The Illinois Race for Governor: We’ve Seen This Play Before

As promised last time, let’s give Bruce Rauner’s budget and fiscal proposals some attention.

As a supporter of limiting government, I’m in favor of much of what Rauner has to say. The problem is, anyone can talk in generalities. Unfortunately, the public doesn’t usually buy it when someone talks about cutting taxes without showing how they will also cut government.

Rauner wants to:

Get rid of the Quinn-Madigan 67% income tax hike. Great.

Get rid of the Quinn-Madigan 45% corporate tax hike. Fantastic.

Get control of out-of-control property taxes. Lovely…but good luck with that one.

Fix a broken tax system. I’m on board with all of this.

Too bad General Assembly leaders John Cullerton and Mike Madigan (both Democrats) aren’t, since they’re the ones who run the place.

rauner waste

My own photo-shopping of the infamous line from Rauner’s website.

Okay, so Bruce says he’s going to cut taxes — that’s something all good conservatives want. Those of us who understand economics realize that cutting taxes has the potential to increase revenue over time but only if businesses have the confidence to open or expand.

Why would they lack that confidence even after the taxes are cut? Because leaving big fat government in place guarantees that eventually taxes will need to be raised back up again. So, Rauner will have to cut the size of state government. How will he do that?

We’re constantly hearing new reports about waste in our government,” says the Rauner website. (Yes, it really says that.) Uh, Bruce, most of that waste is found in the taxpayer funded K-12, community college, and university systems — the very places you want to spend more money.

We need to make government spending more accountable. To do that, we can: Audit every dime. Reform the pension system so we can spend more money on priorities like education, roads, and public safety.

That’s also from the Rauner website, not, as you might have thought, from a speech given by the winner of the Miss America Pageant.

Here’s my favorite part of what Rauner has to say, and in some ways the most telling:

Illinois has the worst pension crisis in America…We cannot secure Illinois’ economic future without fundamental reforms to our pension system.

Wonderful. We’re all so excited. Uh, but then he says this:

We must keep our promise to current retirees…

Since that is impossible without massive tax increases — that’s pandering or ignorance or laziness or a lie — I’ll let you pick. Rauner has had plenty of time to learn the outrageous truth by reading Bill Zettler’s nine-year archive of work on pensions here.

If Rauner knows the truth and is pandering, what else is he pandering on? If he’s ignorant, why? He’s a guy who can afford the best teachers (and there’s no one better on pensions than Bill Zettler).

Some of you have heard Bruce on the stump, others have seen his commercials or heard him interviewed. Many of you have also met members of his campaign team. I assume you’re impressed with what you’ve seen and heard. He’s a no nonsense guy and his staff is first rate. Just what we need to get the job done, right?

That’s what many of us thought of the actors we met during many previous political cycles. We’ve seen this play before. Too many times, in fact. Big talking candidates and their well-groomed staffers have dominated Illinois Republican Party politics since Jim Edgar first caught Jim Thompson’s eye.

The fact that GOP platform principles never see the light of day in Illinois even after Republican victories is chalked up to those evil Chicago Democrats. Or media lies. Or demographic changes. Or any number of other excuses used alone or in combination.

After all, it couldn’t have been the incompetence of those men and women who impressed you on the campaign trail. It couldn’t be that Republicans here have never built a winning coalition, entered the information war, or fought aggressively to sell their solutions to the public. No, it couldn’t be that.

Regardless, it’ll be different this time, right? Rauner is different, right? And yet, the public isn’t buying it — that’s why he’s down in the polls.

Up next, let’s take a look at Rauner’s approach to the public schools. Here’s a preview: it’s an embarrassment.

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