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IL-GOV Wed Oct 07 2009

Dan Proft Won't Answer My Question

Having deputized myself as an official enforcer of the now oft-cited "Civic Fed Rule" coined by our friends at Progress Illinois, I responded to a campaign email from right-wing Republican candidate for governor Dan Proft offering to answer our questions about his policies with question about the state budget.

Here was the email:


You Have Questions? Send Them To Dan!

Dear Conservatives, Republicans, and Independents Looking For Reform,

I have tried to run a campaign that tells the truth about the nature and size of our problems and offers sober, realistic system-change policies and credible pathways to advance these policies by clearly defining our constituency and endeavoring to build non-traditional coalitions around issues of common interest.

My favorite part of this campaign has been engaging in Q&A with people on the campaign trail. I've learned a lot from these exchanges, and shared some of my experience with others. But not everybody has the time or opportunity to attend a campaign event.


I want to involve as many people as possible in the discussion over how to un-fix Illinois. Toward that end, we have created a new email address at the campaign:


Here was my question for Dan:

What twenty programs would you absolutely eliminate from state your first budget?



After getting no response for three weeks, I asked again:

from Ramsin


date Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 12:07 PM

I'm wondering if Dan still plans on answering my question?

I'll restate it:

What twenty programs would you absolutely eliminate from state operations in your first budget?



Ironically, not 30 minutes later, I got this email:

from Proft for Governor


date Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 12:17 PM

subject Why a Scalpel Doesn't Work


Why a Scalpel Doesn't Work

Dear Conservatives, Republicans, Independents Looking for Reform, and Libertarians Looking for Smaller Government,

Anyone who tells you we can solve our state's many problems simply by going line-by-line through the budget, posting everything online, or taking a scalpel to minor government programs is not only mistaken, he is misleading you. I have committed this campaign to telling you the truth about the desperate condition of our state and what we can and must do to find our way back to prosperity.

And the truth is this: the balance between the citizen and his government is dangerously distorted in favor of government employee unions. Government no longer exists to serve you, the citizen. Rather, you exist to perpetuate government and its ever-expanding unions.

What do you guys think? Does that qualify as his response? Or is it still nonsensical to say you're going to eliminate enormous amounts of spending without pointing out what programs you'd eliminate? Or is his plan to to just slash every state employees wages by so much that it'd cover the deficit? Because I thought we established there's no cutting your way out of the deficit?

Proft's piece on his site (and kudos to him for actually having some kind of theoretical framework to back up a fundraising request) says that the pension liability (which is not the same as the current deficits) needs to be addressed (presumably by just telling those pensioners that their 30+ years of service doesn't get them squat, even though the state doesn't pay into social security for them), and points out that,

• The average state and local government employee earns 29% more than the average private sector employee, according to The Tax Foundation's analysis of 2007 data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

• Since the recession began in December 2007, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that private sector employment has declined 5.74 percent, while government payroll has grown 0.83 percent.

What Proft is saying without saying here, of course, is that the state should decertify all the public sector unions (take away their collective bargaining rights) and slash their wages by 1/3rd, and, also, fire a whole bunch of them. If he thinks that is the solution, he should say it. He should also say which workers would get the paycuts, and which he would lay off.

Given what we learned about how even not paying contractors who provide services deeply impacts Illinois families (again, thanks to Progress Illinois), I don't think that message would go over well with anybody who isn't a suburban homeowner in the upper 1/3rd of wage earners. By cutting state workers wages by 30%, you'd be taking tens of thousands of Illinoisans and cutting their wages by tens of thousands of dollars (or firing them). Would such a drastic reduction in the state's workforce and the wages earned by state employees be good for the average, $35k a year Illinoisan?

I should add, that I like Dan Proft. I think Proft actually believes all the things he says. Not a sense I get from many politicians, who believe what they say insofar as it helps get them where they wanna go.

It's just that the things he says are typically way, way wrong. Things must be scary right now for guys like Dan Proft. The utopian philosophy that said that "unfettered" "free markets" and unicorns could serve the common good and solve all of society's ills has died a death, right alongside the utopian philosophies of Marx and Lenin.

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Jim / October 7, 2009 12:11 PM

I've got this problem. You see, I've been working for the City of Chicago for almost 32 years. I'd love to find another job and retire, but all of you in the private sector can look at the diminishing funds of social security and then look at our contributions and try to give us the big fuck you. Well, I didn't give up vacations and scrimp and save working 2nd and 3rd jobs when I was younger, so that some liberal social program type and now some grumpy republican type can say, tough shit. You want to change the rules, start with the new employees. In the meantime, if you want me to continue paying my taxes and living as a law abiding citizen, leave my pension the fuck alone.

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