Forward to Detroit: Prominent Chicago mayoral candidate suggests a commuter tax

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Forward to Detroit: Prominent Chicago mayoral candidate suggests a commuter tax

[cap­tion id=“attachment_100324” align=“alignright” width=“251”] Hal­sted Street, Chicago’s South Side[/caption]

By John Ruberry

Democ­rats, par­tic­u­larly Chicago Democ­rats, love polit­i­cal dynas­ties. Before Mayor Carter Har­ri­son Jr. there was Carter Har­ri­son. Before Richard M. Daley there was Mayor Richard J. Daley.

In Mike Royko’s indis­pens­able study of urban machine pol­i­tics, the Pulitzer Prize colum­nist wrote, “The Dan Ryan is the express­way that [Richard J.] Daley takes to City Hall. Daley named the express­way after Dan Ryan, another big South Side [Demo­c­ra­tic] politi­cian who was named after another big South Side politician.

Lisa Madi­gan, Illi­nois’ four-​term attor­ney gen­eral will leave office next year. Her father is state House Speaker Michael Madi­gan of Chicago, he is also the state Demo­c­ra­tic Party chair­man and the most pow­er­ful Dem in Illi­nois – even when there is a Demo­c­ra­tic governor.

You get the idea.

The younger Daley’s brother, William, is a can­di­date for mayor of Chicago. Nor­mally such a notion would be a stu­pen­dous joke. After all, Chicago’s finan­cial mess, cen­tered on an unsus­tain­able $42 bil­lion in pen­sion debt – $35,000 per house­hold – is Richie’s cre­ation. “Elect the younger brother of the guy who made Chicago bank­rupt in all but name” is not a com­pelling cam­paign slogan.

You’ve heard of Bill Daley. He was com­merce sec­re­tary for Bill Clin­ton, chair­man of the 2000 Al Gore pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, and chief of staff under Barack Obama. Daley has had a lot of pri­vate sec­tor expe­ri­ence too, includ­ing a stint as pres­i­dent of SBC Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Okay, if you are a Demo­c­rat, then you’ll say, “Well, his resume looks pretty good. ” And Chicago Dems love polit­i­cal royal families.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_110044” align=“alignleft” width=“251”] Dan Ryan Expressway[/caption]

But what about the pensions?

On Fox 32’s Flan­nery Fired Up on Sun­day, Daley promised a plan to fix the pen­sion deba­cle soon. Well, part of his plan came out yes­ter­day dur­ing a speech to the ven­er­a­ble City Club of Chicago. Daley is open to a com­muter tax.

Time for some his­tory. Busi­nesses and res­i­dents were flee­ing Detroit in the 1950s and the early 1960s. The solu­tion, Jerome Cavanaugh, the Motor City’s lib­eral mayor rea­soned, was a munic­i­pal income tax and a com­muter tax. The ver­sion of the decline and fall of Detroit you are famil­iar with is that the deadly 1967 riots fos­tered the city’s col­lapse. While it surely has­tened it, the seeds of Detroit’s fail­ure, which cul­mi­nated in the his­toric 2013 bank­ruptcy, was planted by Cavanaugh’s income and com­muter taxes. Even today Eight Mile Road, the north­ern bor­der of Detroit, is the demar­ca­tion line for poverty and prosperity.

To be fair, Daley is not sug­gest­ing a Chicago income tax and he favors amend­ing the pen­sion clause – great idea – in the state con­sti­tu­tion that for­bids cut­ting pen­sion benefits.

But if Daley’s com­muter tax becomes law, look for the 14-​lane Dan Ryan Express­way to be one of the thor­ough­fares out of Chicago for a mul­ti­tude of res­i­dents and businesses.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_102791” align=“alignright” width=“215”] Blog­ger in Detroit[/caption]

There is one Detroit exam­ple Chicago should fol­low – declare bank­ruptcy. The Motor City is on the rebound. But Illi­nois law cur­rently pre­vents bank­rupt­cies for municipalities.

That law needs to be changed.

John Ruberry reg­u­larly blogs at Marathon Pun­dit.

Halsted Street, Chicago’s South Side

By John Ruberry

Democrats, particularly Chicago Democrats, love political dynasties. Before Mayor Carter Harrison Jr. there was Carter Harrison. Before Richard M. Daley there was Mayor Richard J. Daley.

In Mike Royko’s indispensable study of urban machine politics, the Pulitzer Prize columnist wrote, “The Dan Ryan is the expressway that [Richard J.] Daley takes to City Hall. Daley named the expressway after Dan Ryan, another big South Side [Democratic] politician who was named after another big South Side politician.

Lisa Madigan, Illinois’ four-term attorney general will leave office next year. Her father is state House Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago, he is also the state Democratic Party chairman and the most powerful Dem in Illinois–even when there is a Democratic governor.

You get the idea.

The younger Daley’s brother, William, is a candidate for mayor of Chicago. Normally such a notion would be a stupendous joke. After all, Chicago’s financial mess, centered on an unsustainable $42 billion in pension debt–$35,000 per household–is Richie’s creation. “Elect the younger brother of the guy who made Chicago bankrupt in all but name” is not a compelling campaign slogan.

You’ve heard of Bill Daley. He was commerce secretary for Bill Clinton, chairman of the 2000 Al Gore presidential campaign, and chief of staff under Barack Obama. Daley has had a lot of private sector experience too, including a stint as president of SBC Communications. Okay, if you are a Democrat, then you’ll say, “Well, his resume looks pretty good. ” And Chicago Dems love political royal families.

Dan Ryan Expressway

But what about the pensions?

On Fox 32’s Flannery Fired Up on Sunday, Daley promised a plan to fix the pension debacle soon. Well, part of his plan came out yesterday during a speech to the venerable City Club of Chicago. Daley is open to a commuter tax.

Time for some history. Businesses and residents were fleeing Detroit in the 1950s and the early 1960s. The solution, Jerome Cavanaugh, the Motor City’s liberal mayor reasoned, was a municipal income tax and a commuter tax. The version of the decline and fall of Detroit you are familiar with is that the deadly 1967 riots fostered the city’s collapse. While it surely hastened it, the seeds of Detroit’s failure, which culminated in the historic 2013 bankruptcy, was planted by Cavanaugh’s income and commuter taxes. Even today Eight Mile Road, the northern border of Detroit, is the demarcation line for poverty and prosperity.

To be fair, Daley is not suggesting a Chicago income tax and he favors amending the pension clause–great idea–in the state constitution that forbids cutting pension benefits.

But if Daley’s commuter tax becomes law, look for the 14-lane Dan Ryan Expressway to be one of the thoroughfares out of Chicago for a multitude of residents and businesses.

Blogger in Detroit

There is one Detroit example Chicago should follow–declare bankruptcy. The Motor City is on the rebound. But Illinois law currently prevents bankruptcies for municipalities.

That law needs to be changed.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.