(Editor's note: The candidate is answering the question: "The nation's finances are in shambles and the national debt grows. Across the board cuts of 11 percent mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 threaten all areas of the budget, including defense spending. Would you pledge to make debt reduction your No. 1 priority? Can you offer 10 specific recommendations for tackling the nation's economic problems and avoiding sequestration?")
No question about it. We have a debt problem in Washington, and it needs to be addressed.
However, it is the priorities we embrace to fix the problem that highlight the differences between Congressman Bobby Schilling and me.
In Washington, Rep. Schilling voted for triggered defense cuts that put the Rock Island Arsenal in jeopardy.
He also supports the Ryan budget, which cuts taxes for the rich and raises them on middle-class families. Again, it is a matter of priorities which path voters feel is better for our country.
I believe we must cut responsibly, and I will never balance the budget on the backs of those who can least afford it.
The Ryan-Schilling budget forces seniors to pay $6,400 out of pocket for Medicare, while handing out lavish tax breaks to the wealthy. Those are the wrong priorities. Instead, there are common-sense alternatives that will gain bipartisan support.
The Government Accountability Office released a report that identified waste and inefficiency in federal programs.
For example, the GAO found 100 different programs that deal with administration of the same transportation issues.
Getting rid of this waste could save taxpayers more than $100 billion a year. Within the first 90 days, I will sponsor a plan to implement the GAO's proposal. This common-sense approach to cutting responsibly should gain bipartisan support.The looming defense cuts are a product of an ineffective Congress that couldn't get past its own gridlock to produce a responsible budget.
These cuts could be devastating for Illinois' economy, with reports showing our state in the top 20 states impacted, losing 24,000 defense-sector jobs and another 30,000 jobs in related industries. Congressman Schilling voted for these cuts.
We need to move forward, past the gridlock, and provide economic certainty for businesses and keep jobs in Illinois. I am committed to making sure that our men and women on the front lines, defending us every day, have the resources, protection and support they need.
We must address gridlock. It wasn't always this partisan. We have a history of bipartisan leaders in Congress from our state. Former congressman Ray LaHood knew that, and he took action to reach solutions. That's what I'll do as well.
I'll follow his lead by organizing a bipartisan freshman retreat so we can bring a new approach to Congress by using personal relationships and treating each other with respect to get things done.
From the beginning of my campaign, I have said that job creation is my No.1 priority, but addressing the debt is part of the plan. We all agree that one of the best things we can do to tackle the debt is to get America back to work and get the economy growing.
That's why I support the Bring American Jobs Home Act, a common-sense plan that will end tax-break incentives for companies that outsource and will replace them with tax breaks for companies that bring jobs home.
I oppose failed trade policies that will send more jobs overseas. Instead, I support fair-trade policies that help us ship goods overseas, not jobs.
There are common-sense solutions to cutting responsibly, but they are being ignored in the hyperpartisan climate in Washington.
This election is a question of priorities:
Do we balance the budget on the backs of working families as Rep. Schilling proposes?
Or do we embrace common-sense solutions to address the debt and get Americans back to work? I'm for common-sense action.
Cheri Bustos of East Moline is a Democratic candidate for Congress in the 17th District.