(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?")
Doing the right thing takes guts.
Folks, we're $16 trillion in debt. We can't ignore the problem anymore. In the House, we've worked to change the conversation in Washington from "how much can we spend?" to "how much can we save?" We've come to the table, put forth common-sense ideas and now it's time for career politicians to set party aside and work together to get this done.
America received a wake-up call last year when our credit rating was downgraded. That had never happened before, and now our interest payments grow larger while our children and grandchildren are saddled with more debt.
With unsustainable trillion-dollar deficits and critical programs like Social Security and Medicare on the brink of insolvency, the clock is running out.
Talk is cheap, and I'm a big believer that politicians in Washington can't seriously tackle the debt issue unless they lead by example. That's why I rejected the congressional pension and introduced legislation to reform the pension system to save the taxpayers millions of dollars.
I also turned down the congressional health-care plan, voted to freeze my own pay, and supported an effort to reduce congressional salaries by 10 percent.
I cut my congressional office budget by more than 11 percent, and after that I returned $110,000 more to the taxpayer from my FY2011 budget.
As one of my first acts in Congress, I supported a House budget resolution that would cut $6.2 trillion from the budget over 10 years. This budget plan was designed to reduce spending, preserve critical social programs like Medicare, and pave the way for tax reforms that eliminate loopholes for special interests. Meanwhile, the Senate has not passed a budget for more than 1,200 days.
I supported a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution because it's time to end the era of trillion-dollar deficits. I've consistently voted to repeal the government health-care takeover because it does nothing to lower skyrocketing health-care costs, raids more than $700 billion from Medicare, adds trillions to the deficit, and will cost millions of jobs. We need real, bipartisan reforms that address the cost problem while increasing access to care.
I've fought to save Medicare. The program is set to go bankrupt in 2024 if we do nothing, yet my opponent and her allies want to bury their heads in the sand and promote scare tactics over solutions. I voted for a plan to preserve and protect Medicare for seniors and for future generations.
I've always thought that constituents tend to have better ideas than Washington bureaucrats, so it's very rewarding to take conversations I've had with some truly innovative people and turn their ideas into legislation.
One of these conversations became the Savings vs. Over Spending Act, a bill that incentivizes all branches of government to save money instead of spending down their budgets at the end of each fiscal year. This legislation gives government agencies a reason to save taxpayer money and spend in a more efficient manner.
My opponent has shown a complete inability to balance a budget and prioritize the needs of constituents. She voted repeatedly for tax increases and fee hikes on working families, while running up a million-dollar budget deficit. That's not leadership.
Leadership is about having the guts to make tough decisions. It's easy to vote for endless spending bills -- that's how Washington got us into this mess in the first place. We can't keep heading down that road. I will continue to make the needed, tough choices to get this country back on track as long as I represent this great district.
Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, represents Congress in the 17th District.
Today is Sunday, Dec. 8, the 342nd day of 2013. There are 23 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: For the whole of last week we have been favored with the most delightful Indian summer weather, and mercury ranging from 40 to 65 above zero. The river is entirely clear of ice and looks as mild and soft as summer. 1888 -- 125 years ago: Albert Johnson was appointed a deputy in the circuit clerk's office. 1913 -- 100 years ago: 800 or more tons of earth in six landslides covered 38th Street for a distance of 200 feet near 7th Avenue and destroyed much property. 1938 -- 75 years ago: One of the 350-foot towers, which with a new transmitter will increase the power of WHBF to 1,000 watts day and night, has been completed on a 20-acre tract at 23rd Avenue and 51st Street, Moline. 1963 -- 50 years ago: In cooperation with The Associated Press, The Argus presents to its readers a complete, beginning-to-end account of one of the most tragic and dreadful chapters in American history, the assassination of President Kennedy, available in book form, and now in preparation. The book is entitled "The Torch is Passed." 1988 -- 25 years ago: Deere & Co. stockholders received good news of a boost in their quarterly dividends from 20 to 30 cents per share of common stock. The dividend, made to stockholders of record on Dec. 30, will be payable on Feb. 1, 1989.