CHICAGO -- The two candidates for a congressional seat that represents part of the Twin Cities sparred Tuesday over the federal Wall Street bailout and extending Bush-era tax cuts.
Freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson opposed the massive federal spending measure to help investment firms when she was running in the 11th Congressional District two years ago.
"It was the thing that everybody loved to hate, but especially me because I lived in this district," Halvorson, of Crete, told the Tribune editorial board Tuesday. "I know these people. They felt that Wall Street got everything, and the people that live in my district got nothing. And they still feel that way."
But Halvorson said she voted for the $787 billion recovery act to help stop the economy from collapsing.
Republican challenger Adam Kinzinger said he would have supported neither the stimulus bill nor the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
"It's not that I'm against the government having backed the financial system," said Kinzinger, an Air Force captain from Manteno. "I'm against what this represented and kind of the rushed focus. ... Then the follow-up again with the stimulus I think was absolutely terrible."
The Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire at year's end. Kinzinger said he would extend them without restrictions, while Halvorson would extend them only for people earning less than $250,000 a year. Many of the people earning more than $250,000 are small-business owners or job creators, Kinzinger argued.
"To say, ‘You know what. You made too much. We're going to take your tax cut away,"‘ Kinzinger said. "That's going to be terrible for the economy."
The candidates also quarreled over Halvorson campaign ads that mocked his youth -- Kinzinger is 32, Halvorson is 52 -- and had him standing in front of a communist Chinese flag.
"It has nothing to do with his age," Halvorson said. "It has everything to do with his vision, which I believe has dire consequences for the district."
Halvorson and Kinzinger are opponents in a nationally watched race for a district that stretches from Joliet to Bloomington. Republican U.S. Rep. Jerry Weller held the seat for 14 years before he opted not to seek re-election in 2008 amid questions about his Nicaraguan land deals. Democrat Halvorson won with 58 percent of the vote.