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Creating a New Monster: Illinois’ “Fair Tax” Plan Could – and Should – Have Been an Easier Sell PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 30 April 2014 09:32

(Listen to author Jeff Ignatius discuss the Fair Tax on “Midwest Week” with WVIK’s Herb Trix.)

Illustration by Leo Kelly

How would you like a cut in your income taxes while protecting funding for education and public safety?

Or how would you like the Illinois General Assembly to stick it to you by making permanent the income-tax increase of 2011 that is supposed to (mostly) expire next year?

Lucky you: In a bizarre set of circumstances, a “Fair Tax” proposal would give you both! Ninety-four percent of Illinois taxpayers would see their income taxes drop in 2015, while lawmakers wouldn’t have to make the tough budgetary choices they promised to. Win-win!

Sound confusing? It is. Sound impossible? It isn’t.

Bear with me, and I’ll explain how the legislature – specifically Democrats faced with two highly unattractive options in an election year – devised a “third way” that’s not really a third way at all. It’s merely a variation on one of those highly unattractive options, but it’s been cleverly packaged on the assumption that voters have short memories.

This gambit is technically still in play, but on Tuesday it looked nearly certain that it lacked the legislative votes to move forward to a November referendum. If it has indeed died for 2014, let this be a cautionary tale about the perils of broken pledges – and attempts at marketing them as something positive.

And if the plan finds new life in the next few days, it’s essential that lawmakers and voters understand what it really is.

 
GOP Fighting Uphill Battle with Gerrymandered Districts PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 27 April 2014 14:02

Out of power for a dozen years and hobbled even before that by anti-patronage court rulings, Illinois’ Republican-party infrastructure has all but collapsed.

So part of GOP gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner’s task is to try to somehow rebuild a grassroots infrastructure.

It won’t be an easy job. Republicans have never, in the modern age, been able to match the Democrats’ ability to dispatch patronage armies to the state’s distant corners because of the Democrats’ Chicago and Cook County patronage bases. The Republicans’ local organizations are essentially hollow these days, and they have no troops to speak of.

Before the primary, Rauner’s campaign had ambitious hopes of opening as many as 50 field offices throughout Illinois. Those plans were scaled back as reality sank in. Finding enough experienced people to staff those offices would be next to impossible.

 
Speaker Has Become the Perfect Bogeyman PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 20 April 2014 05:46

A poll taken for Rasmussen Reports earlier this month found that Governor Pat Quinn’s unfavorable rating was 55 percent.

That’s pretty darned bad, and perhaps the worst among the nation’s governors. But Quinn has nothing on Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

A new Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll found Madigan’s unfavorable rating to be an almost mind-boggling 65 percent.

 
Botched Millionaire Tax Brings Benefits to Democrats PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 13 April 2014 05:03

A long time ago I asked Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan why he never golfed at his golf-outing fundraisers.

Madigan explained that he was a terrible golfer. (He’s since improved, I’m told.) If people saw him embarrassing himself on the golf course, they might take a dimmer view of him as a leader.

He has applied this lesson to just about everything he does. He examines every angle before he acts. He hates mistakes and almost never acts impetuously.

For example, Madigan and his staff gather a few times a week to read through every bill and every amendment to those bills to look for flaws and hidden agendas or to discuss strategies. He always wants to be as prepared as possible.

As a result, he rarely fails.

But something else has been happening over the past year or so.

Madigan has become a media hound.

 
Madigan Moves to the Left with an Eye on Election Day PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - 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?”

 
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