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Chicago Prime Steakhouse owner: Obamacare "would impose a significant added expense"

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Turns out, U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh would have won the bet.

Tammy Duckworth didn't take up the congressman on a wager he laid out at a Tuesday night debate involving Chicago Prime Steakhouse in Schaumburg -- but had she, it sounds like she would have lost.

Walsh insisted that the owner was concerned about how Obamacare affected his business. Duckworth said she also talked to the restaurant and accused Walsh of talking too much and not listening.

On Wednesday, the managing partner of Chicago Prime Steakhouse made it abundantly clear in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times that he didn't have anything against either candidate.
"They're both welcome in my restaurant," he said. "There's no question, both of them have a sincere interest in understanding what is happening to me. They both were very, very adamant about it. They wanted to understand."

But after getting besieged with media calls today, Andy-John G. Kalkounos, said he thought he should release a statement to respond to the "high volume of reporters" from Washington newspapers to the Huffington Post.
"If I haven't taken 30 calls here, they just keep writing notes down," with phone calls.

The popular eatery in Schaumburg has won numerous awards and is routinely rated highly on Yelp and Open Table.

(It also was once the spot where Clint Eastwood's wife posed as a waitress and filmed an episode of "Candid Camera.")

Kalkounos said that speaking as a businessman, he had concerns about how Obamacare would affect his business. The issue came up at the Tuesday night debate in Rolling Meadows where Walsh and Duckworth gave different takes on what happened with the conversation they had with the owner.
Walsh challenged Duckworth to sit down with Chicago Prime next week to settle the matter and if he was wrong, he would donate $2,500 to her campaign.

"Based purely as a business owner, the (Affordable Health Care Act) would impose a significant
added expense without contributing any added revenue," Kalkounos said. "As it relates to AHCA, you ask me if my business is better off before it or after, the answer is obviously before. Both candidates agree with this and I am hopeful that this specific issue gets resolved immediately."

As it turns out, Walsh made a stop after the Tuesday night debate -- he headed to Chicago Prime.

Here's his statement:
"So that we do not have to respond individually to the high volume of reporters who have
contacted us in the last 24 hours, we thought we would just respond with the following
statements.

First, we would like to thank both Tammy Duckworth and Joe Walsh for attending and
mentioning our round table discussions held at our restaurant, Chicago Prime Steakhouse
in Schaumburg, Il, last evening during their spirited debate. My father George Kalkounos
and I appreciate your friendship, and both of you along with all of your supporters are
always welcome to our restaurant.

Allow me to preface my comments by sharing that I do not have a political axe to grind.
I am not speaking as a partisan, I am simply speaking a businessman, and concerned
citizen who has a business to protect, a wonderful family to provide for and a hard-
working staff to answer to.

The idea of health benefits for employees is a significant consideration that we take
seriously. Based purely as a business owner, the AHCA would impose a significant
added expense without contributing any added revenue.
Plainly speaking the Affordable Health Care Act, as I understand it to be written, is NOT affordable to this small
business
. The math is simple, these new rules are creating costs for businesses like our
own who already struggle in this economy and we have to treat it as any other expense
and attempt to curtail it as much as possible. I can say that I am assuaged by the fact that
both Ms. Duckworth and Mr. Walsh agree that our restaurant will suffer under the new
changes implemented by the AHCA and they both want to do something about it. It is
of great concern that government is imposing a penalty on businesses that may not be
able to afford health care. It burdens entrepreneurs like us that take the risk of leveraging
assets and sacrifice time away from their families to create, open and operate a successful
business in today's climate. The AHCA as written goes against supporting our business
growth. As it relates to AHCA, you ask me if my business is better off before it or after,
the answer is obviously before. Both candidates agree with this and I am hopeful that this
specific issue gets resolved immediately.

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2 Comments

Here's what missing from this story. Mr. Kalkounos states, "The idea of health benefits for employees is a significant consideration that we take seriously." Does this mean he provides health insurance for his employees? If he does, how would mandated care affect his expenses? If he doesn't, who pays for his employees' health care, or do they just do without?

Obamacare never addressed the real issue. People can not afford healthcare. Making people/business buy faux insurance for their healthcare makes it worse not better. Obamacare is going to have the same impact that mandatory car insurance has on Illinois. People will just get under insured to comply with the law, instead of getting the proper type of insurance to protect themselves.

The government does not want to pay for people's healthcare so they're passing the buck to the business. That's not fair.

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