Democrat Bill Foster says he would vote to extend the Bush-era tax cuts only for middle class earners with less than $250,000 of annual income. But Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert -- Foster's opponent in the 11th Congressional District race -- say that's a hypocritical stance since one of the last votes Foster took when he was in Congress two years ago extended the cuts for everyone.
Foster and Biggert squared off in a taped debate with Fox News Chicago, scheduled to air at 8:30 a.m. Sunday. Foster responded to a question saying the Bush tax cuts failed to create jobs, in part, because the wealthiest people took their gains from the tax cuts and did not reinvest the dollars in America.
"If you actually take the time to follow the money, they will spend it on additional summer houses or they will give it to their wealth managers, who will move it offshore," Foster said.
He used that argument to paint a dividing line between himself and Biggert. Foster said Biggert's recent vote in support of extending the tax cuts for everyone, including the those with incomes above $250,000, shows she cares more about wealthy special interests, not the middle class.
But Biggert said now is not the time to impose more taxes on any income group.
"Who are the ones that create the jobs?" Biggert said. "It's the businesses and the small businesses that would really be hurt by this tax."
Biggert questioned why Foster voted to extend the cuts for everyone in 2010 if he thought it was a bad idea. Foster said he cast that vote because it came at "a time when the economy was in a state of collapse for all."
In an interview with the Daily Herald, he took his explanation a step further.
"It was a mistake to have done this two years ago when the economy was still struggling," Foster said. "It's struggling still, but it is not an emergency situation the way it was. We have a very serious problem with the buildup of debt in our country. The idea that this would be solved without asking millionaires and billionaires to be any part of the solution is just not something I believe in."
Foster said he supports a one-year extension of the tax cuts only for people with incomes below $250,000 and a renewed look at the cuts the following year depending on how the economy is performing.
But Biggert campaign spokesman Gill Stevens said Foster's reasons for supporting all the Bush tax cuts in 2010 but only some of the cuts now is anti-reality.
"Just months after saying he didn't regret a single vote he cast, we now learn that Congressman Foster considers what might be his most significant vote -- to keep taxes low for all Americans -- a mistake." Stevens said. "Moreover, his suggestion that the economy is healthier now than it was two years ago is a stark reminder to 11th District voters of just how out of touch he really is."
Foster said Biggert, along with many of her fellow members of Congress, are the ones who are out of touch for failing to see an opportunity for compromise with both parties agreeing on extending the tax cuts to the middle class.
"This is an example of how Washington is broken," Foster said. "Where there is an area of agreement like middle class tax cuts, we should have that agreement and pass it into law. It's being blockaded by people who want to use that area of agreement to protect the tax cuts for the wealthy and the many special interests who have tax breaks they want to protect."