Despite his claims to the contrary, congressional candidate Brad Schneider's public stance on extending the Bush-era tax cuts has changed since the Democratic primary.
In a recent Daily Herald candidate questionnaire, Schneider -- who's running against incumbent Republican Robert Dold for the suburban 10th District seat -- said he supports extending at least some of those tax cuts.
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"I have continuously said that, at the very minimum, the Bush tax cuts for income under $250,000 should be extended," Schneider, of Deerfield, said.
Except he hasn't.
When the Daily Herald asked Schneider about the tax cuts ahead of the March primary, he said nothing about extending them.
"We need to stop kicking the can down the road and rethink our entire tax system toward long-term, comprehensive tax reform," Schneider wrote.
His opposition to extending the cuts was even clearer when he appeared on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" after winning the primary.
"We have the Bush tax cuts expiring at the end of 2012. I'd like to see them all expire," Schneider told host Phil Ponce.
In a telephone interview Thursday, Schneider insisted he hasn't wavered on the issue.
"My position has been consistent that middle class families should not pay more taxes," he said. "That hasn't changed."
When pressed to explain his earlier comments, Schneider said he "certainly could have been more artful" in speaking about the issue.
Dold, a freshman lawmaker from Kenilworth, consistently has said he believes the tax cuts should be extended for all Americans. His campaign spokesman, John McGovern, accused Schneider of trying to hide from his earlier comments.
"Once again, Brad Schneider is trying to mislead voters about his steadfast support for tax increases," McGovern said in an email.
The Dold campaign isn't the only organization that's criticized Schneider on the issue.
The Illinois Republican Party spliced together clips of Schneider endorsing the cuts' demise for a YouTube video that's had nearly 500 views since it was posted about two months ago.
Adopted in 2001 and 2003, the Bush-era tax cuts were due to expire in 2010 but were extended until the end of this year.
Dold believes raising taxes in an economic downturn is the wrong thing to do.
"The effect of taking more money from the taxpayers would be extremely harmful to the small businesses we are counting on to drive economic growth and lower the unemployment rate," he said in his most recent Daily Herald questionnaire.
Instead of reinstituting those income taxes, lawmakers should reform the tax code, eliminate corporate tax loopholes and subsidies for unspecified special interests, and lower tax rates overall, Dold said.
In Thursday's interview, Schneider said he believes the tax cuts need to remain in place for working-class families but not the wealthiest Americans.
He cited a report by the Congressional Budget Office that stated ending the Bush tax cuts for annual income over $250,000 would raise $950 billion for the federal government over 10 years.
"We need to start tackling our deficits," Schneider said. "Letting the Bush tax cuts expire on the wealthiest families is a step in the right direction."