To Lauren Underwood, tax reform should be simple and fair.
“It should put middle-class families and small businesses first,” the 14th Congressional District candidate from Naperville told the Northwest Herald Editorial Board during an hourlong stop Wednesday in Crystal Lake.
But when her Republican opponent – U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren – voted in support of President Donald Trump’s sweeping $1.5 trillion tax overhaul that capped homeowners’ property tax deductions at $10,000 for 2018, Underwood said, taxpayers in the 14th District did not get a fair shake.
“This bill gave the majority of the benefit to the corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans,” said Underwood, a 31-year-old Naperville nurse who President Barack Obama appointed to serve as a senior adviser in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Many of Trump’s fellow Republicans celebrated the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as a “historic victory for the American people,” but Underwood characterized the law as a broken deal between the federal government and the American people.
The $10,000 state and local tax deduction cap built into the law does not best serve taxpayers of the 14th District, where the average deduction before the bill passed was $14,453, Underwood said.
“Randy Hultgren supported the tax plan in the face of very clear advocacy and outreach from families all across our district saying how bad it would hurt us,” Underwood said. “He sold us out. ... The deal was we pay these high property taxes and know that we can deduct them from our federal taxes. That deal has now been broken, and our congressman – our representative – supported it.
“For me, that’s just unacceptable. You have to have the back of the folks you represent. [Hultgren] has not demonstrated the willingness to do that.”
Hultgren has been representing the 14th Congressional District – which covers parts of DeKalb, McHenry, Kendall, Lake, DuPage and Will counties – since 2011. He will face Underwood in November’s general election.
Underwood’s campaign focuses on health care reform – particularly defending patients with pre-existing conditions against repeals of Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
“[Hultgren] said he was only going to support a version of Obamacare repeal to let people with pre-existing conditions keep their health care coverage,” Underwood said. “Then he went and voted for the American Health Care Act, which is the version of repeal that did the opposite [and] made it cost-prohibited for people like me to be able to get insurance coverage.”
Underwood suffers from a heart condition. She was upset with Hultgren’s support of the repeal. That’s when she decided to run for office.
The only way to fix health care, she said, is Democratic leadership.
“I see lowering prescription drug prices as one of the critical issues of the first 100 days,” she said. “It is my expectation that a bill would be brought to the floor of the House in that first
100 days of a Democratic administration.”