Governor Pritzker needs a reboot on his tax plan
Is Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker anti-women, or does he just not care about empowering women in politics? His faulty drive to replace the Flat Income Tax with the Graduated Income Tax is driven by a male arrogance and a shortsighted political strategy that spells loser across the board
By Ray Hanania
Resistance to Gov. Pritzker’s so-called “Fair Tax” is building in the Illinois House so much so that he has changed his strategy.
Pritzker, with the support of Machine Democrat Dan Hynes, pushed the idea of replacing the Falt Income Tax with the Graduated Income Tax in the hopes of creating opportunities down the line to further increase income taxes on targeted segments of the state’s working population.
Hynes is also behind the idea of convincing Pritzker, a political novice who bought his way into the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield, to privatize the Illinois Tollway. The motivation behind that proposal has everything to do with Hynes’ personal feud with popular former Cook County Commnissioner Liz Gorman. Hynes backed his cousin to run against Gorman in the November 2010 election but Maher got trounced. Hynes has had it in for Gorman ever since. The Hynes’ family has a bigger dynasty ego that the Daleys.
Part of Pritzker’s problem is that he threw his elected running mate Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton under the political bus of expediency, giving these bigs issues to Hynes and three other “Deputy Governors” that Pritzker created after winning the November 2018 election. Why would you need any “Deputy Governors” to do anything if you really believed in giving Stratton the voice and leadership he had promised her when she became his runnning mate.
But Pritzker’s plan to change from a Flat Tax to a Graduated Tax is now stalled and uncertain. And Pritzker has switched his strategy. Not that he really has much choice. There is so much resistance to the tax swap that many Democrats in the Illinois House are hesitant to get behiund Pritzker’s Graduated Income Tax alternative plan.
So Pritzker has changed his strategy. Instead of trying to sell the Graduated Income Tax plan to destroy the Flat Tax, Pritzker is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and maybe even millions on new TV Commercials that have been running the past several weeks to change the argument of resistance to his plan.
Pritzker’s new expensive TV commercials argue that opposition to his Graduated Tax plan is really about foes denying the right of voters to decide for themselves by voting on the issue in a referendum.
Pritzker has always wanted the Graduated Tax plan to be endorsed by the Illinois Senate, which approved it earlier htis month, and the Illinois House, and then signed by him, to go to referendum to the voters. But if the Senate and House approved it, it would make it easier for him to convince voters to support the change. Hesitation in the House only fuels public sketicism, which is why he believes he needs a new focus.
But I don’t think it’s just Pritzker’s focus. I think Pritzker made a serious mistake in strategy.
Undermining Stratton and preventing her from being the lead champion of this important piece of legislation hurts his credibility. Can you trust Pritzker to be honest after he lied about giving Stratton, an African Americabn woman more power, when in fact he decided to give it to three men, including Hynes, who serve as his political gladiators.
The truth is the Graduated Income Tax is a bad idea and voters know it. Undermining Stratton only helped to reinforce publci skepticism, especially among women voters and African American voters.
Pritzker thinks getting the Graduated Income Tax plan on the ballot will give him more time to salvage his bad tax idea. The Graduated Income Tax plan is a bad idea!
The Stratton misstep reflects his terrible politics, as I have detailed in several recent columns.
None of the Republicans back his plan. Instead of reaching out to them, he has handed his strategy to Machine Democrat like Hynes, who is using his influence to exact a personal vendetta against Gorman for undermining his plans for a Game of Thrones type Hynes family “dynasty.”
Who knows? I wouldn’t be surprised if Hynes turns out as a candidate for Governor challenging Pritzker in 2022.
Instead of allowing Hynes to slam Liz Gorman, the former anti-Tax hike champion on the Cook County Board, for personal political differences, Pritzker should have reached out to Gorman, who is a Republican Centrist to broaden his support across the legislative aisle and among a wider base of Illinois voters.
It was a major mistake for Pritzker to let Hynes use his office to punish Gorman, reflecting his insensitivity and lack of respect for powerful women like Stratton and Gorman.
We can’t expect male politicians like Prtizker to reverse their destructive anti-woman male machismo. But he might still be able to correct his strategy.
There is still time.
(Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and now political columnist for the Southwest News Newspaper Group in Southwest and West Chicagoland. His personal website is www.Hanania.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)