Voters in the redrawn 6th Congressional District will have a new face representing them in the U.S. House of Representatives come January.
Voters on Nov. 6 will choose whether to re-elect three-term Republican Rep. Peter Roskam or elect Democratic challenger Leslie Coolidge to the district, which will curve from southwest Lake and northwest Cook counties through northeast Kane County and the center of DuPage County.
Roskam, who is chief deputy whip in the 112th Congress, and Coolidge, a retired certified public accountant, spent time Monday talking with a Shaw Media Editorial Board about their platforms for the district.
The two candidates differed significantly on how Congress should handle the budget deficit and the nation’s $16 trillion debt. Roskam, of Wheaton, said he is “actively advocating” the balanced budget plan proposed by Wisconsin congressman and now GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan.
Without reform, he said, the U.S. could soon find itself facing debt crises such as the ones engulfing Eurozone states, most notably Greece and Spain.
“If we adopt the Ryan budget, then we’re able to get on a path where our federal budget balances and we actually pay off the $16 trillion in debt,” Roskam said.
Coolidge, of Barrington Hills, said jump-starting economic growth should be a priority. Getting more people to work would be a step toward bringing the deficit and debt under control.
“I think first we need to get our economy growing more robustly and get people back to work. The deficit is important, but we have to have a robust economy first and foremost, and I think we tackle the deficit after that,” Coolidge said.
The candidates also differed on how to create jobs to lower the nation’s unemployment rate, which has been above 8 percent for the past 43 months. Coolidge said the government should create jobs by investing in infrastructure and other projects.
“I believe the best things to do to create jobs are through investment, and I think the president’s jobs bill is absolutely on target,” Coolidge said.
Roskam said the federal government can create jobs by overhauling its tax code and fighting onerous regulations that get in the way of job creation.
“We need to reform the tax code in its entirety. We have a tax code that is unsatisfactory to most folks who look at it,” Roskam said.
The candidates share common ground in their opposition to sequestration, or the automatic $1.2 trillion in across-the-board cuts over 10 years that are set to start in January because a bipartisan group of lawmakers, called the supercommittee, failed to agree on specific cuts. Roskam said the automatic cuts were not meant to become policy, but were meant to promote development of a plan by providing an undesirable alternative.
“There was nobody during the debate who said this is a good policy. They were meant to be so draconian and so outrageous that they would provoke the supercommittee to act,” Roskam said. “But we know the supercommittee didn’t act.”
Coolidge said Congress needs to compromise on cuts “on an intelligent and measured basis” before sequestration takes effect.
“I think sequestration in general is a bad answer, both on the military side and on the domestic side. Congress needs to deal with the automatic cuts,” Coolidge said.
Illinois lost one seat in the U.S. House in the 2010 Census to faster-growing states. This is the fourth consecutive census in which Illinois lost representation.