Pat Quinn’s Term of Incompetence

Not too long ago, Pat Quinn was named the most unpopular governor in the country, and the Public Policy Polling company (not known as a right-leaning polling agency) said of him, “If Pat Quinn is the Democratic candidate for Governor of Illinois in 2014 Democrats may have a hard time holding onto the office.”

Pat Quinn

If you study Pat Quinn for very long at all, it’s not hard to see why he’s so unpopular; he has a history of incompetence, which has made for an uncomfortable five years for Illinoisans.

Here are three main areas of incompetence in the Quinn administration:

Tax Hikes and Budget Gaps

One of Quinn’s first significant actions as governor was to raise income tax rates 66%, with the promise that it would be used to pay off Illinois’ unpaid bills and close our budget gaps, but that hasn’t happened. At the time the tax increase was passed, Illinois had $8.5 billion in unpaid bills.  Now, after 3 years of the tax increase, and $18 billion in additional revenue to the state, Illinois’ unpaid bills have only risen to $9 billion, and now legislators want to make the “temporary” tax hike permanent.

Pension problems

The legislature, working with Governor Quinn, passed a spineless pension reform bill in December 2013, which may very well cause MORE problems in the long-term.  The legislation did some good things (limiting COLAs, raising the retirement age to 60, and requiring more funding of the pension funds), but it also allows union workers to contribute LESS to their own pension.  Chris Tobe, founder of Stable Value Consultants, said requiring less from workers will only perpetuate Illinois’ problem by lowering the amount of money being invested in the pension system.

“Solvency is based on cash flows primarily in 2014, 2015, and 2016 and this reform hurts cash flow in the critical years,” he wrote in an op-ed for Market Watch. “That means this reform could actually lower credit ratings instead of raising them.”

Economic problems

When Pat Quinn was inaugurated as governor of Illinois, the unemployment rate was at 8.0%, lower than our neighboring states Indiana (8.9%) and Michigan (11.3%), and about even with Wisconsin (7.8%) and Minnesota (7.9%).  Today, Illinois’ unemployment rate ranks 49th among the states at 8.7%, with only Rhode Island ranking behind us.  Our population growth ranks 44th among the states at 0.40%, far below the national average of 2.87%.  In other words, we’re hemorrhaging people from our state, probably because of our high tax burden and overly-oppressive regulation.

Governor Quinn has no idea how to create new jobs in Illinois or stanch the flow of businesses leaving Illinois.

Is it any wonder that even Democrats are saying Quinn will have a hard time holding on to his office in November?

My Picks for the Illinois Republican Primary

Tuesday is the Illinois primary election (an early one among the states), and there are several competitive primaries.  Here are my picks.

Politician Collage1

Governor

I choose Bruce Rauner as the Republican gubernatorial candidate.  At first, I was skeptical about his candidacy, primarily because I didn’t know how he lined up with my values.  He came into the race unknown and untested.  He’s never held elected office before.  He’s spent his life in finance, being a partner in a very successful investment firm.  He’s the candidate in the race that’s raised the most money ($4M in the last quarter of 2013, vs. his nearest competitor raising $393K).  Last week, I watched a 45-minute townhall meeting with Rauner posted online (you can watch it here if you want), and I was impressed with several things:

  • He had a good grasp of the issues.
  • He was a polished speaker, and has a certain amount of charisma (which I think a good candidate should have).
  • He was direct in his answers about every issue, and didn’t try to duck issues.
  • He’s been a leader throughout his life.
  • He’s already involved in many issues that he’s passionate about (inner city education, for one).
  • He’s humble enough to know that he doesn’t know everything about elections or about governing.  He’s being mentored by Mitch Daniels (former governor of Indiana) and Scott Walker (current governor of Wisconsin) about issues of strategy and governance.
  • He convinced me that he shared my values on every issue, including social issues.

For these reasons, I think that Bruce Rauner will make a good candidate for governor.

Senate

For the Senate primary race (for the person who will challenge Senator Dick Durbin), I choose Doug Truax.  Doug is another newbie to politics, and an underdog in his primary race against perennial candidate Jim Oberweis.  Doug is a graduate of the Military Academy at Anapolis, and a former Army Ranger.  He also is a co-owner of a strategic risk consulting firm.

Though I think that Jim Oberweis is probably a good man, he only seems to be running for office to build power.  It seems like he’s run for every other office in the state, and only recently got into the state Senate.  An article in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune sealed the decision in my mind: “Oberweis isn’t ready to face Durbin.”  He doesn’t present himself well, and he blames his absence from the campaign trail on his wife.

11th Congressional District

This race is a 4-way race in a bid to replace Rep. Bill Foster in the 11th District, which spans part or all of Aurora, Bolingbrook, Darien, Joliet, Montgomery, Naperville, New Lenox, Shorewood, and Woodridge.  It’s a tough district for a Republican (Foster won 58% of the vote in 2012), but it’s a promising district for the right candidate.  I believe that candidate should be Darlene Senger.

Bill Foster is an eminently beatable candidate in 2014.  He voted for Obamacare, which is deeply unpopular everywhere, and was summarily thrown out of office when he ran for reelection in 2010 in the 14th congressional district against Rep. Randy Hultgren.  Then, he was drawn a brand-new district in which to run by the Democrats in Springfield, and did well against Judy Biggert in a Democrat wave year in 2012.  He’s a fair-to-middling candidate that can be beat this year by the right candidate.

Darlene Senger is a 3-term state representative who has served many people in the 11th congressional district already.  She has a great experience advantage over her main primary opponent, Bert Miller, a businessman and political novice.  While Miller may do well in the race, I think Senger is a better bet.  She’s been campaigning for months, and has a strong campaign.  She closely shares my values (morality matters, spending and debt need to be addressed, regulations should be reformed, and the healthcare law needs a major overhaul), and I think she’ll be a formidable candidate to challenge Bill Foster.

Treasurer

A lesser-known race, but no less important, is the race for Illinois Treasurer.  I believe that Tom Cross will do a fantastic job as Treasurer.  He’s been a public servant in many capacities–as a prosecutor, as a state representative, and then as the Republican Leader in the state house.  He’s a tested leader, and someone who can get the job done, and done well.

Will the U.S. default on its debt?

President Obama recently made the statement, “Raising the debt ceiling… does not increase our debt.”  Thus began what has become perennial debate between the president and Congress about raising the debt ceiling. In his remarks, President Obama also said, “All [raising the debt ceiling] does is it says you got to pay the bills that…

Shutdown Update: CRs that have passed in Congress

What legislation has Congress been working on during the shutdown? What is going on? Here’s a list…

My Daily Reading Habits

Something that fascinates me is how people inform themselves–how they get their news, what books they read, who they listen to, and what they watch. I think that people are profoundly influenced by who they listen to and what they read.

What’s the alternative to Keynesian stimulus?

Stimulus spending DOES stimulate the economy (Write this down; Bob’s actually saying this), which is why the Democrats are constantly trumpeting it. Here’s the problem, though; it’s very hard to say that government stimulus actually stimulates the economy MORE than the alternative.

What’s Wrong With Universal Background Checks?

The last remaining plank of President Obama’s gun control legislative package is the “universal background check” provision, which would, seemingly, make a background check a requirement for ALL gun purchases. What could be wrong with background checks? Are background checks equal to a gun registry? Does a gun registry lead to gun confiscation?

Do Strict Gun Control Laws Work?

One of the things that has troubled me in the gun control debate is this: is there any data that suggests that strict gun control laws actually produce results? Do gun control laws reduce murders? Do they even reduce gun murders? I decided to do some very rough research. Here’s what I found.

Liberals’ Demand Economics Don’t Work

Ronald Reagan once said, “It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.” One of those things, recently, that liberals are increasingly espousing is demand economics. I’m hearing it more and more, from MSNBC liberals: “We have a demand problem, not a spending problem.” Why are liberals wrong about demand-side economics?

Ten Specific Problems with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

A while back, I wrote about the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. It was horrible. Now, a new treaty is coming before the U.S. Senate: the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It’s equally bad, and should not be approved by the Senate.