Republican U.S. Rep. Robert Dold and Democratic challenger Brad Schneider sparred about tax cuts, negative campaign ads and tax returns in a Saturday debate aimed at voters in the 10th Congressional District.
The debate, airing at 10:30 a.m. Sunday on ABC 7, was organized by ABC 7 and the League of Women Voters of Illinois. Dold, of Kenilworth, is vying for a second term while Schneider, of Deerfield, is a first-time candidate.
Dold and Schneider have opposing views on President Barack Obama's proposal to end the Bush-era tax cuts for those who make $250,000 yearly and up.
"I don't believe that raising taxes in this fragile economy right now is the appropriate response," Dold said, arguing that many small business owners file as individuals and could pay more if the tax cuts were allowed to expire.
Schneider said going back to higher, 1990s tax rates for those earning over $250,000 would help the economy grow. "We see a Republican party that continues to want to give more tax breaks to millionaires," he said.
The candidates were also given the chance to set the record straight on what they considered false campaign ads from their opponent.
"The most pernicious lie we're seeing in this campaign is the idea that I want to raise taxes," Schneider said, later adding, "We can't raise taxes on working families. Families are struggling. Skilled workers still can't find jobs."
Dold called "preposterous" the notion that he wants to drill in Lake Michigan and defund Planned Parenthood, pointing out he was the only Republican who voted against an amendment to stop funding the agency.
He also refuted Schneider's claims that he's aligned with the Tea Party, calling himself "one of the most independent partisan thinkers." "I have broken with the party on major issues," he said, then asked Schneider to name three instances in which he did the same with the Democrats.
Schneider responded by calling himself a moderate who was attacked over the years for working with Republicans such as U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, the former 10th District congressman. "I know my party can do a lot more to help small business," Schneider said, such as simplifying the tax code.
Both agreed Congress must address the federal deficit but accused each other of not doing enough to bridge the gap between two sides of the aisle.
"You're saying that unless we all go to your side of thinking, then it's bad," Dold said.
"Voters here don't deserve someone who's going to say something in Chicago and vote differently in Washington," Schneider later replied.
Schneider attacked Dold for voting against the Affordable Care Act. Dold admitted he agreed with some parts of the law, such as allowing children to remain on parents' plans until age 26 and providing coverage for pre-existing conditions, but believes it was too much of a one-sided effort.
Dold, in turn, attacked Schneider for not releasing his tax returns. Schneider argued he disclosed all pertinent financial matters in U.S. House disclosure forms, and that releasing joint tax returns would infringe on his wife's privacy. "(My wife) is not running for Congress," he said.
Dold called those "excuses," arguing that Schneider touts his business experience but his consulting business reports no revenues in at least two years. "Release the tax returns. Show us what is going on. What are you afraid of? Or more realistically, what are you hiding?" Dold said.
The debate also briefly touched on Iran's efforts to develop functional nuclear weapons.
Dold said that while he agrees with sanctions against Iran, he also wants a "credible military option."
"They have to believe we have the ability and willingness to put boot on the grounds," he said. He also said that Schneider has said he support J Street, a pro-peace organization.
Schneider responded that he's been advocating for strong U.S.-Israel relationships for more than 30 years, and touted his involvement with The American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
"I've been talking about Iran, advocating in Washington, since 2002," he said. "Israel and the United States are served as a bipartisanship. I think it's despicable for Mr. Dold to try to create a partisan divide."
The 10th Congressional District includes much of central Lake County and a portion of northern Cook County.