Moline Dispatch Argus - How Will You Help Create, Retain Jobs in the Quad-Cities?


(Editor's note: (In the first of our five-part series, candidates for the Illinois17th Congressional District answer the question: What action will you take to help create and retain jobs in the Quad-Cities area:)

I grew up on the west side of Rock Island in a working poor neighborhood. With no inherited wealth, Christie and I worked hard and watched our spending carefully. This allowed us to live the American Dream and raise our 10 children in a solid, middle class way of life.

I'm running for Congress precisely because of my concern about setbacks to this way of life.

Current unemployment is very sad and troubling. The reason the official rate has been dropping is because so many workers have given up looking for a job. According to the nonpartisan Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 92 million Americans have dropped out of the work force or stopped looking for work -- a record. Our labor force participation rate has now dropped to 62.8 percent -- a 36-year low.

The Arsenal is one of the largest employers in the Quad-cities region. That's why I fought hard to earn a seat on the House Armed Services Committee when I won election to Congress in 2010.

As soon as I took office, I went to the Arsenal and asked leaders what they needed to expand work at the Arsenal. They gave me three specific legislative measures that would help. They said if I could get one enacted into law it would greatly help expand work at the Arsenal. In a bipartisan effort, I engaged my Democratic colleague from Iowa, U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, in an all-out effort to secure passage of these measures.

I was able to spearhead passage of all three in the National Defense Authorization Act. Being in the majority on the Armed Services Committee and still reaching out in a bipartisan effort was key to this success. Passage brought a new employer to Knox County and increased work at the Arsenal as well.

In the same vein, I was appalled when Congressman Cheri Bustos skipped a vote on the next National Defense Authorization vote to campaign with President Obama. That is unconscionable considering how much the Arsenal relies on that annual national defense bill.

I believe we must invest in public infrastructure. Building and maintaining a quality transportation network is vital for our economy in so many ways. Passing a robust highway and infrastructure bill will be one of my highest priorities in the next Congress if I am elected to return.

Even without a national highway bill, I was able to do the unthinkable in these times of no earmarks and very tight federal budgets. Again, I worked in a bipartisan manner and fought to get a new bridge to replace the obsolete Interstate 74 bridge between Moline and Bettendorf. The multi-year project is now underway.

These are concrete accomplishments for workers in our district. However, our leaders must be just as successful on the macroeconomic level to generate sustained economic expansion.

In the two years before I came to Congress under President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, discretionary spending increased by 40 percent. Now taxpayers are footing the bill for that unsuccessful spending -- with interest due each and every year.

Contrast that with the year I took office -- we spent fewer dollars than the year before for the first time since the Korean War. Only when we stop spending more than we take in and simplify our tax code will we be able to grow the economy enough to provide high-paying jobs geared toward the 21st century economy.

I'm proud to run on my record because I kept all of my promises and have concrete accomplishments for the people I served. That is exactly the type of leadership I'll provide once again.

Bobby Schilling of Colona is the Republican candidate for Congress in the 17th District.