Chi Mayor Emanuel does his Wisc. Gov. Walker imitation

Scott Walker on February 18, 2011
Does he lead the way for Illinois? — Scott Walker on February 18, 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not too badly, for starters.  Consider Mayor Rahm Emanuel, late of the global office, winner of primary in one-party city, now with Fifth Floor Office on LaSalle Street, and his “pension plan.”  As elucidated by Sun-Times people Spielman and McKinney 5/9/12.

Their story shows Democrats getting the Wis. Gov. Scott Walker message.  Showing the way to fiscal sanity, Walker has emboldened the weak of heart, even in Illinois.  Ditto Wis. Congressman Paul Ryan, rashly depicted as violating Christian principles with program of austerity when quite the opposite is true.  A little child will lead them, says Scripture in another context; in this case it’s Wisconsin.

As for violating Christian or peculiarly Catholic principles, where is the rule that says you rob Peter to pay Paul over and over until all falls down and all suffer, the poor as usual more than anyone else?  Or one that permits “mortgag[ing] our children’s future,” as Mayor Rahm said in Springfield, echoing Gov. Walker?  Mayor R. talking that way, we wonder if Chi Teachers Union is preparing a recall petition?  or the Chi Fed of Labor — of which, by the way, many years ago James H. Bowman, the grandfather and namesake, was president for 18 months, January of 1901 to July of 1902?  Forgive the interruption.

His Springfield pitch was “bold and gutsy” of Mayor R., says Sun-T editorial.  Yes, doing Gov. Walker is no a piece of cake.  It’s the moment of truth, R. told Springfieldians-with-permanent-homes-elsewhere.  The city has a $20–billion unfunded-pension crisis, he said.  Did they want taxes to rise 150%?  55 students in a classroom?  A dearth of police officers, unpaved streets, a spate of public health cutbacks?

His ideas mirror Gov. Quinn’s, says S-T, not saying both mirror Walker’s.  Neither touched union negotiating rights as Walker did notoriously.  But R. proposed retirement-age-raising, cost of living raises suspending, employee contributions instituting, taxpayer-bailout-ending, pension-plan-itself-changing.  That last provides shades of GW Bush’s long-lost choice-oriented social security proposal, not to mention Paul Ryan’s.

Suspicion there is Rahm he means little or none of it.  But why then would he say it?  To satisfy Tea Party people?  Hah.  To tweak labor leaders’ noses for the hell of it?  Not for the hell of it.  They complained immediately about their constituency’s “lion’s share” of the burden (but nothing about “on the backs of” whomever) to the benefit of “shortsighted politicians and reckless Wall St. speculators.”  I’d make it shortsighted speculators and reckless pols, but that’s only me.

Nicely reported, Spielman and McKinney — easy reading which is often hard to find.  Same for the editorial, which, however, neglected an important consideration, namely where Illinois Democrat legislators will flee to stop adoption of such changes, if and when?  That’s easy.  Wisconsin recalcitrants fled south to their natural refuge, Illinois.  So Illinoisans will return the favor and go north, escaping to Wisconsin, which is almost always a good idea anyhow.

By Jim Bowman

Jim Bowman covered religion 1968-78 for the Chicago Daily News, since then has written books, articles, etc., mostly on corporate history but also on religion (Company Man: My Jesuit Life, 1950-1968), and more recently on politics (Illinois Blues: How the Ruling Party Talks to Voters --, Kindle). Longtime Oak Park, Illinois, resident, he lives now on Chicago's North Side, where four of his and Winnie's six children live close by.

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