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Why I fight

Thursday, Feb 11, 2016

* This is by far my favorite line from the President’s address

(R)eason matters, facts matter; issues are complicated. When folks just make stuff up, they can’t go unchallenged.

Hence my numerous posts about the Chicago Tribune editorial board.


- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      

Parsons scores rare and highly unusual Obama interview

Thursday, Feb 11, 2016

* The Tribune’s Christi Parsons spent nearly an hour yesterday afternoon with President Obama and three of his former Illinois Senate colleagues, Denny Jacobs, Larry Walsh and Kirk Dillard. The published story is here. The full video is here. And the official White House transcript is here

THE PRESIDENT: Now, the one thing — last thing I should say is I especially want to thank Larry and Denny — I can’t thank Kirk for this, but these two contributed to the early college fund for Malia and Sasha. (Laughter.) Through our poker games. I saw Tommy Walsh, one of the Republicans that played, and Dave Luechtefeld and those guys contributed as well. But Malia and Sasha, they got a good seed fund for their college, because these guys, I took them for all they were worth. (Laughter.)

DILLARD: I said to Denny in the motorcade over here, Mr. President, I said, do you think the President still carries cash. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, absolutely. I mean, we can get a — now, probably –

WALSH: I got a deck. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Part of the secret of beating these guys, though, is I would just nurse my beer, and these guys — you know. So the longer the game went on, the looser their betting got. (Laughter.)

WALSH: Now, don’t you go telling too many stories here, Mr. President. (Laughter.)

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      

Dunkin’s defense

Thursday, Feb 11, 2016

* From Rep. Ken Dunkin’s Facebook page

I was honored that President Obama affirmed my decision to find a compromise to bring people together. As the President noted, our problems are not new and compromise is not a sign of weakness or being a sellout, but necessary for self government. I also found his Lincoln reference interesting considering some of the dialogue surrounding the politics in Springfield. Honestly, I feel vindicated.

* From Dunkin pal Maze Jackson’s Facebook page


Perhaps some history revisionists would like to revisit their statements! The only people who don’t seem to get it are the Springfield regulars. So as your social service agencies continue to starve and families continue to suffer, I often wonder do you pat yourself on the back for not being able to reach a compromise. I Know you think you are being valiant, but most of us are tired and want to get a deal. The state is screwed and YOU participated.

I 100% believe that Dunkin was referenced in the speech and it wasn’t negatively. The funny thing is Dunkin has been getting calls from all over the nation commending him on being a visionary. Whether you like it or not Dunkin was the POSTIVE in the speech, I think the people with the ooh’s and ahh’s were who the POTUS was actually talking to!

From the Washington Post:

The president was clearly at ease. He joked with Illinois state Rep. Ken Dunkin (D), who angered his own party by missing a key vote to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a labor bill. Obama said that compromising with the opposing party “doesn’t make me a sellout to my own party.”

“Heck, yeah,” someone shouted from the floor.

Obama responded: “We’ll talk later, Ken.” The audience exploded in laughter and applause, and Dunkin stood and saluted the president.

Oh…and how about that 8 second intro from the Speaker. The POTUS made it his HOUSE today, but alas, for the negroes back to work tomorrow!

Because in Springfield, no matter how high you climb, you are still a [racial expletive deleted]!


During his speech, Obama said making bipartisan compromises “doesn’t make me a sell out to my own party.” He then turned to Rep. Ken Dunkin and said, “We’ll talk later, Dunkin. Sit down.”

Dunkin, a democrat, has recently come under fire after forging an alliance with Gov. Rauner.

“I was honored that President Obama affirmed my decision to find a compromise to bring people together,” Dunkin told Ward Room. “As the President noted, our problems are not new and compromise is not a sign of weakness, but necessary for self-government.”

Dunkin also told Ward Room that he has been invited to visit the White House on March 17.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      

Civic Federation wants spending limits and tax hikes: “There are no easy stop-gap fixes”

Thursday, Feb 11, 2016

* The Civic Federation has released its annual state budget report…

In a report released today, the Civic Federation’s Institute for Illinois’ Fiscal Sustainability proposes a comprehensive three-year plan that addresses Illinois’ ongoing financial crisis with painful but necessary spending limits and revenue enhancements. The full 55-page report is available at

More than seven months into the current fiscal year, the State of Illinois continues to operate without a budget. However, virtually all of the State’s projected FY2016 revenues will be spent through statutory requirements, consent decrees, court orders and appropriated funds for elementary and secondary education. This leaves little for the areas of government that have gone unfunded, including all higher education and major human services programs. If current revenue and expenditure policies continue, the State’s backlog of bills could grow to $25.9 billion by the end of FY2019.

“Systemic payment delays and the ongoing budget impasse in Springfield have only exacerbated our State’s financial woes, and there are no more politically popular solutions left to explore,” said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation. “Despite this dire situation, our roadmap shows that with dedicated action and shared sacrifice, it is possible to enact a comprehensive plan that will get Illinois back on sound financial footing by FY2019.”

The Federation proposes the following recommendations as part of a comprehensive three-year plan:

    *Limit Spending and Pay Down Bills: The State should control spending to generate budget surpluses that would allow it to pay down the backlog of unpaid bills by the end of FY2019. Projected spending for FY2016 starts at a low level that is more than $1 billion below previously estimated maintenance levels.

    * Revenue Cliff: The State should retroactively increase the income tax rate to 5.0% for individuals and 7.0% for corporations as of January 1, 2016, up from 3.75% and 5.25%, respectively, in order to address the fall in revenues resulting from the income tax rate rollback on January 1, 2015.

    * Broaden the Income Tax Base to Include Some Retirement Income: Out of the 41 states that impose an income tax, Illinois is one of only three that exempt all pension income. The State can no longer afford to provide this generous benefit and should eliminate the income tax exemption for non-Social Security retirement income from individuals with a taxable income of more than $50,000.

    * Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to Provide Assistance to Low Income Residents: To help soften the impact of the State’s fiscal crisis on low income residents, the Civic Federation proposes an increase in the State’s Earned Income Tax Credit from 10% of the federal credit to 15% of the federal amount.

    * Expand the Sales Tax Base and Reduce the Retailer’s Discount: The Civic Federation recommends that Illinois temporarily suspend its sales tax exemption for food and nonprescription drugs, enact a new general consumer services tax and cap reimbursement to retailers for collecting sales tax revenues.

    * Establish Comprehensive Teachers’ Pension Funding Reform: There is no good public policy reason for Illinois to maintain two separate funds for public school teachers’ pensions. The Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund and Teachers’ Retirement System should consolidate, providing more equitable pension funding for all teachers and helping to stabilize Chicago Public Schools’ finances.

    * Approve Constitutional Amendment Limiting Pension Protection Clause: The Civic Federation urges the General Assembly to draft and approve a proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution for the November 2016 statewide ballot specifying that the clause in the Illinois Constitution protecting public pension benefits applies only to accrued benefits.

    * Make Supplemental Pension Payments: In order to mitigate the impact of the State’s inadequate statutory pension funding plan, the State should make supplemental payments corresponding to the reduced debt service obligations associated with retiring Pension Obligation bonds beginning in FY2019 until all five State retirement systems are 100% funded.

Only after the State eliminates its backlog of bills and begins to make progress toward building a rainy day fund should it explore reversing some of the tax policy changes that were necessary to end the crisis as part of a comprehensive look at the State’s tax system.

It is important to note that with less than six months remaining in the current fiscal year to address an operating shortfall of $4.6 billion, there are no practical measures that would completely balance the FY2016 budget and prevent an increase in the backlog of unpaid bills by the end of FY2016. Unlike FY2015, there are no easy stop-gap fixes such as interfund borrowing or fund sweeps that are available or adequate to close such a large operating shortfall.

Savings from pension reforms are no longer possible due to the Illinois State Supreme Court’s ruling that the changes were unconstitutional. Only difficult choices remain for the State.

The full report is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Thursday, Feb 11, 2016

* The Senate adjourned yesterday, but the House is still in

(T)he afterglow of a wistful President Barack Obama’s call in Springfield for a “better politics” of civility might not even last 24 hours at the Capitol.

House Democrats have resurrected a labor-backed bill that would prevent a lockout or strike if an impasse is reached between state employees and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration.

The measure will go before a House committee Thursday morning, a day after Obama’s lofty speech to state lawmakers.

Last year, Gov. Rauner vetoed a similar measure, which Democrats in the House failed to overturn when House Speaker Michael Madigan was unable to keep his veto-proof majority unified. The state’s collective bargaining agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 expired July 1, the start of the new budget year.

* Follow along with ScribbleLive…

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      

“Mike Madigan’s favorite state Senator”

Thursday, Feb 11, 2016

* I told subscribers earlier this week about a Dan Proft radio ad blasting Republican state Sen. Sam McCann. Proft’s Liberty Principles PAC is now out with a similar TV ad. Rate it

…Adding… Wordslinger in comments…

I think it’s a much more effective spot for the second intended audience, which is GOP GA members.

The message is, if you buck the governor on even one vote, if you cast a meaningless vote for a measure that doesn’t even become law, this is what you can expect.

That message comes through loud and clear.


- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Thursday, Feb 11, 2016

* With emphasis added

“People think it’s a fight about the budget. It’s not really about the budget. It’s about the future of the state. Speaker (Michael) Madigan and his legislators, what they want to fight me on is to raise taxes. That’s not the answer. Or to cut services. That’s not the answer either.”

Rauner said he wants to fight “the wasteful bureaucracy” and make Illinois “a pro-growth state.”

“Now we’re winning, but it’s taking longer than I’d like,” he admitted. “But what I’ve said I won’t do is raise taxes on the people of Illinois until I know we’re getting more value for your taxes, and we’ve got real strong economic growth creating jobs in the state.

“Until I can say that, we are never raising taxes in this state.”

In the past, Rauner has indicated some willingness to increase taxes once parts of his reform agenda were enacted, but he took a more strident anti-tax tone Wednesday.

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      

In the spirit of the times…

Thursday, Feb 11, 2016

* From a longtime reader…

Hey Rich,

Since it’s Lent and I’m trying very hard to change the tone of discourse in my own life, I thought I would pass along a nifty little article that one of my UIS Philosophy profs gave us on how to ‘disagree agreeably’. Just thought it was timely.

Hoping better times are coming,


* It’s very interesting

Daniel Dennett (b. March 28, 1942), whom artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky has called “our best current philosopher” and “the next Bertrand Russell,” poses an apt question that probes some of the basic tendencies and dynamics of today’s everyone-is-a-critic culture: “Just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticizing the views of an opponent?”

In Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking (public library) — the same fantastic volume that gave us Dennett on the dignity and art-science of making mistakes — he offers what he calls “the best antidote [for the] tendency to caricature one’s opponent”: a list of rules formulated decades ago by the legendary social psychologist and game theorist Anatol Rapoport, best-known for originating the famous tit-for-tat strategy of game theory. Dennett synthesizes the steps:

How to compose a successful critical commentary:

    * You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.

    * You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

    * You should mention anything you have learned from your target.

    * Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

If only the same code of conduct could be applied to critical commentary online, particularly to the indelible inferno of comments.

But rather than a naively utopian, Pollyannaish approach to debate, Dennett points out this is actually a sound psychological strategy that accomplishes one key thing: It transforms your opponent into a more receptive audience for your criticism or dissent, which in turn helps advance the discussion.


- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

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Thursday, Feb 11, 2016

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* Why I fight
* Parsons scores rare and highly unusual Obama interview
* Dunkin's defense
* Civic Federation wants spending limits and tax hikes: "There are no easy stop-gap fixes"
* "Mike Madigan's favorite state Senator"
* #Winning!
* In the spirit of the times...
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