Raja Krishnamoorthi, 37, is a Democratic candidate for Congress in the 8th Congressional District, currently represented by Rep. Joe Walsh. Krishnamoorthi, who lives in Hoffman Estates with his wife and two sons, is a former Deputy State Treasurer and ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for comptroller in 2010. He is currently president of Sivananthan Laboratories, a research and development company specializing in the military and renewable energy.
Q: What’s your reaction to Joe Walsh’s no vote on the debt ceiling bill?
A: I think his vote was unacceptable. I would have voted yes. I would not favor defaulting on our bills as a country. He took an irresponsible position all along. He wasn’t willing to compromise in any way, shape or form, he wasn’t willing to address the central problem: how do we make sure that our government and country keeps running, that people have confidence in the markets, and that we as a country face our problems together.
Q: Do you think he was willing to let the country default rather than compromise on his principles?
A: Absolutely. He was willing to shut down the government, and he was one of the people who his own speaker could not bring on board to try to constructively deal with the fiscal challenges facing our country. I think he even linked continuing operation of the government to defunding Planned Parenthood.
Q: Did you agree with Sen. John Kerry who called the credit rating downgrade a “Tea Party Downgrade“?
A: My understanding of the situation is that the president and responsible members of the Republican Party were contemplating a large deal which would have dealt with the long-term fiscal challenges in a balanced way, and because folks like Joe Walsh and the Tea Party Caucus found any revenue increases unacceptable, they torpedoed their speaker’s efforts to deal with our long-term fiscal challenges and to keep our debt rating at a AAA status.
Q: Are you in favor of increasing taxes on the highest earners, as Warren Buffett was suggesting earlier this week?
A: The Bush tax cuts have to expire, with a carve out for middle-class earners.
Q: You have a plan to punish members of Congress if they can’t come to an agreement on the budget.
A: I was outraged that there was a manufactured crisis in Washington, D.C., which then led to confidence being shaken in the markets, a huge market crash and a lot of people's wealth disappearing overnight. One way to get the attentions of Congress aligned with the interests of the country is a pay-for-performance arrangement. They should not get paid if there's a government shutdown, or if bills are not paid, and there should be a pay cut if we have a double-dip recession.
Q: What have you learned from running a small business that you’ll use in Congress?
A: Job creation is going to happen primarily through small businesses. The challenge is to find ways to help small business hire people for good-paying jobs and enable them to compete globally. We’ve put out these principles in this plan which we call “Renewing Our Economy.” I’ve advocated for increasing the R&D tax credit from 14 to 20 percent. We have to do everything to expand access to capital for small business. What we find is that tax credits are not very useful when you're not making money and paying taxes, which is what a lot of small businesses see in their early years. Whatever we can do to make those tax credits refundable, which is essentially enabling those businesses to convert tax credits to cash. The last thing is job training for workers. We have 14 million unemployed, and 3 million job vacancies, according to the experts. How is it possible that there could be so many job vacancies when there are so many unemployed? A lot of employers are looking for very skilled technical labor. We have to do everything to enable employers to bring people off the unemployment rolls and train them. One idea is, what if we had a payroll tax holiday for the first six months after you bring a new worker off the unemployment rolls?
Q: What's your reaction to Sen. Dick Durbin’s endorsement of your primary opponent, Tammy Duckworth? There’s a feeling that she's the choice of the Democratic establishment, to the point of having the district drawn for her benefit.
A: I respect Sen. Durbin, but the number one issue in this election, given the suffering of the American people right now, this election’s going to be decided by the candidate who best demonstrates the experience, passion and ideas for helping to jump start our economy and strengthen our middle class with jobs. I respectfully submit that candidate is going to be me.
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