Monthly Archives: November 2009

I’m waiting for poor people in Cook County to riot over paying lower taxes

For the third time (let’s hope it’s a charm), the Cook County Board of Commissioners has reduced the sales tax. They voted 12-5 earlier today to scale back last year’s sales tax increase by one-half a cent.

Whereas supporters previously had only the right idea on their side, now they have the law. The Illinois General Assembly recently lowered the number of the board’s 17 commissioners needed to override a veto by the County Board president from 14 to 11.

Seeing that 12 commissioners voted to lower the sales tax today, I’m fairly confident the measure will stick this time. County Board President Todd Stroger vetoed the first two attempts to reduce the sales tax, and supporters of the measure were unable to collect the 14 votes needed to override it.

Of course, Stroger didn’t take the news well. He said he has opposed the notion of reducing the sales tax because this could impair the county’s ability to deliver health care to low-income people. An article in the Chicago Tribune, however, challenges this assertion.

“The independent board overseeing the system has proposed a 2010 budget that reduces the reliance on local county taxes by $73 million, and an analysis by the non-partisan Civic Federation concluded only $46 million of the new tax revenue went to fund health care this year,” according to the article.

Not a gracious loser, Stroger is now engaging in class warfare. He said today’s votes appeared to go along economic lines, with those representing the wealthier people voting to scale the sales tax back and those representing poorer people voting to keep the higher tax.

“This has really become a battle of the haves and the have nots, and there are more haves than have nots,” Stroger is quoted as saying in the Tribune story. “When you don’t want to fund the services, the thing that gets hit hard the most is our universal health care. It’s not just about you, it’s about all of us. If we forget that, we forget what government is all about. It’s here to help people.”

Commissioner Tony Peraica, R-16th District, of Riverside countered Stroger’s remarks by saying higher taxes hurt poor people harder than they do affluent people. But Commissioner William Beavers, D-4th District, of Chicago suggested that his constituents don’t seem to mind paying high taxes.

“My people aren’t running across town to buy something from another county,” Beavers is quoted as saying in the Tribune story.

Yes, I’m sure Beavers’ constituents are going to revolt once they realize they’ll pay less for consumer goods. You just have to marvel at some people’s logic.

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Illinois GOPer now wants to divide members into champs and chumps

Wow, Doug Ibendahl has me stumped: When it comes to deciding which GOP gubernatorial debate I’d like to watch this week, am I a champ or a chump?

The Republican Young Professionals group, of which Ibendahl is a co-founder, sent out an e-mail yesterday highlighting an article he wrote for the Web site Champion News. Ibendahl was comparing the gubernatorial debates among Republican candidates being held tonight (Wednesday) by the Homer/Lockport Tea Party and Joliet Tea Party organizations and one being held tomorrow (Thursday) by the Illinois Republican Party Finance Committee.

“There are two debates this week featuring the Republican candidates for governor,” Ibendahl writes. “At the risk of playing favorites, I’ll just say the first event on Wednesday night is for patriotic, God-fearing, real Americans. The second one on Thursday night is for poor souls who want to throw their hard earned money away to a faction that continues to divide and destroy our once proud Republican Party.”

You see what I mean? Ibendahl doesn’t mince words here. He puts the GOP faithful on notice and demands they pick sides.

But who, exactly, qualifies as a patriotic, God-fearing, real American? Let’s break this down by adjective.

“Love of country” can be hard to define. One man’s patriotism is another man’s treason. Who gets to decide?

And what about flag-waving, national anthem-singing Americans who can’t bring themselves to acknowledge the existence of a deity? George Will, a conservative icon, told Stephen Colbert last year that he was an agnostic. Does this mean Will is a chump?

And how can we tell “real” Americans from un-“real” Americans? What’s the criteria? It used to be that Americans were people who held citizenship in the United States, regardless of their social/religious/political/economic views. It appears that’s changed.

So the champs vs. chumps battle in the GOP is on. Considering how badly Republicans fared in statewide elections last year (they didn’t win a single office), you’d think they wouldn’t be looking to exploit inner divisions.

But what do I know?

P.S.

I strongly suggest that members of the Republican Young Professionals take thoroughly scrutinize their Web site. One link along the left-hand side shows a picture of John McCain and Sarah Palin with the words, “The ticket for America” (pssst, they lost last year). And below that is a link called the W Connection, which offers talking points about President Bush’s agenda (I don’t know how to break this news to you, but Dubya is no longer president).

Maybe this is just wishful thinking on the group’s part. Hey, we all have to hold tight to our dreams. But really, the Bush presidency and 2008 campaign are over. Let’s all move on, OK?

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Here’s my shameless plug for a radio program I’m doing Wednesday

I’ll be discussing current events with Ray Hanania at 8 a.m. tomorrow on his radio program on WJJG AM 1530. Ray streams the program live on his Web site for the show, www.RadioChicagoland.com. He also has podcasts of his programs. So tune in to WJJG or check out Ray’s Web site. Rock on!

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