My good friend, and a stellar member of my crack legal team (it takes much more than a village when it comes to Jeff Ward), Jeff Meyer, lamented the impending Illinois budget/tax hike as “capitulation” during our most recent conversation. And while I certainly understand his thought process, I fervently believe that’s not the case.
Please let me be perfectly clear that when I said “lament,” that really is the correct word, because, unlike the plethora of conservatives who demanded a property tax freeze, balanced budget, term limits and even more right out of the gate, Jeff understands that cuts alone could not save us from the current Illinois fiscal quicksand.
You can bitch about where we are and how we got here to your heart’s content, but it ain’t gonna change a goddam thing.
Because he has at least a half a brain, Jeff was far more concerned with what motivated those 15 Republicans to break ranks with the Governor than he was with pointing fingers.
Meanwhile, my response to that conservative plethora, the folks who can’t even spell the word “compromise” is, I’d like a 68 Dodge Charger, the winning Powerball ticket and a 22 year-old female French exchange stu… (let’s omit that third one), but none of that’s going to happen today, either.
It’s the Governor’s insistence on getting everything “right now” that put him in the position of getting nothing at all.
To make matters so much worse, the Republican/conservative refusal to take any responsibility for the state of the State is terrifying and beyond baffling. I’m gonna say it again, the Madigan phenomenon did not happen overnight. It took 30 years and a lot of Republican complicity for the Speaker to wield this much power.
To wit, please read today’s Phil Kadner Sun-Times column!
And a great part of that GOP complicity was, while you all were busy hanging your hats on soon-to-be moot social issues like same-sex marriage, abortion and gun control, the Speaker was developing the kind of electoral ground game that the Illinois Republican Party can’t begin to compete with.
As a result, not only does the GOP fail to regularly win elections in a virtually bankrupt state, but the constant conservative I-want-my-cookie-now temper tantrums makes the situation so much worse.
Really? We should let the utterly immature Bruce Rauner take the State to junk bond status, because, like Nero, it would be better to watch Illinois burn than it would be that to begin to apply the long-term fix our state so desperately requires?
Do you know what junk bond status means? It means the institutions who can afford to buy our debt won’t be able to, which means issuing bonds would be kinda pointless, and then we truly won’t be able to pay our bills. Who needs state universities anyway, right? C’mon! I don’t want a tax hike either, but this budget does contain $3 billion in cuts.
It’s a start.
I’m also going to keep repeating the irony that Springfield taxation pales in comparison to what kind of havoc our local county, village and particularly school boards regularly wreak upon us. With rare exception, those spendthrift collar county school boards are 100 percent Republican.
But despite that all-too-obvious fact, conservatives want to blame the Democrats while failing to apply that fiscal standard across the board because it makes them feel better. So, my answer to all their insistent whining will always be, “When’s the last time you attended a school board meeting?”
Another irony is that Rauner could’ve wrung the kind of concessions out of the Speaker that no Republican governor has ever been able to. But instead of aiming for the possible, his vast ego made it an all-or-nothing proposition, with “nothing” being the outright and irrevocable destruction of Illinois as a functioning fiscal entity.
I’ve asked at least 30 conservatives to prove we could dig our way out of this budget mess by cuts alone, and not one – not even 66th District State Rep Allen Skillicorn – could show me the math.
What Governor Rauner was trying to do was the equivalent of winning the first baseball game of the season, and then, immediately turning to the Commissioner and saying, “Alright Mr. Manfred, we’re ready for the World Series!”
But that’s not the way it works. You have to win up to two-thirds of your games over the slog of a 162 game season in which you’ll lose one-third of your games no matter what you do. And even if you manage to do that, you can still get picked off by a wildcard team that got hot and squeaked into the playoffs at the last minute.
Given their abject failure to learn anything from experience, the eminently ironic conservative immaturity continues. Now they want to throw folks like State Rep Steve Andersson under the primary bus because their delicate middle-school sensibilities have been offended. But Steve is exactly the kind of elected official who ACTUALLY CAN instill some conservative fiscal ideals in the state capital over the long term.
When the children refuse to behave by insisting on going for broke, it’s incumbent on the adults in the room to intervene. So, we were just saved by a group of brave Republicans, who put us and the State, before themselves, the party and their jobs. And God bless each one of ‘em for it. With some of the stupidity finally out of the way, let’s get down to the real, long-term business of undoing all of that Madigan damage.
But sadly, considering the current conservative mindset, I’m thinking that last statement is nothing more than wishful thinking. Apparently, I really do need to repeat the wisdom of the late, great cartoonist Walt Kelly, “We have met the enemy, and he is us!”