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Cynicism versus reality

Monday, Mar 24, 2014

* From a blast e-mail sent by John Bouman, the President of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, which backs the “Fair Tax” proposal…

One Springfield blogger voiced his opinion that [House Speaker Michael Madigan] made the [millionaire’s tax] proposal because the A Better Illinois proposal will have a hard time passing. That opinion is cynical “insider” conventional wisdom — always one of the main enemies of an ambitious and unusual effort like A Better Illinois that is driven by outside people power. If you follow the cynics, nothing of value ever gets done.

“Outside people power” can be a very good thing. But there’s a big difference between cynicism and reality, and between optimism and hopeless naivete.

* The harsh reality is the progressive tax proposal doesn’t have the votes to pass and I seriously doubt it will ever get enough votes to pass. The House Republicans are unanimously against it and Democratic state Rep. Jack Franks has signed on to a House resolution opposing it. That means, at most, it has 70 votes, which is one vote shy of passage. That might not mean much except Rep. Franks is just the tip of the iceberg on that side of the aisle.

Until I see any evidence at all that the A Better Illinois coalition has found significant House Republican votes for this thing, I’ll happily stick with life in the real world.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

22 Comments
  1. - Commander Norton - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:02 pm:

    While I do think there’s significant grassroots support to be tapped for a “fair tax” amendment, it has been my observation that this has not be worked wisely, with attention to local conditions and how each legislator should be approached.

    Also overlooked has been the flip side of IEA’s all-out support for A Better Illinois: a reluctance to support local tax referenda for schools. I fear some local teachers’ unions will regret hitching their wagons to an out-of-reach star when they might have been more successful with a local approach.


  2. - Commonsense in Illinois - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:10 pm:

    And let’s remember that Mr. Bouman isn’t exactly an outsider here either. Mr. Bouman is very good at what he does and IS at the table.


  3. - 47th Ward - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:21 pm:

    “Show me somebody who is always smiling, always cheerful, always optimistic, and I will show you somebody who hasn’t the faintest idea what the heck is really going on.”

    Mike Royko


  4. - JSlim - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:24 pm:

    The only hope the Progressive Tax has is if Madigan made a real push for it and could bring back either Franks or a Repub (both tough to do) and keep the other Dems who are privately opposed to it. And with Madigan’s recent proposal, it would seem he is not planning to embrace the Progressive Tax anytime soon.


  5. - ChinaTown - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    Or Madigan’s millionaire’s tax is another trial balloon like the corporate tax cuts, with the side benefit of being a hammer to beat Rauner over the head, and the end game is TBD.

    Passing and referring millionaire/fair tax to the voters are not mutually exclusive.


  6. - Anon. - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:39 pm:

    ==I’ll happily stick with life in the real world==

    And you’ll be taken care of.


  7. - Anon - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:51 pm:

    The GOP caucus has gotten more conservative in recent years. There are no Coulsons, Mulligans, Savianos, Eddys or Jerry Mitchells. No one could imagine Ed Sullivan or Sandack voting for the graduated income tax. Proponents are overly optimistic about luring Republicans into the fold.


  8. - Rod - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 2:25 pm:

    Speaker Madigan was offered a chance to discuss the graduated income tax amendment at his press conference on the millionaire surtax. He could have said that he did not think it would pass but he did not do so. He said simply he hadn’t made up his mind on whether he would support it. He also did not rule out both the millionaire tax and a graduated income tax.

    So at this point the Speaker hasn’t issued any death sentence on the fair tax proposal. Whether the fair tax amendment can pass this session is another question, it is an idea that may take numerous sessions to get passed.


  9. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 2:28 pm:

    ===it is an idea that may take numerous sessions to get passed.===

    Yep. Hope you’re getting a check.


  10. - thechampaignlife - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 2:32 pm:

    When will the discussion shift from graduated tax amendment to the far simpler increase in the personal exemption coupled with a higher rate? Someone at least has to have run the numbers to see what the exemption for various household sizes would be at various tax rates to remain revenue neutral while still making the income tax more progressive.


  11. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 2:33 pm:

    === far simpler increase in the personal exemption ===

    You’d need a constitutional amendment for anything big. We have a constitutionally mandated flat tax.


  12. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 2:36 pm:

    Rich -

    Golden opportunity missed to paraphrase the President.

    “It’s not ‘cynicism’, it’s called ‘math.’”

    I think every healthy political team needs a good mix of pessimists, optimists, realists and folks who can’t decide what the heck they are.

    But a lobby day is not going to alter the laws of mathematics, and a lobby day is not going to move any of the House Republicans or Jack Franks to the ‘Yes’ column.

    If you want to do that, start knocking on doors in McHenry County.


  13. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 2:50 pm:

    I can’t possibly see the GA rushing to put a progressive income tax on the ballot. That’s a heavy lift, a lot of years organizing and building support.

    But you can tell it scares the bejesus out of some, what with the TV spots already.

    I’ve come to think that the Civvies push for a pension grab was a tactical move to head off a graduated personal income tax.

    The big Illinois corporations don’t care about pensions because they don’t pay the corporate income tax. They have no skin in the game funding Illinois government.

    But if you get a graduated personal income tax like those in Iowa and Wisconsin, that hits you in the old CEO golf club dues.


  14. - A guy... - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 3:03 pm:

    Turn to the blank page in your Atlas. That’s where the map to success on the “Fair Tax” is.


  15. - thechampaignlife - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 3:22 pm:

    ===You’d need a constitutional amendment for anything big. We have a constitutionally mandated flat tax.===

    I thought only the rate was affected by Article IX, Section 3(a). Is there court precedent that the personal exemption cannot be too high? My read of the plain language would seem to indicate that a laughably absurd $1M exemption with a 100% tax rate would technically be legal.


  16. - mugwump - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 4:34 pm:

    How about a personal exemption or a standard deduction that declines as income goes up, but the tax rate stays the same? Constitutional?


  17. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 4:59 pm:

    –Turn to the blank page in your Atlas. That’s where the map to success on the “Fair Tax” is.–

    How creative. And strange.

    No, if you’re in the Atlas, and looked for countries with graduated tax, you’d see Planet Earth, including the United States of America.

    Dude, sit down, have a glass of water. Not your day.


  18. - Anon. - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 7:44 pm:

    ==How about a personal exemption or a standard deduction that declines as income goes up, but the tax rate stays the same? Constitutional?==

    No. Massachusetts tried that once, and its SC held it was unconstitutional.


  19. - RNUG - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 9:34 pm:

    Changing the tax structure can be done. It requires a strong leader with the right message. A progressive tax amendment like what CTBA proposes has most of the right elements but it needs to be properly framed, then explained and championed. Too bad we don’t still have Richard Ogilvie around …


  20. - Excessively Rabid - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 10:53 pm:

    Leaving aside what is politically possible in favor of what makes sense, Illinois needs to quit reinventing the wheel and get into much closer conformity with federal tax policy. This would make things simpler, would result in much more progressive taxation, and wouldn’t require the state constitution to be amended because you could still have a flat tax. Just base it on federal taxable income. You could lower the rates quite a bit - maybe to 2.5% - because of the much broader base. And while you’re at it, as I keep saying, cut all the giveaways for left and right out of the tax code: EIC, residential property tax credit, and K-12 tuition tax credit. We can’t afford them. The tax code is there to collect money, not provide carve-outs to favored groups.


  21. - thechampaignlife - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:10 am:

    Funny thing about the K-12 tuition tax credit is that if you spend $2250+ in K-12 tuition in a year, you get a $500 tax credit. A $500 tax credit is the same as deducting $10,000 from your taxable income. So it’s generally reducing your taxable income by more than you spent on the tuition.


  22. - amerigom - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 7:29 am:

    The Fair Tax is the most efficient tax collecting system. AND the American taxpayer gets “free”, tax-collectors! Every person who runs a business or Service, would be a tax collector. They would haveto get a federal license to operate! Our state of Florida, is run with a Fair Tax system.
    The State of Florida; (Government), unlike the Federal Government; cannot “raise the debt limit”, and must operate with the collected taxes! Every business or service provider; is a tax-collector!
    NO individual in Florida, has to file an income tax form! States; that are run with the Federal Government mentality; have an “income” tax!
    The Fair Tax system, changes ALL of those 60,000+ pages of the indecipherable income tax code! Matter of fact, the Fair Tax, will eliminate IT!
    The income tax, penalizes the producer at the benefit of the consumer! WE are a consuming nation; and taxing (NEW products & services), makes sense! There are NO favrites, in the Fair Tax! Recepts for sales, will be a thing of the past! Keeping records, will be personal. Millions of dollars, spent for tax forms and reports, will disappear! ALL tax forms will be filled out by retailers and service providers!
    Many Federal “tax-collectors”, will lose their “jobs”, and will join the (Private), jobs market!
    Case in point; “ObamaCare”; Where thousands of Government, “jobs’ were created! According to OUR Supreme Court, ObamaCare; is a TAX. ALL workers, in ObamaCare; are TAX collectors! Politicians consider these as “jobs-creation”! The Fair Tax will correct ALL of this! Another benfit; I believe, the Fair Tax will open up the business market, for many NEW businesses, and cut the monopolistic big corporations down to managable companies! The Fair Tax, will END protectionism!
    The Fair Tax, wlll bring manufactoring and constructon, back within our borders!
    The Fair Tax will be the Panacea, for our Economy!
    GOD; Bless America! In GOD We Trust!


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