Tuesday, April 3, 2012, Crain’s Chicago Buisness
by Greg Hinz
At a time when Illinois pols continue to make the wrong kind of news — ex-Blagojevich chief of staff Lon Monk is being sentenced today — it’s noteworthy that a few of them quietly are making the right kind of news.
There was a rather interesting U.S. House vote last week that didn’t get much notice, but it’s a sign that, on some matters, the Land of Lincoln actually can still lead. The vote was on an alternate budget vote. Not the slash-burn one offered by GOP budget buster Paul Ryan, or the “no worries/tax the rich” approach favored by too many Democrats.
Rather, this budget sought to implement the findings of the Simpson-Bowles Commission, which actually dared to go after whole herds of sacred cows on both sides of the partisan fence. The budget plan would have trimmed the deficit by more than $4 trillion over the next 10 years, with two-thirds of the savings coming from cuts in spending including social welfare programs and one-third from closing specific tax loopholes while also lowering the tax rate.
Predictably, the measure got beaned by both sides, and lost 38-382 in the House. But among the 38 yeas were five of Illinois’ 19 congressmen, including Chicago Democrats Dan Lipinski and Mike Quigley, suburban Republican Robert Dold, and downstate Republicans Tim Johnson and John Shimkus.
Good for them. The bill wasn’t perfect, but it sure was a lot closer than anything being offered by leaders of either party. And boos for Illinois colleagues who could have but didn’t go along. Two are particularly disappointing: Chicago Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr., who likes to hold himself as a bit of an independent but didn’t vote on the bill, and Hinsdale Republican Judy Biggert, who I think knows better but is too easily reined in by leadership and voted “no.”
I trust they and the other “no” hard cases — including Democrats Bobby Rush, Jan Schakowsky and Luis Gutierrez, and Republicans Randy Hultgren, Adam Kinzinger, Peter Roskam and Joe Walsh — will have a chance later to make amends.
Trust me, folks, we’re going to have a lot more votes on budget reform before Congress gets it right.