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Madigan Moves to the Left with an Eye on Election Day PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 06 April 2014 05:56

Two worries are obviously driving driving much of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s personal legislative agenda this year: low Democratic turnout in an off-year election for an unpopular governor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner’s millions in campaign spending.

“If you’re an African American on the South Side, what motivates you to vote for [Governor] Pat Quinn when you wake up election morning?” was the blunt assessment of one longtime Madigan associate last week.

For example, Madigan signaled last week that despite his past reluctance to raise the minimum wage and his longtime alliance with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (which is leading the charge against it), he’s not opposed. Calling the idea a matter of “fairness” and “equity,” Madigan told reporters last week: “I think you’ll find the opposition to raising the minimum wage comes from people that have done pretty well in America, and for some strange reason they don’t want others in America to participate in prosperity.”

Asked if he was referring to Rauner, Madigan asked: “Who?”

 
Does Our Silence Make Us Accessories to the Bad Acts of Government? PDF Print E-mail
Editorials
Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 05:41

I believe that when we pass from this life, we will face accountability for both our actions and inactions. I also believe that accountability directly corresponds to the degree of responsibility each of us has to the Creator first, family second, and our neighbors third.

I don’t pretend to know people’s relationships with God. But most of us have a pretty good sense of what we are obliged to with family, friends, and associates. It gets murkier when we consider our responsibility to community because community can be defined by myriad levels of relationships from cursory to expansive.

Each of us has a far greater responsibility to family members than to neighbors than to folks in our county than to state residents than to Americans as a whole than to global inhabitants. My guess is that we will be held more accountable for actions or inactions that harm our family members compared to those that impact our fellow citizens at large. But we will still be held to answer for whatever harm is caused by our government’s destructive actions at home and abroad – especially for our own indifference to it.

 
Quinn Lines Up His Ducks for Budget Address PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 30 March 2014 06:27

It turns out that Governor Pat Quinn and the two Democratic legislative leaders met privately for at least several days to negotiate details of the governor’s budget address.

The highly unusual move means that most if not all aspects of Quinn’s budget proposals last week have already been agreed to by the Democrats who run the Illinois Statehouse.

House Speaker Michael Madigan tipped his hand after the governor’s address during Jak Tichenor’s invaluable Illinois Lawmakers public-television program when he twice insisted that the governor’s property-tax proposal was actually his idea.

The governor proposed eliminating the state’s property-tax credit, which is currently worth 5 percent of property taxes paid, and replacing it with an automatic $500 tax refund.

That idea was apparently just one of Madigan’s demands in exchange for supporting the governor’s proposal to make the “temporary” income-tax hike permanent, which was the centerpiece of Quinn’s speech.

 
Sparking Peace or Conflict? Jim Leach Discusses the Middle East, April 10 at St. Ambrose PDF Print E-mail
National Politics
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 27 March 2014 09:47

Jim LeachIn 2006, U.S. Representative Jim Leach of Iowa introduced a resolution urging President George W. Bush to appoint a “Special Envoy for Middle East Peace.” The resolution said, in part, that “history has demonstrated that the Middle East region is likely to lurch from crisis to crisis without sustained diplomatic and economic engagement by the United States.”

In an interview March 24, Leach amended that statement. “I would say not only without our engagement, [but] ... with or without our engagement.”

That revision is a reflection of all that has happened in just the past few years: the continuing conflict between Israel and Palestine; developments regarding Iran’s nuclear program; the Arab Spring; turmoil in Egypt; and the Syrian civil war – the last of which has grown more complicated given newly escalated tension between Russia and the West.

It also hints at a frustration Leach clearly has with American foreign policy in the region – and not merely the long, costly war with Iraq.

So when Leach presents his lecture “What is Old, New, & Unprecedented in America’s Relationships with the Middle East” on April 10, he’ll have a lot to talk to about. (The speech is the first public event of St. Ambrose University’s new Middle East Institute.) But don’t expect many answers.

 
Unions Flex Muscles, Almost Knock Off Rauner PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 23 March 2014 05:27

It didn’t take long for Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner to drop the word “unions” from his vocabulary.

After bashing public-employee-union leaders for months as corrupt bosses who buy votes to control Springfield, Rauner and his campaign have assiduously avoided the use of the U word since his victory last Tuesday. Instead, he’s switched to a line about how “our government is run by lobbyists, for special interests, and the career politicians in both parties let it happen.”

Rauner’s campaign manager said on primary night that his boss is “pro-union.” Rauner himself insisted last week that he’s not anti-union and never has been.

The candidate’s record clearly shows otherwise, however. Rauner kicked off his campaign with a widely published op-ed in which he called for legislation to allow individual counties to approve their own “right to work” laws. Rauner has also repeatedly demanded that Illinois follow the lead of states such as Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin, all of which have all passed anti-union laws.

 
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