Posted Online: Oct. 04, 2012, 10:37 pm

Bustos: Schilling views out of sync

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By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com

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Photo: Todd Mizener
Cheri Bustos, the Democratic candidate for the 17th Congressional District, gestures while answering a question during a meeting with the Dispatch/Argus editorial board in Moline on October 4, 2012.
Democrat Cheri Bustos says U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, remains wedded to the Tea Party, and holds views that are out of sync with the people of the 17th District.

At an editorial board meeting Thursday with The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus, Ms. Bustos cast Rep. Schilling as a partisan with extreme positions.

"He ran on a Tea Party platform. He votes with his party 92 percent of the time," she said of Rep. Schilling. "He goes to Tea Party rallies, he talks about repealing the 16th Amendment, he talks about a flat tax, those are not centrist positions and they are out of sync with the people of this region."

The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows Congress to levy an income tax. But Rep. Schilling's office said he does not support repealing the 16th Amendment and does not support a flat tax.

Rep. Schilling is supported by Tea Party groups, said his spokesman Jon Schweppe, but also recently received a "Problem-Solvers Seal of Approval" by the bipartisan No Labels group.

In a tough election battle, Ms. Bustos and Rep. Schilling, are both pursuing independent voters and moderates by attempting to show they can compromise and aren't scared of bucking the party line.

Rep. Schilling does vote with his party 92 percent of the time, according to Open Congress, a non-partisan organization that analyzes Congress. The average Republican lawmaker in the U.S. House votes with his party 93.2 percent of the time in the 112th Congress.

Rep. Schilling points out that he votes with U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Mount Vernon, 34 percent of the time. Despite the popular image of Congress as being gridlocked, Democrat and Republican representatives have an average voting similarity of 44 percent, according to Open Congress.

Ms. Bustos, a former East Moline alderwoman wants to keep the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire at the end of the year, for those earning up to $1 million and not $250,000, as President Barack Obama has proposed.

The Bustos campaign repeatedly has criticized Rep. Schilling for supporting tax breaks for millionaires.

But Ms. Bustos said many family farms in the 17th District fall into the income category between $250,000 and $1 million and believes their incomes should be protected from higher taxes.

"This is just another example of alderwoman Bustos attempting to have it both ways on an issue," said Mr. Schweppe.

Ms. Bustos also opposes the establishment of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which from 2013 will develop recommendations to reduce the cost of care for Medicare recipients.

The unelected board is a key component of the Affordable Care Act but a big target for Republicans like Rep. Schilling. They view the board as part of government encroachment on health care, even though it would only make recommendations for Medicare, the government program for seniors.

"What's the oversight on this board? That worries me," Ms. Bustos said.

IPAB would not be allowed to make any recommendation to ration health care, increase Medicare premiums and must exclusively focus on proposals for achieving savings in the delivery of health care services, according to the left-leaning Center for Budget Policies and Priorities.