Thursday, January 27, 2011

IPI's John Tillman Talks Tax Hike Repeal at Lake County Republican Federation's Leadership Council Breakfast

A new year and a new election cycle means a new season of political events in Lake County. The first major one that I've attended was held this morning at the Deer Path Inn in Lake Forest, and was sponsored by the Lake County Republican Federation. The Federation sponsors such breakfast meetings with politicians and policy wonks as a thank-you to its Bronze, Silver and Gold Circle members, who together form the Federation's Leadership Council.

Today's keynote speaker was John Tillman, Chairman and CEO of the non-partisan Illinois Policy Institute, whose talk focused on the "amazingly stupid" tax hike recently slammed through the Illinois General Assembly by a lame duck legislature in the final hours of the last session.

Before Tillman spoke, however, things got started with Federation President Sandy Stuart, below, welcoming the crowd, and then introducing State Representative Sandy Cole to lead the pledge of allegiance.

Next, new Lake County Board Chairman David Stolman (below) discussed the political and economic landscape in Lake County, which discussion was rather overshadowed by the very recent news that Abbott Laboratories, one of the largest employers in Lake County, was cutting more than 1000 Illinois jobs (most of them here in Lake), which is going to have a profound impact on the county.

John Tillman then gave his presentation, which focused on the state economic landscape and the competition we face from adjacent states like Wisconsin and Indiana (recently, even New Jersey has gotten into the act). Tillman noted that Illinois ranks near the bottom of states in job creation and near the top of states where people and jobs are leaving. The new gigantic tax hike has compounded the problem, and the real irony is, it is only a temporary 'fix', if that; Tillman clearly believes that the budget problem in Illinois simply cannot be fixed without serious public pension reform.

Unlike many people and institutions, the Illinois Policy Institute actually has a detailed budget plan that calls for freezing spending and cutting $5 billion from the budget -- all without, says Tillman, any borrowing and without cutting the most vital of government programs. Tillman also noted that now that the lame duck session is over, a majority of members in both of the state houses have indicated their objection to the tax hike -- and Tillman thinks that this issue, while clearly a huge problem, has galvanized many people into taking action. At the end of the day, workers, entrepreneurs and business owners are going to have to organize to take on the entrenched interests of the public employee unions to demand serious pension reform and rework the way this state does business. The IPI is collection signatures for an online petition to support repeal of the tax hike, and signatures are adding up quickly.

The breakfast was quite a success, and many local elected officials and Federation supporters attended, and were introduced by Lake County Central Committee Chairman Bob Cook. Pictured below are former State Senate Candidate Keith Gray, former state rep candidate Dan Sugrue, and Congressman Robert Dold, all listening intently to Tillman's presentation.

For more information on how to join the Lake County Republican Federation Leadership Council, visit their website here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

SOTU: A Welcome Focus On The Economy... But It Would Have Been More Welcome Two Years Ago (UPDATED x2)

I was more interested than usual this year in the State of the Union Address, principally because I wanted to see how Obama was going to try to promote the economy and pledge to pare down the debt, but also increase government spending. The speech, in my opinion, was short in the way of economic specifics, although Obama called for a freeze on spending and certain targeted budget cuts, like defense, and ending earmarks, closing tax loopholes and subsidies to everyone's favorite demon, the big oil companies. '

I liked many of the things Obama said about increasing our international competitiveness, increasing focus on education and job creation, and especially innovation. But I sure wish this was the agenda that Obama came into office with, and had spent the last two years working towards, instead of doinking around with healthcare takeovers, global warming treaties, Asian carp czars, and tyring to be president of the world instead of the U.S. Let's not forget that for all his platitudes tonight, in my opinion Obama has spent the better part of the last two years tending to deny American exceptionalism, and killing programs that are exactly what he's now touting, like NASA's plan to return men to the moon. (h/t Drudge Report) So much for the "Sputnik moment" he mentioned. In the end, his track record is, shall we say, lacking at best.

Congressman Paul Ryan gave the Republican response, and I have to say I was a bit underwhelmed, at least on his delivery. He focused heavily on deficit reduction and reminded the nation that the huge deficits that we now face are in part due to the enormous spending increases under the Obama administration:

Our debt is the product of acts by many presidents and many Congresses over many years. No one person or party is responsible for it.

There is no doubt the president came into office facing a severe fiscal and economic situation.

Unfortunately, instead of restoring the fundamentals of economic growth, he engaged in a stimulus spending spree that not only failed to deliver on its promise to create jobs but also plunged us even deeper into debt.

The facts are clear: Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law spending increases of nearly 25 percent for domestic government agencies — an 84 percent increase when you include the failed stimulus.

All of this new government spending was sold as "investment." Yet after two years, the unemployment rate remains above 9 percent and government has added over $3 trillion to our debt.

Then the president and his party made matters even worse, by creating a new open-ended health care entitlement.

Ryan continued from there, very calmly, matter-of-factly. Not a lot of fire and brimstone. But maybe given that Obama seemed to be lacking his usual spark as well, maybe it was just an overall understated evening, in part due to the recent tragic shooting in Tucson, which was mentioned by both Obama and Ryan, and an ever-present shadow over the speeches cast by an empty chair left in the congressional seating area (for Congresswoman Giffords who is still recovering) and many lapel pins honoring her present in the crowd.

I should also mention that Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann also gave a response to the SOTU on behalf of the Tea Party, but I just finished watching an interview with her on NBC, in which she complimented Paul Ryan's GOP response, and denied that her speech was in any way meant to be in 'competition' with the official Republican response.

Your reactions?

UPDATED 1/26/11 6:4 am: Fox News does the math and Obama's spending ambitions aren't balanced by the opportunities to cut that he identified in his SOTU speech. Big shocker. We could pretty much tell that just by listening to it and doing the calculations in your head.

UPDATED x2 12:15 pm: I found this a most thoughtful recap and analysis of the SOTU.

Election Law Not About Ballot Access: Who Knew?

Among the many interesting things over at Capitol Fax Blog this afternoon, Rich Miller posted this video, which is a presentation to the Chicago Bar Association by election law attorney Tom Jaconetty. Rich notes that Jaconetty is working with Burt Odelson to kick Rahm Emanuel off the Chicago mayor's race ballot.

I don't do election law myself, but I've been involved in plenty of campaigns and even some petition challenges (I was even presented as a witness by Odelson in relation to a ridiculous Dem challenge to some GOP nomination paperwork in Lake County back in 2006), so I found this quite fascinating. It's the real view from the trenches of how this all works.

It's apparently only a part of a much longer talk, but it's worth a look, if you want to see how some of the election sausage is made.

Monday, January 24, 2011

State Senator Dan Duffy Rails Against Tax Increase

My friend Dan Duffy rails against the tax increase on the floor of the Illinois Senate. As he notes, this bill was rammed through in the lame duck session and was even greater than the dreaded Gross Receipts Tax that was thankfully defeated. We may have lost out in the end, though, it appears.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Peter Roskam: Why I Voted To Repeal Job-Killing ObamaCare (UPDATED x2)

Roskam is pretty calm, cool and collected... and civil... in the video.

In contrast, the Dems compare Republicans to Nazis. Nice.

UPDATED: Here's House Speaker John Boehner:

UPDATED x2 1/21/11 7:00 a.m.: Looks like Congressman Steve Cohen is trying to back away from his remarks, noted above, comparing Republicans to Nazis. Guess he didn't get the civility memo.

What IS it with Democrats who seem to have to keep invoking Hitler and the Nazis to try to promote their agenda. Do Dems know how to do anything except call names anymore? They need to review the principle of Reductio ad Hitlerum.

Keep Your Friends Close, and...

Lynn Sweet reports this morning that Illinois' two U.S. Senators, Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin, plan to sit together during the State of the Union address to help 'bridge the partisan divide.' Others may also follow suit. More later.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What Place Will Moderates Like Bob Dold Have In the New GOP Majority Congress? (UPDATED)

The Washington Post has a piece up today that looks at the future of moderate Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, some of whom arrived perhaps a bit overshadowed by the hype of some other GOP candidates who rode the "tea party wave" into office:

For all the ink spilled on the success of the conservative-leaning tea parties and their chosen candidates, the winners last Election Day included a host of centrist GOP lawmakers like [Charles] Bass, the former president of the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership whose grandfather helped start the progressive Republican movement a century ago.

"There's a misperception" that the new Republicans in Congress are all conservative and all political neophytes, Bass said in a recent interview. "To say that the freshman class is a 'tea party class' I think oversimplifies the unique qualifications of a lot of these members."

Bass notes that many freshmen are experienced politicians like him. But how many are moderates?

As things settle in with the new Congress, the dynamics of how the 'moderates' will fit in, and what power as a voting block they will have, if any, will be very interesting to watch:

Moderates are "clearly the minority of the majority," said Rep. Steven C. LaTourette (Ohio), a Tuesday Group member. "But there is also a recognition that without" the centrist lawmakers, Republicans wouldn't have a majority.

The Post article mentions that the moderate "Tuesday Group" will be meeting this week (but on a Wednesday, since most lawmakers won't arrive in town until Tuesday night) and interest among freshman GOP congressmen has been good - not sure if our new Congressman Bob Dold from the 10th District plans to join, but it would certainly not surprise me, as Dold has modeled himself after now-Senator Mark Kirk, who was a leader in the Tuesday Group.

Where will Bob Dold go from here, and what will be his legislative agenda? The self-described social moderate and fiscal conservative will have many eyes upon him looking from back home as he finds his way through Washington. Will he vote to repeal ObamaCare or seek a more centrist approach? Other upcoming issues like immigration reform might also be a challenge to set a middle course, especially under pressure from the more conservative members of the GOP. Voting early and often to reduce federal spending and the deficit, where Dold can showcase his more conservative outlook, will be a lot easier.

Thoughts on where Dold should/could/will go in the first few months of the new Congress?

UPDATED: This afternoon, the Pioneer Press has a nice piece on how Bob Dold will be approaching the ObamaCare repeal/modification issue... and some of the legislation will apparently have Bob Dold's name on it! Read it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Senator Mark Kirk's Statement on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Senator Mark Kirk made the following statment today in honor of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Today we honor a man whose life and legacy are unparalleled in American history. His fight for racial equality launched a civil rights movement in our nation that remains one of the greatest achievements of the 20th Century. His efforts helped ensure that the United States of America stands for freedom and justice for all, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. In honoring Dr. King’s life and legacy today, we reaffirm our commitment to continue his fight against racism and discrimination every day both here at home and abroad.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Daily Herald Jumps on Joe Walsh Bandwagon in IL-8

On the heels of an in-depth gut-check on his performance so far, the Daily Herald came out with a stunning editorial today praising the freshness and interesting ideas and attitude being shown by newly-minted Congressman Joe Walsh of the 8th Congressional District. The DH, to give it credit, began its editorial by noting that it had been among his harshest critics:

We’ve questioned his judgment, his sincerity and his personal self-discipline. We’ve disagreed strongly with the reflexive right-wing ideology he’s espoused, and we’ve worried that his avowed refusal to work with Democrats would make him a legislator whose style promotes a continuation of deadlock and acrimony rather than a new era of solutions.

But it seems that as the weeks after the election have unfolded, the DH has noticed that there just seems to be... something different... about Walsh -- in a good way, that just doesn't seem to click with 'business as usual' in Washington. And with the current state of the country and the mood of the electorate, that really seems to be an attractive quality to many. The DH has now jumped on the Walsh bandwagon, though, like any good editorial board, hedges its bets slightly:

[H]is first few days in office have been surprisingly encouraging.

This isn’t to say that our reservations have vanished or that Walsh’s curious past tribulations should be ignored. Or that the realities of political war won’t set in as time passes.

But his early approach has been refreshing, almost selfless.

Wow, talk about a 180. It seems the DH has noticed what we here at Team America also noticed some weeks before the election, and then afterwards -- and we too (having sat through a number of Walsh stump speeches that made us roll our eyes a bit and look for the hook) were early critics, but came around.

This bodes well for Walsh's ability to connect with his voters and win over even editorial boards with his fresh approach... and we will wait and see how he continues to conduct himself now as a sitting Congressman. We, like the DH, have high hopes, and will continue to be solidly in Walsh's corner, assuming he continues to measure up.

Keep up the good work, Joe.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Guest Editorial: Quinn Sticks It to Illinois Voters

My friend Adam Beeson, who comments here under A.Bees and has been quite vocal as of late, got a letter to editor published in the Daily Herald today, so I figured I'd run this as our guest editorial for today:

Yes Illinois, Pat Quinn was an apt pupil to his mentor Rod Blagojevich. Just like Blago, he learned how to lie to the Illinois voters.

Contrary to his campaign promises, Quinn and the Democratic majority have passed an income tax increase that is twice the size that he promised during his campaign.

To make matters worse, they passed this tax increase in the middle of the night, with a lame duck legislature and without cutting a single thing.

Regardless of how tough the economy or how many people are out of work or the epic corruption and waste in government, we are all expected to reach into our pockets and give 67 percent more.

To all of the families who will now be moving out of state, I envy you. As much as I’d like to cross the cheddar curtain, the housing crash has locked me into my home and will now hold me hostage to these lies and horrible decisions.

For those in my boat, please remember this in two years and vote for dramatic changes in the composition of the Illinois legislature. It is our only hope.

Adam Beeson


Meanwhile: Senator Mark Kirk has been doing a series of town halls with GOP Congressmen and is now reaching across the aisle to do one with a Dem, Congressman Danny Davis. I'd say that's practicing what you preach.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Massive Illinois Tax Hike a Bonanza Opportunity for Neighboring States; Governor Quinn In Denial Over Impact to Businesses (UPDATED x2)

I was in an economic development meeting early this past Wednesday, right after the Illinois Senate passed the massive 66% income tax hike. The mood in the room? Bleak, at best. Being a "border" county, we in Lake are more likely than many to feel the impact as business flee across the border to Wisconsin, helped along by our friends to the north as they seek to capitalize on our woes -- and, frankly, who can blame them?

Wisconsin's new Republican Governor Scott Walker can barely contain himself, as he touts his new "Escape to Wisconsin" branding effort (and we're not talking about spending the weekend in Door County, folks):

Wisconsin is open for business. In these challenging economic times while Illinois is raising taxes, we are lowering them. On my first day in office I called a special session of the legislature, not in order to raise taxes, but to open Wisconsin for business. Already the legislature is taking up bills to provide tax relief to small businesses, to create a job-friendly legal environment, to lessen the regulations that stifle growth and to expand tax credits for companies that relocate here and grow here. Years ago Wisconsin had a tourism advertising campaign targeted to Illinois with the motto, ‘Escape to Wisconsin.’ Today we renew that call to Illinois businesses, ‘Escape to Wisconsin.’ You are welcome here. Our talented workforce stands ready to help you grow and prosper.”

Indiana's governor Mitch Daniels has been salivating for weeks, and even has compared bordering Illinois to living next door to Homer Simpson.

Heck, even Missouri and Kentucky are getting into the act.

Maybe the saddest part of all of this is that Governor Quinn seems to be in denial about the impact this is going to have. The fact is, the business owners and wealthiest people in the state are the most mobile, and have the greatest flexibility to shift income around. I've spoken to many people in the last few days that have friends who already spend a lot of time in Florida or Michigan -- especially for small business owners, it only takes a little bit of a change to make your state of residency somewhere other than Illinois. In this day and age, since so many business are no longer "bricks and mortar" operations anyway, what's the difference in where your company is located if you are simply renting office or warehouse space? Sheesh, your workers might welcome a move to a neighboring state, as it might be financially beneficial for them as well.

So, I am very skeptical that the tax hike may even raise as much revenue as the state General Assembly predicts, much less the notion that this will not have a devastating impact on the Illinois economy.

About the only good thing you can say about the tax hike is that at least it's over, and the people in this state whose job it is to increase economic development and opportunity in this state can at least say that it may suck to be here, but at least now we know how much it sucks. Seriously, I think many businesses have not forgotten about the Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) debacle that scared the beejeebers out of anyone even thinking about locating or expanding in Illinois. What businesses hate worst is uncertainty, because they cannot plan. Folks in government who treat the taxpayers like an ATM machine and are not forced to live within their means, or go out of business, just don't get that.

In Illinois, maybe they never will.

UPDATED 9:55 a.m.: Rich Miller at Capitol Fax Blog and I are thinking alike this morning. See his wrap-up of similar stories here.

UPDATED 4:10 p.m.: Although the Tribune pointed this issue out even before the tax vote (and we discussed it in detail here), more people are now keying into the fact that even this tax hike isn't going to fix a problem that will loom in four years or so, without addressing out of control spending.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Congrats to New State Senator Suzi Schmidt!

I've missed all the inaugural activities down in Springfield, but I wanted to give a shout-out to my friend Suzi Schmidt, who was sworn in as Lake County's newest State Senator today. Way to go, Suzi!

That clicking sound you heard was Illinois' unemployment total ticking up by one as former Senator Michael Bond loses his job, and his relevancy.
With the failure of the gaming bill, he won't even be able to apply for a job at a casino in Park City. Sorry Terry Link couldn't come through for you, Mr. Bond.

But, not to worry -- I don't doubt that with Democratic patronage, you won't land on your feet somewhere. After all, former State Rep. Julie Hamos did just fine.

Adding... Suzi's office released the following statement:

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Senator Suzi Schmidt (R-Lake Villa) began her first term in the new Illinois General Assembly on Wednesday to represent the 31st senate district.

“I’m excited and pleased to have the honor of representing the thirty-first district and today begins a journey to help get the state back on track after years of fiscal mismanagement,” Sen. Schmidt said. “It’s time to work on getting Illinois back to work.”

Sen. Schmidt took the oath of office during a swearing-in ceremony at noon. Watching her was her sisters Janice, Bonnie and Carol, her husband, Bob, and mother, Lou Reyes.

“I’m proud to be here and give my constituents a voice they need in the legislature,” Sen. Schmidt said. “I’m here to represent their priorities: lowering taxes, developing the economy, improving education and fixing this mess of what the state calls a budget.”

Previously, Sen. Schmidt served as the Chairman of the Lake County Board since 2000. Before her chairmanship she started her political career serving as a Lake Villa Township trustee from 1985 to 1988. Since 1988, Schmidt served on both the Lake County Board and as a Forest Preserve Commissioner.

Schimdt’s community involvement also includes serving as President of Metro Counties, sitting on the Lake County University Center Board of Governors and the Executive Committee of the Lake County Municipal League.

“After living in district as a resident of Lake Villa for the past thirty years, I know what’s important to our communities and how we can stand united for the same goals,” Sen. Schmidt said. “I encourage all my constituents to contact me and let me help them make their voices heard in the senate chambers in Springfield.”

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Illinois House Passes Massive 66% Income Tax Hike (UPDATED - Bill Passes Senate and Goes to Gov. Quinn)

Tonight the Illinois House, by the bare minimum required, passed a massive 66% tax hike, with individuals getting socked for an additional 2% (from 3% currently) to a total individual income tax of 5%.

Capitol Fax has the vote totals. Several Dems voted no, including Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills). Karen May voted yes.


Illinois Review recommends a speech by Democrat Jack Franks railing against the tax hike. Find it here.

More on this tomorrow, I'm sure.

UPDATED 1/12/11 7:00 a.m.: Last night the tax increase bill passed the Illinois Senate, 30-29, with the bare minimum needed. Michael Bond, our outgoing lame-duck senator, I assume, was a "yes" vote. You can be sure that his replacement, Suzi Schmidt, would have voted against it. Once again, no Republican votes were put on the bill, so you can bet when the cry of outrage finally starts hitting people in their pocketbooks, the GOP will be pointing the finger squarely at the Dems and Michael Madgian.

Speaking of Bond, his political mentor Terry Link suggested in a goodbye to Bond that the Senate might be 'seeing him again.' After that vote, I would not count on seeing a lot of familiar faces around Springfield come next election, Terry.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A "Temporary" Tax Hike? Not Without Serious Spending Reform

This morning, the Chicago Tribune is awash in coverage of the state's financial morass which is supposedly going to be addressed by a 75% tax increase -- but that increase will not be permanent, so the Dems say. Well, even if you believe the intention today is to make this a temporary budget fix (ha ha), the Trib points out that without serious spending reforms and more accountability in state government, nothing will be fixed:

For four years, the state might approach something like a truly balanced budget for the first time in a long time. Come year five, however, a large part of the tax increase is supposed to expire.

"If you don't control spending, then after four years, there's no question you'll have a big deficit," said Dan Long, executive director of the bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.

Thus, in four years, when the 'temporary' tax hike is due to expire, whaddya think is going to happen? Even the citizens of Illinois, many of whom were bilked into voting for the Dems, can't possibly be this foolish, can they?

The Trib also points out that the cut in federal taxes that everyone was looking forward to (unlike many deductions, the reduction in the Social Security payroll tax was not limited by income) is probably going to get swallowed up by the increase in state taxes. Swell.

Senator Mark Kirk stated:

"I am concerned that just as President Obama and congressional Republicans protected Americans from a huge tax increase, Gov. (Pat) Quinn and the Illinois Democratic leadership will impose new taxes in the teeth of the Great Recession. While citizens of well-run states like Indiana and Wisconsin will see their total tax bills go down, the unfortunate citizens of Illinois will see their taxes go up."

As one wise commentor quoted in the print edition of the Tribune today said,

"Once taxes go up, they don't ever go back."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Day of National Tragedy With Congresswoman's Shooting (UPDATED x4)

We have conflicting reports at this time regarding whether Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, has survived a shooting at a Safeway grocery store in Tucson. Earlier reports I saw said she was killed by a gunshot to the head, but now it appears that she is still in surgery.

Others who were there were also shot (as many as 12) and some have died.

There is little information on the gunman, who was tackled by bystanders when he tried to flee. He appears to be a young 20s-ish man, and there is currently no information as to whether the shooting was politically motivated.

Here Chicago, and many cities, we're used to a lot of violence. Even when policemen are killed in the line of duty, which is far too often, we seem to acknowledge the fact and mourn, and then move on with our lives. But this kind of senseless killing that potentially is an act that is antithetical to our entire form of free government is a national tragedy. By all accounts, Congresswoman Giffords was engaged in exactly the kind of activity that a true public servant was supposed to be doing -- going out on the street, into the community, and talking to her constituents. If the gunman's motivation was to stifle free speech, our democratic form of government, or to try to advance some kind of political agenda, no form of punishment is sufficient, and no words too strong, to condemn such a direct attack on our democratic, representative form of government.

We'll say a prayer for the victims and for Congresswoman Giffords, and hope she pulls through, and is able to continue representing her constituents.

UPDATED x1 3:20 p.m.: Latest word is that Congresswoman Giffords is alive. Of course, the blame for the shooting is already starting. But before people start laying the blame at the foot of right-wingers (the obvious target), you might want to take a look at the eerie coincidences over at Daily Kos (courtesy of HillBuzz).

UPDATED x2 3:30 p.m.: Appears that doctors say they are optimistic about Giffords' recovery and she is out of surgery. Is this guy the shooter?

UPDATED x3 5:10 pm: Elected officials are being warned to take precautions in the wake of the Giffords shooting. New Congressman Bob Dold had this reaction to the shooting:

"As officials, it is one of the greatest honors to represent the needs and concerns of our residents, and we will not allow the deplorable actions of one effect our ability to serve our districts, states and country," said Rep. Bob Dold

UPDATED x4 8:45 pm: Though its been more than 12 hours since this tragedy, answers are slow in coming, and in many ways, may never come. The natural instinct in such situations is to try to understand, to make sense of what has happened, but sometimes it's just not possible. Right now, I'm sure the suspect is being questioned, and everyone is trying to find out more about this person, to understand what drove him to do this. Here's Ben Smith of Politico on what he's been able to piece together, and I'm sure we will learn much more about this obviously very disturbed, if not insane, person. More here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Dear Illinois Voters: Thank Yourselves for That Massive Tax Increase

I really do try not to be too preachy on this blog, but sometimes I just can't resist. If you haven't already heard, the Democrats plan to dig deep, deep into your wallet to try to dig the state out of the same debt that they created, with a massive 75% tax increase. The very last decent aspect of living or doing business in the State of Illinois just went out the window, folks. The tax structure in socialist Wisconsin is now starting to look pretty good. But, considering that Wisconsin woke up this past election cycle and kicked out the socialists and put in the Republicans, they have at least figured something out.

So, we're looking now at a 2.25% tax hike in personal income taxes, but that might even go up. Of that, exactly 0% is accompanied by any reforms in spending or state pensions. But wait, the Dems are saying, much of this is only a "temporary" tax hike.

Yeah, right.

Well, campers, if you don't like it, you have no one to blame but yourselves. You, the citizens of Illinois are the folks who put Madigan's foot soldiers like Carol Sente, Karen May, Daniel Biss and the rest into office. Not to mention Pat Quinn. Who, by the way, had stated on the campaign trail that while he thought we needed an income tax increase, he'd veto anything over 1%. What happened to that promise? (There's a remote possibility, maybe, that this is all a head-fake and the real plan is to push through a 1% increase or something smaller that will look better in comparison to the shocking massive hike now being proposed - it's never easy to predict what the rascals in Springfield will do).

I predict the phone will be ringing off the hook today at Lake County Republican Headquarters, with people railing about how unfair and ridiculous this is, and hey, what do the Republicans plan to do about it?

If I was answering the phones today, for every caller who rings to complain, the first question I would ask is, why are you surprised, and the second is, what did you do to help elect reform candidates like Sugrue, Chang, Turelli and other Republicans who might have been able to make a difference?

But that's why they don't let me answer the phones.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

John Boehner Takes Over In Washington, With Support From Bob Dold and Joe Walsh, But Wait: We've Got Tax Trouble Back Home

Washington DC was abuzz yesterday with the swearing-in of former GOP Minority Leader John Boehner as Speaker of the House, in a peaceful changing of the guard ceremony that saw reviled former leader Nancy Pelosi hand over the gavel. Her tenure didn't last long, thankfully, but she was able to do quite a bit of damage that it will take Republicans some time to undo:

"The American people didn't send us here to get things done. It may sound odd. They sent us here to stop what has been done," said new U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh.

They may not be entirely successful, given the Dem-controlled U.S. Senate and White House. Still, it's a great start. Scanning through some of the Sunday morning talk shows this previous weekend, it seems that the Dems' game plan is to say, okay, you guys are in the majority, now lead us.

Good. Get the hell out of the way, and we will.

Bob Dold and Joe Walsh, our new Congressmen were also sworn in, and proud to support new Speaker Boehner.

Repealing ObamaCare will be the top initial priority of the new Congress:

"I believe that this law is a bad law. I believe there are things and aspects of it that are good, but I believe that we need to have broad, bipartisan support. I didn't like the way the process was taken, and will vote to repeal," Dold said.

Meanwhile, though, we've got trouble right here in River City, and while local GOPers may be whooping it up for a day, cheering on Senator Mark Kirk, new Congressmen Dold and Walsh and the rest, the Illinois General Assembly and Governor Pat Quinn are getting down to the wire in deciding what massive tax hike to hit Illinois residents with. Based on various news sources, it seems like we're going to get at least a 2% tax hike -- which they may try to sell (at least partially) as a 'temporary' tax hike, but if you believe that, I have a prison in Thomson to sell you.

You don't like it, you say? Did you support Hamilton Chang, Dan Sugrue, Lauren Turelli or any other GOP candidates for the General Assembly? Did you knock on any doors? Give any money? Go to any rallies? Write any letters to the editor? If you did, then thank you. But if you didn't, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Democrats Encourage Bob Dold to Spend, Spend, Spend in New Congress

Our new Congressmen representing us in Lake County, Joe Walsh and Bob Dold, have a pretty clear picture of what we sent them to Congress to do: Reduce the size of government, reduce government spending, and reduce the deficit.

Local Democrats are worried, and they should be. Above all, local Dems (think Lauren Beth Gash and the 10th Dems), like their glorious leader Obama, think that the government is the only true economic engine that can bail us out of the recession, and the last thing to do in tough economic times is to slash the ability of government to spend, spend, spend. Never mind if we can't afford it, and our childrens' children will have to pay for it. That's all way down the road.

Bob Dold and the other Republicans in the incoming freshman class are having none of it. Make no mistake, they are going to be targeted by the Dems. But the good news is, no matter what the Dems can do, they have at least two years in which to transform government, which is what we want.

Over New Years, I was at a gathering in which one of my friends' father, a English gentleman who was very nice, but a true socialist, engaged me in conversation (since he'd been told I was active in politics) and seemed genuinely interested in my view on Obama, the economy, and government spending. He seemed to believe that America was a left-of-center nation and was a big Obama fan. I told him that the polls pretty clearly show that America is truly a right-of-center nation, and that the mantra of most Americans I know is that the less government, the better, and that as a rule, private citizen know who to spend their money better than the government can. There was more of this, and it was all very cordial, but eventually I retreated to the safety of the basement to supervise the kids so I didn't end up really ticking off my friend's dad at his party. He was pretty much an unrepentant European socialist who truly believed that government was needed to take care of everyone -- whether or not they could take care of themselves, given the chance, and whether or not they wanted it.

I expect such a world view from someone raised in Europe their whole life, but I expected a little more out of our local Democrats.