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Repubs won’t face up, and nobody has seen Lisa’s face

Monday, Jun 29, 2009

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column takes on the politics of the budget

Every Republican governor this state has had for the past 40 years has raised taxes.

Republican legislators and most of their leaders always have been involved with those tax hikes.

So, it’s probably not fair that nobody bats an eye when every Republican candidate for governor - announced and unannounced - is allowed by the media to get away with saying that taxes shouldn’t be raised to balance the state’s horribly deficit-ridden budget.

But, that’s life, I suppose. George Ryan said he wouldn’t raise taxes when he was running for governor, either. The Republican candidate didn’t get a lot of grief for that, even though his public works plan was so big that everybody at the Statehouse figured there was no way to avoid a tax hike.

They were right. Ryan flip-flopped right after he was elected. Taxes went up, and so did fees.

Once again, pretty much everybody at the Statehouse knows that taxes will have to rise in order to balance this massively out-of-whack budget.

Some Republican gubernatorial candidates have talked about various budget “reforms” even though many of those reforms are illusory at best.

Some talk about deep cuts then quickly skip over the intense hardships those cuts would produce.

At least one is talking about borrowing to balance the budget, but the state’s bond rating already has taken multiple hits, and it’s doubtful anybody would want to buy several billion dollars of bonds from a state that cannot show it can responsibly balance its own budget.

Luckily for the Republican candidates, taxes almost assuredly will have been raised by the time next year’s fall election rolls around.

And the Republican candidates who now are state legislators will not be forced to vote for a tax increase this year because they belong to the minority party, so a handful of others in their party likely will be obliged to take the plunge.

What likely will happen is that a tax hike will pass long before the campaign even starts to heat up.

And then watch all those candidates pontificate about how they would’ve done things differently. Most also probably will say they’ll roll back those tax hikes, even though that probably won’t be possible until the economy has had a chance to fully recover, whenever that may be.

Surveying all this political posturing, is it any wonder that Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has found it so difficult to convince the Democratic-controlled Illinois House to go along with an income tax hike? That rhetorical question is not, by the way, intended to defend the House Democrats and their leader, Speaker Michael Madigan. They knew what the right thing to do was, and they didn’t do it. I won’t defend that behavior.

And even though I think it’s unfair to let Republican gubernatorial candidates off the hook on the tax issue just because they’re Republicans, I do believe it’s high time Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan comes out of hiding and expresses her views on this crazy mess.

We don’t know for sure as I write this what office Madigan will seek. She could run for governor, she could run for U.S. Senate, she could run for re-election.

We do know, however, that every poll taken in the past year has shown Madigan to be, by far, the most popular politician in this state.

Other statewide Democrats, like Comptroller Dan Hynes and Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, have said they were open to a tax hike. Hynes laid out a plan last week, although wholly inadequate, which included major cuts, expanded riverboat gaming and an expansion of the sales tax to some “luxury” services.

But Madigan has been mum. She said months ago that a tax hike would hurt people who already were hurting, yet she’s been silent ever since. A group of protesters opposed to massive budget cuts marched to her Springfield office last week to try and get an answer out of her. No luck.

If the Republican candidates are being irresponsible, well, that goes double for Madigan. As the most likely of all candidates to win whatever office she seeks, she owes us all an explanation of her views on this crisis.

Come out of hiding, attorney general. The sooner the better.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        


34 Comments
  1. - Anonymous45 - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 10:56 am:

    ooooh…I am glad you had the courage to ask this question Rich. God forbid if her majesty has to go on record about the biggest budget debacle in 25 years in IL and not just bash Gov. Quinn…I am in total agreement with you on this…where is she? Hello?


  2. - Anon - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 10:57 am:

    Senator Dillard and Senator Matt Murphy were both on WLS AM this morning and both said that they would NOT vote for a tax increase. Matt Murphy went far enough to suggest that one area where the budget could be cut was to cut funding for the office of the LT. Gov since we dont currently have a Lt. Gov. How irresponsible of him to suggest such nonsense, and how irresponsible of the show host to let him say thi without asking how much this would save and how sustainable it would be in the future.

    Pathetic.


  3. - wordslinger - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 10:57 am:

    –Come out of hiding, attorney general. The sooner the better.–

    Not. Gonna. Do it.

    She is happily the attorney general and can go on happily attorney generaling while those who have been elected to deal with the budget deal with the budget.

    She has a job, they have a job. I would do the same as she.

    From a government standpoint, at this point in the game, I think she would just confuse the issue even more than it is already, if possible.


  4. - Steve - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:00 am:

    Rich:

    You bring up an interesting thing about Illinois Republicans in the past, they said they weren’t going to raise the income tax and they lied. This is why many Republicans weren’t bothered by Blago’s two election victories : he didn’t raise the state income tax, which is a big issue. All candidates should spell out exactly how they plan on cutting spending and/ or raising taxes this coming election. No candidate can claim any the election they were unaware of how big the deficit is.


  5. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:00 am:

    ===She has a job, they have a job. I would do the same as she. ===

    Yeah, and her job relies on the state budget.


  6. - Just sayin - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:05 am:

    The fact that a majority of Republicans helped a majority of Democrats pass higher taxes and fees just a few weeks ago makes it all the more annoying.

    HB255 raised sales taxes on many items, raised some fees, and also legalized video poker in bars.

    All of those are revenue sources that many would consider more harmful during this economic downturn than any income tax increase.

    The GOP really needs to give it a rest. Their hands are just as dirty on the budget problem.


  7. - Captain Flume - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:07 am:

    As for the Repubs, yes, they are being disingenuous about not raising taxes for helping to balance the budget. On the other hand, Democratic gamesmanship in trying to force Republican complicity is just that, a game. Both sides continue to play it because neither side really feels they have anything to lose by continuing to play– it’s the pain of stopping they are really afraid of.

    As for AG Madigan: silence is golden, but silence did not do Jesus much good when push came to shove. Her silence could be seen as indecisiveness, not a good trait for someone seeking a leadership office. But maybe she feels the media will eventually force the issue and back other potential candiates into corners for their own cowardice in not declaring their intentions until she announces sopmething publicly. For those candidates, either you feel you are qualified for an office and capable of being elected and doing the job, or you don’t. Hinging your decision on another person’s possible intentions shows your own indecisiveness.

    Ping-pong, anyone?


  8. - shore - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:10 am:

    I give you heat sometimes on kirk even though I have my own qualms with him (you should post on his vote friday as its been a huge topic on tas blog, politico, american thinker ect) but this column was dead on. To me nothing kills me more than gopers that raise taxes.


  9. - Steve - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:11 am:

    Lisa Madigan has little incentive to say anything. She gets the best of all worlds: the traditional Democratic base and those who don’t want higher taxes by keeping her mouth shut. This is Illinois, why be bold when your goal is the next office or the next election?


  10. - Bill - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:12 am:

    I agree with Word. She would be really stupid to get involved with this nonsense. Lisa should limit herself to discussing the AG budget which, by the way, would be decimated by cuts.
    My advice would be to get elected Senator and get out of Dodge before it all hits the fan.
    I don’t think that there will be a tax increase until after the primary. I think that they might get past Feb. with some more smoke and mirrors and a few cuts.
    In Nov ‘10 she would beat Cap’t Kirk or whatever Repub was dumb enough to run against her even if Pops allows a tax increase.


  11. - TroubleMaker - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:14 am:

    I think you’re failing to pay heed to the rumor mill….Lisa Madigan wants - more than anything - to be mayor of the City of Chicago. Not Senator, not Governor.

    That’s why she’s invisible on this.


  12. - wordslinger - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:17 am:

    –Yeah, and her job relies on the state budget.–

    True, and I suspect if it were in her political interest, she would say something, even though she has no Constitutional role.

    I’d much rather see a detailed budget outline, at least, by some who do have a Constitutional role, and that is the Republicans in the GA. Lot of pithy bon mots on television — it’s a different thing every day — but nothing remotely resembling a working document.

    Radogno said they need more time. Come on.


  13. - Bill - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:18 am:

    Actually I think that she would rather be a Supreme Court Justice more than anything else and she certainly has too much class to want to be Mayor now that Little Dick has removed what little respectability that was ever associated with that sleazy office.


  14. - Levois - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:29 am:

    If she wants to run for Governor she should jump in the fray, however, beyond that what could she bring to the table that’s different that what is already out there? If she’s joining the chorus for tax hikes and fee hikes then she won’t be much different than who’s already in power. She may not be helping herself in that case.


  15. - VanillaMan - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:54 am:

    You are nuts. Madigan doesn’t owe anyone anything. She isn’t a candidate yet. Just because she will be running for office next year, and is considered the Hillary Clinton of candidates, doesn’t mean she has to open herself up to public speculating about what she would do if she was governor. She is not a gubernatorial candidate.


  16. - Lakefront Liberal - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 12:03 pm:

    Yes, where the heck is Lisa? As one of our state officers she should be trying to bring some understanding to this issue and doing whatever she can to push things towards the inevitable solution — an income tax increase. As a state officer from the Democratic Party she should be trying to sell the Democratic party position on it — except they don’t have one because MJM doesn’t believe in little things like actual party positions. And if she is planning to run for governor then she needs to be showing LEADERSHIP on this issue, and not the kind of “leadership” that Hynes has shown. He really went down in my level of respect by that budgetary nonsense he put out.

    The fact is we need an income tax increase. The Senate has already put out and passed a budget that includes enough of an increase to actually address the problem (which should be THE POINT, to ADDRESS THE PROBLEM not make stupid statements that do nothing). Here’s what should go down:

    1. Quinn gets behind the Senate budget — he can express whatever reservations he wants to save himself some face, but he gets behind it.

    2. Lisa (if she is running for Gov) comes out ALSO in favor of the senate budget. This makes her dad suddenly the last hold-out and the bad guy (approriate since he is), shows that she is not beholden to daddy, shows leadership on what we need to do to move forward, and gets her on the map on this issue and maybe, just maybe, if daddy goes along, makes her the savior of the whole thing.

    3. If Lisa is not planning to run for Gov then Quinn and Cullerton beat up on MJM until he gives in and we get the budget we need and Lisa runs for senate having never dived into the fray.

    But honestly, if Lisa wants to be the leader of this state she needs to show some leadership NOW, otherwise she needs to give it up and start getting her Senate campaign ready.

    And who ever heard of Lisa wanting to be Mayor? That is total news to me, she has shown no more interest in inheriting a bankrupt city (after Daley sucks the rest of the money out via the Olympics) than she has a bankrupt state.


  17. - The Doc - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 12:11 pm:

    ===she certainly has too much class to want to be Mayor now that Little Dick has removed what little respectability that was ever associated with that sleazy office.===

    As opposed to the governor’s office? I’m an admitted Daley hater, but explain to me how the position recently held by Ryan and Blago is more “respectable” than the 5th floor at Chicago’s City Hall.


  18. - steve schnorf - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 12:27 pm:

    Someone needs to tell me more about R governors lying about tax increases. I worked for the past two and I missed that. Rich, George Ryan did not raise the income or sales tax, so by your yardstick Rod raised taxes because he raised fees, as did George. George raised them to finance a capital program. Rod raised them to pay for the day-to-day operations of government, a big difference.


  19. - Legaleagle - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 12:29 pm:

    The GOP should reprise Pat Quinn’s campaign slogan from 1972, when he led Dan Walker’s successful campaign in Metro-East to oust Gov. Ogilvie and the GOP Senate over the income tax: “REMEMBER THE TAX: GIVE ‘EM THE AX”.


  20. - Lakefront Liberal - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 1:06 pm:

    From a campaign standpoint yes, I agree it is probably good campaign “strategy” for Lisa to stay mum. But we are beyond strategy here. This is a case of seeing someone on the side the road injured and bleeding and just walking on by.


  21. - Laborguy - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 2:20 pm:

    Real leaders lead in times of crisis. The political cowardice shown by Genral Madigan may be “smart” politically but will cost her in the long run. She is better off running for the US Senate where she can do Illinois much less harm.


  22. - Bill - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 2:40 pm:

    Hey, “Labor”guy,
    Lay off Lisa. Just because you can’t buy her and don’t own her doesn’t mean she is showing cowardice. Go scare some little kids.


  23. - When - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 3:01 pm:

    rich- when is the absolutle latest you think Lisa Madigan has until she announces her decision??
    when do you think she will? you should get a pool going.


  24. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 3:38 pm:

    If she had something revolutionary, she would make her position heard. Since there is a deafening silence, I surmise she has nothing knew, so why talk about it.


  25. - zatoichi - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 4:00 pm:

    Why does she have to respond to anyone about any issue? Until the day comes where she says what she intends to do she owes nobody any kind of statement. If she wishes to stay AG that’s her choice. Any other change is up to her at her time frame. She has age and time on her side.


  26. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 5:01 pm:

    Bill, you really need to make a decision on the Senate seat so this field can be sorted out.


  27. - Bill - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 5:18 pm:

    AA,
    I’m waiting for Lisa to decide.


  28. - mac - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 6:24 pm:

    This baiting question is interesting,but I bet she doesn’t even have a clown suit like most Illinois politicians.Where would you get one sized ulra-tiny. Maybe a chidren’s shop. If she decides to join the circus she’s gonna need that suit.Might even be a legislative requirement.


  29. - Sam's Club - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 7:14 pm:

    Speaking of repubs, did you get a load of Bill Brady (R., Walmart) today? In complete denial about the budget.


  30. - So Blue Democrat - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 7:16 pm:

    Any respect I have had for Lisa Madigan has been reduced a great deal by her silence. We need leaders, and not individuals only looking at their future political options.


  31. - long time state worker - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 7:34 pm:

    Is it possible Lisa is paying attention to managing her office, which does collect money for the state rather effectively,and her family and is waiting for those responsible for the budget mess to solve it on their own?
    I would like to know what people then in regards to “when” as mentioned above?


  32. - ZC - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 9:09 pm:

    George Ryan certainly lied about not raising taxes in the 1998 campaign. Worked for Poshard on that race. Remember George’s rhetoric.

    Ryan did try to backtrack after he won election, do some revising and claim, all he’d really promised to do was not to hike income taxes. But in fact his campaign rhetoric was not to raise any kind of tax. I’m glad he changed his mind while in office, mind. And would much rather have him back than Rod.


  33. - jab - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 9:18 pm:

    If you want to know LM stance on the current proposed budget cuts….send her an email. My facility did…as we are facing closure…and in past she has been very supportive of our facility.

    Her response…well her office assistances response…. was to inform us that LM and the attorney generals office are not involved in the budget process…therefore she doesn’t have a stance.

    So much for thinking she was a human being…and would dare stand up for the most vulnerable citizens of Illinois…even if were to speak from a personal point of view. I hope someday these folks all fry…. and no matter what office she runs for….she lost my vote…and many others.


  34. - Anon - Tuesday, Jun 30, 09 @ 11:27 am:

    Lisa is weak. She is not a leader. It is easy to throw stones, it is difficult to govern and lead. She is a pile on, bandwagon, stone thrower and if she truly has ambitions for higher office, she must be able to get off her safe perch and opine on more difficult issues.


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