“Alexi Giannoulias was recently asked what federal spending he would have voted against,” the ad says. “Here’s Alexi’s exact response: ‘Voted against, um, specifically? Um, specifically or…?’ One newspaper editorialized, ‘Ask Giannoulias what federal spending bill over the last two years he would have opposed and, after some painful to watch evasion, he can’t name one.’”
The Giannoulias quote was taken from his grilling before the Chicago Tribune editorial board. Not surprisingly, the newspaper that editorialized was also the Chicago Tribune, in its endorsement of Kirk for Senate.
For leaving out these details, and for only including a snippet of Giannoulias’s repsonse, we rate this ad “Falsey.”
Here’s the full text of Giannoulias’s exchange with John McCormick, the Tribune’s deputy editorial page editor.
McCormick: “Treasurer Giannoulias, had you been in Congress, in the Senate, what federal spending in the last two years would you have opposed?”
Giannoulias: “Specifically? You’re talking specifically?”
McCormick: “Specifically is how members of Congress vote, so yes.”
Giannoulias: “Well, looking at TARP [the Troubled Asset Relief Program], for example, as I’ve said from the beginning, there was no accountability, there was no oversight.”
McCormick: “So you’d have voted no on TARP?”
Giannoulias: “I would have asked for more accountability, more requirements…”
McCormick: “You don’t get to have these long discussions in Congress. You vote yes or no.”
Giannoulias: “I would have pushed hard for some requirements that if that money be given to Wall Street banks, that we increase access to capital at these large institutions.”
McCormick: “The congressman voted for TARP. Would have voted for TARP as it was presented to the House?”
Giannoulias: “I would have pushed hard, but I think if I had had no choice, I think it was a necessary vote to avoid…”
McCormick: “So there’s no answer.”
Has McCormick never watched a Senate hearing? Congress spends most of its time having long discussions. It spends a few minutes voting on the bills that result from those discussions. Presumably, as a senator with expertise in banking, Giannoulias would have had input into TARP, allowing him to shape it into a bill more to his liking. Congress isn’t simply presented bills and asked for a thumbs up or thumbs down. It’s not the Chicago City Council. It writes bills, debates them, and offers amendments.
Giannoulias gave a legitimate answer, but he was in a hostile forum. The Tribune Editorial Board only endorsed its first Democrat in 2008 -- a wise business decision, considering most of its subscribers voted for Obama. Everyone expected the Tribune to endorse Kirk. We didn’t expect the paper to write his campaign ads, too.