UPDATE: KIRK DOESN'T VOTE FOR BAILOUT BILL AFTER ALL:
From Congressman Kirk:
“Illinois is suffering the consequences of our state’s failed leadership. These failures put the federal government in a difficult situation. When I returned to Washington for this special session, I read Leader Reid’s bill and found it spent more, taxed more and borrowed more than any of the past bills I supported. I did not support the Reid bill because it added $16 billion in new Medicaid spending and levied another $9 billion in new, permanent tax increases. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the bill adds over $12 billion to our deficit. As a fiscal conservative, I could not support this bill and will work to cut spending, taxing and borrowing in this and future Congresses."
Lynn Sweet has this. NBC-5's Ward Room Blog here.
Alexi's response here. He says (as usual) that Kirk lies, and the bill is completely paid for. Given the choice between Alexi and the CBO, I'll take the CBO.
[end of update]
Throughout Mark Kirk's five terms as a member of Congress, he has always been known as a moderate Republican, and for good reason. It's easy to get lost, though, in some of the campaign rhetoric that flies around during election cycles, however. It's been a couple months now since the February primary, but we all probably remember how his more conservative opponents blasted him for being too liberal, a "RINO" (Republican In Name Only) and plenty of other pejorative labels. From the other side, we hear accusations that Kirk is a die-hard conservative who will undo liberal "accomplishments" like ObamaCare, and paint electing Kirk as the closest thing available to putting George W. Bush back in the White House.
With these two extreme views, you would think the looney left and the cranky right were talking about two entirely different people. More nuanced people may start to get the impression that Kirk is a fairly centrist individual. That perception is going to matter a lot in November here in Illinois, where many people are disgusted with the hyper-partisanship and rhetoric of both parties.
Let's look at Kirk's positions as discussed in the press in just the past few weeks:
On one hand, he said he would support (now Justice) Elena Kagan for the U.S. Supreme Court. On the other hand, Kirk says he agrees with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision shooting down Chicago handgun ownership ban.
On one hand, Kirk supports President Obama for making some good choices in the war in Afghanistan, but blasts him on his Iran policy.
Kirk supports the $26 billion state bailout bill that is being debated today in the House, but says that any such legislation has to be deficit-neutral.
Kirk's enemies on both extremes can find plenty to criticize him on, but in the general election, it's going to be the middle that wins this. Conversely, I think it's pretty clear that Alexi Giannoulias is simply going to take day-to-day orders from Dick Durbin and be a spineless rubber stamp for President Obama. Let's see who the majority of voters in Illinois prefer this fall.