Eighth Congressional District candidates talk spending, health care

The economy, the deficit and health care reform were among the subjects that 8th Congressional District candidates discussed Monday with the Northwest Herald Editorial Board.

Incumbent Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean is seeking a fourth term representing the district, and is running against Republican challenger Joe Walsh and Green Party candidate Bill Scheurer.

Bean, of Barrington, said that her voting record establishes her as representing the fiscally conservative and socially moderate beliefs of the district, which includes northeast McHenry County, much of Lake County and far northwestern Cook County.

“[People] want thoughtful deliberation about all bills, not ideological anger,” Bean said.

But Walsh, who recently moved to McHenry, has accused Bean of surrendering her fiscal conservative mantle with her support of the health care bill, cap and trade and other initiatives. Walsh represents the GOP’s latest effort to recapture the district since Bean’s victory against 36-year incumbent Phil Crane in 2004.

“Most of the folks in this district clearly don’t like the direction this country is going,” Walsh said.

To Scheurer, of Lindenhurst, the same argument can be made against both establishment parties. This is his second time running as a third-party candidate – he created his own political party to run in the 2006 election, and captured 5 percent of the vote.

“If you’re after a healthy dose of ‘none of the above,’ I’m your guy,” Scheurer said.

Bean said that she had her constituents’ concerns in mind when she voted for health care reform legislation this year.

Bean said the legislation was necessary to improve health care options, bring down costs and prevent abuses by insurance companies.

“Too many people find out after they make a claim and then get dropped, that it’s legal,” Bean said.

Besides increasing health care options, Bean pointed to a Congressional Budget Office estimate that the reforms would save $1.3 trillion over 20 years.

Walsh said the reforms would further hurt the economy by forcing doctors out of practice and putting further financial strains on businesses. He said the majority of 8th District voters did not approve of the reform legislation.

“Republicans need to be very firm in that this bill needs to be repealed,” Walsh said.

Scheurer called the reform bill a “job-destroying, budget-busting Frankenstein monster,” but said he would have voted for it out of concern that all Americans have access to health insurance. He said that the true way to reform the system was to introduce market forces to offer more competition and choice, in part by offering a voluntary Medicare pay-in program.

Walsh said repealing the health care bill was an important part of lowering the deficit, as is having an “honest adult discussion” about entitlement reform. Bean pointed to her successful efforts to reinstate pay-as-you-go budget rules to limit federal spending. Scheurer said everything needed to be on the table to cut enough to balance the budget, and said he never would vote for a deficit budget if elected.

Both Bean and Walsh support extending the Bush tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year. Scheurer favors extending them for low- and middle-class taxpayers, provided the lost tax revenue is made up through cuts elsewhere.

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