Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Something stinks. That’s the partisanship

Gov. Pat Quinn deserves some points for honesty.
QUINN: In a rough spot

He told reporter-types on Monday how the reason he gave his approval to the proposed budget for state government’s current fiscal year was that he didn’t want to get Republican political officials any more involved in negotiations than they already were.

IT WAS A political move. We all knew that, deep down. Now we know for sure.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Quinn told reporters that he feared Republican legislators would use the opportunity to play political games of their own, and that he thought it best to keep them out as much as possible.

What makes that possible is that state law requires a budget to be approved before the state fiscal year begins on July 1. Which is why Quinn on June 30 signed into law the budget approved by the Democrat-controlled General Assembly.

Had he not done so, the state laws that require a larger vote of support to pass something into law would have taken effect. Which would have meant the Democratic majorities in the Illinois House of Representatives and state Senate would not have been able to do whatever they wanted, and that Republican votes would have been needed to pass something.

NOW SOME WILL make ideological arguments that Republican legislators should have been given more of a say. The GOP’s legislative aides are going around saying they would have demanded changes (in the form of spending cuts) that would have been better for the people of Illinois.

Although I’m also convinced of one other fact. I believe many of the “cuts” that Republican officials would have sought would have been moves made purely for politically-partisan reasons.

It would have been the Grover Norquist theory of government. He’s the D.C.-based ideologue who is known for, among other things, saying, “I simply want to reduce (government) to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

So those people who want to use Quinn’s comments to try to claim that Democrats are now playing partisan political games with the state’s finances ought to pipe down. Those people have ideologues on their own side who are more than willing to play the same games.

SO I KIND of respect Quinn for wanting to move forward; giving his signature of support to the budget even though he knew it had its flaws – primarily that it does not provide enough money to make it through this fiscal year (the one that ends June 30, 2012).

There are those who believe (and I wonder if they have a point) that the fact that Quinn is admitting there isn’t enough money to cover the state’s funds will be used against his attempt to get out of the contractually-mandated pay raises that also were supposed to take effect on July 1.

Is it really the state workers’ fault that the budget is in a shortfall? Or is it the partisan political nature of the Legislature that created a budget that was flawed?

It’s not like these partisan games are limited to the budget process.

I HONESTLY BELIEVE the same reasoning explains why Quinn gave his approval to the legislative and Congressional boundaries drawn by the Democrat-run General Assembly. They may have their flaws, but not signing them would result in even more political games had the Republican

Yes, the situation stinks. But we really have developed a generation of political people who believe that “responsible behavior” consists of a hard-edged attitude that refuses to give in – as though one’s isolated constituent pool is the only group that matters.

For every person who says what a shame it is that our political people can’t compromise, there are ideologues who believe that “compromise” IS the problem. They’ll even be the ones who will then resort to that old Ronald Reagan quotable: “Government is not the solution, … government is the problem.”

I’d argue government becomes the problem when the ideologues run amok. In large part because they force people like Gov. Quinn into having to make crummy decisions that prolong our suffering.

ALTHOUGH I DO have to admit that this situation with Quinn is something of an improvement, because it shows Quinn as having a practical side to his nature.

By that, I mean that Quinn isn’t taking some stance and sticking so firmly to it, consequences be damned.

If the GOP wants to be taken more seriously, they need to focus their attention on winning elections and gaining more representatives. Just as it is difficult to argue about the behavior of Congress these days – where the conservative ideologues won a sizable share of the House of Representatives to have some legitimate say. For Republicans to gain some say in Springfield these days, they're going to have to win a share of representation. That's just the way things are in the real world.

Would we, the people of Illinois, really be better off right now if Quinn had rejected the budget, and we were now seeing our state government shut down because Republican politicos were eager to assert their authority after having been ignored all spring?

YOU’RE EITHER A fool or a liar if you say “Yes.” Because that was the kind of stubborn streak that Rod Blagojevich showed during his six years in office in dealing with the Illinois Legislature.

Remember those delays of the early aughts that would cause springtime Legislative issues to take all summer to resolve? I don’t think anybody wants those days back.


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