Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bruce Rauner: A 'bad man,' or a 'protector' of Illinois interests?

We’re going to be able to quarrel for months to come over how badly Gov. Bruce Rauner hurt his public perception with his actions Friday afternoon.

What he did was rescinded eight executive orders that now-former Gov. Pat Quinn approved in his final hours in office Monday morning. It shouldn’t be a shock; Rauner has publicly said he’d like to rescind everything Quinn did in the final two months he was in office.

BUT THOSE ACTIONS by Quinn were described at the time of their approval as potential landmines for the new governor – if he were to refuse to let them remain in place, he’d be exposing himself to be a politically partisan hack in his own right.

Some believed Rauner might feel compelled to just let the acts remain in place to avoid public criticism. Then again, those are probably the same people who believe that every season is “the” season for the Chicago Cubs to succeed.

Which is to say that Rauner is refusing to go along. But how will he take the criticism that inevitably will fall upon him.

For the record, the actions that got rescinded included a provision that anyone working on a project that was a state contract would have to be paid a $10 per hour minimum wage – the rate that Quinn had hoped all workers in Illinois would receive as part of his final act in office.

ALSO, QUINN WANTED all governors to be required to disclose their income levels and other financial interests by publicly revealing their income tax refunds each year while in office.

It shouldn’t be a secret that Rauner would hate either idea.

He is the guy who during his gubernatorial campaign initially opposed any minimum wage increase, then said he might be willing to support something that increased the current $8.25 level IF there also were changes in the law meant to benefit business interests.

Which makes it seem that he’s more interested in measures that organized labor will hate than in trying to do anything to bolster the income level among people who work in this state.

AND AS FOR the tax disclosures, Rauner went through his whole campaign refusing to reveal such information about himself. He wasn’t about to have a turnaround now just because Quinn wanted to make Rauner look bad/foolish/corrupt in the future!

So Rauner showed us just how weak the power of an executive order truly is – it has no permanent standing and can be eliminated at the whim of a future governor.

Which is what all those people praising President Barack Obama’s use of executive orders to impose immigration reform measures ought to keep in mind – nothing is permanent, and ideologues can have their way in the future when (and it will happen eventually) they get their own elected to prominent government posts.

I’m sure Rauner is going to claim now and in the future when he continues to use his authority to repeal acts that have their origins in the Quinn years that he’s protecting the people of Illinois from irresponsible actions taken in the past.

I ALSO EXPECT there are those who are ideologically inclined to want to believe Rauner will be all too eager to claim that he’s just in his actions.

But I wonder how many more people will wind up seeing these repeals as the act of someone eager to use his newly-acquired political power to dominate the public will?

Rauner standing in the way of refusing to bolster the pay of even a few working people? Refusing to reveal his income (because it would show just exactly how out of touch his life is compared to the average working stiff)?

Rauner may wind up wondering if there’s enough Tylenol in all of Illinois to cope with the future headaches he may have provoked for himself.


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