How 6th District Democrats would change Republican tax law

Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct the amount the Republican tax law is projected to add to the federal deficit.

U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam was one of the Congressional shepherds of the Republican tax bill who helped the legislation become law.

"As the tax policy subcommittee chair, I played a key role in ensuring this plan would be good for our district," Roskam said. "This bill effectively cuts taxes for middle- to lower-income Americans across the country."

Roskam said he worked to increase the amount of property taxes people can deduct on their federal returns and to increase the amount of the child tax credit.

"Another win for residents of the 6th District," he said.

But the seven Democrats hoping to run against the longtime congressman from Wheaton in the November general election strongly oppose the tax policy changes, saying they benefit the rich, create a "path to inequality," or represent a "big, bold failure."

The Democrats running against each other in the March 20 primary are all trying to position themselves as the left-leaning leader to take on Roskam and represent the large, suburban 6th District from a different perspective.

Here's what the Democratic candidates have to say about the tax code changes - and the ideas they propose instead.

Carole Cheney

The tax code is a place for the country to show its morals and act on its values, Cheney told a crowd of 800 during a forum in Carol Stream. That's why she says she opposes the GOP tax bill: it's unfair.

"This tax plan is a path to inequality with a clear destination: an economy and society that empowers a wealthy few, leaving hardworking families stuck in neutral," said Cheney, 56, of Naperville, and a former district chief of staff for 11th District U.S. Rep. Bill Foster.

She says her plan would make the tax system more progressive.

"Simplifying the tax code doesn't mean eliminating or reducing the number of brackets," she said. "Actually, increasing the number of brackets would make the tax code more fair for individuals in the society."

Ryan Huffman

It's a "heist," Huffman said of the recently approved tax policy changes.

"This plan delivers massive amounts of wealth to the people and corporations who need it least, while offering only scraps for the rest of us," the 31-year-old policy analyst from Palatine said.

Huffman said his approach to tax policy would not be top-down. He said he doubts the trickle-down philosophy that some say will benefit everyday workers because of lower tax rates for corporations. He said the tax structure instead should focus on allowing investment in roads and bridges, education and health care.

Amanda Howland

The tax plan wasn't written for the "average American," but for campaign donors, corporation leaders and wealthy corporations, Howland said.

Because the plan is likely to add $1 trillion to the federal deficit during the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, Howland said it is "laying the groundwork for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."

Howland, a 65-year-old College of Lake County trustee and civil rights attorney who ran against Roskam in 2016, said she will fight for "a new, fairer tax code that does not prioritize the wealthy over middle- and working-class families."

Included in such a plan, she said, should be tax incentives for job creation, infrastructure investment and workforce training.

Sean Casten

Roskam's support for the tax changes shows he "put corporations and the wealthiest Americans first," said Casten, a 46-year-old scientist, engineer and entrepreneur from Downers Grove.

Tax reform isn't on Casten's personal list of top issues because it creates more problems than it solves, he said during the Carol Stream forum. But if pressed, Casten said he would create tax incentives for businesses to invest in infrastructure.

Kelly Mazeski

One of the worst provisions of the Republican tax law, in Mazeski's eyes, is it "guts the state and local tax deduction and property tax deduction." She said the change will lead to "double taxation on Illinois middle-class families."

Indeed, the bill caps the amount of state and local taxes that can be deducted from federal returns at $10,000. The cap is expected to affect owners of higher-valued or higher-taxed homes throughout the suburbs and has led many to prepay next year's property taxes now.

Mazeski, 58, and a Barrington Hills plan commission member, said she's confident voters will hold Roskam accountable for his support of the tax overhaul. If elected, she would propose tax breaks on small businesses, especially for research and development, to ensure the nation's technological advances don't fall behind.

Jennifer Zordani

"A big, bold failure," is Zordani's description of the Republican tax law, which she says fell short of enacting a comprehensive, bipartisan plan for stability and fairness.

Under the changes in the tax code, Zordani said the nation won't be able to fix infrastructure, decrease the national debt or strengthen the social safety net for people in need.

Tax credits to businesses to create jobs would be her priority instead, said Zordani, a 53-year-old regulatory and financial services attorney of Clarendon Hills.

Becky Anderson Wilkins

If more women and people of diverse viewpoints negotiated the Republican tax law, Anderson Wilkins said the result would have been different. Instead, she said the law "doesn't make sense" and leaves out small businesses, a major economic engine that also provide what she calls "a social capital."

Anderson Wilkins, a 59-year-old small business owner and Naperville City Council member, said the cap on state and local tax deductions will hurt many in the district as big corporations get "a handout."

"This is about our values and what we think about people and how we're going to help people," she said. "We need a progressive income tax to make sure the rich pay their fair share."

Forum to host hopefuls looking to beat Roskam

Seven Democrats want shot at unseating Roskam

Carole Cheney
Ryan Huffman
Amanda Howland
Sean Casten
Kelly Mazeski
Jennifer Zordani
Becky Anderson Wilkins

6th District boundaries

The 6th U.S. Congressional District of Illinois takes the shape of a "C" and stretches from Naperville to Tower Lakes in parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry Counties. The district includes all or parts of the following communities: Algonquin, Barrington, Barrington Hills, Bartlett, Burr Ridge, Carol Stream, Cary, Clarendon Hills, Crystal Lake, Darien, Deer Park, Downers Grove, East Dundee, Elgin, Forest Lake, Fox River Grove, Glen Ellyn, Gilberts, Hawthorn Woods, Hinsdale, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, Kildeer, Lake Barrington, Lake in the Hills, Lakewood, Lake Zurich, Lisle, Lombard, Long Grove, Naperville, North Barrington, Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace, Oakwood Hills, Palatine, Port Barrington, Rolling Meadows, South Barrington, Sleepy Hollow, South Elgin, St. Charles, Tower Lakes, Trout Valley, Warrenville, Wayne, West Chicago, West Dundee, Westmont, Wheaton, Willowbrook and Winfield.

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