Many politicians love to say they want to cut taxes and spending. That sounds great, but they rarely let us know which spending they’ll target.
For four years, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner talked about reducing the size of state government to save taxpayers money. But he did not propose specific spending cuts to balance the books.
Rather, he said his proposals to change Illinois’ business environment, such as an overhaul to the workers compensation system, would allow Illinois’ economy to flourish, bringing more tax dollars.
Rauner never got those changes through the Democratic-controlled Legislature. But even if he had, the possible benefits would not have been seen for some time. He refused to go first in proposing spending cuts. No one wants to.
Politicians can talk about waste, fraud and abuse in spending all they want. But if they truly aim to eliminate a multibillion deficit, they must curb spending for popular programs — schools, highways, law enforcement, you name it.
Recently, I interviewed state Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst, R-Kankakee, who reiterated her opposition to the increased gas tax and the proposal to hike taxes on the wealthy.
Similar to most lawmakers, Parkhurst presents no specific plan to cut state spending, even though she calls for reductions.
“We keep increasing our spending,” she said. “We need to look at what’s important to our state.”
No one wants to go first on specifics.
When politicians talk about cutting taxes and spending, we, in the media, need to follow up and get details.
And if they have none, we should say so.
NO MORE TOUGH TALK
Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump all can be blamed for the rising national debt. So, too, can Congress.
After Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, was elected in 2011, he spoke a lot about the rising national debt. In 2012, he put out a news release promising he would oppose Obama’s request to increase the national debt limit by another $1.2 trillion.
“In June, I told President Obama that ‘under no circumstances will Republicans support irresponsible legislation, which increases the federal government’s credit limit without any spending cuts or budgetary reforms,’” said Kinzinger, whose district includes Iroquois County. “It is high time that we cut up the government’s credit cards and draw a hard line to stop the government from overspending, which is hampering our economy’s ability to grow and thrive.”
Kinzinger was right to take a stand.
That was when the national debt was $16 trillion. Now, it’s $22 trillion, with the annual deficit spiking to nearly a trillion under Trump.
But Kinzinger rarely talks tough anymore about spending, despite the rising debt.
One thing that has changed is the occupant in the White House. This reflects a long political trend: Members of the party in power often are more reluctant to get tough about the debt.
I emailed Kinzinger’s office about this subject, but got no reply.
Where is the 2012 Kinzinger?