On Jan. 9, Jeremy Wynes appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. We asked him why he’s running for the GOP seat in the 10th Congressional district of Illinois in the March 2018 primary:
Hi my name is Jeremy Wynes. I’m running for Congress here in the 10th Congressional District. I live in Highland Park with my wife Leslie and our three young kids. I’ve had the privilege to fight alongside thousands of 10th District families for the last 10 years, working for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. I’m in the Republican Jewish Coalition, helping to solve some of the toughest foreign policy challenges that our country faces.
So I’m going to be a fighter for economic growth and opportunity for all. My priorities in Congress are going to be growing the economy, making sure that all folks feel the effects of that. Working to hold the line on spending. Hoping to balance the budget and to bring leadership to foreign policy that puts partisan politics aside and actually focuses on what’s good for the people of the 10th District.
I think every district in this country needs economic growth but I think one of the things that we need the most in the 10th District is we need infrastructure. I mean, we are here in Illinois and in the 10th Congressional District, we are an infrastructure hub and so I’m hoping that Congress and folks in Washington and the administration can actually get moving on infrastructure that helps our economy, that helps the 10th District. That rebuilds our crumbling roads and bridges and waterways and rail infrastructure. And that’s going to have very positive economic growth effects along with the recent tax reform that was just signed into law.
The Chicago Sun-Times sent the candidates seeking nominations for Congress a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois. Jeremy Wynes submitted the following answers to our questionnaire:
ANSWER: I’m running for Congress because the challenges facing our country today and tomorrow are way too important to be held captive to the extreme elements of one party or another. And these new, 21st century challenges cannot be met with the same old failed solutions of the past. We need new ideas and independent leadership and someone who will focus on getting things done.
The primary cause I intend to champion in Congress is economic growth. Our economy has been stuck in a slow grind since the turn of the century and we need to jumpstart it. I intend to support policies in Washington — like tax reform, deregulation, a 21st century infrastructure upgrade, international trade, and higher education reform — that can create the explosive economic growth that we need to grow our way out of our short and long-term fiscal problems.
I have outlined a number of my highest priorities to enhance American prosperity. First and foremost on that list has been the need to overhaul the tax code, including tax cuts for hardworking, middle-class taxpayers and major, pro-growth Business reforms that will help create thousands of new jobs. Unlike my opponents in the primary election and Congressman Brad Schneider, I have been a vocal advocate for historic tax cut legislation just passed by Congress and signed by the President. Not only are the vast majority of taxpayers in the Tenth District going to see lower taxes this year and into the future, but the many small and large businesses throughout the district are going to be far better off than had the tax code status quo been maintained by status-quo politicians like Brad Schneider.
We must continue to reduce the regulatory burden suffocating job creation and Business investment. There has been major progress on this front in 2017 and it is showing up in job gains and GDP statistics. Now that tax reform is accomplished, the time is also ripe for a 21st century Infrastructure upgrade. Infrastructure is critically important here in Illinois, and our state and congressional district could see a huge boom from fixing our crumbling roads, bridges, rail and waterways. We also need to accept the reality that 95% of the world’s consumers live outside of the US, and international trade is a net benefit for our country – especially our state and congressional district. Brad Schneider put his finger in the air when the political winds shifted in 2016 on international trade, and he shares blame with Democrats and Republicans in Congress who set the table for the President’s unfortunate withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Finally, part of growing our economy means we need to grow it for everyone. As the first in my working-class family to graduate with a 4-year degree, I intend to be a vocal advocate in Washington for strengthening technical and vocational training so more folks can graduate high school or re-enter the workforce ready to work in jobs that are desperately seeking them. We also need to ensure that college is affordable for everyone who wants to go so students don’t graduate overburdened by student debt they can’t afford and with inflated credentials in the form of degrees that don’t lead to jobs they want.
We can also enhance American prosperity by helping young families who want both parents in the workforce to stay in the workforce. Both my wife and I work while raising three young kids. Neither of us want to give up our careers, and in a 21st century economy we shouldn’t have to. That means everything needs to be on the table: from encouraging increased workplace flexibility and taking a look at our federal family leave policies to overhauling the tax code to help those working families that need help the most.
I also intend to use my professional experience to restore bipartisan foreign-policy leadership to the Tenth District. Through my leadership in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Republican Jewish Coalition, I have spent the last 10 years of my professional life traveling across Illinois and other Midwestern states advising and working with both Republican and Democratic lawmakers for bipartisan U.S. foreign policy outcomes — like crippling sanctions against Iran — while educating and inspiring hard working Americans of all races, religions and political affiliations to engage in shaping United States foreign policy.
We’ve seen what happens the last 8 years when we lead from behind – our allies increasingly question America’s commitments and our adversaries sense weakness and lack of resolve. We must end our bipartisan flirtation with the notion that it’s time for US disengagement, and elect leaders in Washington committed to the reality that our engagement and leadership is just as crucial to the security, prosperity and freedom of the American people today as it’s always been.
That doesn’t mean we can solve every problem in the world, and we need a wise application of when and how we use our military power, but we must demonstrate timely leadership abroad when our core American interests and our allies’ security is at stake. One of my top priorities if elected to Congress would be to begin to correct the mistakes of the last few years by adequately resourcing our military to meet the challenges ahead and reverse its hollowing out based on short-term budget politics in DC. I encouraged members of Congress to forego defense sequestration at the time it was enacted, and I have opposed it ever since.
Running for: 10th Congressional district (Illinois)
Political/civic background: American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Chicago office (2008-2014)
Republican Jewish Coalition, Midwest Regional Director (2014-2017)
Occupation: Full-time candidate
Education: Illinois State University, B.S. 2002
DePaul University College of Law, J.D. 2006
Campaign website: jeremywynes.com
ANSWER: The Tenth District is an incredibly diverse district, home to some of the most economically-advantaged areas of our great state, as well as many communities which endure economic struggles. It is also a district that has come to expect leadership and influence from its congressional representatives over the last few decades. I intend to continue in the tradition of John Porter, Mark Kirk and Bob Dold when it comes to district-specific leadership and influence in Washington D.C.
First and foremost, we need to put actual science ahead of political science in Washington D.C. and finally remove the 1,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel along Zion’s Lake Michigan shoreline. I am glad that Congressman Schneider is doing the right thing and carrying forward former Congressman Dold’s efforts to compensate Zion for the economic damage it has sustained in storing this fuel, but we also need an influential voice in Washington that can work with the administration and congressional leadership to do what should have begun 30 years ago – removing the spent fuel for permanent, safe storage 1,000 feet under Yucca Mountain in the remote Nevada desert. Unfortunately, the previous administration capitulated to Senator Harry Reid’s “Not in My Backyard” mothballing of the Yucca facility, despite all governmental and scientific evidence as to its safety. In Congress, I would serve as a voice of influence to work with the administration and lead my colleagues to finally get this accomplished.
Second, like many districts across the country, the Tenth District is struggling to combat the opioid crISIS that is tearing through our communities. In particular, Lake County, which is approximately 80% of the Tenth District, has an enormous problem with opiates and heroin. We must do much more at the federal level than create commissions, serious funding should soon follow so states and localities with different needs will have the freedom and resources to respond accordingly. But, beyond increased treatment/mental health funding, all options need to be on the table, and we need Congress to take a serious look at HIPAA reform so parents can know when a child has overdosed, prescription-drug management reforms to prevent “doc shopping” and promote prescription sharing across state lines, and a supply-side crackdown on the drug cartels that are using the Chicagoland area as a transportation hub.
Finally, the Tenth District is home to over a dozen Fortune 500 companies, located in one of our country’s largest transportation hubs, and remains one of the largest-manufacturing congressional districts in the country. We export almost $7B in goods and services on an annual basis, supporting over 50,000 jobs. We need leaders in Washington who have the district’s economic needs at heart, and who will put partisan politics aside to promote the realities that 95% of the world’s consumers live outside of the US and international trade is a huge benefit to our state and congressional district. Brad Schneider fell captive to the political winds shifting in 2016 on international trade, and shares blame with Democrats and Republicans in Congress who set the table for President Trump’s unfortunate withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. At a time when free-trade is under a bipartisan attack, I will be a fighter in Congress for the Tenth District’s small businesses, manufacturers, workers and consumers.
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ANSWER: In 2016, I didn’t vote for either major party candidate and as a member of the U.S. Congress, I won’t be beholden to either party in Washington. To use a baseball metaphor, I intend to focus on policy and legislation and “call balls and strikes” on executive actions that would impact my constituents.
When my independent judgment, the needs of the Tenth District, and the President’s policies are in alignment, I will enthusiastically support those policies, no matter who occupies the Oval Office. If they are not, I would stand in opposition. Excepting Brad Schneider’s two terms as one of Washington’s most partisan and least effective members of Congress, that’s the 40-year history of the Tenth congressional district. If a congressional representative has a different approach, they are putting partisan politics ahead of good government.
ANSWER: 2017 was a tumultuous year in Washington D.C., but the good economic news continues to reverberate across the country and we have finally begun to correct the many foreign-policy mistakes of the last eight years.
First, the President’s signature on the Tax Cuts Act to close out 2017 completed the single most-important piece of economic legislation in a generation. It will have an immediate, positive impact on individual lives here in the Tenth District, and I firmly believe it will kick our economic growth into a higher gear.
Second, in a series of related actions, the administration has found its footing and begun to restore leadership to United States foreign policy, particularly across the Middle East. Decertifying the disastrous Iran deal and putting us on the course to “fix it or nix it,” recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and aggressively countering Iranian expansionism all serve to reorient the historical importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship and keep Americans safe.
Third, restoring confidence to American small-Business that the long-arm of Washington’s regulatory overreach is not coming down the pike, and prodding Congress to get moving on infrastructure, are positive actions that continue to set the table for a period of sustained, explosive economic growth.
There’s been unfortunate news as well. I will never understand or support the President’s divisive and derogatory communications approach. Few things are sacrosanct in American politics, but his seemingly haphazard derogation of American democratic institutions and values — equivocating during Charlottesville, constant attacks on the media and individual personalities, and hyperpersonal approach to the presidency — demean the office. Considering the many substantive policy achievements, imagine what 2017 could have looked like with a more disciplined approach and a relentless focus on new ideas and reforms.
The president also erred in his ill-considered and purely political ban on transgender military service, opposed by military leaders and experts and fortunately put on hold by multiple appeals courts. The ban not only defied the military’s careful review process, it demeaned the service of thousands of transgender people currently serving and volunteering to fight for our safety.
Finally, contrary to the many pro-growth ideas to come forward in 2017, the president’s decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was a serious mistake and tremendously costly for Illinois and the Tenth District. The TPP offered the U.S. important gains at minimal cost and pulling out of it leaves us worse off while the rest of the countries move on without us and look towards China. Especially here in Illinois, we need new, better trade deals, and rejecting the TPP undermines the modern-day consensus on trade policy and hearkens back to outdated, economically disproven mercantilist and protectionist policies of the past.
ANSWER: I support the investigation. We must get to the bottom of Russian tampering efforts to both understand the extent of what occurred in 2016 and prevent anything like it from ever happening again. The civic health of our country and the necessity that the American people have trust in their democratic institutions requires it. Robert Mueller is a distinguished public servant who the American people can trust to conduct the investigation in a timely, fair and impartial manner, and he has my full support.
ANSWER: The US government’s primary responsibility is to protect its citizens. Terrorism threatens Americans at home and abroad, can have devastating economic effects, and impacts the delicate balance between our security and our civil liberties. Therefore, we should use every tool in our toolkit – economic, diplomatic, military, and intelligence-gathering – to reduce the threat from ISIS and other non-state actors and state sponsors of terrorism.
However, based on my years of professional experience in Middle East affairs and bipartisan foreign policy background, I continue to believe that of those tools at our disposal, U.S. engagement and power projection abroad to reduce terrorist safe havens and their support networks is the safest, most effective, and most cost-efficient way to protect the homeland.
ISIS’s acts of Terror and unspeakable cruelty were a shock across the Middle East and the world, but they were never the largest strategic threat to the United States. That threat was and remains Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear-weapons capability, hegemonic ambitions and regional destabilization, and state sponsor of terrorism that has killed more Americans than any group other than Al Qaeda. The United States must more forcefully confront Iran’s aggression, actively support regional allies, and especially now that ISIS has been rolled back, more actively engage in ending the Assad regime in Syria to roll back Iranian influence, thwart their strategic goal of a “land bridge” from Tehran to the Mediterranean, taking away the largest terrorist breeding ground in the world.
ANSWER: I am a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment and was raised in an environment of near universal gun ownership among rural homeowners and sportsmen. It is because of this, not in spite of it, that I am also a supporter of universal background checks on all gun purchases, a position supported by the vast majority of American gun owners and folks on both sides of the partisan divide.
There are other opportunities for Congress to act in a bipartisan manner to keep Americans safe without unconstitutionally infringing on the 2nd Amendment rights of responsible gun owners. I would support legislation introduced by Republican Carlos Curbelo and Democrat Seth Moulton to ban the sale of bump fire stocks. Automatic-fire weapons are heavily restricted and nearly impossible to obtain under federal law, so it is only common sense to ban a device that allows that regulatory distinction between a semi-automatic and automatic weapon to be effectively erased.
Most importantly, instead of endless political grandstanding, we need to focus our efforts on the areas where we can have the greatest effect with the lightest burden on law-abiding gun owners – that is, strongly enforcing existing gun laws against “straw purchasers” and new federal legislation to combat gun trafficking and severely punish those who engage in straw purchasing for any reason whatsoever.
ANSWER: The Tax Cuts Act will lower taxes for the vast, vast majority of taxpayers across the Tenth District, and a vote against it was a vote for keeping more dollars in Uncle Sam’s hands rather than in the hands of those who have earned it. It really is as simple as that. Even the left-leaning Tax Policy Center has honestly acknowledged that over 80% of taxpayers will see a reduced tax burden because of this historic legislation.
The nearly 70% of taxpayers who did not itemize pre-2018 are going to see their standard deduction double, and many current itemizers will be positively incentivized to become non-itemizers and see more savings just by taking the standard deduction. Additionally, for hardworking families across the Tenth District, they can now benefit from a doubled, more refundable Child Tax Credit (CTC) to offset the incredible cost of raising children here in suburban Cook and Lake counties. There are good-faith concerns here in suburban Chicago about the near-term effects of reducing the state and local tax deduction, but the vast majority of itemizers will pay less on net considering the rate reductions and CTC.
Furthermore, there has been a bipartisan consensus that the U.S. needed to make its corporate rates globally competitive. For far too long, U.S. companies have faced the highest corporate rate across the industrialized world, and we have now brought the rate down to a globally competitive level for small and large Tenth District businesses. The plan also replaces the nonsensical tax rules that trapped income outside our borders and discouraged U.S. companies from bringing profits home to invest here.
Income inequality is a real and growing problem. But the best way to address it is not through accepting the fait accompli of a static revenue pie and governmental intervention to “level down”, but rather the constant pursuit of explosive economic growth plus market-oriented educational and labor-force reforms like those I outlined above that lift up rather than level-down and put Americans back to work.
ANSWER: I unequivocally support the Trump administration’s decision recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcing a plan to start the process of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It’s an important component of the historic U.S.-Israel relationship and another foreign-policy issue I have been privileged to lead on. In the face of ginned up outrage from those who think the status quo must remain unchallenged, let’s focus on the facts: Israel’s Knesset (parliament) proclaimed Jerusalem the capital of Israel shortly after its founding, and its been the seat of government ever since. The U.S. Congress has recognized it, including through the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, a bipartisan law that says as a matter of U.S. policy, our embassy should be located there.
Furthermore, I’m encouraged to see another example of offensive, rather than defensive, diplomacy when it comes to our Middle East policy, recognizing facts on the ground and sending a clear message that the historic relationship between our country and Israel will not be blackmailed by threats of Terror from those who have walked away from every peace offer and never taken “yes” for an answer. If we are to achieve the peace we all want to see, there is no better way than sending the message across the Middle East that we stand strongly with Israel. This is a very positive step for the U.S.-Israel relationship, and I look forward to helping lead the effort ahead to finish what was started last year.
ANSWER: I will not attempt to play armchair-general about how a U.S. military response towards North Korea will play out or its impact across the Pacific. Considering the opacity of the North Korean Terror state, I think there are very few people who can make anything more than an educated guess about that.
However, the threat from North Korea and the Kim Jong Un regime will almost certainly come to a crISIS point in 2018. While Democratic and Republican presidents have made good-faith but ultimately ineffective efforts to negotiate for the last 25 years, the Kim regime has patiently proceeded along the path of nuclearization, becoming significantly closer to a full-on nuclear power in the last few years under the Obama administration’s “strategic patience” approach. This is not merely a problem for the Korean peninsula or our Pacific allies. The Kim regime’s strategic and economic ties to bad actors across the world, like Iran, Russia and Syria, and its support for international terror, mean that what North Korea has today could be sold tomorrow.
Seeking to contain the Kim regime is the worst of all options. He is totally irrational, and we have little understanding of North Korea’s closed society and governmental decision-making process, making intelligence-gathering exceedingly difficult and deterrence exceptionally risky.
We need to aggressively confront North Korea in numerous ways. First, we need to make clear that our long-term strategic goal is the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula and act accordingly. As our last diplomatic option, the Chinese need to be seriously tested on whether they would like to see reunification occur by the inevitable and catastrophic collapse of North Korea, or a managed, international process taking their strategic concerns into account.
Second, we must continue to put a total economic squeeze on North Korea similar to our pre-2016 sanctions policy on Iran. The Kim regime and its international enablers need to know that they can either do Business with the U.S., or they can do Business with the regime, but not both.
Third, we must begin to challenge North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile tests using both covert means to disrupt their program and overt acts to confront their missile tests through enhanced missile-defense options. We have the capability to demonstrate to the North Koreans that the peninsula is to be considered a “no test” and “no fly” zone.
Finally, it is in the category of good news if the Kim regime believes there exists a credible military threat as a last resort to a North Korea with deliverable nuclear weapons.
ANSWER: First, my position on the constitutionality of the current “travel ban” (as opposed to its two previous, and far more constitutionally-suspect, iterations) is that it is almost certainly constitutional on its merits. Second, this latest version is far more careful than its two previous versions, which I opposed, and hardly qualifies as a “ban.” It’s better described as a series of potentially severe travel restrictions developed after months of negotiations with security officials in countries around the world.
According to the New York Times, “those officials were given standards they must meet in order to avoid travel restrictions, including the ability to verify the identity of a traveler, communicate electronic passport information, use biometric devices and share information about terrorist and criminal networks with the United States. Countries that did not meet those standards as of mid-July were given 50 days to comply or face the threat of severe travel restrictions.” Many countries put policies in place to meet our standards and were excluded from further restrictions. Those that didn’t, some refusing to even engage with us, remain.
The original travel ban was a poorly drafted, overly broad disaster. This latest order may or may not be good policy and I question its necessity, but considering the process that was undertaken before its adoption, I’m inclined to defer to Homeland Security professionals.
ANSWER: No. However, our immigration system is indeed broken, and it’s the foremost example in this country of how partisan opposition in Washington D.C. thwarts what the majority of the American people would consider a good solution to a national problem. A little bit of bipartisan compromise on this issue would go a long way.
First, I would support what should be a simple bipartisan compromise that would have the support of the vast majority of Americans – allowing the Dreamers to remain here on a path to citizenship in a legislative package that includes real, enhanced border security measures. A functional Congress should have been able to pass a measure like this within days of the White House meeting between President Trump and Democratic leadership.
Second, if we have demonstrated a serious approach to border enforcement (which should not be viewed as a “compromise” but rather a legal obligation on the part of the executive branch), we can move on to the difficult question of what to do with the non-Dreamer, undocumented adult population. If we have achieved operational control over our borders, we can then look at ways to allow law-abiding immigrants to earn legal status in exchange for stepped-up enforcement on individuals here who should be considered for deportation.
Perhaps more importantly, the time has also come to reform our legal-immigration system. We need to update our immigration laws to better reflect our country’s economic needs, in particular as it relates to labor-force growth and its effect on economic growth. Except in cases of refugees and asylum, we must deemphasize extended-family unification as an organizing principle of immigration policy, gear our system towards economic contribution, and favor higher-skilled over lower-skilled immigration, especially for those who have come here to study and wish to remain and apply their skills. I would support a legislative effort that eases the legal immigration process while changing how we prioritize who comes here. Businesses should be willing to accept and implement serious workplace reforms to verify that new hires are living in the U.S. legally for the increased ease and availability of “high and unique skill” immigration.
ANSWER: For many reasons – including immigration, national security, smuggling prevention – it is imperative that we exert operational control over our southern border. It would be most effective to take the unique geographical, cultural and technological challenges posed by our southern border into account and focus on radar, sensor and surveillance technology, physical infrastructure where appropriate and human border patrol agents to match needs on the ground.
ANSWER: No, I do not believe the ineffective, highly regressive individual mandate tax repeal threatens the viability of the Affordable Care Act. Its repeal is a public-policy victory. The Affordable Care Act gave the federal government an unprecedented new power: taxing Americans for refusing to purchase a privately-delivered service. Its inherently weak enforcement mechanism and ever-rising premiums have not caused sufficient numbers of healthy individuals to purchase plans they don’t want, opting instead to pay the tax. Meanwhile, the middle-class have continued to get squeezed, unable to get subsidy relief to afford costly coverage.
However, a potentially minimal premium effect directly connected to individual mandate repeal could be blunted if legislation is finally passed to authorize the cost-sharing reduction payments and funding state reinsurance arrangements. I expect, and would encourage, congressional leadership to quickly move towards passage of these important, bipartisan measures.
Finally, as we have learned all too well the last few years here in Lake County and across Illinois, something as important and complex as health care should not simply be handed over to the government. I profoundly disagree with Congressman Schneider’s recently expressed openness to either a “Single-payer” or “Medicare for All” option. The goal should be first and foremost to empower individual consumers and foster innovation (not Uncle Sam’s forte), not to expand federal control over a system that has been government-dominated for decades. We should be constantly looking for ways to pursue market-oriented reforms instead of top-down governmental decision making. Recent reform proposals that would have substituted a system of tax-credits for the failed “mandate & subsidize or tax” approach is a good example of a reform that’s consumer oriented and respectful of individual decision-making.
ANSWER: Since I announced my campaign in May, I have spent time traveling all across the Tenth district listening to folks share their concerns about the many important issues keeping them up at night. It’s abundantly clear that voters here are tired of status-quo politicians like Brad Schneider, and are looking for congressional representation with new ideas who can relate to their everyday concerns.
My wife Lesley and I are blessed to be raising three young kids under the age of 8 here in the district, and like so many of these hard working families, we’re worried about the America and the world they will face when they are grown up, the opportunities they will have and how we will save for college. Additionally, having grown up in a working-class home, and as the first in my family to graduate from college, I’m uniquely suited to help bridge and solve the political and economic challenges facing our country and our district.
Professionally, it’s been extremely rewarding to spend 10 years working alongside thousands of like-minded residents of the district on important public-policy issues and helping many great public officials across the Tenth District. In the March 20 primary, Tenth District voters will find that I’m the only candidate with both a demonstrated record of community involvement who also fits the mold of the fiscally conservative, socially moderate members of Congress the district has elected for nearly 40 years.