8th District candidates economic policies compared

And it's been a hot debate among the candidates in the 8th congressional district in Illinois.

The race in the northwest suburbs pits incumbent Democrat Melissa Bean against Republican challenger Steve Greenberg.

Bean considers herself a "Blue Dog Democrat." She's among a rare breed of Dems endorsed by business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"I'm very proud of supporting this fiscally conservative, socially moderate district and being very representative on the issues they care about," Bean said.

Front and center in this district is the cconomy. Bean is a member of the House Financial Services Committee and voted twice for the financial bail-out package. But she doesn't like to call it that. Bean says voters should consider it a "line of credit."

"We should get back a good portion of that investment," Bean said. "While this wasn't ideal, that's sometimes how Washington works."

Greenberg claims a lack of oversight on the part of Bean and her congressional colleagues led to the financial mess in the first place.

"I call it a bailout," Greenberg said. "I don't think it would have happened in the first place because I would have been holding them accountable from day one."

Greenberg is a former minor league hockey player who now runs a family business that includes the old Ben Franklin variety stores. He says if voters don't see noticeable improvement in the district in two years, they should fire him.

On the issues:

Greenberg says he would have reluctantly voted for the bailout, He'd renew the Bush tax cuts and ban earmarks for pet projects. On Social Security, he supports allowing people the opportunity to have private accounts but wouldn't alter existing benefits.

Bean is against privatizing Social Security, supports what she calls "stimulative" tax cuts, would allow the uninsured to buy into federal employee health plans and supports earmarks with greater transparency.

Both candidates agree on one of the biggest issues facing the district. They're against a proposal to relieve Chicago congestion by shifting freight train traffic to the outlying suburbs.

"All you're doing is taking congestion in densely populated communities and saying, 'Let's move the problem to other densely populated communities,'" Bean said.

"It's not just about 'not in my back yard.' It's about having 85 percent of the mitigation paid for by taxpayers, the very families that will have their homes devalued," Greenberg said.

Bean has a healthy fundraising advantage over her opponent. At the start of the month, Bean had $1 million in the bank. Greenberg had just $46,000.

That is one more point of contention in the race, as Greenberg points out, that more than a third of the money Bean has raised is coming from interests outside the state.

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