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Other Nation

Debate in new 14th District focused on economy

In less than two weeks, voters in the 14th Congressional District will have to choose between Republican incumbent Rep. Randy Hultgren and his Democratic challenger Dennis Anderson.

The eastern part of DeKalb County is included in the new 14th District.

Eliminating certain government regulations and lowering the tax burden will spur job growth, Hultgren said. Job growth won’t happen, he said, unless small businesses are certain about their future.

Anderson thinks Congress can jump-start the economy by passing President Barack Obama’s jobs bill. He said the investments in infrastructure will have ripple effects in the U.S. economy.

Hultgren says he wants to streamline the federal government, pointing to a failed initiative he backed that would have consolidated more than 100 departments in the U.S. Transportation Department.

“We need to look line-by-line at what we’re spending,” Hultgren said.

He added that the only exceptions he would make to the rule are Social Security, Medicare and defense spending.

Anderson, however, said his goal is not large government or small government, but good government. He said there are federal programs that can be cut, including defense-oriented ones. He added that he would support tax increases if they are necessary.

“I don’t think you’ll find any economist who says spending cuts alone or raising taxes alone will erase the deficit,” Anderson said.

Anderson said he disapproved of the “Norquist pledge” – a reference to the anti-tax increase pledge the Americans for Tax Reform advertises.

The group advocates for a national flat tax.

Hultgren has pledged opposition to any and all tax increases. In an interview, Hultgren said it would be wrong to support any tax increase until the government reins in its spending.

“Until we start that process, I think it’s absolutely wrong to say ‘let’s take more and feed this spending habit,’ ” Hultgren said.

Both Hultgren and Anderson expressed hope that Congress would deal with the automatic spending cuts and tax increases that are scheduled to occur in January.

Political and economic experts believe this “fiscal cliff” will be disastrous for the economy in the short term.

“As soon as the election is over, we have to get out there and get to work on this,” Hultgren said.

Both Hultgren and Anderson said they have not interacted much. Hultgren said they are both fundamentally different and Anderson represents the wrong direction the district wants to go in.

Anderson said Hultgren has sponsored bills that only affect a small portion of the population, such as abstinence-based sex education.

“We ought to have a higher expectation of representation in Congress,” Anderson said.

Age: 61
Town: Gurnee
Education: Bachelor's degree, economics and political science, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Career: Retired
Marital status: Married

Age: 46
Town: Winfield
Education: Juris doctor, Chicago-Kent College of Law; Bachelor's degree, Bethel University, Minnesota
Career: Vice President of marketing, Performance Trust Investment Advisors
Marital status:Married; Wife – Christy
Children: Karsten, Kylie, Kaden, Koleson (Kole)

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