By Steve Sadin
A critical issue in the campaign for the 10th Congressional District seat between Rep. Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth) and his Democratic challenger, Deerfield management consultant Brad Schneider will be the House Republican Budget.
Just after the legislation passed March 29 with Dold's affirmative vote one of 228 in favor, President Barack Obama criticized it. At the same time, presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney embraced the plan and its author, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
With the issue front and center in the Presidential campaign, Schneider and Dold are staking out their own positions on two particular parts of the budget plan, tax reform and Medicare. They both agree change is necessary.
While Dold has indicated his openness to looking at a number of proposals he has made it clear the House Republican budget is intended to be revenue neutral, according to his Communications Director Stefani Zimmerman.
Schneider wants to examine budget cuts as much as possible as long as they do not put an excessive burden on seniors and middle class families. He makes no guarantee tax reform he would support would not increase tax rates. He wants to return to spending-revenue ratios of achieved during the administrative of former President Bill Clinton.
Schneider Guards His Red Lines
"I have red lines I will not cross," Schneider said. "We have to cut as much we can. After that we can determine what the tax rate will be," he added explaining his approach to comprehensive tax reform. "If you eliminate the windfalls and the shortfalls you're doing a pretty good job."
Dold is taking a closer look at eliminating loopholes in the Internal Revenue Code that let people pay less tax to make the reduced individual rates of the proposed budget responsible.
"This budget blueprint takes a comprehensive approach to pro-growth tax reform and puts every special interest and lobbyist loophole on the table.," Dold said "I am willing to look at any serious proposal when it comes to comprehensive tax reform."
According to Zimmerman, the proposed budget directs the appropriate House committee to put every special interest deduction and loophole on the table, study the impact of each, and determine which of the hundreds are harmful and should be removed.
Dold, Schneider Know Medicare Changes Are Necessary
Both Dold and Schneider agree Medicare is not sustainable in its present form and change is necessary. According to Zimmerman, the program will be insolvent in 12 years based on estimates of Medicare's actuaries. Dold will change nothing for people over 55.
"Both budgets I voted for do not change anything for those 55 or older," Dold said. "These budgets protect and preserve the benefits that seniors expect and deserve and strengthen them for the future." People under 55 will receive vouchers to help pay for private insurance.
Schneider put the matter in a different light explaining the costs of health care are accelerating much faster than the costs of other goods and services in the country.
"Health care costs are increasing three to four times faster than the rate of inflation," Schneider said. "The Affordable Care Act focuses on this." He prefers these ideas a voucher system.
Dold likes elements of the proposed budget's treatment of Medicare because it will give more to those with greater needs and the amount of the voucher will be tied to premium costs, according to Zimmerman.
Seniors with lower incomes would be provided with fully funded health savings accounts to cover any out-of-pocket costs. Payments would be risk-adjusted prohibiting plans from cherry-picking the healthiest seniors, according to Zimmerman.
When it comes to both Medicare and tax reform, Schneider makes it clear nothing can be done to make life harder on middle class families and seniors while benefits go to people with substantial means. "People who can least afford it should not carry the burden," he said.