* Eric Zorn hits it right on the head today with a column about the governor’s gross receipts tax and business opposition. It all boils down to who you trust, Zorn writes. Do you trust that Blagojevich has come up with a reasonable, fair plan, or do you trust big business to take care of the uninsured and assume that their arguments against this “job killing” proposal are valid?
Thing is, I don’t trust Blagojevich. Neither do many in his own party, which is what promises to make the coming days so fraught and fascinating. […]
He uses his bully pulpit to propose giving babies one free book a month, stopping minors from getting tattoos, banning violent video games or importing pharmaceuticals and vaccines. But he runs and hides from one of the main challenges of his office — issuing timely rulings on clemency and pardon petitions — and he’s been inept, at best, at policing corruption in hiring and contracts. […]
The gross receipts tax might well be his boldest, bravest and least poll-tested initiative ever. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, an independent liberal Washington think tank, last week released a 5,000-word analysis of the pending gross-receipts tax proposal, calling it “a constructive step toward making Illinois’ tax system stronger and fairer” that needs just “a few modifications” to avoid unintended negative consequences.
But to win this battle, Blagojevich will need more than think-tank support. He’ll need trust.
And, I would add, there’s precious little trust of this man at the Statehouse.
* The trouble is, this state’s reporters tend to despise Blagojevich and it’s becoming very clear that they are refusing to give him even close to a fair shake. That’s their right, and the governor brings much, if not most, of that on himself, but the agenda has become pretty obvious: Whack the guv at every turn for just about anything.
Yesterday, the AP moved a story about the guv’s inauguration fundraising…
At least eight companies donated $125,000 to pay for Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s January inauguration, including some with business interests in the state.
The donations, most of which ranged from $5,000 to $10,000, amounted to a fraction of the $1.25 million collected from businesses for Blagojevich’s 2003 inauguration.
I’m not sure exactly what the story was about. Did eight companies contribute $125,000 each? Can’t be because they raised a total of $1.25 million. If their contributions were only a “fraction” of the total, then is it really even a story? Frankly, considering all the hoo-ha about Blagojevich, I figured he was probably raising a lot more from connected insiders. It’s almost (repeat: almost) refreshing to see that he took in so little from those sorts.
Also, take a look at this piece from a southern Illinois paper that quotes Chamber honcho Doug Whitley without offering up any response from the other side…
â€œWe have people asking why they came to Illinois when they could have gone to Missouri,â€ said Whitley. â€œWe have people asking why they would want to do business in a state that is making situations difficult for them. Iâ€™ve had people tell me personally of how they canâ€™t afford to absorb the tax for themselves, let alone for the increases their distributors are going to be putting into items to cover the taxes for them.â€
Among other points, Whitley pointed out that the governor is using outdated information.
â€œWe were slow entering the recovery that so many states were seeing,â€ Whitley admitted. â€œWe know we didnâ€™t start seeing signs of recovery until 2005, but our Governor seems to love the year 2004. Thatâ€™s the year he keeps drawing his information from when he gives speeches about this. In 2004, we hadnâ€™t started to recover, so of course, the numbers look worse. But, the last two years have seen a turnaround that the GRT is going to kill.â€
All good points. Valid. Reasonable, even. But offered up in a completely uncritical manner.
I’m not sure what the governor has to do to get an even break, but it’s clear that those who operate the “filter” don’t think he deserves one. I would assume that most commenters here believe the same, but just remember what could happen if this practice continues with a future governor whom you support.
More tax and spend stories, compiled by our diligent intern Paul Richardson…
* Swapping state pension plan doesn’t save money, says report
* Study examines Illinois state pensions
* Advocates: Governor is holding transit hostage
* More RTA funds urged, gas tax suggested
* Gross receipts keeps plugging on
* Tax plan will be defended in the House
* Tax organization rejects governor’s budget plan