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Politics and the budget mess *** UPDATED x1 Giannoulias refuses some contributions ***

Monday, Mar 30, 2009

* Laura Washington takes a look at what happens if Lisa Madigan and others decide to move up or off the political ladder, or stay right where they are…

Evanston-based State Rep. Julie Hamos, who represents the 18th District along Chicago’s North Side and North Shore, is already raising money and taking names for a run for attorney general. Hamos may have Madigan’s blessing, but until the AG jumps, there’s nowhere for Hamos to land.

Talk about jumping the ladder. Media outlets across the nation have been touting Chicago Urban League CEO Cheryle Jackson’s anticipated run for Burris’ seat, though all they seem to know is how to spell her name. Her backers, particularly in the black community, are waiting to see if multiple investigations by Fitzgerald, the U.S. Senate and the Sangamon County prosecutor will knock Burris off the ladder.

Jackson doesn’t have a prayer if Burris stands for election. The two will split the black vote and not much else. Things will be even more hopeless if U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky decides to take a shot at the seat. Schakowsky is a powerhouse fund-raiser with a bullet-proof base among female, progressive and Jewish voters.

Ald. Joe Moore (49th) is said to be salivating over a Schakowsky bid, as that would give him a shot at her 9th Congressional District seat. The national thrill of his foie gras crusade is long gone, and he wants it back. Still, since the Rogers Park pol barely won reelection in 2007, he may not be in the best shape to muscle another rung up the ladder.

At 32, Giannoulias may be the youngest straddling his way up the ladder, but he’s moving up fast. He’s formed a Senate exploratory committee, is raising funds nationally from Greeks and Obama-ites, and is turning up regularly on the business channel CNBC. His own chief of staff, former state Rep. Robin Kelly, is gearing up to take his spot. The 52-year-old resident of Matteson is looking to become Illinois’ first African-American treasurer.

* Speaking of Giannoulias, he was asked by the Kankakee Daily Journal’s edit board to say what he’d do if he was in charge of Illinois’ budget

I think your first step is to find ways to cut waste, to cut your budget, to find ways to do more with less, to make government more efficient, to streamline services, to technologically advance the way you conduct business.

If there is an income tax increase there needs to be a decrease in property taxes. People are getting decimated by property taxes. And also you can maybe make the school system more equitable. That being said, right now in a recession — and almost any economist can tell you - is not the right time to increase taxes on people. There is never a good, right time.

That’s not a bad political position: Cut more waste, streamline, cut property taxes, improve education, income tax hikes bad. It doesn’t get us very far in this debate, however.

*** Sigh. *** Screwed up something and so I deleted this part of the post. Oops. Gotta slow down. Less coffee.

*** UPDATE *** Giannoulias just announced that he won’t accept contributions from corporate PACs or federal lobbyists

…I am taking a step that no major Illinois candidate from either party has ever taken in a run for the U.S. Senate. It is a decision that advances us one step closer to that change that we all fought for and believed in last November. I will simply say “NO” to contributions from all federal lobbyists and corporate PACs.

These special interests do not represent the interests of most Americans, and they should not be allowed to buy a seat at the table when it comes to deciding critical issues or determining the direction of our nation, especially in the midst of our current financial crisis.

[Hat tip to a Giannoulias supporter who referenced a Daily Kos piece which contained the link to the above press release.]

* Related…

*** ADDED *** What does tax plan mean to jobless ex-governor?: In short, if Pat Quinn gets his way, Rod Blagojevich will soon be paying an extra $13.50 to the state every week.

* Governor Quinn said ‘cut, cut, cut,’ so what’s up with all of this?

* An extravagant holiday

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* Toll reforms tardy, but welcome news

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - dave - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 11:24 am:

    That being said, right now in a recession — and almost any economist can tell you - is not the right time to increase taxes on people.

    This is blatantly false. Alexi should check-in with his friend in the White House to see what his economists say.

  2. - Shore - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 11:46 am:

    Without violating the terms of the red writing and getting banished from CFB, I must say how ridiculous that column from Laura Washington is. I’ve long since given up on the sun-times covering anything Republican but for her to write about these people ignoring what an awful job the democrats have done in this state is a sad.

    As for all the cheerleading for Alexi, the last 3 democrats -braun,obama,burris- they’ve given us for that seat have been one horrible one termers, and I’m not so sure a guy who thinks a junket to greece gives him foreign policy smarts is going to break that cycle.

  3. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 11:51 am:

    === right now in a recession — and almost any economist can tell you - is not the right time to increase taxes on people ===

    Sure, because its so much easier to justify a tax-increase during an economic boon when the state coffers are overflowing, right?

    I HATE this argument. And here’s just a few more reasons.

    Economists are idiots, and if you want to get three different opinions on the economy, just get three economists in the same room.

    It asks the WRONG question. Even a nincompoop economist should know that you need to do a COMPLETE cost-benefit analysis.

    The right question is:

    “What is the cost to our economy of raising some taxes to pay for certain government programs versus the cost to our economy of keeping the tax burden the same and reducing or eliminating those programs?”

    For example, instead of raising taxes, we COULD cut $11.5 BILLION in spending from the General Revenue Fund.

    Proposed state GRF funding by Gov. Quinn totals $23.6 Billion, so it wouldn’t be easy. BUT, if you eliminate ALL state support for the following agencies, you CAN close the budget hole by cuts alone:

    - State Board of Education: $7.6 BILLION
    - Higher Education operations (includes university funding, student assistance, etc.): $2.3 BILLION
    - Dept. of Corrections: $1.2 BILLION
    - Dept. on Aging: $600 MILLION

    Want to imagine what the short and long-term damage to our economy would be if the state cut off all funding for K-12 education, all support for state universities and community colleges, closed every state prison, and eliminated programs for seniors like meals-on-wheels?

    If you think the public doesn’t like tax increases, try proposing THAT — or whatever plan you like — that trims GRF by $11.5 billion through cuts alone. (for my friends on the Republican side of the aisle, this is a direct challenge.)

    Try as you might, there is NO WAY to balance the budget by cuts alone — when $11.5 billion in cuts are needed and GRF is only $23.6 billion — without doing SIGNIFICANT short and long-term damage to our economy.

    And my final point is this: even a FULL economic cost-benefit analysis is incomplete, because $11.5 BILLION in cuts to state programs has significant social AND moral costs as well.

    What does it say about us as a state that Gov. Quinn proposes balancing the state budget by cutting funding for homeless youth programs, drug assistance for people with HIV/AIDS, and other core services for people in need?

    What is the impact on families, communities and our state of cutting programs like those that prevent drug abuse - not because they don’t work or aren’t cost-effective - because we’re trying to squeeze a relatively few more nickels out of state spending?

  4. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 11:56 am:

    –I think your first step is to find ways to cut waste, to cut your budget, to find ways to do more with less, to make government more efficient, to streamline services, to technologically advance the way you conduct business.–

    I guess if you’re running for U.S. Senator you can talk like that. If you’re running for governor, it’s just a bunch of “out-of-the-box, synergistic” nonsense.

    They print a state budget every year. You’re allowed to be specific.

  5. - Amuzing Myself - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 12:27 pm:

    Giannoulias is right that it moves us “one step closer”….one step closer to the day when only the wealthiest individuals can run for public office.

    Under his idea of “reform”, Obama would likely never have won the primary for U.S. Senate.

    The evils of PAC money and corporate donors may be partially true, but blaming corruption entirely on them is making a straw man to distract from the real problem… dishonest politicians that continue to get elected and re-elected because their districts are never competitive.

    His change would only change the income level of those politicians….they’d all have to be wealthy to compete.

  6. - Ghost - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 1:04 pm:

    /Copy YDD statement

    ALong with what YDD stated, there are social consequences, such as increased crime and health care expense, to cutting social programs. Short term finacial gains may be long term losses as the costs of emergency care increases from people unable to ghet treatment or preventative care, and as crime increases. Penny wise pound foolish should drive much of the cost benefit analysis.

  7. - Captain America - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 2:11 pm:

    If Jan S runs for Senate, then I would expect Julie Hamos to run for/win Jan’s seat in the House of Representatives, instead of running for AG.

  8. - Farberware - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 2:43 pm:

    Interesting to note the modifiers Alexi put on his new “reform” initiative. He won’t take “corporate” PAC money and he won’t take money from “federal” lobbyists. So big unions, trial laywers and state lobbyists will be OK?

    Apparently IL GOP has responded:

  9. - Abe Froman - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 3:07 pm:

    Is Alexi going to swear off using the proceeds of his daddy’s shady bank dealings to fund his delusions of grandeur? Money from PAC’s, voluntarily contributed by company employees (you know, voters) is evil, but mob money and funds from deals with Tony Rezko are just fine?

  10. - Farberware - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 3:09 pm:

    “I don’t see a mention of non-corporate PACs. Does this mean he is not willing to go as far as Obama on the issue of campaign finance?” Alexi’s base figured it out on its own.

  11. - Farberware - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 3:26 pm:

    Here’s the language from Obama’s pledge:

    Obama pledged now “special-interest” PAC money — a general ban on PAC contributions. Alexi said he’d only refuse “corporate” PAC contributions. Is someone going to press Alexi whether he will refuse all PAC $ like Obama did? Or is he making exceptions?

  12. - Flip Flop - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 3:28 pm:

    As Jimmy Buffet would say, I just blew out my flip flop. I stepped on Alexi’s record.

    Alexi has already taken nearly $500,000 in PAC money from big labor unions, corporate PACS and other special interest groups during his campaigns for State Treasurer.

    * 500K in Labor/Corporate/Special Interest PAC Money
    * 1.6 Million from Businesses
    * ZERO Credibility!

  13. - bob - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 3:41 pm:

    Will Alexi return his contributions from state lobbyists? We can start with $3,000 from:

    Stone, Christopher
    1121 S Walnut St
    Springfield, IL 62704
    Occupation: Government Relations
    Employer: IGCG

  14. - grant39 - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 3:49 pm:

    Re: Lexi — What a courageous stand for a kid from millionaire family to take. He’s a regular Ross Perot. Note also that he has not sworn off money from Labor PACS. Hollow, hollow rhetoric.

  15. - Farberware - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 3:54 pm:

    Corporate PAC money. Give me a break. Let’s talk about straight up CORPORATE money! Alexi has taken more than $600,000 from contributors with “inc.” in their name. I’d assume if you add up LLCs and Cos. you may get above a million!

  16. - VanillaMan - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 4:24 pm:

    If Giannoulais doesn’t want to continue looking like a lightweight, he should avoid answering rhetorical questions or propose closing barn doors after his horses have left the building.

    His gubernatorial suggestion doesn’t sound as though it comes from a guy who wants to be taken serious. While it may be correct politically, someone who is the actual Treasurer of Illinois ought to say something that demonstrates an understanding of the office he currently occupies.

    What’s he been doing, reading my postings?

  17. - 4 percent - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 7:16 pm:

    I have lost respect for Alexi. With all due respect, employers who create jobs and pax taxes have an absolute right to participate in the political process. So do unions, trial lawyers, and citizens.

    stop the pandering and try to steal ideas from Obama. Become your own person.

  18. - anon - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 11:33 pm:

    I have relatives that live in the South Suburbs Orland Park area. They don’t even recognize Giannoulias’name!! Outside of the city of Chicago and that’s a stretch, this guy in my opinion, has absolutely no name recognition. He’s going to go from a one term Treasurer to US Senator? I guess after what Obama accomplished anything is possible. I just don’t see it. Good thing he has plenty of his own money to spend. He will need it.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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