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GOP Leader Supports Cigarette-Tax Increase Despite National Pressure PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 27 May 2012 10:21

As state legislative support for a cigarette-tax hike grew in late May, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist and other conservatives stepped into the Illinois fray.

A top House Republican said more than a week ago that the roll call in favor of a dollar-a-pack cigarette-tax hike was in the double digits within his caucus. The tax would raise $700 million, including the federal match, to help close the Medicaid program’s gaping $2.7-billion budget hole.

In return, Republicans won concessions from the Democrats, particularly when it came to sparing doctors from Governor Pat Quinn’s proposed Medicaid-provider rate cuts.

 
Britain, “Austerity,” and the Lessons of Economic History PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by Kyle Latham   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 05:37

Economists and pundits alike are going wild over the United Kingdom’s recent “double dip” recession. The 2008-9 recession prompted the election of a conservative coalition led by Prime Minister David Cameron. Cameron decided the best path for economic recovery was “austerity,” a program of reduced government spending and smaller government debt. The new coalition – with the aid of Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne – sought to drastically slash the government budget. With the addition of increased taxes, the plan was dubbed “Tax & Axe.”

Two years later, the United Kingdom is back in recession. Keynesian economists are enjoying a savory “I told you so” moment, as many pointed out the dangers of austerity during troubled times. The logic runs as follows: When businesses, households, and governments all try to pay back their debts at the same time, they spend less; as they spend less, national income falls, leading to even less spending; this sets off a cycle of decreased spending and economic collapse.

The Keynesian solution is government spending. It goes like this: Governments can increase spending during recessions to keep national income up, preventing the spending collapse. In short, more stimulus is the answer.

In turn, many progressives in the United States are arguing that any similar austerity here (such as Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget plan) would have equally bad results: another recession.

Unfortunately, this reasoning is based on a faulty premise. Here is the reality: There is no austerity in the United Kingdom.

 
Governor Shows a Little Give on Gaming PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 20 May 2012 05:23

An often tense and confrontational meeting over gaming expansion last week ended with Governor Pat Quinn not explicitly saying “no” to adding slot machines at horse-racing tracks. That might be the beginning of a reversal for Quinn, who has adamantly opposed allowing tracks to have more gambling options.

For more than a year, Quinn has opposed allowing slots at tracks as part of a deal to give Chicago, the suburbs, and Downstate new casinos. But with the racetracks out of the picture, the bill just can’t pass. So, there’s been a push on for months to get Quinn to change his mind.

 
GOP Ensures that Overtime Session Likely PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 13 May 2012 05:50

Senate President John Cullerton has been telling some of his members for weeks that he was resigned to an overtime session. The General Assembly likely wouldn’t be able to adjourn by the scheduled May 31 deadline, he said. There was just no getting around it, so people should just accept that fact and move forward.

But not long ago, Cullerton reportedly came to the conclusion that if the spring session did go into overtime, Republicans would likely keep everyone bottled up in Springfield all summer long. So now his focus is on getting everybody out of town by the end of May.

May 31 is an important deadline because all bills voted on after that date require a three-fifths majority to pass. That means no budget can be approved, no Medicaid solution can be found, no pension systems can be reformed without supermajorities.

The Democrats control both legislative chambers, but they don’t have three-fifths. They’re seven votes shy in the House and one vote short in the Senate. One vote may not seem like a lot, but the partisanship can sometimes get so intense in the General Assembly these days that one vote might as well be a hundred.

 
Shikha Dalmia: Half-Right on “Right to Work” PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by Kevin Carson   
Saturday, 12 May 2012 05:52

Shikha Dalmia, writing in Reason (“Are Right to Work Laws the New Slavery?,” April 26), dismisses most union objections to “right to work” laws. But she concedes that on one issue – the requirement that unions provide representation for scabs who don’t pay dues – unions are “on more solid ground.”

But, she continues, unions themselves are partly to blame. “They are required to represent all workers in exchange for monopoly rights over collective bargaining in the workplace. That is the Faustian bargain they made in the Wagner Act.”

The problem is that she makes this sound primarily like a perk for the unions. She neglects to mention its value to employers, or more generally the way Wagner reflects the interests of employers.

 
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