Friday, March 4, 2011

Interview With Joel Pollack

A few months ago, I interviewed Joel Pollack, a staunch defender of the State of Israel and Jewish interests living in Chicago. The following is the contents of my interview...

As the 2011 Congressional race is heating up, Joel Pollak, a religious Jewish candidate, finds himself envisioning what it would be like to serve the interests of his community while standing up for the values he holds dear. I recently had an opportunity to interview Joel. I contacted his representative, Shalom Klein who passed on my queries to Joel.

I asked some rather provocative question. Joel’s replies were, in some ways, what I expected them to be. He’s a blend of a rookie politician with some very insightful opinions and a man with high ethical standards who is not afraid to stand up for people and issues that hit close to home.
Here’s what Joel had to say:

1. Please tell us a little about your background: Who were your mentors growing up? Which events had the most profound influence on your career? How did you decide to get involved in politics?

My most important mentor was my father, who is a doctor of great ability and integrity. His career had a great influence on mine, though I chose not to study medicine. He stood up to corruption in the organ allocation system at his hospital, and fought and won a seven-year battle. I learned from him how tough it is to fight for what you believe in--and also how important. I decided to get involved in politics because of the urgency of the issues we are facing today--especially the economic issues. We are making bad decisions that will have a profoundly negative effect on our future prosperity and freedom--and the freedom of the world--if we don't set things right.


2. What is your political agenda? What would you do to create more jobs in the district? How would you handle the current health care crisis? How would you address the Iranian threat? What would you do about illegal immigrants?

The most important priority is to create jobs. We can do that by: 1. passing an investment tax credit, which will give businesses 10% back of everything they invest in new capital; 2. cutting corporate and capital gains taxes, which are among the highest in the world; 3. cutting wasteful federal spending, which is undermining confidence in our financial future; 4. creating a "jobs budget" for each new regulatory law passed by Congress, so legislators must vote knowing how many jobs it will create or destroy; and 5. turning our district into an innovation corridor by encouraging investment in high-tech industry and infrastructure.

On health care, I believe that we must scrap the bill that passed in March and start over. The bill will increase costs, cut benefits for seniors, and force people out of their current insurance plans--without fully covering those with pre-existing conditions. We need to start with simple reforms: 1. allowing people to buy insurance across state lines; 2. tort reform to lower the cost of defensive medicine; 3. expanded Medical Savings Accounts, and tax credits for insurance, so people can control their own policies and take their policies with them when they change jobs; and 4. create private-public partnerships to cover those with pre-existing conditions in high-risk pools.

We must stand up to Iran and make sure there is a military option on the table and ready to be used if negotiations and sanctions do not work. We have to make the alternative to negotiation worse than negotiation, or else Iran will not concede anything. We also need to encourage the movement for human rights and democracy in Iran, both to pressure the regime and to foster the kind of political change that could make this confrontation a distant memory.

On immigration: we need to secure the border first, and then pass immigration reform that streamlines the process of legal immigration, particularly for skilled immigrants. Those already here illegally, who have not committed additional offenses, should be allowed to either join a guest worker program that would deny the possibility of permanent residency and cut off certain benefits, or else apply for permanent residency but go through the entire process anew at the "back of the line" behind legal immigrants.


3. Please grade the current administration on a scale of 1-10 (1 being worst). Please give your reasoning for this.

I'd give it a 3, which in my view is a failing grade. The administration should get some credit for reinforcing our troops in Afghanistan and for stabilizing the stock market somewhat through the stress tests and easing of mark-to-market rules in 2009. Overall, however, its foreign and economic policies have been very bad and are leading America in a direction that is even worse.


5. Should American continue its involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Yes, as long as Iran remains a threat and Pakistan is in danger of being overrun by radical forces. We have to do more to build stronger alliances with countries that share our values and interests in the region--especially Israel and India.

4. If elected to Congress, would you actively pursue the release of Jonathan Pollard? Rubashkin? Why or why not?

Pollard - I would advocate for his release, because his sentence was excessive. Rubashkin - I would advocate for a shorter sentence, because though he will have to serve time, the sentence seems excessive. There is a limit to what Congress can and ought to do about these matters, but I will add my voice to those who are speaking out.


5. How are you any different from people who've been running the State of Illinois in the recent past? Why should people vote for you?

I'm different because I have a fundamentally different philosophy. I believe that a representative should represent the people in Washington, not Washington to the people. People should vote for me because I stand for the right ideas at the right time, and because I listen to my district first.

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