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2011 Rauner: Raising minimum wage, increasing union membership “counter-productive”

Thursday, Sep 4, 2014

* Earlier this morning, we discussed Brian Mackey’s column which contained some quotes from Bruce Rauner about the government’s role in the economy. He made those remarks during a 2011 panel discussion. A labor union source found another Rauner quote from that same panel. The pre-candidate was asked “Could you talk about the increasingly unequal distribution of wealth in this country?” Rauner’s response

“You know, we can complain about it, we can try to tax more, redistribute income, whatever. Or encourage more unionization, which is, or raise the uh, another standard one, let’s raise the minimum wage.

“Those are all in a lot of ways counter-productive, in my opinion.”


Like I told you yesterday, prepare to hear more about this issue as the campaign progresses, not less.

The full video is here. The above quote starts around the 1 hour, 28 minute mark. But what the union guy didn’t include was the last part of the quote…

“What it’s really about is education.”

Rauner was arguing that education was important to the knowledge-base economy. He’s right about that part, although I don’t see how cutting state and local revenues will accomplish his goals. But, whatever, the rest of his comment opens him up yet again to claims that he’s a heartless plutocrat.

By the way, Rauner also said there’s “a financial tumor growing” in the nation, caused by public sector unions.

* Meanwhile, apparently the Illinois economy didn’t crash in the late 00’s because the world economy crashed. Nope, it crashed because the state gradually raised its minimum wage

The minimum wage in Illinois rose four times between 2006 and 2010. Unemployment rates climbed, along with home foreclosures and the number of families living in extreme poverty.

The rest of the column is pretty good, though

They know that state and federal welfare programs punish workers who move up the pay scale. Federal benefits for housing assistance or food stamps or day care start to drop off once someone is earning about $22,000 a year. Take a promotion, and you’ll lose your child care subsidy. It makes no sense.

The politicians here and in Washington, D.C., know that affordable housing is a scarcity. They know expanding the earned income tax credit to younger workers would put real money into the pockets of the working poor.

They know that reducing mandatory minimum prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders and giving businesses more incentives to hire people with criminal records would enable millions of men and women to better care for their families. The Tribune’s Jon Yates recently wrote of a man who didn’t qualify for the Chicago Transit Authority’s ex-offender apprenticeship program because his criminal record wasn’t current enough. Yes. True story.

* And, on a related note, from the twitters…

That’s two, two Illinois ballot issues in one, in case you’re keeping score at home.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Votecounter - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 11:11 am:

    Ms. Fluke should know that bit control is available free in most poor neighborhoods and available to anyone who wants it. Paid for by the taxpayer.

  2. - Ducky LaMoore - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 11:15 am:

    Yep Tribune, you must have filed bankruptcy because of that pesky minimum wage, right?

  3. - dupage dan - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 11:16 am:

    #1 - birth control thru planned parenthood is far cheaper than Fluke claims. In many circumstances it is entirely free, including exams, etc.

    #2 - Why is it the woman has to be responsible for the birth control? Men can step up as well and the costs are considerably cheaper.

  4. - Gator - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 11:25 am:

    Education? There are some highly educated people out here who can’t get a job or work for minimum wage. On top of all their living expenses, many of them have to pay student loans as well (which can’t be discharged in bankruptcy or refinanced more than once).

    I know these “educated” people Bruce speaks of would welcome a minimum wage increase.

  5. - JS Mill - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 11:25 am:

    =They know that state and federal welfare programs punish workers who move up the pay scale. Federal benefits for housing assistance or food stamps or day care start to drop off once someone is earning about $22,000 a year. Take a promotion, and you’ll lose your child care subsidy. It makes no sense.

    The politicians here and in Washington, D.C., know that affordable housing is a scarcity. They know expanding the earned income tax credit to younger workers would put real money into the pockets of the working poor.=

    I think that is spot on, this goes with the “hand up not a hand out” concept and is far cheaper than any of the other failed poverty programs. Encourage people to work/find employment and grow economically and you will GROW the economy.

  6. - How Ironic - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 11:27 am:


    PP is indeed cheaper, but there are some ladies who will not utilize their services because the also do terminations. Also, the fees charged are on a sliding scale. Those on the lower end of the income scale do indeed receive subsidized birth control and exams. Sometimes they are free. However, as your income goes up, so do the cost of services.

    2. Women should ALWAYS be responsible for their own birth control. Options available for men are not always reliable, nor are they always ‘ready’. While I’m 100% onboard with the man assisting to pay for them, the fact remains that the pill, IUD, or other options are far superior in preventing pregnancy. A condom should always be a part of disease prevention though.

  7. - Anon. - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    Hobby Lobby’s employee health care plan pays for the birth control methods shown.

  8. - Anon - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 11:34 am:

    The gap between have and have-not school districts is getting wider. Nothing Rauner has proposed would reverse that trend. If his policies lead to even sharper cuts in state funding, then property-poor districts would suffer the most and the gap would simply grow even more.

  9. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 11:35 am:

    We have two candidates peddling notions to their respective voters. Rauner, who yesterday launched his property tax freeze proposal, is telling voters that freezing property taxes, is something he will do. Quinn, today is countering with his attack that the solution to his voter base, is raising the minimum wage.

    So there you go:
    Rauner, if you own a home and believe taxes are too high.
    Quinn, if you live on minimum wage or concerned about people who do.

    Rauner’s solution makes government take less from property owners burdened with high property taxes.
    Quinn’s solution makes businesses take more from consumers by raising product prices, or forcing them to stay competitive and lay off workers.

    Rauner’s solution would hurt government.
    Quinn’s solution would hurt businesses.

    Both are pandering to their voter base with fraudulent economic claims. Both are telling half truths.

    Here is the final rub. Quinn IS governor NOW. Since he has been governor, his beloved minimum wage rose twenty five cents. Suddenly he now wants it at $10? Where has he been all these years? Also, as governor, Quinn can already take action to help homeowners. What has he done?

    There would be no Bruce Rauner had Pat Quinn made it clear that he favored helping Illinois home owners with high taxes and ensured incremental minimum wage increases - if that is really more than just campaign talk for a guy losing in the polls.

    It all boils down to what I’ve been saying - this was Quinn’s election to lose and had he been communicating and showing Illinoisans that elected him just four years ago, the he was their guy, then he wouldn’t be facing a loss this November.

    All the anti-Rauner blather coming from Quinn rests on a sincere hope that Illinois voters forget who has been their governor. He might find some nice mud and frame Rauner all he wants, but he wouldn’t be doing this if he knew what he was doing as governor all along.

  10. - Anon - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 11:38 am:

    If Rauner and his party were candid, they would admit that widening economic inequality doesn’t bother them in the least. Consequently, they will not adopt policies to slow or reverse the trend. Some defend growing inequality as a necessity of economic growth and of the market, even though the USA has the widest inequality among the world’s rich democracies, while our growth rate has been feeble.

  11. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 11:40 am:

    Rauner isn’t Brady.
    You won’t beat him by painting him as irresponsibly pro-life.

  12. - John A Logan - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 11:41 am:

    Spot on Vanilla Man.

  13. - DDR - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 11:41 am:

    I agree with a lot of McQueary’s points in that column, but this line is a bit of a head scratcher:

    “Throwing a few bucks to minimum wage workers doesn’t help them save for a down payment or equip them to buy a reliable car or auto insurance or send them to job training or back to school.”

    Huh? A two dollar an hour raise means about 300 bucks more per month in the pocket of a minimum wage workers. That’s not gonna cover tuition at Harvard, but it will certainly help pay for liability insurance on a ‘97 Chevy.

  14. - truthteller - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    When labor unions were at their peak, the U.S. economy was at its peak, the middle class was growing and educational opportunities were expanding.
    The middle class is shrinking as unions lose density.Obviously in Rauner’s world that is a good thing. He doesn’t travel in middle class circles

  15. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 12:18 pm:

    How about replacing minimum wage with a little more emphasis on scaling back the government assistance programs?

    Slightly over 37% are better adapted to manipulating a few government handout programs to avoid having a job than those that are willing to work.

    This was never the intention of the forefathers or the programs.

    I’m not against helping those that actually need to get back on their feet, but when these programs completely replace their drive to rejoin the workforce, something is drastically wrong.

  16. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 12:24 pm:

    ===How about replacing minimum wage with a little more emphasis on scaling back the government assistance programs? ===

    A buddy of mine has been unemployed for several months. He recently got a job offer, but he calculated that, after taxes and childcare expenses, he’d be breaking even. He decided to stay home with his kid until he could find higher pay.

    The same thing happened to my father in the 1970s.

  17. - ElohEl - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 12:25 pm:

    Lol, the birth control bit at the end has me cracking up. A month of work for a IUD? Come on, Condom Depot has over ONE HUNDRED (100) condoms for $29.99…..they do realize birth control is a two way street right?

  18. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 12:33 pm:

    Anyone know how many unpaid interns who don’t even get minimum wage are employed by the Trib these days?

  19. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 12:36 pm:

    @ElohEl - Condoms are not the same thing as IUDs.
    Birth control pills/devices are not just about preventing pregnancy any more but are prescribed even for women who aren’t sexually active for treatment of other conditions affecting women’s reproductive organs.

    Maybe someday men will understand this?

  20. - How Ironic - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 12:39 pm:


    Excellent choice, making all of your health care decisions by the low cost bidder. Having a ‘cheap’ condom break, resulting in pregnancy isn’t much of a bargin is it?

  21. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 12:52 pm:

    “Federal benefits for housing assistance or food stamps or day care start to drop off once someone is earning about $22,000 a year.”

    The government offers bare-bones safety net programs. Some people who are against these programs make it sound like taxpayers and the government are offering mansions on the French Riviera.

    “failed poverty programs”

    Helping poor people avert starvation and providing them with medical insurance is failure?

  22. - Demoralized - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    =Condom Depot has over ONE HUNDRED (100) condoms for $29.99==

    Is that like the Home Depot?

    “More Saving, More Doing”

    Sorry . . . too far?

  23. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 1:00 pm:

    Again, the obsession with the 2.5% of workforce making minimum wage. Apparently, “throw a few bucks their way,” and the house of cards comes down.

    Geez, did she get hit in the head with something hard?

    Can any of these geniuses explain the post-war boom from 1945-1974 which roughly coincided with the implementation of the minimum wage and the rise of union membership? If those things are “anti-competitive,” how did that happen?

    Here’s a hint: it’s a consumer-driven, capitalist economy. For it to cook, consumers need to make money to spend money, and they need access to capital.

    Do these goofs have no historical perspective whatsoever? Were they all born yesterday?

  24. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 1:04 pm:

    You think birth control is expensive? It would take eight years of full-time work at minimum wage just to join Rauner’s wine club.

  25. - A guy... - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 1:25 pm:

    But the first day after those 8 years 47, it’d probably be a good strategy to have a condom in that empty wallet. lol.

  26. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 1:39 pm:

    The first rule of wine club is you never talk about wine club. You should know that A guy.

    (hat tip Steve Rhodes)

  27. - JS Mill - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 1:44 pm:

    @Anon =The gap between have and have-not school districts is getting wider.= That is a bit of a slippery slope. Some of the “have not” districts, defined by the low income population, are doing quite well financially. The poverty grant is driving state aid these days and creating some strange bubbles. Cicero elementary dist 99 has nearly $150 million in the bank and is running large annual surpluses. I doubt many people know that and I doubt many would consider them a “have” district. Dist 99 is not alone either. It is a common misconception that our poorest communities are all have cash strapped schools. Move downstate and the picture changes. This only illustrates the same point though, our school funding system is broke and broken. AND Rauner has no clue on this one.

  28. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 1:56 pm:

    So Rauner called public employee unions tumors for the “excessive” level of pay and benefits.

    I wonder what he would call corporations that take millions of federal Medicare and Medicaid dollars, be found negligent and liable in the deaths and suffering of many patients and wind up pulling out their empty pockets and shrugging their shoulders in a claim of bankruptcy?

  29. - JS Mill - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 2:17 pm:

    @GOM- my point with the poverty program failure was not that feeding the poor and caring for their health is bad. Caring for children and the elderly is important and a moral duty. It is that our programs to not create or encourage a path out of poverty. Public housing, especially in urban areas, is not luxury living. I like the idea of a program that encourages people to work and does not pull the rug out from a family because the parent is making $22k per year. A family cannot live on that.

  30. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 2:19 pm:

    === It is that our programs to not create or encourage a path out of poverty===

    There are plenty of programs for that. Some work, others don’t. But if you wanna entice people back into the labor market, pay them a little bit more.

  31. - JS Mill - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 2:30 pm:

    @Rich- I am not opposed to raising the minimum wage. More money in the pocket likely equates to more money into the economy as well. There is an interrelatedness of factors, it is never just one simple fix. I struggle to see the success as the percentage of people in poverty increases. I want that to improve and know the answer is not “get rid of social welfare” but to make it better. If we apply resources more effectively we will, in the long run, have to apply fewer resources.

  32. - Bemused - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 2:37 pm:

    The argument against raising the minimum wage always seems to include the idea that those who make minimum wage can move up to a higher paying job and thus solve the problem. Even if that were possible, it does not take away the need for somebody to make pizza or bus tables and so on.
    The minimum wage job is still there so who does it? If they were all being done by teenagers or bored stay at home mothers we might not be having these discussions. Maybe we just need to import more help. As one group of immigrants move up we find a new source of cheap help. Of course how much help will that new work force need to survive. Creating new part time or more minimum wage jobs is not a solution. Want to see the economy take off? Pay a forty hour living wage.

  33. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 2:43 pm:

    “It is that our programs to not create or encourage a path out of poverty.”

    I agree with your compassion toward the poor, but it was the buzzphrase/talking point “failed poverty programs” to which I responded.

    I also very much agree with you on helping people make more money as opposed to getting more public benefits.

    Back to the Paul Ryan-ish talking point (failed poverty programs): Perhaps we made a mistake by assuming or thinking directly that “poverty programs” pull people out of poverty.

    Social safety net programs of course don’t by themselves pull people out of poverty. People need to work and go to school, among other gainful activites.

    What safety net programs do, as you are well aware, is alleviate or prevent suffering. How many millions of people have been helped by these programs? In this way, poverty programs have been very successful.

    I don’t want to go back to a time when people were left just to suffer and die without any help, or with help only from the private sector, which is limited. I’ll gladly pay my taxes for that to not happen.

  34. - olddog - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 2:47 pm:

    Rauner 1 — “What it’s really about is education.”

    Rauner 2 — “[Diane Ravitch asked] What should our society do about the kids your charters don’t want? His response: I don’t know and I don’t care. They are not my problem.”

    Yep, it’s all about education. But apparently education is all about letting your hedge fund buddies cash in on charter schools.

    This man has no clue about *anything* other than his own financial interest.

  35. - A guy... - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 3:27 pm:

    ===47th Ward - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 1:39 pm:

    The first rule of wine club is you never talk about wine club. You should know that A guy.====

    What wine club?

  36. - Reader - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 4:21 pm:

    Target and Wall-Mart both have the pill, specifically Sprintec and Tri-Sprintec (the generics of Orth-Cyclen and Ortho-Tri-Cyclen), for less than $10 per month. So is Fluke a financial illiterate or just a political propagandist?

  37. - Reader - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 4:23 pm:

    less than $10 per month…WITHOUT insurance.

  38. - How Ironic - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 4:54 pm:

    @ Reader,

    Good info, but not particularly relevant if the woman isn’t being prescribed the pill, especially if its being prescribed for something other than pregnancy prevention.

    If the woman (in her physicians expert medical opinion) should have an IUD, your $10 example is useless.

    It’s like saying I can get asprin for $3.00 a bottle. If my Dr. prescribes something else, for an unrelated condition, I should just use the asprin because it’s cheaper.

    Try again.

  39. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 5:27 pm:

    In our country everyone has a right to buy a Cadillac if they can afford it. Even a Mercedes Benz. But because some people own Cadillacs and Mercedes that doesn’t mean taxpayers through the force of government owes everyone a Cadillac or Mercedes.

    There are inexpensive and very expensive forms of birth control. Recipients have no right to force others to pay for the most expensive birth control. Like everything else in life, you get what you can pay for. Recipients should be happy about what is being GIVEN to them.

    This is the same as someone being given a Chevy and then throwing a tantrum because they want a Cadillac and know other people with a Cadillac. If you want to work hard or work smart and earn enough money, buy the best birth control in the world. If you want everyone else to pay for it, then you take what they decide to give. Sandra Fluke’s sense of entitlement is appalling. I could care less what anyone does in their bedroom. Just don’t expect me to pay for it in the most expensive method available.

  40. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 7:35 pm:

    I bet you’re a real hit with the ladies Anonymous.

  41. - Enviros-Anon - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 7:58 pm:

    Anonymous is comparing cars to birth control.

    Birth control is covered under health care.
    Cars are not covered under health care.

    It would make more sense to compare birth control to some other type of health care, not cars.

  42. - GraduatedCollegeStudent - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 9:19 pm:


    And an unwanted child born into a financially struggling household costs taxpayers how much money again?

  43. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 11:23 pm:

    Less than the taxes expected to be raised off of that American during their lifetime of employment. Which, btw, has been already spent.

  44. - Reader - Friday, Sep 5, 14 @ 12:25 am:

    @How Ironic

    “Good info, but not particularly relevant if the woman isn’t being prescribed the pill…”

    Um, if the cost of the pill isn’t relevant, then what was the purpose of Fluke claiming it takes a week of work to cover the monthly cost when it takes less than two hours? Oh right, that would contradict her ridiculous propaganda.

    Try again.

  45. - Harry - Friday, Sep 5, 14 @ 1:01 am:

    Hobby Lobby case was about abortifacients and people whose religion informs them that life begins at conception. NOT about the pill or IUDs.

    This is all crazy. Until a year or 2 ago the Federal govt had no say in any of this, medical insurance was regulated by the States. The whole thing is a made-up issue and everyone is falling for it.

  46. - Yobagoya - Friday, Sep 5, 14 @ 2:22 am:

    @Wordslinger Uh, post-war boom from 1945-1974 also roughly coincided with…the post-war world. A sizable bit of the world was smoldering. Also, there was this thing called Socialism. There’s probably a wikipedia article on it. The rest of the world was pretty inhospitable, economically speaking.

    Historical perspective indeed.

  47. - wordslinger - Friday, Sep 5, 14 @ 9:03 am:

    Yob, are you confusing communism with socialism, as in socialist democracies in Israel, Great Britain, Scandanavia, Canada, etc.?

    Were the Western democracies still smoldering in the 50s, 60s, 70s?

    Clueless, and willfully so.

  48. - Yobagoya - Friday, Sep 5, 14 @ 10:10 am:

    It went from smoldering to smothering socialism in western Europe. Do you think England was a good place to do business pre-Thatcher? Communism stretched from Eastern Europe across all of Asia, infected chunks of Africa and Central and South America (man, with so many examples of Left-wing caused misery and failure you would think more people would shun such poison.)

    Your historical perspective of the post-war world narrowly focuses on the minimum wage as the catalyst of economic expansion while ignoring, willfully, I assume, tectonic forces. Okay.

    You know what else roughly coincided with the post-war boom- the Cubs World Series drought. Think about it.

  49. - wordslinger - Friday, Sep 5, 14 @ 10:23 am:

    No Yob, my point is that unions and the minimum wage are not the economic catastrophes that Rauner and his ilk make them out to be. That’s my historical perspective.

  50. - Yobagoya - Friday, Sep 5, 14 @ 10:44 am:

    I don’t think he said unions are an economic catastrophe. He said they were counter productive. I think that’s pretty much true these days of private sector unions. Public sector unions, on the other hand may not be catastrophic but they are a corrupting force in our political system.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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* Grace to install new pastor Nov. 1

* No. 19 Georgia, Tennessee seeking to put past behind them
* Lawsuit challenges allowing judges to pick public defenders
* Egypt to restore King Tut mask after botched epoxy job
* Grain mostly lower, livestock mixed
* US boosts privacy protection on health insurance website

* House lawmakers overcome hurdle on key tra...
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* Simon considering state Senate bid
* Killer Congressman Tom MacArthur trying to...
* Shutdown? State may not notice
* Rep. Bob Dold

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* Kirk cheers Senate passage of National Def......

* Name change sanctioned by IAR board at Fall Business Meetings
* Teamwork makes RPAC Phone-a-thon successful
* Barneys New York Location In Chicago
* Teachers Strike Enters 7th Day In McHenry High School District 156
* Morning Minute: Despite rebounding home prices, affordability still runs high
* Letter To The Editor: The Budget Impasse Is Devastating Public Health Services In Illinois
* Get the scoop on Crosby award in Illinois REALTOR®
* Hotel Burnham Chicago Housekeepers Want Workplace Safety Improvements
* MRED becomes Centennial Sponsor for IAR’s 100th Anniversary
* Learn about Crosby’s service award in Illinois REALTOR®

* Board’s New Rules Will Reduce Risk of Tire Fires and Disease-Carrying Mosquitos
* Illinois Hosts Inaugural Interstate Medical Licensure Compact - Aims to increase health care access through multi-state physician licensure program
* IEMA Announces Elgin Community College Attains ‘Ready to Respond Campus’ Designation - Elgin one of five Illinois campuses to receive distinction
* New Mortgage Loan Interface Increases Efficiency, Compliance
* State Fire Marshal Ushers In Fire Prevention Week - “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep!”

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