Saturday, February 25, 2017

Roskam has the means, but can't find the way to reveal Trump's tax conflicts

My congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) loves to tout his sitting on the House Ways and Means Committee, the tax writing arm of Congress which affects most aspects of government policy. But you won't hear Roskam tout his vote to prevent Ways and Means from invoking a 1924 law allowing it to examine Trump's tax returns for possible conflicts of interest. The law was used in 1974 to examine the tax returns of President Nixon and in 2014 during its investigation of IRS handling of non-profits' tax status.
The potential tax related conflicts of interest of presidential candidate, nominee and now commander in chief are unprecedented in American history. Trump's long established ties to Russian, Chinese and other foreign business moguls have ominous implications for favoritism and blackmail. Trump lied to the American public that he'd release them, something every candidate has done since 1976, once he was no longer under audit. When that excuse was blown away, Trump simply told the truth; saying 'never gonna happen.' This is extraordinarily dangerous to honest, transparent government.
800,000 taxpaying citizens signed an online petition demanding release of Trump's returns. A majority of all Americans favor this. It should be a non-partisan issue. Trump's returns may be connected to allegations Trump election officials conspired with Russian intelligence to interfere in a US election; action that could constitute treason. No responsible congressman would condone treason from a fellow party member.
If Roskam is so confident of the decency of his self described 'wild card' candidate, who earned Roskam's vote despite the 'flash and dash' of his hate filled campaign rhetoric, one would surmise he'd be eager to reveal the truth of Trump's honesty and transparency. Roskam's vote merely reveals that this lifetime politician as the means, but can't find the way, to be a responsible public servant.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

No need to imagine if Rauner gone

The Illinois Policy Institute's Diana Rickert spent hundred of words in her Tuesday's Trib op ed pondering an Illinois General Assembly without Michael Madigan as House Speaker. Since Madigan will surely be re-elected Speaker, Rickert was left with 'imagining' a General Assembly without Madigan, who has served as speaker all but two years since 1983. She congers up the possiblity of term limits for Assembly leaders, loosening of House rules and closer cooperation with Republicans.

But you don't have to imagine what Madigan accomplished during his long reign as Speaker: negotiating budgets with both Democratic and Republican governors which cared for the needy, funded higher education for deserving low income students, paid state vendors, and improved state infrastructure. Once Bruce Rauner assumed the governorship two years ago, that spirt of compromise was shattered. Rauner held the budget and the people of Illinois hostage to implementing a budget with non-budgetary wish list items for the weatltyist Illinoisans that must remain the subject of the legislative, not the budgetary process. That form of political extortion which betrays the state's less fortunate was an unconscienable breach of poltical bi-partisanship and has rightly been resisted by Madigan and his Democratic caucus.

Unlike a General Assembly without Madigan, we don't have to imagine a General Assembly without Gov. Rauner. We know exactly what it would promptly do ...pass a budget.