Underwood says Hultgren sold out on tax cuts

Lauren Underwood added her voice this week to those of 14th Congressional District residents who told Rep. Randy Hultgren last month that they are not impressed by the recent federal tax overhaul.

Underwood, a Naperville Democrat, is challenging Hultgren, a Plano Republican, for his seat in November. In response to questions from a small audience at McHenry County College, she said she isn't surprised local residents aren't experiencing a windfall from the tax cuts.

"I don't spend a lot of time thinking about the reported $1,600 an average family might see in a tax cut," Underwood said. "Families aren't feeling it."

The reason, she explained, is that the $1,600 benefit is wiped out by the decreased ability to take advantage of state and local tax deductions. Underwood said the average 14th District resident had about $14,500 in state and local tax deductions. The cap imposed by the federal tax overhaul limits such deductions to $10,000.

"So now we have a new burden of $4,500," she said. "Does a $1,600 cut outweigh a new $4,500 burden? I don't think so. We have a representative who knew this was going to happen, who heard from us about the impact that was going to happen, and he still supported the tax plan. That is selling out. Tax reform should be simple and fair, putting the middle class and small businesses first."

Underwood said the pressure going forward will be to cut Medicare spending, Social Security benefits and assistance programs like SNAP to address the additional deficit created by the tax cuts.

Hultgren was invited to the forum, but the League of Women Voters, who organized the event, said he declined to attend. He also has declined another league invitation for a forum scheduled in Kane County next Tuesday.

Hultgren hosted his own question-and-answer sessions just last month, where the tax cuts were a focus for the attendees.

At a McHenry County forum, the audience delivered a resounding "no" when he asked them if they were better off following the tax cuts. Hultgren responded that he hasn't seen evidence of tax cut benefits flooding to the wealthy at the expense of all other classes. He highlighted the tax cuts as a key to spurring the local economy and creating local jobs.

"Families are seeing growth and opportunity," Hultgren said at the earlier forum. "I will say that until the very end."

In an interview after that forum, Hultgren said he would support making the new individual tax rates created by the overhaul permanent. House Republicans have since introduced legislation to lock in the individual rates beyond 2025. Hultgren's staff did not immediately respond to questions about whether he will support that bill.

The 14th District includes parts of DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry Counties.

Lauren Underwood
Randy Hultgren
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