Illinois Democrat Giannoulias says he wants to reform Obamacare, that stimulus prevented soup lines

Alexi Giannoulias, the Illinois Democrat running for President Obama’s old Senate seat, said Sunday that he wants to “reform” the president’s health care overhaul, and that the $814 billion stimulus was imperfect but that it prevented Americans from standing in soup lines.

Giannoulias, who appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to debate Republican Mark Kirk, was on the defensive throughout the debate regarding Obama’s policies, as well as his past work for his family’s community bank and its ties to mob figures.

The race between the two is one of the 13 Democratic-held seats that Republicans hope to capture in their quest for 10, the number they need to flip to retake the Senate. Kirk has led in the polls for the last several weeks, but only by a point or two.

Before getting into both candidate’s credibility issues, however, the nationally televised debate focused on the nation’s debt and spending levels.

Giannoulias, who Obama praised at a Thursday night fundraiser in Chicago as someone who “doesn’t shift with the wind,” hedged in his support for the president’s two biggest legislative accomplishments, the health care bill and the stimulus.

The health care bill, often referred to as Obamacare, was “far from a perfect vehicle,” Giannoulias said. He contrasted himself with Kirk this way: “He wants to repeal it. I want to reform it.”

It was a stark contrast to how Giannoulias spoke of the health care bill after it passed in the spring. In April he called the health bill “a big deal” and said it was “incredibly necessary.”

Giannoulias offered few specifics Sunday on what he would do differently, however. He said one “missed opportunity” was that the health care bill did not allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate prices for drugs with drug companies.

As for the stimulus, Giannoulias also said the legislation was imperfect, but that it prevented the economy from a Depression like the one the country suffered in the 1930s.

“Do we need to see soup lines down the street to figure out what would have happened?” Giannoulias said. He said he would be in favor of more stimulus if it meant tax cuts for small businesses.

The tepid support by Giannoulias for Obama’s signature policies – from a senator running for office in Obama’s home state – is a sign of how far the president’s fortunes have fallen with the voting public.

On the economy, both candidates strove to cast themselves as pro-business and fiscally responsible.

“I’m the only candidate in this race who’s worked in the private sector,” said Giannoulias, the state treasurer who from 2002 to 2006 was a senior loan officer at his father’s bank.

Kirk, who has been an Illinois congressman for a decade and was previously a naval intelligence officer, said he was “very much a fiscal hawk” and hit Democratic leaders in Congress for being “viciously anti-business.”

“We have congressional leaders that are not interested in spending restraint at all,” Kirk said.

Kirk said he supported extending the Bush tax cuts across the board and would pay for them “by spending reductions across the board, by cutting whole programs.” One program he proposed getting rid of through selling it was the Tennessee Valley Authority, the publicly owned utility set up by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Depression.

As for his family bank’s $20 million in loans to mob figures and convicted criminals, Giannoulias admitted he knew of Broadway Bank’s loans to them.

“I didn’t know the extent of their activity,” Giannoulias said. “If I knew then what I know now, these aren’t the kind of people we do business with.”

Kirk was pressed on misleading statements he has made in the past regarding his military service, and took a more repentant tone.

“I was careless. I learned a very painful and humbling lesson,” Kirk said. “I am completely accountable for this … The level of scrutiny here is completely appropriate.”

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  • TrishaD

    REFORM Obamacare? With all the pages in the bill that have not one thing to do with Healthcare the entire bill needs to be repealed and replaced. The extra sales tax when you want to just sell your house – another 3.8% to the government, the requirement for businesses to send 1099s to other businesses that they do more than $600 per year with….ALL of the insanity needs to be repealed and replaced with cost cutting measures that will make a difference in HEALTHCARE. The way they “hide” other things in bills really torks me!

  • linqingsham117

    Google in the input: http://www.t radeone.us you can find many brand names, even more surprising is that he will sell you the unexpected o(∩_∩)o

  • pepito

    This mobster punk has a lot of hutzpah. These Chicago rats are a freaking joke!!!

  • truebearing

    Obama was going to reform healthcare, and look what he did. It’s a disaster. Now GiannGhoulias wants to reform the reforms, even though the ink isn’t dry on Obamacide yet. I have an idea for all of these Progressive “reformers”:

    Lets send them all to REFORM SCHOOL!

  • erick1740

    Even tha douchebag democrats know the economy is about to crash and it is their fault. Scrambling like rats on a sinking ship. You jerks have done a lot of damage to our country, I hope you idiots learn what it means to elect a piece of garbage like obama to office.

  • jonavark

    Can’t prove a negative. Next.

  • Amari1

    The are no soup lines because 40 million Americans are receiving food stamps.

    • rainmaker1145

      And stimulating the economy to create 79% to 84% more families who think eating is such a snap they have to have the government take our jobs to pay for it.

  • ojfl

    Reform Obamacare? Was it not supposed to be THE reform? What happened?

  • clw

    …prevented soup lines, saved jobs. Easy to say, harder to prove. He will “reform Obamacare”. So what form will THAT take?! Until he names some specifics, it’s just political generalities thrown out into the wind (again).