The other day a co-worker asked me what the Tea Party was. I’ve also noticed people asking who the Tea Party is, and what do we hope to accomplish?
What is the Tea Party? Contrary to the belief of some pundits, it’s not an attempt to emulate the Boston Tea Party, although Taxed Enough Already is a shared theme. The Tea Party is not, nor is it aligned with, a political party. The Tea Party is simply the tip of an iceberg. More and more people are awakening to the fairy tale politicians call “economic policy”. Anyone who’s managed a budget knows you can’t indefinately spend $1.90 for every $1.00 you bring home. Every presidential candidate in my lifetime (save one) has promised smaller government, none has delivered. I can’t remember the last President who shrank the size of government (and my memory’s not yet that bad).
Who are the Tea Party? Certainly not the “Racist, Bigot, Homophobe, AstroTurf, Political Terrorists” some would have you believe. If you look around at a Tea Party, you’ll see folks pretty much like your church congregation, or attendees of a school event. A bit older, partly because retirees find it easier to attend mid-day events, but pretty much ordinary folks. Unlike many other protests, a Tea Party causes no injuries, and leaves no property damage, not even litter. We simply are outraged by the debt we’re passing on to our children, and cannot in good conscience remain what used to be called “The Silent Majority”.
We know our country can, and should, do better than this. Brave men and women have fought and died for this country. When they sacrificed so much, how dare we sit down, shut up, and blithely allow this nation to careen down the course of self-destruction?
What does the Tea Party hope to accomplish? Some claim the Tea Party is too small to affect the outcome of an election. Numerically, that may be true, but how do these folks explain New York 23, Virginia, New Jersey, or Massachusetts? Ask Charlie Christ or John McCain if the Tea Party is toothless.
It wasn’t the tip of the iceberg that sank the Titanic. That “unsinkable” ship was ripped from stem to stern by the unseen underwater mass. Laisezz-faire politicians realize their course has them steaming full speed straight at their worst nightmare. Before Tea Parties, any special interest group could be bought off. The good ‘ol boys are scared witless - there’s no law they can pass, no regulation they can enact, no pork they can hand out, no way to buy our votes. The only way to avoid Tea Party wrath is to start destroying their own power.
Scary stuff, if your perception of the electorate was that they’re a bunch of sheep who just wanted you to take care of them. Some of us were not sheep, but sleeping dogs, and Washington (and Springfield) kept pushing, poking, and prodding. When that failed, they gave us a good swift kick. Congratulations, we’re awake.
The reason I can’t remember the last president who shrank the size of government? Warren Harding was before my time.
What VAC Can Do For You
What is a DD-214? Only the most important piece of paper a Veteran possesses: The ever-important discharge papers! You must have it for everything. Without it, nothing can be done. No benefits. No VA loans. Absolutely nothing.
Where is it? If you know, bring it in so that we can register it for you. If you can’t find it, we can help you order a replacement.
While you’re here, take some time to find out what the Carroll County Veterans Assistance Commission (VAC) can do for you.
Our new hours are:
Mondays and Wednesdays: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursdays: 9 a.m. to ??? (Appointments and home visits).
Butch (Claude) Lease
For More Government, Taxes
After reading Ms. Rasmussen’s commentary in last week’s Prairie Advocate, I visited the Illinois Policy Institute website. Everybody should visit the site. I’m sure my experience was different from what Ms. Rasmussen had anticipated. Although not associated with any particular political party, it is a very partisan advocacy group promoting what it calls “free markets.” Speaking on behalf of her group, Ms Rasmussen claims that we don’t need a tax increase and they can prove it with their “piglet book” (a great name for a group that seriously wants to discuss taxes) a review of the Illinois state budget. Not true. One place said that their analysis showed how the state could save $350 million dollars or maybe $686 million dollars, not nearly enough to make much difference.
I have to confess I gave up after a few pages when I determined the institute’s priorities. They want to dismantle public education and rely on charter schools and vouchers. They are opposed to libraries buying books; instead libraries should rely on donations. The institute is opposed to good salaries, benefits and most of all, pensions for public employees. The institute even opposed employee training and education. One post complained about the cost of installing and maintaining road signs. Before I quit reading, the Piglet came out against: scholarships for nurses’ tuition, grant monies to religious aid societies, disease research and prevention, county and state fairs. They even found fault with grants for the Illinois Audubon Society and Pheasants Forever.
I do agree, however, that this is not a problem that occurred overnight and it is only exasperated by the Great Recession. The pension mess is a twenty-year-old problem because for twenty years when the pension systems were taking in more than they were paying out, the state failed to make its matching contributions. The problem is not that pensions are too generous; the problem is that the state has failed to pay its fair share. The argument that private sector pensions were destroyed is not an argument to destroy public pensions but to fight to restore not only public pensions, but private sector pensions. We painfully learned what a disaster the 401-k turned out to be.
As I have written before, we are in this mess because we refuse and have refused to raise taxes. I’m retired; I don’t pay state income tax. That’s nuts. The current Republican gubernatorial candidate didn’t pay any state taxes the last two years and he also did not pay federal taxes last year. He won’t even allow his returns to be examined by the press. And he is the candidate for transparency. That’s nuts. I love Warren Buffet’s story about his secretary who pays a larger percent of her income in taxes than he does. That nuts, too
Republicans and conservative Democrats pretend that state government and state institutions have not made substantial cuts in the last five years or so. The state universities, the DNR and IDOT have made substantial cuts and have relied on deferred maintenance to get by. These cuts have had a negative impact on public services.
One of the problems is that groups like the Illinois Policy Institute are opposed to tax increases period, end of discussion. Actually, they would prefer a tax decrease. This makes it difficult to have a discussion. But we should talk. Let’s talk about the true costs of private transportation. Let’s talk about the need for not less government but more government to help create hi-tech entrepreneurs, let’s talk about not less money but more money for economic development and job creation. Locally, TCEEDA is just getting off the ground. It has great potential, but it will need ongoing government and corporate support.
Let’s be serious, increasing our taxes by $500 a year is no big deal. That’s $10 a week, less than most of us spend on soda and snack food. I’d be happy to rearrange my “kitchen table” budget to finance better schools, libraries, parks, mass transit, social services and first responders.
We have lived on Loran Rd in rural Mt. Carroll for over ten years. In that time there have been four serious accidents or fires within a half mile. We were amazed and pleased at the quick response of the police, sheriff and fire departments. If the state continues to make drastic cuts, response time will increase, people will have their property consumed by fire, and auto accident victims will slowly bleed to death waiting for the ambulance.
Quality of life in our country is deteriorating and part of the reason is that government at all levels is hamstrung and can’t do its job because of the libertarians and the Reaganites.
By Jim Sacia, State Representative, 89th District
We met from 4:00 in the afternoon until 9:00 at night on April 21st. The House Public Safety-Appropriations Committee, on which I proudly serve, was struggling to find a funding mechanism to generate the necessary $32 million to keep the Governor from laying off 450 young Illinois state troopers and to prevent the closing of five State Police District Headquarters, including District 16 in Pecatonica.
At the same time, the Senate Executive Committee was meeting and dealing with, among other issues, House Bill 4654 authored by my good friend Representative Suzie Bassi (R-Palatine). The legislation breezed through the House with 83 “yes” votes, only to be slam-dunked and killed by the Senate committee. What is House Bill 4654? It’s the legislation that eliminates free rides for seniors who, under federal law, are already guaranteed half-price fare. Former Governor Blagojevich didn’t think half-price was good enough and he was successful in changing state law to provide free rides for all seniors, even those who can very easily afford to pay. That free ride is costing you, the taxpayers, at least $40 million every year. Some argue that the true cost is as high as $70 million per year.
Let me get this straight. Senior citizens who can easily afford to pay half-price fare, ride on all mass transit systems in Illinois for free (yes, even in Freeport), costing you at least $40 million per year, and a committee of intelligent Illinois Senators actually stopped legislation that would scale back that bloated entitlement! They stopped it even though they knew the legislation would still allow fixed low income seniors who truly need the free ride to continue riding for free…only those who could afford it would be raised back up to half-price fare! Yep.
So, to recap…all of the money necessary to keep the Illinois State Police staffed at current levels for our safety, even their motorcycle unit that also generates thousands of dollars for local municipalities, would be readily available simply by scaling back a bloated entitlement, but a Senate committee said “no”. Am I missing something? You be the judge. Let me know your thoughts, better yet, let the Governor know.
In Public Safety-Appropriations we also heard testimony from John Gates, Jr., the chairman of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority Board. Mr. Gates serves pro bono (free of charge) at the request of Mayor Daley. This is the agency that oversees McCormick Place, Navy Pier and the other Chicago exposition centers which are billions of dollars in debt. I mentioned that Mr. Gates gives his service free of charge, which is significant here and certainly exonerates him. He readily admitted that had House Bill 4900 passed in the House several years ago allowing them to refinance their debt at the lower rates available, it would have saved you, the taxpayers, nearly $500 million in interest over the past four years. The bill passed the Senate twice in that four-year period, but was never called in the House. Maybe it’s due to my many years spent as an FBI agent, but I know a stink when I smell it. This stinks to high heaven and you, the taxpayers, get half-a-billion dollars worth of rotten meat. I can’t wait to hear the explanation for this one.
As always, you can reach me, Sally or Barb at 815/232-0774 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit my website at www.jimsacia.com. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you.