Saturday, October 5, 2013

Putting the Squeezy on 'em

Let's Make a Deal?

Putting the Squeezy on ‘em
(Quinn takes tips from Tyrone)

You’ve seen the latest headlines declaring that Governor Quinn has announced no more corporate handouts until the legislature gives him an acceptable pension reform.

This is an interesting turn of events, for it appears likely that the Governor is taking advice from his Civic Committee friends on how to apply stern pressure while standing on the sidelines.

You might remember that Ty Fahner, President of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago , once admitted that he and/or some of his fellow power-brokers had arranged phone calls to Moody’s and possibly other grading companies to lower the bond ratings even more.  (  
This was back in the summer.   Of course, after his announcement, Fahner was quick to deny that he meant what he said but was actually describing something that probably didn’t happen…and so on.  It was like listening to Jon Lovitz as the “Liar” on SNL.  Afterwards, there was no follow-up investigation by the State’s Attorney’s Office and even less from the Chicago print media. 

Now according to the Tribune, Governor Quinn is tying any corporate breaks to a required pension deal.  “There will be no more incentives for businesses until lawmakers send him a measure to overhaul the state’s employee retirement system” (,0,3921685.story).  

Last week, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) announced they would be moving over 100 jobs out of their current headquarters in Decatur to “more global locations,” unless they were provided with $24 million in tax breaks over the next 20 years.  This “might” keep them in Illinois. 

Although the Tribune editorial board was quick to provide the usual exhortation that ADM’s offer was a good deal for Quinn and the state, the Governor said this was hardly the time.  “’ We need ADM and all of our big businesses to band together, put pressure on the legislature, the House and the Senate, Democratic and Republican, to get a vote on pension reform, ‘ Quinn said. “That helps everybody.  That helps every business.  That helps every taxpayer.’” 

Hang-on.  You’ve just buckled into an ethical roller coaster. 

Let’s see.  The General Assembly and various Governors over the last five decades have played “let’s rob Peter to pay Paul” when it came to the theft of pension funds from workers to pay for various services without having to tax citizenry. 

Now, Governor Squeezy wants to flip the text: Let’s extort (insert corporate name) to force Paul to rob PeterAGAIN.  And, if you – in this case, ADM, are successful, well, Governor Squeezy will give you some of that money.   

So, in a very real sense, any pension reform that comes to the Governor to sign is available for his use in providing tax credits to companies like CME, or Sears, or Navistar, or Ford, or ADM…shall I go on?  Zurich Bank is waiting their turn to ask.  Office Max would like a deal too.

The corporate tax breaks in the (possibly) near future will be supplied by the money from the reduction in cost of living allowances to the hundreds of thousands of current and future public workers?  Is this the reform the Governor and the Pension Committee want?  Is this the “new reality?”

Indeed, Governor Squeezy, that might help every business, but as for the taxpayer?  Remember that that $24 million to possibly prevent the possible move to a better location (possibly Chicago) is money earned by hard-working people who expect services, not corporate welfare. 

And, as a pensioner, I might add the morally slippery downhill of your argument is despicable.

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