NAME: Mike Bost
IMMEDIATE FAMILY: Wife: Tracy; three children; 11 grandchildren
OCCUPATION: U.S. Representative
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OFFICE SOUGHT: 12th District U.S. Congress
PREVIOUS ELECTED POSITIONS: Illinois General Assembly 1994-2014; Jackson County Board, 1984-1988.
Q. What changes, if any, should be made in the Affordable Care Act?
A. President Obama and Nancy Pelosi once promised Obamcare would reduce health care costs, improve access, and allow people to remain with their existing insurance policies and health providers. Instead, premiums are scheduled to skyrocket by more than 45 percent in Illinois next year and thousands have been kicked off their existing plans. I believe Obamcare must be repealed, but we can’t stop there. We must replace the law with patient-centered reforms that increase access to affordable care by allowing insurers to compete across state lines, expanding health savings accounts, implementing tort reform, and maintaining coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions. When considering these sensible objectives individually, it’s hard to see how both parties can’t find common ground.
Q. What are you views on the Trans Pacific Partnership?
A. I believe in free trade, but it must be fair trade. Sadly, Southern Illinois has been a case study in the negative impact of unbalanced trade on U.S. manufacturing jobs. Having carefully weighed the pros and cons of this trade agreement, I believe it’s in the best interests of my district to oppose it. A trade agreement such as this will be in place a long time and we need to make sure it makes sense for America. The TPP does not do enough to protect domestic manufacturers, particularly steel producers, from unfair trade practices such as currency manipulation, nor does it adequately address illegal subsidies by foreign state-owned steel companies that undercut domestically produced steel.
Q. Granite City Steel had to lay off its workforce. What should be done to get them back to work? What can Congress do to help those workers?
A. I’m devastated at the impact this idling has had on the families of Granite City workers and the local community. I have committed to doing everything I can to create the conditions to help restart this plant. An important first step was enactment of legislation I sponsored to strengthen our nation’s anti-dumping and countervailing laws against unfair trade. Steelworkers and companies have been fighting to achieve these remedies for years and they are now leading to substantial tariffs on illegally-traded steel. I have also led efforts in Congress to increase funding for trade remedy investigations, and more recently lead a bipartisan effort in helping support U. S. Steel’s Section 337 trade case against China’s steel policies – which are deliberately designed to harm domestic manufacturers.
Q. On what issues do you disagree with your party’s nominee for president and how would you approach those issues if you both were elected?
A. If there is one area that I can find similar fault with both parties, it’s on the tone that has plagued the presidential campaign. We are facing serious challenge as a nation and we’re only going to solve these problems by working together. In Congress, I have stood strong for my conservative principles but never hesitated to reach across the aisle when it’s right for Southern Illinois. If I am blessed to continue serving, I will continue to stand up for what I believe in but do it in a way that is constructive and solution-seeking.
Q. The unemployment rate is 4.9 percent in the country and 6 percent in Illinois. What does that say about our economy? What would you do to improve our economy?
A. The policies of the last eight years have been a disaster for Southern Illinois, with more than 600 newly-proposed regulations at a cost of more than $700 billion. Washington-style overregulation acts as a hidden tax – a tax that is shouldered more often than not by small businesses, the lifeblood of our economy. To make matters worse, many of these regulations have targeted coal mining and coal-fired power generation, an industry that is already struggling to survive in Southern Illinois and elsewhere. To create jobs we need to produce positive economic conditions for job creators. This includes addressing the scope and burden on needless regulations; reducing taxes; reforming the tax code so it works for working families; and holding the line on government spending. It also means pursuing policies that make full use of our nation’s bountiful energy resources, including coal.
Q. What would you do to protect Scott Air Force Base from closing or from cutbacks?
A. As our community has for years, we need to watch closely for any future rounds of BRAC and need to fight together, as Republicans and Democrats, to protect our mission at Scott Air Force Base. We must continue to fully fund our military men and women, ensure they have the tools to achieve their objectives, and have a clear definition of what success means. Too often in recent years, all three of those goals have been at risk. The people of St. Clair County have been recognized for their support of Scott Air Force Base and they are very much a partner in the future success of this base and its mission.
Q. The country's debt is growing as the nation continues to run a budget deficit. How would you balance the country's budget? At what point, if any, does the continued deficit spell disaster?
A. Our government doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. Over the past eight years, the national debt has more than doubled; and it is forecast to grow to unsustainable levels unless reforms are made. Fixing our debt crisis is going to require tough choices rather than politics as usual. I favor the enactment of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution to require the government to live within its means, just like any small business or working family would. I also believe we need to reform our nation’s overly complicated and burdensome tax code and enact other policies important to broader economic growth and job creation which would contribute more revenue to government than any tax increase.
Q. What changes, if any, need to be made in entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare?
A. Social Security and Medicare are promises made to our seniors that must be kept. That’s why I oppose any changes to these treasured programs for Americans at or near retirement age and why I opposed the President when he cut $700 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare. At the same time, if we want to save Medicare and Social Security for our children and grandchildren, it’s time to have a serious, bipartisan conversation before they become insolvent. Unfortunately, too many Washington politicians would rather pursue a tax and spend agenda with no focus on the future. I believe any savings achieved by reforming Social Security and Medicare for those entering the system in the future must be reinvested in these programs to ensure they are there for our children and grandchildren, not diverted to other federally-funded pet projects.
Q. The cost of college, and student debt itself, can be a large obstacle to people getting an education, or having a firm financial footing after graduating. What should be done to make college more affordable?
A. A college education is one of the most important investments a person can make. In addition, non-college secondary education paths, such as apprenticeships or skills training, are also successful pathways to future growth. I support a higher education agenda that gets Washington bureaucrats out of the way of learning, streamlines student aid programs, and increases transparency for our young people.
Q. Why should people vote for you?
A. At a time when partisanship in Washington is at an all-time high, I am proud that I’ve been able to cut through the bickering and get things done. In fact, the House has passed five pieces of legislation I introduced, all of which were aimed at helping Southern Illinois, including bills to strengthen America’s trade remedy laws against unfair foreign trade; to help reform the Department of Veterans Affairs; and to expand criteria the Army Corps of Engineers can use to authorize repairs of the Len Small Levee in Alexander County. We need to continue to build upon what our community has achieved together.