Democrats direct ire at tax reform bill Roskam helped write
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At one point during Saturday morning's candidate forum for the seven Democrats running for their party's nomination in the 6th Congressional District, moderator Tahman Bradley asked the panel to simply raise their hands if they would have voted for the federal tax bill that Republican incumbent Peter Roskam helped draft.
No hands went up.
Roskam, a five-term congressman from Wheaton whom the seven are aiming to unseat, has made his involvement in the passage of the tax bill a central point of his reelection bid, but the Democrats believe it will ultimately be his undoing. They even point out that Gov. Bruce Rauner, a fellow Republican, has criticized the bill and its likely effects on the state's and local government finances.
"Roskam wants to run on this bill, and I think that's great because he's going to lose on this bill," said Kelly Mazeski of Barrington Hills.
While Republicans touted the new tax bill's increase in standard deductions, it also capped the amount of property and income taxes that can be claimed when itemizing tax deductions, something Democrats believe many taxpayers in the district relied on to reduce their tax burden.
"This tax bill was simple bait and switch," said Amanda Howland of Lake Zurich.
In addition to the changes to personal income tax rules, the tax bill also handed corporations significant breaks. The Democrats trying to unseat Roskam accused him of helping his corporate donors and neglecting his constituents.
"He messages this plan as a gift for taxpayers, but it will only increase the inequality," said Carole Cheney of Naperville. "It's a gift to no one but corporations."
Because the tax bill also removes exemptions for multiple children, some families could wind up getting less of a tax break under the new rules, the Democrats said.
"This was a failure to protect working families for the long term," said Jennifer Zordani of Clarendon Hills. "It's an abdication of Roskam's responsibility and benefits those playing the game, not those in the game."
Other candidates piled on.
"This is creating an aristocracy where the wealthy get wealthier," said Becky Anderson Wilkins of Naperville. "This is not reform; this is a tax shell game."
Ryan Huffman, a candidate from Palatine, said the tax bill is an example of the Republican's poor fiscal policies for the past 30 years.
"This is borrowing from the future to pay for the present," he said. "They've been doing this since Reagan, where they get in power and spend like crazy, then when they aren't in power they complain about the deficit."
Sean Casten of Downers Grove said the Republicans were simply trying to curry goodwill from voters by pushing the tax bill while ignoring bigger issues.
"With all the problems we're facing, I'm not sure tax reform cracks my top 10," he said. "I do know it's going to do nothing to stimulate the economy."
The 6th Congressional District is oddly shaped, covering various parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties stretching as far northwest as Crystal Lake and as far southeast as Willowbrook, but not most of the communities in between.
Voters will decide March 20 which Democrat will square off against Roskam in November.