Pioneer Local: Schakowsky, Pollak Differ on Extending Tax Cuts for Wealthy

Pioneer Local: Schakowsky, Pollak Differ on Extending Tax Cuts for Wealthy
September 28th, 2010
by Karen Berkowitz

Voters in the 9th Congressional District don't need to cut through political double-speak to figure out where U.S. Rep. Janice Schakowsky, D-9th, of Evanston, and Joel Pollak, her Republican challenger from Skokie, stand on the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts to higher-income earners.

Schakowsky takes President Barack Obama's position that the lower tax rates should be extended for individuals and couples with taxable income of less than $200,000 and $250,000, respectively, but allowed to expire for higher-income taxpayers on income over those amounts.

"The cost of extending those cuts is about $700 billion," said Schakowsky, during a meeting with an editorial board at Pioneer Press. "We simply cannot afford that, and economists agree," said Schakowsky, a six-term incumbent who sits on the 18-member Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

Asked if an across-the-board renewal might be needed to draw Republican support, Schakowsky responded, "I think it is worth making a fight over."

"It is so hypocritical," she said. "The very same people who are on the verge of hysteria about the deficit are saying, at the same time, we ought to extend this tax cut for the wealthiest Americans."

Challenger's take
Pollak offered a different take during a separate meeting with the editorial board.

"It is true that it only affects 2 to 3 percent of the top income earners. The difficulty is that those 2 to 3 percent of people account for 48 percent of business income. So you are not just affecting income earners; you are affecting job creators.

"It is a losing proposition."

Schakowsky contended that continuing the cuts for top income earners won't help the economy because "they are spending what they are going to spend."

Pollak said the tax cuts brought revenue into the government between 2003 and 2007, according to a study by the Office of Management and Budget.

"I don't think every tax cut produces a revenue gain. I think we have pretty much bottomed out. That is consensus among economists," said Pollak.

The candidate believes a cut in the capital gains tax and tax credits for business investment "would almost certainly bring in additional revenue."

The tax cuts are scheduled to expire Dec. 31 barring congressional action, which may be deferred until after the Nov. 2 election.

Should tax rates revert to pre-cut levels, the six tax brackets with rates ranging from 10 to 35 percent would be replaced by five income brackets ranging from 15 to 39.6 percent.