Dems Duckworth, Foster, Dold join forces on Medicare issue
By ABDON M. PALLASCH firstname.lastname@example.org March 22, 2012 4:04PM
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 24, 2012 8:17AM
Three Democratic candidates for Congress from the Chicago suburbs held a joint news conference Thursday to denounce a Congressional Republican budget plan they claimed 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 Bill 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 8th District 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.
They say they don’t plan to run lock-step campaigns but will come together on issues they agree on.
“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 he is undecided on the budget proposal put forward by 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 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. I think we can do better than that,” Walsh said.