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Kane Co. Dems slam GOP over health care at annual dinner
By James Fuller | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/1/2010 12:01 AM

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Kane County served as the stump Sunday for two Democrats battling in two of the biggest political races in the country with the partisan balance in Congress up for grabs in November.

Congressman Bill Foster and U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias took turns beating on Republicans to an all-Democrat audience in Aurora at the Kane County Democrats annual Truman Dinner. While Foster launched a generalized attack on Senate Republicans, Giannoulias targeted his Republican opponent, Mark Kirk, with his barbs. Both candidates spent time addressing the renewed debate on health care reform.

Foster said there's a 70 percent chance some form of a health care bill will be passed by both chambers of Congress, but warned it may not be exact version Democrats hoped for.

"The Senate has caused a lot of trouble for getting health care passed," Foster said. "Now it looks like those of us in the House of Representatives are going to be forced into a very tough situation of having to vote for a Senate bill that has a lot of ugliness in it."

Foster zeroed in on two facets of the bill as prime examples of "ugliness." He said he does not support the end of some forms of health care benefits many union members in the audience receive and the $100 million of Medicaid funding for Nebraska termed the "Cornhusker kickback." However, Foster said there are some saving graces in the Senate bill.

"It does have the fundamental thing that we need ... that no one should become uninsurable," Foster said. "That should not happen in our country. So a bunch of us are going to be asked in the coming weeks to hold their nose and vote for the Senate bill as flawed as it is."

When Giannoulias stepped to the podium, the problems of the nation all related back to the "failed and reckless economic policies of the Bush/Kirk administration over the past 10 years."

Giannoulias laid out a generalized platform of ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, investing and rewarding innovation, helping schools and colleges, establishing an energy policy that protects the environment and weens the country off foreign oil and having a balanced budget.

In laying out that platform, Giannoulias said Kirk is a "Washington insider" who "will keep rigging the system against us." He also painted Kirk as the candidate of a party that is derailing health care reform because they are "more interested in making friends on Wall Street than taking care of sick men, women and children." He went on to bash Kirk for taking political donations from the insurance industry.

Giannoulias pledged to not take any money from federal lobbyists or corporate PACs. He also reiterated his support for the health care reforms backed by President Barack Obama.