Saturday, January 15, 2011

Only numbness when it comes to taxes

QUINN: He kept his word, sort of
There’s an old, third-rate joke that comes to my mind when I think of the personal and corporate income tax hikes signed into law this week by Gov. Pat Quinn.

It’s the one about a woman who has no problem with having sex with a man for $1 million, but then gets all self-righteously indignant when the man suggests paying her only $1,000. The punchline being that her “character” was established by the first monetary figure, and the second dollar amount was merely quibbling over price.

I CAN’T HELP but think of the people who are ranting and raging these days about the increased taxes as being the equivalent of the woman in that joke – making self-righteous diatribes that we’d all be better off ignoring.

For it has been known for quite a long time that some sort of tax increase by state government was needed to help get Illinois out of its financial predicament. The fact that Democrats kept control of the General Assembly in last year’s elections and that most of the state constitutional officers – including governor – remain Democrats should have alerted people that conditions were ripe for some sort of measure to get through the Legislature.

So anyone who seriously claims this was somehow sneaked through the governmental process is full of hot air. We should all have seen this coming and braced ourselves for the worst.

As for those people who are ideologically inclined to be disagreeable on this issue, you should have seen the failure of William Brady to get elected governor as evidence that a majority of the voters took his talk of balancing the budget solely through spending cuts as a whole lot of hooey.

AS FOR THOSE people who are now saying that Quinn has broken a campaign promise by pushing for such a large tax hike (original talk was that the state personal income tax would go from 3 to 4 percent – instead of 3 to 5 percent), you ought to be quiet.
BLAGOJEVICH: He won't leave

Because they are the ones who truly are quibbling over price – either was a serious increase that will wind up costing people. It’s not like the 1 percent hike would have been acceptable to many people, while 2 percent seriously breaks us. As I see it, Quinn said he’d approve a significant tax hike, and he did. It’s not, “Read my lips, no new taxes” by any means.

If anything, all I felt when I learned early Wednesday that the General Assembly had managed to push the tax hike bill all the way through the legislative process before the newly-elected state Legislature took control at mid-day Wednesday was a sense of numbness.

Not shock. Not outrage. Not self-righteous anger. Just numbness.

IN FACT, PART of the reason I held off until week’s end to try commenting on this issue was because it took me time to work up any sense of emotion for something bad that I knew was going to happen eventually,

Any attempt by me then, or even now, to write some sort of commentary expressing anger at our elected officials for doing such a dastardly deed as raising our taxes would be phony. I don’t even think I have the energy to get angry at such an increase – which is going to affect the payments I make to the Illinois Department of Revenue to pay my state taxes (the life of a freelance writer means that no one is withholding anything on my behalf) just like everybody else.

The only question now is to see five years from now if the measures that are supposed to cause these increases to decline will be allowed to take effect, or if a future Legislature will wind up deciding that the added revenues are too much a part of the budget to be allowed to wither away,.

If there is any issue that gets me angry, it is the fact that such an increase could have been lessened had it been done years ago! Our state’s financial problems (which still aren’t close to being resolved) have reached the crisis state they are in now due to years of neglect.

SOME PEOPLE CAN trace the neglect back decades, but there’s no doubt that the problem became worsened during the early to middle years of the past decade.

Yes, I’m referring to the years of Rod Blagojevich as governor, when he and the legislative leaders (particularly Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago) became obsessed with their partisan fights.

Milorod wanted to let the Legislature know where it fit into the grand scheme of things as he perceived it, while legislators were more than willing to fight back and let them know how much they could mess with a sitting governor who acted all self-righteous.

The end result was that nothing got done. Our problems became worse.

WHICH IS WHY I didn’t feel any real disgust over this situation until I read the Chicago Sun-Times reports indicating that Blagojevich is now engaging in, “I told you so!”

MEL: Stow it, Blago!

“This illustrates exactly what I fought for six years,” Blagojevich told the Sun-Times. “If they thought this was the right thing to do, why didn’t they do this before the election?”

I almost wish we could get actor Vic Tayback as diner owner Mel to tell Blagojevich to “Stow it!”

But that’s the closest I can come to feeling a sense of outrage over the issue, because I’m not about to move to Indiana, or Wisconsin, or any other surrounding state that may have delusions of stealing some business away from Illinois.


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