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Foster, Hultgren clash on impact of stimulus in the 14th District
By James Fuller | Daily Herald Staff

Randy Hultgren



Bill Foster


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Published: 2/19/2010 12:01 AM

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With the anniversary of the federal stimulus falling this week, 14th Congressional District candidates have markedly opposite views of the successes and failures of the nation's top plan to kick-start a sluggish economy.

State Sen. Randy Hultgren used the anniversary to highlight U.S. Rep. Bill Foster's support of a stimulus that the GOP challenger views as a failure in creating the job growth or job preservation promised to the country. Hultgren said in a written statement that he's seen rampant unemployment and hurting families during his travels throughout the 14th District. The only growth Hultgren said he's seen is in government spending and the national debt as the stimulus, originally estimated at $787 billion, is now projected to be about $862 billion.

"The broken Congress should have focused like a laser beam on creating jobs and putting people back to work, but instead it dithered with crazy plans like imposing an energy tax on Illinois families and moving the Guantanamo Bay prisoners to Illinois," Hultgren said.

That view reflects the sentiment of Republicans in general according to Tom Erickson, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

"By supporting his party's out-of-control spending binge, Bill Foster has piled a mountain of debt onto the backs of Illinois taxpayers with nothing to show for it but a ballooning deficit and a painfully high unemployment rate," Erickson said. "Foster's rubber-stamping of this reckless agenda has stopped economic recovery in its tracks."

In response, Foster issued what he called a "Stimulus Report Card" with a laundry list of impacts the stimulus has had in the 14th District.

Foster's report card for the stimulus doesn't include a letter grade, nor any count of jobs created or saved by the stimulus. However, it ticks off $506 million of stimulus money Foster said directly benefitted the 14th District via grants, awards and tax credits. The total includes money for local schools, road repairs, construction projects and homebuyer tax credits. However, nearly half of the $506 million is coming to the district in the form of additional borrowing power for local governments to pursue their own projects with. Foster believes all that money is helping the economy of the district and the country start to rebound.

"The success of the stimulus at halting the out-of-control job loss of one year ago has been equally apparent," Foster said. "One year ago, our economy was losing more than 700,000 jobs per month, and the economy was spiraling toward a Depression. With the passage of the stimulus, job loss started declining immediately, has now stopped, and we are expected to return to positive job growth in the next few months."

Foster did recognize that the stimulus hasn't been the cure-all that maybe some people had hoped for.

"While we still have a lot more work to do to dig us out of the enormous hole we were in, it is clear that the worst of this financial crisis is behind us and that the stimulus was a key factor in triggering and sustaining the recovery."