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November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
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United States

United States SenateCandidate for Senator

Photo of Scott Summers

Scott Summers

Attorney - Public Guardian & Public Administrator of McHenry County
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Climate action
  • Economic rejuvenation
  • Equal opportunity in education and employment



Profession:Attorney - Public Guardian & Public Administrator of McHenry County
Attorney, Private Practice (1989–current)
Public Guardian, McHenry County — Appointed position (2013–current)


Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management M.B.A. (not availa)
Northern Illinois University J.D. (not availa)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign B.A., liberal arts (not availa)

Questions & Answers

Questions from Chicago Sun-Times (18)

What is your biggest difference with your opponent(s)?
Answer from Scott Summers:

I advocate for human rights, financial reform, a Green New Deal, climate action, alleviation of poverty, immigration and criminal justice reform, demilitarization, equal opportunity in education and employment, racial justice, and universal health care, among other things. In my opinion, other candidates for Senate aren't putting enough focus on these essential issues.

Congress has declined to formally authorize America’s undeclared war against ISIS. Should Congress take a vote to authorize the use of military force against ISIS?
Answer from Scott Summers:

Pursuant to Article I, section 8, clause 11 of the U.S. Constitution, Congress has the power to declare war. The last time that happened was on June 5, 1942, when we declared war on Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania.

Since then, Congress has completely abdicated its constitutional responsibility: it has instead relied on resolutions and on the War Powers Act of 1973. They need to bring a vote to the floor concerning ISIS, and they should continue to do the same for any other conflicts going forward.

More generally, what should Congress do to reduce the threat of ISIS abroad and at home? 
Answer from Scott Summers:

ISIS relies on foreign arms, and some of their arsenal consists of American weaponry that was captured from the Iraqi army.

Attempts to limit international arms transfers and arms sales in the region are, of course, imperative. But the weaponry already there and being used isn't going away. Accordingly, one of the best ways to limit ISIS' ability to fight would be an all-out international effort to cut off flows of munitions to the region. Similarly, dramatic steps must be taken to increase the security of US weapons presently controlled by Iraq.

On a long-term basis, we should combat ISIS and other terrorist organizations like them by radically shifting our foreign policy. Instead of perpetual warfare in the Middle East that leads to civilian casualties and galvanizes local populations against us, we can extend foreign aid and re-purpose our military to achieve humanitarian goals.

Donald Trump has called for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration. Do you support such action? What restrictions, if any, do you support on the admission of Muslims into the United States? 
Answer from Scott Summers:

When we assess terrorist threats I think it's very important that we look objectively at each immigration application instead of making blanket judgments based on nationality, ethnicity, or creed. As such, I don't support any special restrictions on Muslim immigration -- or, for that matter, on any cultural group.

The United States’ nuclear deal with Iran turned one year old on July 14, 2016. Should the deal be maintained as it is, revised or scrapped completely? What is right or wrong with the Iran deal? And should the next president feel bound by it?
Answer from Scott Summers:

I believe that the nuclear agreements with Iran should be maintained. The essential goal – sharply reducing the ability of Iran to obtain weapons-grade nuclear material – has been achieved. As a result the chances of nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East have been reduced.

In the coming years there will probably be disagreements about inspections and other protocols, but I think future presidents need to stay the course. We have taken a critical first step towards rebuilding trust with Iran. Reneging on the agreements would only serve to (a) increase Iranian cynicism about U.S. motives and (b) plunge the region into nuclear roulette. 

Should the United States build a physical wall along our nation’s entire border with Mexico? Should a “path to citizenship” be created for the millions of people already living here without proper documentation? Would you support legislation to prevent the deportations of so-called “Dreamers” — youth who came to the U.S. illegally as small children with their parents?
Answer from Scott Summers:

Every wall in history has failed. Hadrian's Wall, the Great Wall of China, the Maginot Line, and the Berlin Wall are just four examples. There’s no reason to believe that Trump’s Wall would be any different. I think it would waste money and project a toxic, isolationist attitude to the rest of the world.

We as a nation are predicated on wave after wave of immigration; it's what made America the economic force that it is today. That being said, I strongly support a path to citizenship and any legislation that prevents those who came to the U.S. as children from being deported.

Federal judges in July ruled against voter identification laws in Wisconsin and Texas, concluding that they disproportionately impact minority voters and violate the U.S. Voting Rights Act. Should voters be required to show a photo ID when voting? And should the federal government have a say in this, or is it strictly a matter for the individual states to decide? 
Answer from Scott Summers:

Despite Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's claim that "voter fraud is rampant", it's actually quite rare. A study reported by Politifact found that there were 85 prosecutions for voter fraud in Texas between 2002-2015, and many of these cases didn't even lead to convictions. When we compare that number to the 42 million ballots that were cast in Texas during roughly the same time period, it becomes apparent that voter fraud is a miniscule problem.

Bearing that in mind, I don't think a photo ID requirement is justified. While it might have a small impact when it comes to preventing voter fraud, it would seriously undermine the voting rights of the poor and elderly. In general, I believe voter eligibility laws do far more to disenfranchise us than they do to protect us, and the simple system of checking signatures against registries of eligible voters that's served us since the beginning of the Republic should stay in place.

To answer the final part of the question - yes, the federal government should absolutely have a say when it comes to federal offices. I think they also have an interest in overseeing state voting laws from a civil rights perspective, since the federal government is responsible for enforcing the 14th amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Should all or certain federal public lands, including national parks, wildlife refuges and forests, be given to states to control? Do you support the opening of public lands and the outer continental shelf to exploration for oil and other fossil fuels, even if those resources are not immediately developed? 
Answer from Scott Summers:

I'm open to limited partnerships between federal and state governments given the particular needs of each location, but it's not a one-size-fits-all proposition. In general I believe national parks should remain under federal control.

I am strongly against opening public lands, or any lands, to aid in the search for fossil fuels. The oil industry has inhibited the development of renewable energy sources for decades in the interest of perpetuating a global reliance on fossil fuels. This needs to stop. Climate change is real, and we need to take major steps now to abandon fossil fuels and move towards clean and renewable sources of energy.

What changes, if any, to the U.S. tax code do you support and why?
Answer from Scott Summers:

As it stands, upper-level income tax brackets are extremely lenient compared to what they were 60 or 70 years ago. The highest marginal income tax under the Truman administration exceeded 90%. Today, it’s just shy of 40%. There’s an extensive historical precedent where the country was able to function, and often thrive, with much higher taxes on the wealthy. (And with these high top-dollar rates, we raised money to fight World War II and the Korean conflict on a largely pay-as-we-went-basis -- not by borrowing money, as we have with the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.)

In the interest of simple fairness, the U.S. tax code must be changed in fundamental ways. I would work to end the practice of carried interest (whereby funds managers pay low taxes), phase out capital gains taxes (also lower than personal tax rates), implement a financial transactions tax (i.e., a Wall Street tax), end the payment of interest on excess reserves (whereby the Federal Reserve pays interest to banks for redeposits), end corporate inversions (whereby a multinational company can avoid US taxes by having a foreign parent), curb the abuse of offshore tax havens and secret accounts, sharply increase earned income tax credits, remove the annual Social Security cap on earnings, and also sponsor legislation to stop predatory lending with a federal usury law.

What are the most important actions Congress can take to ensure the solvency of Social Security?
Answer from Scott Summers:

To start, we could increase the amount of maximum annual earnings that are subject to Social Security tax or remove the earnings cap altogether. (Note that in a similar vein, the current Medicare payroll tax has no cap.)

We should also means-test benefits. Social Security payments should diminish and then vanish altogether for retirees with high personal incomes. Conversely, benefits should be enriched for people with low lifetime earnings and service credits so that all retirees can be brought up to at least the federal poverty line.

Given that life expectancies continue to rise, it has been suggested that retirement age levels should rise accordingly. I have misgivings about this, because I believe that lower income workers and blue collar workers might be affected disproportionately. Further actuarial studies are required. If the eligibility ages are, indeed, increased, they should be phased in over a period of years so that those approaching retirement have time to adjust their financial plans.

The Republican Party platform defines marriage as between a man and a woman. What is your view? The Obama Administration has issued guidelines to schools, saying they must allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. What is your view? And do you believe parents of LGBT children should be allowed to force their children into conversion therapy?
Answer from Scott Summers:

The Republican Party is entitled to its stance on marriage, but ultimately their personal beliefs, and by extension my own, are not important. What's important is that under the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, same sex marriage is now legal throughout the country.

Concerning the issue of transgender bathrooms, one constructive approach could be to introduce inclusive restrooms. These would be similar to the private family bathrooms that have started to become more common in recent years.

I'm strongly against parents forcing their children to undergo conversion therapy because it's been discredited by the American Psychiatric Association and virtually all major medical organizations.

What is the single most important action Congress can take to reduce U.S. gun violence?
Answer from Scott Summers:

Irrespective of any legislation to reduce gun violence, guns themselves will remain in circulation for decades to come. I think the single most important action would be to impose stricter taxes and regulations on the manufacture and sale of ammunition. Bullets are consumed; guns are not.

The “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act” would give the Department of Justice authority to keep suspected terrorists on the federal “no fly” list from buying firearms. The bill was voted down in Congress late last year but pushed again in June after the Orlando massacre of 49 people. Do you support or oppose this bill, and why?
Answer from Scott Summers:

I fully support this bill. I’m honestly amazed that for all the rhetoric about national security and combating terrorism, there isn’t already a firearm ban for suspects on the no fly list. What’s the point of having a watch list in the first place if the government allows people who are flagged as potential security risks to buy guns and ammunition?

Should Obamacare be repealed, left intact, or changed — and if so, how? 
Answer from Scott Summers:

I think that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) should ultimately be seen as a stepping stone towards a universal health care solution, i.e., Medicare for All.

A plan to replace Obamacare, presented by House Speaker Paul Ryan in June, would gradually increase the eligibility age for Medicare, which is now 65. Starting in 2020, the Medicare age would rise along with the eligibility age for full Social Security benefits, eventually reaching 67. Do you support this change in the eligibility age for Medicare? 
Answer from Scott Summers:

Implementation of universal health care would render age levels moot. Once again, I am concerned that people of lesser means would be disproportionately affected by changes to attained age levels. For the present, I would hold the eligibility age at 65.

On the whole, I think that Mr. Ryan’s proposed legislation is vague on costs, sketchy on details, and not worthy of serious consideration. The old Republican bromides of tax credits, health savings accounts (HSAs) and block grants will neither reduce the complexity of the health care delivery system in the United States, nor make health care more affordable. If anything, the suggested strategies may actually increase the ranks of the uninsured and underinsured.

The GOP platform opposes the use of public funds for Planned Parenthood and other groups that “perform or advocate” abortion. It also opposes funding health care that includes abortion coverage. In contrast, the Democratic Party’s platform called for continued funding of Planned Parenthood and repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which bars the direct use of federal funds to pay for abortion. Where do you stand?  
Answer from Scott Summers:

Roe vs. Wade stands, in part, for the premise that the state cannot compel an interest in human life unless and until such life is viable. I believe that this is wise public policy. Those who disagree shouldn't continue to nibble around the edges with platform planks and regulations and funding restrictions. They should instead propose constitutional amendments.

President Obama has proposed making two years of community college free nationally. Do you support or oppose this proposal? If you support it, how would you have the nation pay for it? 
Answer from Scott Summers:

I heartily support Mr. Obama's proposal. In many ways it reminds me of the G.I. Bill that was introduced after World War II. That bill was a major win for the economy, and I think a modern education subsidy would have similar beneficial effects.

The program could be funded with direct grants, scholarships, and federal tax rebates. We could also consider paying partial costs (course credits but not administrative fees, for example) or encourage individuals to participate in a national service corps to receive benefits.

College costs have risen at twice the rate of inflation for about 30 years. What is driving this increase and what should be done about it?
Answer from Scott Summers:

I think some of the major factors include administrative overhead, insufficient state funding, and facility expenses.

An educated workforce is the cornerstone of any healthy economy, so ensuring that higher education remains accessible to the general public would be one of my highest priorities as Senator. Securing additional state funding to achieve that goal is no simple matter, especially in Illinois, but it's possible to take cost-cutting measures that would keep tuition affordable without seriously undermining the quality of the education our colleges provide.

We can start by getting creative with classroom space. When I was a trustee at McHenry County College, my fellow board members and I oversaw many collaborative efforts between the college and local high schools. We borrowed rooms that were otherwise not in use for evening courses. We brought AP programs directly to the high school students. To give a more specific example - there was a culinary arts focus at MCC, but we didn't have a kitchen at the time, so instead of building a kitchen we borrowed one from a high school during the evenings.

Classroom sharing programs like these have already saved colleges a significant amount of money, so I think it's time to expand on them. We could also reduce spending and keep tuition costs down by offering more online coursework.

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