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Dan Proft & John Tillman On How To Start IL's Comeback

The Illinois Policy Institute has been the leading free-market voice in Illinois for years, but faces fierce opposition from the state's political class – which has led the Land of Lincoln astray for decades. On this installment of Against the Current, Dan Proft and John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute, discuss how to overcome that opposition and implement free-market, liberty-based policy solutions in Illinois. In a detailed discussion on Illinois politics and policy, Proft and Tillman explore how Illinois actually can turn itself around and why there can be hope for the state.

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Dan Proft & John Tillman

On this edition of “Illinois Rising”, Dan Proft and John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute, discuss education funding for a bailout of CPS, the political proxy war between Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Mike Madigan, a new poll showing that a majority of Illinoisans support right-to-work legislation, Donald Trump, Illinois’ Primary Election and the delegate count.

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Dan Proft & John Tillman

On this edition of “Illinois Rising”, Dan Proft and John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute, discuss legislation to expand charter schools in Illinois and Trump's swagger heading into Super Tuesday. They explain why Illinois residents have the least confidence in their state government compared to residents of every other state in the country. And they take a look at Mike Madigan's strong primary election challenge from Duke Graduate, Jason Gonzales.

View full transcript


Dan Proft: Good afternoon, Dan Proft, and joining me on this edition of Illinois Rising is Illinois Policy Institute president and CEO, John Tillman. John, the presidential campaign is going on, you may have noticed. John Tillman: This is an election year? Dan Proft: Yeah, it is, but I wonder if the outcomes are going to be fait accompli before they get to March 15th when candidates come to town and Illinois voters have a chance to make their selections. I’m referring on my morning show to President Elect Trump, already at this stage; is that where you’re at, or are you holding the candle for another candidate? John Tillman: I think given that we’re just finishing the eighth year now of President Hillary Clinton’s victory from 2008, I don’t think we should jump to conclusions here. There’s a long ways to go – I think only about 5% of the delegates have been selected; I think after Super Tuesday, it’ll be about a third – but there’s still a huge backload chunk of delegates that go all the way out into June. So I don’t think anything is a set in stone; I think the bigger question is who’s going to rise and get above the 40% mark and put Trump into second place. Can Rubio do it? It seems to me Cruz is starting to fade. And with all these conversations about politics, by the way, Dan, they are my personal opinions, of course. Dan Proft: I understand that – your right as American – given to you by our Lord above. For some perspicacious insights… John Tillman: Percipications, Dan? Dan Proft: Perspicacious. John Tillman: Perspicacious, aha. Dan Proft: Yes, perspicacious insights into the state of play and the presidential race we’re not joined by Chris Robling, Republican Strategist and Principle at Clearspan Strategic. Chris, thanks for joining us! John Tillman: And you’d better see a doctor about that p-word. Chris Robling: Good to be with both of you. Hello, John, hello, Dan. Dan Proft: So, Chris, President Elect Donald Trump – your reaction. Chris Robling: I think we have to get out of politics and we have to get into something bigger. There’s something bigger going on here, I guess, and I think – I don’t know how you guys felt personally when you saw that 45 coming out of Nevada – but I just thought ‘This guy has somehow linked himself to the spirit of the moment’, and it’s no longer about anything with which we’re familiar from the typical political realm. We’ve gone into sort of a phenomenon in which he has connected with people, a lot of people… and it’s a lot of people, it’s not everybody, but it’s a lot. Dan Proft: Well, let me suggest something, that we have seen this phenomenon before, and the synonym for populism in 2008 was hope, and the synonym for populism in 2016 is winning. We just have a populist candidate on our side eight years after democrats had one on theirs. Chris Robling: Yeah, I want to believe that. I think that’s really terrific, Dan. Please, I want to subscribe to your newsletter, because, let me tell you, what’s troubling to me is not so much the fact that he’s struck this chord and generated this response; it’s all of this stuff on the side. There are these very concerning elements of how he has gotten here and I think that… two things, two quick points: number one, I agree with Chris Matthews, and that’s rare, very rare… Dan Proft: Mr. Tingle. Chris Robling: 20 years I’ve never agreed with this guy, but I think Chris Matthews appropriately parsed out the Trump proposal, and Trump’s basic proposal is ‘Either we have a country or we don’t. That’s what I saw at the City Club in Chicago in June, that’s what I’m hearing tonight. I think there is a brilliance to that. John Tillman: But I think that… oh, go ahead, Chris, I thought you were done, sorry. Chris Robling: That’s the big concept under which the guy is operating. Now the little concept is sort of his own personal style, and that personal style is kind of a brawling New York real estate developer, and I think that that’s laid down some things that are offensive to me as a long time conservative, Reagan conservative kind of guy, and that’s not to deny there weren’t things very offensive about Obama. It was hope and change eight years ago; I completely agree with that too, Dan. John Tillman: Yeah, but I think what’s interesting about Dan’s narrative there about populism is the difference between Trump and Obama is that Obama ran as a populist driven with demagoguery and ideology. Trump is running as a populist driven by narcissism – and of course, Obama has his share of that, but Trump has no ideology that is discernable. We have no idea what he will actually do if he becomes president, and that is both thrilling and terrifying to me at the same time; could be great, maybe he becomes Reagan, right? Can you believe that? On the other hand, maybe he’s the second coming of Barrack Obama. Chris Robling: Reagan’s personnel chief, Pendleton James said famously, ‘Personnel is policy’; the great stuff Illinois Policy Institute puts out is well written and it’s well thought out, well reasoned and everything else, but you need actual human beings to physically get that stuff done, and if real people don’t get it done, it’s still just words on a page. Okay. I agree with you. We don’t know exactly what he’s going to do on X or Y or Z and there are some things that are very troubling about what he says. I’m not as troubled on this whole Muslim thing; Donald Trump is in Dubai, Donald Trump has got a big tower in Turkey. I don’t think he’s got personal animus to categories of fellow human beings, but I think that, on the other hand, he might take us in a Smoot-Hawley protectionist direction that would be disastrous, not just for our overall macro-economic health, but would also hurt many working Americans, because in the long run, protectionism hurts the middle class; they’re the ones who pay the price. Dan Proft: As we look at Illinois, with the primary here a couple weeks away – so Hillary Clinton has about a twelve point lead on Bernie Sanders; Donald Trump has about twelve, thirteen point lead on Ted Cruz; now, of course, that could change; there’s momentums of funny things, even happens on Super Tuesdays and the like, but don’t you find that interesting: The republican primary elector of Illinois giving Donald Trump a double digit lead? Chris Robling: Well, I remember gubernatorial candidates a few short years ago who was very, very much out there calling for an appropriate revolution in Illinois governance. Dan Proft: Yeah. How’d that work out for that guy? Chris Robling: Well, but I thought he was laying down a lot of markers that got picked up by a guy named Bruce Rauner. John Tillman: You’re too early, Dan, too early. Dan Proft: Yes, yes, the story of my life. Chris Robling: Well, everybody needs a John the Baptist, and so Dan the Baptist went there… John Tillman: Wow! You know how that ends, right? Dan Proft: You’re going to be a smote down for that comparison, Mr. Robling. Chris Robling: But I want to say, I think that people are fed up. This gets back to the beginning. There is a spirit of the age, okay? A zeitgeist right now and I believe that this is directly aimed at Obama’s excesses and at the establishment republican’s recesses, okay? Too much from Obama, too little from the republicans; we’re sick of everybody; let’s try Trump. Dan Proft: Well, and what does Trump represent? I agree with you, it’s psychological; it’s not substantive, and so it’s swagger. I’ve got the swagger, I’ve won in life, and now I’m going to bring winning to you after you have been fleeced by a government you’ve financed by both parties for the last 15 years; and then blamed for everything that’s going on top of it. You’re losing your – kind of – access to economic opportunity, as well as the culture – what you thought defined America; I mean, culturally there’s been a huge shift, even just from 2012 to present. Chris Robling: I couldn’t agree more, and honestly, I’m going to use a name here probably for the first time on your august radio program: I’m not really sure where Donald Trump and his many former spouses, and then the sort of fashion stuff, and he has always… and then you get to the Kardashians, and then you’re into God knows what. So there’s some kind of weird societal acceptance of all of this excess that’s going on, and I think that the regular voter – you go to the regular voter in South Carolina, you go to the regular voter in Nevada; ‘Well, that shows that he’s a successful business man’. There is this sort of broad societal whatever if takes to win kind of thing, and now it’s being applied to politics. John Tillman: I think the part of that that is interesting; I don’t think that there is a broad societal acceptance of all of these things. I think there’s a media-cultural-arts acceptance of all of this, and so therefore it feels like it’s been mainstream, but I think that what Trump is tapping into – to go back, really way back to the silent majority; the people that just sort of live their lives, go to work, most of them go to church, maybe not all the time; they might not be the most devout person, but they’re trying, right? They’re aspirational, and all these things to try to live a good civic life. And they see all of this stuff from Kardashians, to Trump, and just the craziness that goes on, to the Super Bowl halftime show, and they’re like, ‘What is our world coming to?’ So he is appealing to that; it’s that sense of rebellion, of the elite status quo on both coast that people are responding to, and that desire is trumping policy imperatives. Chris Robling: That, I think, is very well said, and goodness only knows what he’s going to do about taxes. Goodness only knows what he is going to do about social security, about entitlements, you know? In many respects, we’re playing in a realm that is defined by Obama’s cowardice to deliver on his own self-generated campaign promise to address entitlements. That has, in my opinion, overwhelmingly set the landscape of 2016 and beyond. ‘I missed the press release, I missed the white paper’, what is he doing to do about entitlement. Dan Proft: Yeah, right, that’s the thing. The concern is you don’t know what to be concerned about. John Tillman: It’s going to make him great. Chris Robling: It’s going to make him the greatest ever. Dan Proft: Chris Robling, Republican Strategist, Principle at Clearspan Strategic. Chris, thanks for joining us! Appreciate it! Chris Robling: Great to be with you, thanks! Dan Proft: Dan Proft back with John Tillman, president and CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute. John against the backdrop of the bankrupt CPS and proposal by governor Rauner – essentially foster a state takeover of CPS as they can’t seem to manage their finances or educate children, two kind of important things. John Tillman: But they do employ teachers and pay them well with excellent benefits and retirement programs. Dan Proft: They do, and they also want to crowd out competition in that space. Charter schools have been positive innovation, provide more competition, more choice for families in Chicago, and elsewhere, but in particular in Chicago, where choices are desperately needed, and yet, what the Teacher’s Union want, and what Rahm Emanuel and other politicos in Chicago seem to be willing to deal is to cap charter schools. It’s a very curious thing, because on the one hand, there seems to be an agreement outside of the Teacher’s Union that charter schools were a positive innovation, as I described, and so we want a limited number of those. John Tillman: Right, you want to cap the children’s potential to do better. They agree that charter schools are a better option for some kids – maybe not all kids, but some kids – and now we want to limit that. What a bizarre thought. It’s really a chit in the negotiations with the Union, it has nothing to do with the children. Dan Proft: We don’t want to satiate ourselves with too much goodness in Illinois. John Tillman: Because we have so much already. Dan Proft: That’s right! You have to limit that; small doses. State representative Barb Wheeler, Republican from McHenry County has introduced legislation to lift the cap on charter schools in Illinois, and she joined us now. Barb, thanks for joining us, appreciate it. Barb Wheeler: Oh, great to be with you, Dan! It’s always a pleasure. Dan Proft: So kind of unpack the legislation that you’ve introduced, and the impetus for introducing it. Barb Wheeler: I’m a big fan of charter schools. I think they do a tremendous throughout the state, specifically in Chicago and areas where families need access to high quality schools. I’m a big believer in competition. So this arbitrary number that the state has in regard to the cap of 120 statewide charters, basically the bill, it’s not a new bill, it’s been introduced and reintroduced, and I’m introducing this year to remove the cap throughout the state. John Tillman: Barb, John Tillman here! Hi, how are you doing? Thanks for introducing that bill. It’s been around for a while; maybe with a governor advocating for us we can see a little bit more attraction; in the past, these kinds of pieces of legislation have gotten bipartisan support, and what I think is interesting about this is you live out in the bucolic suburbs, and yet you’re trying to lift the cap not just for a statewide, but would have the biggest impact in the city of Chicago. Tell people why you care about that; why it’s important to you. Barb Wheeler: Thank you again for having me on today. Dan and John, I know that you know that I’m a former teacher. I think that being able to provide the best quality education for students is my number one priority as a state rep. I’ve done tours to charter schools, I’m a big fan of school choice, I’m a big fan of home schooling, and being able to provide everyone throughout the state with all of their options, and the best options for the students is a priority. I think getting rid of the charter school cap in the state of Illinois always comes up when they’re negotiating the union contract, especially in the city. The time on this bill is good. You restart the conversation, and you’re right: Governor Rauner’s a big fan of charter schools, he’s a big fan of education for all students and providing the best opportunities for them. That’s without a doubt. I got to give the new director Tony Smith of K-12 education a lot of credit too. It’s really important to him to create autonomy within the classroom and be innovative to it, which goes along with what the charter schools are trying to do as well. John Tillman: As a former teacher, I’m sure that you must have – whether you wanted to or not – have been a member of the Illinois Education Association, of course, in Chicago, through Chicago Teacher’s Union. The unions have come out strongly against this legislation in the past; they will again, and every chance they get, they oppose any kind of expansion of choice for parents for better educational outcomes. Since you were once a teacher and part of that union, what can you tell people to help them understand why the teacher’s representative of the union is always so in opposition to legislation that would actually improve children’s educational outcomes. Barb Wheeler: It’s interesting, I often think about that. The stuff that teachers – individual teachers in the classroom want to do is to be innovative, not demanded by the state and this is exactly what they do, they really push back on so much state testing, how that’s mandated by the state, they really want – the magic word is – autonomy, which is, quite honestly, if you would ask them individually how they feel in regard to the overall and overarching ideas of charter schools and choice, I think that is they drilled out and think about it, they would be more in agreement with individual schools to be able to have some more freedom, especially within their own classroom. Having said that though, the members of a larger and very strong lobbyist group have a lot of pull and is very powerful in the state of Illinois, and I often wonder whether the IEA is more concerned about their number growing their numbers in the membership than really representing their members’ true intentions as they close the door and teach it in their own classroom. I do believe that that is often times a polarizing issue. Dan Proft: She is state representative Barb Wheeler, Republican from Crystal Lake. Representative Wheeler, thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it. Barb Wheeler: Well, thanks for having me. Dan Proft: It’s interesting too, to Barb’s point about the teachers. On the one hand they say ‘That’s not fair because charter schools don’t have all these mandates that they have to comply with like we do’. Instead of saying ‘Why don’t we remove the mandates for everybody, and give everybody the latitude and the flexibility?’, they say ‘No, make their situation worse, just like it is for me’, rather than making everybody’s situation better. John Tillman: I once, years ago, on Craig Dellimore’s Show, debated the chief education officer for the city of Chicago, and this is exactly how it played out. I said ‘Why are charter schools performing almost the same level as suburban and downstate schools with the same kids in the city, because those kids are taken by lottery, they’re not selectively enrolled?’, and she said ‘Well, because the charter schools don’t have to operate under the collective bargaining agreement’, and so then I said ‘Why don’t we charterize the entire system?’, and of course, she had a meltdown. Dan Proft: Right, there you go. For more on this topic, from an association global perspective, we’re now joined by Jelani McEwen the External Relations Director for the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. Jelani, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it. Jelani MrEwen: Thanks for having me, Dan. Dan Prof: Give people a sense of the state of play with charter schools. One of the things that’s often argued by Karen Lewis and other Teacher’s Union heffes is that, ‘Look, a lot of the charter schools are not out performing in their neighborhood schools; it’s a mixed bag, and so this is why we shouldn’t be divesting from the local school and funding these charter schools’. Jelani McEwen: Well, I can say we know that to not be true; 100% false. INX briefly did an analysis of student enrollment patterns in Chicago, and so what we did was we took every charter school, and we looked at their students, and determined where that student would have gone to school if they followed the zoning pattern; if they’d been to the school based upon their home address, where would they have gone? And so we took all the student schools that they should have gone to, and created an average on the CPS, on Chicago Public Schools, school quality rating policy metrics, we took an average of that, and then we compared that average for all of the schools they should have gone to, to the quality of the school they’re in. And in Chicago, 72% charter schools were performing at a higher level than the average of the schools students otherwise would have been zoned to. John Tillman: Jehlani, John Tillman here. I think one of the things that you have done such a great – your organization and charter schools in general have done a great job – and just this moral-righteous storyline that we need to get out, which is Chicago kids can compete; Chicago kids can’t perform when the educational system is responsive to their individual needs. That’s what the charter schools do. Jehlani McEwen: Completely true. I think that’s one of the biggest issues I struggle with, with the union rhetoric. Sometimes, the argue is that because the communities and the young people that are in the schools come from a vulnerable, low income backgrounds, that those are the hurdles that forbid them from learning, and they’re not accountable for those outcomes. But that’s not true. We have proof points across Chicago of charter schools that are serving low income kids, that are serving low income communities, and they’re growing, and they’re learning. Poverty is not a bar that prevents people from learning, right? We know now that a school coacher that is supportive, that believes in the kids, that a curriculum that is prepared to meet the purse-right needs of each learner, and a managing structure that can manage themselves well, those are leverage for change that can help all children learn, especially our most vulnerable kids. Dan Proft: Now, one of the other arguments that’s advanced is – and this is against private schools as well, but also charters – is that the difference between these competitive options is that they don’t have to take all-comers, where the local schools do. Jehlani McEwan: That’s not true either. Charter schools are open enrolment schools. Any student in the city of Chicago can apply to these schools and if they are picked through a lottery, right, it’s randomized because there’re more students who want a seat in the building that there are seats, there’s a lottery, but we have to take anybody who comes. We have to help whoever comes through the doors whether we have the resources to or not; so that’s a common misconception. We don’t get a choice in who comes in the building, we’re not selective. Dan Proft: And I suppose the fact that there’s more demand than supply says something about the state of affairs. John Tillman: Oversubscribed, yes. Jehlani McEwan: You’re totally true. Dan Proft: Alright. He is Jehlani McEwen, External Relations Director for the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. Jelani, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it. Jehlani McEwan: Thank you, Dan, appreciate it. Dan Proft: Dan Proft back with John Tillman, president and CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute. Illinoispolicy.org And John, new gallup poll and some interesting results. Not particularly surprising, except with one exception; which is it… except with one exception, it’s a little bit redundant, sorry about that. New gallup poll shows Illinois residents are the least confident in their state government, of any residence in the country; three quarters of Illinoisans say they are not confident in their government; compare that to North Dakota, on the other end, where 8 in ten North Dakota residents are confident in their state government. The only thing that’s surprising to me about these numbers: I want to meet that 25% that are confident in the Illinois state government. John Tillman: Right, right. They work for the government, Dan, that’s why. That’s who they are. Dan Proft: Yes, exactly. Or it’s like Madigan and Cullerton packing the vote, just like they do on Election Day here, they’ve got their ends on gallup. Well, for more on this and what distinguishes those state governments that have the trust of their residents, versus those like Illinois that do not, we’re now joined by Todd Davidson, from the State Policy Network, where he works as a policy specialist. Todd, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it. Todd Davidson: Yeah, thanks, Dan, thanks for having me on. Dan Proft: So, with respect to this survey, where Illinois bring you up the rear as we all want to do when it comes to things like trust and government and quality of life, what is it that distinguishes those at the bottom of the list in terms of residence trusting their government from those at the top of the list, like North Dakota? Todd Davidson: Yeah, Dan, there are a couple things that I saw in this, and I think the most important of all of this is just jobs in that state: job creation. If a person has a job, they come home from work and they see their care for their family, they’ve been rewarded for their hard work, they’ve a confidence in the future, and then they have confidence in their states economy, and then they have confidence in their states government. Illinois, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, all those states at the bottom, not creating jobs, personal incomes aren’t growing, whereas the states at the top, you see job growth – higher than average job growth – and people are being rewarded for their work. Dan Proft: And Illinois is the seventh worst unemployment rate in the country, I think. Todd Davidson: Yeah, at the end of the year 5.9, which was pretty terrible. John Tillman: John Tillman here. It’s particularly terrible, Todd, when you look at the labor participation rate in Illinois, more people are getting on food stamps that they are finding new jobs and when that ratio starts to flip, it goes to the very core of what you’re saying. I think what’s interesting about that, the ones that are performing well is big states, small states, northern states, southern states, east and west, and so the common denominator is jobs, and the other thing I think is interesting – that politicians ought to figure out – is when you have a really robust tight growth economy, the people are pretty forgiving. They’ll let an awful lot of carnage go on – that’s what happened here in Illinois for decades until it all came home to roost. Todd Davidson: As truly, winning is kind of a deodorant that gets rid of anything; people are very forgiving when they’ve got a job and they have that confidence. Dan Proft: What about on the spend side, you talked about employment now; kind of all of these are inextricably linked, but when you look at the states that are distributed across this gallup poll from 1 to 50, is there anything on the spend side, the states that are more inclined to have balanced budgets versus states that have out of balance budgets, and unfunded liabilities versus funded pensions, and those sorts of things. Todd Davidson: Yes, I look at that correlation, and I see another really high correlation. You got states like Nebraska, who has pretty good prudent management of their government. They do have a couple of problems, but for the most part, they’ve got healthy preserves and a good balanced budget. Utah is probably the best example of good prudent conservative governments and budgeting, and then on the other hand, Illinois – of course, you guys know all about Illinois, but Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, for instance, is looking at a three billion dollar tax increase right now, because they need to balance their budget. Even, unfortunately, my home state of Kansas, is in a little bit of budget trouble when you see them… I think that explains why they’re so far down the line. John Tillman: That’s interesting; I thought that governor Sam Brownback was solving all the problems in Kansas. Todd Davidson: He’s done a good job at lowering the tax burden, but as you know, got caught up in kind of a political fight that left a little bit of a budget hole that’s taken them a few years to dig out of, and it’s been a pretty nasty fight, but I imagine as they get that corrected and the lower tax rates start to reward them economically, that state’s going to grow. It is really good on job creation, it’s got a pretty low unemployment rate, but I think that slight fiscal situation is dragging it down, for the time being. Dan Proft: And when you have a state like Illinois, with three quarters of the populous not having faith in their government, something else that tends to happen is people leave, and so I wonder, at the bottom end, where Illinois is, if you see, those are the states with the largest out-migration as well, which kind of furthers the economic death spiral in states like Illinois. Todd Davidson: Yeah, absolutely. I talked to my friends at the Yankee Institute there in Connecticut, and big news out of Connecticut was the leaving of General Electric this past January, but that’s not even the real story; the true story: small businesses like Borgeous’s Universal, this business makes the steering joints that you probably used to drive your car at work today. It’s been in Torrington, Connecticut, which is a town of 35.000 people, for 101 years, and it had 43 employees, they moved out of that state for South Carolina. It’s stories like that that are putting Connecticut down at the bottom. Illinois, you got the same thing. A well documented story – Jesse Huerta – I’m sure you can tell it much better than I can. John Tillman: Jesse Huerta worked in Cook County, and eventually relocated over to Indiana and became a supervisor at a manufacturing facility over there, and did a video with us, and just tells this amazing story, but he didn’t want to leave, and this what I think is interesting about this, that we’ve started talking about it a little bit, is while 50% of the people in Illinois say they would leave if they could, nobody wants to leave; people have their homes and families here. They want to stay here, they want to see a change, and that’s what I think is what’s interesting about the battle we have unfolding here in Illinois right now, between the Rauner point of view, and the progressive Madigan point of view. Dan Proft: He is Todd Davidson, policy specialist at the State Policy Network, Todd, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate your time! Todd Davidson: Thanks, guys. Appreciate it! Dan Proft: Dan Proft back with John Tillman, president and CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute. John, many interesting legislating primaries, this primary season, March 15th, just a couple of weeks away; one of the more interesting ones, because of the incumbent is Mike Madigan, house speaker Mike Madigan, who has been the house speaker since Illinois has been incorporated in 1818, but he’s just another state legislator like everybody else, he’s got to run every two years in his South – Westside district, he’s facing a challenger from a young man named Jason Gonzalez, and I say young because he’s my age, makes me feel young; John Tillman: You just did that to hurt my feelings. That’s why you did that. Dan Proft: Yes, sure, right. Just to distinguish… John Tillman: A little stab at the gray haired dude over there. Dan Proft: Yeah, I mean, might be respectful of my elder. John Cash wrote about Jason Gonzalez this week, and the challenge that he is mounting against Mike Madigan. It’s interesting – I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm to see somebody who is actually pretty sharp, and this Gonzalez kid is; he’s got pretty impressive academic credentials, he’s well-spoken, he’s been successful in business. John Tillman: Yeah, and the trusting backdrop before all that, life story challenges growing up, difficulties, got a little trouble with the law, had a total turnaround, redemption, these are the kind of things that I thought the democrat party would champion; that a guy who starts up with some trouble, then finds his path, gets great degrees from MIT, and I think Duke, but apparently Mike Madigan’s campaign literature is really wanting to focus on the bad part of Jason Gonzales’ life. I’m so surprised. Dan Proft: I hope Mike Madigan’s life ends how Jason’s started, with trouble with the law. We’ll have to see how that goes. John Tillman: With the attorney general Lisa Madigan, I don’t know how likely that is. Dan Proft: No, that’s going to have to federal prosecution of some sort, but Madigan… Is Madigan really vulnerable? Seems to me, as I’m watching this race unfold, there’s a lot of unbounded hopefulness, but unbounded. John Tillman: Well, I know you are always more tough on these questions than I am; first of all, I said all along, I think this is a long shot. But sometimes long shots come in. Will this one come in? It’s a long shot, so the odds are no, but what I think is interesting about the discussion is how seriously Madigan is taking this race; normally, as you know, the way it works, Madigan chooses his primary opponents; they actually work for him, the people that collect the signatures for his primary opponents, to fill the ballot, are people that work for him. Dan Proft: Well, it just makes it easier. John Tillman: It’s just much simpler when you’re on both sides of the victory. Dan Proft: Totally. John Tillman: In fact, it just illustrates just how corrupt the system is; when Jason Gonzalez went in 15 minutes before the deadline to drop off his petitions, there was a Mike Madigan employee who had both stacks of petitions for the other two people, because there’s four people now on the ballot – the other two, a man and a woman, both also with Hispanic names, just to kind of confuse people about the Hispanic challenger – and it wasn’t just that; those kinds of shenanigan standard are having some parking problems in Mike Madigan’s district. Dan Proft: I think it’s nice to see somebody that keeps the soviet style system of elections going. John Tillman: Right. Dan Proft: And Mike Madigan certainly does, with Gonzalez as the exception, but yeah. So Gonzales has a campaign office in the district, of course, and all of a sudden, after he moved into his campaign office, and John Kaz writes about this, no parking tow zone signs go up in front of his district. John Tillman: And I think it was February 23rd to March 15th, right? Dan Proft: Right. John Tillman: Just a coincidence! Being the primary day… Dan Proft: Well, I appreciate the candor. Don’t do it like April 1st , make sure you understand, this is just for you, and just through the primary. The things that’s actually interesting about this, is I find this to be representative of a kinder, gentler Mike Madigan, because back in the day, instead of just putting the no parking signs up to harass your opponent that way, they just ripped off the sidewalk. You know, so you couldn’t walk John Tillman: Right. So you couldn’t get inside your building. Dan Proft: There’d be horses there, right, maybe put some scaffolding up too, so you don’t have any visibility. John Tillman: We have two weeks left, Dan, don’t give them ideas! Dan Proft: True, I was just saying, maybe Mike Madigan has lost his edge, but it is interesting, because the more Madigan does something like this – and when you have a challenger who’s not intimidated, like Gonzalez, this – a cruise to his benefit – people see him being persecuted, people see him treated unfairly, people see Madigan for what he is, and that’s continuing to happen. I think there’s a recognition of Madigan in the last couple of years, particularly since the last year, since governor Rauner’s been elected, an awareness of him, the kind of person he is, the kind of ruling class pawl that he is; that maybe hasn’t been the case even for most of the last three decades. John Tillman: Yeah, and I think that as the district where Madison is continues to change demographically – now everybody says demographics are destiny – I think Mike Madigan’s very likely to prove that’s not true this time, but I think Jason Gonzalez’s play is for the long run, and to try to make inroads, and say, you know what, it’s time for us to pick somebody who represents our interests – 71% Hispanic district there. Dan Proft: Well, the other things too would be interesting, democrat primaries tend to be more on the center-right side; certainly I do, and I believe you do too in your role as a private American citizen. John Tillman: Citizen John? Dan Proft: Yes, but seeing some new generation democrats challenge the old guard democrats, seeing some democrats are willing to step out on particular votes, willing to say that ‘If I’m elected in this primary I’m not going to vote for Mike Madigan as speaker; I’m going to be truly independent because I may not affiliate with the Republican party, but I see the power structure in the Chicago democrat party as just as illegitimate.’ John Tillman: I think what’s interesting about that is we’ve long said that the democrat’s agenda has hurt people in the poor parts of the city, people who are dependent on public education in the city, if you happen to be – whether you’re a poor middle-class African-American that crosses the spectrum, you are being screwed by the system. If you’ve bought a beautiful house down in Southern Cook County, in Flossmoor, and you’re African-American, or you’re struggling to survive and you’re living in a rental property on the South or West side, and you happen to be African-America, or for that matter Hispanic, the democrat party has been screwing you for decades, and that is starting to settle into people’s consciousness, and that’s – I think – what the Gonzalez candidacy and the other people you’re talking about are all about. Dan Proft: And I also think very much like what’s been starting to happen to the republican party over the last several cycles. Talented young people in their 30s and 40s, they’re getting sick of this wait your turn mentality. The republican party did it to its detriment for the better part of the last two and a half decades until recently, the last several cycles, and of course, the Chicago democrat party has done the same thing, and maybe they’re sowing the seeds of their own minority status. John Tillman: The new blood coming up isn’t actually interested in having a career in politics and making their living through politics. They’re actually interested in changing things, and I think that’s also the big difference. Dan Proft: Dan Proft back with John Tillman, president and CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute. John, at the start of the show we talked to Chris Robling about the presidential campaign as it wanted to treat Illinois in March 15th , and I got a question for you, as Trump is starting to pile up victories, as he is starting to appear to be the inevitable republican nominee, you have conservative intellectuals Erick Erickson, some of the writers over at The Federalist saying better Hillary than Donald Trump. I will not vote for Donald Trump, and there are some that say ‘I’m not going to vote for Donald Trump’, and some ‘I’d rather have Hillary’… the argument is that we don’t want to be responsible for an enemy inside our perimeter. Better to have an enemy where the lines are drawn and we fight that enemy, than allow someone like Donald Trump, who could be a facsimile of Obama or Hillary in our camp to define the Republican Party, to define the conservative movement and destroy it from within your conservative intellectual. You a subscribe to that theory? John Tillman: That is one of the most insane positions I have ever heard. Hillary would be… Dan Proft: Describing you as a conservative intellectual? John Tillman: Exactly. Both are true. This is an insanity, and it’s actually an indulgence. What this reflects is people now on the right who are mirroring what people on the left do, the people in the North Shore who go ostentatiously to the black tie events to support some ostentatious charity that helps the poor and disadvantaged, rather than going to the soup kitchen on a Sunday and volunteering, and then they can’t help but always talk about that, and they’re ‘holier than thou’, I am such a worthy human being trying to take care of everyone at the cocktail party or at the dinner circuit. This is the same thing. I am so pure, I am so wonderful, I am so enlightened, that I will not deign to vote for Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton. Have they been paying attention who Hillary Clinton is?! She is an amoral, dishonest, power hungry politician who gives not one wit about the poor, the disadvantaged or the average American people, and will use the executive branch and abuse it even more than this president – Obama – has currently done. It is dangerous. The debate I had is, who would you rather have in office for the Republican Congress, though they are weak and they have problems there, to hold check on? Would you rather have the progressives have control of the judiciary and the executive branch for another 4 years, with an impotent congress, or do you rather have Trump and all the risks that are there, that I acknowledge, be tried to hold in check by a more robust congress who’s worried about his excesses. I will take that every day. Dan Proft: Well, alright then, I think you’re right to describe this as a bit of an indulgence, you know? It’s easy to be a theoretician or an op-ed writer at one of these opinion journals and take this position in the long game, where people are really suffering in the short run and the prospect of eight years of Hillary Clinton, for example, the kind of damage that would do. Think about the eight years of president Obama. Could we survive it? Of course we could survive it. We can survive anything, but it doesn’t mean that we should make the incline that much steeper coming out of potentially sixteen years of Obama and Hillary Clinton progressive policies; but they would say in response, just to play this out a little more, they would say ‘Look, you have to look long term; if Trump is an authoritarian in a way that president Obama has been, and essentially concedes all these foundational principles, and then the policies that stem from those principles, then he destroys the party, he destroys the movement, and you won’t be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again after four years of Trump. John Tillman: I think that’s just preposterous on its face. One of the things you and I both know, because we’re both people involved in this in our citizen lives, is you build a movement from the extremes back to the middle. So you build a movement from the pro-liberty, pro-freedom point of view, from the right back to the center, and if Trump goes south on the right, then it is incumbent upon all of us who care about the freedoms that we fight for every day to hold him accountable, and that the work that we’ve all done here is Illinois, it started out by holding republicans accountable – they were a little uncomfortable with that, but now we have the situation, and we are now where we have less of that and we can actually start working across the aisle in terms of the work we do in politics or legislative advocacy. It’s the same idea here: if Trump goes rogue, it’s up to us to solve the problem. That is a much better problem for us to have than the other one.

 

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Dan Proft & John Tillman

On this edition of “Illinois Rising”, Dan Proft and John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute, discuss Governor Rauner’s upcoming budget address with his former advisor Donna Arduin. They are joined by Jason Riley, author and Wall Street Journal columnist, who in referring to the black lives matter movement says, "I know something about growing up poor, and it isn’t that hard to avoid being shot by a cop." Dan and John recap President Obama’s speech to the General Assembly and discuss takeaways from the New Hampshire Primary.

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Dan Proft: Good afternoon. Dan Proft, and joining me on this edition of Illinois Rising is Illinois Policy Institute, President and C.E.O. John Tillman. John had a bunch of big speeches in Springfield the last couple of weeks. We had Gov. Rauner gave his State of the State Address, we had the President of the United States make a rare appearance. John Tillman: Like healing appearance. Let's all just get along and love one another. Dan Proft: Yeah, yeah. Exactly. Following up, though, on something Rauner made mention of in the State of the State Address–even Pres. Obama agrees with me on redistricting reform and term limits. Now I think maybe Pres. Obama is a late convert to those positions, but a convert nonetheless. He made mention over district reform, specifically in his address this week. But now, we look prospectively to Gov. Rauner's budget address this coming Wednesday, the 17th. What do you expect the governor to lay out as we're eight months into this budget impasse? John Tillman: I think he's going to lay out a broad structure and I think he's going to–of how to solve it for the current fiscal year with the current impasse [settlement 00:01:35]. This fiscal year runs through June 30th, but I think he's going to lay out a framework of–for how to get through the next fiscal year and try to combine the two. And I think he's going to ask for authority from the General Assembly to [inaudible 00:01:47] problems through them, authorizing him to make cuts and allocate resources with limited resources that we have. In other words, put him on the hot seat and take yourselves off as to whether or not Speaker Madigan wants to do that or not is another question. Dan Proft: Well, somebody that has been on the frontline and the inside trying to fashion some points of compromise and get a budget deal done. She is Donna Arduin, the former budget director for Gov. Rauner who now is a Senior Fellow at the Illinois Policy Institute, and she joins us now. Donna, thanks for joining us, appreciate it. Donna Arduin: Hi. Glad to be here. Dan Proft: So I guess start with maybe your experience. Everybody's talking about it but a few people have really been on the inside trying to fashion a budget the way that you have. Now, what was your experience during your time as the budget director and the real stumbling blocks that you found in terms of trying to make progress towards a constitutionally balanced budget? Donna Arduin: I would start with, and compared to other states that I worked in, Illinois oddly requires the governor to put together and give to the legislator those time every year a detailed, balanced budget plan. And we worked very, very hard on putting together a plan that not only balanced the budget but did it with the lower tax rates that we have in place right now. But unlike other states, the legislator has no real requirement to do anything. So we are sitting here a year later and the budget office is getting ready to put together a budget for the fiscal year that starts in July, and the legislator hasn’t acted on the one the governor gave them last year. So the experience working with the governor's office and agencies and putting together a well-crafted plan was fantastic given all the difficulties that Illinois faces. But the experience of watching for a year now, waiting for the legislator to act has been very frustrating. John Tillman: Donna, you're perhaps the foremost expert in the country on state budgets. You worked for five years for Jeb Bush who, by all accounts, was a fiscal conservative and had many good accomplishments. And to be clear, that's not an endorsement of this presidential ambitions, but he did a great job in this respect as governor of Florida. You worked for George Pataki, you worked for John Engler, you worked for the former governor of California, or Arnold Schwarzenegger during, as you like to say, his one good year. What's been the most shocking about Illinois versus all these other places where you've had such interesting experiences as well? Donna Arduin: Believe it or not, there were actually were more than one shocking thing. John Tillman: Surprise, surprise. Donna Arduin: Surprise, surprise. I mean, even compared to California and New York which certainly have their own challenges. And compared to well-run states that have fiscally conservative constitutions and law structures like Florida and even Michigan. There were a lot of surprises. First I've been in, obviously, been in states that have union controls of many items surrounding the budget, but none like I saw in Illinois. The union control is just really sort of intertwined and [inaudible 00:05:00] off many aspects of the governor, and even legislators' abilities control the fiscal situation here. The other things that surprised me really was the demoralization of the government. They can't hire staff, they're doing things in a way that's just normal or expensive than they would do if they were given some flexibility on how to manage. The state buildings are falling apart and it's all because the legislators just hasn’t been able their willing to deal with the cost of pensions in Illinois, the cost of state employees through the collective bargaining system which is just as far more controlled than it does on other states to [drive? 00:05:54] wages, salaries, health insurance, and pension [inaudible 00:05:58]. And there's nothing wrong with paying people who work for the government a good wage, but it is a problem when it becomes both a detriment to government stability to operate or even being able to employ people. And also, to the detriment of tax payers who just can't afford [inaudible 00:06:18] pay for those things for state employees, but to pay for themselves. They don't have those type of wage hikes and health insurance and certainly not the kind of pensions that state employees have been promised. Dan Proft: I was doing a little research for a piece on this topic, generally speaking, and I came across a story. I'll just read you the lead graph. "Confounded over how to close a gaping budget hole, Democrats who control Illinois government agreed on a two-year plan to divert hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked to underfunded state pension plans and use it for schools and other programs." That's from a Chicago Tribune article in 2005. And it has been this rinse and repeat approach to state government for decades, for generations. But here's the problem, and I wonder what your perspective is on it. When you have social service providers not getting paid for work performance, state fenders not getting paid for work performed or services provided, you got to understand [inaudible 00:07:18]. Just do something. Just pass the budget, the $4B unbalanced budget that Madigan and Cullerton want you to pass. I mean, we've been doing [unconscious? 00:07:28] unbalanced budgets for 14 years. Let's just keep it going because I need to get paid to keep my doors open. So on the one hand, you're sympathetic to people who are being scammed by a government they've provided goods or services to, and on the other hand–and they're used to just exact what this Tribune article from 10 years ago reported and what has been going on for 15 years. So let's just do this for now and then we can just figure it out next year. Donna Arduin: Good question. And I don't think anybody went into this–wanting to have vendors not getting paid. But if this doesn't stop, as you were saying, we're going to come to a crisis. The state and the pension system will run out of cash. And then nobody will get paid. And it will be worse than that. There will be no one getting paid and we won't have services. So the governor didn't do this so that vendors couldn't get paid. He did this so that we could bring about real change in Illinois and stop the slide. Turn the slide around, which is why he calls us the [inaudible 00:08:31] of the turnaround agenda. Dan Proft: And you get the sense, and John, too, as well [00:08:35]. Did you get the sense that until something like that happens–I mean, this is–what you're describing is the responsible thing to do, of course. And it's funny because it doesn't seem like state workers and others get the idea that this is the position that's actually in their interest like you kind of–you're on their side and they're not. But the idea that until and unless something cataclysmic like that happen, a whole host of state legislators and a whole lot of public sector union bosses just don't believe it will ever come to that. John Tillman: Go ahead, Donna. Yeah. Well, I think that that is absolutely true. I think–and Donna, maybe you can entrust their delusion by talking a little bit about the tax burden in Illinois. I think one of the things that is so ironic when I talked to union spokespeople is they don't think the people of Illinois are taxed enough. They think much more money needs to come out of individual taxpayer's wallets and be put into their wallets, which is how they get paid. And they don't take the evidence of the outmigration, people abandoning ship and going to other states. Not just Florida and Texas, but we lose population to every single other Midwest state, every single one of our neighboring states, of course. And Donna, you've done a lot of work and [inaudible 00:09:38] tax burdens and the spending burden that states take on whether it's state taxes and spending or local tax and spending, including property taxes. This is a very big indicator of future successes, is it not? Donna Arduin: It is. It is, John. And even on the most important issue, we can argue the numbers any way–several ways. But the fact of the matter is people get to choose in this day and age where they want to live. Where they want to run their businesses, where they want to invest, and provide jobs. And they're leaving Illinois. And that's just irrefutable. So when you look at migration amongst people who are citizens of the United States, people are leaving Illinois more than they're leaving other states. And to your point, John, the tax burden that any state faces is really the amount that's being spent. The amount of money governments are spending including for pension systems even if they're really committing that spending to the [feature? 00:10:43] by taking out that not making payments. It all counts in the economy field. So if the legislators says, "Well, we're only spending this amount because we're just going to push off pension payments." the economy feels the full burden of that. And that's the reason why we see the results that we do which is that people are leaving Illinois. Dan Proft: Donna Arduin, former Gov. Rauner Budget Director, now a Senior Fellow at the Illinois Policy Institute. Donna, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it. Donna Arduin: Thanks, Dan. Dan Proft: Dan Proft back with John Tillman, President and C.E.O. of the Illinois Policy Institute. And John, this is so fascinating. It kind of shows you the totalitarian mentality that has taken over education. Well, you talked mostly about this in the space of higher education academia, but it has made its way down the K-12 Education. This story, U46 Elgin School District, biggest suburban school district in the state, a school board member there who I supported when she ran for school board named Jeanette Ward, she posted a quote from a book written by Jason Riley who's a Wall Street Journal columnist, Fellow to Manhattan Institute, in the order of February being Black History month. From his book, Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed, the quote is this: "Blacks have become their own worst enemy, and liberal leaders do not help matters by blaming self-inflicted wounds on whites or 'society'. The notion that racism is holding back blacks as a group, or that better black outcomes cannot be expected until racism has been vanquished, is a dodge. And encouraging blacks to look to politicians to solve their problems does them a disservice." That's a quote from his book that she cut and pasted into a Facebook post. John Tillman: Outrageous! Dan Proft: It has been [inaudible 00:01:30] as outrageous. The school district that's not doing a particularly good job at this moment of managing their finances or educating children. School board members said that was racist, said that was insensitive. They had a school board meeting where they discussed it, and both sides kind of brought in their advocates to debate whether or not this quote from a book that she didn't write, from an African-American intellectual, like Jason Riley, was appropriate discourse. John Tillman: Well, I think what's amazing is the lack of curiosity about the author. I'll bet none of them have ready any of Jason's work which is extraordinary and courageous. And this is a good example of why. Because when you start bringing up this issue and discussing it out in the public–just say nothing if you're white. If you're an African-American, oh, they come after you. They don't want to hear it. Dan Proft: And we're happy to now be joined by Jason Riley. Again, the author of the book Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed. Jason, as I mentioned, former editorial board member of the Wall Street Journal, now a columnist and a Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Jason, thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it. Jason Riley: Thank you. Dan Proft: And so this flap about excerpting a quote from your book, and one of the other quotes that was excepted by this school board member here in the northwest suburban Illinois was, "It's more important to have a black man in the home than a black man in the White House." And this has caused quite a stir among school board members and others liberally inclined in that school district. Are you surprised by this? Jason Riley: Oh no. No, not at all. I mean, it's the sort of discussion about race that strays from the orthodoxy, from what is acceptable in our society today. And the orthodoxy is that all black problems are explained by white racism. And when you inject a personal responsibility into the equation, when you start talking about whether or not black behavior or antisocial behavior or black pathology or black subculture of attitudes toward work or school or marriage or employment have any impact on the black outcomes we see today and the racial disparities we see today, you get your head handed to you. And that's what Jeanette Ward learned recently. John Tillman: Jason, what has it been like for you? I've read your work for a very long time. Long time admirer of it. And at some point, we'd love to have you come to Chicago and visit with us. What has it been like for you to lead on this? Because you certainly have been a leader. What kind of repercussions have there been in your own life? Jason Riley: Oh, I'm hardly–I'm flattered that you would say that, but I've hardly been a lead on that. I'm merely picking up a baton from people like Thomas [inaudible 00:04:12] and Clarence Thomas and Shelby Steele and many others who've been saying these things for decades. They are the true leaders on this issue. But our work is still cut out. I mean, you still see people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and the NAACP as the media go to individuals and organizations when it comes to speaking for Black America. And one of the reasons I wrote the book and one of the reasons I write the things that I write is to show that those folks do not speak for all Black Americans. That there are diversions, a very diverse set of views–and I encounter them when I go out and talk about these issues. Whether I'm talking to churches or college campuses or so forth. There are wide variety of views on what ails the Black community and how to move forward. John Tillman: What I think, Jason, is so dangerous about this whole sort of mindset is it's almost a form of bigotry in itself. It is a form of bigotry in and of itself of those who are sort of race baiters who are taking Jeanette Ward down. They're really alienating a significant segment of the white population that is all-in and sympathetic to the cause of racial harmony and racial justice. And I think that the danger is you start to actually cleave a coalition across ethnic groups–Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, whoever you want to pick–by the sort of racialization of politics. What's going to happen now with Hilary running in South Carolina and trying to further run with a group identity politics. What do you think of that in terms of the fact that it actually starts to alienate white voters and white citizens who used to be sympathetic to the cause and may not be anymore because they feel like they're–no matter what they do, it's not good enough, they're calling us racist, white, privileged people. Jason Riley: Well, I think that ship sailed many decades ago. Frankly, I think that's what you saw happen after the traditional Civil Rights. Leaders like Martin Luther King left to stay in the Black Power Movement. Came along equal opportunity, turned into racial preferences, and you started breaking up coalitions like Black coalitions or Jewish coalitions that have been together for decades till the first half of the 20th Century. So that ship's sailed a long time ago. And what's happened is the Civil Rights Movement has become an industry. And I tell you: a very, very lucrative industry. But it depends on keeping that narrative out there, that racism, White racism, is an all-purpose explanation for these racial differences and outcomes we see today in employment, in education, in household income, and so forth. And when you stray from that narrative, they come after you. Because it is a very, very lucrative industry so they need to keep that narrative front and center. Dan Proft: Do you see that changing at all as you move down at the age demographic? I mean, I know you've got left wing intellectuals like [inaudible 00:07:02] that's popular among younger African-Americans as well as leftists and intellectuals. But it seems to me–I'll just use Chicago as an example. And you have a broader perspective, you travel around the country speaking and so forth. [inaudible 00:07:17] happening elsewhere. I was talking to an ABC7 political reporter recently, Charles Thomas, who's an African-American gentleman. Been around Chicago for a long time. And he said what's happening in the [inaudible 00:07:28] and everything that's happened in Chicago under [inaudible 00:07:30] five years–the schools melting down–becomes civil society in Chicago, frankly, melting down is that there's different conversations happening in the neighborhoods now that I haven’t heard in 30 years. And he sees at least some segment of the African-American community moving from the Civil Rights [inaudible 00:07:52] case in terms of prosecuting that case–being an advocate for that case–to economic. That, look–he says, "Look, I live downtown and I don't really encounter races. I can do whatever I want." That's not the issue. The issue is economic opportunity, and the conversation's changing in that direction, and that could be a positive thing that provides the opportunity for different coalitions to be built. Jason Riley: Well, I wish I could be as optimistic as some of the folks you've been talking to. But what we've also seen the rise of in the recent years is the Black Lives Matter Movement. Dan Proft: Yeah. Jason Riley: Which is of course built on this crazy notion that there's an epidemic of cops shooting young black men. When we all know that the biggest threat to [inaudible 00:08:41] Blacks are other Black criminals. I mean, I know something about growing up Black and male in the inner city. And it's not that tough to avoid getting shot by a cop. It's much more difficult to avoid getting shot by other young Black men. The leading cause of death for young black men in this country is homicide. And it is not because cops are shooting them or because the Ku Klux Klan is driving through Black neighborhoods spraying them with bullets. These are other young Black predators, and they are preying on Black people. Primarily poor Black people. But you have a Black Lives Matter Movement out there pushing an entirely different narrative that has no [inaudible 00:09:25] in reality. And it's got [legs? 00:09:28]. I don't think it's going away anytime soon. You saw the way the Democratic candidates for President were lined up and told to say Black Lives Matter and they did? Dan Proft: Yeah. Jason Riley: And the White House opened its door to dealing with the leaders of this movement? This is also what's going on. So I feel some optimism on things like education. Charter schools disproportionately are helping low-income Blacks who need better childhood education [inaudible 00:09:56] Blacks are realizing that. But see that movement gaining some strength and that's a [powerful? 00:10:03] development. But this criminal justice issue, I think, is a big deal. And it's not going away, and the wrong side seems to be winning this today. Dan Proft: And now you have DeRay Mckesson, one of the founders, running for the mayor of Baltimore. Jason Riley: Yes. Dan Proft: Isn't that, and won't that be interesting? Jason Riley: Yeah. Dan Proft: All right, Jason Riley, Wall Street Journal columnist, Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. The book, Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed. Jason Riley, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate your time. Jason Riley: Thank you. Dan Proft: Dan Proft back with John Tillman, President and C.E.O. of the Illinois Policy Institute, illinoispolicy.org. And John, I'll tell you what. Crain's is really an interesting outlet these days. Crain's Chicago Business. John Tillman: The progressive business publication. Dan Proft: Right. Or the anti-business business publication. John Tillman: Right. That's actually better. It is the same language but I think yours is a little more expressive. Dan Proft: The irony is lost on them. Sen. Daniel Biss, and one of these intolerable prigs from the North Shore. John Tillman: Did you say prig? Dan Proft: Prig. John Tillman: Okay. Dan Proft: Yeah. He wrote an op-ed [calling? 00:00:51] Texas' policies. I mean, just a second. He wrote an op-ed as an Illinois state senator criticizing Texas' economic policies which, I believe, is the state that's home to six of the ten fastest growing counties in the country, created more jobs since the Great Recession than the other 49 states combined. John Tillman: Right. Dan Proft: This state, the worst governed state in America, we've got a state senator who is criticizing Texas saying, and I'm quoting him: "Texas' achievements are real but they come at a huge cost: Lower wages, less regulation–" as if that's a bad thing, "–and a weaker safety net are causing poverty to rise and the middle class to shrink in Texas." Hmm? So we don't want to pursue the policies that were pursued in Texas, so says Daniel Biss. Well, how about we get a Texas perspective on that? Joining us now is Chuck DeVore. He's the Vice President of National Initiatives for the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Chuck, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it. Chuck DeVore: Hey, thanks for having me. Dan Proft: So it seems like the criticism we're referencing from a state senator here of Texas is similar to the criticism that was lodged about Texas when Rick Perry was in the presidential campaign. That, yeah, a lot of the jobs, with their low-paying jobs, you don't have the social safety net with respect to–you have a high percentage of population that's undedicated–all of these kind of poverty and wage-related criticisms that suggest that the Texas economic miracle is a bit of a mirage. How do you respond to that criticism? Chuck DeVore: Well, I love it when folks criticize Texas because it gives us the opportunity to talk about the truth and how poverty is measured in America. Most people don't realize that the Census Bureau, with their 50-year-old official poverty rate, doesn't take into account the cost of living. John Tillman: Right. Chuck DeVore: So as far as they're concerned, it costs the same amount to live in Brooklyn as it does in Live Oak, Texas. Which is [inaudible 00:02:46] ridiculous. And if you take into account the cost of living as well as non-cash benefits–the other thing they don't do is they don't count the value of things like food stamps now called SNAP or Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. Right. They don't count housing vouchers such as rental assistance. They don't count that. So when you look at an alternative way of looking at poverty called the Supplemental Poverty Measure, Texas is at the national average. John Tillman: In addition to that, Texas also has many challenges. And that you have this massive immigration of people from all over the country, and of course, you have migration from Mexico. And Texas has done a pretty darn good job of absorbing those people and giving them meaningful work. During this time when you're doing this, your wages are rising. And in fact, I believe Texas [inaudible 00:03:32] overall are manufacturing average household income just past Illinois, traditionally a high-income state, Texas, historically a low-income state. Texas' wages have been rising overall for a long period of time. Isn't that correct? Chuck DeVore: Well, that's correct. And you pointed out an interesting thing about people moving here and opportunity and demographics. There are only four minority-majority states in the country–Texas, California, New Mexico, and Hawaii. And Texas looks an awful lot like the future of America. At least what demographers think is going to happen. So you only have 42% of the population that's white, non-Hispanic in Texas. You also have a lot of people who move here from other countries that tend to have lower-than-average wages. And they're moving here because there's opportunity, just like people from Illinois are moving to Texas. Dan Proft: How important is this kind of rather unique thing about Texas that a lot of people don't know? That its state legislature meets once every two years and basically gets [inaudible 00:04:30]. They're not a professional political class the way that we have here, for example, in Illinois with the highest paid or very near the top of–in terms of salary and benefits of state legislators, and they're seemingly always up to no good. Chuck DeVore: Yeah. Well, I think you're onto something, but it's also about the culture here. I was a lawmaker in California for six years and just termed out. And on a hunch, I looked at the backgrounds of the people in the majority party in the two biggest states–California and Texas. And what I found was about 71% of the majority party in Texas a couple of years ago were businessmen, farmers, ranchers, doctors. Right. People who work for a living on the private market. The equivalent in California was 18%. So 71% in Texas working for themselves or working in the private markets versus 18% in California. Now, in California, in the majority party, it was pretty evenly divided between people who are government workers, community activists, and trial attorneys. So [inaudible 00:05:37] the bigger state in the country. So of course, they have high-progressive taxes and a crushing bureaucracy and all these regulations. Because that's what they're used to. John Tillman: Chuck, you worked for the Texas Public Policy Foundation run by my good friend, Brooke Rollins. You'd be sure to tell her that when I come down there, John Tillman, she owes me dinner. And that you need a bigger office and a huge headquarters building you've just built. She can afford that. Dan Proft: Yeah. Chuck DeVore: There you go. Dan Proft: Especially for all the people emigrating to Texas. John Tillman: Right, right. Dan Proft: I mean, Chuck, you came from California. We were just talking before the segment, Allen West moves from Florida to Texas to get involved in Public Policy there. You move from California to Texas. So it's a magnet for deep-thinking, free-market intellectuals as well, apparently. Chuck DeVore: Well, let's not sell Illinois short. You've got the Illinois Policy Institute which does a bang-up job. And I think the governor in Illinois, Gov. Rauner, really got some good policies if he can only get some support and traction in his legislator. John Tillman: We're working very hard on that. Dan, in fact, is working very hard on that. He runs a superpack, and we hope to see some changes because of Dan's fine work. And the models are very different in Texas. You're trying to prove something, I think, is very interesting that [inaudible 00:06:51] too earlier which is our ideas, the pro-free-market [inaudible 00:06:55] ideas are colorblind, ethnic blind, gender blind. Texas, as you said, minority white is winning over Hispanics, is winning over African-Americans, is winning over new immigrants with the ideas. And Illinois on the other hand is a blue state. We're trying to prove you can turn from blue to purple to red. So very different games. But I think what's going on in Texas is that [inaudible 00:07:14] Hispanic community. Chuck DeVore: Absolutely. I very much agree. Dan Proft: All right. Chuck DeVore, Vice President of National Initiatives for the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Chuck, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate your time. Chuck DeVore: Thank you. Dan Proft: And maybe, John, you might consider locating the Illinois Policy Institute [inaudible 00:07:31] in Texas. [inaudible 00:07:32] doing your work from there. John Tillman: We've done the analysis. We would save over $250,000 a year in cost if we move to Texas. Dan Proft: That is– John Tillman: Okay, I made up that number, but the idea's the same. Dan Proft: Staggering. Yeah. Dan Proft: Dan Proft back with John Tillman, President and C.E.O. of the Illinois Policy Institute. And John, we touched on it a little bit earlier on the show, Pres. Obama's speech in Springfield to the General Assembly on Wednesday. And let me get into one specific policy proposal he offered up consistent with the idea of the new tone of politics, more civil areas of compromise, bipartisanship–all the stuff that he says but doesn't really believe. At least not in terms of translating into action. But one of those items is redistricting reform. Let's refocus on–districts don't need to look like earmuffs. Right. Picking your constituencies rather than having constituencies pick their representatives and so forth. More competitive elections that will lead to more participations. These are the presidents' words. Well, let's listen to what he said. "Second step towards a better politics is rethinking the way that we draw our congressional districts. Now, let me point this out–I want to point this out, because this is another case of cherry-picking here. This tends to be popular in states where Democrats have been drawing the lines among Republicans, and less popular among Republicans where they control drawing the lines. So let’s be very clear here–nobody has got clean hands on this thing." Including the speaker. I'll tell you what. It was nice to see how much applause that all kinds of ruling class politicians representing gerrymandered districts could muster for redistricting reform. John Tillman: There's so much lie, obfuscation, opaqueness, and just outright flimflammery in that whole refuge is played. First of all, he's trying to present himself as the higher oracle of love and, let's all just get along. Right? It's just so ridiculous. He's been the most divisive president by race, by gender, by generation, by ethnic background, by party affiliation. He's the most partisan president since Harry Truman, a very partisan president, for those who might remember. I don't remember, but I read a lot. Dan Proft: He couldn't export this successful Illinois political culture to D.C. I mean, that's essentially what he said. John Tillman: Yeah. Dan Proft: Illinois, there's no meanness here. But he couldn't get that done in D.C. and that's one of his few regrets. John Tillman: There's two important points here. First of all, the reason he's making this case now is because Republicans control over 30 states. And so on the average, you're just handicapped. But I'm going to be better off if I sort of equalize it. But the more important thing, Dan, secondly, is that the Democrats [inaudible 00:03:07] that every time there's some sort of reform for redistricting, in the end, they still control it. In the end, they gain the system. And the Republicans and the people on the right are just not competent at playing this game because the other side plays for keeps. The right does not. Dan Proft: And so we have a movement of foot in Illinois. The Independent Map movement. It's not exactly the model that I would support, more like maybe the Iowa model or you have computers draw the line based on the criteria the supreme court has set forth–contiguousness, compactness, respect for local units of–community boundaries, essentially, and let the computer draw them and then have what may, you would have a more competitive elections. You'd have an increased number of competitive elections. But this is something [inaudible 00:03:53] been in public office, state, federal level for 20 years. It's an easy thing for him to do on his way out the door. To ring the bell for bipartisanship that he didn't practice and it doesn't really have that much interest to practice. John Tillman: Well, I think that's exactly right. As he starts his Farewell Tour, he's going to be very conflicted. Because on the one hand, he has to make sure he has a successor that will protect his legacy, a Democrat nominee that wins. He's going to have to continue the divisive politics that he has mastered over the last 7 ½, 8 years. So he's going to do that. But on the other hand, he's going to go on this tour around the country and he's going to revert to where he was between 2004 and 2008 with his lofty rhetoric, and let's bring everybody together, and I'm the healer. It's going to be a very interesting dance he does. And whether the Republicans and the people on the right and the middle fall for it. Dan Proft: Well, dispensing with Pres. Obama's falderal– John Tillman: Falderal. Nice. Dan Proft: It's a fun word, isn't it? John Tillman: It is a great word. Dan Proft: Dispensing with that for a minute, the underlying issue of redistrict reform, it's something that Gov. Rauner has promoted. He mentioned it in the State of the State Address along with term limits and [inaudible 00:04:56] kind of his political reform agenda addition to all the structural budgetary and financial reforms, regulatory reforms. So what about that? What about the Independent Map movement in Illinois or some other kind of redistricting reform where the balance of power to change in the General Assembly? John Tillman: We certainly understand the interest in this. We've looked at that proposal very carefully and we're very ambivalent about it. We think it is [inaudible 00:05:23]. One of the things you like to say, Dan, is that it's not broken, it's fixed. Dan Proft: Right. John Tillman: This proposal has fixes in it that worry me greatly that the political class will continue to control the process there. After there are truck who highways and byways you can drive through to prevent the actual goal which is fairness and [inaudible 00:05:42]. Dan Proft: Yeah. And in addition to that, I mean, look. It isn’t part of personnel problem, but one of the things the Independent Map–and I mean it's a cultural problem and not kind of the creative cartography of the Democrats as part of the political cultural problem in Illinois. But it seems to me we focus on–we'll have more competitive elections although you suggest there are highways and byways out of that in this proposal that's being bandied about, and it's worth noting. Mostly by progressive leftists. So that should be a– John Tillman: [inaudible 00:06:09]. Dan Proft: Yeah. That should be of a concern as well. But it's also not just the personnel problem, it's also a culture problem. And so you have seen huge turnover in the General Assembly in the last decade. But that hasn’t changed a political culture in Illinois, in part because you have the same leadership and in part because of the underlying culture. And I think that's a larger conversation we have rather than believing that redistricting reform or even term limits or the combination of the two is going to be some kind of [inaudible 00:06:36] for all the [inaudible 00:06:37] Illinois. John Tillman: You know, we're going to [inaudible 00:06:38] in a few minutes, we're going to talk to Chuck DeVore, from the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He points out the make-up of the legislatures' matters. Do they come from the private sector or are they activists, lawyers, and others who [inaudible 00:06:49] the system. In Illinois, politics is a career choice just like trading is, just like pharmaceuticals are. This is an industry that is profitable. That's not true in some other places. Dan Proft: Yeah. And it's an industry. The only way it's profitable is by making every other industry unprofitable. John Tillman: Right. Dan Proft: Dan Proft back with John Tillman, President of the Illinois Policy Institute. And John, we've got South Carolina coming up. Kind of earth-shattering events in terms of the performance of one Donald Trump and one Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire. And you had an interesting analysis of what you think happened in New Hampshire and how you think what happened in New Hampshire [inaudible 00:00:36] for South Carolina and the rest of the race. Give us your insights in that area. John Tillman: Let's talk about the Democrats first. What I think is so interesting with Bernie Sanders, the people of New Hampshire were feeling the "Bern", as everyone likes to say. Dan Proft: Yeah. John Tillman: It got to 60% 22-point win. Dan Proft: And Madigan can take a shot of Penicillin in [inaudible 00:00:54]. John Tillman: Yes. I think Hillary would like to give Bernie a shot, but I don't think there'd be Penicillin in there. It might be hemlock, perhaps. But the thing that's interesting about what's going on in New Hampshire is he kills her, right? The only thing that's now emerged, of course, is that delegate-wise, they're about 50-50. Sort of interesting. He wins in a landslide and can't gain on her on delegates. Dan Proft: Well, because of the superdelegates. The six superdelegates. Now, they can always flip for Sanders but I mean, it seems to me as you head into New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders couldn't make the argument [inaudible 00:01:21], think the system is rigged for the powerful, for the insiders, and that's–it's rigged against me and it's rigged against you and that's what we're collectively fighting against. John Tillman: I think that's exactly right. That feeds the narrative which is the one [inaudible 00:01:31] that U.S. and news and world report piece that I wrote after the New Hampshire Primary is that both Trump and Sanders are mining the same thing–the discontent of angst and anger among the elector. Both sides of the isle, voters are very unhappy with the political establishment. They feel the game is rigged against them, they feel they're on the outside looking in, they feel the game is all about the insiders, the cronies, and everybody that's making deals, and they want to reject it. I think, Dan, [inaudible 00:01:55] recently had a comment in the Wall Street Journal that the rejection of Hillary and the rise of Bernie is really a repudiation of Obama's seven years. This guy's been here for seven years, she's running as his [inaudible 00:02:07] in continuation of the Obama be the third term. And Bernie is ironically doing the best job of eviscerating the Obama legacy on the Democrat side. I think that's interesting. One of the things you said when were recently at a Hawks game was that Trump's support is inelastic. I thought it was a very good way to express it. What I put in the piece was that Trump–everybody including me used to talk about–he's got a upside cap. And there still may be truth to that, but the point you made, which I think is really interesting that I sort of stole and expanded on in this piece is that he has a floor. With below which you cannot go down below and [inaudible 00:02:44] rather. And then because there's still a big field with their spreading out the remaining 65%, this is perfect for him. He can win as a plurality nominee state by state by state. So in order for this to change, people are going to have to start attacking Trump and not Rubio and other sideshows. Dan Proft: Well, right. But the problem is, of course, I mean, they're in a bit of a trick bag. This is a prisoner's dilemma game. So it's Trump then Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, and Bush. And the best thing that happened for Trump in addition to his win in New Hampshire was John Kasich's 2nd place finish. Because it keeps Kasich and Bush [inaudible 00:03:16] respectable 4th place finish, I suppose. It means 10% for $35M. I don't know. John Tillman: $1,200 [per vote? 00:03:23]. Dan Proft: Yeah. That's a high price to pay but I guess he's got the money. But I mean, it keeps them in. Certainly through South Carolina. Probably through Super Tuesday. And if Trump continues to win the states, that is [current pulling? 00:03:34] level most of the states which is very similar to New Hampshire–I'm at 35 and everybody else is under 20. So they have to fight each other to get to 2nd place so they could focus on Trump because there's this free rider problem–any of them have to go in together as a cartel to say, "No, we're all going to train our sights on Trump." Well, why am I going to train my sights on Trump if I'm not going to benefit? John Tillman: Right. Well, see, I disagree with that now. I think the race is a vow to the point where rather than–which is what Christie did, right? He kills Rubio by eviscerating [inaudible 00:04:05] debate. And then it also killed Christie, which is ironic. Now that wasn't cause and effect but it was a little bit a part of it. Dan Proft: Yeah. John Tillman: But Christie didn't come across–he didn't present his vision. He didn't present what he stood for other than saying, "This guy is not ready. I'm a governor, I am ready." But no compelling case. Dan Proft: Well, although Christie outperforms his polling going into the New Hampshire Primary. John Tillman: Yeah. He went for half a point or two points? Dan Proft: Well, he went from four to eight. John Tillman: Okay, four to eight. Dan Proft: I mean, as compared to Rubio, after Iowa, going from 17 to 10. John Tillman: But my point is–going back to the point about how you fight with each other to be the 2nd place person. Dan Proft: Yeah. John Tillman: I think the race has changed now that among the also [inaudible 00:04:43] between 10% and 16%, one of them will emerge by attacking Trump. In other words, now is the time to go after Trump. And what Henninger said, which I completely agree with, they need to go after him on policy chops. Dan Proft: Right. John Tillman: Visionary policy chops, and dissect the weakness of Trump, that he has no substance and endorse and buy into Trump's anger and angst. And the person best prepared to both of those is Ted Cruz. Dan Proft: Yeah, I think so, too. And he's best prepared to do that in a different way than any other candidates as well. Because he has never really gone after Trump in a personal way. He hasn't attacked the persona, he's focused on the policy difference. And I also think he's the most iconoclastic of the office holders or former office holders so he's seen as somebody who, if not Trump, a lot of Trump supporters would be willing to align with Ted Cruz. Whereas from Marco Rubio, for Jeb Bush, certainly for John Kasich, certainly, that is a much heavier lift. John Tillman: Yeah. He can say with legitimacy his bonafides– "My [inaudible 00:05:47], the people in Washington D.C. the purple establishment, they hate me. They hate me so much, they're thinking of [inaudible 00:05:53] establishment is thinking of supporting Trump. Now, I love Donald, I love what he's appealing to–let me tell you why I'm the guy that you should all rally to because we both are anti-establishments. But let me tell you what I will do policy-wise that Donald doesn't even know how to discuss or debate me on." Dan Proft: Well, right. And here's the opportunity, really, that only exists for Trump because for Cruz because the others are unwilling to really go after their colleagues but they'll go after the GOP-controlled Congress in the way that Cruz and Trump will do. Obama's last budget. Why has debt more than doubled under Pres. Obama? And he continues to pile on more taxes and more regulations and more profligate spending as is exemplified in the last budget he just presented. It's not just because of Pres. Obama. It's because of this go along Republican Congress that if I'm Ted Cruz, I have stood a [inaudible 00:06:46] telling Mitch McConnell he's a liar. Nobody else is willing to do that. And for Donald Trump, they're all part of the problem, Ted Cruz included because they're all members of Congress. So those two are uniquely positioned to continue this line of attack that a good percentage of Republican primary voters ascribe to. John Tillman: Absolutely. I think I haven't actually heard that argument made up because that's a very good one. Because what the other argument you get opposite that is, "If Cruz becomes president, he can't get along with the Republican majorities in the House in the Senate." Things have a funny way of changing when you have the bully pulpit [inaudible 00:07:16]. Dan Proft: Yeah, yeah. The bully pulpit and the associated– John Tillman: Power and money and all the rest. Dan Proft: The pen and the phone, as a president once said.

 

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