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posted: 10/25/2012 5:52 PM

Mussman, Lawson spar over programs for seniors

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  • John Lawson and Michelle Mussman

      John Lawson and Michelle Mussman

 
 

Democratic state Rep. Michelle Mussman and Republican challenger John Lawson are accusing one another of not having the best interests of seniors at heart.

The candidates for the 56th District House seat are seeking to paint each other as unworthy of seniors' votes during the final days of their campaigns.

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A recent mailer from Mussman, of Schaumburg, says Lawson is being supported by allies of federal politicians who want to cut Social Security and Medicare.

Lawson, a fellow Schaumburg resident who currently serves as Schaumburg Township Assessor, said Mussman's late June vote in favor of Senate Bill 2454 shut down the Circuit Breaker program that offered property tax assistance to homeowners over 65 or disabled citizens who have an annual income below $27,610.

Mussman's mailer cites Friends for Lawson campaign finance disclosures filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections. Her claim largely refers to $25,000 donations to Lawson from U.S. Congressmen Aaron Schock of Illinois' 18th District and John Shimkus of Illinois' 19th District.

Mussman said both congressmen voted in favor of Wisconsin Congressman and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's budget plan that she argues would imperil Social Security and Medicare.

Lawson responded that Mussman, as an incumbent, ought to know that state legislators have no input on those federal programs.

"It's a typical Democratic way of muddying the waters," Lawson said.

Lawson said the money he received from Schock and Shimkus came through the "Young Guns" campaign fundraising program for new Republican candidates. For those candidates like himself who raised $50,000 on their own during June, $100,000 was added by a combination of more senior Republican politicians.

Meanwhile, Mussman defended her vote on Senate Bill 2454 as being for the greater good for seniors. The bill was a bipartisan overhaul of the Medicaid system intended to clear out fraud and recover $350 million for those who truly need it, she said.

"There's a lot of fraud in the system," Mussman said. "(The bill) passed by a wide majority."

While the bill did end Circuit Breaker, Mussman believes its other positive aspects compensate for the loss. Her office and the Kenneth Young Center are able to direct financially struggling seniors to other sources of assistance, she added.

Lawson said he would have never voted for a bill containing any negative impact on seniors, even if he was unsuccessful in negotiating it out of the bill.

"If there is something in a bill that I don't agree with, I would not vote for it," Lawson said.

Mussman said the cost of such a decision would have meant the continuation of hundreds of millions of dollars of fraud in the Medicaid system.

"We would have been allowing all this waste to leak out of the system," she said.

The 56th District includes Schaumburg and portions of Hoffman Estates, Elk Grove Village, Bartlett, Hanover Park, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Roselle.

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