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It could be a while

Thursday, Jul 9, 2015

* Tribune

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner tried to isolate House Speaker Michael Madigan on Wednesday, suggesting the veteran legislative leader was “in charge” and should wrangle Democrats into passing a $4 billion tax hike on their own or strike a deal with the governor to support his economic agenda and put an end to a budget impasse.

As part of his latest move against Madigan, Rauner unveiled a mammoth, cost-cutting pension bill he said was aimed at solving government worker retirement system funding problems from the Capitol to City Hall to Downstate and suburban village halls. The plan, Rauner said, incorporated ideas from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Senate President John Cullerton — like Madigan, all Democrats.

* OK, now let’s revisit my Crain’s Chicago Business column from Monday

After a cooling-off period of about a week, the Senate president went back to working out a deal. But he wasn’t willing to do to Madigan what Madigan did to him on the 2015 budget. When the speaker wouldn’t sign off on a key component of Cullerton’s plan, the president backed off. The Rauner folks were foiled again.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel also has refused to put Madigan on the spot, even after Rauner offered his school district some much-needed cash to help with its $634 million pension payment. Emanuel instead borrowed a bunch of money and made the pension payment. He also announced mass layoffs and other big cuts, a property tax hike of up to $250 million. He also requested a $500 million loan from the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund.

Chicago Public Schools still faces the very real threat of insolvency, however, which means Emanuel’s in an extremely vulnerable position.

The question now becomes whether Rauner can use these fiscal calamities to pressure Emanuel into using all his powers to force Madigan, the most powerful Democrat in Illinois, to find some common ground with the governor’s “turnaround agenda” before Chicago implodes.

In watching Madigan for 25 years, I think that guy is willing to wait this thing out. He wants to test Rauner’s mettle and force him to finally get out of campaign mode.

It could take a while.

* Back to the Tribune piece

But the governor’s attempt to spotlight Madigan as the reason for the dysfunction did little to disrupt the united front put forth by Democrats, who dismissed the governor’s latest plans as an insincere effort that didn’t offer much toward reaching a middle ground.

* Sun-Times

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown didn’t give Rauner’s isolation tactics much credence, reflecting on the governor’s claims dating back to the November election. Then, Rauner in his victory speech made it seem as if he had just gotten off the phone with Madigan and Cullerton. It was later revealed he had not personally spoken to either.

“It’s sort of like Election Day phone calls. You don’t know who he’s actually talking to. Not much new there,” Brown said. “It’s amazing that he doesn’t recognize he’s been unpersuasive on a statewide basis with all these ideas. He ignores the fact that he’s totally responsible at this juncture that employees weren’t paid on time. He is singularly responsible. He held that power.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:08 am:

    This is the key here. Not vote counting in the GA - Rauner has little chance of making substantive changes using the path that is fully controlled by Madigan. I think Rauner believes he has to “shoot the moon” if he is to have a chance to challenge the well known MJM power structure in Illinois. Otherwise, he will simply be nibbling at the edges - succeeding in small ways and only at the pleasure of “He Who Must Be Obeyed” (apologies to John Mortimer).

  2. - Tournaround Agenda - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:09 am:

    Divide and conquer doesn’t seem to be working so well.

  3. - walker - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:12 am:

    This is the kind of thing Rauner team might have tried in March, to prepare for serious negotiation.

  4. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:15 am:

    ===He ignores the fact that he’s totally responsible at this juncture that employees weren’t paid on time. He is singularly responsible. He held that power.”===

    This. Governors own.

    Inside baseball matters… right now.

    If you are a Governor, “selling” the premise that you have “no power” after “selling” that MJM never negotiated with someone like me, how do you convince those under the Dome that you can handle the levers of power that an engaged Governor has at their disposal?

    You can’t. You fail to convince those inside baseball types, “Don’t worry, I got this.”

    No. No you don’t. You deferred your constitutional powers to seem weak, while focusing blame, instead of taking ownership. Those that follow the inside baseball aspects, those who see the floundering, this is Quinn-like in its logic.

    Bruce Rauner is governing like Quinn, playing politics like Blago, and can fund both failings indefinitely. The accountability of seeing this isn’t working will always be lost yo true believers. Pragmatists would’ve moved on from this in April.

    “Now what?”, well, my personal hope is Mike Z and the Kitchen Kabinet recalibrate, but yesterday, in front of microphones, that hope of mine might be naive, depending on what really IS going on beyond the spotlights of the circus.

    The first step is for the Rauner Crew, and Bruce Rauner to own the levers of being governor. If that doesn’t happen, nothing really happens. That’s the table set.

    Own your job, Governor. Own it.

  5. - Gooner - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:17 am:

    Steve Brown is going to use that alleged phone call for the next three years. “You can’t trust that guy. He lied from the very start.”

    Rauner has had a rough start, and it has been due to a lot of unforced errors.

  6. - Langhorne - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:17 am:

    Who is in rauners inner circle, formulating strategy? I thought he had all these out of state superstars, with great experience. Every time rauner speaks, or makes an appearance, we move farther away from an environment that can produce end game compromise. Conclusion: he is fine w moving to suffering

  7. - lincoln's beard - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:19 am:

    Just got a robocall from Illinoisans for Growth and Opportunity offering to connect me with my state representative (press ‘1′ to connect) so that I could tell whoever answered the phone that I want my rep to “stop playing budget games”.

    As much fun as it would be to chat with Greg Harris, or whoever answers his phones, I declined to press 1.

  8. - Facts are stubborn things - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:28 am:

    Oswego –

    The governor is “solely responsible” for state employees not getting paid?


    Ahhhh…. if only Rauner would just knucke under to drunken-sailor style overspending by Madigan’s dems the state employees would be getting paid?


    I guess 25 years of one party’s rule and wildly excessive over spending had nothing to do with bringing the state to near finincial collapse.

    Gosh….whoa thunk.

  9. - DuPage Don - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:33 am:

    A fresh dose of reality: In November of 1970 when MJM was first elected, Bruce Rauner was 14 years old. Richard Nixon was president. The EPA was created just months prior. Spirit Agnew was three years away from resignation. Think about how long this man has been using the levers of Illinois government and its almost unimaginable! I guess that gets overlooked by some and have a chip on their shoulder when someone comes in and doesn’t play by the old rules. God Bless Bruce Rauner. This state is dying!!!

  10. - Norseman - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:38 am:

    We have one Illinois state government expert in a leadership role in the governor’s office, that is Tim Nuding. The rest are staffers from a federal elected official learned in the ways of hyperpartisan Washington politics and retreads from other states. This team is too eager to play up to the boss and not engage the boss. This mix leaves us in a big big mess. SIGH.

  11. - AC - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:38 am:

    I’m not saying Rauner’s agenda is in any way comparable, because he wants to take rights away from people, but he needs to study the role of incremental change that ultimately led to marijuana legislation and marriage equality. Incremental changes are far more feasible politically than radical change. There’s no way he could get everything he wants, but he could change the trajectory. At some point, he’ll have a mutiny on his hands and will be able to change nothing. In fact, if his fellow Republicans don’t rebel, they’ll go extinct.

  12. - Robert the Bruce - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:40 am:

    ==Rauner has little chance of making substantive changes using the path that is fully controlled by Madigan.==

    ==Think about how long this man (Madigan) has been using the levers of Illinois government and its almost unimaginable!==

    @dupage dan and don, so then wouldn’t it stand to reason that Rauner’s strategy should be to figure out how to work better with Madigan, rather than publicly isolating him and ripping him at every opportunity?

  13. - Michael Westen - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:40 am:

    I thought Rauner was supposed to be some master negotiator.

    This is almost comical, watching him veer from gimmick to gimmick. Seems like he knows that the freight train named “government shutdown” is coming right for him.

    How does this supposed “art of the deal” expert not realize he’s been negotiating with himself for the last three months?

  14. - Stones - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:41 am:

    Like him or not, Madigan has been playing the game since ‘72. This is Rauner’s first public office. In political terms you are talking about a hall of famer versus a rookie. No way Madigan allows Rauner to push him around.

  15. - Henry Moon - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:41 am:

    ‘Recalibration’ is an excellent suggestion. Madigan and Cullerton are representing their caucuses and have limited flexibility in terms of a ‘turn around’ agenda. The Governor should recognize that he is now the Governor of the entire state, not just a wing of the Republican Party, and, do what leaders of democracies do, make sausage. Get a budget done, take the parts of your agenda already offered as part of the deal, and move on to his second year.

  16. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:41 am:

    ===God Bless Bruce Rauner. This state is dying!!!===

    The exclamation marks, 3 of them are a nice touch.

    Let’s see, who might not agree?

    Just start with… Diana Rauner’s Ounce of Prevention

    Now add…
    The needy
    State Universities
    Social Service organizations
    State workers
    State agencies and their missions

    … so God Bless Bruce Rauner? For what? Holding Illinois hostage? Not understanding ramifications, or far, far, far worse, encouraging crisis for leverage as THE plan for leverage?

    At what point, do people become people again, and not just collateral damage to the Bruce Rauner?

    My hope is that divine intervention comes into play, not a blessing of mass destruction.

  17. - DuPage Don - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:42 am:


    OW - your “inside baseball” references is exactly the way an apparatchik would speak. You’re better than that. Not worthy of your standards!

  18. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:42 am:

    Six months in, and we already have Gov. Victim.

    The governor is powerless; Madigan is in charge.

    The governor is so victimized, he can’t even read a bill or lift a pen to save people’s paychecks like he said he wanted to do so badly.

    Only another 3.5 years of this.

  19. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:45 am:

    My “standards” are measured by having to defend an argument, not by having to defend its delivery.

    Make your case on the merits, making it about me isn’t making a case at all.

  20. - Gooner - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:46 am:

    DuPage Don,

    I believe you inadvertently left Saul Alinksy out of your last post. If you are going to accuse Oswego Willy of being some Commie, you should go full Brietbart.

  21. - Will - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:49 am:

    At what point do certain republican legistlators begin peelingaway from Rauner and give mjm his overide votes? My R state rep has about had it based on a convo a friend had with her yesterday.

  22. - Muscular - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:51 am:


    You raise some great insights. As you said, the current stalemate was predicted months ago and it seems Bruce Rauner has no real end game. Bruce Rauner says his political mentors are Mitch Daniels and Scott Walker. Both Republican governors successfully managed difficult crises in their states. I wonder if he has called either one in recent weeks and asked for advice. Will they talk to him at this point?

  23. - thunderspirit - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:52 am:

    === I guess that gets overlooked by some and have a chip on their shoulder when someone comes in and doesn’t play by the old rules. ===

    Unfortunately, due to the separation of powers in the Illinois Constitution, the reality is that a Governor needs to work with the General Assembly to accomplish what he/she wants. That’s especially true when the people who lead that GA are members of the opposition party.

    Holding your breath until the other side gives you what you want isn’t working with anyone — it’s being stubborn for the sake of being stubborn.

  24. - Juvenal - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:55 am:


    Rauer could have line-item vetoed the budget leaving salaries of state employees in place.

    That he did not shows that:

    1) His view is it’s my way, or the highway
    2) He is more interested in the theatrics of a veto and how easy it is to explained to the audience than the reality of governing;
    3) He and his advisors still have not grasped the basics of his office’s core functions.

    As for Nuding, look: even if he knows what he is doing, and folks say he does, he is outnumbered ten-to-one. If he wants to keep his job, and I am sure he does, he only offers an opinion when asked point blank, and then he just agrees with whatever Rauner is thinking. Rauner surrounded himself with syncophants for a reason.

  25. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:56 am:

    - Muscular -,

    They would take his call, no doubt.

    I’d hope they’d say;

    “Governor, we had Republican legislatures, you don’t. We figured you’d understand the differences.

    Until you get your ‘Raunerite’ hybrid caucuses, you may have to rethink your entire strategy based on your given General Assembly. Good luck.”

    That would be my hope.

  26. - DuPage Don - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 11:12 am:

    OW - I thought I did make my case on the merits. MJM has been wielding power for 45 years with a dubious record, and it’s time those that stay for more than a few terms be subject to term limits.

    Gooner - I certainly wouldn’t tie in Willy with Saul Alinsky. Oswego Willy is not a Commie. In his heart he knows there is “merit” to the argument that Illinois cannot sustain itself on its current trajectory.

  27. - Robert the Bruce - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 11:14 am:

    I’d hope they say that too, OW.

    I suspect Walker would say “Governor, great to hear from you, you are doing a wonderful job, I really admire you. Hey by the way, know anyone who might fund a presidential SuperPAC for me?”

  28. - @MisterJayEm - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 11:20 am:

    “I guess 25 years of one party’s rule…”

    If your guess is that 2015 - 2003 = 25, you should probably refrain from commenting on fiscal or budgetary matters.

    – MrJM

  29. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 11:21 am:

    The governor doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for the intelligence of the people.

    If he wanted a budget under existing levels of taxation, he had the power to reduce the approp bills. And that budget would be in place today. He chose not to do so.

    Same goes for salaries. He had the power. He chose that people won’t get paid.

    To buy what he’s selling requires a suspension of reality.

  30. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 11:23 am:

    ===MJM has been wielding power for 45 years with a dubious record,…===

    …with Thompson, Edgar, Ryan, Blagojevich, Quinn… with… Rock, Phillip, Jones, and Cullerton…and Daniels to boot.

    Laying ALL at the step of Madigan, you’re playing victim, along with Rauner. The governor has many powers, it’s not Madigan’s fault Rauner refuses to use them.

    ===..,and it’s time those that stay for more than a few terms be subject to term limits.===

    I’m more of a “Maps” guy than a “Term Limits” guy. Then again, the Dems beat My Party with a GOP map, so there’s that.

  31. - Anon - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 11:24 am:

    So, the sum total of voters sending Rauner to the Governor’s Office should be to give Madigan what he wants…again. That’s all that seems to be said here. Someone mentioned Rauner taking the parts of his agenda that have already been offered and calling it good. What parts are those? When did I miss that?! As far as I’ve seen, the Democrats passed their overspending budget and are apoplectic, because the governor doesn’t go along and just sign it. Beam me up!…

  32. - Aldyth - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 11:38 am:

    Anon, if the voters wanted Rauner to do what he wants, why did they send supermajority of Democrats to the legislature?

  33. - Chicago 20 - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 11:46 am:

    You want a supermajority?
    So how do the people of Illinois think of the job that Governor Rauner is doing so far?

    It’s not good.

    The June 20 survey conducted by Chicago-based Ogden & Fry, the only polling firm which correctly predicted Rauner’s five-point victory margin over Quinn, shows that just 35.7% of voters approve of the way the governor is handling his job while 46.7% disapprove or net approval of minus 11 points.
    “Nearly half of respondents disapproved of the Governor’s job performance”

    64.3% is a supermajority who said Rauner isn’t doing his job.

  34. - DuPage Don - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 12:06 pm:

    Chicago 20 - polls are meaningless when reelection is not a priority!

    OW- I’m with you on the maps as well, but remember there were 5 new republicans elected to Congress in 2010 that were all but erased with the dems map!

    Thompson is a huge reason we’re in this mess, but Edgar gave it the ole’ college try, otherwise he would not have gained the moniker “Gov. No.”

  35. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 12:15 pm:

    === - Robert the Bruce - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:40 am: @dupage dan and don, so then wouldn’t it stand to reason that Rauner’s strategy should be to figure out how to work better with Madigan, rather than publicly isolating him and ripping him at every opportunity? ===

    To what advantage would that be for Rauner? Again, I am not a Raunerite, as some have accused me. I am just looking at this from a perspective of a power analysis. If you start working with Madigan before he blinks, he will move you into his mode of governing. Rauner has made it clear he won’t do that. He is wagering that he can make MJM blink first. I can’t envision that happening - have been conditioned too long. But that is what I think Rauner is doing. “Working with Madigan” is the polar opposite of what Rauner wants the body politic to perceive. And perception is everything here. Everything.

  36. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 12:15 pm:

    - Robert the Bruce -

    lol, Rauner will be a piggy bank for someone.

    - DuPage Don -,

    Congressional maps are a whole different animal. Don’t forget the Edgar Ramp, named after a governor, because governors own under their watch.

    If Rauner wants to embark on the $60 million “Fire Madigan, 2.0″ I do wish he’d just say so, own ILGO, and use the ILGOP and ILGO under a corporate umbrella of “Illinois Raunerite Party” and move on.

    I’d respect the honesty. It was Rod’s dream, Rauner could very well make it realty.

  37. - Robert the Bruce - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 12:36 pm:

    ===(dupage dan): If you start working with Madigan before he blinks, he will move you into his mode of governing. Rauner has made it clear he won’t do that. He is wagering that he can make MJM blink first==

    What I’m suggesting from Rauner is a calmer approach. Stop calling Madigan “corrupt.” Stop the tv ads. Stop the emphasis on all the anti-union stuff that won’t pass the legislature. These tactics seem more likely to drive Madigan away than to bring him in to negotiate.

    I’m assuming here, and I may be very wrong about this, that Rauner actually does want a deal (a couple turnaround items passed in exchange for tax hike signoff).

    If instead Rauner simply wants to grandstand because of his hatred for unions and/or the republican presidential nomination of 2020, or if he is simply angry/frustrated/irrational, then the approach makes more sense to me.

  38. - Southern Illinois Hoopdee - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 12:54 pm:

    What if Rauner drops all the anti-Union “reforms” (they’re not real reforms, a progressive tax is the only real reform) and solely isolated Madigan? What if he goes for a progressive tax to preserve unions and then uses that to outflank the speaker to the left?

    I would, but I’m not a conservative like Rauner.

  39. - Arsenal - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 12:58 pm:

    ==polls are meaningless when reelection is not a priority!==

    Just because Re-election isn’t a priority for the Governor (And also: Ahhhh hahahahaha) doesn’t mean it’s not a priority for the guys who need to vote on bills. And for some of them, voting with a guy that their allies hate and has a 35% approval rating is no way to live.

  40. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 1:03 pm:

    RTB, Whatever we think should be Rauner’s approach, he has chosen his path, good or bad - successful of full on failure.

    We can debate the effectiveness of it in a post-mortem. How long we have to wait for that is anyone’s guess.

  41. - MyTwoCents - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 1:07 pm:

    I don’t think it’s a matter of giving in to Madigan and coming over to his way of governing. It’s 1) not calling Madigan names (who wants to work with somebody who just insults them? Nobody) and 2) respecting the institution of the General Assembly. See the end of this Sun Times article:

  42. - CrookCounty60827 - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 1:31 pm:

    Rauner to staff: “I keep burying Mike, but he won’t stay buried!”
    Staff: (sounds of crickets and resumes being emailed),

    I wonder if Bruce has opened the 2nd envelope Quinn left for him, or if Bruce is banging on the desk like Quinn did yelling “I’m the Governor!”

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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