevelt University, with a Bachelor’s degree in general studies. In 1994, I received a Master’s degree in political science from the University of Illinois at Chicago and in 1998, I obtained a Master’s degree in theological studies from McCormick Seminary. I have received an honorary doctorate degree from the Virginia University of Lynchburg and an honorary doctorate degree in humane letters from Roosevelt University.
- Occupation: Member of Congress; U. S. House of Representatives
Is there any additional experience you believe qualifies you for the position?
As a near life-long resident of the City of Chicago, I’ve been blessed to live a life that is uniquely American. My political background is well known throughout this city and this nation. I am a proud husband, father and grandfather but I also know what it is to suffer the loss of a child. As a legislator, I’ve passed breakthrough legislation—locally and nationally—that has improved our environment, strengthened consumer safety, especially for children, and helped low-income families and seniors obtain life-saving services from food, to heat, to health care and shelter. My qualifications are outlined, in detail, on my congressional website.
I want to be re-elected to Congress to continue to champion causes of great importance to my district and the State of Illinois. When I was first elected in 1992, I served only one term with the Democratic Party in the House majority. Public policy was enacted from 1995 until 2006 under Republican majorities and I had to work where possible to legislate policy of benefit to my constituents and this nation.
I believe, however, that what most qualifies me to continue to serve in the United States Congress is that I have a track record of service and accomplishment that is second to none. I pride myself on my ability to work effectively with the resources at hand and I know how to work collaboratively—across race, class, economic and political lines—to forge effective coalitions that make a difference. My actions on a diverse range of issues, coupled with my unyielding willingness to speak truth to power, even when it makes some uncomfortable, are the type of skills that are needed in the 1st Congressional District and this nation now more than ever. It is also an abiding privilege to serve my district, our state and, indeed, our nation as the Ranking Democrat of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power.
For these reason and more, I believe I am well qualified to continue to serve the residents of the 1st Congressional District of the great State of Illinois and I welcome their continued support.
What would your priorities be if elected to this office?
Notwithstanding the downward movement of our nation's jobless rate, should the voters of the 1st District re-elect me, my top priority remains the economy and the creation of jobs, with a focus on job creation in the manufacturing sector. I am also focused on helping our nation's homeowners address home foreclosures and/or the devaluation of their homes, youth issues including education, and healthcare.
We have made great strides in certain areas during the last few years, but we now must look to ways to put people back to work, stimulate a sustainable economy, and put our youth on a better trajectory in preparation for their future.
How do you define a small business, and what can government do to support them that isn't being done?
I define a small business consistent with how the Small Business Administration recognizes a small business concern pursuant to the Small Business Act. In general the SBA recognizes a small business as a business concern in the U.S. that owns and controls little productive capital because of limited opportunities for small business ownership and accordingly has the authority to set size standards, such as number of employees, dollar volume of business, net worth, net income, a combination thereof, or other appropriate factors for such concerns.
For example, the SBA has established 500 employees for most manufacturing and mining industries, and $7 million in average annual receipts for most non-manufacturing industries.
One of the underlying causes of our sustained weak economy is the near absence of credit to small businesses. Small business growth and expansion has historically fueled a strong economy in the US and absent an concerted effort on the part of government to help loosen the flow of credit, the economic recovery will be slowed.
What steps would you take to reduce the federal deficit? If it includes tax increases, what taxes? And if it involves federal service cuts, which?
The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), which required automatic sequestration (or across-the-board cuts to entitlement and non-entitlement program spending) to commence in January 2013 due to the failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (also known as the “Super Committee”) to reduce the budget by $1.5 trillion, have already improved the federal government's fiscal outlook. The BCA requires Congress to cut at least $2.1 trillion in deficit spending from 2012-2021. Despite this initial step, and the resulting pressure this will place on states to fund state education, energy, environment, transportation, and criminal justice programs, the federal government must make efforts to cut more spending as we grapple to contain some of our major cost drivers, including changing demographics and rising health care costs.
Obviously, the federal deficit can only be reduced if the US government spends less than the revenue it raises. Foreign nations and investors as well as our own home investors who purchase US debt must also remain confident that the US will be able grow the overall economy at a rate exceeding inflation by a healthy margin. The US government must therefore act accordingly to retain and not squander these earned and crucial advantages.
Some measures that I have supported to reduce our nation’s debt include requiring the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate prescription drug prices that are part of Medicare D plans (for up to a $156 billion savings over 10 years). Another area in which the government could curb costs is in the reduction of the Department of Defense’s budget, which is currently so vast that even they do not know how much is being spent. We can also end subsidies to companies and corporations that are sending jobs overseas and that make more than $1 billion.
What should the government do to create more jobs?
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.
Should there be repercussions for legislators who don’t read bills, and how do you enforce that?
In principle, legislators and legislative staff should be as thoroughly versed as possible before debating, amending, and voting on legislation that will impact voters and the health of institutions that play a part in these voters’ lives.
Despite the striking volume and page counts of bills that are introduced in any given Congress, I believe that voters are still sending legislators to Congress who have adequate acumen, resources and the personal and professional drive to carry out this principle objective. Although this has been an unusually unproductive Congress in terms of the number of bills that have been enacted into law, in this Congress alone, for example, more than 4,000 bills have already been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Members of Congress regularly converse with each other about discrete pieces of legislation, adding to their awareness and understanding of legislative intricacies and big picture effects. Further, legislators are also already familiar (especially legislators such as myself who have experienced multiple terms and cycles) with the tendencies of their fellow legislators and public, private, and non-governmental advocates. These insights offer further understanding and familiarity that is sometimes difficult to quantify and for outside observers to truly and fully appreciate.
It doesn’t necessarily follow that reading a bill is tantamount to understanding what that bill states, what it does, or who are the real winners and losers if that bill should be enacted. Nor should one presume that the problem posed by your question would be resolved if fewer and shorter bills were to become the convention. Obsessing about page counts and drawing conclusions that legislators might be more inclined to read bills is not wise. Until it can be shown more persuasively that the country and voters are being terribly disserved by legislators who lack a basic understanding of what they are voting on, legislators should still receive the benefit of the doubt that they are honorably and effectively discharging their duties as Members of Congress.
Should the “No Child Left Behind Act” set different measurements than now for economically disadvantaged students, special education students, students learning English as a second language, etc?
I believe that we should have the same basic measurements for all students regardless if they are economically disadvantaged, special education students, or students learning English as a second language. It is very important to set a high level of expectations for each and every student and we shouldn’t let a child’s socioeconomic status or language barrier determine their level of academic achievement. However, we must also look at increasing the time constraints for these students to make sure they are given the appropriate amount of time for testing and other areas where they may need additional time to complete their tasks.
Should federal immigration policy be changed, and if so how?
Policy makers must remember that our nation was built by immigrants, and that they continue to make it the great country it is today. While I recognize the extreme importance of controlling the inflow of immigrant populations, it is important to keep in mind that they deserve to be treated fairly. President Obama has expressed his will to reform our immigration system and I fully support a comprehensive reform effort, as I have in the past. Such a comprehensive strategy should include 1) strong border security measures, 2) proper and equitable enforcement, 3) stringent penalties for employers who contribute to the problem by hiring undocumented workers, driving down competition, 4) an improved temporary guest-worker program with safeguards against employer abuse and, 5) a fair pathway to legalization for current immigrants who reside in our nation.
What are your philosophies on social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion, and what should government’s role be in those issues?
Marriage is a matter for the individual states, and is not something in which the federal government should be allowed to legislate. States should properly be left to decide how to define and regulate marital definitions, rights, obligations and benefits. I do, however, believe that same sex couples should be entitled to the same legal protections and benefits as other individuals in this country.
What should minimum wage be and through what method should increases be determined?
I believe that there should be a federal minimum wage. And as a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a large part of whose jurisdiction emanates from the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, a federal minimum wage would promote even more robust and freer flows of commerce across state lines.
Labor economists, worker fairness advocates, and academics may endorse any number of respective methods and formulas that could set appropriate federal minimum wage levels. I am always open to listening to the merits and drawbacks of all approaches as well as the specific effects of base rates, other wage components, when to re-index or adjust components, and whether such legislation should be self-effectuating or made subject to delegated authority, such as with the Secretary of Labor.
Having said that, I would take more prescriptive and immediate action with respect to service and tipped employees, who by-and-large have lacked meaningful bargaining leverage vis a vis their employers. In the 112th Congress, I am a co-sponsor of the Working for Adequate Gains for Employment in Services Act (aka WAGES Act), H.R. 631, which would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to establish a base minimum wage for tipped employees of at least $5.50 an hour, no later than two years following enactment of the WAGES Act.
Similarly, I believe that our nation should be more proactive in leveling economic and persistent disparities between men and women and racial classes. Women are equal in every way as citizens to men. Not only should women enjoy equal workforce protections to men, but they also ought to be entitled to equal compensation under the highest law of our land – the United States Constitution. I fully support gender pay equity and have co-sponsored legislation, including the Paycheck Fairness Act, H.R. 1519. Among other things, that legislation would allow punitive damages and facilitate the formation of class actions in wage and sex discrimination suits as well as authorize funding for grants and studies that equip girls and women with better labor negotiation skills and shed light on available means to eliminate pay disparities between men and women.
Bi-partisanship is given a lot of lip service by congressional members. Tell us how you would work with members of the opposite party?
Most recently, as the Ranking Democrat of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, I worked in a bipartisan effort to develop and pass out of the House, HR 2845, the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011. This legislation, which the President signed into law on January 3rd of this year, substantially upgraded the nation’s pipeline safety and security regulations.
I am currently a co-chair of three bipartisan House Caucuses: Congressional Collegiate Sports Caucus, Congressional JOBS NOW! Caucus and the House Congressional Biotech Caucus.
Additionally, I am a co-sponsor of several bipartisan bills in this 112th Congress: H.R.721, the Short Line Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Act of 2011 which amends the IRS code to incentivize railroad track maintenance through the expansion of eligible credits and extension of existing credits; H.R.1418, the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act of 2011 which amends the Federal Credit Union Act to allow select insured credit unions to make one or more member business loans that have the effect of raising the total amount of loans outstanding at that given credit union, up to 27.5% of its total assets; H.R.2674, the 340B Program Improvement Act which amends the Public Health Service Act to revise 340B drug discount program; H.R.1852, the Children's Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2011 which reauthorizes support for graduate medical education programs in children's hospitals; and H.R.2864, the Fallen Heroes of 9/11 Act which honored the 9/11 heroes with Congressional Medals for the Flight 93 victims, National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York, and the Pentagon Memorial.
Do you think some or all of the health care bill should be repealed? What can the government do to provide more access and affordability to health care?
I supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in votes before the Congress. While not a remedy for all the issues impacting the quality and delivery of healthcare services in this nation, under this Act, America has taken tremendous steps towards improving healthcare services, particularly for our nation’s most vulnerable populations. 2.5 million young Americans, who didn’t have health insurance before, have it now. Young adults, who are not offered insurance at work, may now stay on their parent’s plan until they become 26 years old.
Individuals with pre-existing conditions and who had been unable to find coverage for at least six months due to a pre-existing condition can now obtain the health insurance they need, from the federal Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) (even if their state does not exercise the option of running PCIP or some variation thereof, as their own state plan). Approximately 4 million seniors who reached the Medicare prescription drug gap known as the “donut hole” in 2010 received a one-time $250 dollar, tax-free rebate check. States will be able to receive federal matching funds for covering some additional low-income individuals and families under Medicaid for whom federal funds were not previously available.
It is now illegal for health insurance companies to rescind coverage. These prohibitions are intended to curb undesired insurance company practices, such as searching for errors and technical mistakes in applications as pretexts for denying and not paying for patient services. There are now ground rules for health insurance companies selling plans to individuals and small employers, requiring them to spend 80 cents of each dollar collected on health care services and health care quality improvements. The requirement is 85 cents on the dollar for large employer insurance plans. Where these floors are not met, insurance companies must provide rebates to consumers. In 2014, around 4 million small businesses will be eligible for tax credits to help them provide insurance benefits to their workers. The first phase of this provision provides a credit worth up to 35% of the employer’s contribution to the employees’ health insurance. Small non-profit organizations may also receive up to a 25% credit.
What should government’s role be in private sector finance?
History has shown this nation that increased government regulation in certain areas of the private sector, particularly financial markets, has coincided with successful equilibrium of market stability and growth. History has also shown us that the less government regulation of these markets, the worse the economy has suffered. Government should certainly be involved in private sector issues that affect the macro-economy, and I do agree that after recent issues of certain private institutions, executive pay is not outside the realm of government concern when these institutions have relied on government assistance to remain open for business.
Who are your political heroes and why?
Mayor Harold Washington; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; President Nelson Mandela and President Bill Clinton.
Following the troop withdrawal from Iraq, what do you think is the future of the war on terror?
The War on Terror does not end with the drawdown of our forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. The War on Terror has never been limited to one region or country of the world. The United States faces threats on a regular basis from every corner of the world and even our own communities. The future of the War on Terror will not be large-scale military mobilizations or expensive years-long operations. Instead, the future of the War on Terror will be smaller scale operations carried out by teams that are composed of a few individuals and that can quickly respond to emerging threats.
Have you ever been convicted of a felony, sued successfully or had a restraining order placed against you? If so, please explain.