By Abdon M. Pallasch
Three Democratic candidates for Congress from the suburbs held a joint news conference Thursday to denounce a congressional Republican budget plan that would "end Medicare as we know it."
"This is a clear moment where all three of our opponents have to stand up and say whether they support seniors or whether they support (anti-tax activist) Grover Norquist and the pledge they have taken not to raise taxes by one dime for any millionaire in this country," said Bill Foster, running against Republican Judy Biggert in the west suburban 11th Congressional District.
"Everybody understands that we're going to have to make decisions on where we can reduce spending, but to do it on the backs of the people who can afford it the least, to do it in a way that ends Medicare is absolutely wrong," said Brad Schneider, taking on Republican Bob Dold in the north suburban 10th Congressional District.
It's something of a novel approach for Foster, Schneider and Tammy Duckworth -- who faces Republican Rep. Joe Walsh in the northwest suburbs -- to hold a joint news conference.
The three -- who just won their primary elections Tuesday -- top national Democrats' hopes to retake the U.S. House from Republican control, along with Democrats Cheri Bustos and Brad Harriman, who are running Downstate.
They say they don't plan to run lock-step campaigns, but will come together on issues they agree on.
"We all represent slightly different districts," Foster said. "There will be times when we're in accord and times we're not. All three of us are running for Congress with the idea of being a thoughtful voice that really thinks about what the ideas are and the long-term good for the people we're representing. What motivates us is a distaste for the sort of partisan party-line voting that has gotten us into this mess. In this case, we can speak with a clear, unified voice that this is bad policy."
Asked what she would cut, Duckworth said she would give Medicare the power the Veterans Administration has to negotiate better prices for drugs and she would end the Bush-era tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans.
Would she cut military spending?
"Absolutely -- no sacred cows," said Duckworth, an Iraq War vet. "I flew an amazing helicopter that saved my life (but) do we need the $385 billion for the F-35 Joint Forces Striker when we already own and operate the most advanced aircraft?"
Foster concluded, "None of our opponents would be in the majority or even in office if they had told seniors the truth about their intentions about Medicare. This is the Republicans' second attempt to end Medicare as we know it."