Cold cash is great, but the currency of the realm in Springfield is something more.
In yesterday’s joint appearance before the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board, primary challenger Jeanne Ives’ two themes were that Governor Rauner is ineffective and has lost credibility.
Rauner handed Ives a twofer by further undermining his own credibility, which actually reinforces both her themes.
In Springfield, believe it or not, your word is the currency of the realm. Sure, many politicians lie with impunity to the public, but that’s not how the top dogs deal in the backroom with friends and opponents alike. I’ve heard that repeatedly from legislators and lobbyists. When they say, “I’ll take care of you on this,” or “you do this and I’ll do that,” they do it. That includes House Speaker Michael Madigan. Despicable as he is for so many other reasons, people I know who’ve worked with him say they’re hard-pressed to cite any example where he welshed on his word.
Lose your credibility and you become ineffective.
That’s something Rauner still seems not to understand. Yesterday, he had some doozies.
First, he claimed he has always submitted balanced budgets. Nonsense. He never has.
His initial budget relied on $2.2 billion in immediate pension savings from supposed pension reforms that would take at least a year to implement, and in fact never materialized at all. His second budget included a $3.5 billion TBD — unspecified cuts to be determined later. That’s not a budget. Same with his third budget proposal, that included an even larger TBD of $4.6 billion shown on one line and labeled “savings from grand bargain” (which never happened). And all those budgets were built on the usual government budget methods that Rauner and every other candidate should be saying are bogus.
Second, he said he vigorously opposed the recent tax increase and wants to roll it back. Yet he boasts about the new school funding formula that calls for $350 million more in education spending each year for ten years. If there’s any way to reconcile the numbers to do both he certainly hasn’t shown one. Worse, his own appointee to the Illinois State Board of Education last week proposed a whopping $7 billion increase in school spending for next year. How do can you credibly claim you’ll fight to cut taxes while letting your own guy do that?
Finally, he denied he broke any promises about SB40 — public funding for abortion. Cardinal Cupich was clear on that. He told the Chicago Tribune Rauner “did break his word. He broke his word to the people. [W]e were so encouraged by his blanket statement and promise that he would veto the bill,” Cupich said. “He wasn’t going to cherry-pick this at all.” Now, Rauner apparently claims Cupich wasn’t telling the truth, saying yesterday it was “outrageous” when Ives brought up the broken promise to Cupich. (Memo to self: Don’t fib to the Cardinal and, if you do, don’t call it a fib when he calls you out.)
Most importantly, he denied he broke promises to Republican legislators on SB40. They’ve been clear and firm that he did. Actually, he had lost credibility with many of them long before SB40.
And that’s where his lost credibility really hurts — in the General Assembly, even in his own caucus. His effectiveness, which was Ives’ second theme, is now further impaired by more damage to his credibility.
–Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.