Make Democrats Own It
By Adam Andrzejewski
January 3, 2011
“The taxpayer: That’s someone who works for the government but doesn’t have to take the civil service examination.” – Ronald Reagan.
Illinois is broke. Over the past eight years, the Illinois Democrats, with complete control of all three branches of Illinois government, have provided only one solution to all of our problems: bigger government. During this period, they taxed, borrowed and spent nearly half a trillion dollars of taxpayer money. Now, having left the state in financial shambles, they want to double down on a bad bet. Make them own it.
The Democrats’ current proposal is to borrow more, through a $15 billion bond issue, $6 billion of which is supposed to pay past due bills. This explosion of debt is supposed to be financed through a 67% hike in the income tax and a potential expansion of the sales tax. Apparently, Illinois Democrats are competing for a “race to the bottom” of economic performance, as these proposals will devastate the state’s economy.
Last year, during my gubernatorial primary race, I frequently referenced a Cook County company with 160 employees whose CPA told them that they would add $750,000 to their bottom line by moving 35 miles away to Valparaiso, IN. Last week, I asked a south Cook County family that owns 20 companies and employees hundreds of Illinois residents and thousands of people worldwide, “what would happen to your employees, your family and your business if the Democrats’ proposal passes?” The answer was fast and straightforward: “We’d have to revisit Indiana’s proposal to move our company seven miles to the east.”
On the four borders of Illinois, every business is doing a similar calculation and coming to the same conclusion. The Illinois Democrats hate the private sector.
The average Illinois citizen can’t afford this tax increase, and their children won’t stay around to pay off the credit card bill. Public opinion polls over the past year show that over 2/3rds of Illinoisans are against this tax hike. 55% of Illinoisans have lost their job or have taken less pay and we cannot afford it. According to census data, Illinois has fewer jobs now than in 1996. In the Democrat stronghold of Cook County, jobs have flowed to other counties (and states). Cook has fewer jobs now than in 1990.
Hiking income taxes and piling on debt will only hasten the economic death spiral of Illinois. Businesses and high earners will accelerate the process of leaving the state, leaving fewer and fewer people to shoulder the burden of an unsustainable bureaucratic state. As the tax and regulatory burdens will accelerate yet again, driving even more productive citizens out of Illinois.
One more decade of these policies will leave Illinois stratified with four distinct classes. A few of the very rich, a shrinking and struggling middle class service sector, and a large public bureaucracy managing the people now reliant on government assistance.
Illinois Democrats are the architects of this looming disaster. That is why it is important to make them own their financial schemes, government spending shell-games, and the horrific results that follow. They have the votes to enact tax hikes and expand borrowing. Let them do it on their own. Any Republican lawmaker who votes for tax hikes and increased debt deserves a primary challenger.
The people of Illinois deserve transparent, accountable and limited government. As the opposition party, Republicans need to offer bold and aggressive reforms that move Illinois in that direction. The strategy of saying, “At least we aren’t as bad as the Democrats” has failed utterly.
Republicans need to engage the people of Illinois through bold policies, not shop-worn politicking and platitudes. They could start with aggressively pushing to limit government. Citizens are ready to support constitutional spending caps, property tax caps, and term limits. They will support transparency and accountability through independent audits that investigate fraud where any hint of it is found. Make the Democrats defend their opaque and corrupt culture of patronage spending. Rub their noses in the deep doo-doo they’ve plunged Illinois into.
Make them own it.