Ever wonder why lawmakers so often wait until the end of a legislative session to decide on issues like taxes and benefits that hit us in the wallet? It doesn’t happen by accident. Politicians are cowards when it comes to standing behind hard decisions. They like nothing less than living up to the strength of their words.
As you read this, Illinois Democrats are doing everything they can to avoid the inevitable. They are turning bright yellow over a very unpopular decision their liberal spending agenda will force them to make: keep a temporary tax increase, or decide whose funding gets cut?
Decisions, not promises, prove Illinois politicians are cowards.
Making campaign trail promises that no one believes is a far cry from publicly standing behind decisions made necessary because of the foolish, fiscally irresponsible political agenda Illinois residents have come to accept. Unlike those of us who work at real jobs and have to live with decisions we make for our employer every day, our elected gatekeepers can wait until the end of their session, refuse to act, or deliver the bad news at the 11th hour, then hop into their cars and race home to hide. With a May 31 deadline approaching to screw Illinois taxpayers with permanent increases in personal and corporate income tax rates or resort to a fallback spending plan, we should hear those screeching tires at the end of this week.
Microphones are good for political promises, but not very good for explaining the fiscal damage done by those promises. When he wanted to get elected, Pat Quinn promised he would veto any tax increase that would raise rates above 4%. Anyone familiar with the mix of lies, half-truths, broken promises, and in-your-face self-interest that typifies Illinois politics knew not to take him seriously. When the 66% personal income tax hike Quinn approved and now supports making permanent was double the amount of his promised ceiling, we were less surprised than disbelieving. No one expected his temporary tax increase to go away.
Politicians are cowards over funding their convictions.
Illinois’ Democratic politicians are cowards when it comes to scraping up more revenue. It is easier to follow Obama’s lead and keep trying to pin the blame on the wealthy for not paying enough, even though the rich don’t decide how much government spends. If anything, spending in the age of Obama is dictated by those who don’t contribute very much. Is this why Quinn’s failure to stand behind his veto promise segued to a State of the State address rife with social spending, both taxpayer-funded and forced from businesses? Does it explain his 2015 budget scheme that relies on the higher rates set to expire next year?
We still don’t see the courage among Springfield Democrats to stand behind their party’s agenda. These politicians are cowards without the fortitude to tell taxpayers that their tax rates are not only going up for good, but will likely have to go up again to join the escalating fees, fines, threats, and other revenue generators we face each and every day.
While House Speaker Madigan claims he doesn’t yet have the votes he needs to chisel the current tax rates in stone, he did get approval from his troops to ask voters this November if they want to whack millionaires with an additional 3% surtax. Madigan gets credit for foresight. His state is going to need that money, too.
Will tax increases in Illinois be damaging to small businesses? Will they cause more jobs to be lost? Who cares? Certainly not our Democratic legislators. They have the courage to give away, to spend, and to demand, but when it comes to standing behind their words, these politicians are cowards who will be hiding out at home even before word gets out that their next dirty deed has been done.
Update May 27, 2014: the word from Springfield is that Democrats gave up on extending the tax increase and are cooking up a fallback budget. Now lawmakers will have to decide whose funding lives or dies and Pat Quinn will have to figure out how to cover his black eye as he hits the campaign trail.