Two things have had my eyes rolling as Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan conduct their extended stare-down over the state budget.
One is Madigan's oft-repeated claim that Rauner is "operating in the extreme" on the budget and instead should operate "in moderation." The other is Rauner's railing against Madigan and "the politicians he controls."
First let's address Madigan's comments on Rauner being "extreme."
Rauner's offense, according to Madigan, is refusing to help Democrats find new money for their imbalanced budget (they say it's $3 billion short; Rauner says it's $4 billion) until the Democrats pass reforms including term limits, workers' compensation reform and a freeze on local property taxes.
Those, Madigan says, are "non-budget issues." Using them as bargaining chips to earn the governor's help fixing the Democrats' budget is an "extreme" position.
From my perspective, there's an unconventional and selectively applied definition of "extreme" at work here. A more accurate definition of "extreme" in this situation might go as follows:
You control every move in state government for 30 of the last 32 years. State government undergoes an unprecedented deterioration in its finances and economy during that time. It now has the worst credit rating in the nation and has just been told that it can't avoid paying all of the $100-billion-plus pension obligations it owes through 2045. The governor whose campaign you co-chaired in 2006 hastened the deterioration and now sits in prison.
A year ago you passed a budget knowing that under law at the time, the state would run out of money long before the fiscal year ended. Voters in November elected a governor who promised to end standard operating procedure in Springfield.
Despite all this, you still believe you are entitled to define the parameters of what constitutes proper budget-crafting etiquette.
Madigan's chastising of a political adversary for "operating in the extreme" is especially snort-worthy. When it comes to preserving his House majority, Madigan has written the textbook on extreme.
Read the rest at Reboot Illinois.
Watch an in-depth discussion of the dynamics between Rauner, Madigan and Cullerton: