Friday, December 07, 2007

Oberweis slams earmarks, praises Hastert, supports a line-item veto and is endorsed by Republican Chief Deputy Whip Eric Cantor

14th CD Republican Primary candidate Jim Oberweis held a telephone press conference yesterday afternoon, focusing primarily on his plan to Slash wasteful spending.” A partial transcript of the lively and informative presser is included, below.

Go here to watch “Public Affairs with Jeff Berkowitz,” featuring shows with 14th CD Republican candidates Jim Oberweis, Senator Chris Lauzen, Mayor Kevin Burns and 14th CD Democratic candidates Jotham Stein and John Laesch.
Earmarks and Speaker Hastert:

Jeff Berkowitz: Jim…you’ve been praising Speaker Hastert considerably and now you are criticizing earmarks in a stronger way than you have in the past. Hastert has been identified essentially as one of the kings of earmarks; [and with federal] spending for the 14th Cong. District; spending for Illinois, the kinds of things that you are criticizing now. Are you at a crossroads where you need to bite the bullet and criticize Speaker Hastert?

Jim Oberweis: Jeff, I believe you asked me almost exactly the same question on your [TV] interview show. I said I was opposed to earmarks at that time, so this is no change in my philosophy or my beliefs. Look, Illinois is a donor state. We rank fifth worst among all the states. We get 75 cents back on each dollar that we send to Washington. Our goal is to shrink the size of the government. Let each of us in all the states keep our dollars and spend as many of those dollars directly-because we can spend them a lot more effectively and efficiently than the Federal Government can.

Jeff Berkowitz: But, that doesn’t quite answer the question. Do you need to step up and say that Speaker Hastert for the last five or six years, or longer, was leading Illinois and the Country down the wrong path?

Jim Oberweis: Jeff, you are breaking up a little bit. I am having a little trouble hearing you but I think you asked basically the same question and my answer is the same. I am opposed to earmarks. I think we need to do everything we can to move away from earmarks.

Berkowitz: But, what’s your position on Speaker Hastert?

Jim Oberweis: I think Speaker Hastert did a great job for our Country, for our State and for our District.

Berkowitz: So, you are not critical of the way he has handled earmarks in the past?

Jim Oberweis: Look, I am not going to agree with everything that happened in the past but I believe that he [Hastert] had the job of trying to bring the President’s program to fruition and I think he did his job well.

Earmarks, IDOT and the Prairie Parkway:

Jeff Berkowitz: It has been said that IDOT has concluded that the Prairie Parkway will not reduce [traffic] congestion. Have you looked at that? I think in the past you have said that you favor the Prairie Parkway.

Jim Oberweis: I have said that in the past and I will say it today. I do favor the Prairie Parkway. Look, we need to do the best job that we can to move toward the future, to think about the future and to plan ahead. The western suburban area is now the fastest growing part of the state of Illinois. Traffic congestion is terrible and it is only going to get worst. It is much cheaper to make the plan and to provide those types of roads and freeways today than it will be to do it ten years from now or twenty years from now, so we’re saving taxpayers significant dollars by taking action now.

Jeff Berkowitz: But, what do you think of the IDOT criticism of the Prairie Parkway?

Jim Oberweis: I haven’t seen it.

Jeff Berkowitz: If it is as I have said, would that possibly change your views?

Jim Oberweis: Jeff, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me because again we just put an extension on 355, going south. The costs per mile for doing that were enormous because that area has gotten so built up. Had that been done ten or twenty years ago—twenty years ago certainly, the costs would have been much less than they are today.
Republican Chief Deputy Whip Cantor endorses Oberweis:

Jeff Berkowitz: Have you talked to people like [Republican House Leader] John Boehner [8th CD, Ohio] about that [cutting out earmarks]?

Jim Oberweis: I have not specifically talked to John Boehner but I would certainly hope to have the opportunity to do so. I have talked to people like [Cong.] Paul Ryan. [Ryan is a 5th term Cong. from Janesville, WI, 1ST CD]. I have talked to Eric Cantor, the Republican minority [Chief Deputy] whip, who by the way has now endorsed our campaign. [Cantor is a 5th term congressman from Richmond, VA, 7th CD].

Building Coalitions:

Jeff Berkowitz: But, you are preaching to the converted, there.

Jim Oberweis: You said, how do you build a coalition. How do you get people together? Well, first of all you get your core group together and then you try to expand and bring new people into the idea. We’re doing just what you are suggesting.
Line-item Veto and Term Limits:

Another Reporter: So, if you are a congressman, you’ll vote for a line item veto for a President Clinton or a President Obama or a President Edwards to wield? [Jim Oberweis has said he favors a constitutional amendment to give the Office of the U. S. Presidency a line item veto]

Jim Oberweis: Absolutely and term limits, too.

Another Reporter: Term limits for who?

Jim Oberweis: Everybody, everybody.

Jeff Berkowitz: Will you take a term limit pledge for Congress?

The Medium is the Message?

Bill Pascoe [Oberweis general consultant and media guru]: Can we hold off on the term limit section until we get to the next government reform package, please.

Another reporter: It was the candidate that brought up term limits.

Jeff Berkowitz: Your candidate volunteered it.

Bill Pascoe: I am aware of that. I am now stepping in and saying, “Guys, we got a time frame for these things.” [Laughter all around].

Jim Oberweis: I think he is trying to say, “Stay on message.”

Berkowitz: You trying to manage the process, Bill?

Oberweis: Now, you guys know what I have to put up with all the time.

Berkowitz; Jim, don’t take that guff from Bill. Who is running this campaign?

Jim Oberweis: Bill, no more guff.

Berkowitz: Did you say Cong. Eric Cantor has endorsed you?

Jim Oberweis: Yes.

Is Cong. Ryan next up to endorse Oberweis?

Jeff Berkowitz: And, has [Cong.] Paul Ryan endorsed you?

Jim Oberweis: We did not actually at that time specifically ask for his endorsement but we will be doing so in the future.

Berkowitz: Any other endorsements you can tell us about this afternoon?

Bill Pascoe: No. [Laughter all around].

Berkowitz: Will [Cong.] Cantor be coming out to campaign for you?

Jim Oberweis: We have no commitment for that, no.
Jim Oberweis, Telephone press conference, December 6, 2007, 2:00 pm to 2:30 pm.