Illinois election: Schneider declines opponent’s call to debate – Chicago Tribune

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Amid questions at a town hall meeting from residents about inflation, potential nuclear attacks in Ukraine and gun violence, U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Highland Park, received a visit from his Republican opponent — Joe Severino of Lake Forest — in the Nov. 8 election.

Severino wanted to debate Schneider on the spot about the issues, but the congressman said he cannot engage in political discourse when he is participating in an event in his official capacity as the representative of the 10th Congressional District of Illinois.

Before the gathering was over, Schneider did talk about how the Inflation Reduction Act enacted into law in August works, and his views about a possible nuclear attack by Russia against Ukraine, among other issues, but they came in response to audience questions.

Schneider spent more than an hour updating more than 60 people during one of his regular Congress on Your Corner events Saturday at the Vernon Township offices in Buffalo Grove about the work he was doing the past few months and answering their questions.

After Severino, who was standing at the back of the room, announced his presence and held up a campaign sign, another man asking a question displayed a sign supporting Schneider, saying he had a sign too. At that point, Schneider tried to put an end to the conflict.

“I’m going to ask everyone here not to show your signs today,” Schneider said. “This is an official event; it’s not a campaign event.”

Complaining Schneider was unwilling to debate him, Severino pressed the issue saying he was using the town hall to engage Schneider because no debates were scheduled between the two candidates.

Ed Bestvina, standing in crowd, asks U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Highland Park, a question during a town hall Saturday in Buffalo Grove

Ed Bestvina, standing in crowd, asks U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Highland Park, a question during a town hall Saturday in Buffalo Grove (Steve Sadin / Lake County News-Sun)

“You’re avoiding a debate,” Severino said as he held up papers he received after making Freedom of Information Act requests from governmental entities from which he demanded answers.

As Severino persisted, two police officers who were in the room came to the area around the stage and microphone for questioners as a member of Schneider’s staff tried to maintain calm.

“Joe, you’re welcome to stay,” Schneider said. “You’re welcome to have a seat. You’re welcome to stay. If you’re disruptive, I’ll have to ask you to leave.”

Severino eventually left the room.

Ed Bestvina of Lincolnshire asked Schneider to give two ways the Inflation Reduction Act actually lowered the costs of goods this year since healthcare cost reductions arrive in coming years.. After Schneider talked about the legislation’s provisions, Bestvina was not satisfied

“So, it’s not going to reduce inflation?” Bestvina said.

Schneider said incentives to the business community are designed to motivate companies to increase production with the goal of more goods on the market and lower prices for them. Congress has no power to enforce price reductions, he said.

“Congress doesn’t drill,” Schneider said. “Congress can create the incentives. Industry has to pick up on the incentives. The (Congressional Budget Office) predicts it will reduce inflation. It’s not going to do it all. That’s why the banks are doing their part.”

Immediately after Bestvina asked about one aspect of the Inflation Reduction Act, another man in the audience asked how the bill’s provision requiring corporations to pay more income tax will not motivate a price increase.

Since some businesses with profits in excess of $1 billion annually pay no taxes for a variety of reasons allowed under tax laws, Schneider said they should and the CBO indicates it will have that effect.

“The estimate is it will bring down inflation over the next 10 years by a small amount, not a big amount,” Schneider said.

State Rep. Dan Didech, D-Buffalo Grove, talks at a town hall Saturday.

State Rep. Dan Didech, D-Buffalo Grove, talks at a town hall Saturday. (Steve Sadin / Lake County News-Sun)

Another person wanted to know what Congress would advise President Joe Biden to do in the event Russia used a tactical nuclear weapon against Ukraine. Schneider said the president should make it clear there will be a firm response.

“What we need to signal is if you use a nuclear weapon, it’s not as if you would be at risk at that point, but your regime would be over at that point,” Schneider said. “We need to make it absolutely crystal clear it will have more severe consequences for Russia than any anticipated benefit they might perceive.”

Jay Hightower, who described himself as a former FBI counterterrorism expert, said the biggest threat facing the country is misinformation. There is a lot of information which is not accurate, but people choose to believe it, he said.

Jay Hightower, a former FBI counter-terrorism expert, talks to a crowd at U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider’s, D-Highland Park, Congress on Your Corner in Buffalo Grove Saturday, as Schneider listens.
- Original Credit: News-Sun

Jay Hightower, a former FBI counter-terrorism expert, talks to a crowd at U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider’s, D-Highland Park, Congress on Your Corner in Buffalo Grove Saturday, as Schneider listens.
– Original Credit: News-Sun
(Steve Sadin / HANDOUT)

Hightower said he has met with Schneider to discuss his fears. Schneider said from the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision allowing corporations to make unlimited and often undetectable political donations to social media, misinformation is a concern.

“This is an issue of education,” Schneider said. “We have to educate our adults and our kids to think critically, and be able to say this makes sense and this doesn’t make sense. If we can sit down and have a conversation, work to find the facts and then work together to come up with the solutions, there is nothing we can’t do.”

In explaining his reluctance to debate Severino recently, Schneider said his Republican opponent, “has a long record of spreading conspiracies, from whether COVID was a hoax to the election,” and the congressman does not want to give those views a platform.

An email attempt to get Severino’s views on inflation, a potential nuclear attack on Ukraine and misinformation was unsuccessful.

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October 29, 2022 at 08:28AM

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