Boss Madigan’s Republican enablers give his minions cover
Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, gives a speech following the Illinois House voting to override Gov. Rauner’s veto and pass a budget for the first time in more than two years on July 6, 2017. (Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register via AP)
My hope of Dissolving Illinois — to save middle class taxpayers from being stuck in this toxic wasteland of a state — hit a snag on Thursday.
It wasn’t the hazmat crews crawling over the Capitol Building in Springfield after finding some mysterious white powder tossed around the governor’s office.
It was what Democratic Boss Mike Madigan’s legislature did — with quisling Republican help — in overriding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of their $5 billion, 32 percent tax increase without any real structural economic reforms.
For leverage, Democrats and pro-tax activists used warnings from Moody’s Investors Service, stressing that without a tax hike Illinois bonds would likely revert to junk status.
Moody’s later said that even with the tax increase, that state bonds might still be considered junk, because there were no real spending reforms.
And then 71 members of the state House, dominated by Democrats, wafted their toxic fumes all over the taxpayers of Illinois.
"It’s been kind of brutal for me," whined State Rep. Steve Andersson, the Geneva Republican and Boss Madigan enabler who voted for the Madigan tax increase and the Madigan override.
"I’ve received hate mail, death threats, my personal cell phone has been given out," Andersson said, "but you know what I’ve thought about? The people, suffering …"
I thought I could see his lower lip quivering a bit.
And David Harris, Republican Madigan enabler from Arlington Heights, speechified that he had precious little joy. He too, voted for the Madigan tax increase and the override.
"There’s no joy here," Harris moaned. "There’s no joy. We are looking into an abyss, a financial abyss, and action is required."
Well, what about all those Illinois homeowners being squeezed out of their homes? Do they have joy?
And what about the small business owners who won’t take it anymore, and will take the jobs with them across the state line?
And what about taxpayers who don’t hold news conferences, who don’t have public relations consultants to call network TV reporters to chronicle their pain? Where’s their joy?
They just leave.
As Andersson and Harris whimpered about their bruised feelings and their courage, I was reminded of what my grandfather, Papou Pete, told me about politicians:
"When they speak, the donkeys break wind."
Papou was right. So please stop speaking, Andersson. Please, stop, Harris. It’s not only obnoxious. It smells.
So now, after all the talk and all the stunts, who won and who lost?
Boss Madigan won. He’s the Khan of Madiganistan for a reason. He works harder, he’s more ruthless, he’s smarter, and he’s cautious, until he strikes.
He wins because he knows what he wants: The money and the power. That’s all he’s ever wanted.
And Rauner lost, big time.
Madigan pushed the tax increase through days ago, with mostly Democratic support, but also with the help of 15 Republican votes. He then overrode Rauner’s veto on Thursday.
With all the political noise over the past few days, I don’t want you to forget something else. And without that something else, none of this would have happened.
Those 15 Republicans who voted for the tax hike gave Madigan enough votes to pass the tax and to give ample political cover to eight House Democrats, some in suburban districts, to vote against it.
In effect, the 15 Republicans protected the Madigan Democrats, so Madigan didn’t have to expose his pet minions. And now they can send out direct mail advertising—approved by Boss Madigan—to tell voters in their districts that they’re Democrats independent of Madigan, that they care for middle class suburban taxpayers, that they haven’t lost touch.
Of course that’s nonsense. If Boss Madigan told them to lick the white powder off the Capitol Building floor, they’d do it.
There were 10 Democrats who voted against the tax increase: Mike Halpin; Marty Moylan; Michelle Mussman; Jerry Costello II; Natalie Manley; Sue Scherer; Katie Stuart; Sam Yingling; John Connor; Rita Mayfield.
Eight of these, all but Connor and Mayfield, were expected to have been targeted by Republicans.
You need a scorecard in this game.
Madigan would never have allowed them to risk voter anger. Because without them, he’d risk losing his majority and then he wouldn’t be Speaker of the Illinois House.
There will be much talk of Republicans and Democrats jumping from tax vote to veto override, and who flipped and who didn’t. But please consider this:
That’s all about confusing the voter.
Remember that without the 15 Republicans voting for the tax hike, the rest of it would have been moot. Some Republicans were in districts where universities eat tax dollars, and perhaps the universities will protect them. Yet each deserve a vigorous primary challenge.
And I’m mentioning the 15 Republican Madigan enablers here by name, so you can keep score on them as well:
There was the lead whiner, Andersson; and Terri Bryant; John Cavaletto; C.D. Davidsmeyer; Mike Fortner; Norine Hammond; and Harris, because after he spoke, all the donkeys were exhausted.
And Chad Hays, who is not seeking re-election; Sara Wojcicki Jimenez; Charlie Meier; Bill Mitchell; Reggie Phillips; Bob Pritchard; David Reis; Michael Unes.
Yes, Papou Pete is long gone, but he understood their kind.
They always have good reasons for reaching into your pocket and taking your money. They’re always sad about it. And some almost cry.
But then they open their mouths, and Illinois taxpayers just can’t breathe.
Listen to "The Chicago Way" podcast with John Kass and Jeff Carlin at wgnradio.com/category/wgn-plus/thechicagoway.