By Dan Proft
On Wednesday, Governor Pat Quinn dressed up the demands of a hostage-taker into a state budget address—again.
In advance of the permanently temporary personal and corporate income tax increases he imposed on Illinois in 2011, Quinn argued that without the tax increases, social service providers would suffer.
In fact, he would see to it that they did.
Quinn’s less than subtle message to the human services community was that if they wanted to avoid seeing the invoices they submitted to the state for services rendered put into the permanently permanent pay-no-mind bin in the Governor’s office they best fall in line.
Quinn did not conjure up a darling cartoon character to deliver that message. He did it himself.
This is the same Pat Quinn who sanctioned an effort by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to insert themselves between parents and their developmentally disabled children.
Adding more dues-paying beings to SEIU’s rolls was more important to Quinn than protecting as inviolate the bond between a developmentally disabled child and the primary caregivers upon whom he relies—his mom and dad. This matter is now pending before the United States Supreme Court (Harris v. Quinn).
Pat Quinn enjoys a public perception generated by the state-run media that while he is perhaps not the gold standard in competence, Quinn is generally honest and kind-hearted.
As is so often the case in Illinois politics, it is the converse that turns out to be true. The avuncular Quinn is not nearly the Chauncey Gardiner character he appears to be. His regular guy shtick and affable demeanor belies a cold, calculating propensity to exploit vulnerable people as the means to his political ends.
After publicly declaring that his word means nothing by codifying that in Illinois, to paraphrase Milton Friedman, nothing is so permanent as a temporary tax increase, Quinn has quickly moved into the enforcement phase.
Quinn communicated to hospice providers, for example, that he will eliminate the hospice benefit provided by Illinois’ Medicaid program if the temporary personal and corporate income taxes are not made permanent.
The hospice benefit in question provides for palliative care for the terminally ill. That care most often occurs in the home as opposed to an institutional setting so as to improve a person’s quality of life before he or she dies.
In effect—and this is not my opinion but rather the opinion of hospice care providers I contacted—Quinn is threatening the end-of-life care for dying children and adults.
Quinn is seizing a political opportunity to bully individuals and their loved ones when they are at their most vulnerable to satisfy his public sector union financiers who want a permanent tax increase (and more still) and thus advance his electoral interests.
In the classic movie “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” which tells the story of Michelangelo’s commission from Pope Julius II to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, there is a running exchange between the impatient Pope Julius (Rex Harrison) and the perfectionist Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) wherein Pope Julius routinely asks Michelangelo, “When will you make an end?” Michelangelo’s reply is always, “When I am finished!”
In the black art of Illinois politics, I am left to wonder, when we will make an end of Pat Quinn and his thuggery?
And I am left to hope that the Illinois electorate decides to do so in November before we are finished.