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updated: 10/24/2012 10:24 PM

Taxes, immigration highlight 11th Congressional debate

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  • Republican Judy Biggert, left, opposes Democrat Bill Foster in the 11th Congressional District for the 2012 General Election.

    Republican Judy Biggert, left, opposes Democrat Bill Foster in the 11th Congressional District for the 2012 General Election.


In their final televised debate, Republican Judy Biggert and Democrat Bill Foster drew dividing lines on several key positions in the 11th Congressional District. The political rivals squared off on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" program Wednesday evening.

Here's what they had to say on taxes and immigration:

Debt and deficit reduction is an issue both candidates have shown a clear difference of opinion. Foster favors ending the Bush tax cuts for incomes above $250,000. In the past, he's referred to his vote to extend the tax cuts in 2010 as "a mistake." Wednesday night he clarified the nature of that mistake.

"What I have always supported is to let them expire for incomes over $250,000," Foster said. "There was not that option for me to vote for (in 2010). So I held my nose and voted for it."

Biggert said letting the tax cuts expire for incomes above $250,000 will place a large burden on small businesses. But her answer also indicated she has her own version of the Grover Norquist Taxpayer Protection Pledge. That pledge, which Biggert signed, binds her to oppose "any and all tax increases," according to Americans for Tax Reform website.

On Wednesday, Biggert said she expects new taxes to be on the table during budget negotiations.

"We need to have less spending," Biggert said. "Not to raise taxes is important."

She said she supports ending subsidies for oil, corporate farming and ethanol. She also supports Mitt Romney's plan to close as-yet undefined tax loopholes.

"I wouldn't want to raise taxes on the middle class, and I wouldn't want to lower taxes on the well off," Biggert said.

Specifically asked if she would support any new taxes, Biggert said, "that's something that's on the table. It really is. I don't think we would ever want to raise the income tax rate. But there are other things we could consider."

That would include a budget cutting ratio of $1 of tax hikes for every $10 dollars in tax cuts she said.

"We need to go in with an open mind, and put it on the table," Biggert said.

Both candidates explained their positions on the DREAM Act, which is a proposal to provide conditional permanent legal residency to undocumented residents who arrived in the United States as minors and have been here for at least five years. The act provides a path to permanent legal residency through military service or higher education.

Foster voted in favor of the DREAM Act while in Congress. Biggert voted against it.

Foster simply said his support for the DREAM Act was "one of my proudest votes in Congress."

Biggert said she would only support some consideration for youth brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents as part of comprehensive immigration reform.

"I feel really bad about these young people that came here, and through no fault of their own are here illegally," Biggert said. "But I don't think anyone should jump ahead of those that have been standing in line to come here legally."

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