Foster, other Democratic congressional hopefuls denounce GOP budget
Democratic U.S. congressional candidates (from left) Bill Foster, Brad Schneider and Tammy Duckworth discuss what they perceive as problems in the GOP proposed budget. | John H. White~Chicago Sun-Times.
Updated: April 9, 2012 12:26PM
Three Democratic candidates for Congress from the suburbs, including Bill Foster, looking to represent Burr Ridge, held a joint news conference Thursday to denounce a Congressional Republican budget plan that would “end Medicare as we know it.”
“This is a clear moment where all three of our opponents have to stand up and say whether they support seniors or whether they support [anti-tax activist] Grover Norquist and the pledge they have taken not to raise taxes by one dime for any millionaire in this country,” said Foster, running against Republican Judy Biggert in the west suburban 11th Congressional District.
“Everybody understands that we’re going to have to make decisions on where we can reduce spending, but to do it on the backs of the people who can afford it the least, to do it in a way that ends Medicare ... is absolutely wrong,” said Brad Schneider, taking on Republican Bob Dold in the north suburban 10th Congressional District.
It’s something of a novel approach for Foster, Schneider and Tammy Duckworth — who faces Republican Rep. Joe Walsh in the Northwest Suburbs — to hold a joint news conference.
The three — who just won their primary elections Tuesday — top national Democrats’ hopes to retake the House of Representatives from Republican control, along with Democrats Cheri Bustos and Brad Harriman, who are running Downstate.
The three suburban hopefuls say they don’t plan to run lock-step campaigns, but will come together on issues they support.
“We all represent slightly different districts,” Foster said. “There will be times when we’re in accord and times we’re not.
“All three of us are running for Congress with the idea of being a thoughtful voice that really thinks about what the ideas are and the long-term good for the people we’re representing. What motivates us is a distaste for the sort of partisan party-line voting that has gotten us into this mess. In this case, we can speak with a clear, unified voice that this is bad policy.”
Asked what she would cut, Duckworth said she would give Medicare the power the Veterans Administration has to negotiate better prices for drugs and she would end the Bush-era tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans.
Would she cut military spending?
“Absolutely — no sacred cows,” said Duckworth, an Iraq War vet. “I flew an amazing helicopter that saved my life [but] do we need the $385 billion for the F35 Joint Forces Striker when we already own and operate the most advanced aircraft?”
Foster concluded, “None of our opponents would be in the majority or even in office if they had told seniors the truth about their intentions about Medicare. This is the Republicans’ second attempt to end Medicare as we know it.”
Walsh said Thursday that he is undecided on the budget proposal put forward by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), but for reasons different than those cited by Duckworth.
The budget attempts to tackle the Medicare problem; and Walsh commends Ryan for trying.
“It takes a lot of courage to talk about Medicare; and I give Ryan credit for that,” Walsh said. “You may not like what Ryan’s doing to Medicare, but if you don’t fix it in eight to 10 years, it will be insolvent.”
The Ryan proposal allows people who are under age 55 now to choose whether to go into the traditional Medical plan or a different option when they turn 65.
“It’s the only budget in this town that’s seriously trying to address the issues in this country.” Walsh said. “The Democratic Senate hasn’t had a budget in three years.
“The president puts forth a budget that doesn’t balance.”
What’s Walsh’s hesitation about supporting Ryan’s version?
“The Ryan budget balances in about 28 years,” Walsh said. “I think we can do better than that.”
In response to the Democrat candidates’ press conference, Illinois GOP Executive Director Jonathan Blessing offered the following comment:
“Candidates Duckworth, Foster, and Schneider are engaged in partisan politics when it comes to Paul Ryan’s ‘Path to Prosperity’ budget. The fact is they’re distorting the truth - The ‘Path to Prosperity’ will cut the deficit; and is the only viable plan which will fix Medicare and keep it from going bankrupt. It’s especially hypocritical that Duckworth, Foster, and Schneider would make these partisan attacks while proposing absolutely no alternative of their own. The fact is that the system is unsustainable; and the Ryan plan will save, strengthen and improve Medicare for future generations.
“Congressman Foster’s presence is especially disingenuous given his vote to cut $500 billion from Medicare and to create a panel of unaccountable bureaucrats with the power to ration care for seniors. Congressman Foster’s vote to gut Medicare is why Illinois families already fired him once.
“My question for Duckworth, Foster, and Schneider is simple: ‘Knowing the Congressional Budget Office forecast Medicare will be bankrupt in 2024, what is your plan to preserve Medicare for future generations?’”