How appropriate that the governor of Illinois, a state suffering from fiscal policy gone horribly wrong, should vouch for the president on opening day at the Democratic Convention. During the 2008 race opponents charged that Illinois’ favorite son was inexperienced. They were wrong. Mr. Obama learned a lot about politics during his stint in Illinois. He brought the state’s ruinous ways to the Oval Office, where his corruption of expansionary fiscal policy has led to the kind of crushing debt that is a tradition in his home state.
Was Quinn’s convention appearance a harbinger of things to come?
It apparently never occurred, or more likely never mattered to those drawing up the list of convention speakers that Governor Quinn might not be the best harbinger of what four more years of Obama will bring. In a laughable example of the hubris that has seized the Democratic Party, Quinn slammed Mitt Romney for his alleged failures while governing Massachusetts, including adding $2.6 billion to the state’s debt, a figure too inconsequential to be worth mentioning in Illinois.
Expansionary fiscal policy: are handouts better than jobs?
In an offensively inappropriate nod to the Founding Fathers, Quinn talked about federal welfare policy and the importance of welfare to work. On Friday we found out that the work part is still being left out of the equation, as more Americans gave up hopes of working and resigned their future to the same fiscal ruin that Illinois has gifted to its taxpayers. The Democratic Party continues to promote extending the pain of recession with failed expansionary fiscal policy, apparently convinced that handouts are better vote-getters than honesty about the president’s prospects for success.
State debt is not a problem in Illinois. It is a tradition.
State debt continues to be a proud tradition in Illinois, where those who rule have a habit of lamenting problems they create without accepting any of the responsibility to correct the damage. Legislators continue to push the same policies that consign taxpayers to a future bereft of jobs and the businesses that create them.
While the national unemployment rate sinks due to despondency, Illinois has managed to keep its jobless rate higher than the national average. As federal debt piles up under a president who continues to insist that his policies will pay off in some misty, poorly-imagined future, we have to ask ourselves how much of the Obama economic strategy came from Illinois politics.
Pension reform defines how Illinois fails taxpayers.
President Obama is making nice to unions that are expressing growing disillusionment with the administration’s failure in all things economic:
It is unions like yours that helped to forge the basic bargain of this country — the bargain that built the greatest middle class and the most prosperous country and the most prosperous economy that the world has ever known.¹
Like debt, unions have a proud history in Illinois. Those who represent public employees and negotiated excessive compensation packages rule the herd. Renewed demands for pension reform failed during the most recent legislative circus, a doomed special session and safe strategy for state Democrats who know change will be blocked and the blame for failure placed elsewhere. Shameless, Illinois is pleading for someone to “Save our State” because of the failure of pension reform and the growing unfunded liability legislators have done little to correct.
President Obama has never stopped demanding more money for teacher and other public employee salaries. He lived and worked in Illinois long enough to know how pension reform works and what happens when teacher salaries go up. Their pension benefits go up, too.
Taxpayers vs. special interests. Guess who loses?
As fading opportunity leaves special interests scrabbling for the spoils left from the recession, taxpayers struggle to get by. Herds of angry, red-shirted, over-entitled Chicago teachers chanting union slogans symbolize a problem that needs to be slapped down once and for all. With job creation all but halted, pay freezes and 401(k)s should be the only things on the menu for government workers who forget that they are public employees and nothing more.
What is most egregious about government pandering to special interests is not that pressure groups get what they want, but that those who win are often those who deserve the least. We will never be able to pay teachers and other public employees enough to appease their unions, especially when the White House insists that their jobs are more valuable than everyone else’s. It is impossible to mollify immigrant special interests who believe that the United States should be turned into a Latin American refugee camp. While the president whined about the paucity of education spending and the need to invest in America’s future, Illinois lawmakers passed the Illinois Dream Act, continued to give college tuition breaks to illegals, and came very close to handing them driving permits. Meanwhile, taxpayers continue to shell out for a state income tax hike that was promoted as temporary and, like the cost to use the state’s scandalously mismanaged tollway system, will only go up.
Ethical bankruptcy comes first, fiscal bankruptcy later.
We talk about bankrupt states, but states cannot go fiscally bankrupt, at least not yet. They can, however, go ethically bankrupt, and when it comes to ethical bankruptcy Illinois has fought tooth and nail for first place. The state leads the pack in its ongoing war on taxpayers unlucky enough to not be government employees, illegal immigrants, or other favored special interests. Illinois’ pleas for salvation from debt deserve to fall on deaf ears, but as long as we have a big-time enabler in Washington who learned his ill-conceived, expansionary fiscal policy from a state that excels at political opportunism and mismanagement, someone will be around to help Illinois get by.