Full Name: Litesa Wallace
What office are you seeking? Congress, IL-17
What offices, if any, have you previously held? Illinois State Representative, 67th District
Occupation: Full-time candidate
Education: Ed.D., Educational Psychology, Northern Illinois University
M.S., Marriage and Family Therapy/Counseling, Northern Illinois University
B.A., Individual Studies, Western Illinois University
Campaign Website: litesawallaceforcongress.com
What is your position re-establishing the Child Tax Credit at $3,500 per child as set in the American Rescue Plan?
We absolutely should re-establish the Child Tax Credit at $3,500 per child. The expansion of the Child Tax Credit benefited more than 61 million children, and reduced child poverty in this country by 30%. That’s an astounding success.
Research shows that those tax credit dollars went exactly where we would want them to go: Families used that money to buy food, clothing, and school supplies, to pay their utility bills, and to cover their rent. That means those dollars circulated throughout our local economies, supporting jobs and helping small businesses.
Do you believe that corporations pay enough in taxes?
##### Absolutely not. Our tax system needs to be overhauled with a focus on equity. It is simply wrong that many middle-class families pay more in income tax than some of our biggest corporations. We have to get rid of the tax loopholes that enable corporations to escape paying their fair share.
Would you support increases or decreases in the amount of taxes corporations pay? Why?
##### Increasing federal taxes on corporations would have widespread benefits for our nation. In addition to supporting federal programs, multiple studies by noted economists have found that CEO pay and pretax inequality is higher i countries with lower marginal tax rates. America simply cannot survive and thrive if we do not take smart, swift steps to reduce income inequality.
Do the rich, defined as the wealthiest 1%, pay enough in taxes?
The 400 richest Americans currently own more wealth than all Black households and a quarter of Latino households combined. According to an analysis from economists at the University of California-Berkeley, the richest top 0.1% saw its share of American wealth nearly triple, from 7% to 20%, between the late 1970s and 2016, while the share of our wealth held by the bottom 90% declined from 35% to 25%. Put another way, the richest 130,000 families in America now hold nearly as much wealth as the bottom 117 million families combined. Jeff Bezos’s net worth exploded by $75 billion in 2020 ALONE. Elon Musk just offered to pay $43 billion in CASH to buy Twitter. Jeff Zuckerberg lost $29 billion of his net worth in a single day and he’s STILL worth $85 billion. That’s ridiculous. And it’s not sustainable.
Would support changes in the tax code that would increase or decrease their tax burden? Why?
I strongly support Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plan for an Ultra Millionaire Tax, which would impose an annual 2% tax on every dollar of net worth above $50 million and a 6% tax on every dollar of net worth above $1 billion. It’s time for the rich to pay their fair share and help to rebuild America’s middle class.
Do you support raising taxes on capital gains and dividends? Why?
We need to increase taxes on capital gains and close the carried interest loophole. There is no economic reason and no policy justification for taxing income earned passively at a lower rate than income that people worked hard every day to earn.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw a breakdown in this country’s supply chain. What would you propose to fix it?
The breakdown in the supply chain is fueling inflation and hampering our recovery from the pandemic. We need to change the tax code to eliminate any incentives to move manufacturing off-shore. It’s very clear that the current incentives are contrary to the public interest. By increasing taxes on multinational corporations’ profits earned offshore and creating limited, targeted tax incentives for companies to reshore manufacturing operations, we can bring good jobs home while preventing these types of supply chain nightmares in the future.
How would you bring back manufacturing jobs?
America was once the world’s factory, and those manufacturing jobs (combined with the strength of unions representing those workers) supported a strong and prosperous middle class. But now we are facing an enormous “manufacturing gap” that has serious implications for America’s future.
One big part of the problem is that we don’t do enough to support commercialization and mass production of promising new technologies. We have to address the “valley of death” that keeps so many startups from reaching their full potential.
That’s why I support Sen. Chris Coons’ proposal to charter a new Industrial Finance Corporation, a bank owned by the U.S. government to provide longterm loans and other critical funding for new American manufacturing facilities. The IFC would work similarly to the Development Finance Corporation, a bank that Congress authorized in 2019. But here’s the thing that really troubles me: The DFC was created to make investments abroad. So we have a mechanism to finance a new EV factory in Ljubljiana —but not Rock Island. That doesn’t make any sense at all.
The IFC wouldn’t just create jobs through new manufacturing. It also would provide funding to help existing companies invest in new technologies to reduce their carbon emissions. That would benefit all of us.
What plans do you have to help the lower and middle class?
We need to make child care accessible and affordable. We need to provide healthcare to everyone. We need to restructure our tax system to help working families keep more of what they earn. We need to raise the minimum wage. Most of all, we need to focus on what’s best for the millions and millions of working people who live in our country, instead of letting wealthy special interests set our national agenda.
Do you support the idea that government can require immunizations against COVID-19 or other communicable diseases?
We have had government-required immunizations for decades and decades. All 50 states currently have vaccination requirements for school entry. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces are required to get at least 17 different vaccinations.
According to the World Health Organization, immunization prevents 2 million to 3 million deaths every year worldwide. The CDC estimates that, over the last two decades, immunizations prevented more than 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 child deaths in the United States, saving almost $300 BILLION in direct health care costs.
It is unfathomable to me that the COVID-19 vaccination has become politicized, and that some people are wearing their lack of vaccination as a badge of partisan honor. Vaccines save lives. Our governments, at every level, should be working to save lives and keep people healthy.
How do you feel about mask mandates?
I believe that mask mandates make sense for airplanes, trains, and other environments where people are crowded together. I believe that masks are absolutely necessary in healthcare centers, to avoid infecting people who are already at risk for serious illness.
Looking forward, I think we need to invest in medical research to make vaccines more effective in preventing disease and to find pharmaceuticals that successfully treat COVID-19 infection and reduce the risk of “long COVID.”
### I also believe that local mask mandates can be useful in limiting outbreaks of COVID-19. Unfortunately, many people have refused to follow these mandates, either by wearing their masks improperly (for example, under their noses) or going without a mask entirely. Although I think masking should be part of our public health arsenal, I am not optimistic that we will see increased cooperation with mask mandates over the next few months and years.
Is America prepared for either another round of the current pandemic, or the next one?
No, we do not seem fully prepared to face another round of pandemic infection. I am very distressed that the Republicans have made pandemic response a partisan battleground. We need to do more to help Americans understand the basic principles of public health, including the idea that we all have a responsibility to protect the lives and health of vulnerable people in our society.
Do you support new laws or regulations to safeguard people in the event of another pandemic?
We do need new laws and regulations. We also need to start now to build a new base of understanding of the principles of public health. That includes developing strong, clear messaging related to infectious disease and vaccination. It is heartbreaking that our governments, at every level, failed to communicate clearly and effectively with people at the beginning of the pandemic. We need to bring communications experts to work with our public health leaders to create messaging that avoids confusion and builds public trust in our public health leadership and infrastructure.
Should Medicare be expanded to include dental coverage for older Americans?
Absolutely. Dental health is part of overall health, Nearly half of Americans aged 65 and over didn’t visit a dentist in the last year, and nearly one in five have lost all their natural teeth. There’s also growing evidence that dental problems can worsen other health conditions that Medicare does cover. For example, gum disease is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease. So why wouldn’t we include dental care as a part of Medicare to help keep people’s hearts healthier?
What are the top two threats to our national security?
The greatest short-term threat to our national security is Vladimir Putin and the GOP extremists who support him. The greatest long-term threat to our national security is climate change.
What should be done to eliminate them?
The United States has a moral duty to support Ukraine in its battle against the Russian invasion. We also need to hold pro-Putin interests accountable.
We also need to move as swiftly as possible to limit carbon emissions and move to a sustainable energy economy. That means ending all federal subsidies for fossil fuel companies not willing to make advancements toward clean energy and investing in new solar and wind energy and next-generation grid-sized batteries to store that sustainably generated energy.
What is your position on climate change and what should be done about it?
Greenhouse gas emissions are fueling a climate catastrophe, and we need to work together to find comprehensive, innovative, and pragmatic solutions – and we need to do it now. To make sure that everyone in our district and our state has clean water to drink and clean air to breathe, I’ll work hard to rebuild the Environmental Protection Agency and repair the damage done by the Trump Administration. As we move forward, the pressures of climate change will have an impact on every aspect of our lives. We all have a duty to do whatever we can to protect the environment, working together across party lines to prevent climate catastrophe. Our children and our grandchildren are counting on us.
What is your position on nuclear energy expansion?
Illinois has more nuclear generating capacity than any other state. In 2020, nuclear power plants accounted for 58% of Illinois’s in-state electricity generation. Byron and Dresden combined supplied 20% of Illinois’s in-state electricity generation in that year. So I think Illinois may be able to provide insights to the rest of the country on ways to build and operate nuclear power plants in ways that are safe and environmentally sound.
Should America invest in other forms of renewable energy? Please explain.
The United States should move quickly to ramp up our investments in solar, wind, and wave energy generation. In create good new jobs that cannot be sent overseas.
Throughout my years in the Illinois General Assembly, I was a constant and outspoken advocate for environmental justice. I served on the Agriculture and Conservation committee, where I promoted policies to support wind farm research, to help local governments and businesses invest in renewables, and to create clean energy jobs. I also fought for the progressive revenue sources Illinois needed to invest more in clean, green energy production and expand training programs for green energy workers. Illinois has been a leader in this sector, and I think we are poised to be a national leader in the shift to a new green economy.
Should pregnant women have the right to get an abortion?
Yes, absolutely. I believe every woman has the right to make her own decisions about her health care – and that includes reproductive health. I was a strong and consistent proponent for reproductive rights during my years in the General Assembly, and I will continue to stand up for reproductive freedom when I get to Washington.
Is the immigration system a problem in this country? If so, what is your plan to fix it?
We need to do more to make it easier for immigrants to come to this country legally, with appropriate screening, so they can build new lives in America for themselves and their families. We also need to create better pathways to citizenship for those who are currently undocumented.
We also need to provide additional protections to people who are fleeing violence in their home countries. When I was in the General Assembly, I was proud to sponsor the Voices of Immigrant Communities Empowering Survivors (VOICES) Act. This law secured immigration protections for survivors of sexual assault, trafficking, domestic violence, and other violent crimes.
Do American cities have a crime problem?
Any crime anywhere is a problem. I am deeply troubled that crime rates are rising in many communities throughout Illinois, including Freeport , Peoria , and Rockford, and I think we need to do much more to reduce crime.
If so, what is your suggestion to solve it?
We need to be careful to avoid knee-jerk responses to the problem of rising crime. For example, the two greatest drivers of rising crime in Rockford are illegal guns and domestic violence. So we need to find targeted solutions to address and prevent those types of crimes.
We also have to do much more to rebuild trust between our law enforcement community and the people. As the daughter of a police officer, I know that the job of keeping the peace can be difficult and dangerous. But we must address the reality that, in many of our cities, our police departments have lost the confidence of the people they serve, especially people of color. We need to work with our law enforcement agencies to make it clear to everyone that we’re all in this together, and that we all have a shared responsibility to keep our streets, our neighborhoods, and our communities safe from violence
Should police officers have qualified immunity in cases involving alleged excessive force or other misconduct?
To understand the issue of qualified immunity, you need to look at our nation’s history. The Civil Rights Act of 1871— also known as the Ku Klux Klan Act— gave Americans the right to file suit against government officials who engaged in acts of racial assault or who refused to protect them from the Klan and other hate group. But in 1967, during the Civil Rights movement, the U.S. Supreme Court introduced the doctrine of qualified immunity in the case of Pierson v.
Ray, to protect Mississippi police officers who had arrested a group of clergy who were protesting racial injustice. Since then, qualified immunity has shielded abusive government officials from facing the consequences for their brutal transgressions, especially against people of color.
The reality is that African-Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white people. By preserving qualified immunity, we are allowing some racist and brutal law enforcement officers to inflict harm on the people they are sworn to protect, with no fear of consequences.
So I oppose qualified immunity in cases of excessive force and other official misconduct. When a law enforcement officer dishonors his badge and breaks the law, he should not be able to use that badge as a shield against the legal punishment he deserves.
Are there any limits to the Second Amendment?
I was on the Northern Illinois University campus, right next to Cole Hall on Feb. 14, 2008, when Steven Kazmierczak opened fire with a shotgun and three pistols. He killed five students and injured 17 more people before fatally shooting himself.
I do not believe that the authors of the Bill of Rights would have believed that Steven Kazmierczak’s right to own lethal weapons was more important than those five students’ right to live. It is ludicrous to think that limiting the types of weapons that are legally permitted for private ownership is somehow a violation of the Second Amendment.
Do you support any restrictions on gun purchases or other stricter gun control measures including citizens’ access to military style weaponry?
It’s already against the law for private citizens to own surface-to- air missiles and nuclear weapons; there’s no reason that we can’t create commonsense limitations on the types of guns that private citizens can buy and own. No private citizen needs access to military-style weaponry. Keeping those types of weapons out of private hands keeps all of us safer.
Illinois, along with many states across the country, have legalized marijuana making it legal for people to buy and use it. Marijuana, however, is still illegal at the federal level. Do you support legalizing marijuana nationally? Why or why not?
I absolutely support the legalization of cannabis.
Historically, laws criminalizing cannabis have been applied very differently in communities of color, fueling mass incarceration. Legalization of cannabis nationwide will provide a giant step toward reforming our criminal justice system.
I think our experience here in Illinois shows that legalization, combined with commutations, pardons, and expungement of cannabis-related criminal records, can be done very safely and successfully. I’m also proud that Illinois has emphasized racial and economic equity in its approach to cannabis licensure. I think our experience can help to provide a model for the rest of the county.
Did Joe Biden win the 2020 election?
Would you have voted to ratify his presidency?
What is your position on the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol?
The so called riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 was an insurrection aimed at overthrowing our federal government. Everyone involved should face severe legal consequences.
Was it an insurrection?
Should people convicted of a crime related to their participation in the riot ever be pardoned?
I think that anyone who serves a reasonable portion of their sentence and who can prove that they are truly remorseful (not just sorry that they got caught) should be considered for parole, just like anyone else who commits a crime. But at this point, I am not eager to see any of those convicted in connection with an attempt to overthrow our democracy back on our streets any time soon.
Should voters be required to show an ID to vote?
No. There is absolutely no evidence that voter ID laws prevent voter fraud -- and for that matter, there’s no evidence that voter fraud is a serious problem at any level. Voter identification laws are a part of a clear, intentional strategy to roll back decades of progress on voting rights and keep legal voters away from the polls.
Many Americans do not have any of the types of ID that have been deemed acceptable for voting, and those voters are disproportionately low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, elderly, and people with disabilities. Many people do not have a driver’s license, for example -- and many of those people lack access to state facilities that issue photo IDs.
Would you, as a member of Congress, ever vote against certifying presidential electoral votes submitted by states’ official voting authorities?