Illinois vs. Wisconsin: Two Distinct Approaches to Governance
Tonight in the 7:00 hour Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will address the Democratic National Convention. Why he was chosen to speak I have no idea; he is probably the worst governor in America. Illinois' budget is an absolute mess, even after Quinn's $7 billion tax income tax hike. He has shown no appetite for difficult political decisions and has ceded much of his governing authority to the unions who financed his election.
But his speech is useful in that it will tie Gov. Quinn to another prominent Illinois Democrat - President Barack Obama. And it will contrast their strikingly similar approach to governing with that of their Wisconsin counterparts, Gov. Scott Walker and Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan. It's a pretty interesting case study in two distinct approaches playing out at the state and federal levels, respectively. In advance of tonight's speech, I wrote about it for National Review Online. A tidbit:
In many ways this battle between the Wisconsin and Illinois styles of governance is playing out in the presidential race as well. Mitt Romney chose another bold reformer from Wisconsin in Paul Ryan to fill out his ticket. As chairman of the Budget Committee, Ryan has taken a serious approach to dealing with the country’s entitlement crisis. Ryan, like Walker, has staked his legacy on reforms that a decade ago would have been politically impossible. But his seriousness and meticulousness won over his colleagues in Congress, and the Ryan budget passed the U.S. House last year.
President Obama, on the other hand, has seemingly little interest in building a consensus around serious budgetary reform. Not only have his budget proposals failed, they have failed to garner a single vote over the past two years. The Senate voted 97–0 against the Obama budget in 2011, the House voted 414–0 against earlier this year, and the Senate followed with an even stronger showing of disapproval, this time registering a 99–0 vote in opposition. That’s 610 no votes in Congress and not a single yes. That’s largely because his plan would have produced $6.4 trillion in new deficits over the next ten years.
The similarities between Obama and Quinn don’t end there, and are really quite striking. They both have pushed for “reverse tax reform” — raising marginal rates and shrinking the tax base. Quinn has already done this by raising Illinois’s personal and corporate income-tax rates dramatically, and then providing microtargeted credits to keep preferred taxpayers from fleeing the state. Obama has proposed the same: an income-tax increase on high earners and the majority of small business profits coupled with a number of credits and deductions, most notably for “green-energy projects.”