Critics point out hypocrisy in Madigan attack on Rauner regarding wealth and power
There's a certain hypocrisy to House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) accusing Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner of holding the budget process hostage for his wealthy friends and big business in general, a radio talk show's co-hosts said recently.
"Can we talk about Mike Madigan and his wealthy friends?" Illinois Policy Institute Marketing Manager Eric Kohn said during a recent edition of "Illinois Rising." "And the large corporations that have been financing him, including, as we've talked about before, the public-sector unions in this state? We don't want to talk about those guys, do we?"
Co-host Dan Proft called Madigan's statements earlier this month a big lie.
"It's a big lie on so many levels," Proft said. "Everything Rauner is proposing is for the worker, is for the middle-income family that's trying to aspire up the ladder. It's not for wealthy friends or wealthy corporations."
Proft, the regular host of "Illinois Rising," also is co-founder with Pat Hughes of the Illinois Opportunity Project and is Liberty Principles PAC's chairman and treasurer. Proft also is a senior fellow at the Chicago-based conservative think tank Illinois Policy Institute. "Illinois Rising" is a presentation of the Illinois Policy Institute.
Madigan's comments, partially reported by a number of news outlets, were made during a press conference as the most recent veto session of the General Assembly came to an end. Journalists who covered the veto session in Springfield reported the near monotony of waiting outside the Governor's Office for lawmakers to report on closed-door negotiations, only to finally be told the budget process had collapsed.
During one such press conference on Dec. 6, Madigan repeatedly blamed the budget process breakdown on Rauner, made it clear he meant what he said about the "wealthy friends" comment, but offered no other explanation.
"The truth is, the governor held hostage the budget making to help his wealthy friends and large corporations," Madigan said. "And at the end of the day, the people who were held hostage were Illinoisans who are dependent on state funding for things such as autism, breast cancer screening, child-abuse prevention and sexual assault."
A few questions later, Madigan repeated his observations that Illinois residents who depend on the state for these services would suffer. "That's where there has been hardship, and that was brought on because the governor held hostage the Illinois budget-making process in order to help his wealthy friends and large corporations," Madigan said.
A reporter immediately asked, "What do you mean by that?"
"I mean by that exactly what I said," Madigan said. "That's what he's all about, to help his wealthy friends and large corporations."
To which another reporter said, "I don't understand that; can you explain that?"
"I think I just did," Madigan said, then turned away further requests for clarification.
Proft referred to the press conference as "bad budget-dinner theater" and said Madigan misses the point about who really is held hostage in the budget process. "The wealthy don't need the help," Proft said. "The wealthy have a home here, but they're domiciled in Florida where there's no state income tax for 181 days in the year to establish residency. Or they're somewhere else, but they keep a footprint in Chicago. Or they otherwise protect their assets because they have a phalanx of lawyers and accountants to property shield their money from tax implications. The wealthy don't need the help, that's why this is the biggest lie of all. They don't need Rauner's help, and they don't need Madigan's help. They've got it figured out."
Finding out who needs the help requires going several brackets down in income, Proft said.
"You know who needs the help is the median-income household in Illinois," Proft said. "The family of four with a $52,000, $53,000, $55,000 household income, and they're getting blitzed. And that's why you see the out-migration as we've talked about on this show. It's not, oh, wealthy seniors who want to go someplace warm, and that's all it is. No, it's not. It's millennials who are looking for their first job and young families that are working their way up the corporate ladder and can't make it make sense, can't make ends meet, if they stay in Chicago and the metropolitan area."