Dem candidates for Congress talk budget deficit

March 22, 2012 2:50:51 PM PDT
How to cut the federal budget deficit will be a major issue during this election year.

Three Democratic candidates for Congress in Illinois appeared together Thursday to explain how their positions differed from their Republican challengers.

After redrawing the congressional maps without any Republican input for the first time in decades, Illinois Democrats believe they can recapture at least three districts currently held by Republicans in the Chicago region. The party's three contenders for those seats held a rare, joint news conference to oppose Medicare cuts proposed in Washington.

"We cannot balance the budget on the backs of our most vulnerable," said Tammy Duckworth, (D) 8th Congressional District candidate.

The three Democratic challengers wanted their positions made clear on the proposed House budget. The Republican plan calls for cuts in the federal Medicare program requiring some seniors to pay more for doctors' visits and prescription drugs.

"For those who cannot afford those out-of-pocket costs, they will have no alternative but going without the healthcare that they need," said Bill Foster, (D) 11th Congressional District candidate.

"We need to make our decisions in a way that doesn't put the burden on the people that can afford it the least," said Brad Schneider, (D) 10th Congressional District candidate.

Duckworth is challenging Republican first-termer Joe Walsh in the 8th Congressional District. Schneider wants to make 10th District freshman Robert Dold a one-termer, and Foster -- who once represented the 14th -- is trying to oust seven-term Congresswoman Judy Biggert in the 11th District.

Republican Dold is undecided on the proposed Medicare cuts but warned Thursday on the House floor that spending reductions must happen during this session.

"We must pass a budget that takes the steps necessary to reign in the out-of-control spending that we our country has today," Dold said.

Duckworth, Schneider and Foster are running in districts redrawn by their own party to include as many Democratic voters in each as possible.

Duckworth, who is trying to unseat tea partier Walsh, says she isn't concerned that Republicans may have been disenfranchised by the remap.

"If you talk about disenfranchisement, talk about all the people who voted for Joe Walsh who then turned around and said he didn't go to Washington to serve his constituency, he went to Washington to be a poster child for the Tea Party--his exact words," said Duckworth. "That's disenfranchisement of your constituents."

Congressman Walsh issued a statement calling Duckworth "a Washington insider"..."appointed by Blagojevich, hand-selected by Obama and endorsed by Durbin, Rahm and Axelrod."

Walsh also called the Democratic candidate the "golden child of the liberal elite."