Opinion: Icky Rich People Biggert, Foster Attack Each Other For Being Icky, Rich. - NBC Chicago
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Opinion: Icky Rich People Biggert, Foster Attack Each Other For Being Icky, Rich.



    One thing that sucks about watching TV in a major media market: you see a lot of ads for politicians you can’t vote for. Of course, after you see all their ads, you end up not wanting to vote for them, so maybe it’s a wash.

    The three congressional races dominating the airwaves in Chicago are the 8th District, between Rep. Joe Walsh and Tammy Duckworth; the 10th District, between Rep. Bob Dold and Brad Schneider, and the 13th District, between Rep. Judy Biggert and former Rep. Bill Foster. In all three cases, Republican incumbents are running in districts re-drawn to favor their Democratic challengers.

    The most egregiously grating ads are emanating from the 13th District, in which Biggert and Foster -- who were the two wealthiest members of the Illinois congressional delegation when they served in the House together -- snipe at each other for being greedy. It’s the “I know you are but so am I” strategy.

    In one ad, the National Republican Congressional Committee accuses Foster of profiting from the Wall Street collapse, and repeatedly refers to him with the epithet “congressman.”

    “The stock market collapsed. Savings evaporated. But Congressman Bill Foster made out just fine. You see, Congressman Foster sold his investments just one day after congressman held a closed-door meeting in Washington about the financial crisis. Inside briefings, just in time stock sales. Congressman Foster got the parachute. You got the crash.”

    According to OpenSecrets.org, Biggert is the 56th wealthiest member of the House, with a net worth between $2.1 million and $9.1 million. She’s the quintessence of a country club Republican -- her father was president of Walgreens in the 1960s. Biggert and her husband -- an attorney who attended the same prep school as Mitt Romney and was partner in Seyfarth Shaw LLP -- moved from her native Wilmette to Hinsdale to take over his family’s 1864 mansion.

    Biggert has also been in Congress in 1999, so where do her allies on the Congressional Committee get off sneering at Foster for being a congressman?

    Bill Foster, worth between $6.9 million and $29.4 million, may be even wealthier. Foster earned his fortune as a founder of a theater lighting company and a physicist at Fermilab. Yet the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is trying to making Biggert look like a fatcat for taking an excessive salary -- by voting against resolutions that would have blocked automatic pay raises for members of Congress -- and cutting taxes for the wealthy. It’s also accusing her of being a politician.

    “Groceries. Gas. Tax cuts for the wealthy? And pay raises for Judy Biggert? After 30 years in politics, Judy Biggert isn’t on our side. She left the middle class behind, voting to bankroll tax cuts for the wealthy by removing Medicare’s promise and increasing costs for us. With nine votes to raise her own pay, no wonder Biggert’s looking out for the wealthy.”

    As I think these ads demonstrate, the wealthy are doing just fine looking out for themselves.


    This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $9.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.