Who Needs Republicans?

No New Taxes.  Smaller Government.  Severe Cuts in the Social Safety Net.  These are key staples of the Republican Agenda.

They also happen to be the central tenets of the state budget pushed through by Speaker Michael Madigan.  Just because.

This isn't simply a profound failure of political leadership, but also a sharp rebuke to core Democratic values.  Note that the political Machine that Madigan heads isn't affected.  It's the poor, the children, the elderly, those at risk in our society that will bear the brunt of Madigan's power play.  COMEX Democrats and the Machine retain their jobs, their perks and their place of power.

The Associated Press summarized it this way:

Groups say incomplete budget will cut services
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Posted Jun 02, 2009 @ 06:53 AM

The state's new budget is coming under fire for its impact on both children and the elderly.

The AARP says it could "spell disaster" for older Illinoisans because of possible cuts to health care, prescription drug assistance and community care.

Meanwhile, the Ounce of Prevention Fund says the budget would "decimate" programs for children. The group warns it could slash mental health services, child care, mental health programs and more.

Straight out of the Republican playbook, Democrats under Madigan ignored the severe economic downturn affecting the state and the people in need who live here.  Before the drastic cuts in services that Madigan has imposed on the state:

· 1 in 10 Illinoisans face malnutrition, including 1 in 6 children.
· 1 in 6 children are at risk for abuse or neglect.
· 1 in 15 women live with domestic violence.
· 1 in 10 workers are jobless.
· 1 in 7 children fail to graduate high school.

This is not something to be proud of.  This is something that Illinois should be ashamed of -- something we need to address.  If you were looking for government support for solving these problems, you would generally look to the Democratic Party.

Not in Illinois.

This is the real corruption tax that is imposed on Illinois by the Machine and its enablers.  You don't have to be personally corrupt to be a co-dependent here.  Corruption in Illinois depends on the acquiescence of those in power -- and not just in the (former) governor's office.  The legislature has long funded corruption under Michael Madigan.  But when the citizens of Illinois need help, he turns a blind eye.  Helping real people might take money out of the hands of the corrupt who carry his water.

The consequences of the Madigan plan are drastic.  Governor Quinn outlined:

a "doomsday" list to illustrate the ramifications if the state doesn't come up with billions in new revenue before the July 1 start of the fiscal year.

Among them, according to the administration: 80,000 low-income working mothers could lose child care, endangering their jobs; 175,000 could lose mental health services, increasing institutionalization; thousands of people with disabilities, domestic violence victims and scholarship-seeking college students could lose state services.

Compare that to the $500 million in projects that Madigan's legislators pushed through.  This is Illinois.  They will get their's.

While the rest of Illinois rots.

Illinois' decline won't be defined by Rod Blagojevich or even George Ryan.  Illinois' economic and political decline has been led by one figure who has dominated politics through it's course: Michael Madigan.  During the infamous years of Blagojevich, we were repeatedly asked to choose between the governor and the speaker.  But the real solution to Illinois' political problems is to get rid of them both.

Republicans are eager to take up the mantle of reform.  But who needs Republicans when we've already endured the Madigan era?  What are they going to do?  Reduce the social safety net more?  More than Madigan?

Really?

I fail to grasp how that is possible.

Since I have lived here in Illinois, I have heard every single year how the Speaker knows that our revenue structure is problematic and maybe, just maybe, this is the year he would address it.  I'd bet there are legislators who been working on proposals like the tax swap longer than I've lived here (since 2000).

It should be clear that the real problem here isn't simply structural.  There is a profound failure in leadership at the top.  In fact, you can't honestly call it leadership.  Illinois, under Madigan, has been in a period of stasis.  No real problems have been addressed.  So it is difficult to understand how the very real threats to people in Illinois will be addressed now.

Michael Madigan excels in tactical victories, and I've seen more than a few since I moved here.  But Madigan has no vision for Illinois -- except for protecting and promoting his own -- no sense of the potential in Illinois, no leadership to offer the people here.  Any leadership that he has seems to be reserved for protecting the Machine.

So Madigan fiddles.  Illinois burns.

The Madigans stand in the way of getting Illinois off the corrupt path, jumping the tracks, so to speak.  We have to stop supporting the enablers -- even if they market themselves under the banner of reform -- and start promoting real leaders, people with a different vision for Illinois, people who can imagine putting people first.  Gov. Quinn stepped up.  Now it's our turn.  We can no longer give our legislators a pass for failing to do the right thing because of the Speaker.  Time to replace the COMEX Democrats with people who actually share Democratic values.  It's no longer about reform.  It's about survival...

Tags: Illinois, Illinois House, Lisa Madigan, Michael Madigan, Pat Quinn, state budget (all tags)

Comments

3 Comments

Illinois's loss was the country's gain

Sounds like it would take a politician with Obama-level political savvy to clean up Illinois.  Wait, they had one... what happened to that guy?

Or was it too big of a mess even for him?

Anyway, shining a light on the corruption is the first step towards uniting the public behind some reforms, methinks.

by Dracomicron 2009-06-03 11:03AM | 0 recs
well, you're on to something...

illinois develops outsized reformers like barack, paul simon and new congressman mike quigley because they face sizable machine pols every day.  it's one of the weird things about illinois politics!

by bored now 2009-06-03 11:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Who Needs Republicans?

I live here in Illinois and we get swamped by the Cook County sales tax and it pays the lion share of the revenue for the state.  Mike Madigan put out a capital bill that funds the operating expense of the gov't for 6 mnths and Quinn threatened to veto it because it only had sale tax increases.  I think people would be willing to subsidize the gov't without a income tax increase if the capital bill came out of the state legislature first.

by olawakandi 2009-06-03 03:10PM | 0 recs

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