Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner Running The Republican Economic Playbook

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It’s the funniest thing: Whenever Republicans talk about everyone having to make “sacrifices,” the only ones who end up sacrificed are working folks and the poor.

Millionaires are left unmolested.  Big business thrives.  And Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s proposed Illinois budget, designed to make up a huge shortfall in the state, is a study in supply side economics, cuts to critical social programs, swipes at unions, and the general back-ass-wards economic policies that have drowned Republican-run Kansas and Wisconsin.

As Mother Jones reported about Kansas Governor Brownback’s epic economic fail,

Brownback brought in Arthur Laffer, Ronald Reagan’s trickle-down economics guru, to help sell the idea that the cuts—which zeroed out taxes for 200,000 businesses and slashed rates for top earners—were guaranteed to boost the state’s fortunes, prop up the economy, and bring in countless new jobs as businesses and individuals flocked to Kansas to escape the tyrannies of higher-tax states.  Two years later, those rosy predictions have turned to doom and gloom . . . .

Rauner has his own “Laffer,” in the form of “let’s screw up the economy even more with supply side economics” Republican guru Donna Arduin, to the tune of $30,000 a month.  Despite Arduin’s own tax problems (in the form of a federal tax lien levied against her, which was allegedly resolved days before she joined Rauner’s team), Republicans, including Rauner, seem to have a lot of faith in her scorched earth economic agenda.  Oddly, given the heavy price tag she comes with, Arduin has only bachelor’s degrees in economics and public policy, no MBA or Master’s in sight, but that hasn’t stopped her from being the go-to gal responsible for crafting economic policy for Republicans from Florida Governor Jeb Bush to NY Governor George Patacki to California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger – all Republicans, all determined to balance state budgets on the backs of the most vulnerable.

“This budget is honest . . . and it presents an honest path forward,” Rauner said in his Wednesday budget speech.  His budget includes $1.5 billion in cuts to Medicaid (something the feds would have to approve), $387 million in cuts to higher education, a reduction of about $600 million in state tax money funneled to cities and towns, cuts to Chicago and downstate transit agencies, including a plan to do away with a state subsidy for reduced-fare programs on the RTA (Regional Transportation Authority), and a plan to shuttle recently hired state workers into a pension plan with slimmer benefits.  Glaringly absent from Rauner’s budget proposal is anything in the way of revenue, such as a tax on millionaires, as proposed by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.



House Speaker Madigan called parts of Rauner’s budget, specifically his plan to spend pension savings before there are any savings, and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said,

His prompt delivery of a budget is commendable.  However, the content of his plan raises significant questions about its viability in the legislative process . . . Rauner’s plan includes proposals that will undermine access to health services, child care, affordable college and retirement security for working- and middle-class families . . . .

On Chicago Tonight, a local talk show, a guest said that, although Rauner has an ambitious agenda, he won’t be able to accomplish any of it – we don’t, she said, have a dictatorship in this state. Well, we actually might:  House Speaker Mike Madigan and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton have the ability – and the votes, in a fully Democratic-controlled Congress – to squash Rauner’s  austerity program like a bug.  Now, with the election of a dyed-in-the-wool Republican Governor who’s following the Republican Manifesto like there’s a gun to his head, the largely blue state of Illinois will need to rein in this guy, whose idea of a nicely balanced budget is kicking people off their healthcare, offering less money in pensions, and generally keeping his fat foot on the necks of the working class and poor while paying his buddies $30,000 a month to advise him how to further crush the state.

As an Illinoisan, I’ll pass.  Thankfully, the “dictatorship” in this state is in the hands of Dems – and it’s likely they’ll pass on his destructive agenda, as well.

You can find Julie Driscoll at Mad Women of Smoking Hot Politics.

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