Saturday, April 30, 2016

The New Springfield Stalemate

Is Bruce Rauner a failure?

This loaded question was raised by an op-ed the Chicago Tribune, who suggested that the current Governor of Illinois was ineffectual beyond redemption, a mere 15 months into his first term. Succeeding the doddering Pat Quinn was one thing; to make Illinois forget their two immediate predecessors, George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, is another. And yet, Rauner's strategy of running the state into the ground in order to build it from the ground up might be too daring a strategy to work.

Let's start with Rauner's alleged "turnaround agenda." In order to bring business back to Illinois, it seems that he wants to make companies that are already in-state even richer, while also filling the coffers of the super wealthy. Unfortunately, in order to justify this late-arriving attempt at trickle-down economics, Rauner has blocked any reasonable state budget, holding hostage contractors and state universities that rely on public money. Rauner conjures images of people (and businesses) bolting Illinois for greener pastures, but statistics say that's utterly false. It would be easy to blame the dictatorial State Speaker Michael Madigan, but in this case the fiscal crisis is not the fault of a calculating career politician.

In an election year where a shrewd, eccentric businessman is turning the GOP upside down, a multi-millionaire in Illinois is proving you can't run government like a business. Bruce Rauner could be a case example of putting hubris over responsibility, but the Republicans (and the country) are distracted by a primary race gone haywire. The word "failure" may linger over Rauner's head, but the window of opportunity to prove his brinkmanship right is shutting fast.

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