Sound and fury signifying nothing

Sound and fury signifying nothing

The name-calling started immediately after Gov. Blagojevich called the Legislature back into a special session.

Let's all climb down in the political sewer. It's time to talk about the budget battle between Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and House Speaker Michael Madigan, a fellow Democrat.

Blagojevich last week called for a two-day special session of the Illinois General Assembly. Less than a day later, Madigan spokesman Steve Brown suggested Blagojevich is a "sociopath."

"The governor is not a sociopath," retorted Blagojevich spokeswoman Katie Ridgeway.

Then Blagojevich accused Madigan of planning to implement a "house of pain" for state taxpayers by ordering a post-election hike in the state's income tax.

"The governor doesn't need to worry about that," Madigan spokesman Brown replied.

Things, obviously, are off to a great start. We can't wait until legislators show up in Springfield for a work session sure to be devoted to embarrassing Blagojevich.

By the way, special sessions are not cheap. And they're even more expensive when one considers that Blagojevich and legislators are confronting an issue they were constitutionally obligated to address, the passage and signing of a new state budget, by June 30.

It is, of course, no surprise when a governor and legislature don't see eye to eye. That's why compromise plays such a big part in the political puzzle of democratic self-government. But compromise has been in short supply during the Blagojevich administration, particularly after he and Madigan decided to drop the pretense of harmony and formally declare war on each other.

That's why the Legislature passed a budget with a $2 billion deficit. Rather than cut it and take the blame from voters for reductions in their favorite programs, Blagojevich is calling legislators back in hopes that the House will pass revenue increases already adopted by the Senate to fill the budget gap.

It's an exercise in blame shifting. Madigan has announced that the House will meet in a Committee of the Whole and it's reasonable to expect legislators to eviscerate proposals like selling the state lottery to help fill the budget hole. If that happens, Blagojevich contends that he'll have to make "reductions I don't want to make" in the budget. In other words, he'll blame legislators, and they, of course, will blame him.

There is lots of blame to go around. Blagojevich deserves some of it for continuing to press for expansions in social spending, like free medical care, that the state can't afford. His Kids Care program has generated a boatload of empty promises. Legislators deserve their share of the blame as well. How dare they send a budget with a $2 billion deficit to the governor?

Well, they all dare because they realize there's no political price to pay. The legislative districts are mostly gerrymandered so the winners are predetermined. Blagojevich was re-elected in 2006 and, although severely wounded by corruption and his own ineptitude, he won't be up for re-election until 2010. So they fight and they posture and they play political games as if it doesn't matter. It does.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Categories (2):Editorials, Opinions

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ashdump wrote on July 06, 2008 at 2:07 pm

You got it right at the start of this article. Springfield is the political sewer. The taxers and usurpers of our rights all come from Chicago. Votes have consequences. We are now reaping what we have sown. Put crooks in office, this is what you get. Why is anyone surprised? My self, I am glad that there is gridlock in the state capitol. At least they can't do any damge to my rights or my wallet while they are busy fighting. After all, no man's life, liberty or property are safe while congress is in session. Nowhere is this more true than right here in Illinois. At least right now name calling and bickering is taking the place of regulating, taxing, spending and usurping.