Why Representative Roskam Should Debate Me

I'm Leslie Coolidge, candidate for Congress. Last week, I invited my opponent, Congessman Peter Roskam, to debate me about our contrasting ideas, so that voters can make an informed choice.

Last week, I , Congressman Peter Roskam, to meet me for a series of town hall-style debates in the eleven weeks we have left until the election.  I am very much looking forward to an exchange of views in front of the voters for one simple reason: Mr. Roskam and I disagree on how to solve most of the problems that face our country.  For that reason, I believe that voters deserve to hear from both of us so that their choice for Representative is clear.

That is not to say that we don’t agree on some things.  We both agree that the economy needs to be strengthened so that businesses can create more jobs.  Congressman Roskam has voted for bills that he says would do this by eliminating regulations and retaining tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  He has also twice voted for the Paul Ryan budget that would cut the taxes of the wealthiest people even further and turn Medicare into a voucher program. 

On the other hand, I believe that continued weakness in the economy is the result of too little demand for the products of our businesses.  If more people had good jobs, more people would be able to afford to buy the things they both want and need.  They’d be able to buy a new car, which would strengthen the auto industry, or purchase a new home, which would help put the housing market back on its feet.  For that reason, I believe we must focus on economic growth through initiatives like investing in our infrastructure – repairing crumbling roads, bridges and schools – in order to put more people back to work and get more money circulating in the economy.

Unless Mr. Roskam and I debate, though, this and other differences in our outlooks may not become clear.  Our paid advertising, frankly, will tell you one point of view, either his or mine.   The voters deserve to know how we would each propose to:

  • Preserve Medicare (or turn it into a voucher program)
  • Protect our environment (or reduce environmental regulations)
  • Reform our tax code (make it fairer? or more beneficial for the richest Americans?) and
  • Determine the priorities for our nation.


I am a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) so I am trained to delve into the numbers to understand the facts and develop solutions.  I hope that Congressman Roskam accepts my invitation to debate so that we can discuss the problems facing our nation and what Congress should be doing to solve them. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Gerard Schilling August 22, 2012 at 09:45 PM
The complete nonsense about creating demand by giving people something for nothing and paying for it by stealing from wagon pullers to give it to the riders always ends like the flushing of a toilet. The only variable is the amount and volume of money poured down the drain. Government (both parties) needs to get out of our lives and return to boundaries established by our constitution. To trade you for Roskum would be equivalent to jumping out of the pan into the fire.
McCloud August 22, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Gerard, I have to make my agree in BOLD!
mo August 23, 2012 at 04:28 AM
You are angry and emotional. Investing in American infrastructure projects is not "giving people something for nothing." Taxing billionaires is not "stealing from wagon pullers". The working poor are not "riders." The question boils down to capital staying in America or capital going over seas. Your "wagon pullers" invest it over seas and stash it in the Cayman Islands.
Gerard Schilling August 23, 2012 at 09:23 AM
First of all they don’t invest in infrastructure but rather into their friends, relatives, hacks, cronies, contributors, supports etc. After it is all said and done maybe 60% of the money goes for what it was intended and most of the time to something totally different. You guys apparently never read the papers or watch news to see on a daily bases how we are being robbed by these clowns. These guys aren’t immoral they are amoral and the debt being loaded on our kids and grandkids is nothing short of disgraceful. Business of any kind except the ones supported by government (crony capitalist like GE, GM, Salendra, et al) survive and thrive if they are not stamped out by over taxation and regulation. The reason there are no jobs is because there is no affordable energy to run them and government would prefer that you collect welfare verses having the dignity and personal responsibility of doing something for yourself. Angry! your darn right I am. These political parasites who exclude themselves from the laws that enslave us, give themselves outrageous salaries, benefits and pensions, buy support and votes by bribing the non-producers, union supporters and companies who kickback monies to them are destroying this country.
McCloud August 23, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Hey mo, if you can possibly detach yourself for a minute from the cliche tax the rich nonsense and use your noodle it would lead you to this point. More taxes leaves more incentives to invest overseas, not a real difficult one to think through, for some.
Dundee Township GOP August 27, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Even if we let the Obama Tax cuts expire on the "wealthy" there would still be a budget deficit of about 1 trillion dollars. Then what? Raise taxes on everyone? What would that do to the economy? I have an idea...how about cutting spending and telling the truth. The Obama stimulus, over 700 billion worth, has been incorporated into the annual spending by the federal government. I cannot even say budget because as of today, the US Senate has not fulfilled its obligation to pass an annual budget in 1215 days and counting. Obama's budget have been defeated by the Democratically controlled senate with out even one vote (look it up - its true) and the Republican budgets have been defeated by the Senate without any attempt to modify them and get them passed. Try running your household or business without a budget and see what happens. Its time that we all wake up an realize that we cant tax and spend our way to prosperity. The Federal government accounts for about 25% of GDP. That money comes from tax payers, is borrowed or printed. Anyway you look at it, uncontrolled spending is taking money from the private sector - where jobs are created, stolen from our children and their children (when borrowed) and/or devalues our currency when they print money. I would think that a CPA would understand these simple concepts. I hope Roskam does debate you so we can all see how the failed policies of the last 100 years is destroying our country. Either way, I cant wait for November!
Polly August 27, 2012 at 07:10 PM
First of all, Democrats would be raising taxes on themselves, if they are in the 1%.. I don't know where you are getting your "facts" that most of the 100 richest Americans are Democrats (probably Fox Noise), but the real fact is that the rich who are decent, patrotic and fair-minded are more than willing to have their taxes raised. Ever hear of Warren Buffett?
Polly August 27, 2012 at 07:22 PM
You need to take your blinders off and see who has spent and NOT taxed in the last 40 years. Answer: the Republicans. Who kept 2 wars and Big Pharma government welfare off the books as if to hide the growing deficit from the American People: Republican George W. Bush. The Bush policies drove this economy over a cliff and the Stimulus broke that free-fall and got the economy moving back up the hill. The numbers cannot be denied on this. How about tax fairness?
DG Guy August 27, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Polly very few people were happy with Bush. To our dismay, Obama seems to have become Bush version 2.0. Even more unsupported spending, Medicare freebies, drone attacks, etc. Bush was bad and Obama is worse. We're spending money that our kids and grandkids will not be able to repay. We're making promises that are mathematically ridiculous.
Polly August 27, 2012 at 10:06 PM
DG Guy, Obama is worse? Come on. Where were your complaints about "spending money that our kids and grandkids will not be able to repay" when Bush was running up bigger deficits than any other president (including Obama) since Nixon??? I bet you had nothing to say then. As for Peggy's comments about unions, if you hate unions so much, give up your vacation, give up your 5-day work week, give up your 8-hour day, give up your safe working environment, give up your living wage, give up your employer-based health care coverage, give up your family or medical leave if you should need it, put your children to work instead of sending them to school.That's what unions did for all of us who work for a living. And you know what, I'd rather have a union electrician or plumber or carpenter who knows what he/she is doing than some underpaid know-nothing do something wrong that kills somebody.
DG Guy August 27, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Polly it sounds like you're saying that it's OK for Obama to do it because Bush did it. I'm saying it's wrong in both cases.
Jim McMahon August 27, 2012 at 10:42 PM
The Iraq war was BUSH Achilles Heel, however tax cuts and that war did not bring the economy to its knees, it was easy money to buy over priced homes. EVERYBODY borrowed more than they can afford, when the lenders stopped smoking crack and looking at these bad loans it was to late. Sellers were demanding sky high prices and buyers were willing to "get in" anyway they could. Obama, his fellow Democrats and the Republicans were in office and voting on all these new laws. Wall street bankers, some of them very young came up with dirivities that eventually screwed the pooch. Wake up people it could happen again.
Gene T. August 28, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Peggy, Peggy, Peggy. What do you have against unions? Are you against hardworking people coming together to speak with one voice so they are not taken advantage of? What is the difference between that association you belong to and a union? You pay dues and gather together and share information so you can do your job better. You know, Peggy, I have never known a company that treats its employees with respect, pays them a decent wage, involves them in company decision-making, provides access to health care and paves the way for a retirement with dignity to be the subject of a union organizing drive. All unions do is keep the disadantaged from being taken advantage of by the advantaged.
Jim McMahon August 28, 2012 at 06:32 PM
I was forced to join a union when I was employed at Dominicks, I never liked the idea that the guy next to me received the same hourly pay given the fact he did half ass work and spent more time screwing around than anyone I knew. Equal pay sounds good in theory but lets be real some people worked harder than me and got paid the same, and vice versa. Public unions are the real issue, they put there guy in office so he can give them more or the tax payer money back to them, Obama and the unions are in lock step. What about non-union workers who helps them?
Larry Burns September 06, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Ummmm ..... May I make a simple suggestion. Instead of those of us reading/posting comments - how about if the comments be on topic of the question/request Ms Coolidge made. "Please schedule a debate, town hall meeting style". My simple question is why won't MY congressman debate? I am a tax paying, job creating human, running a company here in Illinois - and I would like to see an honest debate to help our electorate choose their new representative. Is that too much to ask?
Super Concerned Citizen September 14, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Our Congressman won't debate because he is too busy not coming to his district and fails to understand, much like all politicians and the party bosses they blindly follow, is that the U.S government was built on the premise that we are a representative democracy. You know, "a government of the people, by the people, for the people,...?" That is our representatives are REQUIRED to listen to their constituents and do what their constituents tell them to do....they are not supposed to "follow their own heart" or follow their party bosses. However, they can't listen and follow their constituents IF THEY DON'T SHOW UP IN THE DISTRICT FROM WHICH THEY ARE ELECTED!!!!
Super Concerned Citizen September 14, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Ms. Coolidge: My recommendation is to schedule the debate at a convenient time, invite the media and when he fails to show up, it will simply be proof of Mr. Roskam's utter contempt for this district and the constituents he is ethically and legally obligated to serve.
John Iwaszkiewicz September 14, 2012 at 09:29 PM
The Democrats have bankrupted and sold Chicago. The Democrats have bankrupted Illinois and destroyed the state pension system. Why would I want them involved at a Federal level?
John Mihas September 14, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Jim you seem to drink a lot of the tea party kool-aid. You may want to move down south. They seem to be your kind of folks.
Super Concerned Citizen September 14, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Because the last time a democrat left the presidency, he came in during an economic storm but left with a balanced budget which then a "fiscally conservative" republican killed by tax breaks to the wealthy, fighting in a war that should have never happened (Iraq) and doing everything his power to shred the constitutional constraints on executive power. So , yeah, you are right....Republicans are good for this country as long as you are a rich, white, Christian male. (which I happen to be and, therefore, I will be voting against my financial self-interest so I don't morally bankrupt myself for the almighty dollar.) But ultimately, what I have noticed from the comments, and with all apologies mine included, the issue raised by this article is not which party is better or who should be in power, but the basic premise that Mr. Roskam should debate. This is a democracy which civil discourse is required. The fact that Mr. Roskam will not debate demonstrates his contempt for democracy as a fascist as if he is "above" being questioned or challenged on his positions. I find it sad john, that you and other republicans, are so focused on "what it would cost me." Jesus took fishes and loaves from the few and gave to the many, Jesus told the rich man on the road to Capernum to give his money to the poor. Jesus said when you cloth the naked, feed the hungry, help the poor and give aid to the sick, you are doing this to Me. Republicans don't believe this. Democrats do.
McCloud September 14, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Use the extra time to learn some things about economics. Growing an economy does not happen when you raise taxes, particularly on upper incomes. See, the top 5% account for almost 40% of total consumption. By you taking monet they earned, they spend less, and the result is lower consumption, lower investment, lower GDP and lower employment. There is no magic behind this, unlike your position, just pure logic.
Super Concerned Citizen September 14, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Make you a deal? I brush up on economics and you brush up on history and Christian morality. The bush tax cuts did not expand the economy but pushed down and already downtrodden middle class. Trickle down has never and will never work. That is why David stockman left reagan . Rich do not use TAx breaks to innovate or create new jobs, instead they only create new and aditional wealth for themselves. The republicans are the pigs in orwell's animal farm
John Iwaszkiewicz September 14, 2012 at 10:18 PM
@super concerned citizen 1. I'm not a Republican. Some of my political beliefs are republican. Some of those are democratic as well. Your assumption is false. 2. If you believe in what you write, use your real name. It is a hallmark of earnest conversation and "debate". I have no fear about repurcussions from my writing because I keep it factual and impersonal. 3. It was most interesting that you completely ignored the failed stewardship of the Democratic Party over the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois, choosing instead to cite questionable facts (You do know about Clinton and the Glass Steagal Act I hope) about the past, which have no bearing about the present. 4. The article was about the debate, but many of the posts clearly were not. Roskam has a huge advantage in this election, and would be foolish to allow another candidate any kind of chance for elevated exposure in the media. He is smart enough to know this, and would be a fool to do so. While I would prefer debates be a "legally required" part of the election process, I cant fault a candidate for acting intelligently. Intelligence is something I look for in a candidate. 4. A fascist? Seriously. I cant even come up with an answer for this one its so absurd. Does he goosestep too? So again, what do you think of the job Democrats have done with this state and the City of Chicago? Please answer the question first, you can call me names later.
McCloud September 14, 2012 at 10:25 PM
If the Bush tax cuts did not expand the economy, why was the economy doing so well in spite of the terrorist attacks and 2 wars. Things started going south when the housing crisis began. What does Christian morality have anything to do with this? The American model of free enterprise shows empirical evidence of more fish and bread and cell phones for more people than ever in the history of man. Did God suddenly become a Democrat? Thats just plain blasphemy.
Bob B September 14, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Last time I looked, there was a Republican AND a Democratic former Governor in jail, so party affiliation isn't necessarily the solution.
McCloud September 15, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Leslie, I am not here to condemn anybody, my purpose is to express what I know and learned from my many years listening to politicians. They like to pontificate using straw man rhetoric, and most of their tools include an either or approach. George W Bush and his "compassionate conservatism" did include large government spending, now being dwarfed by Obama policies. Bush's spending contradicted what conservatives believe. I think the Tea Party began when our national debt accelerated, partucularly when Obama was elected. Obama's addition to our national debt has serious implications towards any future of our country. I think interest rates are being kept at a low rate not by markets, but collaboration. If banks were to start lending, interest rates would begin their natural course, and our 16 trillion in national debt would implode our value in the US dollar.
John Iwaszkiewicz September 15, 2012 at 04:40 AM
@bob b Madigan, a democrat, has run this state for 30 years, controlling votes and legislation with an iron hand. The governership only has limited power, similar to the preseidents office. Real power has always been in the legislative, not the executive branch of the statehouse. That isnt a partisan political point of view, it is the political reality of Illinois. While I agree that party affiliations should have nothing to do with the solution, the democrats (i.e. Madigan's party) must bear the brunt of the blame for the problem.
Bob B September 15, 2012 at 12:51 PM
I agree with you there John. Unfortunately, the people in Madigan's district continue to vote him into office. I can only assume he is doing something for those folks because he sure isn't helping the rest of us.
Mike Worrell September 15, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Mike Worrell September 15, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Nearly everyone believes in taking care of the poor. The question is, is the best way to do that to send your dollars to the federal government so that they can stuff half of it in their own pockets before sending a small fraction back to the states? The government can provide a basic safety net that ensures that people do not have to die in the elements or starve to death, but they can't provide love, community and friendship. There is more to helping people than sending them checks, especially when you start to get the idea that poor people are being given $300 a week to stay put and stay quiet. If I had a relative I actually cared about who needed help, the LAST thing I would do is just perpetuate their problem by subsidizing it. So, opposition to federalizing every issue and entrusting every possible dollar to a profligate federal government does not equal an unwillingness to help people.


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