In a local yokel spin on the Michael Hasting's punk'd tribute to General Stanley McCrystal, Southtown Star's Phil Kadner offers this chilling insight to the inner workings of the mind of Illinois Speaker Mike Madigan . . .or do he?
Speaker Mike Madigan is to Illinois politics as Jon Burge is to Ceasefire. I like to think of Speaker Madigan as Bricktop from the great British Comedy Snatch.
"Do you know what Nemesis Means? . . .A righteous infliction of retribution, manifested by an appropriate agent. Personified in this case by a 'orrible $%%^: me [Brick Top]."
Mr. Madigan is no where near as chatty as Bricktop, but he is as prophetic and entertaining.
Every goof who wants to run for office in Illinois seems to use Mike Madigan as a straw dog instead of targeting his/her opponent. Boss Madigan! Tyrant Madigan! Izzy Madigan? I don't know; what you say about him? News Flash -Mike Madigan is not running for Deputy Sidewalk Safety Commissioner of Highland Park, Brucey! You are and against the incumbent Cuthbert J. Mortgagethaller.
Illinois is in need of change. The best way to bring change to our state is to remove the longest serving leader Speaker of the House Mike Madigan.from the Daily Hearld.
Speaker Madigan has amassed so much power that even the media is afraid of him. He has a large majority in the General Assembly and yet he will not lead, without cover from the Republican members.
Phil Kadner offered Speaker Madigan an opportunity to make a clean breast of things - tell his story . . . Fess up!
On May 12, I offered to turn my column space over to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) to explain his views on this state's budget crisis to the people of Illinois. Madigan, the most powerful political figure in Illinois, responded to that offer last week and here, unedited and (as promised) without comment from me, is his statement.
To which Speaker Madigan offered what amounts to a Bad Santa response to a young chap's Christmas Inquiry -thus -
In discussing the causes of our fiscal difficulties in Illinois, it is critical to note that we are not alone - that in fact, a staggering 46 of 50 states have been forced into deficit budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. Is the state government in Illinois to blame for the national economic downturn? Of course not.
The blame flows more logically in the opposite direction. More than anything, Illinois is suffering the effects of a profoundly severe recession whose origins can be traced directly to the policies of the federal government since 1994's "Republican Revolution."
I am not the first to identify a number of national policy failures, prior to President Obama's election, that hamstrung our state and fostered the economic downturn: (1) tax breaks for the rich; (2) uncontrolled spending; (3) stampeding the country into the Iraq War - a war of choice projected to cost $3 trillion; (4) lack of Wall Street oversight; (5) tax and trade policies that rewarded job outsourcing; (6) giving free rein to predatory mortgage lenders and investment banks; and (7) cheap credit made possible by the Federal Reserve's low lending rates. These policies served the short-term interests of the wealthy but, over the long term, have created an epic economic disaster that has sent millions of Americans and nearly all state governments reeling.
These deficits have certainly affected states governed by Republicans, like California, Arizona, Nevada, and Florida, to name only a few. Last year, California's Republican governor approved an income tax increase to raise $5 billion. Virginia's GOP governor this year proposed increasing the state income tax one percent.
The new Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, who rode into office last fall promising fiscal austerity and to get the state budget under control, elected to skip his state's public employee pension payment as a means to balance the books.
Across the country, Republican governors and legislatures have passed sales, business and "sin" tax increases, hiked fees on drivers, and eliminated tax credits and deductions.
Responding to Crisis
What options did Illinois state government have to respond?
Revenue enhancements: One possibility was to raise revenues. Many other states have done so. Over the last two years, 13 states raised the personal income tax; 17 raised sales taxes; 22 raised taxes on tobacco, alcohol or motor fuel; 17 increased business taxes; and 24 increased fees or other taxes.
But in the history of Illinois, every tax increase that ever passed was on a bipartisan basis. And for good reason. Additional revenues for education, the elderly, the poor, the sick, the unemployed, veterans - the people we are trying to help - do not just benefit those in Democratic districts. Universities, women's shelters, prisons and hospitals are not limited to one party's region. Historically, partisanship was checked at the door when the time came to make tough decisions on tax hikes.
But this time? House Republican Leader Tom Cross issued a directive to his members: Not a single Republican could vote for Governor Quinn's proposal in 2009 to raise the state income tax 1.5 percent, from 3 percent to 4.5 percent. I voted for it, as did 41 other House Democrats, but without GOP support the bill failed.
While I did not expect unanimous backing from the Republicans (some Democrats voted against it as well), I was disappointed they staked out a political campaign strategy to leave the clean-up to the Democrats. This, despite the fact that there were at least 12 House Republicans who were believed to support the measure. In this case, GOP political campaign considerations trumped pragmatic policy.
Spending cuts: In the last fiscal year, Democrats reduced spending by $2.5 billion, or approximately 10 percent of the overall discretionary budget. For the next fiscal year, we have cut another 5 percent from agency operations and given the governor extraordinary powers to cut still further. In addition, as we did last year, lawmakers will take 12 unpaid furlough days - essentially a salary cut - and receive reduced reimbursements for mileage and lodging when attending session. Democrats also blocked a previously scheduled 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment for lawmakers and other state officials.
Republicans, who voted against this budget, opposed these provisions. Worse yet, after hearing the GOP again trot out its claim that they could solve our fiscal problems solely through spending cuts, I called their bluff - and they blinked. I introduced legislation that would cut $4.5 billion from the budget, a figure chosen because it encompassed all the money needed to make the state pension payment. Not one Republican voted for cutting, just as they all voted against the means to meet our pension obligations. Then, I invited them to introduce amendments to my bill to cut whatever particular programs they wished - and not a single Republican identified a single cut!
Pension reform: We made significant changes to public employee pension systems that will save our state $300 million in the next year and as much as $100 billion in future costs.
In the face of stiff opposition from public employee unions, and with the support of the state's leading business organizations, the Illinois Manufacturers' Association and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, we reined in excesses, reduced benefits, improved the system's long-term viability and, most urgently, eased budget pressures going forward.
Pension borrowing: By the narrowest of margins, the House passed legislation that would allow the state to make its statutorily mandated pension payment. Two Republicans crossed over to support this legislation - and paid a significant price for doing so. House GOP Leader Tom Cross, again pursuing a do-nothing strategy, issued a directive that no Republicans could vote for the measure. When two of their members did, Cross stripped each of them of their leadership positions - reminding all of his members that politics and political campaigns come first.
So much for bipartisanship in Cross's world. The Republicans' political strategy is simple: Do nothing to solve the problem; ignore the suffering it causes; hope the problem festers through the general election; and blame the Democrats. The state GOP is a lot like their national brethren.
The Road Ahead
I cannot predict the future. It is my hope that despite the mixed signs the recovery will take, unemployment will decline, and revenues will increase. We can only hope that some economists are wrong when they predict a "jobless recovery."
Regardless, we must continue to forgo new spending. We must be open to new cuts. We must make sure that Governor Quinn has the flexibility he needs to respond to the fiscal situation as it develops. We must support President Obama's call to Congress to provide additional emergency aid to the states.
And perhaps most importantly, we must be willing to put aside partisan games and do whatever is necessary to solve these problems. Rather than sitting on the sidelines and criticizing, Republicans must consider every option, from additional spending cuts to revenue enhancements to borrowing, as we try to repair the extraordinary damage to our nation caused by their party at the federal level.
A briefing paper containing additional background information and links to other resources regarding the national recession and states' fiscal crisis will be available Monday at the Illinois House Democrats' website, www.housedem.state.il.us
Oh Yeah, Mike Madigan, the only real adult in Springfield, chatty Mike, Mr. Glib, is going to explain anything to . . . to anybody? This is the real world! This is not the Chris Matthews Show.
Phil Kadner is so used to the parade of magpie goofs of the Progressive Democratic Third Coalition Route Army of Recovery blabbing to him about what Ralph Martire's deepest longings, desires and sprightly mewings for everyone's wallets that he thought a real, genuine, no kidding professional would weep out a few breast beaters for papers.
Mike Madigan is genuine professional who must deal with every crack-pot Progressive crowding effective people out of public life.
I wish Mike Madigan would feed a few of these losers to the hogs on a farm in Essex, Il. Now, then ,they'd be useful.
UPDATE - An Illinois Feminist with a very powerful opinion in all matters, pointed out the Caveman Quality and Hirsute Chutzpah of my simile in the title of this post, as well as the fact I am "just plainwrong and not man enough to admit it!"
Quiet Right - I am a cloven hoofed knave and dead wrong . . .Blythe Danner has a great set of knockers!