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In which I finally agree with Ty Fahner

Monday, Dec 2, 2013

* Greg Hinz

In an extraordinary series of developments in the past 24 hours, gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner and other figures on the GOP right lambasted the deal that was reached by legislative leaders on the day before Thanksgiving, saying it’s way too little and likely to lead to a tax hike. Joining them was the state party’s nominal leader, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, who this morning put out a statement saying the plan “relies heavily on accounting gimmicks (and) fails to prevent a permanent income tax hike.”

But at almost the exact moment Mr. Kirk was issuing his statement, Ty Fahner, president of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, generally considered Chicago’s most influential big-business group, was telling me the “damned good bill” has his full support — and that Mr. Rauner is seeking the politically impossible. [Emphasis added.]

Fahner is right about that highlighted point. I take no position on whether this is a “good bill” or not, but Rauner is most definitely seeking something that absolutely cannot pass at this point in Illinois history, or maybe ever.

I mean, for crying out loud, a majority of House Republicans voted against Speaker Madigan’s pension bill last spring. How the heck does anyone expect the two parties to back the far more radical Rauner position? No more COLAs ever for retirees and every active employee tossed into a 401(k)? Yeah, that’ll happen this week, or next month or next year, or even next decade. Right.


Mr. Fahner, in an interview this morning, strongly disputed Mr. Rauner’s position, and indicated he would go to Springfield tomorrow to testify for the bill.

The measure “could be better. It is not perfect,” Mr. Fahner said. “But this is a damned good bill, period. . . .We are enthusiastically supporting it,” pending only a final reading of final bill language.

Mr. Rauner’s approach, which among other things could prevent those already working from getting any inflation adjustment at all in their pensions for the rest of their lives, “would not pass in 50 years — or two years, if he becomes governor,” Mr. Fahner said. “Whatever his perfect bill might be, he’s totally wrong in terms of its practicality” of passing a Democrat-dominated General Assembly.


* Rauner’s opposition is beginning to make me think of the fantasies spun by the DC tea partiers about Obamacare before they shut down the government. It’s either 100 percent their way or the whole thing must crash and burn. And that ain’t no way to run a railroad.

…Adding… From the IMA…

For years, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association along with many other voices have been calling for significant reform of the state’s pension systems that are threatening the financial health and well being of our state. Illinois currently has the worst-funded pension system in the nation with an unfunded pension liability approaching $100 billion and an annual payment that eats up nearly twenty percent of the state’s general fund budget. In addition to forcing reductions in investment in education, transportation, and other critical state programs, Illinois’ severely underfunded pension systems are a major impediment to job creators.

This week, the General Assembly is finally poised to act after Governor Quinn and the four legislative leaders reached agreement on a pension reform package that will save $160 billion over the next thirty years while reducing our annual pension payment by $1.5 billion. It will result in a 100 percent, fully funded pension system by 2044.

Passage of this pension reform plan is tenuous because of vociferous opposition from public sector labor unions who are strongly opposed to changes that will limit Cost of Living Adjustments, increase the retirement age, impose a cap on pensionable wages, prohibit pensions and health care from being collectively bargained, and create an optional new 401K system for state employees to replace the defined benefit program. Labor unions are unleashing every possible resource to stop this pension reform plan.

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association strongly supports pension reform and its imperative that Illinois legislators hear from the business community TODAY OR TOMORROW about the urgent need for pension reform. Please call your respective member of the House of Representatives and Senate and ask them to VOTE YES on pension reform.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 1:26 pm:

    ===…“would not pass in 50 years — or two years, if he becomes governor,” Mr. Fahner said. “Whatever his perfect bill might be, he’s totally wrong in terms of its practicality” of passing a Democrat-dominated General Assembly.===

    This is the ultimate issue with Bruce Rauner’s candidacy, and how Bruce Rauner has decided to run, to portray his time as Governor, and how Bruce Rauner would like to “rule”, all the while forgetting, there is a Co-Equal partner in everything big Bruce Rauner wants to do.

    Either it could be the rudest awakening for a “Governor-Elect Rauner” in the history of “Honeymoons” for a governor, or Bruce Rauner, again, is “selling” a bill of goods he knows full well is not true, and can never be.

    Governing is hard, and equal. Governing is not Decree and Obey for Partners in the Process.

    Nicely done, Mr. Fahner.

  2. - Dan Johnson - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 1:27 pm:

    There is a major competence gap from financial people who think they can run a consensus-seeking process like legislation better than politicians who have been doing it well for decades.

  3. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 1:30 pm:

    Rauner’s worst nightmare is the passage of a bipartisan bill that’s backed by the Civvies and opposed by the unions.

    What’s the point of his campaign if that happens?

  4. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 1:33 pm:

    === But this is a damned good bill, period ===

    “But this is a damned unconstitutional bill, period”

    Fixed that for you.

  5. - 47th Ward - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 1:35 pm:

    Looks like Fahner learned some good lessons about the General Assembly and the art of the possible.

  6. - circularfiringsquad - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 1:39 pm:

    Wow FarmerBrucey gets a huge spanking…wonder if they are performing the sideline concussion protocol?
    And BTW who in hell ever anointed CommandoMakeItUp the leader of the GOPies?

  7. - walkinfool - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 1:40 pm:

    Right or wrong, Fahner’s well-informed and intellectually honest.

    That’s why Kirk’s, Martin’s, and Rauner’s comments so disappoint. Let’s deal with reality, folks.

  8. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 1:43 pm:

    So the Civvies and IMA are on board, putting Rauner on the same side as dem bad ol’ public sector union bosses.

    LOL, dude, you just got rolled. You can probably return the Carharrt. Doesn’t look like it saw any action.

  9. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 1:44 pm:

    === four legislative leaders reached agreement on a pension reform package that will save $160 billion over the next thirty years ===

    Cullerton said his bill would only diminish benefits by $56.9 billion over 30 years -

    Now he’s pushing something that diminishes benefits by $160 billion?

    My, my, that’s a long way from home Mr. President.

  10. - cod - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 1:45 pm:

    Ty Fahner’ admission last spring, actually bragging, that he and other CC leaders had worked to further lower the ratings of Illinois bonds apparently hasn’t degraded his reputation with Crains and their reporters.

    Giving a voice to the likes of Fahner is a clear sign of a bias of Crains towards protecting the State’s low taxes on the wealthy at the expense of retired teachers and university professors.

    How low can the media sink?

  11. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 1:53 pm:

    Wow, Ty Fahner is to the left of PPC/Red State Rauner. Rauner is a certified extremist now, because the Civic Committee is to the left of him.

  12. - ash - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 2:00 pm:

    A “Damn good bill” that TRS actuaries project us falling below the minimum for social security exemption… McDonalds and Walmart treat their employees better!

  13. - The Elderly Man You Used 2 Love - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 2:03 pm:

    With all this hubbub over what Rauner thinks, you’d think he was already the gov. There’s been more ink spilled over Rauner’s take than Quinn’s. What does that say about PQ?

  14. - catrike - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 2:06 pm:

    It is amazing that none of the opponents of the current proposal from the left or the right have a viable alternative. It is just like the opponents to the Affordable Care Act just opposition, and no solutions.

  15. - Geneva Guy - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 2:13 pm:

    Here’s a theory - Rauner, Kirk, et al secretly support the bill or at least secretly understand it’s the best you can get in this state. However, they figure it’s safer politically to flank right because it puts them at odds with the ruling Dems and inculcates them from conservative litmus testers. Also, by flanking right perhaps it can be more easily argued by Dem bill supporters, at least in the court of public opinion, that the current bill is reasonable, because, hey, those wacky Republicans would have hit you harder. Further, although there will be legal scrutiny, it would certainly help if this bill was more popular than not with the majority of the Democratic party faithful for lots of obvious reasons.

    Also, by not actually endorsing the bill, Rauner is spared the months of campaign awkwardness of defending the signature legislation that ultimately belongs to Madigan, Cullerton & Quinn. It’s hard to differentiate yourself from your opponent if you would have done the exact same thing on the most important question pending in the state. The Unions will come in hard now and that can’t be stopped. Here’s a way for both sides to get cover and, at least in this game, regardless of stated policy preferences, both sides are on the same team…against the unions.

  16. - MrJM - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 2:31 pm:

    And here I’d heard that the only thing that could slay the Pension Dragon was Baron Rauner’s magic watch.

    Now it looks like he needs a new fairy tale.

    – MrJM

  17. - hisgirlfriday - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 2:52 pm:

    So in retaliation will Baron Carhartt call Moody’s and request a downgrade if this bill is passed?

  18. - Drago - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 2:53 pm:

    Not to digress, and offered for amusement only:

    So Dan Proft has weighed in, at last (since we were all waiting for thoughts of the guy who got 7% of the GOP vote four years ago).

    His solution? Doesn’t really have one, but he’s mad that Republicans would vote for anything that Democrats would vote for.

    And then he wonders why people don’t take him seriously.

  19. - Downstater - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 2:56 pm:

    “This week, the General Assembly is finally poised to act after Governor Quinn and the four legislative leaders reached agreement on a pension reform package that will save $160 billion over the next thirty years while reducing our annual pension payment by $1.5 billion. It will result in a 100 percent, fully funded pension system by 2044.”
    Please, these are assumptions and projects. This statement makes it sound like it is guaranteed. We know how government promises work out!

  20. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 3:04 pm:

    “public sector union bosses”

    PPC said “union bosses” don’t best serve the interests of members. None of us are perfect, but I believe and feel a need to reiterate that union leaders have served their members pretty well. Salaries and benefits currently enjoyed by members would not be there if not for the actions of leadership, in filing law suits, negotiating contracts, opposing cuts, etc.

  21. - Century Club - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 3:20 pm:

    A Democratic Governor along with the Democratic super-majorities in the General Assembly are maneuvering on the same day to take $160 billion away from retirees, and give ADM/Office Depot/Univar more than $80 million dollars. But this isn’t good enough for Rauners of the world.

    What’s HB 1 in a new Rauner administration? He gets the ability to hold me upside down by my ankles and shake all the money out of my pockets?

  22. - too obvious - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 3:30 pm:

    Maybe Fahner finally wants to be on winning side of something.

  23. - Bill White - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 3:38 pm:

    A Democratic Governor along with the Democratic super-majorities in the General Assembly are maneuvering on the same day to take $160 billion away from retirees . . .


    The IL GOP has formed itself into a world class circular firing squad.

  24. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 3:41 pm:

    Nice to see someone like fahner call brucey on the impossibility of achieving his stated policy. Politics is the art of the possible. Yelling louder doesnt get it passed, no matter how many ad points he buys.

  25. - Wensicia - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 4:51 pm:

    Before the Tribune editorial board jumps into bed with the Rauner crowd, they should pay attention to the sane representatives of the Republican Party.

  26. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 4:53 pm:

    I actually agree with Anonymous 3:41 whoever you are. And is it bad to say that I’m not surprised Mr. Kirk is right there at his heels?

    People keep arguing–even today, about whether Mr. Kirk is a liberal, moderate, or a conservative.

    Maybe he’s just “extreme.” And Mr. Rauner is the same. The latter expecting everything to run as if it were his company and the former screaming the loudest because he’s the leader.

    That’s the feeling I’m being left with today. It’s very unpleasant.

  27. - Wensicia - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 5:04 pm:

    Amazing! The Tribune editorial board finally remembered they’re supposed to be responsible journalists and are now encouraging a yes vote on this bill.,0,816379.story

  28. - Perceval - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 7:16 pm:

    The problem with being a political savior is that walking on water can prove tricky, can’t it Mr. Rauner?

  29. - Quinn is the Grinch - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 9:54 pm:

    Governor Quinn is the Grinch that stole Christmas to State employees and retirees. He is heartless. He lied in his last campaign when he said that he had a heart. He has an ice cold heart like all Chicago machine democrats.

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