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Is Higher Education Worth Saving?

"I think tolerance of an idea is great. But there is a time and a place to say, 'You're done talking and it's time to be educated.'"

On this week's Against The Current, Heritage Foundation Legal Fellow and 1st Amendment Expert Andrew Kloster discusses whether or not we can salvage academia from the ravages of universities as totalitarian re-education camps for crybullies. Where were conservatives while this was ongoing? What can we do now? And, off campus as well as on, what of the fate of religious freedom in this country as corps choose short-term profit concerns over our long-term existence as a free people?

All this and more with The Heritage Foundation's Andrew Kloster.

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Dan Proft: Dan Proft here. On this edition of Against the Current we’re pleased to be joined by Andrew Kloster, who is a Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, specializing in 1st Amendment issues; 1st Amendment still a part of the Constitution; you may not know. We’re coming to you live from the Skyline Club on top of Old Republic Building, in downtown Chicago, as per usual. Andrew, thanks for being with us; great to have you. Andrew Kloster: Thanks for having me. Dan Proft: So, 1st Amendment; it is still a part of the Constitution, as I mentioned; as far as I know; you’re an attorney, licensed attorney; I went to Law School, didn’t want to practice law; didn’t even take the Bar, so I don’t keep up on these things. I don’t have to do continuing legal education to understand which Amendments to the Bill of Rights are still enforced and which are not, so you can educate me on that. But as we think about the freedoms that are enshrined in the 1st Amendment, the right to free speech and the right to freedom of assembly is under assault, and nowhere is that more of the case than on college campuses. You went to Miami University as an undergrad, or the U, as it’s called; I know that from the ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries. And I went to Northwestern University, which is one of the most overpriced institutions of alleged higher education across the fruited plains, and I wonder, before we get into some of the salient examples of totalitarianism in college campuses today, thinking about when you were an undergrad at Miami, what that experience was like some 15 years ago. Andrew Kloster: Right, that’s right. Well, look, it was a great experience socially, but I think a lot of people nowadays, especially when you send your children to public school, not even just higher education, but primary school, you kind of have the idea that your child may get a degree, may get an education in spite of the school itself; and to some degree, that was my experience then. Certainly, I think it’s the experience of many college students now; that you go to college, you spend a lot of money, you’re kind of insulated, you get a social education, but so much of our civic history – you look at what’s happening now at Stanford, and the Western Civilization requirement is triggering its hate speech; we can’t have that, so these institutions can’t even teach, even if they wanted to now, and there was an anonymous article by a professor who said “I’m a liberal professor, I’m afraid of my liberal students”, because of how bad the politics are. Dan Proft: So when I was an undergrad at Northwestern, I got involved in campus politics as a predicate to getting involved in electoral politics and policy after I graduated, and I think you’re right; I think there’s a lot of people who think, “Well, even though it’s overpriced, even though my child is going to have to endure this ridicule of they believe in things like the 1st Amendment”, it’s a credential they have to have in a world in which we live today, so it’s just something we have to endure; which is an odd way to approach education; I mean, as DH said, “The education’s not the filling of the pale, it’s the lighting of a fire”; we’re supposed to usher young people into the posture of being lifelong learners. That’s not happening. I was a despised person on the campus of Northwestern – as I am today, but for different reasons – when I was at Northwestern, I was kind of the honcho of a speaker’s bureau that would bring conservative speakers to campus; I along with a bunch of young people at the time – this is many, many years ago; a different era in American history, of pre-industrialization – we started a campus newspaper, an alternative to the daily paper on campus, called the Northwestern Chronicle, which I’m proud to say still exists today; and of course all my colleagues have gone out to be urologists and heart surgeons; they got real jobs. But it was fascinating; this was for me going back more than 20 years. And I remember what it was like in terms of the political correctness and the intolerance for descent back in the early 90s, in Evanston. Today, though, it seems like this has metastasized into a different strain of political correctness, where it’s not being driven by the students as much, it’s actually being driven by the alleged adults on campus, the professorate, the administration, that is as intolerant of descent as is these overgrown adolescents that are still trying to find their way in the world. Andrew Kloster: Yeah, that’s exactly right. Case study A for that is this Melissa Click journalism professor at Missou’, who recently let go; she wasn’t a Journalism professor, she was a communication professor who was affiliated with the Journalism Faculty. Dan Proft: And turned out to be kind of a thug. Andrew Kloster: And a thug. And she should have known better. What did she do? She’s on video, you can go to YouTube and look at it, you can see a Journalism student trying to film this Black Lives Matter protest, and you can see other students saying “We have a 1st Amendment right on public property to not be filmed”, you know, news flash, you don’t, and you see this Journalism professor, this Communications professor trying to shut down the student journalist with his camera and saying “We need some muscle over here”, and physically assaulting this student. But that’s why she was let go, but I think it says a number of things; it says, number 1, you’re exactly right, it’s top down driven a lot of the censorship on campus; but number 2, while the 1st Amendment may be alive in the law, people are starting to have a radically different understanding of what the 1st Amendment really means. The fact that someone can claim “I have a 1st Amendment right not to be filmed”, that’s jut bizarre to me; I have a 1st Amendment right… I’m just exercising my rights to assault you; I’m just exercising my rights if I’m trying to shut you down, or if I protest you. Dan Proft: Am I right to assault you in the case of Melissa Click; supersedes your right to ask other students questions peaceably. Andrew Kloster: Right, because those questions are triggering, or hate speech; or something like that. So they used the language of the 1st Amendment, they used the language of rights, but the content of those rights are so radically different from I think what our founders thought – I know what our founders thought; I know what so many Americans of history thought – it’s just changed so rapidly, it’s very different from when you were there; it’s very different from when I was there. It’s just an amazing change. Dan Proft: So there are merited examples of this, and we’ll get to them, but one thing about the Melissa Click case, since you brought it up, that has a note of encouragement, is that not only was she bounced from the University of Missouri, the whole falloff of what happened on that campus, with the football team, and with Click, and the way that people were simply asking questions and trying to engage in dialogue were treated, is that Missouri has lost 1500 students, and now faces a 30 million dollar plus budget deficit for the coming fiscal year; so you actually have parents and families voting with their feet and saying, “You know what, no. My kid, my money, we’re not going to finance this”. Andrew Kloster: Right. Now, I think that’s correct. If I am a Missouri administrator and I go before the legislator, or I’m talking to the board of trustees, of course I’m going to say “Well, there are other problems out there; it’s a really bad environment for universities”. It has nothing to do with this incident. Yeah, there was some bad press, but people are not voting with their pocketbook, so I just think I’m not sure that this may have lasting impact for them unless they’re sustained attention, and have sustained decrease in their enrolment and funding and things like that. But it does show that – and just to kind of give a little preview – it does show that we have these 1st Amendment rights; we’ve tried to use the law to vindicate them a lot, but the number one thing that people can do to protect these rights is to vote with their pocketbook, is to have these alumni networks and to fight back through sort of direct action, rather than through legal action. Dan Proft: And so we can chronicle all these examples; I do this on my Morning Show, on AM 560 all the time; University of Oklahoma, a human relations class where white people are not allowed to sing Rihanna songs because that could be a micro-aggression if you’re not from Barbados. Now I’m not one to invoke a lot of Rihanna songs normally, but of course this is secondary to the point. The chalk, I am traumatized by chalk, somebody writes “Trump 2016” in chalk on a sidewalk on a college campus at Emory University, one of the better Universities in the country in terms of reputation, and this traumatizes the entire community, including the University President. What are we to make of that, and frankly, what is the response, what should it be, from people that otherwise have – even just setting aside the Constitution for a second – who are adults in civil society who say “We can disagree about a presidential candidate, we can disagree civically and still respect one another’s right to express themselves”, because it’s sort of kind of the cornerstone of our free society. Andrew Kloster: Right. In defense of the President of Emory I’ll just say that he did eventually come around and say, look – he started off by saying, there were these chalk “Trump 2016 stop Islam” chalk angst – maybe that was in Michigan where it also said “Stop Islam”, but… Dan Proft: They all run together. Andrew Kloster: They all run together because they are happening all over the country, but in fairness to him he said “I’m going to investigate”, and that’s wrong, but he eventually came back and said “Well, this is free expression, so we’re not going to investigate”, but that’s great that he did that, but that was only after having been educated by right groups and by a lot of his alumni, and I think that’s a bit important. Dan Proft: Well, right, he’s the University President of Emory University and… Andrew Kloster: He should know better. Dan Proft: And his first instinct was the wrong one on something that to me seems patently obvious in terms of what the right response should be. So I don’t know, I’m not terribly encouraged. Andrew Kloster: Neither am I, and I also think with Missou’, with the firing of the professor, that took a long time too. Anytime these things happen there’s a long drawn up process, and the instinct always seems to be in the direction of clamping down on this free expression. I do think the chalking – just as an aside – I’m surprised no one made the argument, yeah, that chalk is white, and that is part of the micro-aggression. They haven’t done that yet, but I think we’ll get there. Look, anonymous speech, it has a long pedigree in our country, and showing this groundswell of student support for candidate Trump, I think it indicates people do want to react to this kind of political correctness. The number one thing that I can say to people that they can do is to not sell censor, because that has been a one directional ratchet. Usually, when you say “Oh, it’s not my business, I’m not going to comment on this, I’m not going to comment on that”, that’s people trying to get along and be very polite, but in today’s society, it only ever works in one direction; the self-censorship is coming in one direction, and so I would just encourage people to speak their minds, and I think exercising the rights are the most important protector of those rights. Dan Proft: One of the things – I mean it’s nice to have Larry Arnn and Hillsdale speak out in defense of Western Civilization; it’s nice to have the President of Oklahoma Wesley speak out in defense of Western Civilization, and tell his students “I’m not here to assuage your hurt feelings with every perceived transgression you suffer; we’re here to educate you and prepare you for life outside the halls of academia”. But the question is where are the other voices, and do Conservatives – and this is an area where the Heritage Foundation, unlike so many free market think tanks, is different in an important way and a positively important way - and I had the same conversation with former senator Jim DeMint, who of course the President of Heritage - that you also speak to culture. That you speak to these constitutional rights that extend beyond economic man and economic women, which is critically important, because culture drives everything. So where are the other voices, and is this a moment in time where Conservative intellectuals and others have to do a little bit of a mirror check and say “Are we putting in the fight the way that it need to be put in, where it needs to be put in; how have we seeded so much territory in higher education”, and frankly, in K-12 education, which you kind of referenced earlier, “to these agents of intolerance?” Andrew Kloster: Right. I think that’s exactly right. There’s a deep difficulty among classical liberals and on the conservative side as well, because those aren’t necessarily the same thing, and I think one of the ways we’ve seeded a lot of ground has actually been relying on tolerance of so many ideas. I think tolerance of ideas is great, but there is a time and a place to say, “You’re done talking, it’s time to be educated”. Throughout the 90s we treated everyone with kid gloves, we had a lot of poor education at the elementary school level and we’re kind of reaping what we’ve sown, in terms of everybody thinking if they have the cookiest idea on the left, that that will be treated well, and if they have a complaint to a president about feeling bad, or to a social worker, that someone will handle that for them. But there is a time and a place for these social workers or these administrators to say “I understand that your feelings are hurt, but that’s just too bad”. And that’s not really a classical liberal response. The classical liberal response is something like “Get out all of these grievances and let people disagree, and let the truth rise to the top”. Unfortunately, I think what we’ve seen is, with a lot of this marketplace for ideas, sometimes the bad ideas rise to the top, and I think that’s a lot of what’s happened at these college campuses. Dan Proft: But the bad ideas are rising to the top in the absence of people joining forces with people who are being persecuted for having an opinion on a college campus that doesn’t conform to the left wing orthodoxies. Andrew Kloster: That’s exactly right, so I do think that… I don’t know why that is. You can say, maybe on the right, cultural conservatives and people of traditional values are so concerned with being educated that they’re not into political action. A lot of people say that sort of thing. You can say that we’re just more respectful and we don’t judge as much, and we’re like “Okay, go ahead and do that”, or you just realize that other people are crazy and we let them be crazy because they’ll crazy themselves out. But they’re not crazying themselves out, they’re taking over, they’re sitting in places, they’re taking over the physical spaces in the universities, at Harvard and elsewhere, and they’re eating their own. You look at Yale University, they are physically surrounding these professors and shouting them down; and it’s horrifying, so I think there’s definitely a place for administrators to enforce the educational mission of the universities and to take serious action against… and I think a few token examples of strong response to unreasonable action on the part… Dan Proft: Yeah, give us one that’s encouraging. Andrew Kloster: One, any one. I’m certainly not saying go full Kent state here; there’s a way you can go in the other direction, obviously, but I am saying that – I remember, my time, at the University of Miami, when students set up a tent city and were defecating on campus property, and they were not having anything happen to them, or they were physically taking over administration buildings… Dan Proft: You guys called in Warren Sapp and had them sap. Andrew Kloster: Did nothing. Did not call in Warren Sapp, didn’t do anything. Should have called in Warren Sapp, I think he would have had a good time. Dan Proft: You should have. Andrew Kloster: There’s no enforcement of the rules until the rules start strangling the people who are actually there to learn. Dan Proft: Well, see, here’s the thing. I try to be introspective about this stuff a little bit and say okay, what are we doing that’s allowing this to go unchallenged? And since we’re looking down the road and we know where this road goes, when you allow intolerance to be unchecked, why are we allowing it to be unchecked? That to me is the thing where as much we can decry the idiocy of the totalitarian left all day long, but are we doing or not doing to allow to go unchecked in this way? That’s the thing that really irks me, is where are the voices of reason; and they exist in academia; they certainly exist in the political and policy arena, and there’s Jim DeMint, and there us you at Heritage, and there are others, Steve Moore we talk to regularly, and there are others that are willing to stand and be held accountable for what’s happening on their watch as we’re all held accountable for what’s happening as we exist in this period in time. But there are just not enough voices on the forget liberal conservative construct. The idea of truly respecting the concept about free marketplace of ideas versus those that may make pay ons to that concept, but don’t really respect it. Andrew Kloster: Yeah, I think it’s sort of like the moderate Muslim complaint. But there are some liberal faculties that are starting to raise their hands. If you look at your alma mater Northwestern, there’s professor Laura Kipnis who has had some witch hunt against her for some of her comments related to Title IX. Dan Proft: Not feminist enough. Andrew Kloster: Not feminist enough, and so, they’re turning on their own, and I just hope that there are enough to recognize the treacherous situation that they’re in that they will send professors at Harvard, professors elsewhere, the American Association, the university professors, a variety of people on the left or on the civil libertarian side are certainly starting to change their tune about some of these things; some professors writing articles not only on the free speech stuff, but on some of the sexual assault type stuff on college campuses. I think there are people that are doing that, but the number one thing that needs to happen is individuals need to exercise their rights more, need to not apologize for who they are, need to be willing to do that civil disobedience. Get disciplined in school, raise holy hell about it, be heroic about these sorts of things; we also need [conservative? 00:19:33] action on the right, at the donor class, and people to setup programs to do some of these things, to legally fight this. Where I was formerly worked, fire was great; the future executive branch department, whatever incoming, President Cruz, President Trump, President whomever, that department of education needs to be aggressive in vindicating the rights of students. There needs to be a lot of central – the vanguard really does need to be laser targeted about this. Dan Proft: And see, this is a long time coming; I mean, Shelby Steele wrote about this in “White Guilt”, and he talked about what it was like in the 60s, when he was a radical leftist on campus, and how the university just capitulated to the borsht behavior of the SDS, in his time, taking over the university President’s office, and how he was enraged by how flimsy was the defense of the administration to the protestations of the students; and he reflects back on that in his book “White Guilt”, which is a must read for anybody who respects individual rights in Western Civilization; Shelby Steele, one of the great and underrated thinkers and writers on these topics, particularly with respect to culture. And I think now, so I fast forward 45 years from Shelby Steele’s time as an undergrad, and you think of the John McAdams case at Marquette University, where he is drummed out of Marquette University - a Jesuit University, catholic, so ostensibly, nominally a catholic university - he is drummed out not for anything he did, but for chronicling an exchange, between a graduate student instructor and a student in a class that he had nothing to do with, on his blog, where the graduate student instructor wouldn’t allow the student to express his view in support of the traditional definition of marriage, consistent with cataclysm, consistent with catholic teaching, and he is the one who has violated the morays of Marquette University and Notre Dame, another nominal catholic university that invited a pro-board, like President Obama, to speak, who couldn’t muster the moral courage to oppose a ban on life-birth abortions, so extreme that even Hilary Clinton and Ted Kennedy voted to ban the procedure at the federal level; at the same time, President Obama couldn’t do it when he was a state senator in Illinois; and now they’re awarding Joe Biden another pro-board left-wing democrat nominal catholic the Laetare Medal for honoring catholic theology. It is so disgraceful and so disgusting, and yet as long as you have a good football team, the boosters will support Notre Dame, and as long as you can produce a Dwayne wave from time to time, the boosters will support Marquette University while an academic in the tradition upon which Marquette was founded, behave consistent with that tradition, and just exercises his view – not even as someone offering a commentary, but someone as chronicling an event that is not in dispute – he loses his position. If this happened on the left, there would be a hue and cry, there would be a siege in Milwaukee, and for us it’s yes, it’s so unfortunate what’s happening to John McAdams, and yes, it’s wrong, and yes, it’s terrible. Do we need to do a better job perhaps of adopting some of the tactics, the civil disobedience tactics, within the bounds of the law, the civil disobedience tactics of the left? Andrew Kloster: There are other tactics of the left that I think are good here. Number one, if you recall, one of the things that lefters were very good at was providing – particularly in the 50s – with providing parachutes for people who were found out when they were infiltrating that agency and were kicked out. Well, okay, you come work for me; I think John McAdams, I think some good conservative donor needs to have a John McAdams chair somewhere at some university and provide him with… Dan Proft: Yeah, that’s a good example. Andrew Kloster: Leave no man behind. If there is one thing that we need to do… Dan Proft: What did Bill Buckley use to say about conservatism versus the radical left? He said, “The thing that we don’t do a good job at”, this is Bill Buckley talking 30 years ago, “We don’t pick up our wounded at the battlefield and they always do”. Andrew Kloster: And so we need to do that here. I think that’s one very easy thing. I, unfortunately, don’t have anybody I can pick up the phone and have them do that, but it’d be great if someone does. Dan Proft: What about all that ridiculous Heritage Foundation money you make? Andrew Kloster: That’s right. Dan Proft: Come on, man! Andrew Kloster: Yeah, alright. Dan Proft: I’m Jim DeMint’s watch. Be careful. Andrew Kloster: Just turn it around and I don’t ever write back, I don’t ever write back. Yeah, that’s one thing that we can learn from the left. I think, just to give a little historical context, if you recall, there was the whole free speech movement at Berkeley and elsewhere, and these student radicals were attacking what was not a really conservative establishment, but it was more of an urban Eisenhower kind of liberal establishment, which was, “We’re just going to do our job and just keep on getting on”, you know, get on getting on. And they fought, and they said give us all of these rights, and give us some buy-in to university process; and they got that. But these same student radicals are the administration today, and so instead of fighting against things now, they’re capitulating, because they agree politically with a lot of these people. Dan Proft: We don’t have enough David Horowitz-es, the reformed radical, on the other side. Andrew Kloster: And David Horowitz does a general good job, I think, of teeing up big firestorms more than anything else. I think there’s a useful function there. But so, these people, the inmates are not running the asylum, and so in another words, there’s a personnel problem, I think. And when it’s a personnel problem, and these institutions are so thoroughly corrupt, you either try a radical solution, or I would just tell people why are these boosters still donating. The function of universities is supposed to be to educate; we still have this fiction of student athletes, but this is just one more example of why that’s a terrible fiction. I certainly respect the history of Notre-Dame; I was just talking at their law school yesterday, but with them, with DePaul I just spoke there today, Marquette, all these other catholic institutions, Georgetown covering up their crosses; certainly catholic universities have lost sight – often, not all of them; there are lights out there still… Dan Proft: University of Dallas, student developing. Andrew Kloster: Dallas, yeah. There are lights up there, but a lot of them have lost sight of their mission to educate of their catholic mission; a lot of secular universities have lost sight of their mission to educate; and when you got two mission, you can always throw one under the bus in service of the other, and the person who usually loses that is the conservator and libertarian student, or the education of a student is completely apolitical. You’ve got a lot of time and a lot of money being wasted, being forced to take these sensitivity classes, orientation and elsewhere. I just really would encourage donors, university donors, I know that it’s really nice to be treated well, it’s really nice to get these great seats; you love your university, but you’re not helping if you keep giving blank checks to universities that treat their students poorly. Dan Proft: And here, literally in Illinois, which is the bad example on so many fronts, including this one, literally the terrorists are winning. And I mean that word, terrorists. I mean, this is a state – I remember going back to my days as undergrad – we did a story in 1993 about Bernardine Dohrn, one of the Weathermen – a domestic terrorist organization responsible for murdering a police officer. Andrew Kloster: She’s still out there. Yeah. Dan Proft: Bernardine Dohrn headed up the Northwestern family law center. Her husband, Bill Ayers, terrorist, dedicated his last book that was essentially released concurrent to 9-11 to Sirhan Sirhan, the man who assassinated Bobby Kennedy; unrepentant domestic terrorist; at the university of Illinois, Chicago, emeritus professor who’s now enjoying a tax payer funded pension as is Bernardine Dohrn, those two – and not to mention, they’re big Obama supporters, particularly Ayers, I think perhaps ghost wrote Barrack Obama’s first book, but that’s a discussion for another day. And then James Kilgore, another terrorist who served 7 years in prison for acts against this country, violent acts against this country at University of Illinois. I mean, you have convicted and should be convicted terrorists. This isn’t people that have extreme views on the left, but they are just in the cloistered role of academia, where they can do no harm. Terrorists, killed people, served time in prison, at U of I, UIC, Northwestern, for decades, enjoying tax payer funded large S, and where is the hue and cry? I hate to continue to beat this drum and put you back on this question, but it really demands an accounting for what we’re doing or not doing, maybe to effectively communicate. What exactly is going on to the people with the pull strings; not just the boosters, but just rank and file parents that are sending their children to these universities? Andrew Kloster: That’s right. So yeah, of course there is always a marketing issue on the right. If I had a nickel for every time someone came in and said the reason… Dan Proft: You’re bad at marketing, yeah. Andrew Kloster: The reason conservative ideas aren’t winning right now is because we need better marketing, I would be a rich man. I don’t think that gets us anywhere. I think there needs to be actual concerted effort; yes, the grassroots these parents need to change their behavior. But I don’t think they’re going to spontaneously do it, and I don’t think that defuse education necessarily works there. I think we are seeing one small point of light, not to endorse the man at all, but if you do look at these Trump chalks on campus, what is happening there, one positive aspect of that is here’s a man that’s saying certain things and he’s getting… and his particular example is allowing people to have social action in response; and I think that’s doing more good in a short time than a lot of conservative education does; it’s certainly not a replacement, but I do think that examples of individuals demonstrating some sort of fighting spirit that we seem to be lacking in so many places does a lot of good; demonstrating virtues is very good for teaching virtue, so I think that’s one way to fight back against political correctness. I also think there is a place for small cadres of conservative lawyers and other to make sure that the Bernardine Dohrn and others have justice served to them, and so I think it may not just be taking care of our wounded, but killing the other side’s wounded in a certain sense as well; finishing the job, because many of these people shouldn’t be in jobs; we talk about collateral consequences all the time, of low level drug offences, and people should be rehabilitated for those sorts of things, I think, but some of these very nasty political type crimes and killings, and like you said, domestic terrorism, people are still running freely, being hired in very nice places they really shouldn’t be. And I think there is a place for people in the Illinois House; I kind of laugh, because you know, they’re not going to do anything, b but people in the Illinois House, appropriators at different state levels, at the federal level, to do investigations, to bring out… to trial out these examples and to say “Why are they still on the payroll?” That’s the function of congress, and it’s up to a lot of constituents to send letters to their people to say “I don’t like the fact that this guy’s employed, can you look into it?” Dan Proft: Yeah, I think that’s the thing that’s most disappointing, I would say, that you have so many people that are coward by the prospect of a backlash that they aren’t willing to say what they know to be true, and this is where Trump, even as inartful as he is most of the time has fomented a revolt because it was bubbling below the surface; just waiting for a trigger; waiting for someone to say “It’s okay to revolt against nonsense; to revolt against absurdity. Now we don’t want to fight absurdity with absurdity, but it’s kind of broke the seal and now maybe more people that had been a little bit shy are entering the arena; well, entering the arena in a more productive way that perhaps Trump has. Andrew Kloster: That’s right, and I think the fundamental thing, as a culture, we don’t say no. We don’t ever say no. We don’t say no on any political issue; we always work to be very nice. People say Americans are loud and brash and mean; we’re actually a very nice people, and we have a hard time telling people no. I think that one of the important lessons of this political cycle, one of those very good lessons, is that having clear positions is not necessarily a bad thing; and so I certainly hope – and that certainly goes to how administration should handle themselves; don’t apologize for your catholic identity, own it, and if that means that you lose certain donors, or you lose certain students that were on the fence, maybe you didn’t need them in the first place. And that really does allow an authentic kind of classical liberalism, because instead of having one unified mushy set of universities that are all sort of the same, you’ve got lot of different universities with very strong identities, and people can find where they want to go with clear lines. Dan Proft: That’s the thing that’s so interesting to me, is the idea that you would go through life apologizing for who you are; “I’m catholic, I’m sorry”. What are you sorry about? “I’m Republican, I’m sorry”. Who are you persuading with that approach? What kind of response is that to this onslaught of intolerance, and to your point about the Illinoisans just to say no, just to transition to another cultural issue that is particularly salient right now because of laws passed in North Carolina and Texas. We have a problem now, in this country, because we’ve left the left have the run of the field for so long; we have a problem saying no to this concept. In public multi-occupancy bathrooms, men should not go to the bathroom where women go. That statement that I just made now with some kind of indicia of hate and intolerance and absurdity, rather than the position that a Bruce Springsteen and Brian Adams and all kinds of tired 60 something has-beens are articulating. Andrew Kloster: Right. And now I just found out that China has prohibited the depiction of homosexuality on television, in China. And do we think they’re going to not tour, you know, if they have the opportunity, in China? Do we think that some of these companies… Dan Proft: PayPal will boycott North Carolina for not allowing men to go to the bathroom where women go, but they have no problem in 25 other countries, where they operate their business, where homosexuality is outlawed, at best, and persecuted at worst. This is the same frustration; we have the moral high ground. I may not agree with their choices, I may not agree with their philosophy, but I certainly respect you as a human being, and I certainly confer to you the same dignity that I hope you would confer to me, but that’s not good enough and Bruce Springsteen and Brian Adams and PayPal and Apple are going to tell me what’s right and what’s wrong and I’m just supposed to go along and be quiet? Andrew Kloster: First, I’d say, a lot of this is a failure of the Republican Establishment, historically, in being asleep at the watch. I think it should have been alright for a state to be able to make a law like that, and it should also be alright for companies to lobby on one side or another, but one of the most amazing things that’s come out of this whole example is that we sort of see on the right, as conservatives, that businesses are not always our friend, that they come with certain values, and that making money often comes with certain social liberal values, certain big government and social liberal values. Dan Proft: But also, isn’t it this, that the left is so much better at the Alinsky tactic of making the majority feel like their views are the insular minority, and they should be ashamed of their views, where it turns out that the concept of men and women not being different, that XX and XY are interchangeable parts, and that privacy in the bathroom is not something women are entitled to, that is not a sensible position, and I don’t care how many great movies Disney makes, or how many good concerts Bruce Springsteen puts on, it’s not a sensible position, so I’m just not on board for that. I’m not attacking anyone, I don’t want anyone to feel bad about themselves, but I just don’t want to go along with something that is manifestly absurd, Andrew Kloster: Yeah, I think that goes back to not wanting to say no. On the right we – and particularly, again, with classical liberal instincts – we want to discuss everything, we want to have ideas, hit each other and keep talking, keep talking, keep talking, but at some point you have to make a decision with what’s the correct answer, and we want to appear very reasonable, and we don’t want to discount ideas, and we want to talk with our friends on the left, and we want to come to a rational idea, because look, we’re conservatives, we’re not these thugs that you keep saying that we are, so we’ll just talk this out. But there is a place for, not thuggery per se, but for saying no and saying “These are the bounds of what reasonable disagreement is, you’ve gone outside it”. I’m not even going to engage with that. I’m going to mock it, I may not even talk about it. One of them, historically, I think, is sexually abusing a child, and yet now we’re seeing, of course, certain people in different places saying, “Well, you know”… Dan Proft: Cultural differences. Andrew Kloster: Cultural differences, what’s the age of consent, it’s alright, or polygamy. Dan Proft: Fascinating. Andrew Kloster: What used to be, people would get mad. I mean, if you ever suggested that sort of thing probably 50 years ago, I’d imagine you’d get socked for even saying it. Now, you can’t make that clear moral judgment. So I think it’s important, and I hope that we get overturned of really the American ID, just, you know, what right and wrong are; it’s not a quick thing, this phenomenon of people fighting back against political correctness. I think it remains to be seen whether or it’s a lasting backlash, whether there will be real fruits, or whether this is going to simmer down and people will go back to their little Heidi-hos. I hope not, I hope that there’s a lasting backlash there; I hope that people grow a little bit of spine; I can even think on college campuses, you look at all these videos of Black Lives Matter - or whatever – protesters, and they march through the library and people are studying, and not one person who’s studying is willing to say, “Will you keep it down?” Dan Proft: Right, for fear. Now what kind of life is that to lead that you know what is true but you live in fear of saying what you know to be true? Boy, that is a dangerous path, isn’t it? Andrew Kloster: And it’s not even clear to me at that point if you really know what’s true, because like Plato said, “If you know what’s true, you’re going to act on it, and if you’re not willing to act on it, how much do you really believe in it?” I used to work with a great organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Education; the precipitating event for why that organization was founded was at the University of Pennsylvania, when a Jewish student was being disrupted from his studying, and he shouted out the window. Dan Proft: I remember that. Andrew Kloster: And yet, now it’s so far down the line that no one’s going to shout out the window anymore for fear of offending the people who are protesting. Dan Proft: I remember that. That incident occurred about the time I was an undergrad. I remember that. Andrew Kloster: Right. Now people are even willing to speak up against these things. So, I really can’t encourage people enough to just… shaming and cultural norms are the way we live together, apart from law, it’s very important and it’s very important to enforce these things; to tell people when they’re acting out or when they’re not acting out, to praise good behavior and to condemn bad behavior. We don’t do that. Dan Proft: And sometimes conservatives fall back in this position because they do so on other issues, and they feel they have to be consistent across the board to say, “Well, the law is the law, and that’s the end of the discussion”. Andrew Kloster: Sure. Dan Proft: Actually, it’s the beginning of the discussion, because is the law, as it is currently constituted, founded in constitutional principles, and frankly, take one step back, natural law? Is it founded in morality, and if it’s not, then it should be challenged. I recognize you have to abide an immoral law until you can change it, but you should work to change it. And so this idea that the law is the law and it’s just settled, Andy Kennedy writes an op-ed masquerading as a Supreme Court opinion about the institution of marriage, well then that’s the end of the discussion. The left doesn’t take that as the end of the discussion, they take that as the beginning of the discussion. Not in the Andy Kennedy case, because it was consistent with their view, so of course, their ethics are if you’re supporting me, then that’s where my ethics are; my interests change and my ethics change. But conservatives, seems to me, need to take the same position, which is to say this is the beginning of the discussion; just because 50% +1 of some legislative body with an executive signatory said something is moral doesn’t make it so in perpetuity; the debate continues. Andrew Kloster: Right, I completely agree with that. I think on the right we don’t play the same game sometimes. I’m very privileged that at Heritage Foundation and our legal center to work on a lot of these litigations campaigns in one capacity or another. One thing that I notice is when the left sues – and it’s effective and it’s the right way to go – they’ll try to get a law passed, and they may lose, but they’ll raise it the next year, and they’ll make it a few more votes, and then they’ll say “Hey, we got a few more votes”; the momentum’s on their side, and the next year, few more votes, few more… and they do it every year. We have very few laws like that, that we raise consistently and then trump at the fact that we keep getting more and more votes. They always try to make it look that there’s a snowball, but then, when they get what they want, you know, that is the permit you can never go in the other direction with the bathroom bills, with the gay marriage decision, with any of that stuff, they say “I’m sorry, it’s done, debate’s over, we can’t talk with you anymore about this because it’s done, the law is set”. So I don’t know if we necessarily should be doing that exact same thing on the right, because I don’t necessarily think that’s the right way to approach law in general, but we certainly should be pushing and pushing and pushing to try to create more space for traditional individual rights and freedoms in state legislatures, at the federal level, in the law and elsewhere. They’re very good at when we lost it’s temporary, but when we win it’s permanent, and we don’t have that same mentality on the right. Maybe we should, maybe we should start having that mentality, but I think it would acquire a certain cohesiveness among our movement that we don’t have right now. Dan Proft: He is Andrew Kloster, he‘s a Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, an expert in the1st Amendment issues as you have heard in no uncertain terms for the better part of the last hour. Andrew Kloster, thanks so much for joining us on Against the Current. I appreciate it. Andrew Kloster: Thanks for having me.

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Chicago FOP President Dean Angelo on CPD Report Alleging "Systemic Racism"

This morning Dan Proft & Amy Jacobson spoke to Dean Angelo, Sr., President of FOP Lodge 7 in Chicago, to get his reaction to a scathing report on the Chicago Police Department that was issued by the panel convened by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, which included a conclusion that the more than 12,000 Chicago police officers on the force have no regard for the lives of minorities in the city.

Against the backdrop of a 65% increase in murders and 78% increase in shootings year-over-year, combined with a 90% drop in investigative stops, Angelo discussed the impact this report will have on police morale and, by extension, peace on the streets of Chicago or the lack thereof.

Angelo said critics of the police talk about police-involved shootings without the additional context of data points like 13,000 police officers who have been battered over the past 8 years and the more than 36,000 criminals police have put behind bars.

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Dan Proft: Dan and Amy, so big story is that report on the Chicago Police Department that was commissioned by Tiny Dancer; he put together this star chamber of leftists, like Deval Patrick, former Massachussets governor, Lorie Lightfoot. Amy Jacobson: Yeah, his friends. Dan Proft: Yeah. Amy Jacobson: His buddies, so like come on, buddies, we’re going to investigate this. Dan Proft: And they’re not friends of the Chicago Police Department, not after the report that was issued yesterday that says – it doesn’t suggest, it says – “Chicago Police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color”. That’s pretty big statement about 12,000 Chicago police officers, almost half of whom are Black or Latino. Wonder how that is going to impact the job being done by Chicago Police. Amy Jacobson: It’s about a 200 page report that says that there’s racism, excessive force, a code of silence; when they do do things wrong, they cover up for each other. I mean, it’s a scathing report. Dan Proft: Let’s get reaction and not only in terms of the conclusions drawn by Tiny Dancer Star Chamber, but the impact this report will have on the safety in the streets of Chicago from Dean Angelo Sr., who is the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 in Chicago. Dean, thanks again for joining us, always appreciated. Dean Angelo Sr.: You’re welcome, good morning. Dan Proft: Good morning, so your reaction to the conclusions offered in that report. Dean Angelo Sr.: It’s difficult to find a place to start, but specifically the issues that they’ve mentioned concerning our collective bargaining agreement, I think they completely missed their mark, unless that was their intention. They could have gotten clarifications from us phone and asked us questions instead of assuming that the language is whatever the perception turned out to be, because they missed the mark, like I’ve said… Dan Proft: What specifically are you referring to? Dean Angelo Sr.: Well, they mentioned that there’re no statements given by anybody involved in an incident that a police shooting for 24 hours. That’s just not true. Like I told you, if they had asked, we could have clarified. Officers are making statements to the OIC, the officers in charge, they make statements to the investigator’s units that are out it. If it doesn’t walk through with the police officers, then you know… they were here for… I think three of them took the time to come here to talk to us; I don’t know how many people on that total taskforce, but three of them found it important enough to come here, and we had some conversation, we had some discussion on issues, none of which made it to the report, it seems, and I don’t know why they didn’t take the time to get clarifications. Amy Jacobson: Dean, what were some of the issues that you wanted to be have expressed in the report? Dean Angelo Sr.: Well, we mentioned the need to reopen the detective division areas as they were before. We didn’t see that it made any sense to go from 6 detectives in these areas down to 3 when you have people transported to give statements or view lineups from Belmont-Western and you have to go on the Congress Park where you pick them up, in the far west side of the city, when they used to go to Grand and Central. So how do you get a victim or witness to take six hours out of their day – three of those hours could be travel time, depending on the time of day. So we just thought that was a one thing that they could look at, about improving not only the presence of the investigating units, but also having the convenience of people participating in the prosecution of the arrestee. So, you know, we look at a clearer break, and you want to get people to comply with the process, so you have to try to make it convenient for them. Dan Proft: So there are process issues and efficiency issues; those are legitimate points of discussion, but what about the overall conclusion? I mean, it seems to me the blaring headline is this report concluding that the Chicago police department is beset by a systematic racism. Dean Angelo Sr.: Yeah, and I don’t know where their data came from, who they got those statements from, but I can tell you that police officers in the city of Chicago are professional, they go after criminals, they go after areas that are inundated with crime; the aggressive units are assigned regularly. So when you look at contact with public, you look at areas where the crime is prevalent, and that’s where the gang teams and the saturation teams and the gun teams are deployed every day. A reasonable person would conclude that the contact in those areas would be occurring more often. And to view those kinds of numbers and to say that there’s got to be racism attacked to that, I say it again, they missed their mark, unless that was their intention. Amy Jacobson: Now one of the recommendations was to get rid of the independent police review authority. Are you in favor of that? Their solution is to replace it with a civilian board. Dean Angelo Sr.: We haven’t had much contact with the new administration that they brought. I had one conversation face to face. You know, IPRA is involved in doing investigations at police shootings, and it’s actually in violation of the law, but that’s a different issue, where you’re supposed to have a sworn independent organization come in and investigate incidents where deaths have occurred and police have been involved. This law was signed in August, I believe, last year, and the department that IPRA would be the best people to investigate those, even though they’re not qualified or certified to do so. So we have a back and forth going on right now with them concerning that. Whether it’s IPRA, whether it’s OPS, whether they give us different tag names, it’s sometimes on the professionalism, the knowledge; you don’t want people coming in with a bias. You want people to conduct a fair investigation and allegation and to make sure that everybody gets an opportunity to address the incident of the accusation, which kind of puts us on our heels a bit, because we certainly don’t want this taskforce to go out and pick people to be on that whatever the next IPRA is. Dan Proft: Yeah, no question about that. Dean Angelo Sr. who we’re speaking with; he’s the Chicago FOP Lodge 7 President. Dean, a report last week that investigative stops by Chicago police down 90% almost year-after-year. We’re talking about the difference of more than 100,000 investigative stops, and concurrent, we find ourselves year-after-year with a 65% increase in murders, and a 78% increase in shootings. Are those numbers correlated, do you think, and why such a significant decline in investigative stops? Dean Angelo Sr.: Well, a couple of variables have come into play with that, I believe it’s the investigative stop reports that the department turned over to the ACLU; they authored it. Some people are saying that it’s because of Senate Bill 1304, but it’s not. Senate Bill 1304 does not require an extensive report; it required said document in contact, so state police have something similar to our old contact chart, with a few check boxes, and that’s it, there’s no narrative. So anyone believes that 1304, which was passed last year in July, he has the direct relationship, because the length of that ISR, they don’t know of what they speak; because it’s just not true. So I think the extensiveness of that report has a contributing factor, and I also believe that there is an awareness on the officers’ part that they don’t want to be the next Youtube stars; because those are edited, and those are posted. I just saw a video this morning of an officer in one of the Southern States trying to affect an arrest, and he gets attached and he gets beaten. This is where we’re at right now. Dan Proft: And do you think there is a correlation between the spike and murders and shooting and the decline in investigative stops. Dean Angelo Sr.: Well, I don’t know if you can connect those dots at this point. You know, there is a prevalence in this city; people talk about 400 police involved shootings over an eight year period of time, and that’s their banner that they carry ; but they don’t mention that over that over those same 8 years Chicago Police Department took over 86,000 guns off the street. They locked up over 36,000 people with a firearm, and on that same period of time, over 13,000 police officers were battered. No one talks about that; they talk about the 400 police involved shootings, and that’s the message that’s being carried, but I think what you have to look at is the prevalence of the guns; 86,000 is a warehouse. Amy Jacobson: Yeah, it’s insane. Besides the scathing report that was released yesterday, also yesterday Eddie Johnson, your new superintendent sworn in by the City Council. Are rank and filed police with this decision? Dean Angelo Sr.: You know, I haven’t heard a lot of negatives about the new boss, and for somebody that’s gone up the ranks, in any job, in leadership, you have it personally to remove some people from position and transfer some people out, so to discipline other individuals, but you don’t really get a clean slate of support going up the ranks. You’re going to have your detractors. And to be honest, I haven’t heard a lot of negativity. No one’s called it up and said “Oh my Gosh, how could they’ve picked that guy?” IT’s been pretty positive. We have yet to sit down and say, to say hopefully it happens soon; we’re both a little bit busy at this time, but I’m sure that’ll happen shortly. Dan Proft: How is this report going to impact how police do their jobs? Dean Angelo Sr.: Well, I mentioned to somebody else yesterday that superintendent’s been out there non-stop since he got placed interim. He’s trying to build morale, he’s going to the units, he’s talking to the role calls, and he had some pretty good press coming out of those role calls from our officers, and I think that now he’s got to go back and address this, right? When he was getting some momentum, and trying to encourage the people that “Hey, I’m going to wear a camera”, or “I’m going to be there for you”, or “I worked in this district”, “I worked in that unit just like you are now”, so he’s built some bridges and he started a positive spin on his administration, and now this comes out. So, you know, the bias of this report is so obvious, when they introduced narratives and names and statements of individual officers and they put them out there, like this is the opening statement of your passport, it’s incredible that they would think that that’s a good idea. Dan Proft: He is Dean Angelo Sr., President of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7; Dean, thanks again for joining us, appreciate it. Dean Angelo Sr.: You’re welcome.

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Pam Harris: If Democrats and SEIU wanted to end the budget stalemate and fund social services today, it would happen tomorrow

Dan & Amy interviewed disabled persons advocate Pam Harris, mother of a disabled son, who was the lead plaintiff in the seminal SCOTUS case Harris v. Quinn. Harris rejected the SEIU ad campaign attacking Gov. Rauner and suggested blame for insufficient funding for services for persons with disabilities lies squarely with majority party (read: Chicago Democrats) legislative leaders. Harris also said she was offended by SEIU's ads.

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Story Copy Dan Proft: Good morning, Dan and Amy. In Illinois, which is our home state, don’t you know, we have not left yet, some of the few. Amy Jacobson: Thank you again! Dan Proft: SEIU, these are the purple people beaters, the Service Employer’s Union, these are the people who tried to forcibly unionize the Parents of Disabled Children into a collective, into a bargaining unit, to represent them against their children. I’m not kidding. That was a real thing, and you’ll recall, it was a case that was taken all the way to the United States Supreme Court by Pam Harris, who’s a Lake County resident, who has a disabled son, and a number of other courageous parents of disabled children, to say “No, no no no, we don’t need a business agent to represent our interests versus our children”. Amy Jacobson: Isn’t a parental right? What the SEIU, they just wanted their union dues. They wanted their money. Dan Proft: Correct, that’s it. Amy Jacobson: Because they’re money hungering greedy people. Dan Proft: Cut us in or cut it out, that’s the public sector union mantra. Well, now SEIU has launched ads on Rauner. When Gov. Rauner took office, in January of 2015, Illinois was ranked 47th in the nation in the provision of services to developmentally disabled people. So inherited kind of a bad situation as he did on a number of fronts, and it’s funny, the same people who are continuing to allow Obama and Hillary Clinton to blame George W. Bush for everything that’s gone wrong in the past 6 years have no problem ascribing everything that’s wrong with Illinois to the guy that’s been here 14 months. It’s a fascinating situational ethics from the left, but that’s what we’re used to. Well now SEIU has launched an ad campaign against Gov. Rauner trying to make him wear the jacket for the struggling social service providers in Illinois who haven’t been paid for services rendered, and there’s no question it, it’s a problem; and there’s no question how people with disabilities are treated in this state is barbaric, but this is something that predates Governor Rauner by decades. Here’s a sample of the ads. One is a service provider who cares for an elderly veteran. And another is a young woman with cerebral palsy who all blames the governor. Here’s some samplings: Sample 1: My dad is a World War II vet; fought in the Battle of the Bulge; bronze star, purple heart; Governor Rauner is attacking Illinoisans like Patty, who care for our veterans like Vince; endangering our most vulnerable; it’s a quality of life that’s lost when they have to leave their homes; tell your legislator to stop their governor’s attacks on Illinoisans who care for our most vulnerable; to turn your back on these people now is just a travesty. Dan Proft: Do you think that’s believable? Rauner is cutting, and purposefully withholding services from Illinois veterans? Do you believe that? Here’s another one. Sample 2: They both have cerebral palsy and it was going to be a decision either to place them in a facility or care for them here at home; Governor Rauner is attacking those Illinoisans who care for our seniors and people with disabilities; endangering our most vulnerable; I don’t know how he expects anybody to survive; tell your legislator to stop their governor’s attacks on Illinoisans who care for our most vulnerable; look at me; not just me, look at everybody who you’re hurting. Dan Proft: Yeah. Amy Jacobson: Goodness. Dan Proft: Those people are being hurt, those people are being treated like “less than’s”, people with disabilities; there’s no question, and it has been going on for a long, long time; in a state has run a 211 billion dollars in debt; all the money that was borrowed and spent, and taxed and spent by Cullerton and Madigan, over 40 years, and those people with disabilities have been hurt and are continuing to be hurt. So again, who bears responsibility for the sad state of affairs in terms of the provision of services for disabilities? Is it Governor Rauner who’s been here 14 months, or Madigan and Cullerton who’ve been here 40 years? Let’s put that question to the foresaid Pam Harris, a mother of a disabled son and a advocate for persons with disabilities. Pam, thanks for joining us. Appreciate it. Pam Harris: Thank you very much for inviting me. The answer is easy, it’s the majority party, and it’s the SEIU. That’s who can stop this, it’s the union leaders who wanted to end this budget stalemate, and start the funding for supports and services for people with disabilities in the state of Illinois. If they wanted to do that today, it would start to happen tomorrow. Amy Jacobson: So explain how this works; you receive a modest subsidy from medicate waver program? Are you still getting that subsidy? Pam Harris: Actually, our son Josh is eligible to access up to a certain amount of funds each month, and to distribute to people who have a contract with the state of Illinois; yes, that means I get a background check. I get my fingerprints in, I submit monthly time sheets, and a monthly summary on how every minute that I spend with Josh that I am reimbursed or paid for that time; all the I to their dot, and to you they’re crossed, and it’s not that I get this money, it’s I work for this to teach Josh at home instead of an institution, exponentially higher costs to the state. It’s better for Josh, it’s what Josh wants, and it’s what we do. Dan Proft: That’s the point; it’s a modest stipend to devolve power away from government and empower families who are best situated to take care of their children, of course. Amy Jacobson: They kind of know then. Dan Proft: Right, and who has more interest in the wellbeing of the child than the parent? So it makes perfect sense, which is why SEIU wanted to put a stop to it; because we can’t do things that make perfect sense in this state; and Pam, talking about the funding for programs like the one that you benefit for, and ultimately Josh benefits from, I should say; family benefits from; there is a proposal by Republicans, 1,3 billion dollars of funding for social services that are admittedly struggling because of the backlog of unpaid bills; many millions and tenths of millions dollars owed to social service providers; there’s no question about that. So, as someone who follows this closely, is that an appropriate stop gap measure, and if so, then why isn’t that fast tracked to the governor’s desk? Pam Harris: This is a really good question. I think that it is a band-aid solution, but it is something to allow the slower funds to go to; not only those with developmental disabilities, like our son Josh, but also mental health, and the veterans, and the seniors, and homeless youths, and the Special Olympics, and addiction treatment. I mean, the bill expands to beyond developmental disabilities. It’s Senate Bill 34-18, and it was proposed by the minority leaders, Radogno and Durkin; let’s see how quick the Union and majority party can get behind this one. I think, though, that they would prefer to just complain and point fingers, yet I did see the SEIU sent those ads, those attack ads; first to political Natasha Korecki, this piece under the headline “Healthcare worker union’s target Rauner in new ad campaign”. Why is it that the union targets or focuses on, but Gov. Rauner attacks? Amy Jacobson: So when you saw those SEIU ads, what were you thinking? How did they affect you? Pam Harris: Well, they’re attack ads, plain and simple; they’re attacks on Gov. Rauner, and every single Illinoisan agrees that it’s time to turn things around. The message in the attack ad, the one specifically with the young woman with cerebral palsy – it’s insulting to me as a woman, as a tax payer, as a personal care provider, and as Josh’s mom. It’s so disrespectful to use people with disabilities in that way. Dan Proft: And this has been going on for a long time; as I like to say, people with disabilities are used as cannon fodder for a big government agenda, for which they receive little, if any, benefit. Pam Harris: Little, if any, benefit, that’s right. Do you know that the SEIU was back in Springfield last week? They have three bills. One is particularly important to me, because, as you know, my intention is to advocate for families in Illinois, like my family, who are providing care for a loved one at home. And to this Senate Bill was heard before the human services committee last week, and VHS, Vivian Anderson was the last person to testify. And this bill, this SEIU bill, and it can really be called nothing other than that, will cost 86 million dollars, and they want it to begin in three months. They want to increase the pay to no less than $15/hour on July 1st, and then the big thing is the SEIU wants to require in person orientation, and then further require in person annual training. This is a bad bill. Dan Proft: And that would include parents like you. Pam Harris: Well, absolutely, but I’d like to know in this digital age it’s incomprehensible to me that individuals should be dragged from their homes of those that they’re caring for to attend mandatory union meetings. Who’s providing the critical care when we’re forced to attend? And why isn’t the current online orientation; or the current online training that SEIU offers now, why isn’t that sufficient? Dan Proft: So SEIU is doing this; the old public sector union two step. It’s all about the clients, it’s all about the children, and it’s all about persons with disabilities. But do you know what it’s really about? It’s really about our money. Pam Harris: Yes, the bottom line is the SEIU is doing this for more money and more power. It’s nothing to do with the personal assistance, there’s absolutely nothing to do with the individuals with the disability. Amy Jacobson: Well, give Josh our best. Is he doing well? Pam Harris: He is, he’s doing well. But like all the rest of us who not visited Cabo Dan Proft: We got to get it next year. We’ve got to get them to Cabo next year, or wherever we wind up next year. Pam Harris: We need some warm weather here. Dan Proft: I tell you. Alright Amy Jacobson: It’s coming. Dan Proft: Pam Harris, our best to Joshua. Thank you so much for joining us, and the work that you do, appreciate it, as usual. Pam Harris: It’s my pleasure, and thank to both of you for inviting me on today. Dan Proft: Alright, she is Pam Harris, of Harris v. Quinn Fame and one of the leading lights and spokespeople for Persons with Disabilities and families with their family member with disabilities in the state of Illinois; really nationally now. Tim, from Woodstock, you’re on Chicago’s Morning Answer. Tim: Hey, good day everybody. Dan Proft: I just wanted to say I’m an SEIU member for 34 years, and they have done absolutely nothing to better my internment, my life in any way, other than take $200 every quarter, tax money, and do whatever they want with it. They sure don’t help the members, I’ll tell you that, because we’ve got no benefits out of them whatsoever. The company fixed their revenue. Dan Proft: Thanks for the call, Tim, and you know, that goes to pay Jerry Morrison, that fowl mouth political director of SEIU; what a disreputable character he is; goes to pay his exorbitant salary in his exorbitant Tom Balanoff and all of the “protectors of the common man”; my behind…

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Todd Ricketts: Trump would be "a horrific candidate for our party"

Todd Ricketts took time out of preparing the bison dogs for tonight's Cubs home opener to join Dan & Amy this morning. Ricketts, who heads up Our Principles PAC, said Donald Trump would be a horrific candidate for our party and that he cannot win a general election. Ricketts also responded to Trump's claims that there is an effort underway to steal the nomination from him saying that one cannot steal from Trump what is not his.

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Dan Proft: Dan and Amy, so… Amy Jacobson: You can’t hear because it’s “Go, Cubs, go”, that song. Dan Proft: Yeah. Amy Jacobson: And you refuse to conform. You’re a nonconformist. Dan Proft: I have hysterical deafness. Amy Jacobson: Really? Dan Proft: Yeah, hysterical deafness when it comes to Cubs, and here’s the thing with the Cubs too. Amy Jacobson: Yeah? They’re winning right now, yeah? 5 and 1? Dan Proft: Yeah, Sox are 4 and 2. I know it’s a collision course, so the World Series. My concern though is, because Kyle Schwarber got injured and he’s out for the year, and I’m as even a diehard Sox fan – that’s terrible, I don’t want to see anybody get injured. Amy Jacobson: So you celebrated when he ran into Dexter Fowler? Dan Proft: Of course not. That’s terrible, that’s terrible eventuality, but now the Cubs have an excuse, so when they’ll lose to the White Sox at the World Series, they can say, “Well, if we would have had Schwarber, we would have been different”. Amy Jacobson: Well, we’ve a deep bench, I think we’ll be fine, but Cubs fans are already up partying. Cubs Fan 1: Next year, or 100 years from now, it doesn’t matter, because Cubs are number one! Cubs Fan 2: I can’t believe we’re going to the World Series, guys. Let’s do it, let’s do it! Dan Proft: We’ve been hearing that for 107 years. Well, somebody with a bit of a homer perspective, I think, he will admit, is Todd Rickets, from the Ricketts family that owns the Chicago Cubs, and he joins us now at the little opening day preview. Todd? Thanks for joining us, appreciate it. Todd Ricketts: Happy to be here. Dan Proft: So nice road trip, other than the Schwarber injury, which obviously is terrible, but nice road trip to open the season. It’s a good start. Todd Ricketts: Yeah, the Schwarber injury is terrible. No one feels worse than Kyle; he had such high hopes for this season, and he was going to be an intricate part of our team, and it’s disappointing, but he’s a young guy, he’ll be back. He’s a tough kid. Dan Proft: And you also have Jake Arrieta already making up for the power deficit left by Kyle Schwarber. Todd Ricketts: That’s right, I think in his last 22 starts he’s given up 3 home runs and hit 3 home runs. Amy Jacobson: So he makes up for his mistakes. Alright, so game is at 07:05, tonight, against the Cincinnati Reds; what should fans expect? Todd Ricketts: I think it’s just going to be a beautiful night at Wrigley. The renovations aren’t complete, and we’re adding metal detectors, so I’m just warning people to come a little bit early and get into the ballpark early, because we’re still renovating and we’re making some changes, but I think they’re going to be really happy with what they see. The ballpark’s looking great. Dan Proft: You still have the buffalo burgers, right? Todd Ricketts: What’s that? Dan Proft: You still have the buffalo burgers, right? Todd Ricketts: Bison burgers? Dogs, we have dogs there. They’re the dogs. Dan Proft: They’re good. Amy Jacobson: I saw those metal detectors; please tell me they’re going to be removable after the game. How’s that going to work? Ruins the look a little bit of Wrigley, no offence; it’s weird. Todd Ricketts: You know, it’s a tough spot for anybody that has a place where large numbers of people gather, just because of the whole Paris attack, so we’re just trying to do everything to make sure that everybody has fallen into a safe environment. Dan Proft: There are metal detectors if you go at a Hawks game or a Bulls game at the United Center, but is that something that now you’re seeing more in Major League baseball, Todd, with the enhanced security? Todd Ricketts: That’s a mandate from the league itself. That’s not something that we came up on our own. Obviously, we’re doing it on our own, but that’s something that came from the leagues, saying that they wanted to increase security. Amy Jacobson: So now you’re going to open up 30 minutes earlier to let people go through the magnetometers? Todd Ricketts: That’s right. Dan Proft: At Comiskey they should have had that a long time ago, because you never know when the Lagoo boys are going to show up to attack an employee… Todd Ricketts: Dan, you know what, I would love to have a White Sox – Cubs World Series; I think it would be the greatest thing for the city of Chicago, and we’d all have a ton of fun, and just sadly the Sox will probably lose that. Dan Proft: It can be 4 over… Amy Jacobson: For somebody who lives in the neighborhood, when is the construction going to be done? Todd Ricketts: For this season, or forever? Amy Jacobson: Just in general, yes, when’s the hotel going to be built? I mean, just help us out here. Todd Ricketts: We’re still a couple of years away. It’s a big project. There was a lot of differed maintenance on regularly, and so a lot of it could not be differed any longer, so we’re taking it seriously and we’re doing it right, and it’s going to take a couple more years. Dan Proft: And how has Alderman Toni and the city been with all the construction projects going on and everything leading up to opening day? Todd Ricketts: Everyone wants to see Wrigley maintained for the next hundred years, I think we’re all on the same page from a philosophical point of view; it’s just when you get into the details of the logistics and how that’s going to work that we got to hammer out some of those details. Amy Jacobson: And speaking of politics, besides the alderman I wasn’t going to ask you about, Donald Trump and his tweets attacking your family, how do you feel about the Trumpster? Todd Ricketts: Well, I think… how do I feel about him? Amy Jacobson: Yeah. Todd Ricketts: I think that he would be a horrific candidate for our party, and there’s a couple of things; the media would like you think he’s inevitable, but he’s not. No matter how the next few primaries go – he’s going to have a couple of good primaries in New York and Maryland, but then he’s going to have to come to Indiana, and Nebraska, and Montana, places like that, where he’s not going to win; it’s a tough path for him to get to that majority; I don’t think he’s going to make it, but the media will have you believe he’s inevitable; he’s not. The second thing is that in a General Election he’s not electable; there’s never been a Republican candidate who went into the General with a majority of his unfavorables, right? He’s got a 70% unfavorable rating, and normally this time you have a 70% favorable as the Republican nominee. Anycase, so he can’t win a General Election, and all this talk of him saying that the Republican Party’s trying to steal the nomination from him; you can’t have something stolen that doesn’t belong to you. The nomination belongs to the Party, not to Donald, and the Party in the end will decide who becomes the nominee. Dan Proft: And your brother, Pete, the Governor of Nebraska, has he drawn the marginal line in Lincoln? “You shall not cross this line, Donald Trump!” He’s assembling the troops? Todd Ricketts: You know, I don’t know exactly what Pete’s doing. Maybe you’ll have to have him on the show sometimes and ask what he's thinking. He may not be thinking anything. I think he’s got a lot going on in Nebraska himself. Amy Jacobson: Well he attacked his mother, which is an uncommon blow, but that’s Trump’s style. Dan Proft: Well, right, she’s a donor to our Principle’s PAC, which is an independent expenditure PAC that has been focused on trying to stop Trump, and you’re continuing with your PAC work in the 16 states that are left, I presume. Todd Ricketts: For sure. Dan Proft: And you haven’t endorsed any candidate in particular. It’s more anybody but Trump? Todd Ricketts: Yeah, we’re pretty agnostic on this topic. I think that once we get to Cleveland, if it’s an open convention, without a nominee, with the majority of the delegates, which the rules of state, I think we’ll find out which campaign and which candidate has the most hustle. I think that’s always what it’s come down to, is the campaign that really understands the rules of the Party and the Convention, and understands the motivations of the delegates, and is able to persuade them, those are the guys that become the nominee. Dan Proft: Alright, he is Todd Ricketts, he wears many hats; our Principle’s PAC, as well as, of course, the Ricketts family ownership of the Chicago Cubs. Todd, have a great opening day, have a bison dog and a beer and enjoy yourself. Todd Ricketts: I will! It’s our year, we’re going to have a great one

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Dan Proft: Thank you for joining us on another edition of Against the Current; coming to you from the Skyline Club, on top of the Old Republic building in downtown Chicago. My name is Dan Proft, and our guest on this episode is Ted Dabrowski, who is the Vice President of Policy for the Illinois Policy Institute, the Free Market Think Tank, economic liberty orientated think tank in downtown Chicago. Ted, thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it. Ted Dabrowski: Thanks for having me. Dan Proft: There’s a lot to talk about. You’ve got judicial decisions, as relates to pensions, both at the state level, with regards to Chicago pensions coming on the heels of Illinois Supreme Court’s decision from just a year earlier on state pensions, and then you’ve got the Supreme Court decision because of these Scalia absence on the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, as it pertains to forced union dues; that’s a lot to talk about against the backdrop of the second teachers’ strike looming in less than four years, and an almost junk-rated city of Chicago, according to Fitch, mostly because of the inability to solve the pension problem, combined with a junk-rated Chicago public school system, combined with the state, that has the worst credit rating in the United States. So, some challenges I think is a fair assessment. Ted Dabrowski: Some pretty big challenges. Dan Proft: Yeah. So why don’t we start with Chicago public schools, and the looming teacher strike over the teachers’ unwillingness to increase their contribution from 2 percentage points of the 9 percentage points they pay into the pension system to not have the Chicago Public School System pick up the other 7 percentage points anymore, as it’s been the case for the past 3 decades. Of course, the management side wants them to pick it up, so they can start trying to make the math work, and the teachers don’t want to essentially take a pay cut to increase their contribution to their pensions. Why is the teachers’ position unreasonable? Why should they pick up the 7 percentage points that the school system has been picking up for these past 3 decades? Isn’t that just another promise that was made to them, like they say, the Constitution made a promise to them and it shall never be changed? Ted Dabrowski: It’s another perk that Chicago teachers have had for a long time. It was gained back in 1981, and the issue, I think, the bigger issue is that the Chicago teachers do pretty well when you compare them to big cities across the country. They have the highest salaries of any big school district in the nation, and so what’s amazing is… Dan Proft: So higher than New York, higher than California, higher than L.A, higher than Houston. Ted Dabrowski: Higher than Miami, etcetera. So, they do pretty well, and again, it’s something they’ve negotiated, but they’ve done well, and included in that is this teacher pension pickup. That’s fancy words for, “Look, teachers, you don’t have to pay your full pension share, full pension payment you’re required to pay. We, the School District, which means tax payers, will pay it on your behalf”. And that’s been going on for about 3 decades, and the School District is broke, any way you look at it, it’s broke. And so CPS, Claypool and others trying to fix the problem are asking the teachers just to pay their fair share. Dan Proft: And by the way, I had the opportunity on the morning show that I do on AM 560, Chicago’s Morning Answer, to speak with Jean-Claude Brizard, a couple of CPS superintendents ago; this is not the CPS superintendent that’s going to jail, for those of you scoring at home, but they were running billion dollar budget deficits when he arrived as Rahm Emanuel’s first Chicago Public School superintendent. Nothing has changed in the intervening 5 years; in fact, it’s gotten worse, so do we start with the pension pick up and the distribution of who’s picking it up, or do we start with the fact that 9% paying into your pension, that’s also insufficient. Ted Dabrowski: Right, that’s insufficient. I think that the bigger issue is that the School District has been mismanaged for a long time, and you’ve got issues from not funding pensions for nearly a decade, you’ve got issues of Barbara Byrd-Bennett being indicted for fraud. You’ve got a situation where you’ve got a Teachers’ Union that’s willing to strike two contracts in a row, and they’ve won the last contract. They won big; they strike, despite the fact that the city, or the district, was already billion dollars in the hole. They had no business striking then, and they have no business striking now. So really, what you’ve got is a situation… Dan Proft: But they strike because… they struck, they won, so they’re not incentivized to do anything other than strike if they don’t get what they want, because they figure that the politicians will bend over… Ted Dabrowski: Like they have… Dan Proft: Like Tiny Dancer did four years ago. Ted Dabrowski: And he’s even weak. If he was weak then, he’s even weaker now, given the situation he has at home. So this is a situation where the two big groups, the Administration and the Teachers’ Union, they collude when they need to, they strike when it makes sense to then, and in the end it’s all the kids who get left out, and I think that’s the whole sad part of the story, which is why many people talk about bankruptcy. If Rahm Emanuel doesn’t want to do something about the finances, if Karen Lewis doesn’t want to do something about the finances, let it go bankrupt, and finally get a situation where we can get a focus back on the kids and not on the adults. Dan Proft: Well, that’s what the Governor said, Governor Rauner has said, “Bankruptcy needs to be something that the city and CPS take under consideration”. They’ve rejected that because of course, nobody wants to be the person, or people in charge, right, to be taken over by the state, to go bankrupt on my watch; what does that say about my leadership and my management; making the tough decisions to bring us back from the precipice, just rather than pushing us over. So why not – and this is more of a political question than a policy one – but from Governor Rauner’s perspective I’ve offered to pitch in and help. I’ve offered, here are some options, and by the way, I have kind of a 30 year track, because the reason I’m 100 millionaire is because I’m pretty good at reading the balance sheets and understanding what the real world options are, and if they don’t want to entertain real world options, why not just wash your hands and just say, “Okay, geniuses, okay, Tiny Dancer, okay Karen Lewis, whatever, Forest Claypool, you figure it out. But you can come down to Springfield with your pickle buckets and panhandle outside the Capital, and we’re not giving you anymore money”. Ted Dabrowski: Yeah, and I think politically that’s where it goes. I think that’s where it goes, and the sad part is – and I think everybody knows this – is that, you know, we just had a massive property tax hike in Chicago; the largest on record, and that only solves a small part of the problem; we probably need to have another two of those to try to start getting toward balance, and so the sad part is that Chicagoians are already burned with all kinds of nickel and diming fees, and red light… you know, anything you want to talk about, there’s a fee or a tax for it. Chicagioans can’t afford more, and we’ve already heard about people leaving the city. Dan Proft: But at least Teachers’ Union is honest about… I mean, I give them credit… they’re kind of like Bernie Sanders; they are like the honest socialists, as opposed to the disingenuous socialists. Property tax increase – sure. Chicago Teachers’ Union is on board for that; Karen Lewis – yeah; Graduated State Income Tax – yeah; fine. Ted Dabrowski: Financial services is back. Dan Proft: Yeah, on Nassau Street, on the exchanges, financial transactions – good. They’re contemplating the institution of a new city income tax to layer on to all the other taxes – we’re open to that; all they care about is the revenue side; at least they’re genuine about it, so you can have an honest conversation. Tiny Dancer and the Chicago Democrats trying to cling to power, they understand the political difficulty of that, because they have to stand for election outside of 30,000 teachers, and so they play this game like something can be solved by getting a half of billion dollars every other month from the state of Illinois. Number 1 – it doesn’t solve it; number 2 – it’s not going to happen. So do you give the Teachers’ Union at least credit for being honest, so we can have an honest conversation? Like here is where they want to solve the problem; that’s one option. Confiscatory taxation on top of confiscatory taxation; and here’s another option, like you and the Illinois Policy Institute have charted, that presents a real choice for Chicago residents and Illinois residents to consider. Ted Dabrowski: I think you’re right, they are, to say, honest about their motives with you, and Karen Lewis is pretty clear about it, but I think that’s why we call them the most militant union in the US. They say what they want, they strike for it and they go for it. Dan Proft: And they unironically wear red shirts to their rallies. I mean, beat me over the head with a cudgel, I get it. Ted Dabrowski: I think the saddest part for me – and the parents haven’t figured it out yet – still the parents are still backing with the Union. In the first strike they did it still seems like they have backing, but at some point that’s going to break, and when people realize that those strikes mean bigger and bigger taxes, increase in property tax, especially for the low income families, right, because they may not pay property taxes because they’re owners, but they certainly pay higher rent; they certainly pay higher sales taxes, higher X, Y and Z, and at some point there’s got to be a connection. Dan Proft: But those are the unseen costs that they don’t kind of…are people connecting the dots. Because it seems to me what Karen Lewis is good at doing – and to some extent, Rahm is good at doing as well – is presenting it like Rahm and Karen Lewis are on the opposite sides. They’re not on the opposite sides. They’re fighting over who gets to be the central planner in charge, right? And so the free market perspective of the economic liberty movement, to some extent has to also bear some culpability for not charting a third way, and explaining to people that you’re getting played by both sides. They’re not looking out for your best interests, and they don’t have a plan that solves this without imposing additional duress on you, on your children, on the taxpayers read large, so that the city continues to shrink and the number of revenue producing wards continues to winnow, and we continue the death spiral to a place that you’re not going to be insulated from in terms of pain. Ted Dabrowski: No, I think you’re right, but these guys have always worked together. That’s why I said they collude. They’re like two monopolies, or an oligopoly, and they work together pretty closely; they choose to fight every once in a while, but never – and if you think about this, are the discussions and the fights about better outcomes – we don’t hear much about that; it’s all about who’s going to win the power struggles; whether it’s Rahm or there’s Karen Lewis; whether it’s Claypool, whether it’s Rauner in the takeover; but nobody’s talking about how to help the parents win. And what you’re right about is that really this is a battle over who controls billions of dollars in salary, and billions of dollars in pension payments. And Rahm loves to be in control of that, and so does Karen Lewis. Dan Proft: I know, the 6 billion dollars CPS budget; what is it, a third of it is salaries? Ted Dabrowski: Oh yeah, you’ve got over 2 billion, sure. And so that’s the control power, and so when we talk about, and you’re right, the free market movement that hasn’t done a great job in Chicago, in Illinois, about saying “Hey, it’s time we take the power out of Rahm Emanuel; it’s time we take the power away from Karen Lewis, and give it to the families; let them be in control of the dollars, and let them hold schools accountable”, and by that I mean the parent would have the ability to walk away from the school and use that public money for a private school, if he/she wasn’t having their kids’ needs met. Dan Proft: Or a public school. Ted Dabrowski: Or a public school. It could just be give them the power to walk, and when the parents have that power, then the public schools would have to listen. Dan Proft: Well, you say, you know, the parents side with Karen Lewis and the Teachers’ Union; well, that’s because they experienced the teachers. Right, their kids experienced the teachers, and so they like Mrs. Smith, who teaches 4th grade, and they like Mr. Jones, who teaches 8th grade. They know those two, so when Mrs. Smith or Mr. Jones or their local school principle says, “Are you going to throw in with me, or are you going to throw in with that little cleptocrat on the 5th floor of City Hall?”, that’s an easy choice. Ted Dabrowski: It is, but I think, though, more and more teachers are starting to realize; and if you’re a 35 year old teacher and you hear the arguments going on, you say, “Wait a minute, is there going to be a pension for me? I’m going to contribute for years; will there be a pension for me?”, and I got a call yesterday, as a matter of fact, from a teacher; she’s 67, retired from CPS, lives in the suburbs, and she’s scared to death whether her pension is going to be cut totally. Dan Proft: When did she retire? Ted Dabrowski: She retired just a few years ago. Dan Proft: So about the average age of 63, which is like the average age of a CPS teacher retiring? Ted Dabrowski: The average retirement age is closer to 60, so over half retire in their 50s, and you’re hitting on a good point, Dan. The reason these pensions are so expensive is because the average worker who works there is retiring in their 50s, most of them with full benefits, and because they get automatic costs for living adjustments, those pension benefits double after 25 years. It’s a fantastic gig, and it’s something that tax payers can’t afford. Dan Proft: Let’s talk numbers, kind of get out of the unfunded liabilities and the billions, and this and that, that don’t mean anything to most people, and you can’t kind of distill down to something they can’t relate to. Let’s relate it. So the Chicago public school teacher retiring in 2014 with 30 years in max out in terms of pension, what annual pension are they receiving? Ted Dabrowski: About 68,000. Dan Proft: $68,000? Ted Dabrowski: Right. $68,000. Dan Proft: Which is almost 40% more than the medium household income in Illinois? Ted Dabrowski: Sure, close. And you can compared a medium household income; that’s more than one person. Dan Proft: So maybe it’s 25% more than the medium household income in Chicago. It’s still a big number. I’ve looked at the work that you and Illinois Policy Institute has done, and I just want to relate these numbers because they are staggering for anybody that works in the private sector, and frankly, anybody that works. This is IPI numbers – a Chicago public school teacher retiring in 2014, 30 years in will have paid these around numbers, $133,000 into their pension, will receive 2.1 million dollars back, a 15,000% plus return on investment. Ted Dabrowski: And let me just say one thing, that that 133 is giving the teacher credit on having made the full payment, when in fact the school district was picking up… Dan Proft: Would they had made less than 25% of it. Ted Dabrowski: Correct. So it’s phenomenal. These are great returns. Dan Proft: You’re right. So how do we have a bankrupt school system, and a bankrupt city, and a bankrupt… I mean, come on? Ted Dabrowski: And how many people in the private sector have 2 million dollars from having their career sitting there waiting for their retirement? Dan Proft: What’s the private sector counterpart? I think you guys have this too. So if you wanted the average retiree kind of same-similar situated, if you wanted to receive 2.1 million dollars in pension benefits back, pay yourself 70 grand+ a year in retirement, how much would you have had to contribute into your 401? Ted Dabrowski: Around one and a half million dollars, because interest rates are so low, so you’d have to put in a lot of money just to get that. Dan Proft: So in the private sector it’s one and a half million dollars in for 2.1 back; at CPS it’s 133 in for 2.1 million back. Ted Dabrowski: Correct, and this is phenomenal. And it’s not sustainable, I mean, don’t forget the reason why it’s so high. That 2.1 million is because they get that 3% automatic bump in their pension benefit each period. Dan Proft: The cost of living adjustment turned out to be an annuity because that’s seven times the rate of inflation for the last decade. Ted Dabrowski: Correct. And so basically, somebody’s pension benefit doubles over 25 years. It’s phenomenal. Dan Proft: And this is the case – not to get too far field off of teachers and CPS's; that’s really kind of at bar with the strike looming in May – but the numbers for Chicago firefighters, for Chicago police officers, for city of Chicago municipal employees, for city of Chicago laborers, and the laboring public sector, they’re basically the same. Ted Dabrowski: Pretty similar, yeah; of course, Chicago police and fire will be a little higher. But basically it’s the same, and you’re talking about the average career worker getting somewhere in 2 million dollars and more in retirement; and it’s really hard to ask taxpayers who are struggling to pay that over and over again. Dan Proft: And so, when you look at these numbers, the public sector union, a lot of the ranking file, the response is “Wait a second; why are you attacking teachers, and firefighters and police officers? Don’t you respect the job we do?” And even if you say you respect the job that we do, “Hey look, we play by the rules that were set forward by the politicians that set the rules, so why should we take a haircut, when they made a promise and we relied on that promise?” Ted Dabrowski: I think it’s a good argument. Look, I always want to blame the people who set the laws. It’s the politicians who agreed to bad deals. I think everybody fights for their own special interest, whether it’s the Teachers’ Union, or an employee wanting a raise, or better terms, so I think it’s important that we don’t vilify teachers or cops; my kids go to the public schools. I love my kids’ teachers. I think they do a great job, but the bottom line is this is not about that. This is about the state’s ability, and people’s ability, and taxpayers’ ability to pay for these benefits, and so I don’t think we should vilify them, but I think there has to be realization that the agreement, whatever it was… we should meet whatever obligations we made; whatever’s been promised and has been earned we should pay. But going forward we need to strike a new deal, and I think that’s what this whole discussion is about. Striking a new deal that’s fair for the public sector workers, but also fair for the tax payers that fund them. Dan Proft: Yeah, I just want to emphasize that, because this seems to get lost in the conversation; I have the opportunity to talk to and hear from the public sector workers a lot in my radio program, and they don’t seem to hear it when I say “Wait a second, whatever you’ve earned, even if it was a bad deal, you should get, because there was reliance created by the state, you did anticipate these benefits, you earned the benefits, you should receive what you’ve earned. Full stop; however, at a date into the future, certain, like a year from now, there’s a new deal for the existent workers who have not earned those benefits, because they haven’t worked those days in the future yet, as well as for new hires, that is not going to be the same deal that you have now”, and point of fact, don’t we have that with the state employers with the tier 2 for new higher at this point, even at present? Ted Dabrowski: Yeah, so of course, tier 2 is a brand new employee, but I think what we’re saying is that for even existing employees – and this happens in the private sector every day. The private sector can’t take away benefits you’ve already earned. That would be a huge problem, and that shouldn’t happen here in Illinois either, at the state or city level. But going forward, we have to have a deal that allows the state budget, the city budgets – because we haven’t talked about cities; this is a huge problem all across Illinois with pensions for firemen and policemen… Dan Proft: And nationally. Ted Dabrowski: And nationally, of course. It’s a huge problem everywhere, and it’s pushing up property taxes – I’d like to talk about that in a minute, about all the taxes that are going up, but at some point there has to be another deal, because here’s the issue; right now you and I are saying we want to protect benefits we’ve already earned; if we ever go into bankruptcy courts, federal courts don’t care about state Constitution; federal courts trump the state Constitution, so like you saw in Detroit, like you’ve seen in Alabama, like you’ve seen in Rhode Island, pensions have been cut as a result of bankruptcies, and so if the public sector union workers don’t finally realize that they can actually have their pensions cut under bankruptcy, they’re going to get hit with exactly what they don’t want to see. Dan Proft: So many of them are listening to their public sector union bosses, rather than looking at the math and just taking a common sense approach to it to say “Do I really want to pay Russian roulette with my retirement?”. It’s not roulette; it’s Russian roulette, because all it takes is one federal bankruptcy judge to say, for example, “Yeah, states cannot go bankrupt under federal bankruptcy code”. But if pension funds go upside down and they can no longer pay out beneficiaries, then I’m going to say that pension funds are separate and distinct from the state, and instead of checks in the mail you get IOUs until they figure it out. Ted Dabrowski: Or you have a 15% - 20% haircut. And I think that’s a real distinct possibility. That’s why I think at some point, and I think the state ruling recently that came out last week… Dan Proft: This is on Chicago pensions. Ted Dabrowski: On Chicago pensions; where it starts to say that things like pension benefits can’t be collectively bargained if there’s some exchange, some consideration given for changes in the pension benefits… Dan Proft: Simple contract law theory. Ted Dabrowski: Exactly. And that being the case, I think behooves the unions. And let’s talk about Chicago policemen and firemen. You were talking about teachers and others. The worst funded pensions in Illinois right now are the Chicago fire and police pensions. They have about 25 cents of every dollar they should have in their account. So imagine, you have your 401(k), you open it up and you think you have $100,000. You open it and there’re only 25,000. You’re missing three quarters of the money. That’s exactly what’s happening to policemen and firemen right now. And I don’t know why they’re not jumping up and down and saying “I want a new deal. I want something better. Promise me what I’ve earned, but give me a new deal going forward”. And I think that’s what they should be fighting for, because they run the big risk of having a massive haircut. Dan Proft: If you have a police fund or a firefighter pension fund that’s only a quarter funded, are those pension funds salvageable. Ted Dabrowski: I think, we’ve run numbers, I think we can salvage them, but it’s painful, right? And you’ve got to have a long term process, but you got end the game now. But effectively, in any private sector scenario, they’re bankrupt; they’re done. They would have been closed up if they were part of a private sector group, they would have been closed, liquidated and gone. So it’s something, I think, they have a huge interest in hitting the table and negotiating. I think the way to look at this, Dan, if we can stop the bleeding now, and move to a new 401(k), stop playing go and forth for all benefits earned going forward, then what we do is we treat the unfunded liability as debt. Chicago just has a bunch of debt and it’s going to take years to pay that debt off; but I think it can work with Chicago’s numbers if we stop the pain. Dan Proft: Then you can start to bend the cost curve and catch up. Ted Dabrowski: Exactly, but it’s not just police and fire, you have to do that for teachers’ pensions and for the other pensions in Chicago, so it has to be a whole deal, because remember, you have one taxpayer in Chicago, and that one taxpayer has to pay all those pensions and Cook County pensions as well, and of course, the shortfall at the state-level; so we have to be careful to respect the taxpayers in Chicago. Dan Proft: It seems to me the taxpayers are starting to understand what is in the offing, and I just look at out-migration; is there any better indication of the vitality of a community, county or state than whether people choose to live there or not, and in 2015, according to the census, Cook County lost more population than any other county in the country; this against the backdrop of the state of Illinois continues to compete with New Jersey for the largest out-migration year after year. Ted Dabrowski: I think that’s the biggest issue, and it’s something that we talk a lot about as respecting the taxpayer. And I don’t think Rahm Emanuel, Michael Madigan, they don’t understand… sorry, they may understand, but they don’t care; it doesn’t fit into the political calculus, but the reality is that people are leaving and I think more telling them the 2015 numbers is the out-migration that occurred between 2000 and 2010 by middle class Blacks. 180,000 blacks were lost during that period, and if you look at what happened in Detroit; first you lost the White taxpayers when you had the White Flight, but the problem really happened in Detroit when the middle-class Blacks left. And then the tax base was gone, and I think Chicago has to start thinking about how to protect its residents – doesn’t matter what color they are – but if you don’t protect your tax base you’re done. And we’re entering that spiral today. Dan Proft: Well that’s interesting, so I have a conversation with my aldermen; I’m in the 42nd ward when, you know, the wards that looks fancy on the outside, and you hear this propaganda from the likes of a Brendan Reilly, who’s just a toady for Madigan and for Tiny Dancer. Well, look at the planters on Michigan Avenue, and look at the tower cranes with new rental units going up in Streeterville. Everything’s on the up and up, and my response to them is, even let’s accept your premise, that this ward, one of 50 wards, is on the up and up; explain to me how you think – let’s say there’s 10 wards, 20% the city, that are kind of revenue producing wards that have substantial economical activity ongoing – so you’re telling me that 80% of the city can burn to the ground around us and we’re not going to be impacted? Do you really believe that? Does anybody really believe that except a craven feudal lord, which is what these aldermen are? Ted Dabrowski: I remember the first time I went to Detroit right after the bankruptcy, and I came back and wrote about it, and the lessons I learned from it, as it relates to Chicago; a lot of pushback, you know, Chicago is not a Detroit. Dan Proft: No, never happen here. Ted Dabrowski: And listen, Chicago’s not a Detroit when you think about the diversification of businesses; you walk down in the loop here, it’s hot, man, it’s rocking, it’s a lot of stuff going on, but I think what people forget is bankruptcy is not about what you look like; bankruptcy is whether you can afford to pay your debts. It’s simply that, and you take the best paid athletes in the nation. A lot of them go bankrupt; they’re making 100 million dollars, but they go bankrupt because they don’t manage their spending, and I think that’s where Chicago is. Dan Proft: Yeah, how can they be bankrupt? They’ve got a nice home, they’ve got a nice car and they wear nice clothes? How can they be bankrupt? How can Antoine Walker – he’s an NBA champion – how can he go bankrupt? Terrible investments; he put his money to use in all the wrong places. That’s how you can go bankrupt. Ted Dabrowski: And I think that’s where Chicago is. Chicago is exactly there. And let me make one other point, and I think this is important. Chicago’s got a big footprint. We used to have 3.5 million people, right? We’re down way below that. The population in Chicago now is below the 1920s. That’s a massive change. We still have that same infrastructure, and I don’t just mean physical infrastructure, like the highways and all that. We have the same public sector infrastructure, and that public sector infrastructure’s not shrinking fast enough with the city. What it’s doing is it keeps growing; the cost of that infrastructure, the unions, the teachers, the police and fire; it’s too expensive. It’s outpacing the growth of what people make in the city, and that’s what’s going to break us. Dan Proft: So you wanted to talk about the taxation that your median Chicago resident faces. Let’s talk about it. Ted Dabrowski: What you see in Chicago is a lot of people saying “Oh, property taxes are much, much lower in Chicago than they are in the suburbs. Dan Proft: Subsidized by commercial. Ted Dabrowski: Subsidized by commercial one, but two, they are relatively lower, but what people don’t talk about is the… you know, Daley was a genius. We all know that. He knew that he shouldn’t go after property taxes, so what he did, and the other who followed, is they came up with a bottled water tax, and a dollar tier tax, then you had to add the red light cameras, they had every kind of tax and fee to hide the fact that the raising taxes on you. And it’s really hard to track what’s going on, so we did all the numbers, and it’s amazing how much higher, when you take all the taxes that there are in Chicago than in any other city – Evanston’s a competitor – but any other city in Illinois, the taxes are tremendously high. So I think there’s a lot of deceit, the press hasn’t wanted to talk about it properly, none of the politicians want to talk about it, but Chicagoians are taxed up the zahzoo, and in the end, middle class families know it; I think, when we talked about the Black families earlier, schools aren’t working for them, crime is certainly hurting them, and taxes are going against them; why stay? And I think that’s a question that people ask themselves. Dan Proft: Sure, and they ask themselves and they’re answering in the negative. Why stay? It makes no sense not to stay. Ted Dabrowski: And it’s not easy for people to leave, right? It’s hard to pick up and leave. Dan Proft: Right, sure. You laid down routes, you made an investment here, it is a great city, it’s a beautiful city, it’s a fun city; great restaurants and night life and arts and culture. Why do I want to leave here? I don’t want to leave here, but you’re making it such as I can’t make it make sense to be here. And frankly, even someone like me - who does relatively well, because I’ve got phony baloney job on the radio that pays me a lot of money and I work 20 hours a week - even me, I say, “Gosh, move over to Northwest Indiana and lower my cost of living by 40%, my muffling it up by 40%? What am I doing here? Ted Dabrowski: You’re hitting on the issue that recently I was in South Chicago, and I met with this company, Modern Drop Forge – they’re a big steel stamp planter, steel stamper – and they tried to stay in Illinois, they worked hard, nobody paid attention to them; this is a year and a half ago; and so they finally looked at Indiana, and Indiana opened their arms, said come here, the company eventually moved there. I was at there, I think I was telling you about this. I went to their new facility, this massive, beautiful huge facility; state of the art, and a lot of the workers who didn’t want to move to Indiana from Chicago, they went and they looked at the house prices and said wow; they looked at the property taxes, much lower; school choice. Dan Proft: And what you get for those numbers in terms of home and property. Ted Dabrowski: It’s a huge home, and he said he took his wife, this worker who didn’t want to go, he took his wife; they moved. And they’re so happy; and I saw him at the new plant, he’s ecstatic, and that’s what people are experiencing, and we shouldn’t force people to look at those alternatives, but I think what we’re doing is we’re making it such that people… people don’t move because their taxes are high. People move because things get difficult, the opportunities aren’t there, it gets too costly; they finally make a calculus and some way say “Hey, I’m going to go somewhere where there’s a new opportunity”. Whether it’s Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, whatever. Dan Proft: Well right, it’s cumulative. It’s not a single tax, it’s not that if I don’t have a city sticker, my fine is going to be like $42,000 to make the numbers work for the city for one year additional. It’s just the cumulative impact of every time you turn around, you’re just being fleeced. Ted Dabrowski: So it comes around to that’s why we need these massive reforms, and until we get them… Dan Proft: Which, by the way, the funny thing is, the other side, that has been unwilling to advance these structural reforms says we need these structural reforms. What did Rahm come in on? He came in on a wave of here’s a tough guy, he was the Chief of Staff to the President of the United States, and he’s going to make these tough decisions. He’s going to endure the political capital that must be spent to make the difficult decisions to bring the city back, to right the financial ship; and he hasn’t done it. Ted Dabrowski: This is Rahm though, right? He was the guy that was going to let nominate crisis go to waste. Dan Proft: The tutu should have been the leading indicator that this was not a tough guy. Ted Dabrowski: A lot of people were excited, and it’s amazing, because he actually did something that is pretty bold when he first came in. He went down to Springfield, and he sounded like he was proposing the Illinois Policy Institute’s ideas. He talked about COLA – Cost of Living Reforms – producing them, he talked about bringing retirement agents down, and he talked about optional 401(k) style plans for workers. That was awesome, he actually went down to Springfield and did that, and Daley didn’t do that, he didn’t go down to Springfield. So there was a lot of hope in the beginning, but quickly, once the negotiations got tough, once Karen Lewis put her foot down, he caved. Dan Proft: Well the 401(k) thing was interesting, because the response you get from a lot of people is “I don’t want to be subject to market fluctuations; I guess it’s okay if everybody else who is not in the public sectors is subject to market fluctuations with respect that they’re 401(k)s, but we want a guarantee, the define benefit plan”, and so the response to that, that we want this guarantee, 401(k) doesn’t work for us, at the university level, this is kind of an under-reported story, but you were the first one to kind of alert me to this. There are thousands of actual university employees, public employees in this state who are part of a 401(k) retirement system within the larger public university system, so number 1 – is it working for them? – number 2 – if it is, why don’t we scale it? Ted Dabrowski: Well, what’s amazing is that somewhere along the way, 1998, not Mike Madigan, but a guy named Robert Madigan, he passed a law that allowed university professors to have a 401(k) style plan. Why? University professors wanted that portability. They wanted to control their retirement fund. They wanted it to be in their name that they could take when they left the state if they left. Now what’s amazing is that we would allow a professor to have that, right, but not a Chicago fireman, a policeman, or a teacher, who should have their ownership, their own title and control over that money; rather than being dependant on Madigan or Rahm Emanuel, these university professors can take their money and nobody can touch it. And what’s interesting about that whole thing is we’re sitting again almost on record highs in the stock market; these guys are doing really well. The money that’s in there is going up, and despite the massive recovery of the stock market, Illinois’ pensions continue to do worse and worse. Dan Proft: The public sector pension funds. Ted Dabrowski: The public sector pensions get worse despite this massive improvement in the stock market. Dan Proft: So I guess the argument would be made, wait a second, if Dan Proft with his financial guy can figure out where to put his money and how to distribute risk and how to have a balanced portfolio, then why can’t a Chicago police officer, Chicago firefighter, Chicago teacher do the same thing? They can do the same thing. I’m no smarter than they are. My financial advisors are no smarter than the financial advisors they could have access to. Ted Dabrowski: They make it so easy now to invest. You just call Charles Schwab, you call Fidelity, and they make it easy. I think that’s the whole thing, you know, public sector employees have gotten so in bed with the government, that they’re letting the government control their lives for them, including their retirement lives, and the government’s made a disaster of that, and people are scared that they may not have a retirement. We argue that the workers should have control; they should have that freedom to control their own retirement account. If they want the state to manage them, let them. But for those who want something different, give them the option; it’s only fair. Dan Proft: I want to go back to the Chicago public school system for a second, because we got a couple of things, a couple of chiblits that are always advanced by the Teachers’ Union, and their acolytes that need to be addressed. One is this idea the state’s not paying; it’s fair share the CPS, that’s the problem. Why don’t we just start there? Let’s do one at a time. So CPS receives a majority of its funding from the state, which is materially different than all the Collar County districts – well, most of the Collar County districts – and for the Collar County districts that it’s not materially different, that are majority funded by the state, they end up – districts like Matteson; low income – they end up subsidizing; so you have low income people in Matteson subsidizing people in Chicago. Ted Dabrowski: Well, let me just hit the first point. We’ve run the numbers, we’re going to be releasing them pretty soon. What Forest Claypool says, he’s using a logic that I don’t think makes sense, but let’s follow him with his logic; he says they have 20% of the students; they should get 20% of what the state doles out, to all the districts; and he says that that’s not true; well, we’ve run the numbers, and if you take the last ten years, including pensions, because he argues that Chicago public school district pays their own pensions, whereas the state pays the pension for all the other school districts; he says that’s unfair; and you could, at face value, agree with that; what Forest Claypool doesn't tell you is that the funding formulas for education more than make up for what the city looses on a pension, so bottom line is that we ran the numbers for the last 10 years; they’ve gotten more than their share every single year in the last 10 years, with the exception of this past year. They’ve gotten more on average than all the other school districts. So they’re getting their share, and I think we’re going to debunk his myth. He has to stop complaining that he needs a state bailout and start focusing on what reforms he can pass in Chicago. I think that’s where he really needs to focus on. Dan Proft: And so let’s just kind of again do this; like a little bit of classroom math – not common core style either, because I don’t know how to do math common core style – but the city of Chicago spends around 15 grand – a little bit north of that, but let’s use round numbers – 15 grand per kid per year. So classroom of 30 – keep it simple – that’s 450 grand per classroom in the city of Chicago; 650 schools, a little bit less than 400,000 kids like it normally used to be, because of the exodus from Chicago; so $450,000 per classroom; the teacher all-in cost the district $120k a year; let’s say you spend another 50 grand on supplies, because that’s 150. It’s a $1,700 per kid for the pension pick up, for the pension costs, so again, let’s round up to 2 grand; so that’s another 60 grand. So it gets me to 210; let’s say we throw another 50 in for the building of the infrastructure and all that – per kid – so that’s 260. Where’s the other 200 grand per classroom in Chicago go? Does anybody know? Because I asked Karen Lewis this question, I asked Forest Claypool this question, I asked aldermen in the city of Chicago this question. Nobody has the answer to this question. And the other thing that’s even more infuriating than not having the answer is nobody much seems to care. Ted Dabrowski: It kind of reminds me, after they closed the 50 schools and – I forgot who did the analysis – but they couldn’t find the computers, they couldn’t find a lot of the supplies, they were gone; and they can’t track themselves. I think the biggest issue was CPS, is that they’re too damn big, right? It’s a monolith, and they can’t manage themselves, and I think that’s the big issue. Dan Proft: So at the state-level or at the city-level, because the dynamics are very similar? Illinois Policy Institute, what’s a path forward? Everybody gets the benefits they’ve earned up to a date certain; what’s the path forward? What does that look in terms of retirement age? Pension contribution, all of the cost of living adjustments, all of the drivers for cost in the system? What should that look like, that is respectful and reasonable that we can potentially afford, that provides that balance? Ted Dabrowski: So let’s come back to that state university retirement system plan that’s a 401(k). That thing’s been around for 17 years. You’ve got about 1700-1800 workers and retirees in it. What that plan does, and the people who are on that 401(k) style plan, they don’t get social security, so the 401(k) style plan they get is robust enough to meet IRS standards, and to give a sufficient retirement. And what it does is the state puts in 7% into the 401(k) every paycheck, and the employee puts in 8%, so every paycheck period, 15% is going into their retirement account. And that’s been deemed good enough, and has been around for a long time, and many people get it. So we think that’s a good basis for creating a plan for all workers, new workers, and for benefits going for choosing some starting date; we think that would be a great start. You know, there could be debates on how to structure it, but we think that’s a really good start because going forward, what it would mean is that all the benefits that have been earned, any worker or retiree would continue to get… retirees wouldn’t be affected by this plan, but all workers would have earned their benefits up to a point, then going forward, everything goes into a 401(k) style plan. So it’s a fair plan, you respect retirement ages, you respect all that, and it does a lot to fix the problem in Illinois. We’ve run numbers and it depends on how strict we are with the terms, but we believe that we can cut the unfunded liability by 30-40%, which is pretty massive, and we can create a repayment plan on the rest of the debt that gets us out of this problem; in 30 years, but in one that there’s control and certainty, rather than the one we have today which is uncertain. Dan Proft: And to repeat just for emphasis, that means you’re not messing with the retirement age, you’re not messing with COLA's, or the other component parts of a person’s employment or retirement? Ted Dabrowski: Correct. I think what you want to do is leave what people have earned, because I think it’s all a question of constitutionality. Dan Proft: But even prospectively, even for the new hires today. Ted Dabrowski: Well the new hires today are looking for 401(k) plans. Dan Proft: Right, but you’re saying “Hey, if you have 30 years in and you’re 50, 55, 60, whatever, because you’ve got the 401(k), we’ve more or less achieved a solomonic balance of – we’re paying 7%, you’re paying 8%; you’re managing your funds; not defined benefit, it’s defined contribution like it exists in the private sectors, to the extent that even those exist in the private sector today – and everybody’s charting their own course. Ted Dabrowski: Right, and then from then on we just manage the debt that we have and the outstanding liabilities, but we don’t keep creating these unfunded liabilities which we’ve seen just keep growing every single year. They grow out of control. It’s like a mortgage that grows every year, rather than paying it down, it just keeps growing and growing, no matter how much you put in it. That would be the example of a home owner. You keep paying down your debt and it keeps getting bigger, and you can’t get control of it. Dan Proft: Right, and it would also obviate the need to make our mortgage payment with a credit card, which is essentially what we’re doing now, to the extent that we still get credit card companies that will issue us credit cards effectively, because at some point the bond markets are going to seize up and they’re going to disallow borrowing, except that usurious Soprano rates, like CPS just did. Ted Dabrowski: Here’s another point I wanted to make. So we talked about this 401(k) style plan already existing in Illinois; so it’s like some pipe dream we have; this is something that’s a legitimate plan that works, and if it’s good enough for our university professors, why isn’t it good enough for anybody else? But it’s not just Illinois that’s done this; we’ve had massive reforms across the country, and Michigan actually started this. In 1997 they moved all their employees to 401(k) style plans; back in 1997. Dan Proft: Michigan, big union state. Ted Dabrowski: Big union state, 1997, and so they got ahead of this long time ago. Let me give you another state that did a big change. They did a hybrid half, pension half 401(k) style plan, and that was Rhode Island. Democratically controlled legislature, they got it passed; big reform, very painful, but they did it. And Alaska has passed in 2006 a 401(k) style plan for new employees, and most recently Oklahoma passed one. So this is something that’s happening across the country. It’s not some dream, it’s happening. Dan Proft: So the question I’m sure a lot of people are thinking is “If it’s happening across the country and it’s working for 17,000 university professors who are not bitching about it – at least we don’t hear from them bitching about it – why haven’t we scaled it already?” Ted Dabrowski: Well, I think it’s been easy for Karen Lewis and others to say the rich aren’t paying enough. All we need are more taxes. And unfortunately, the union members have bought that argument. They’ve bough that argument that the taxes need to go up. There’s a solution, there’s a promise been made; don’t change what we got as a promise, no matter whether it’s 20 years into the future. Let’s just raise taxes to solve our problems, and at some point there’s going to be revolt. It’s not a big revolt, it’s a quiet revolt by people just leaving the state, leaving the city over and over again. Dan Proft: Isn’t that the problem? Again, it’s a political problem, but people leave the state; we essentially have a hollowing out in the city and the state. People that are insulated from bad public policy, the very rich and the very poor, that are beneficiary to the transfer payments, they don’t feel it, they don’t live in the world of trying to make ends meet, and so that’s what you’re left with, and frankly, that’s the constituency of the left. That’s the constituency of the established power structure in Chicago and the General Assembly. Ted Dabrowski: I think the big issue that’s going to continue to drive change are the property taxes. We’re seeing places, like you said, Matteson, and nearby - Southland – communities, where the tax rates on property, so the effective tax rate on a home is about 4-5% of the value. So if somebody would have tried to buy that house today would have to pay the cash for that home, they’d have to pay the value for that home, and within 20 years, because of taxes, they would have repaid for that home again. Dan Proft: So for most people with a 30 year mortgage, they pay for their home twice. What you’re saying is in Illinois and a lot of regions you’re going to pay for your house the third time because of the property taxes. Ted Dabrowski: Exactly, and that’s why people are starting to walk away from their homes in the Southland area. So you got a place where the manufacturing companies have gone. You see the big swaths of land just empty, and you’re starting to see now these nice big homes that have collapsed in value, and people walking away because they can’t afford it anymore. Between the mortgage and a second mortgage being the property taxes, they’re leaving. Dan Proft: And here’s something else I hear too, a lot of small and mid-sized businesses, 25 to 250 employees, they don’t make headlines when they leave, they don’t make headlines when they lay people off, they’re not big enough, but they’re impactful. They represent three quarters of the jobs in the state. They’re just quietly closing up shop, or they’re downsizing, and kind of methodically moving operations somewhere else. And it’s one of those things, like the old kind of sun also rises, how did you go bankrupt - gradually, then suddenly. So it’s kind of the whole thing, it’s like wait a second. Where did all the businesses in Elk Grove Village and the ring suburbs around O’Hare go? Well they slowly moved out over the course of the last ten years. Now how do you get them back? Ted Dabrowski: That’s really hard, and that’s why I always argue that… I talk a lot about the one reform that we can do tomorrow, and it can be agreed upon all the parties as new employees. Move to 401(k) style plans tomorrow. New employees don’t have a contract, they’re not protected by the Constitution, they would just enter with a new contract. Make it a reasonable, fair, 401(k) style plan. Then people would say “That wouldn’t save a whole lot of money”, but I’m saying “It may not save a whole lot of money, but that sure would send a different message than any message that we’ve sent over the last 25 years”; and that would send a message to the rating agencies, that reform is coming, that’d send a message to future employers, people that want to live in Illinois, but we’ve got to send a positive message, and right now there’s no positive message, and we know with the budget flight there’s no positive message. We need a positive message. Dan Proft: I want to level-up one level of education; the post secondary education in universities, we’ve talk about this cadre of university of professors in a 401(k) system, okay, but a lot of the discussion and the consternation in the context of this current state budget impasse is about universities, and they’re not receiving the funding they’ve become accustomed to from the state, and so there’s the prospect of laying off employees, and there’s a protest on campuses, state colleges, universities, and it’s all directed at the state of Illinois; what are they doing, they’re divesting from higher education. Well, it turns out, and this is some good work that’s been done by State Representative Mark Badneck - who’s a Freshman Republican from Oswego, Plainfield area - it turns out that if you do a little bit of comparison, in terms of what the state of Illinois provides in per pupil support, as compared to their conference peers – whether it’s Illinois State in the Missouri valley, or University of Illinois in the big 10 – it turns out we’re providing almost twice as much state support for pupil than the conference peers in other states, and yet tuition at our state schools is still 40% higher than their peers, their conference peers in those states. Explain that dynamic. Ted Dabrowski: Well, we looked at the numbers in higher education, and it’s easy to blame the lack of a budget right now. It’s easy to do that because it’s easy to point the finger at somebody. Dan Proft: That’s why they’re doing it. Ted Dabrowski: And that’s why they’re doing it, and of course, no budget has created a crack, sorry, is showing all the cracks that exist in higher-ed. But this problem has been building for 10 or 15 years or more, right, and a lot of it has to do with how much public funding is making it to education from the federal government and the state. And what these universities are doing is they’re taking all the available money they can find, and they’re hiring administrative staffs that are much too large, they’re bloated, and they’re paying massive salaries and massive pensions. And so when you look at what’s happening, it’s tuition's are having a double, not because education’s doing that much better; it’s all going to fund big, big administrations and super big pensions. Dan Proft: And we saw… we’re talking about the Chicago teachers’ strike in the not too distant past. How about the U of IC 1,100 professorate strike that was just two years ago – 2014. And they wanted to lift the floor for essentially part-time adjunct facility from 30 grand to 45 grand; 50% increase in base salary, and of course, that levels all the way up; we increase the floor here, and that increases the floor at every rung above that. And so how do we get out of that trap? Ted Dabrowski: It’s the same issues we’re talking. We’re talking pensions again. Dan Proft: Well, we’re talking salaries plus pensions. Ted Dabrowski: What happens is that these salaries are high and so what’s happened now is that when you take the state appropriations to go to education, higher-ed, they’ve actually grown a lot in the past decade. They’ve grown about 60% in the last decade; from 2.6 billion to over 4 billion. So it’s a big chunk of change; the problem has been is that 50% of all that money, 50% of what the state appropriates isn’t making it to higher-ed, it’s going to pay for pensions, and I was amazed when we did our work the other day, to find community colleges; community colleges pay their top person $500,000 a year. Dan Proft: You mean like the president of the university. Ted Dabrowski: The president, right. And of course, like you said, all those salaries get scaled up. Dan Proft: Tell us the story just for illustrative purposes, because it speaks to a larger cultural problem. In your research, the white paper that I read that you did in concert with colleagues at Illinois Policy Institute, a $900,000 administrator at the University of Illinois? Ted Dabrowski: Yeah, $900,000. Dan Proft: What the frack does that administrator do that warrants $900,000?! Ted Dabrowski: Included in that was a roughly $450,000 retention bonus after few years. Dan Proft: Okay, so what the frack does that administrator making 400 grand do that warrants a $450,000 retention bonus? Ted Dabrowski: Exactly. That person will probably get somewhere in the range of who knows, 8 to 9 to 10 million dollars in pensions. Think about that money, how many kids, how many scholarships that would fund in a given year for kids that tend Chicago State; that one person. Dan Proft: But they don’t hear, I mean you may hear it incredulously, but you’re going to hear it. Well, you want to attract and attain talents in academia, don’t you? Ted Dabrowski: So you can say that, now the question is, to how many people do you pay that? There’s a great study done by the Illinois General Auditor, and he looked at the number of administrators that these universities have, and it’s amazing. We looked at Chicago State… Dan Proft: This is like the Teldar Paper story, like all these vice-presidents, they just send memos back and forth; I can’t figure out what they do; this is the Michael Douglas moment? Ted Dabrowski: Well, nobody knows what they do, but they’re walking around through halls, but the point was, for Chicago State, they have one administrator for every 18 students. Dan Proft: Not one professor. Ted Dabrowski: No, they have one faculty member for every 16 students. So it’s almost the same number. Dan Proft: One administrator per every professor? Ted Dabrowski: Yes, so you could be sitting in a class, and your professor would be giving you a lesson, and there’d be an administrator right there watching over, making sure things are good. Dan Proft: A supervisor. Ted Dabrowski: You know, and again, a lot of that is because federal mandates, etcetera, but you can’t have that kind of bloat and not expect your tuition's to double, as they have in Chicago state, to the point where – here’s the sad part – the tuition's have gotten so high that you can’t have a kid who wants to work and go to school, because it’s just too expensive. And that’s why they’ve come to rely on scholarships. They’ve come to rely on free money because it’s no longer affordable. If these community colleges were meant for these kids to have an opportunity, why have we priced them out of touch? Dan Proft: So at the post-secondary educational level, where there’s community colleges, and we have some good community colleges, you know, 50 somewhat community colleges that provide… at least you can get your gen-ed requirements knocked out at a lower cost/credit hour at the community college before you go on to a four year university. But what you’re suggesting is that actually that’s not even the case anymore, and oh, by the way, because K-12 education, if so subpar, a lot of the costs at the freshman sophomore post-secondary education level is remediation, you’re paying for high school twice. I mean, if you talk to community college presidents, and university presidents, college presidents in the state, they’ll tell you the one in three kids that are going on at post-secondary education, I’m paying for them to do high school again for the first year, because they’re not prepared to do post-secondary work; so we’re paying for high school twice, and then we’re paying for administrators layered on to kids that are going to post-secondary education, not ready for the work, and then we wonder why the medieval poetry major can’t get a job when they get out of NIU, Illinois State, or U of I, or wherever, or Northwestern, for that matter. Ted Dabrowski: I think you’re capturing the problem really well, and what’s really scary is that not only can’t they get a job, but many of them have debt that they’ll never going to be able to repay, and that’s why you’re seeing these problems, right? You’re seeing trillions of dollars maybe becoming the next big problem in our country, with all this student debt the kids can’t pay back. A lot of it, again, bring it back around, a lot of it driven by pensions. Dan Proft: Fundamentally, if we’re thinking about K-12 education, and we’re thinking about higher education, with the bleak financial picture that we’ve painted, and the systems that have effectively been set up – let’s be just real honest about it – have effectively been set up to pay generous salaries and benefits to the adults in the system, not to educate children and to program for success in life. Ted Dabrowski: The Jerry Jones Program. Dan Proft: Clearly that’s not happening for the majority, then if there was one or two things where you could wave a magic wand at the Illinois Policy Institute and say this is the way to kind of a halt and do a 180, take a step back, and then chart a completely different course, what are those one or two things that get us off this path to ruin that we’re on, and onto a path of fulfilling the mission as stated of K-12 and post-secondary education? Ted Dabrowski: I think K-12 – I’m huge in empowering parents; I’m speaking generally, off course of some great public schools; and there’s people who are dedicated… Dan Proft: As there are at the post-secondary level. Ted Dabrowski: Listen, it’s not that people aren’t dedicated and they don’t care. I think systemically, and I think CPS, I’m sure there’s thousands of teachers and employees that care, I think the system is broken. The system – I’d say – is morally bankrupt. And it’s not going to work, and so until you get into a situation, and again, we’re seeing this happen again, same like we talked about 401(k)s, we’re seeing the same thing for school choice plans. Parents should be given the choice over where their kids go to school, and that’s one super empowering for parents who feel like they’ve been just totally left out of this, and that they think that more money is the solution, rather than being given a choice and control over their children’s education. So I think that’s number one. And we just saw Nevada, all of its 500,000 public school students have been given the choice of a voucher up to that $5,000; all of them. It’s amazing, state-wide, amazing. There’s now 26 states that offer school choice. Why isn’t Illinois one of them? Why isn’t Chicago one of them? Dan Proft: So that’s K-12 at the university level the problem is choice, right? Because Illinois, all the auto makers in the 70's have been insulated from competition, and kids are taking their GI bill, their Pell Grant, their stafford loan money, and they’re not going to school in Illinois. Ted Dabrowski: Right, they’re going outside, and they’re not coming back, and I think that higher-ed is a bigger problem, because it’s also a federal piece to it. You’ve got all that federal money, the schools know it, the schools know that the kids can borrow, and so therefore they raise their tuition and their hiring their jobs program to match that. So I think we need to stop a lot of what’s been happening there, and that would allow the cost come down dramatically; if we didn’t have all these subsidies feeding the cost up; but until we do that, I think it’s going to be tough. With that said, there’s a lot that can be done locally, because we don’t have to pay the salaries that we pay, and 2, we don’t have to have the administrative bloat that we have; and we certainly don’t need to have the pensions that we have. There’s no reason why people are getting 7 and 8 and 10 and 12 million dollar pensions. Dan Proft: So other than scaling the 1,700, go back to the 1,700 person university professors in a 401(k) style program, would you say that the state should starve the beast of academia? And force them to make changes that they’re otherwise not inclined to make, as long as you keep the spigot open? Ted Dabrowski: Well, sadly, that’s what’s happening, right? And it shouldn’t be that way; you’ve got a lot of people in pain now. You’ve got kids who thought they had a scholarship, now they don’t. They don’t care about those problems; then they had to have a plan. You’ve got teachers, professors who thought they had a job; they may lose them. And the way it’s happening now it shouldn’t be happening. It should be the administrations taking control of what they do and running an efficient system, but they’ve never been forced to do it, and Governor Rauner and the budget impasse is making them do that. They don’t like it, they don’t like having a gun to their head, but it’s forcing them to look at their costs, and it’s how it may happen. Dan Proft: So effectively, I mean, this K-12 or university, the common denominator is you have to have families be the accountability mechanism to how their tax dollars are being spent for the experience of their children, they have to be an accountability mechanism for their own local K-12 schools, they have to be an accountability mechanism for the universities they send their kids, for those kids to go onto post-secondary education. Ted Dabrowski: That’s absolutely right, and it’s interesting when you think about Chicago, and this comes back again empowering parents, families, the residents. Not the bureaucrats. When you look at the Laquan McDonald case, right, and you’ve got a Chicago, a police force and or mayor, or a attorney general who can hide information from the public for more than a year. When you have a situation where a school district can strike two times in a row on families; when you have a police force, when you try to take the problems of a Jason Van Dyke and discipline him – the police officer that shot Laquan McDonald, but you can’t use his old history of complaints, there’s a lot of things that the public is not seeing, and they seeded that too much of their power is residence to the Government, and a lot of what we’re talking about today is giving the power back to the residents. Give it back to the families, at least give it back to the people. Dan Proft: He is Ted Dabrowski, he’s the Vice- President of Policy at the Illinois Policy Institute. Nobody does more numbers, reality based research on these intractable problems in terms of the quality of public education in the state from pre-k through post-secondary than Ted and his team at the Illinois Policy Institute. You should read their stuff religiously so you’re empowered with the information they have researched and called to be that accountability mechanism that we’re talking about. Pleased to have Ted Dabrowski, Vice- President of Policy from the Illinois Policy Institute on this edition of Against The Current. Thank you for joining us, Ted, thank you. Ted Dabrowski: Dan, I appreciate it.

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Is Math an Opinion? IL Policy's Ted Dabrowski on Public Sector Salaries and Pensions

On this edition of Against The Current, Dan Proft is joined by Illinois Policy Institute Vice President of Policy Ted Dabrowski for a discussion on public sector salaries and pensions in the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois in K-12 education, at the collegiate level--like explaining why an U of I administrator makes $900k--and for public safety personnel. Dabrowski frames the choices Illinois families and policymakers alike face and suggests the way back from the fiscal abyss for the worst-run, worst-rated major city and state in America.

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Dan Proft: Thank you for joining us on another edition of Against the Current; coming to you from the Skyline Club, on top of the Old Republic building in downtown Chicago. My name is Dan Proft, and our guest on this episode is Ted Dabrowski, who is the Vice President of Policy for the Illinois Policy Institute, the Free Market Think Tank, economic liberty orientated think tank in downtown Chicago. Ted, thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it. Ted Dabrowski: Thanks for having me. Dan Proft: There’s a lot to talk about. You’ve got judicial decisions, as relates to pensions, both at the state level, with regards to Chicago pensions coming on the heels of Illinois Supreme Court’s decision from just a year earlier on state pensions, and then you’ve got the Supreme Court decision because of these Scalia absence on the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, as it pertains to forced union dues; that’s a lot to talk about against the backdrop of the second teachers’ strike looming in less than four years, and an almost junk-rated city of Chicago, according to Fitch, mostly because of the inability to solve the pension problem, combined with a junk-rated Chicago public school system, combined with the state, that has the worst credit rating in the United States. So, some challenges I think is a fair assessment. Ted Dabrowski: Some pretty big challenges. Dan Proft: Yeah. So why don’t we start with Chicago public schools, and the looming teacher strike over the teachers’ unwillingness to increase their contribution from 2 percentage points of the 9 percentage points they pay into the pension system to not have the Chicago Public School System pick up the other 7 percentage points anymore, as it’s been the case for the past 3 decades. Of course, the management side wants them to pick it up, so they can start trying to make the math work, and the teachers don’t want to essentially take a pay cut to increase their contribution to their pensions. Why is the teachers’ position unreasonable? Why should they pick up the 7 percentage points that the school system has been picking up for these past 3 decades? Isn’t that just another promise that was made to them, like they say, the Constitution made a promise to them and it shall never be changed? Ted Dabrowski: It’s another perk that Chicago teachers have had for a long time. It was gained back in 1981, and the issue, I think, the bigger issue is that the Chicago teachers do pretty well when you compare them to big cities across the country. They have the highest salaries of any big school district in the nation, and so what’s amazing is… Dan Proft: So higher than New York, higher than California, higher than L.A, higher than Houston. Ted Dabrowski: Higher than Miami, etcetera. So, they do pretty well, and again, it’s something they’ve negotiated, but they’ve done well, and included in that is this teacher pension pickup. That’s fancy words for, “Look, teachers, you don’t have to pay your full pension share, full pension payment you’re required to pay. We, the School District, which means tax payers, will pay it on your behalf”. And that’s been going on for about 3 decades, and the School District is broke, any way you look at it, it’s broke. And so CPS, Claypool and others trying to fix the problem are asking the teachers just to pay their fair share. Dan Proft: And by the way, I had the opportunity on the morning show that I do on AM 560, Chicago’s Morning Answer, to speak with Jean-Claude Brizard, a couple of CPS superintendents ago; this is not the CPS superintendent that’s going to jail, for those of you scoring at home, but they were running billion dollar budget deficits when he arrived as Rahm Emanuel’s first Chicago Public School superintendent. Nothing has changed in the intervening 5 years; in fact, it’s gotten worse, so do we start with the pension pick up and the distribution of who’s picking it up, or do we start with the fact that 9% paying into your pension, that’s also insufficient. Ted Dabrowski: Right, that’s insufficient. I think that the bigger issue is that the School District has been mismanaged for a long time, and you’ve got issues from not funding pensions for nearly a decade, you’ve got issues of Barbara Byrd-Bennett being indicted for fraud. You’ve got a situation where you’ve got a Teachers’ Union that’s willing to strike two contracts in a row, and they’ve won the last contract. They won big; they strike, despite the fact that the city, or the district, was already billion dollars in the hole. They had no business striking then, and they have no business striking now. So really, what you’ve got is a situation… Dan Proft: But they strike because… they struck, they won, so they’re not incentivized to do anything other than strike if they don’t get what they want, because they figure that the politicians will bend over… Ted Dabrowski: Like they have… Dan Proft: Like Tiny Dancer did four years ago. Ted Dabrowski: And he’s even weak. If he was weak then, he’s even weaker now, given the situation he has at home. So this is a situation where the two big groups, the Administration and the Teachers’ Union, they collude when they need to, they strike when it makes sense to then, and in the end it’s all the kids who get left out, and I think that’s the whole sad part of the story, which is why many people talk about bankruptcy. If Rahm Emanuel doesn’t want to do something about the finances, if Karen Lewis doesn’t want to do something about the finances, let it go bankrupt, and finally get a situation where we can get a focus back on the kids and not on the adults. Dan Proft: Well, that’s what the Governor said, Governor Rauner has said, “Bankruptcy needs to be something that the city and CPS take under consideration”. They’ve rejected that because of course, nobody wants to be the person, or people in charge, right, to be taken over by the state, to go bankrupt on my watch; what does that say about my leadership and my management; making the tough decisions to bring us back from the precipice, just rather than pushing us over. So why not – and this is more of a political question than a policy one – but from Governor Rauner’s perspective I’ve offered to pitch in and help. I’ve offered, here are some options, and by the way, I have kind of a 30 year track, because the reason I’m 100 millionaire is because I’m pretty good at reading the balance sheets and understanding what the real world options are, and if they don’t want to entertain real world options, why not just wash your hands and just say, “Okay, geniuses, okay, Tiny Dancer, okay Karen Lewis, whatever, Forest Claypool, you figure it out. But you can come down to Springfield with your pickle buckets and panhandle outside the Capital, and we’re not giving you anymore money”. Ted Dabrowski: Yeah, and I think politically that’s where it goes. I think that’s where it goes, and the sad part is – and I think everybody knows this – is that, you know, we just had a massive property tax hike in Chicago; the largest on record, and that only solves a small part of the problem; we probably need to have another two of those to try to start getting toward balance, and so the sad part is that Chicagoians are already burned with all kinds of nickel and diming fees, and red light… you know, anything you want to talk about, there’s a fee or a tax for it. Chicagioans can’t afford more, and we’ve already heard about people leaving the city. Dan Proft: But at least Teachers’ Union is honest about… I mean, I give them credit… they’re kind of like Bernie Sanders; they are like the honest socialists, as opposed to the disingenuous socialists. Property tax increase – sure. Chicago Teachers’ Union is on board for that; Karen Lewis – yeah; Graduated State Income Tax – yeah; fine. Ted Dabrowski: Financial services is back. Dan Proft: Yeah, on Nassau Street, on the exchanges, financial transactions – good. They’re contemplating the institution of a new city income tax to layer on to all the other taxes – we’re open to that; all they care about is the revenue side; at least they’re genuine about it, so you can have an honest conversation. Tiny Dancer and the Chicago Democrats trying to cling to power, they understand the political difficulty of that, because they have to stand for election outside of 30,000 teachers, and so they play this game like something can be solved by getting a half of billion dollars every other month from the state of Illinois. Number 1 – it doesn’t solve it; number 2 – it’s not going to happen. So do you give the Teachers’ Union at least credit for being honest, so we can have an honest conversation? Like here is where they want to solve the problem; that’s one option. Confiscatory taxation on top of confiscatory taxation; and here’s another option, like you and the Illinois Policy Institute have charted, that presents a real choice for Chicago residents and Illinois residents to consider. Ted Dabrowski: I think you’re right, they are, to say, honest about their motives with you, and Karen Lewis is pretty clear about it, but I think that’s why we call them the most militant union in the US. They say what they want, they strike for it and they go for it. Dan Proft: And they unironically wear red shirts to their rallies. I mean, beat me over the head with a cudgel, I get it. Ted Dabrowski: I think the saddest part for me – and the parents haven’t figured it out yet – still the parents are still backing with the Union. In the first strike they did it still seems like they have backing, but at some point that’s going to break, and when people realize that those strikes mean bigger and bigger taxes, increase in property tax, especially for the low income families, right, because they may not pay property taxes because they’re owners, but they certainly pay higher rent; they certainly pay higher sales taxes, higher X, Y and Z, and at some point there’s got to be a connection. Dan Proft: But those are the unseen costs that they don’t kind of…are people connecting the dots. Because it seems to me what Karen Lewis is good at doing – and to some extent, Rahm is good at doing as well – is presenting it like Rahm and Karen Lewis are on the opposite sides. They’re not on the opposite sides. They’re fighting over who gets to be the central planner in charge, right? And so the free market perspective of the economic liberty movement, to some extent has to also bear some culpability for not charting a third way, and explaining to people that you’re getting played by both sides. They’re not looking out for your best interests, and they don’t have a plan that solves this without imposing additional duress on you, on your children, on the taxpayers read large, so that the city continues to shrink and the number of revenue producing wards continues to winnow, and we continue the death spiral to a place that you’re not going to be insulated from in terms of pain. Ted Dabrowski: No, I think you’re right, but these guys have always worked together. That’s why I said they collude. They’re like two monopolies, or an oligopoly, and they work together pretty closely; they choose to fight every once in a while, but never – and if you think about this, are the discussions and the fights about better outcomes – we don’t hear much about that; it’s all about who’s going to win the power struggles; whether it’s Rahm or there’s Karen Lewis; whether it’s Claypool, whether it’s Rauner in the takeover; but nobody’s talking about how to help the parents win. And what you’re right about is that really this is a battle over who controls billions of dollars in salary, and billions of dollars in pension payments. And Rahm loves to be in control of that, and so does Karen Lewis. Dan Proft: I know, the 6 billion dollars CPS budget; what is it, a third of it is salaries? Ted Dabrowski: Oh yeah, you’ve got over 2 billion, sure. And so that’s the control power, and so when we talk about, and you’re right, the free market movement that hasn’t done a great job in Chicago, in Illinois, about saying “Hey, it’s time we take the power out of Rahm Emanuel; it’s time we take the power away from Karen Lewis, and give it to the families; let them be in control of the dollars, and let them hold schools accountable”, and by that I mean the parent would have the ability to walk away from the school and use that public money for a private school, if he/she wasn’t having their kids’ needs met. Dan Proft: Or a public school. Ted Dabrowski: Or a public school. It could just be give them the power to walk, and when the parents have that power, then the public schools would have to listen. Dan Proft: Well, you say, you know, the parents side with Karen Lewis and the Teachers’ Union; well, that’s because they experienced the teachers. Right, their kids experienced the teachers, and so they like Mrs. Smith, who teaches 4th grade, and they like Mr. Jones, who teaches 8th grade. They know those two, so when Mrs. Smith or Mr. Jones or their local school principle says, “Are you going to throw in with me, or are you going to throw in with that little cleptocrat on the 5th floor of City Hall?”, that’s an easy choice. Ted Dabrowski: It is, but I think, though, more and more teachers are starting to realize; and if you’re a 35 year old teacher and you hear the arguments going on, you say, “Wait a minute, is there going to be a pension for me? I’m going to contribute for years; will there be a pension for me?”, and I got a call yesterday, as a matter of fact, from a teacher; she’s 67, retired from CPS, lives in the suburbs, and she’s scared to death whether her pension is going to be cut totally. Dan Proft: When did she retire? Ted Dabrowski: She retired just a few years ago. Dan Proft: So about the average age of 63, which is like the average age of a CPS teacher retiring? Ted Dabrowski: The average retirement age is closer to 60, so over half retire in their 50s, and you’re hitting on a good point, Dan. The reason these pensions are so expensive is because the average worker who works there is retiring in their 50s, most of them with full benefits, and because they get automatic costs for living adjustments, those pension benefits double after 25 years. It’s a fantastic gig, and it’s something that tax payers can’t afford. Dan Proft: Let’s talk numbers, kind of get out of the unfunded liabilities and the billions, and this and that, that don’t mean anything to most people, and you can’t kind of distill down to something they can’t relate to. Let’s relate it. So the Chicago public school teacher retiring in 2014 with 30 years in max out in terms of pension, what annual pension are they receiving? Ted Dabrowski: About 68,000. Dan Proft: $68,000? Ted Dabrowski: Right. $68,000. Dan Proft: Which is almost 40% more than the medium household income in Illinois? Ted Dabrowski: Sure, close. And you can compared a medium household income; that’s more than one person. Dan Proft: So maybe it’s 25% more than the medium household income in Chicago. It’s still a big number. I’ve looked at the work that you and Illinois Policy Institute has done, and I just want to relate these numbers because they are staggering for anybody that works in the private sector, and frankly, anybody that works. This is IPI numbers – a Chicago public school teacher retiring in 2014, 30 years in will have paid these around numbers, $133,000 into their pension, will receive 2.1 million dollars back, a 15,000% plus return on investment. Ted Dabrowski: And let me just say one thing, that that 133 is giving the teacher credit on having made the full payment, when in fact the school district was picking up… Dan Proft: Would they had made less than 25% of it. Ted Dabrowski: Correct. So it’s phenomenal. These are great returns. Dan Proft: You’re right. So how do we have a bankrupt school system, and a bankrupt city, and a bankrupt… I mean, come on? Ted Dabrowski: And how many people in the private sector have 2 million dollars from having their career sitting there waiting for their retirement? Dan Proft: What’s the private sector counterpart? I think you guys have this too. So if you wanted the average retiree kind of same-similar situated, if you wanted to receive 2.1 million dollars in pension benefits back, pay yourself 70 grand+ a year in retirement, how much would you have had to contribute into your 401? Ted Dabrowski: Around one and a half million dollars, because interest rates are so low, so you’d have to put in a lot of money just to get that. Dan Proft: So in the private sector it’s one and a half million dollars in for 2.1 back; at CPS it’s 133 in for 2.1 million back. Ted Dabrowski: Correct, and this is phenomenal. And it’s not sustainable, I mean, don’t forget the reason why it’s so high. That 2.1 million is because they get that 3% automatic bump in their pension benefit each period. Dan Proft: The cost of living adjustment turned out to be an annuity because that’s seven times the rate of inflation for the last decade. Ted Dabrowski: Correct. And so basically, somebody’s pension benefit doubles over 25 years. It’s phenomenal. Dan Proft: And this is the case – not to get too far field off of teachers and CPS's; that’s really kind of at bar with the strike looming in May – but the numbers for Chicago firefighters, for Chicago police officers, for city of Chicago municipal employees, for city of Chicago laborers, and the laboring public sector, they’re basically the same. Ted Dabrowski: Pretty similar, yeah; of course, Chicago police and fire will be a little higher. But basically it’s the same, and you’re talking about the average career worker getting somewhere in 2 million dollars and more in retirement; and it’s really hard to ask taxpayers who are struggling to pay that over and over again. Dan Proft: And so, when you look at these numbers, the public sector union, a lot of the ranking file, the response is “Wait a second; why are you attacking teachers, and firefighters and police officers? Don’t you respect the job we do?” And even if you say you respect the job that we do, “Hey look, we play by the rules that were set forward by the politicians that set the rules, so why should we take a haircut, when they made a promise and we relied on that promise?” Ted Dabrowski: I think it’s a good argument. Look, I always want to blame the people who set the laws. It’s the politicians who agreed to bad deals. I think everybody fights for their own special interest, whether it’s the Teachers’ Union, or an employee wanting a raise, or better terms, so I think it’s important that we don’t vilify teachers or cops; my kids go to the public schools. I love my kids’ teachers. I think they do a great job, but the bottom line is this is not about that. This is about the state’s ability, and people’s ability, and taxpayers’ ability to pay for these benefits, and so I don’t think we should vilify them, but I think there has to be realization that the agreement, whatever it was… we should meet whatever obligations we made; whatever’s been promised and has been earned we should pay. But going forward we need to strike a new deal, and I think that’s what this whole discussion is about. Striking a new deal that’s fair for the public sector workers, but also fair for the tax payers that fund them. Dan Proft: Yeah, I just want to emphasize that, because this seems to get lost in the conversation; I have the opportunity to talk to and hear from the public sector workers a lot in my radio program, and they don’t seem to hear it when I say “Wait a second, whatever you’ve earned, even if it was a bad deal, you should get, because there was reliance created by the state, you did anticipate these benefits, you earned the benefits, you should receive what you’ve earned. Full stop; however, at a date into the future, certain, like a year from now, there’s a new deal for the existent workers who have not earned those benefits, because they haven’t worked those days in the future yet, as well as for new hires, that is not going to be the same deal that you have now”, and point of fact, don’t we have that with the state employers with the tier 2 for new higher at this point, even at present? Ted Dabrowski: Yeah, so of course, tier 2 is a brand new employee, but I think what we’re saying is that for even existing employees – and this happens in the private sector every day. The private sector can’t take away benefits you’ve already earned. That would be a huge problem, and that shouldn’t happen here in Illinois either, at the state or city level. But going forward, we have to have a deal that allows the state budget, the city budgets – because we haven’t talked about cities; this is a huge problem all across Illinois with pensions for firemen and policemen… Dan Proft: And nationally. Ted Dabrowski: And nationally, of course. It’s a huge problem everywhere, and it’s pushing up property taxes – I’d like to talk about that in a minute, about all the taxes that are going up, but at some point there has to be another deal, because here’s the issue; right now you and I are saying we want to protect benefits we’ve already earned; if we ever go into bankruptcy courts, federal courts don’t care about state Constitution; federal courts trump the state Constitution, so like you saw in Detroit, like you’ve seen in Alabama, like you’ve seen in Rhode Island, pensions have been cut as a result of bankruptcies, and so if the public sector union workers don’t finally realize that they can actually have their pensions cut under bankruptcy, they’re going to get hit with exactly what they don’t want to see. Dan Proft: So many of them are listening to their public sector union bosses, rather than looking at the math and just taking a common sense approach to it to say “Do I really want to pay Russian roulette with my retirement?”. It’s not roulette; it’s Russian roulette, because all it takes is one federal bankruptcy judge to say, for example, “Yeah, states cannot go bankrupt under federal bankruptcy code”. But if pension funds go upside down and they can no longer pay out beneficiaries, then I’m going to say that pension funds are separate and distinct from the state, and instead of checks in the mail you get IOUs until they figure it out. Ted Dabrowski: Or you have a 15% - 20% haircut. And I think that’s a real distinct possibility. That’s why I think at some point, and I think the state ruling recently that came out last week… Dan Proft: This is on Chicago pensions. Ted Dabrowski: On Chicago pensions; where it starts to say that things like pension benefits can’t be collectively bargained if there’s some exchange, some consideration given for changes in the pension benefits… Dan Proft: Simple contract law theory. Ted Dabrowski: Exactly. And that being the case, I think behooves the unions. And let’s talk about Chicago policemen and firemen. You were talking about teachers and others. The worst funded pensions in Illinois right now are the Chicago fire and police pensions. They have about 25 cents of every dollar they should have in their account. So imagine, you have your 401(k), you open it up and you think you have $100,000. You open it and there’re only 25,000. You’re missing three quarters of the money. That’s exactly what’s happening to policemen and firemen right now. And I don’t know why they’re not jumping up and down and saying “I want a new deal. I want something better. Promise me what I’ve earned, but give me a new deal going forward”. And I think that’s what they should be fighting for, because they run the big risk of having a massive haircut. Dan Proft: If you have a police fund or a firefighter pension fund that’s only a quarter funded, are those pension funds salvageable. Ted Dabrowski: I think, we’ve run numbers, I think we can salvage them, but it’s painful, right? And you’ve got to have a long term process, but you got end the game now. But effectively, in any private sector scenario, they’re bankrupt; they’re done. They would have been closed up if they were part of a private sector group, they would have been closed, liquidated and gone. So it’s something, I think, they have a huge interest in hitting the table and negotiating. I think the way to look at this, Dan, if we can stop the bleeding now, and move to a new 401(k), stop playing go and forth for all benefits earned going forward, then what we do is we treat the unfunded liability as debt. Chicago just has a bunch of debt and it’s going to take years to pay that debt off; but I think it can work with Chicago’s numbers if we stop the pain. Dan Proft: Then you can start to bend the cost curve and catch up. Ted Dabrowski: Exactly, but it’s not just police and fire, you have to do that for teachers’ pensions and for the other pensions in Chicago, so it has to be a whole deal, because remember, you have one taxpayer in Chicago, and that one taxpayer has to pay all those pensions and Cook County pensions as well, and of course, the shortfall at the state-level; so we have to be careful to respect the taxpayers in Chicago. Dan Proft: It seems to me the taxpayers are starting to understand what is in the offing, and I just look at out-migration; is there any better indication of the vitality of a community, county or state than whether people choose to live there or not, and in 2015, according to the census, Cook County lost more population than any other county in the country; this against the backdrop of the state of Illinois continues to compete with New Jersey for the largest out-migration year after year. Ted Dabrowski: I think that’s the biggest issue, and it’s something that we talk a lot about as respecting the taxpayer. And I don’t think Rahm Emanuel, Michael Madigan, they don’t understand… sorry, they may understand, but they don’t care; it doesn’t fit into the political calculus, but the reality is that people are leaving and I think more telling them the 2015 numbers is the out-migration that occurred between 2000 and 2010 by middle class Blacks. 180,000 blacks were lost during that period, and if you look at what happened in Detroit; first you lost the White taxpayers when you had the White Flight, but the problem really happened in Detroit when the middle-class Blacks left. And then the tax base was gone, and I think Chicago has to start thinking about how to protect its residents – doesn’t matter what color they are – but if you don’t protect your tax base you’re done. And we’re entering that spiral today. Dan Proft: Well that’s interesting, so I have a conversation with my aldermen; I’m in the 42nd ward when, you know, the wards that looks fancy on the outside, and you hear this propaganda from the likes of a Brendan Reilly, who’s just a toady for Madigan and for Tiny Dancer. Well, look at the planters on Michigan Avenue, and look at the tower cranes with new rental units going up in Streeterville. Everything’s on the up and up, and my response to them is, even let’s accept your premise, that this ward, one of 50 wards, is on the up and up; explain to me how you think – let’s say there’s 10 wards, 20% the city, that are kind of revenue producing wards that have substantial economical activity ongoing – so you’re telling me that 80% of the city can burn to the ground around us and we’re not going to be impacted? Do you really believe that? Does anybody really believe that except a craven feudal lord, which is what these aldermen are? Ted Dabrowski: I remember the first time I went to Detroit right after the bankruptcy, and I came back and wrote about it, and the lessons I learned from it, as it relates to Chicago; a lot of pushback, you know, Chicago is not a Detroit. Dan Proft: No, never happen here. Ted Dabrowski: And listen, Chicago’s not a Detroit when you think about the diversification of businesses; you walk down in the loop here, it’s hot, man, it’s rocking, it’s a lot of stuff going on, but I think what people forget is bankruptcy is not about what you look like; bankruptcy is whether you can afford to pay your debts. It’s simply that, and you take the best paid athletes in the nation. A lot of them go bankrupt; they’re making 100 million dollars, but they go bankrupt because they don’t manage their spending, and I think that’s where Chicago is. Dan Proft: Yeah, how can they be bankrupt? They’ve got a nice home, they’ve got a nice car and they wear nice clothes? How can they be bankrupt? How can Antoine Walker – he’s an NBA champion – how can he go bankrupt? Terrible investments; he put his money to use in all the wrong places. That’s how you can go bankrupt. Ted Dabrowski: And I think that’s where Chicago is. Chicago is exactly there. And let me make one other point, and I think this is important. Chicago’s got a big footprint. We used to have 3.5 million people, right? We’re down way below that. The population in Chicago now is below the 1920s. That’s a massive change. We still have that same infrastructure, and I don’t just mean physical infrastructure, like the highways and all that. We have the same public sector infrastructure, and that public sector infrastructure’s not shrinking fast enough with the city. What it’s doing is it keeps growing; the cost of that infrastructure, the unions, the teachers, the police and fire; it’s too expensive. It’s outpacing the growth of what people make in the city, and that’s what’s going to break us. Dan Proft: So you wanted to talk about the taxation that your median Chicago resident faces. Let’s talk about it. Ted Dabrowski: What you see in Chicago is a lot of people saying “Oh, property taxes are much, much lower in Chicago than they are in the suburbs. Dan Proft: Subsidized by commercial. Ted Dabrowski: Subsidized by commercial one, but two, they are relatively lower, but what people don’t talk about is the… you know, Daley was a genius. We all know that. He knew that he shouldn’t go after property taxes, so what he did, and the other who followed, is they came up with a bottled water tax, and a dollar tier tax, then you had to add the red light cameras, they had every kind of tax and fee to hide the fact that the raising taxes on you. And it’s really hard to track what’s going on, so we did all the numbers, and it’s amazing how much higher, when you take all the taxes that there are in Chicago than in any other city – Evanston’s a competitor – but any other city in Illinois, the taxes are tremendously high. So I think there’s a lot of deceit, the press hasn’t wanted to talk about it properly, none of the politicians want to talk about it, but Chicagoians are taxed up the zahzoo, and in the end, middle class families know it; I think, when we talked about the Black families earlier, schools aren’t working for them, crime is certainly hurting them, and taxes are going against them; why stay? And I think that’s a question that people ask themselves. Dan Proft: Sure, and they ask themselves and they’re answering in the negative. Why stay? It makes no sense not to stay. Ted Dabrowski: And it’s not easy for people to leave, right? It’s hard to pick up and leave. Dan Proft: Right, sure. You laid down routes, you made an investment here, it is a great city, it’s a beautiful city, it’s a fun city; great restaurants and night life and arts and culture. Why do I want to leave here? I don’t want to leave here, but you’re making it such as I can’t make it make sense to be here. And frankly, even someone like me - who does relatively well, because I’ve got phony baloney job on the radio that pays me a lot of money and I work 20 hours a week - even me, I say, “Gosh, move over to Northwest Indiana and lower my cost of living by 40%, my muffling it up by 40%? What am I doing here? Ted Dabrowski: You’re hitting on the issue that recently I was in South Chicago, and I met with this company, Modern Drop Forge – they’re a big steel stamp planter, steel stamper – and they tried to stay in Illinois, they worked hard, nobody paid attention to them; this is a year and a half ago; and so they finally looked at Indiana, and Indiana opened their arms, said come here, the company eventually moved there. I was at there, I think I was telling you about this. I went to their new facility, this massive, beautiful huge facility; state of the art, and a lot of the workers who didn’t want to move to Indiana from Chicago, they went and they looked at the house prices and said wow; they looked at the property taxes, much lower; school choice. Dan Proft: And what you get for those numbers in terms of home and property. Ted Dabrowski: It’s a huge home, and he said he took his wife, this worker who didn’t want to go, he took his wife; they moved. And they’re so happy; and I saw him at the new plant, he’s ecstatic, and that’s what people are experiencing, and we shouldn’t force people to look at those alternatives, but I think what we’re doing is we’re making it such that people… people don’t move because their taxes are high. People move because things get difficult, the opportunities aren’t there, it gets too costly; they finally make a calculus and some way say “Hey, I’m going to go somewhere where there’s a new opportunity”. Whether it’s Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, whatever. Dan Proft: Well right, it’s cumulative. It’s not a single tax, it’s not that if I don’t have a city sticker, my fine is going to be like $42,000 to make the numbers work for the city for one year additional. It’s just the cumulative impact of every time you turn around, you’re just being fleeced. Ted Dabrowski: So it comes around to that’s why we need these massive reforms, and until we get them… Dan Proft: Which, by the way, the funny thing is, the other side, that has been unwilling to advance these structural reforms says we need these structural reforms. What did Rahm come in on? He came in on a wave of here’s a tough guy, he was the Chief of Staff to the President of the United States, and he’s going to make these tough decisions. He’s going to endure the political capital that must be spent to make the difficult decisions to bring the city back, to right the financial ship; and he hasn’t done it. Ted Dabrowski: This is Rahm though, right? He was the guy that was going to let nominate crisis go to waste. Dan Proft: The tutu should have been the leading indicator that this was not a tough guy. Ted Dabrowski: A lot of people were excited, and it’s amazing, because he actually did something that is pretty bold when he first came in. He went down to Springfield, and he sounded like he was proposing the Illinois Policy Institute’s ideas. He talked about COLA – Cost of Living Reforms – producing them, he talked about bringing retirement agents down, and he talked about optional 401(k) style plans for workers. That was awesome, he actually went down to Springfield and did that, and Daley didn’t do that, he didn’t go down to Springfield. So there was a lot of hope in the beginning, but quickly, once the negotiations got tough, once Karen Lewis put her foot down, he caved. Dan Proft: Well the 401(k) thing was interesting, because the response you get from a lot of people is “I don’t want to be subject to market fluctuations; I guess it’s okay if everybody else who is not in the public sectors is subject to market fluctuations with respect that they’re 401(k)s, but we want a guarantee, the define benefit plan”, and so the response to that, that we want this guarantee, 401(k) doesn’t work for us, at the university level, this is kind of an under-reported story, but you were the first one to kind of alert me to this. There are thousands of actual university employees, public employees in this state who are part of a 401(k) retirement system within the larger public university system, so number 1 – is it working for them? – number 2 – if it is, why don’t we scale it? Ted Dabrowski: Well, what’s amazing is that somewhere along the way, 1998, not Mike Madigan, but a guy named Robert Madigan, he passed a law that allowed university professors to have a 401(k) style plan. Why? University professors wanted that portability. They wanted to control their retirement fund. They wanted it to be in their name that they could take when they left the state if they left. Now what’s amazing is that we would allow a professor to have that, right, but not a Chicago fireman, a policeman, or a teacher, who should have their ownership, their own title and control over that money; rather than being dependant on Madigan or Rahm Emanuel, these university professors can take their money and nobody can touch it. And what’s interesting about that whole thing is we’re sitting again almost on record highs in the stock market; these guys are doing really well. The money that’s in there is going up, and despite the massive recovery of the stock market, Illinois’ pensions continue to do worse and worse. Dan Proft: The public sector pension funds. Ted Dabrowski: The public sector pensions get worse despite this massive improvement in the stock market. Dan Proft: So I guess the argument would be made, wait a second, if Dan Proft with his financial guy can figure out where to put his money and how to distribute risk and how to have a balanced portfolio, then why can’t a Chicago police officer, Chicago firefighter, Chicago teacher do the same thing? They can do the same thing. I’m no smarter than they are. My financial advisors are no smarter than the financial advisors they could have access to. Ted Dabrowski: They make it so easy now to invest. You just call Charles Schwab, you call Fidelity, and they make it easy. I think that’s the whole thing, you know, public sector employees have gotten so in bed with the government, that they’re letting the government control their lives for them, including their retirement lives, and the government’s made a disaster of that, and people are scared that they may not have a retirement. We argue that the workers should have control; they should have that freedom to control their own retirement account. If they want the state to manage them, let them. But for those who want something different, give them the option; it’s only fair. Dan Proft: I want to go back to the Chicago public school system for a second, because we got a couple of things, a couple of chiblits that are always advanced by the Teachers’ Union, and their acolytes that need to be addressed. One is this idea the state’s not paying; it’s fair share the CPS, that’s the problem. Why don’t we just start there? Let’s do one at a time. So CPS receives a majority of its funding from the state, which is materially different than all the Collar County districts – well, most of the Collar County districts – and for the Collar County districts that it’s not materially different, that are majority funded by the state, they end up – districts like Matteson; low income – they end up subsidizing; so you have low income people in Matteson subsidizing people in Chicago. Ted Dabrowski: Well, let me just hit the first point. We’ve run the numbers, we’re going to be releasing them pretty soon. What Forest Claypool says, he’s using a logic that I don’t think makes sense, but let’s follow him with his logic; he says they have 20% of the students; they should get 20% of what the state doles out, to all the districts; and he says that that’s not true; well, we’ve run the numbers, and if you take the last ten years, including pensions, because he argues that Chicago public school district pays their own pensions, whereas the state pays the pension for all the other school districts; he says that’s unfair; and you could, at face value, agree with that; what Forest Claypool doesn't tell you is that the funding formulas for education more than make up for what the city looses on a pension, so bottom line is that we ran the numbers for the last 10 years; they’ve gotten more than their share every single year in the last 10 years, with the exception of this past year. They’ve gotten more on average than all the other school districts. So they’re getting their share, and I think we’re going to debunk his myth. He has to stop complaining that he needs a state bailout and start focusing on what reforms he can pass in Chicago. I think that’s where he really needs to focus on. Dan Proft: And so let’s just kind of again do this; like a little bit of classroom math – not common core style either, because I don’t know how to do math common core style – but the city of Chicago spends around 15 grand – a little bit north of that, but let’s use round numbers – 15 grand per kid per year. So classroom of 30 – keep it simple – that’s 450 grand per classroom in the city of Chicago; 650 schools, a little bit less than 400,000 kids like it normally used to be, because of the exodus from Chicago; so $450,000 per classroom; the teacher all-in cost the district $120k a year; let’s say you spend another 50 grand on supplies, because that’s 150. It’s a $1,700 per kid for the pension pick up, for the pension costs, so again, let’s round up to 2 grand; so that’s another 60 grand. So it gets me to 210; let’s say we throw another 50 in for the building of the infrastructure and all that – per kid – so that’s 260. Where’s the other 200 grand per classroom in Chicago go? Does anybody know? Because I asked Karen Lewis this question, I asked Forest Claypool this question, I asked aldermen in the city of Chicago this question. Nobody has the answer to this question. And the other thing that’s even more infuriating than not having the answer is nobody much seems to care. Ted Dabrowski: It kind of reminds me, after they closed the 50 schools and – I forgot who did the analysis – but they couldn’t find the computers, they couldn’t find a lot of the supplies, they were gone; and they can’t track themselves. I think the biggest issue was CPS, is that they’re too damn big, right? It’s a monolith, and they can’t manage themselves, and I think that’s the big issue. Dan Proft: So at the state-level or at the city-level, because the dynamics are very similar? Illinois Policy Institute, what’s a path forward? Everybody gets the benefits they’ve earned up to a date certain; what’s the path forward? What does that look in terms of retirement age? Pension contribution, all of the cost of living adjustments, all of the drivers for cost in the system? What should that look like, that is respectful and reasonable that we can potentially afford, that provides that balance? Ted Dabrowski: So let’s come back to that state university retirement system plan that’s a 401(k). That thing’s been around for 17 years. You’ve got about 1700-1800 workers and retirees in it. What that plan does, and the people who are on that 401(k) style plan, they don’t get social security, so the 401(k) style plan they get is robust enough to meet IRS standards, and to give a sufficient retirement. And what it does is the state puts in 7% into the 401(k) every paycheck, and the employee puts in 8%, so every paycheck period, 15% is going into their retirement account. And that’s been deemed good enough, and has been around for a long time, and many people get it. So we think that’s a good basis for creating a plan for all workers, new workers, and for benefits going for choosing some starting date; we think that would be a great start. You know, there could be debates on how to structure it, but we think that’s a really good start because going forward, what it would mean is that all the benefits that have been earned, any worker or retiree would continue to get… retirees wouldn’t be affected by this plan, but all workers would have earned their benefits up to a point, then going forward, everything goes into a 401(k) style plan. So it’s a fair plan, you respect retirement ages, you respect all that, and it does a lot to fix the problem in Illinois. We’ve run numbers and it depends on how strict we are with the terms, but we believe that we can cut the unfunded liability by 30-40%, which is pretty massive, and we can create a repayment plan on the rest of the debt that gets us out of this problem; in 30 years, but in one that there’s control and certainty, rather than the one we have today which is uncertain. Dan Proft: And to repeat just for emphasis, that means you’re not messing with the retirement age, you’re not messing with COLA's, or the other component parts of a person’s employment or retirement? Ted Dabrowski: Correct. I think what you want to do is leave what people have earned, because I think it’s all a question of constitutionality. Dan Proft: But even prospectively, even for the new hires today. Ted Dabrowski: Well the new hires today are looking for 401(k) plans. Dan Proft: Right, but you’re saying “Hey, if you have 30 years in and you’re 50, 55, 60, whatever, because you’ve got the 401(k), we’ve more or less achieved a solomonic balance of – we’re paying 7%, you’re paying 8%; you’re managing your funds; not defined benefit, it’s defined contribution like it exists in the private sectors, to the extent that even those exist in the private sector today – and everybody’s charting their own course. Ted Dabrowski: Right, and then from then on we just manage the debt that we have and the outstanding liabilities, but we don’t keep creating these unfunded liabilities which we’ve seen just keep growing every single year. They grow out of control. It’s like a mortgage that grows every year, rather than paying it down, it just keeps growing and growing, no matter how much you put in it. That would be the example of a home owner. You keep paying down your debt and it keeps getting bigger, and you can’t get control of it. Dan Proft: Right, and it would also obviate the need to make our mortgage payment with a credit card, which is essentially what we’re doing now, to the extent that we still get credit card companies that will issue us credit cards effectively, because at some point the bond markets are going to seize up and they’re going to disallow borrowing, except that usurious Soprano rates, like CPS just did. Ted Dabrowski: Here’s another point I wanted to make. So we talked about this 401(k) style plan already existing in Illinois; so it’s like some pipe dream we have; this is something that’s a legitimate plan that works, and if it’s good enough for our university professors, why isn’t it good enough for anybody else? But it’s not just Illinois that’s done this; we’ve had massive reforms across the country, and Michigan actually started this. In 1997 they moved all their employees to 401(k) style plans; back in 1997. Dan Proft: Michigan, big union state. Ted Dabrowski: Big union state, 1997, and so they got ahead of this long time ago. Let me give you another state that did a big change. They did a hybrid half, pension half 401(k) style plan, and that was Rhode Island. Democratically controlled legislature, they got it passed; big reform, very painful, but they did it. And Alaska has passed in 2006 a 401(k) style plan for new employees, and most recently Oklahoma passed one. So this is something that’s happening across the country. It’s not some dream, it’s happening. Dan Proft: So the question I’m sure a lot of people are thinking is “If it’s happening across the country and it’s working for 17,000 university professors who are not bitching about it – at least we don’t hear from them bitching about it – why haven’t we scaled it already?” Ted Dabrowski: Well, I think it’s been easy for Karen Lewis and others to say the rich aren’t paying enough. All we need are more taxes. And unfortunately, the union members have bought that argument. They’ve bough that argument that the taxes need to go up. There’s a solution, there’s a promise been made; don’t change what we got as a promise, no matter whether it’s 20 years into the future. Let’s just raise taxes to solve our problems, and at some point there’s going to be revolt. It’s not a big revolt, it’s a quiet revolt by people just leaving the state, leaving the city over and over again. Dan Proft: Isn’t that the problem? Again, it’s a political problem, but people leave the state; we essentially have a hollowing out in the city and the state. People that are insulated from bad public policy, the very rich and the very poor, that are beneficiary to the transfer payments, they don’t feel it, they don’t live in the world of trying to make ends meet, and so that’s what you’re left with, and frankly, that’s the constituency of the left. That’s the constituency of the established power structure in Chicago and the General Assembly. Ted Dabrowski: I think the big issue that’s going to continue to drive change are the property taxes. We’re seeing places, like you said, Matteson, and nearby - Southland – communities, where the tax rates on property, so the effective tax rate on a home is about 4-5% of the value. So if somebody would have tried to buy that house today would have to pay the cash for that home, they’d have to pay the value for that home, and within 20 years, because of taxes, they would have repaid for that home again. Dan Proft: So for most people with a 30 year mortgage, they pay for their home twice. What you’re saying is in Illinois and a lot of regions you’re going to pay for your house the third time because of the property taxes. Ted Dabrowski: Exactly, and that’s why people are starting to walk away from their homes in the Southland area. So you got a place where the manufacturing companies have gone. You see the big swaths of land just empty, and you’re starting to see now these nice big homes that have collapsed in value, and people walking away because they can’t afford it anymore. Between the mortgage and a second mortgage being the property taxes, they’re leaving. Dan Proft: And here’s something else I hear too, a lot of small and mid-sized businesses, 25 to 250 employees, they don’t make headlines when they leave, they don’t make headlines when they lay people off, they’re not big enough, but they’re impactful. They represent three quarters of the jobs in the state. They’re just quietly closing up shop, or they’re downsizing, and kind of methodically moving operations somewhere else. And it’s one of those things, like the old kind of sun also rises, how did you go bankrupt - gradually, then suddenly. So it’s kind of the whole thing, it’s like wait a second. Where did all the businesses in Elk Grove Village and the ring suburbs around O’Hare go? Well they slowly moved out over the course of the last ten years. Now how do you get them back? Ted Dabrowski: That’s really hard, and that’s why I always argue that… I talk a lot about the one reform that we can do tomorrow, and it can be agreed upon all the parties as new employees. Move to 401(k) style plans tomorrow. New employees don’t have a contract, they’re not protected by the Constitution, they would just enter with a new contract. Make it a reasonable, fair, 401(k) style plan. Then people would say “That wouldn’t save a whole lot of money”, but I’m saying “It may not save a whole lot of money, but that sure would send a different message than any message that we’ve sent over the last 25 years”; and that would send a message to the rating agencies, that reform is coming, that’d send a message to future employers, people that want to live in Illinois, but we’ve got to send a positive message, and right now there’s no positive message, and we know with the budget flight there’s no positive message. We need a positive message. Dan Proft: I want to level-up one level of education; the post secondary education in universities, we’ve talk about this cadre of university of professors in a 401(k) system, okay, but a lot of the discussion and the consternation in the context of this current state budget impasse is about universities, and they’re not receiving the funding they’ve become accustomed to from the state, and so there’s the prospect of laying off employees, and there’s a protest on campuses, state colleges, universities, and it’s all directed at the state of Illinois; what are they doing, they’re divesting from higher education. Well, it turns out, and this is some good work that’s been done by State Representative Mark Badneck - who’s a Freshman Republican from Oswego, Plainfield area - it turns out that if you do a little bit of comparison, in terms of what the state of Illinois provides in per pupil support, as compared to their conference peers – whether it’s Illinois State in the Missouri valley, or University of Illinois in the big 10 – it turns out we’re providing almost twice as much state support for pupil than the conference peers in other states, and yet tuition at our state schools is still 40% higher than their peers, their conference peers in those states. Explain that dynamic. Ted Dabrowski: Well, we looked at the numbers in higher education, and it’s easy to blame the lack of a budget right now. It’s easy to do that because it’s easy to point the finger at somebody. Dan Proft: That’s why they’re doing it. Ted Dabrowski: And that’s why they’re doing it, and of course, no budget has created a crack, sorry, is showing all the cracks that exist in higher-ed. But this problem has been building for 10 or 15 years or more, right, and a lot of it has to do with how much public funding is making it to education from the federal government and the state. And what these universities are doing is they’re taking all the available money they can find, and they’re hiring administrative staffs that are much too large, they’re bloated, and they’re paying massive salaries and massive pensions. And so when you look at what’s happening, it’s tuition's are having a double, not because education’s doing that much better; it’s all going to fund big, big administrations and super big pensions. Dan Proft: And we saw… we’re talking about the Chicago teachers’ strike in the not too distant past. How about the U of IC 1,100 professorate strike that was just two years ago – 2014. And they wanted to lift the floor for essentially part-time adjunct facility from 30 grand to 45 grand; 50% increase in base salary, and of course, that levels all the way up; we increase the floor here, and that increases the floor at every rung above that. And so how do we get out of that trap? Ted Dabrowski: It’s the same issues we’re talking. We’re talking pensions again. Dan Proft: Well, we’re talking salaries plus pensions. Ted Dabrowski: What happens is that these salaries are high and so what’s happened now is that when you take the state appropriations to go to education, higher-ed, they’ve actually grown a lot in the past decade. They’ve grown about 60% in the last decade; from 2.6 billion to over 4 billion. So it’s a big chunk of change; the problem has been is that 50% of all that money, 50% of what the state appropriates isn’t making it to higher-ed, it’s going to pay for pensions, and I was amazed when we did our work the other day, to find community colleges; community colleges pay their top person $500,000 a year. Dan Proft: You mean like the president of the university. Ted Dabrowski: The president, right. And of course, like you said, all those salaries get scaled up. Dan Proft: Tell us the story just for illustrative purposes, because it speaks to a larger cultural problem. In your research, the white paper that I read that you did in concert with colleagues at Illinois Policy Institute, a $900,000 administrator at the University of Illinois? Ted Dabrowski: Yeah, $900,000. Dan Proft: What the frack does that administrator do that warrants $900,000?! Ted Dabrowski: Included in that was a roughly $450,000 retention bonus after few years. Dan Proft: Okay, so what the frack does that administrator making 400 grand do that warrants a $450,000 retention bonus? Ted Dabrowski: Exactly. That person will probably get somewhere in the range of who knows, 8 to 9 to 10 million dollars in pensions. Think about that money, how many kids, how many scholarships that would fund in a given year for kids that tend Chicago State; that one person. Dan Proft: But they don’t hear, I mean you may hear it incredulously, but you’re going to hear it. Well, you want to attract and attain talents in academia, don’t you? Ted Dabrowski: So you can say that, now the question is, to how many people do you pay that? There’s a great study done by the Illinois General Auditor, and he looked at the number of administrators that these universities have, and it’s amazing. We looked at Chicago State… Dan Proft: This is like the Teldar Paper story, like all these vice-presidents, they just send memos back and forth; I can’t figure out what they do; this is the Michael Douglas moment? Ted Dabrowski: Well, nobody knows what they do, but they’re walking around through halls, but the point was, for Chicago State, they have one administrator for every 18 students. Dan Proft: Not one professor. Ted Dabrowski: No, they have one faculty member for every 16 students. So it’s almost the same number. Dan Proft: One administrator per every professor? Ted Dabrowski: Yes, so you could be sitting in a class, and your professor would be giving you a lesson, and there’d be an administrator right there watching over, making sure things are good. Dan Proft: A supervisor. Ted Dabrowski: You know, and again, a lot of that is because federal mandates, etcetera, but you can’t have that kind of bloat and not expect your tuition's to double, as they have in Chicago state, to the point where – here’s the sad part – the tuition's have gotten so high that you can’t have a kid who wants to work and go to school, because it’s just too expensive. And that’s why they’ve come to rely on scholarships. They’ve come to rely on free money because it’s no longer affordable. If these community colleges were meant for these kids to have an opportunity, why have we priced them out of touch? Dan Proft: So at the post-secondary educational level, where there’s community colleges, and we have some good community colleges, you know, 50 somewhat community colleges that provide… at least you can get your gen-ed requirements knocked out at a lower cost/credit hour at the community college before you go on to a four year university. But what you’re suggesting is that actually that’s not even the case anymore, and oh, by the way, because K-12 education, if so subpar, a lot of the costs at the freshman sophomore post-secondary education level is remediation, you’re paying for high school twice. I mean, if you talk to community college presidents, and university presidents, college presidents in the state, they’ll tell you the one in three kids that are going on at post-secondary education, I’m paying for them to do high school again for the first year, because they’re not prepared to do post-secondary work; so we’re paying for high school twice, and then we’re paying for administrators layered on to kids that are going to post-secondary education, not ready for the work, and then we wonder why the medieval poetry major can’t get a job when they get out of NIU, Illinois State, or U of I, or wherever, or Northwestern, for that matter. Ted Dabrowski: I think you’re capturing the problem really well, and what’s really scary is that not only can’t they get a job, but many of them have debt that they’ll never going to be able to repay, and that’s why you’re seeing these problems, right? You’re seeing trillions of dollars maybe becoming the next big problem in our country, with all this student debt the kids can’t pay back. A lot of it, again, bring it back around, a lot of it driven by pensions. Dan Proft: Fundamentally, if we’re thinking about K-12 education, and we’re thinking about higher education, with the bleak financial picture that we’ve painted, and the systems that have effectively been set up – let’s be just real honest about it – have effectively been set up to pay generous salaries and benefits to the adults in the system, not to educate children and to program for success in life. Ted Dabrowski: The Jerry Jones Program. Dan Proft: Clearly that’s not happening for the majority, then if there was one or two things where you could wave a magic wand at the Illinois Policy Institute and say this is the way to kind of a halt and do a 180, take a step back, and then chart a completely different course, what are those one or two things that get us off this path to ruin that we’re on, and onto a path of fulfilling the mission as stated of K-12 and post-secondary education? Ted Dabrowski: I think K-12 – I’m huge in empowering parents; I’m speaking generally, off course of some great public schools; and there’s people who are dedicated… Dan Proft: As there are at the post-secondary level. Ted Dabrowski: Listen, it’s not that people aren’t dedicated and they don’t care. I think systemically, and I think CPS, I’m sure there’s thousands of teachers and employees that care, I think the system is broken. The system – I’d say – is morally bankrupt. And it’s not going to work, and so until you get into a situation, and again, we’re seeing this happen again, same like we talked about 401(k)s, we’re seeing the same thing for school choice plans. Parents should be given the choice over where their kids go to school, and that’s one super empowering for parents who feel like they’ve been just totally left out of this, and that they think that more money is the solution, rather than being given a choice and control over their children’s education. So I think that’s number one. And we just saw Nevada, all of its 500,000 public school students have been given the choice of a voucher up to that $5,000; all of them. It’s amazing, state-wide, amazing. There’s now 26 states that offer school choice. Why isn’t Illinois one of them? Why isn’t Chicago one of them? Dan Proft: So that’s K-12 at the university level the problem is choice, right? Because Illinois, all the auto makers in the 70's have been insulated from competition, and kids are taking their GI bill, their Pell Grant, their stafford loan money, and they’re not going to school in Illinois. Ted Dabrowski: Right, they’re going outside, and they’re not coming back, and I think that higher-ed is a bigger problem, because it’s also a federal piece to it. You’ve got all that federal money, the schools know it, the schools know that the kids can borrow, and so therefore they raise their tuition and their hiring their jobs program to match that. So I think we need to stop a lot of what’s been happening there, and that would allow the cost come down dramatically; if we didn’t have all these subsidies feeding the cost up; but until we do that, I think it’s going to be tough. With that said, there’s a lot that can be done locally, because we don’t have to pay the salaries that we pay, and 2, we don’t have to have the administrative bloat that we have; and we certainly don’t need to have the pensions that we have. There’s no reason why people are getting 7 and 8 and 10 and 12 million dollar pensions. Dan Proft: So other than scaling the 1,700, go back to the 1,700 person university professors in a 401(k) style program, would you say that the state should starve the beast of academia? And force them to make changes that they’re otherwise not inclined to make, as long as you keep the spigot open? Ted Dabrowski: Well, sadly, that’s what’s happening, right? And it shouldn’t be that way; you’ve got a lot of people in pain now. You’ve got kids who thought they had a scholarship, now they don’t. They don’t care about those problems; then they had to have a plan. You’ve got teachers, professors who thought they had a job; they may lose them. And the way it’s happening now it shouldn’t be happening. It should be the administrations taking control of what they do and running an efficient system, but they’ve never been forced to do it, and Governor Rauner and the budget impasse is making them do that. They don’t like it, they don’t like having a gun to their head, but it’s forcing them to look at their costs, and it’s how it may happen. Dan Proft: So effectively, I mean, this K-12 or university, the common denominator is you have to have families be the accountability mechanism to how their tax dollars are being spent for the experience of their children, they have to be an accountability mechanism for their own local K-12 schools, they have to be an accountability mechanism for the universities they send their kids, for those kids to go onto post-secondary education. Ted Dabrowski: That’s absolutely right, and it’s interesting when you think about Chicago, and this comes back again empowering parents, families, the residents. Not the bureaucrats. When you look at the Laquan McDonald case, right, and you’ve got a Chicago, a police force and or mayor, or a attorney general who can hide information from the public for more than a year. When you have a situation where a school district can strike two times in a row on families; when you have a police force, when you try to take the problems of a Jason Van Dyke and discipline him – the police officer that shot Laquan McDonald, but you can’t use his old history of complaints, there’s a lot of things that the public is not seeing, and they seeded that too much of their power is residence to the Government, and a lot of what we’re talking about today is giving the power back to the residents. Give it back to the families, at least give it back to the people. Dan Proft: He is Ted Dabrowski, he’s the Vice- President of Policy at the Illinois Policy Institute. Nobody does more numbers, reality based research on these intractable problems in terms of the quality of public education in the state from pre-k through post-secondary than Ted and his team at the Illinois Policy Institute. You should read their stuff religiously so you’re empowered with the information they have researched and called to be that accountability mechanism that we’re talking about. Pleased to have Ted Dabrowski, Vice- President of Policy from the Illinois Policy Institute on this edition of Against The Current. Thank you for joining us, Ted, thank you. Ted Dabrowski: Dan, I appreciate it.

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CPS Teacher at Lane Tech to CTU: I told them I'm resigning from their "socialist union"

Mike DeRoss, a social sciences teacher at Lane Tech High School, explained to Dan & Amy this morning why he is not participating in the Chicago Teachers' Union one-day walkout on April 1 and why he subsequently resigned from the union. 

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Dan Proft: Good morning, Dan and Amy, so CPS Walkout tomorrow. The Red Shirts are supposed to be out in force, shutting down the city in protest of what Karen Lewis – Chicago Teachers’ Union boss – in protest of intolerable conditions. Amy Jacobson: But this isn’t going to change anything. All that it’s going to do is inconvenience. Hard working Chicagoans who want to go home on a Friday afternoon, and also the parents – a lot of the parents that I’ve spoken with, Dan, are against this one day walkout, for simply the fact it’s not going to change anything, and some teachers aren’t going to be walking, and some teachers aren’t going to be protesting. Dan Proft: Yeah, some teachers are not, I just want to work the logic on this, because the teachers that are protesting, as described by Karen Lewis, value teachers, and are doing it for the kids, therefore the teachers that do no participate do not value teachers and hate children. That’s the only logical conclusion! Amy Jacobson: And Rahm Emanuel yesterday, once again, he had tears in his eyes, Dan, and he was trying to convince teachers to do the right thing and not walk. Dan Proft: Oh, for Christ’s sake. Rahm Emanuel: Do not take it out on our students, for our students – the school is their safest place, the place where they’re going to learn. Amy Jacobson: And they’ve set up 250 safety sites for kids to go in, they’ll get free lunch, and free breakfast, and if they need transportation to those sites, they’ll provide it for them, but there’s going to be a lot of kids just out on the streets tomorrow; walking around, enjoying their day off. Dan Proft: Well let’s get CPS Teachers’ perspective on this; somebody that is daring to stand against the prevailing wind. He is Michael DeRoss, he’s a Social Science – used to be called Social Studies in my day – Social Science teacher at Lane Tech High School; Michael, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it. Mike DeRoss: Good morning. Dan Proft: So why don’t you respect teachers, and why do you hate children? Mike DeRoss: I don’t know if that’s the case at either level. Dan Proft: Well, so you’re not participating in the walkout protest tomorrow. Why not? Mike DeRoss: Well, there’s about 2 or 3 different levels that I find this wrong on. The first one is maybe the most important one, we’ll just do that; we have a process to go through when we believe we’re agreeing with an unfair labor practice. We should go through that process and let it wait, because if we don’t, then the strike’s probably illegal, additionally we sit in our classroom and tell our kids “Follow the law, obey the law, follow the rules of the classroom, and do what the law says”, and then we’re going to go out, and for the most part, say that the law didn’t act quick enough for us, and we’re just going to take it into our own hands and break it. I find that a very immoral way to interact or teach. I can’t support that, and finally, as Amy I think rightfully said, this thing’s not going to accomplish anything. This is a show strike for Karen, that’s all. Amy Jacobson: Now in 2012, 19 teachers crossed the picket line, then Jesse Sharky and Karen Lou said that you threaten to cross a picket line, you will lose a Union Membership; are you concerned about that, or maybe that you already lost it? Mike DeRoss: Well, I actually felt that when I decided that I wasn’t going to go, the only honorable thing to do would be to contact the Union and resign, which I did through e-mail, and told them that I wanted to resign from their bleeping socialist union. Dan Proft: How was that received? Mike DeRoss: And they sent me back an e-mail telling me how I’d have to pay fair share dues, which I already knew, and if that’s the law, that’s the law. I don’t like it, but it’s the law. And how they weren’t a socialist union. Dan Proft: They’re not a socialist union? Amy Jacobson: Oh really? Did they say anything else in that e-mail? Dan Proft: Socialist because they’re further left on that, or not socialist in a different way? Mike DeRoss: I don’t know, but there’s more to it. Why are we throwing in with other groups that are just going to dilute the message of the Chicago teachers? I’ll guarantee, if we got a bunch of kids that just called out of their mother’s basement in the march, scuffling with police everywhere, they we’re going to get the press, not the teachers. Amy Jacobson: Yeah, I know some Black Life Matters protesters are going to be there, some SEIU protesters I heard are going in, and they’ve even encouraged us parents to go and to bring our children, but I’m going to decide to opt out of that. Mike DeRoss: Well, when did we turn into France? Dan Proft: I think it was about 1996; 1995, in Chicago. No, it’s a fair point, what’s the response – you talked to other teachers, not just at Lane Tech, but I’m sure he’s got relationships outside of your school in the education space in Chicago, and what’s the reaction to your decision, as well as what this, as you described, show strike that Karen Lewis is doing? Mike DeRoss: Well, honestly, I don’t have a lot of relationships with teachers outside of Lane, but the ones inside Lane, for the most part – and this may be a selective, not a scientific pole, because often people that don’t agree with you won’t come and face you with it – but everybody that has come to talk to me, I don’t kick them out, necessarily, they said that “We kind of agree with what you said, we do agree with what you said, but I have to walk, because I got ten more years with this outfit”. Amy Jacobson: What about the students, though? Do they know what you’re doing and how you’re taking the stand? Mike DeRoss: Well, it would be pretty tough for them not to know what I’m doing, throughout most the media. And yes, most of them know, or a good part of them know; they have their own feelings, they’re pretty smart, mature kids here at Lane, so they’ll figure it out the way they want to. Dan Proft: And, as you said, it’s kind of a teachable moment, with respect with what you teach in class about respect for the law and substantive process and then abiding that, and you providing the example of abiding that. We’re talking to Michael DeRoss, he’s a social science teacher at the Lane Tech High School in Chicago. What about some of the underlying issues, I mean, because this show strike, as you’ve described it, and potentially a real strike next month, or in May, it’s over increasing the contribution that teachers pay into the pensions system on a go forward basis; where do you come down on reforming structurally pension system, CPS more generally? Mike DeRoss: Well, you don’t have enough time for all that, but let me throw a couple things out. Back in the day, Union was suckered, I think, by the Board and the mayors to say “We won’t give you a raise, we’ll just put some pension pick-up in here”, and we took it. We said “Okay, we won’t get a raise, but we’re going to pick up some more of a pension”. And we took, and then they’d go out and went and say “No no, pension holiday”, so they’re wrong, they’re dead wrong on that. You make a contract, you abide by the contract. That’s what we should do. Now if you want to negotiate a different one coming forward, then negotiate it, but to unilaterally say we’re going to start charging you when we’re still working under the terms of an old contract is dead wrong. Dan Proft: But you would be open to the idea of prospectively bargaining for the structure of the pensions that CPS teachers receive, and other material benefits. I mean, that’s part of a collective bargaining process who everybody knows what the deal is when it’s presented for ratification, and then what it would be going forward, if it’s ratified. You’d be open to that. Mike DeRoss: They can bargain for whatever they want, but you’re right, it’s part of negotiation. We can ask to be paid 1 million dollars a year, they can tell us they want to pay us 10 cents, and we’re going to meet somewhere in between. Dan Proft: Closer to a million, I think. Amy Jacobson: Are you worried that your pension won’t be there when you retire? Mike DeRoss: Anybody that’s not retired already needs to worry about that, between that and social security, and by the way, maybe if we would just go and say “Put us into the social security system”, then the Board would have to kick that money to social security and the federal government wouldn’t let them take a pension holiday. Dan Proft: Well, yeah, but you don’t want to change out your pension under CPS for social security, do you? And say drastically reduce benefit. Mike DeRoss: Well no, that’s not the question at hand. The question at hand would be the expense, as I thought where we’re going. Dan Proft: Yeah, okay. I see what you’re saying. Mike DeRoss: And if the Board is crying over paying the pension as it is now, well fine. Give us 401K or our own directed pension, 443B, and go put us all under social security, and pay your 7% and then tell Uncle Sam, “Hey, we don’t have it, we’re not paying it this month. See what they do. Dan Proft: Michael DeRoss, I am exercising my executive authority to install you as the President of Chicago Teachers’ Union. Amy Jacobson: Hey, Michael, what are you going to do… Mike DeRoss: I’ll be thin and good looking before that happens. Amy Jacobson: Hey, Michael DeRoss, what are you going to do tomorrow when your co-workers are out there at the picket lines? Mike DeRoss: Well, I’m going to go to work, to see what work there is to do, if there are any kids there at all to be dealt with, we’ll deal with them, if not, teachers never run out of work to do, trust me on that one. I got lessons I could plan, papers to grade, but even if it comes to the idea of just sitting there and reviewing new things to be taught, I can do that as well. There’ll be something to do. I’m not just going to sit there and drink coffee and listen to WYND. Dan Proft: Well, you can do that while you grade papers. There’s nothing wrong with that. Alright, Michael DeRoss, Social Science teacher at Lane Tech High School; Michael, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it. Mike DeRoss: Thank you, good day.

 

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The bigger issue with Trump's campaign manager that no one is talking about

"This speaks to leadership. Leaders set the standards for their organizations and then they hold their organization accountable." Kathleen Murphy of the Illinois Opportunity Project appeared on FOX Chicago this morning to discuss Donald Trump's campaign managers battery charges.

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Craig Wall: Joining us to talk about it Kathleen Murphy of the Illinois Opportunity Project. Kathleen, good to see you, as always. Kathleen Murphy: Good to see you. Craig Wall: So the Trump campaign say they’re not going to fire Lewandowski. Trump says that he is absolutely innocent of these charges. What do you make of all this, and what sort of impact is this going to have? Kathleen Murphy: I don’t know if it’s going to have an impact with his voters. They tend to support him no matter what, but this speaks to leadership; I mean, leaders set the standards for their organization and then they hold their organization accountable to those standards. Republicans should be paying attention to it, because their complaints have been there for eight years, we’ve had a president who wouldn’t hold the IRS accountable for targeting organizations that were related to political and religious… because of their political and religious affiliations, or he wouldn’t hold the State Department accountable for the death of an Ambassador and three navy seals. This goes to leadership. Craig Wall: Let me ask you, Ted Cruz’s also come out to say what this really is is a great example of a culture surrounding Trump’s campaign - a campaign he believes is based on insults and things of that nature, and attacks. What do you think of that? Kathleen Murphy: Sure, I mean it could have all been cleared up. It could have all gone away with a simple apology. That’s all Michelle Fields ever wanted; instead they attacked her reputation. They lied about what happened. They called her delusional, like you said. She had no choice but to defend herself; and how do you defend yourself against a man who’s midnight Tweets make headline news? You have to have your story validated. Craig Wall: The other thing we’re talking this morning – that’s not the only bad news for the Trump campaign. There’s a former strategist for the pro Donald Trump super PAC that wrote an open letter yesterday, pretty much asking Trump supporters to back away from the candidate, explaining why she believes she is not who he says he is. That he’s grossly unprepared to be commander in chief, and goes on and on and on about how she isn’t convinced he even wants the White House at all. How damaging can something like this be? Kathleen Murphy: I don’t think it’s damaging, again, with his supporters, because they support him no matter what; this becomes a bullet point under his laundry list of negatives, right? What she did – it’s the concern people have about his ability to be commander in chief, and she speaks and I agree with her; these Easter attacks were horrible, and it really underscored how little he understands about he Middle East. Craig Wall: Right, and what we’re talking about here; her name is Stephanie Cegielski, and I think we’ve got her quote here for you. She says, what set her off was an essay. This essay was a tweet that Trump put out on Sunday night, and it read “Another radical Islamic attack, this time in Pakistan, targeting Christian women & children. At least 67 dead, 400, injured”. And he ends it by saying “I alone can solve.” And this set her off, because she said “No one can solve that”. Kathleen Murphy: No, but it took away any credibility he had from the APAC conference. Craig Wall: Alright. Kathleen, thanks for being here. We appreciate it, as always. Kathleen Murphy: Thank you.

 

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Chicago becomes fourth city to outlaw chewing tobacco at ballparks

Former MLB player C.J. Nitkowsi joined Dan Proft and John Tillman on the latest episode of "Illinois Rising" to discuss the recent ban of chewing tobacco at Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field.

For the full episode of Illinois Rising, click here.

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Are we in a World War Against ISIS, Radical Islamic Terrorists? A conversation with Dr. Walid Phares

Is the battle against radical Islamic terrorism a police action that we are winning? Is the attack in Brussels evidence of the beginnings of ISIS' death throes? Or are we in a protracted World War against ISIS and radical Islamic terrorists? Dan and Chicago Tribune editorial board member Kristen McQueary explored these questions this morning with Dr. Walid Phares, Fox News Middle East and Counterterrorism Analyst and Donald Trump for President Campaign Adviser.

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Where Are the Peaceful Pluralist Muslims Who Will Lead? An Interview with AIFD founder Dr. Zuhdi Jasser

Can Islam the religion be separated from Islam the system of governance? And is that the key to enlisting peaceful pluralists Muslims in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism? Dan Proft & Amy Jacobson discuss these questions with a hopeful voice, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, Founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

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Dan Proft: Good morning; Dan and Amy. So, President Obama still in Cuba when the Brussels bombings occurred, but I’ll tell you what, to his credit, in between getting some snacks for his good friend bloodthirsty, communist dictator Raúl Castro, and doing the wave with his brother from another mother, he took the time to sit down with Karl Ravech, from ESPN, and offer his reflections on the bombings. Karl Ravech: It’s a pleasure to have you here, and I think before we even get into the baseball and the experience, this has been a very difficult day for the country, for Belgium, and I think that this would be an opportunity for you to address the many millions that are watching. Barrack Obama: Well, I appreciate that, I had a chance to talk to the Belgium Prime-Minister early this morning, right after the explosion had happened, and this is just one more example of why the entire world has to unite against these terrorists. The notion that any political agenda would justify the killing of innocent people like this is something that’s beyond the pale. We are going to continue with the over sixty nations that are pounding ISIL, wanting to go after them. In the meantime, obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with those who’ve been lost, and hoping for a speedy recovery for those who’ve been injured. Amy Jacobson: Oh my God… Dan Proft: I think it was nice of him to take the time out. He’s trying to enjoy the game with his wife and with his friend Raúl. Amy Jacobson: And Susan Rice is right behind them, I mean they stood up at the same time. But it didn’t stop there, because Michelle Obama, right after the game, she quickly addressed reporters. Michelle Obama: We are outraged and heartbroken over the horrific attacks today in Belgium. Amy Jacobson: How could she say that? Moments before she was up there cheering, smiling, having a good old time. Nine Americans were seriously injured. Dan Proft: They both changed their Facebook pictures too, to the Belgium flag, so that’s a nice touch as well. Amy Jacobson: And flags have been ordered to half-staff until Saturday. Dan Proft: It’s not like he’s the President of the United States, he could do something about the JV team, as he likes the term ISIS; that is contained, by the way, that he’s got contained. Charles Krauthammer had a different impression of the President’s remarks yesterday. The couple of seconds he offered before addressing the nature of his trip to Cuba, to the Assembled International Press, as well as at the ball game. Charles Krauthammer: Where Obama gave the terror bombing 51 seconds of his speech today in Havana. I thought the whole story of his presidency and his foreign policy was seen in a split-screen. On one side you had the video footage of the attack in Belgium – this is the real world – and on the other side is Obama in the fantasy world he inhabits where Cuba is of some geopolitical significance in his mind, but none in the real world. Dan Proft: I think that is a nice tidy summation. Now we also got reaction from CARE, the Council on American Islamic Relations, to the call for Muslims to denounce the Brussels bombers. Amy Jacobson: They said there’s outrage and condemnation, and they really do care what happens. Speaker: Even the mere question, do Muslims condemn this, to me is an affront to our humanity. It goes without saying. You look on Facebook, Muslims are only talking about this. They’re angry, they’re upset. Dan Proft: Is that an affront? Is that denigrating Muslims, to call for leadership from the Muslim community, not just for denunciation, but also for partnership with law enforcement and political leaders to help quell radical Islamic terrorist activity. Let’s put that to our friend, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, who is the founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Dr. Jasser, thanks for joining us again, appreciate it. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser: Oh, it’s great to be with you again, thank you. Dan Proft: So what about your response to the response from CARE that it is offensive to even ask the question, or call on Muslim leaders to denounce the Brussels bombers? Dr. Zuhdi Jasser: Well, I think again, they’ve proven that they’re tone deaf to the reality. They’re proving that to them denouncing an act is simply denouncing the act itself, rather than participating in reforms that need to happen to stop the violence from ever happening. And they’re also tone deaf to the fact that this is one of the first cells in the recent history that has committed 2 acts four months apart, and the reason they did that was you had a large Muslim neighborhood in Mozambique that was concealing these individuals from the entire EU apparatus, so we Muslims have a lot of work to do in order to basically prove that we are part of the solution, and not part of the problem, and yes, Muslims need to be part of – will be part of the solution, but for an organization that, by the way, CARE Chicago, on its website has a much longer piece, a diatribe that says why American Muslims should fear Zuhdi Jasser, which they post three years ago, rather than dealing with the reforms against the true radicals, so when people say “Where are the moderate voices?”, CARE Chicago is too busy demonizing Muslims that love our faith, that want to do reforms, rather than actually demonizing the militants and their ideas, and listen, I love my faith – I’m orthodox in my practice, and do this because I don’t want to see my faith destroyed by the militants that get their ideas from Saudi Arabia, from the Wahabis, from ISIS, and those interpret our Qu’ran in a militant way, but you know, enough is enough. They need to stop this sort of self-righteous indignation and actually roll up their sleeves and start to figure out what’s going on. Amy Jacobson: Well Doctor, does the Qu’ran say “conform or die”? Dr. Zuhdi Jasser: Not the way I interpret it, not at all, but certainly we have to recognize that there are a few millions, hundreds of millions who believe that the inspiration of the state should be theocratic, that the Qu’ran as interpreted by the Wahabis is the only interpretation, the literalist interpretation, and there are many of us who are beginning to say “That interpretation you just gave not only exists, is a dominate one in the theological arenas that we need to begin to dissect”, and no, I don’t believe, just like every religion has gone through some reforms, we have to begin to say, wait a minute, the passages that are literally being interpreted that way, what do they mean? How can we reinterpret them in ways that conform with modernity, the equality of men and women, the equality of those who are not Muslim, with those who are Muslim, what do we believe? We have a declaration of the Muslim reform movement put out, two pages, simple declaration, and we’ve sent it to Muslim organizations across the country, we’re waiting to hear back from them because we believe that that declaration can begin to answer the question you just asked me. Are you with us in believing in American principles and the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights, or are they with the radicals who say, “Well, the only way to interpret God’s word is in a very black and white literalist way. Dan Proft: We’re talking to Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, the founder and president of the American Islamic Form for Democracy; so, Dr. Jasser, where does this reform occur? Is it in the mosques? Dr. Zuhdi Jasser: It happens on every front. Certainly the mosques are part of it, but I would tell you, if you look at reforms from the time of Martin Luther on, most of that happens at the grassroots, and then eventually you push and pull the leaders to do it. It’s not going to happen top-down. Many have lauded Al-Sisi’s call for reform at the Belly of the Beast, in [inaudible 00:08:03], in Cairo, and I would tell you that what was missing from his speech is talk or the use of the word liberty, democracy, freedom. Yes, he condemned the al-Qaedas and the ISISes of the world, but he didn’t use terms like freedom and democracy, liberty, and since that speech, over a year ago, he has imprisoned and tortured many of the moderates that are seeking reform in Egypt, so this is why that reform, if it’s going to happen anywhere,, it’s going to happen in America, and this is why America is to begin to forget about political correctness, but also not forget about being correct. While political correctness has shielded groups like CARE and others in having to deal with the tough questions about our faith, sometimes, by demonizing the entire faith we have prevented the ability to take sides within the House of Islam with those who love our faith but are all about reform. Amy Jacobson: What was your reaction when you heard Senator Ted Cruz yesterday? He suggested that American-Muslim neighborhoods, there is some activity going on, that they should be policed heavier than other neighborhoods. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser: Well, I think that if you expand his comments; listen, none of us are willing to turn over any of our civil rights, so let’s put that out there and be clear that I don’t give up any of my 1st Amendment Rights to the practice of religion, but I will say that the current security apparatus in America has been hamstrung, the NYPD program who was shut down by groups like CARE, and other media that have exposed supposedly that they were targeting Muslims, when in fact we know they did not do any illegal wire taps; there have been no commentaries in cases that were thrown out of court because of any type of illegal monitoring, but they needed to map neighborhoods, they needed to understand no different than the cops and the beat, know where drugs are sold, where other crimes are committed by knowing the community. They try to get to know the communities by mapping them and monitoring them, and that was shut down as being profiling and un-American. But that’s absurd, being Muslim is not a race. It is an ideology, and we have to understand, no different than the Nazi Party, or the Communist Party that works in America; they are Islamic groups that are going to use the Islamic religion as a political movement, and the police need to have the capacity and the ability to monitor those groups, and do so legally. I don’t think it violates any of our civil rights to do that. Dan Proft: What’s your sense of the several million Muslims in America? I mean if you can make a generalization about this, in terms of yes, it’s a small percentage that are going to act violently, but is there a larger percentage that has antipathy towards the West, including America? That’s certainly the case in Muslim nations in North Africa and the Middle East. Do you think that’s the case with Muslims in America as well? Amy Jacobson: Well, I believe the silent majority of American Muslims are here like my family, who escaped prosecution in Syria and other authoritarian regimes and came to America for religious freedom, and I believe that’s a majority. The problem is there’s a plurality of those who believe – who are not terrorists or violent – but yet believe in the Islamic State, not only ISIS, but any Islamic State sort of being better than the Western Secular State, and elections in the Middle East have born this out. Egyptian Brotherhood won 20-30% of the vote, and ultimately won by a runoff. You see large Islamic movements winning elections, and I think Americans Muslims, while those percentages might be smaller, maybe closer to 20-30%, have not been studies yet, and I think PEW and others should study this very closely to understand what is the prioritization of American Muslim groups, and communities, as far as political Islamic Parties are concerned, but I will tell you in our work, if you look at most of the organized Muslim communities, they come from the Muslim Brotherhood Legacy groups from the 60’ and 70’, the Muslim Suni Association and other that were funded by the Saudis initially, and really are organized by using Muslim community ideas as in identity group, rather than a broad diverse community, and I think the reason we don’t address Islamism and political Islam is because they don’t want to make that connection between radical – militant Islam and moderate Islamism, because once we do, we’ll begin to fight it and reform against those ideas, and sort of like saying if the meth addict connected to the gateway drugs of marijuana and alcoholism, etcetera, they don’t want to make that connection between the terrorist and political Islam. I mean, British People Mosque in Chicago was part of the Holy Land Foundation Exposure, there was a whole piece in Chicago Tribune from 2004 about the underbelly of the secret brotherhood movement that the Muslim American Society was part of that entire network; there’s been very little follow up work on that, because of political correctness. Dan Proft: Alright, you’re looking for thoughtful leadership from the Muslim community; you get it from Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, who’s the founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Dr. Jasser, thanks for joining us, appreciate it. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser: Any time.

 

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Which Pres. candidate has the strongest plan to combat terrorism?

Kathleen Murphy, of Illinois Opportunity Project, appeared on FOX Chicago to discuss AIPAC, Donald Trump and which Pres. candidate would best deal with terrorism.

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Dan Proft & Pat Hughes Discuss Illinois' Primary Election Winners & Losers

On this edition of “Illinois Rising”, Dan Proft and Pat Hughes, Co-Founder of The Illinois Opportunity Project, discuss Illinois’ Primary Election winners & losers, the large voter turnout, the Governors budget strategy, the surge in gas prices and more.

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What do the results of the Illinois primary mean for the general election?

Dan Proft discussed the results of the Illinois primary on CBS Chicago.

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CBS Chicago Anchor: Welcome back to our analysts now Avis, and Dan I want to start with you this time. So when you see a race like this, where there seems to be greater implications about who's supporting who. Is he, Dunkin, tied to Madigan, what are your thoughts on the actual outcome tonight? Dan Proft: This is a proxy fight between the Governor and the Speaker. Between Governor Rauner and Speaker Madigan. That's what it was, that's why there was so much money in. Kim Fox was a victory for the anti-establishment. Juliana Stratton is a victory for the establishment. You heard it: Madigan, the public sector unions, the people that have been in charge of this state for the last 40 years, that's who backed Juliana Stratton. ------- CBS Chicago Anchor: What are your thoughts about Hilary Clinton having to win her home state and so far maintaining a slight edge. Dan Proft: Yeah, I mean, Bernie Sanders is a movement. It's very much like you see on the other side with Trump. It's a movement that's bigger than the candidate. There's a lot of infrastructure that Hillary Clinton has Trump didn't have coming in. So it's a more difficult path for Bernie Sanders, but enthusiasm matter. Momentum matters in political campaigns. That's what you're seeing play out. Bernie Sanders closed a substantial lead in this state. I think frankly the pandemonium that happened at UIC, I think it benefited Bernie Sanders and I think it benefited Donald Trump who are both outperforming their polling numbers going into tonight. ------- CBS Chicago Anchor: Dan if we talk about this race, do you think it has greater implications or a message that they're trying to send to City Hall by taking Alvarez out of this? Dan Proft: Rahm Emanual had a bad night tonight. He can endorse Kim Fox, he can say nice things about Kim Fox all he wants. This was about a referendum on Rahm Emanuel. This was residents of Chicago and Cook County, exercising the anger towards Rahm Emanuel that they couldn't exercise with his victory in the spring because all of this broke after his victory in the spring. So this I think you see is very much a proxy for Rahm Emanuel. And 2019 ain't that far away.

 

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Exclusive: Dan & Amy Interview Pres. Candidate Gov. John Kasich

Just before winning big in Ohio, Dan Proft & Amy Jacobson interviewed Presidential hopeful, Governor John Kasich.

Just before winning big in Ohio, Dan Proft & Amy Jacobson interviewed Presidential hopeful, Governor John Kasich. Full transcript:

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Exclusive: Dan Proft Interviews Pres. candidate Sen. Ted Cruz

Dan Proft's exclusive interview with Presidential Candidate, Senator Ted Cruz.

View full transcript


Dan Proft: So we had the opportunity to have your father on the show last week, and what a woo he is, but one of the things that he said that I want to get your take on – by the way, actually, we have suggested to him after talking to him for a few minutes, that perhaps the ticket should be Cruz and Cruz in the general election, and he was concerned with the 12th Amendment, which of course you’re familiar with; I assured him that if it was a Cruz – Cruz ticket in the general, then you could dispense with Texas’ electoral votes because you’d win by such a big margin. Ted Cruz: I will say, my dad is someone who will speak from the heart, and when you’ve seen freedom taken away firsthand like my dad has seen, it’s very real and it’s very personal to him, and it’s one of the real blessing, being the son of an immigrant who fled oppression in Cuba, that it makes you realize that our freedom is fragile and it’s really precious. Dan Proft: Now, one of the things that he said about you is that Ted learned from his parents to be a servant-leader. It seems to me in the debate on Thursday night, you sort of made mention to that implicitly when you talked about Donald Trump asking for people to pledge allegiance to him, and he had it reversed that this is a job audition where the President of the United States is a servant to the people, and I wonder of you could expand upon what your dad said, and that moment in the debate where you suggested Donald Trump had it reversed. Ted Cruz: Our rights don’t come from government, they come from God almighty, and sovereignty doesn’t reside in the ruler, but rather sovereignty resides in ‘we, the people’, and the Constitutions serves, as Jefferson put it, ‘chain to bind the mischief of government’, and I think there had been far too many political leaders in Washington, both Democrats and Republicans, who lose sight of that; who believe that they are a ruling class; that’s much of the corruption we’ve seen that has resulted 19 trillion in debt, has resulted in the special interest getting fat at the people’s extent. And I believe we need a leader who recognizes that he works for the people. I approach this every day, asking for your support, working to earn your support, because we need a president who is fighting for the hard working tax payers each and every day rather than the entrenched interest in Washington. Dan Proft: One of the other in theory entertaining moments of the debate on Thursday night was your close, where you talked about the humble beginnings of a Ted Cruz and a Marco Rubio, and a John Kasich, and maybe not so much Donald Trump. It was a little bit of a Yakov Smirnoff what a country kind of close, but I wonder what you were trying to do there reminding the electorate about where you and Kasich and Rubio came from, as compared to Trump. Ted Cruz: Well, look, it is a remarkable thing that you’ve got three of the four people on the stage come from very humble beginnings; as I note it, there was the son of a bartender, the son of mailman, or in my case, the son of a dishwasher, and most of the countries on Earth, that would never be the case. Most of the countries on Earth, any potential leader of the country would have been born in the wealth and power of the aristocracy, and that’s simply the way most of the world works, and didn’t mean that as a ding particularly on Donald Trump; I was more making a quip that I hoped to get a laugh, but was also making the point about the unbelievable opportunity America provides, that anyone starting with nothing can do anything, and that really is unique in the world. Dan Proft: On the political front, were you disappointed at all that Dr. Ben Carson decided to fall in with Donald Trump instead of with you, particularly given your similar faith traditions in terms of appeal to evangelical voters? Ted Cruz: Sure, of course I was disappointed, and then Ben Carson is a good man, but everyone’s got to make their own decisions and their own judgments, and I suppose everyone makes those decisions for different reasons. What my focus really is, is on energizing and mobilizing conservatives, and on unifying Republicans. You mentioned at the outset of the show that at this point become effectively a two man race. There are some 65-70% of Republicans who recognize Donald Trump as not the best candidate to go head to head with Hilary Clinton; that if we nominate Donald Trump, Hilary wins; that she just wallops him in a general election, and if Hilary wins, we lose the Supreme Court for a generation, we lost the Bill of Rights, our kids are buried in debt for yet four more years, and jobs and economic opportunity stays illusive and hard to achieve, and so for those 65-70% of Republicans who recognize Donald Trump is not the best nominee, what we’re seeing is more and more uniting behind our campaign, because our campaign is the only campaign that has beaten Donald repeatedly; we beat him now 8 separate times in 8 states all over the country, and we’re the only campaign that can beat him; the other candidates have no mathematical possibility of becoming the Republican nominee, and I’ll tell you, Illinois in particular is very much a battle ground. Right now, today, Illinois is neck in neck between Donald Trump and me, and so you don’t want to see Donald Trump as the nominee. If you don’t want to see Hillary Clinton win the general election then I ask you to stand with us – even if you have been supporting someone else – the only way now to beat Donald Trump is for us to stand united, so I ask you to stand with us, and that is happening more and more all over the country. Dan Proft: Now, with respect to Donald Trump, do you think it is important to make the distinction between Donald Trump the candidate, and Donald Trump’s supporters, kind of Donald Trump the movement, if you will? Because if you are the nominee, regardless what happens on Tuesday, if you are the nominee and you run the table after Tuesday, when it’s all mano y mano race ostensibly, that you’re going to need those Trump voters that have come out and really jumped the Republican Primary turnout to record levels. Ted Cruz: Absolutely, and I’ve said from the beginning that I’ve brought a lot of people into the process, and that is good and beneficial, and the people who are supporting Donald, I understand why they are; they’re ticked off, they’re ticked off at Washington, they’re ticked off at politicians who keep lying to them, who keep making promises and doing the exact opposite of what they say when they go to Washington. And they’re fed up with the corruption of Washington – the bipartisan corruption – I agree with every bit of that sediment, and you’d better believe that I want every one of those voters showing up in November so that we can finally change the direction of this country, and now what I think a lot of those Trump supporters are realizing when they look at his record more closely is that if you’re fed up with the corruption in Washington, the answer is not to support Donald Trump, someone who has been enmeshed in that bipartisan corruption for 40 years; that Donald Trump is the system, Donald Trump is Washington, and big business, and if you’re fed up with that, the answer I believe is to go with the candidate who has demonstrated over and over again that he will and he has stood up not just to Democrats but to leaders in our own party. That’s what it’s going to take to stop the corruption – is a president who recognizes he works for the American people, for the hardworking taxpayer, not the Washington’s special interest, that Donald has been part of for the last 40 years supporting liberal democrats, and supporting establishment republicans; instead, we need a president that doesn’t stand for Washington, but stands with the American people. Dan Proft: One of the things that seems to me makes you a little bit different than the candidates in this field, past and present, is your willingness to talk about values. It’s funny to me, in Chicago here, you think New York values are bad. We listen to Rahm Emanuel, as I call him, tiny dancer, talk about Chicago values all the time. It seems like the left is very willing to talk about values – whatever their values are – and sometimes we, as conservatives, are afraid to speak in the vernacular of values in the public arena. Your nod, is it a recognition that maybe people out there are looking for something transcendental, maybe the most important thing to them isn’t just your marginal tax rate, it’s about kind of what binds us together as a people. Ted Cruz: I think that’s exactly right. That’s who we are as Americans, and one of the greatest lies that the media tries to sell is they try to tell conservatives that America doesn’t share our values; that America has become this left wing progressive utopia; and that’s just fundamentally false. This country is and remains a federal country. We remain a country that was built on free market principles, on constitutional liberties, and on Judeo-Christian values; that is what built America into the greatest country in the history of the world. Now the media and Hollywood and the political left tries to do everything they can to convince the American people we should be afraid of our values. We should be afraid to stand and defend lives, we should be afraid to defend marriage or religious liberty, and I don’t think that’s right. I think we can recognize that every life is a precious gift from God, and that every human being has constitutional rights that the government should be protecting, rather than violating, and I think those are common sense values that resonate across the heartland. Resonate across the state of Illinois, and resonate all across the country. Dan Proft: I want to get your response to one of the critiques, what we hear from callers supporting Donald Trump and other candidates from this show is, ‘Well, one of the critiques of Ted Cruz is he doesn’t get along with his colleagues, so is he going to get anything done?’ I had the opportunity to speak with Jim DeMint, President of the Heritage Foundation and former US Senator, the other day, and he made the point that when he was in the Senate, he didn’t always get along with leadership very much either because he wanted the Republican Party to stand for conservative values and follow principles and policies that flow from those values, and sometimes the leadership didn’t want to chart that course. It seems to me there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of politics that a lot of people in our movement have, and I wonder if you’d comment, and that is about likeability all the time, rather than the hard work of aligning interests, of building coalitions around different issues, and the coalitions maybe different with respect to different parts of a policy agenda; one is trying to pursue, but it’s not being Mr. Congeniality, or Mr. Popularity, it’s about aligning interests. Ted Cruz: Well, that’s right, but it’s even stronger than that, and Jim DeMint is a good example. Jim is a very good friend of mine, and he was an extraordinary senator, but when he was serving in the senate, he was despised; especially by leadership, they despised him. And it’s not that Jim is an unpleasant man – in fact he’s a very soft-spoken principled individual – but you have to remember, Washington, the career politicians in both parties, they have been sticking it to the American people year after year after year. It’s why we’re so angry, because they don’t keep their word and they don’t intend to keep their word. And what makes you ‘unlikeable’ in Washington is if you actually keep your word to the men and women who elected you. What Jim DeMint did and what I have done was simply go there and say ‘I’m going to do exactly what I said I would do’. I told, in my case, the people of Texas, ‘I’m going to fight with every breath in my body to stop the disaster that is Obama Care; I’m going to fight with every breath in my body to stop amnesty, which is taking jobs from millions of Americans; I’m going to fight to stop the death that’s bankrupting our kids and grandkids and I’m going to fight to defend the bill of rights and the second amendment of religious liberty.’ Now that by in large is most of what the Republican members of congress promised, but when they get to Washington, they break those promises, and if you keep those promises, that’s being unlikeable, that’s what they get mad at. It’s not treating people with anything less than civility or decorum or respect. You know, you look at the debate, the last several debates we saw Donald Trump and Marco Rubio yelling and insulting each other and making fun of each other’s body parts. I think that has no place in politics, and I certainly don’t respond to those insults in kind. I keep focus on substance, but the thing to remember, if someone is well liked in Washington, it’s because they’re going along with Washington selling you out, and to change it – you know someone else who was despised in Washington was Ronald Reagan – if you look at the Reagan revolution – remember, in 1976, Reagan had primaried Gerald Ford. Now you want to make Republican leadership loathe you, come within an inch of beating the incumbent Republican President in the primaries. They hated him! Now Reagan, likewise, he wasn’t mean about it, he didn’t insult people, but he said ‘We have to stand for something’. This is not a fraternal order, we need to actually defend shared principles!’, and they hated him for it, but what gave Reagan his strength is he didn’t rely on Washington – he took the case to the people, and that is very much the basis of our campaign as well. If we’re going to break the Washington cartel, it’s going to be the grass roots, and so my strength are millions of men and women across this country that are fed up with a Washington that doesn’t listen to us, that doesn’t protect our jobs, that doesn’t protect our interests, and that is selling our rights down the river. And the way we turn it around is just like the Reagan revolution, with a grassroots army from the people. Dan Proft: Yes, and I think we can all unify as a party around the idea that we appreciate your lack of interest in Donald Trump’s body parts. Before we let you go – I know you have a busy schedule, and a lot of states to check out before tomorrow’s elections, just a closing thought for Illinois voters. What’s the value proposition for President Ted Cruz? What’s he going to do in the first 100 days, so people know what they’re getting when they go to the polls in Illinois tomorrow and pull the lever for Ted Cruz? Ted Cruz: I think this election is about three things: it’s about jobs, it’s about freedom and it’s about security. My number one priority is jobs and economic growth. We have the lowest percentage of Americans working right now than any year since 1977, and the people I’m fighting for are the single moms that are right now waiting tables and working 2-3 part-time jobs, and you’ve had your hours forcibly reduced to 28-29 hours a week, because Obama Care kicks in at 30 hours a week. The people I’m fighting for are the truck drivers and steel workers and plumbers and mechanics. You know, the men and women with calluses on your hands, the union members who are just getting hammered right now; your wages haven’t gone up, and yet the costs of living keeps going up and up and up. The people I’m fighting for are the students who are coming out of school with loans up your eyeballs, wondering, are you going to get a job? What does the future hold for you? And the media tells us this is a new normal, we have to accept that! That is simply not the truth! If I’m elected president, we will repeal Obama Care, we’ll pass a simple flat tax and abolish the IRF and we’ll lift back the regulations that are killing small businesses, and the effect of that, we’re going to see millions of high paying jobs, we’re going to see wages rising for everybody, and we’re going to see young people coming out of schools with 2-3-4-5 jobs opportunities. Secondly and critically, freedom; the Constitution and Bill of Rights hang in the balance. The Supreme Court hangs in the balance. Donald Trump has told you he will cut a deal with Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer to arrive upon Antonin Scalia’s replacement. I am not going to compromise away your religious liberty. I’m not going to compromise away your Second Amendment. Instead, every justice I’ve put on the court will defend the Bill of Rights ferociously for your children and for mine. And then finally, security; we need a president who will stand by our friends and allies, who will stand with the nation of Israel – not be neutral – like Donald Trump has promised to be, but stand un-apologetically with Israel, and who will stand up and defeat our enemies, as president, I will rebuild the military just like Ronald Reagan did; we will rebuild the military so that it remains the mightiest fighting force on the face of the planet, and we will utterly destroy ISIS, we will defeat radical Islamic terrorism, and we’ll have a president that doesn’t undermine our fighting men and women. That doesn’t undermine our police officers and firefighters and search responders, but instead a presidents who stands with our soldiers and sailors and airmen and marines, who stands with our cops and our firefighters, and has their back. We can do all of that if we just go back to who we are, and that’s what this election is about. Illinois is a battleground. We are neck in neck with Donald Trump. I ask you to stand with us, and if we stand together, we’re going to win this nomination and we are going to win the general and bring back jobs and economic growth and prosperity to this nation once again.

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Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint on How To Build A Conservative Movement

On this week's Against The Current, former U.S. Senator and current President of the Heritage Foundation, Jim DeMint sits down with Dan Proft to discuss the state of the conservative movement in America and what it means to be a GOP member of Congress not liked by the GOP congressional leaders.

DeMint also lays out Heritage's blueprint for a balanced budget in 2017 and explains why it is so important to take a stand on moral and cultural matters in addition to fiscal ones.

A provocative, wide-ranging discussion with the genteel but steadfastly conservative Jim DeMint on this edition of ATC.

View full transcript


Dan Proft: Thank you for joining us on another edition of Against the Current; coming to you from the Skyline Club, on top of the Old Republic building in downtown Chicago. We’re pleased to have as this week’s guest former United States Senator and current President of the Heritage Foundation, Jim DeMint. Jim, thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it. Jim DeMint: Dan, it’s great to be with you. Dan Proft: Yeah, we’re happy to have you in Chicago. Jim DeMint: I can’t believe it’s 65 degrees in Chicago today. Dan Proft: We appreciate it. Maybe it’s a little bit of a welcoming. Jim DeMint: Maybe so. Dan Proft: We certainly need more discussion of free minds and free markets in Chicago, you may have heard, and I know you were having that very discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference recently, CPAC, you went there, and your talk was about the future of the conservative movement, as in how do we generate a sustaining one. Answer the question that I posed and you posed to yourself at CPAC. How do we develop a sustaining conservative movement? Jim DeMint: First, we have to realize it is about ideas. Conservatism is about preserving or conserving those ideas that make America exceptional; the values, the principles; so it’s not about the personalities, or even ultimately about specific policies, but how do we conserve for the future of those things that made this country so exceptional. So build the conservative movement on the ideas and principles; certainly, we need good people carrying those messages, we need policies, and messages that the public understands, but pulling together people from all across America who want to move forward with the right ideas, that’s what we need to build the conservative movement on. Dan Proft: Do you think that in DC and perhaps even across the Fruited Plains there’s been a little bit of the bastardization of the term conservative, where it is no longer about the enduring principles upon which the country was founded, upon which Western civilization was founded, than in policies that are relevant, consistent with those principles in the modern context, and now it’s kind of conservative is where people are supposed to be; so I’m a fiscal conservative, I’m a social something else. Conservative means this and it means that, and it’s become a word that has been demeaned into unmeaning. Jim DeMint: The labels are not helpful in politics really, whether it’s liberal or progressive or conservative, or moderate; I think people have so many different definitions; it doesn’t really help to use the term. I think what we have to do is talk about what it is we want for this country. Do we really believe in founding principles that are permanent? And there is a reason to believe that America is unique among all the nations in history, why we’ve become so prosperous, so strong as a people, how can we have such a diverse population, yet still have unity? Now I know they’re a lot of forces dividing America today, but the fact that we’re the most diverse nation on Earth, yet we have a unity of shared purpose, shared values, things that are different, volunteerism, hard work, the idea of self-reliance, there is a strong belief in family in America, even though we had a breakdown in family; there are a lot of beliefs that make this country exceptional, and we want to preserve those for the next generation, so the next generation can be even more successful. Dan Proft: So let me run another dichotomy of labels by you, that has become kind of the dominant conversation in the context of the presidential campaign, but it’s not about electoral politics, it’s about this establishment versus the non-establishment; in fact, Mike Murphy who [fluttered? 00:03:56] away 100 million dollars or so running the superpack for Jeb Bush, he said recently that that anti-establishment is the new establishment. Jim DeMint: Yes. Dan Proft: It gets kind of confusing to follow what establishment means, does it really exist, what’s anti-establishment, is anti-establishment the new establishment? Do these terms mean anything? Jim DeMint: They do to me. There really is an establishment in Washington made up of entrenched politicians and bureaucrat media, lobbyists, people who benefit from the growth of government, they benefit from the status quo, and they try to take you apart if you try to change that status quo. I know because I did, and they villainize you. I know, for instance, Ted Cruz, aside from the presidential race, he has been treated like a villain – no one likes him, as if no one likes you in Washington, that’s a good sign, because if they like you, you’re probably part of the problem. Unfortunately, the way this establishment is set up is, once you’re elected to the House or the Senate, and I’ve been in both of them, you eventually have to go along with the system, keep voting for more spending every year, earmarks or whatever they’ve got on the table, or you fight the system; and if you fight the system, you find it’s bigger than you are, and unless you have millions of Americans standing with you, the system’s just going to cut you up. Dan Proft: What was it like, if you can go back to your previous life as a United States Senator, when you were in the system, you also had it up to Senate Conservative Fund, so you were supporting Conservative traditionalist originalist baron Scalia-ism candidates for the US Senate, sometimes at odds with the Republican leadership in the Senate, or even generally inside the belt-way, and so what was that like? Jim DeMint: I wasn’t very popular, and I was lectured to a lot, and as a matter of fact, I use a quote a lot, one of the lunches with all the Republican senators, after I’d endorsed Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania against Arlen Specter, who was still there, and the party… Dan Proft: Before he became a Democrat. Jim DeMint: And the party had endorsed a Charlie Crist in Florida, before he became a Democrat against Marco Rubio, who I was supporting, and one of our big senior leaders got up and wagged his finger at me and he said, ‘DeMint, you don’t know how Washington works; it’s not about the principles, it’s about the numbers; we need to get to 60 votes’, and I just stood up and said ‘We’ll have the numbers when we have the principles’, and I believe that, I don’t think Republicans, or any party, is going to continue to win and grow unless it’s about more than just politics Dan Proft: It seems to me that’s the question that doesn’t get asked, implicit of what you’re describing is “Okay, we need the numbers, I got that. Is anybody asking the question or contemplating the answer to the question ‘What do we win when we win?’” Jim DeMint: Yeah, what do we want to do with the numbers? And my experience has been, when we had the numbers, the majority in the House and the Senate, George Bush and the White House, we didn’t do anything that I was very proud of. We kept spending money, blowing the budget up, and we expanded the government into education, with No Child Left Behind, we expanded the healthcare and the Medicare Part. D, when Medicare was already going bankrupt. Nothing that we campaigned on as Republicans did we do, and so I realized that we’re not going to solve the problems with the same people who created them, and that’s why I was out there with Senate Conservative Fund just trying to find a common sense – Conservatives who would come in and help fight the system, and we did bring in some new people; we got a ban on earmarks; now they’re still figuring ways to get around it, but we started a process there with some young bright new Conservatives, and ironically, it was what Republicans said they wanted; they wanted big tent, more diverse people; now we’ve got an African American Republican from South Carolina, we’ve got a couple of Cuban Americans, we’ve got younger people in the party, but all of them were posed by the party in their primaries; so I’m going to help Republicans whether they like it or not, by infusing Conservative ideas, but trying to help Conservatives learn to speak in more winsome terms, and not even using that label. If you’re in Illinois, you don’t need to be talking about being Conservative. You need to talk about how we’re going to make life better for people; get better jobs for people; what are the policies that are going to actually help kids get a better education and get out of failing schools? Let’s talk about the benefits, and then by the way, that’s a Conservative idea, we can get to that later, but the labels really get in the way as you travel around the country. Dan Proft: So how do you strike the balance? I suppose maybe you’ve said it, it’s principle strike the balance between ‘Yeah, it is a numbers game; you need majorities and sometimes even across the aisle building non-traditional majorities to advance a policy agenda’, so how do you abide Morton Blackwell’s – one of Morton Blackwell’s laws to the public policy process – ‘Don’t treat your friends like your enemies’, while at the same time, as you suggest, making sure that we’re asking the question about what do we win when we win, so we get the best Republican candidate, the best Conservative candidate, and not just any old Republican will do. Jim DeMint: Right, I know, the Party keeps saying we want the most conservative person who can win. That is not been my experience with Republicans, and part of my speech at CPAC was just pointing out there are a lot of Republican leaders who don’t think Conservative ideas and candidates can win in a lot of states around the country. I believe they can, in almost every state, with a good candidate, with a good message, and helping people to understand that there’s a reason Detroit has failed, and Baltimore has failed; it’s because of the liberal-progressive policies that they followed for decades; and there’s a reason why other states like Texas or Florida are doing well that jobs are coming back and growing. It’s because they follow these free market principles with less regulation and less taxes, and we can see the benefits there to the poor, as well as to the rich, and when we grow the economy or when we’ll have School Choice. Ten years ago, the left got away with saying ‘Oh, School Choice is just for the rich’; we’ve got all the data now, and where states expand School Choice, it helps the poor, it helps Blacks, it helps Hispanics, much more than it does the rich. Dan Proft: So we’re sitting here in Chicago and you’re talking about major urban cities; I think the largest city that has a Republican mayor, San Diego. So all the big cities in the country are controlled by Democrats; in the case of Chicago, have been for 100 years, and it seems like this is territory that has been completely seeded to the Democrats; I know the Illinois Republican party here has not made a play for the mayor of Chicago, or any real material play in the city in many, many generations, and it seems curious to me; in the business world, if you see somebody failing to corner a marketplace that provides opportunity, like a big city does, all kinds of opportunities – to advance policy, like School Choice – that seems to me, ‘Well, that’s a place I want to be, because they’re failing, and there’s an opportunity to come in and provide an alternative path, but we haven’t done that. It’s not just Chicago, it’s really national. Jim DeMint: It is, it’s hard to break into a market like Chicago, that’s heavily unionized, particularly government unions, and that’s an automatic financial feeding system to the democrats; and I know, I just had lunch with a Chicago business man, and unless you do things the union way here, they make it very hard for you, so for him to get involved with the Republican politics is likely going to cost him a lot of his customers; once you get such a critical mass of the quid pro quo that comes from the unions and the Democrats, it’s really hard to break in, until the city basically bankrupts. Detroit’s getting a shakeup now because it broke up, went bankrupt, but there’ll be a lot of states like Illinois and California, probably within 5-10 years, that just financially cannot continue. There are going to have to be big changes, and that’s why we’re here, we try to encourage the groups that are here to promote the ideas; there are a lot of common sense Conservatives in Chicago, they’re outnumbered. The same is true in California, but we have to have the right ideas ready when the people are ready for them, and we worked on Freedom in the Workplace, in Michigan for 20 years. Sometimes you call that Right To Work, where people are no longer forced to join unions, that’s actually growing in popularity. West Virginia just became the 26th state. Dan Proft: And who would have thought it would happen in Michigan? Jim DeMint: Right, and people have their right to join the union, but once workers start thinking ‘I should not be forced to join the union, for my dues to be actually supporting politics that I don’t support’, this is not freedom of speech, so the lot of times folks start pushing back against that, and they realize that maybe they could get better jobs, better pay, maybe more freedom in one workplace and the other – everything run by unions. Dan Proft: Now I read the 2016 Policy Solutions that the Heritage Foundation put out. This wasn’t included, so I’m spitballing here, maybe for 2017, but I asked Scott Walker if he would consider scrambling the Wisconsin National Guard, invading and taking over Illinois, and jut making it part of Wisconsin, so maybe we can have Republican governors successfully… Jim DeMint: What was his response on? Dan Proft: Well, he wasn’t so interested, but I asked Mitch Daniels, and now Mike Pence too, so maybe we can have some Republican governors just take over states that refuse to behave, the meth lab of the laboratories of Democracy, like Illinois is, and see if maybe we can just consolidate under those that get it, those that have successful models that should be scaled and not fail models that should be perpetuated, like Illinois. What do you think about that? Jim DeMint: States are pretty much – I should not say at war – but definitely at battle, for businesses, for families. Dan Proft: Competition, sure. Jim DeMint: And people are migrating to those states where the taxes are lower, the business environment is better, where there’s a more of a family atmosphere. Dan Proft: I want to move to Charleston, but they won’t let me do the radio station from there. Jim DeMint: They won’t? Dan Proft: No. Jim DeMint: I feel the same way when I’m in California; of course they have a little better weather than Chicago, but Chicago, it’s my favorite big city; I mean, it’s beautiful, the water looking out over the lake, and so, for folks that probably been here their whole life, it’s going to take a lot to move them out, but after a while, if you want to be successful and give your family the best, you start looking at ‘Is this the right place to raise my family and start a business?’, and more and more around America, you’re seeing people move out of those states that are just frankly unfriendly to ideas that we know make life better. Dan Proft: And thus Illinois leading the nation along with New Jersey now in migration. Jim DeMint: They are, but we’re going to continue to work here, because there’s so many folks who really believe in those American principles and at some point, the old guard in Illinois is going to bring this thing crashing down, and folks are going to look up and say, ‘Okay, what are we going to do now?’, and we want the right people to step forward and say ‘We know exactly what we need to do’. Dan Proft: Yeah, I know, I’m just [inaudible 00:15:50] to the mask-on guys, I’m staying, but it is tempting. You mentioned – I should say – I mentioned that the policy solutions the Heritage promulgated, some 277, won’t go through every single one of them here, but a couple of the important ones that you think are real paradigm changers that should be pursued whether it’s at state level, to the extent that they can’t be their state issues, or state federal issues, and then of course at the federal level. Jim DeMint: The big issue right now in Washington involves a lot of different policies, is our budget; our federal budget, moving towards a balanced budget, and dealing with the deficits, and beginning to reduce our national debt to a manageable function. We’re already seeing that the growth in debt here and around the world is threatening long term economic stagnation, and perhaps the viability of some nations, but we can’t expect this nation to continue to thrive and grow if we actually have more debt than we do economy. Dan Proft: And when debt you’re also talking about unfunded liabilities too. Jim DeMint: Yeah, long beyond my lifespan, but we made a lot of promises to seniors that were dependant on younger workers, now we have more seniors than younger workers; we’re going to end up with a heavy tax burden on young people who are now voting on these ideas, and in a few years they’ll realize what they’ve done, and it’ll be too late, because I’ll be retired and voting for more social security and Medicare, and we’ll have more votes than they do, but so balancing a budget is something that everyone needs to think. Sooner or later you know you have to balance the budget. And I’ve seen, whether it’s Republicans or Democrats, every year, we don’t have to address that now, because that’s going to be a fight, because right now you get a lot of bipartisanship when it comes to the budget, because we gave the Democrats everything they want, the Republicans what they want; we raised the budget, go on to the next year, and we say we have a ten year budget, we’re going to increase it the first five years, and then we’ll going to cut it the next five years. You never cut it the next five years. Dan Proft: We're going to defer this fight so we can defer the next fight. Jim DeMint: This is serious, and to just throw out the numbers, 19 trillion, and everybody’s eyes glaze over, you go ‘How much money is that?’, but right now, the worldwide global debt is three times what the worldwide global economic productivity is – or GEP – and that’s not sustainable, and so the consequences of that are pretty serious, and hopefully we will elect a president who will understand that we need to begin to turn this around. We don’t have to cut big programs, or whatever, right now we’ve got a heritage budget that shows if you just reduce the growth of what we call discretionary spending, then you can move towards a balanced budget in about 7 years, even increasing defense spending. Now, long term, you’re going to have to deal with entitlements; I don’t know if it’s raising retirement age for folks that are younger, or giving them better choices where they actually have their own investment accounts, but the government’s not on the hook for quite as much. There are a lot of things we can do, but it’s unimaginable to me, that with this president, 8 years, that he hasn’t addressed social security or Medicare; he’s actually added to the cost of these; he hasn’t done anything to fix our tax code; he’s made it more complicated, and that’s killing more jobs. We just need a president who’s serious about, ‘Okay, I may be unpopular, but we need to deal with this debt’. Dan Proft: One of the other component parts of the policy solutions document that I found interesting, and it separates Heritage Foundation from some of the libertarian think tanks, and frankly, from a lot of Republicans, who just are unwilling to talk about this area of policy and civilization, and that’s the cultural area. That the idea that we’re just economic man and woman, and the only thing that matters in this world is our marginal tax rate seems to me folly, seems to me we lose on that issue all the time when we allow the left to mimic us; I’m a fiscal conservative and a social moderate too; there’s no one in this world who isn’t a fiscal conservative and a social moderate, so it’s amazing we have 19 trillion dollars of debt with all these fiscal conservatives running around, but the importance of talking about culture, because the law follows culture, and it doesn’t seem like a lot of Republicans, a lot of Conservatives, even thought leaders are comfortable outside of the pages of some of the opinion journals’ talking culture. Jim DeMint: No, and you can’t have a strong economy without a strong culture, and you can’t have a strong defense unless you have a strong economy; it really begins with the culture, and if you look at what makes a strong culture, it does begin with family, and all the data shows there’s very little chance you’ll ever grow up to be poor if your child that’s raised in a family with a married mom and a dad. Now that’s not being against anyone, or the way they want to live, or against any lifestyle. It’s just the facts. The more we can encourage marriage and having children within marriage, more choices in education, all the evidence shows that you move a kid out of failing school, that kid’s likely to end up in college and be successful. We’ve got to talk about social, societal, cultural issues if we want a good economy, and so I don’t think we need to run from it. Frankly, I think the left is very radical on where they stand, issues like planned-parenthood, for instance. You don’t even need to talk about the issues of what they do. If you’ve got a country that can’t pay its bills, and has the bar money every year, and you can’t afford to give our soldiers good rifles, we can’t fund all these things that aren’t even part of government, and frankly, planned-parenthood, I don’t even think they have very many full-time doctors at all. They don’t have any mammograms; all these ideas that they’re providing women health services, you could take half the money and get a lot better health services for women through community health centers that already exist. But when the left won’t even let you talk about that, why would we spend 500 million dollars a year on an organization that’s not part of the government and does actually very little healthcare for women? So if you can’t talk about things like that, and there are things on the right – corporate welfare, like the export-import bank, which we tried to kill last year, it’s just a big government bank for Boeing and General Electric; if Republicans can’t get rid of corporate welfare, then we have no legitimacy to talk about how do we fix welfare in a way that would work. And one more issue – and I know I’m talking too much here – we just saw Maine just take one small step on fixing one part of their welfare program – food stamps. All they did was put a work requirement for able bodied people with no children; primarily folks who probably live at home, getting $300/month food stamps. All you had to do is show up one time a week and work or volunteer for six hours, once a week, to keep getting your food stamps, and though food stamp roll dropped 80% over night. No one was put out in the cold, no one went hungry, but the fact is you had a lot of people who did not need it and were not even willing to walk down and volunteer for 6 hours. We spend a trillion dollars a year on about 80 different welfare programs, and we can’t even talk about making those more effective for people without the left going crazy. Dan Proft: But then what happens when the left goes crazy? Seems to me we have a little bit of – did you ever read the book or see the movie ‘The Mouse That Roared’, a Peter Sellers movie? Jim DeMint: Yeah. Dan Proft: And so the idea is this little fictional country was going to declare war on America because they thought they would be defeated, but then America rebuilds the countries it defeats, so that’s our plan for prosperity. Well, they declared war on America and they won, because what happened was we rolled over. And I think there’s a lot of Conservatives, myself included, who see at the federal level, and when the left goes hysterical at the drop of a hat over anything and everything, that they didn’t expect to win, but when they go gonzo over a particular issue, they demagogue a particular issue, and we run, we offer surrender as our first response, well of course they’re going to continue just advance. Why would they not advance? But we do this over and over again and then we wonder why we don’t have the presidents in civilizing institutions, like K-12 education, or Academia, like we should, and then you’re talking about the pipeline for tomorrow’s leaders, and tomorrow’s intellectual guide stars, and of course it’s all going to be left, and then it becomes self-propagating for them. Jim DeMint: My biggest frustration with Republicans is they’re just not willing to stand up and fight for what they believe in. We’ve seen it on spending… Dan Proft: Do they believe in it? Maybe a lot of people running around calling themselves Conservatives, that’s a convenient label for political reasons, but they don’t actually believe in a lot o this stuff they’re talking about. Jim DeMint: For many of them, it’s secondary to staying in office, and once you sit there in Washington for a while, you start thinking, ‘Oh well, if I try to cut spending, it’s going to be painful, because it’ll make some people made, but if I just give everyone a little increase then everybody’s going to be happy; your K Street lobbyist is going to be happy; if you eliminate a program, like Ex-Im Bank, everybody’s got a General Electric or a Boeing or a Caterpillar plan somewhere in their state, and they’re not happy if you take anything away from them, even though they all announced it won’t hurt their business a bit. So that’s what happens, it becomes painful to do the right thing, and when you do the wrong thing it tends to be more rewarding, because no one ever came to my office as a congressman or senator, and said ‘Jim, we really need to cut something’. Never happened; but any time I tried to do it, I would get complaints, if it was on a transportation bill, all the road contractors in South Carolina would call; so that’s what happens, people just get conditioned, and you keep going along. Dan Proft: Concentrated benefits and defused costs. Jim DeMint: Yeah, so you just are not going attack any of these programs, and if you don’t attack anyone else’s, they don’t attack yours, so we have to win this from the outside, and that’s why I’m outside the senate, and less we get Americans charged up, that said this is not working, we need to change it, I think that’s what you see in the presidential race this year. Voters don’t seem to want anything to do with anyone, except those who are just willing to stand up and say ‘We’ve got to change Washington’. Dan Proft: It’s interesting – I mean, you must have done this as an United States Senator, but I go to a lot of these Lincoln Day and Reagan Day dinners around Illinois and elsewhere, and of course everybody remembers Lincoln and Reagan Fondway – well, they should, but what was the lesson of Lincoln and Reagan? The lesson was, speak with moral clarity on the saline issues of your time. Lincoln was willing to take the country to war, was willing to take the country to war; was willing to endure a civil war to eradicate the pernicious institution of slavery, because it was wrong. Reagan used words like Evil Empire, because the Soviet Union was a godless evil in the world, and he was ridiculed for it at the time, and yet the lesson is to invoke their memory, to impersonate Reagan and Lincoln by remembering them, rather than emulating them. Jim DeMint: It’s a really good point, and folks use the Reagan name a lot, but he was willing to stand up when tested, you know, when the air traffic control folks tried to back him into a corner, he stood up, took a big risk, but he didn’t have to do it anymore once people realized he would do it, and that’s what I’ve told so many of my Republican colleagues, particularly since President Obama was elected, I said ‘If we don’t stand up to him, it’s going to be the same thing every year’. He’s going to want more at the end of the year, we’ll act like we want to stand up, he knows we want, he’ll keep pushing, the government will close for a few days, and the Republicans will run off, and we raise the budget, and keep it like we’ve done it, every year he’s been in office. So we need some people with character, with some courage, willing to take the pain of doing the right thing. The next president is going to probably be very unpopular, either because the country crashed around him, or because he makes those difficult decisions that have to be made right now about social security, Medicare, about our tax system, and hopefully we’ll get a president like that, because this country desperately needs it. Dan Proft: I want to go to something you said about when you were in the Senate you weren’t particularly popular, you got chastised by the poobahs and whatnot, Ted Cruz not particularly popular; this has been seen as a bug with the Ted Cruz candidacy, but it seems to me that the people criticizing people who are not popular; I mean if it’s not popular for standing on principle for substantive disagreement, not for behaving like a buffoon, it seems to me that they don’t understand politics, because politics seems to me – may comment on this – is not about being the most popular, I’m not going to Dale Carnegie my way to my agendas; it’s about aligning interests, and I know some very unpopular people. We have the longest serving State House speaker in the history of the country, in Illinois, and he is not popular, but he’s incredibly effective, because he understands that moving an agenda, or stopping an agenda, is about aligning interests, not about personal popularity all the time, and it seems to me a lot of Republicans don’t get that. Jim DeMint: You’re right, I think when you don’t really have your own principle bearings, and you’re trying to find your way through that quagmire, there are a lot of them who just want to get liked. And it becomes very unpopular to try to change the status quo, so it’s easier to get along and get on a committee that has something you like and just work on it, and don’t worry about the fact that you’re straightening the deck chairs on the Titanic. You’ll think ‘We’ll deal with that after the next election’, but I just don’t know how many next elections we’re going to have if we don’t turn things around. I know, sometimes I feel like I’m crying wolf, but I know enough about a balance sheet, about what’s coming in and going out that this country is close to a tipping point, and now is the time to do it. So that’s why I think this year is so important; not just with the president, but with the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court; there’s a lot on the line. Dan Proft: The good news about this year so far is there’s been renewed interest in participating. People want to get active; they want to exercise their frustrations and exasperations, largely in a productive way. They want to be involved, and a lot of people who are not involved in the policy ring and the political ring don’t always know where to go. So what would you say to people who don’t want to run for office, or maybe don’t even want to work on a campaign, but they do want to be part of positive policy changes at the local level, the state level, the federal level; what are some organizations in addition to Heritage Foundation or even individuals, not politicians, because they’re kind of not trustworthy, but other people that are not beholden to every 2 years, 4 years, 6 years, where you say that these are people that have a model, that is pretty sharp, and you get involved there, you’re going to find it rewarding, and they’re helping the collective move the flag. Jim DeMint: Just becoming more knowledgeable, and that’s difficult in itself to get the truth, because they’re not many news sources you can go to that are going to give you a clear picture of what’s going on. We’ve started an online news source called Daily Signal. Dan Proft: Yeah, it’s good. Jim DeMint: dailysignal.com, and it’s more about people than policies, but there are policies connected with lives and how policy fix their life, and a lot of people are not necessary interested in reading a research paper, but these are really quick stories, so I’d encourage folks to do that; there’s another organization that we started called Heritage Action, and there are different kind of organizations, they’re training and organizing people on the ground around the country, and they have what they call their sentinels, who take a little course on how to contact your congressman or senator or state rep, and they call in on conference calls every week, and just become more informed. It doesn’t take a lot of time. Some people spend a lot of time; they might be part of a local Tea Party, or a Republican Party, but some just do it a few minutes a week, by sending a few emails, but they can become part of an army that can affect what Congress does, because if several thousand people do something at the same time it can really rattle the cages of a Senator in Washington. So Heritage Action is one we believe in, and we work with a lot of other groups on the ground; you mentioned Morton Blackwell with his Leadership Institute on campuses are good, and you got freedom works on the ground out there, but Heritage Action is probably the most sophisticated organization that gives people the flexibility to do a little or a lot. Dan Proft: I think people want to get out of this business of competing prognostications and work [inaudible 00:34:04], but they would like to see that. Jim DeMint: We don’t endorse candidates, and you can go to something like Senate Conservative Fund if you want to endorse a Senate candidate, but what we’re trying to do is endorse the idea, just get people informed and engaged in the ideas and make it possible. I know that the name of your show is Against the Current, but Edmund Burke once said that politicians are just corks bobbing in the water, it’s up to us to create the current, and it’s really true, you said it, politics is downstream from the culture, and so the battle is going to be won outside of politics. And if you elect someone and we haven’t won the battle in the outside, then they’re going to go bad on the answer; either they’re going to go bad or get out. We have to make it possible for good people to do the right thing when they’re in office, and that’s what we want to do in the Conservative Movement. Dan Proft: He is Jim DeMint, former United States Senator, now the President of the Heritage Foundation; Jim DeMint, thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it. Jim DeMint: Thank you, Dan!

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Pastor Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz, chatted with Dan & Amy about the campaign in studio this morning and took calls from listeners.

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Dan Proft: Dan Proft and Amy Jacobson, and Amy, you just heard at the top there, Carly Fiorina – big endorsement yesterday for Ted Cruz – she was at a rally with him, saying that it’s time for the party tonight around Cruz; also, Ted Cruz was in North Carolina, part of these Competing Town Halls Fox News Channel did in which he was interviewed by Megyn Kelly, a ruckus crowd, and he had some good news about tonight’s debate. Megyn Kelly: You said the campaign has gone to the gutter. What do you make of it? Ted Cruz: Well, listen, I think everyone is fed up with personal insults, with just ad hominem attacks; listen I have no views whatsoever on any part of Donald Trump’s anatomy. Amy Jacobson: So it’ll be anatomy free? Thursday night GOP debates Dan Proft: I think yes, because I can’t stomach any more discussion on Donald Trump’s anatomy either. We’re pleased now to be joined in studio by the man who taught Ted Cruz everything he knows. He’s Ted Cruz’s dad, Pastor Rafael Cruz. Pastor Cruz, thanks so much for joining us! Rafael Cruz: Dan, great to be with you, and Amy, I don’t if I taught him everything he knows, I don’t believe that. Dan Proft: Right, I guess that the story is that he memorized the Constitution when he was in the womb, right? Rafael Cruz: Well, he memorized the Constitution at 13 years old, but I didn’t have anything to do with that. We introduced him to an organization called the Free Enterprise Institute; first, he was reading all sorts like Adam Smith, and John Locke, and von Mises, and Hayek, and Bastiat, and Milton Friedman. Dan Proft: The kind of reading that every pre-adolescent does. Rafael Cruz: Every fourteen year old does. But then, this group created a group of five kids; they called them the Constitutional Corroborators; Ted was one of those five; they hired a memory expert and got those five kids to memorize the Constitution, and for the next four years, my son Ted gave approximately 80 speeches on free market economics and the Constitution. Amy Jacobson: At the age of thirteen? Rafael Cruz: From thirteen to seventeen. Dan Proft: Amy, he must have had a beat off the girls, because nothing gets girls into them faster than free market economics. Amy Jacobson: It’s hotter and sexy, yeah, I mean, it’s cool. Rafael Cruz: I met some of his high school buddies not too long ago, and they said, ‘You know, Ted was kind of weird; while we talked about football, he talked about Ronald Reagan’. Amy Jacobson: So what do you think of this large growing coalition behind your son? Obviously, Glenn Beck, Carly Fiorina; word is today that Jeb Bush might be supporting your son publicly for the first time. Rafael Cruz: I have not heard that; that’s news to me, but that’s welcomed news; sounds great; I think, what happens is, it quickly becomes a two man race. I think it is obvious now that it’s going to be Trump and Cruz, and the sooner we get to a two man race, the sooner we’re going to get somewhere. I think what happens is people of faith, conservatives, constitutionalists, are realizing that they have to coalesce about the one candidate that can just take America forward, and that candidate, I’m convinced, is my son, Ted Cruz. Dan Proft: You know, it’s interesting, there has been some pushback on Cruz saying ‘Well, he’s too focused on religion; he speaks too much about the Judeo-Christian values upon which this nation was founded, that it limits its appeal’; interesting tweet I just got from Rob Jewar: ‘I’m an atheist and I made over 300 calls yesterday for Ted Cruz; BS he doesn’t reach a range of voters’; and I wonder, since you speak a lot about this matter of Christians getting involved in the political process, how you respond to this idea that Ted Cruz has a limited reach because of his focus on traditional values and Constitutional principles? Rafael Cruz: Well, I think that this tweet that you received speaks volumes about it. Ted is a champion of religious freedom; now the first amendment of the Constitution gives us freedom of religion, and that means you also have the freedom not to believe, or the freedom to believe whatever you want to believe and the government needs to stay away from our spiritual life, actually from our lives, so together; like Ronald Reagan said it, ‘Government is not the solution; Government is the problem’; we don’t need more government, we need less government, and one of the things that my son wants to do in the White House is cut down the size, power and scope of the Federal Government, just restrict it to what the Constitution says; article 1, section 8 of the Constitution only enumerates 18 powers to the Federal Government. Anything that is not in article 1, section 8, the Federal Government has no business being involved in, and all those powers should go to the State. Dan Proft: See, you’re playing possum, you memorized the Constitution too. Rafael Cruz: A little bit. Amy Jacobson: I think he taught you the Constitution. So you said he wants to cut down the size of government. Oh, go back to the Constitution. Did he teach you about the Constitution? Rafael Cruz: Absolutely; I actually got involved in the Constitution from being inspired by him and going to all these speeches where he had memorized the Constitution, and actually prior to that; when Ted was nine I was very involved in the Reagan campaign, and I helped mobilize millions of people of faith to help elect Ronald Reagan, whom I considered the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln, and so when my son was nine, he got a dose of conservative politics from a Christian worldview, everyday for a year, at the dinner table. So that was his indoctrination into conservative politics, and of course, the Free Enterprise Institute - those four years immersed in the Constitution, and free markets, and limited government, and the rule of law – shaped his life. Dan Proft: And you’re getting a dose of indoctrination into Illinois politics; the last day you were in an African-American church in Dalton, in Bensenville yesterday, you’re leaving here and you’re going in Central and Southern Illinois, so you’re doing a lot of campaign stops on behalf of your son, Senator Cruz, and I wonder what you find most enjoyable about traveling the country being a surrogate for your son, and what you find least enjoyable about the process? Rafael Cruz: I think the most enjoyable thing is meeting people; America is such a wealth of different personalities, different people, different ideas, and I’m a people person, just like my son; I enjoy being with people and getting to know people; you know, life is all about relationships, and the more relationships we can have, the more people we get involved with, the more we understand one another. I would say the thing that is the least enjoyable is the grueling timetable. Sometimes we go 26 hours a day. Amy Jacobson: And from here you’re going to Missouri. Rafael Cruz: That’s correct, and then to North Carolina. Amy Jacobson: And sometimes you said you wake up and you don’t know what state you’re in, or what city? Traveling so much… Rafael Cruz: That’s right. Well, it’s a different hotel every night. Dan Proft: Keeps your spine on your toes. Rafael Cruz: Absolutely. Dan Proft: Where do you see the race in a Ted Cruz versus Donald Trump choice? What’s the value proposition of that choice? A vote for Ted Cruz, as compared to Donald Trump, is a vote for what? Rafael Cruz: I would say, first of all, if you look at Trump, you don’t know what you’re getting. You don’t know what you’re getting because nobody knows what he believes; I mean, he changes from day to day, he even says ‘Well, I can change, I change all the time, I can change to anything I want, I can change in a moment’. I think Jimmy Carter put it clear when he said ‘Well you know, if I had to chose between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, I would choose Trump, because Trump is malleable; that means you can mold him into whatever you want’, and he said then, ‘But you know that guy Ted Cruz? He really believes what he says’; so I think that’s the great difference; Ted is a constitutional conservative; with Ted you know exactly what you’re going to get; Ted has done 100% of what he said he was going to do before he got elected, so you can take his word to the bank. I think it boils down to one word, and that word is trust. You can trust Ted to do what he said he’s going to do. Dan Proft: We’re talking to Pastor Rafael Cruz, father of presidential candidate Ted Cruz, could we hold you over for one minute and take some calls? We got some callers I think that want to talk to you as well. Why don’t we do that and we’ll come back and take your calls with Pastor Rafael Cruz. Dan Proft: Dan and Amy, we’re talking to Pastor Rafael Cruz, father of Ted Cruz, and Pastor Cruz, I don’t know how to break it to you, but there’s a lot of people that think you may have a political career ahead of you; text ‘I like Ted Cruz, but I love his dad’; now text from 779, ‘Not a Cruz, supporter, but his dad sounds like a really good guy and with a cool accent; you should narrate Ted’s ads’; maybe a voiceover career, maybe a political career. Rafael Cruz: I’ll tell you, I’m having a lot of fun just traveling around the country, meeting people and making the case why Ted Cruz should be our next president. Amy Jacobson: And it’s – real quick – a great story how Ted met Heidi when they were both working for Bush. Rafael Cruz: Absolutely; Ted was domestic policy advisor for George W., and she was economic policy advisor, and Ted got stung the day she came to work, and he says it took him three days to get up the courage to ask her for a date. Five months later, they were married. Amy Jacobson: That’s great. And six marriages came out of that campaign? Rafael Cruz: Eight marriages came out of that. Dan Proft: The Ted Cruz joke, right? Rafael Cruz: Yeah, he said, ‘I don’t know whatever may say, for us W. will always be a uniter, and not a divider’. Dan Proft: Now, to that point, and because Ted Cruz, he shows humor, he’s kind of a dry sense of humor, which I kind of appreciate, but there’s so much been said about Cruz, that he isn’t liked in DC, and he’s not a likeable person, and all of that. How do you respond to those charges? Rafael Cruz: Well, let me tell you why he isn’t liked by some of the people in the Senate and the House, and it is this; unfortunately, there are too many corrupt politicians in both parties; they want the gravy train to continue, they want to preserve the status quo, and you probably heard my son say that he is running against the Washington Cartel – all these corrupt politicians in both parties; and they don’t want anything to change. You know, we got people in the Senate that have been there for 30 years, and they want to be there another 20; they don’t want to relinquish that power; we need to change; too many politicians think that we work for them, when in reality, they work for us; one of the things that I love about my son, he truly has a servant’s heart. He understands servant leadership; he wants to go to the White House to be a servant of we, the people, a servant of every American; he understands that that’s his role – to work for the American people, not the other way around. Dan Proft: That’s a little bit esoteric, but that’s how I view Trump versus Cruz – philosopher king vs. servant leader – and there’s a big difference; by the way, in terms of ballot appeal, Ted Cruz has the support of Caitlyn Jenner and me; that can’t get bigger tent than that. Let’s go to the lines, let’s go to Shaun, in Elmwood Park; you’re on Chicago’ Morning Answer. Rafael Cruz: Hello, Shaun! Shaun: Mr. Cruz, it’s really a privilege, it’s a privilege to speak to you, and I have to tell you, I’ve been appreciating your son for the fundamental capitalist and the originalist views he has, since he’d been Bush’s handpicked stooge for the Senate seat he now holds. Now it is in that problem that we have, that blind allegiance to a party that has allowed the bastardization of capitalism and the erosion of the citizen’s civil liberty. So with that being said, in the even he is not the nominee, I will not support Trump, under no circumstance, and I am goingto ask you to ask your son to run as an originalist, to run as a third party, because Mr. Cruz, it is through us compromising our fundamentals that has lead this to this path, where senators like Mitch McConnell are worth 40 million, or they collaborate with Harry Reid, or they go and become lobbies after their careers. Dan Proft: Alright, Shaun, thanks for the call and the questions; so the question about Reagan running as a third party if he’s not the nominee. Rafael Cruz: Let me say this, I do not like the idea of a third party, because having a third party is handling the presidency to Hillary Clinton, and Hillary Clinton will destroy this country, and so I think the idea of a third party is really a bad idea, but I’ll tell you what; my son is not running to lose to Donald Trump. If it gets to a two man race, the polls show that Ted would beat Donald Trump by seventeen points. So we’re running to win; we’re not running to see Donald Trump in the White House, but to see Ted Cruz in the White House, and if it gets to be a two man race, Ted Cruz will be the next President of the United States of America. Dan Proft: Alright, Kent from Montgomery, you’re on Chicago’s Morning Answer. Kent: Pastor Cruz, your son has my vote… Rafael Cruz: Thank you, sir! Kent: But if we can see a Cruz cruise ticket as true Chicagoan, you will get two votes from me. Rafael Cruz: Well, I’ll tell you what, in the first place, that’s unconstitutional; you know you cannot have the President and the Vice-President from the same state; that is not constitutional, so… Amy Jacobson: And you know the Constitution. Dan Proft: Relocate to Oklahoma! Rafael Cruz: And actually, I’m having too much fun just supporting him and seeing him rise; I think that he would make a wonderful President, and I know he would abide by the Constitution, and the rule of law, and as I said a minute ago, he will be a servant to every American man, woman and child, and get the heavy boot of the Federal Government from off their necks, so that people can achieve their dreams – by cutting down taxes, cutting down regulations, and just allowing everyone to fulfill their dreams. Amy Jacobson: Don’t you think he would make a great US Supreme Court Justice? Just in the chance that Donald Trump wins, I would hope he would be that or Attorney General. Rafael Cruz: Well, obviously he’s a constitutionalist, like so is Mike Lee, and so is Ron Paul. They are the three strong constitutionalists in the Senate, but I’ll tell you what, my son is running to win. And if people of faith, if people of courage, if conservatives, constitutionalists, people that want to see their dreams fulfilled and see an environment in America where everyone can achieve their dreams and leave their children and grandchildren a better American, the man that can help provide the environment for that to occur is Senator Ted Cruz. Dan Proft: Let’s squeeze another caller, and we Pat in Midlothian. Hey, Pat. Pat: Hey, reverend Cruz, I just want to let you know I’m behind your son; it’s about time we get somebody who has the respect for the Constitution, and I plan on working the phones for him in Homer Glenn this weekend. Rafael Cruz: Well, thank you so very much, I’ll tell you what, we need to all unite. You know the Bible says in Acts 1:14 that those 120 that were in the operating room were together in one accord. We must be in one accord. I want to ask every person in the State of Illinois to coalesce around Senator Ted Cruz. If we unite, we will get America back to what America was destined to be – a land of opportunity for every American, without distinction that everyone will have the opportunity to see their dreams realize. There are so many young people that feel that when they finish college they’re going to have to go home, because they can’t find a job. How about if that changes by getting rid of taxes and regulations, and the interference from the Federal Government; someone leaves college with a half a dozen job offers, and they can receive entrepreneurship, again, create millions upon millions of new jobs by creating small businesses. I’ll tell you, that is the environment that Ted Cruz will provide for every American. Dan Proft: Alright, he is Pastor Rafael Cruz, father of Ted Cruz; Pastor Cruz, thanks so much for joining us today; safe travels as you make your way throughout Illinois, and then to the other states that primary on Tuesday. Rafael Cruz: Thank you, Dan and Amy; great to be with both of you, and God bless you, and God bless America, and God bless the great state of Illinois!

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Fmr AG Ed Meese: Reagans Would be "Totally Shocked" by POTUS '16 Campaign

Ed Meese, who served as US Attorney General in President Reagan's second term, joined Dan & Amy this morning to discuss the impact of First Lady Nancy Reagan. Meese also suggested that The Reagans would be "totally shocked" by the tone and tenor of the 2016 POTUS campaign.

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Dan Proft: Good morning - Dan and Amy; the funeral service for First Lady Nancy Reagan is Friday. President Obama not attending. Amy Jacobson: No, he said he’d be at the South by Southwest film exhibit in Austin, Texas. Dan Proft: Sure, he’s got to have some fun. Amy Jacobson: Yeah, and Michelle Obama will be there; Hillary Clinton will be there; former First Ladies, so that’s good; and possibly Rosalynn Carter. Dan Proft: Well, we are now pleased and honored to be joined by someone who knew both President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan very well; he was Ronald Reagan’s Attorney General for a time in his second term, and actually dates back to serving Reagan administrations when Ronald Reagan was Governor of California. He is former United State’s Attorney General Ed Meese, and he joins us now; Attorney General Meese, thanks so much for joining us. Ed Meese: Glad to be with you! Good morning. Dan Proft: Good morning! Are you making your way to the service for Nancy Reagan on Friday? Ed Meese: I am indeed, and I will be there tomorrow, in Los Angeles. Dan Proft: Tell us how we should remember or consider Nancy Reagan in the annals of American history, maybe in ways that are readily presented by the media. Ed Meese: I think we should be remembering Nancy Reagan as one of the great First Ladies in our country’s history; and the person who gave tremendous support and encouragement to Ronald Reagan and really, in many ways, was very helpful to him, so that he became such a successful president as he has been, such a successful Governor; but I think also we should remember Nancy – because she did a number of things herself, one of which, and perhaps most significant, was her joining Ronald Reagan in the campaign against illegal drugs; and I would say that she was responsible through that campaign for saving hundreds of thousands of lives, particularly the young people, because during the period that his strategies were in effect, from 1982 to 1992, we actually lowered drug abuse in the United States by over 50%. And a part of that was Nancy Reagan’s emphasis on the idea ‘Just say no’, which was the answer she gave to young lady, who when she was campaigning on the drug deal, just said ‘What should I do when people offer me drugs?’, so that’s when Nancy kind of spontaneously said ‘Just say no!’ Amy Jacobson: Yeah, and it was so direct and into the point, I loved it. What made her start this ‘Just say no’ campaign, and why was she involved with trying to convince young people to stay off drugs? Ed Meese: Well, I think it was Ronald Reagan felt this was one of the most important things he was dealing with, domestically; obviously he was working on the economic problems we faced, which were tremendous; we had the Cold War; but also, he recognized the strength of this country was being sapped by so many young people engaging in the illegal use of drugs; that this was a long term problem that he ought to be attacking, and that’s why having Nancy take that portfolio on was a very important part of his presidency. Dan Proft: Both Nancy and President Reagan seemed to have a sense of decorum and propriety, class and grace about them, even if you disagreed with their policy choices; I wonder how you think they would react to the tone and tenor of the presidential campaign that has unfolded before us. Ed Meese: I honestly believe they would be absolutely shocked. What we’ve seen here in what looks like a food fight on some low level college dorm is not something that they would countenance or be involved in; and it’s just totally different from the general climate that they created, which was one of respect and dignity; it wasn’t stuffy, but at the same time there was a certain decorum that just went with the job, went with the office. Amy Jacobson: Does it infuriate you when people like Donald Trump compare themselves to Ronald Reagan? ‘I was a democrat too; Ronald Reagan was’, and now I’m a Republican. Ed Meese: Well, Ronald Reagan changed from Democrat to Republican very early in his career, and when he was a Democrat, he was a far different democrat than what the democrats stand for today. It was pointed that John F. Kennedy couldn’t be elected today as a Democrat, with the policies that are being promulgated by the candidates that are in that party today. Dan Proft: Yeah, I don’t see Donald Trump ever giving a time for choosing type of speech for some reason; but Attorney General Meese, in terms of Reagan’s power as a communicator, because now as we’re reflecting on Nancy, you can’t help but reflect on Reagan and the 7 fat years that’s ‘Making America great again really’, during the 1980’ as president Reagan did confronting the Evil Empire and the like, and it seems to me what Reagan’s genius was in communicating was speaking with moral clarity on the saline issues of the day, and perhaps republicans have lost their way on emulating Ronald Reagan rather than just recalling him, and this has given way to the rise of a Donald Trump. Ed Meese: I think that that’s correct. I think, for one thing,Republicans have not been clear on what their objectives are and what they’re trying to do; instead there have been many situations, particularly in Congress, in both Houses, where over the past 7 years they’ve almost given up prematurely to what Obama wanted to do, and they’ve not carried through on their promises. Amy Jacobson: Now we know she was utterly devoted to her husband. I mean, it was just a beautiful true real romance that we got to be a part of. They having to be the President and the First Lady, but how did she shape Ronald Reagan politically; is it true that she talked him into dealing with Gorbachev? Ed Meese: I think it was the other way around. I think she followed his lead, and it was his lead – with Gorbachev, for example – he had talked with Margaret Thatcher and they both agreed that this was a person that they both thought they could do business with, and it turned out to be correct. Ronald Reagan had this respect for other people; even when they were opponents on policy, or on legislation, or in this case in international affairs; and it was this respect that he had that naturally then provided a basis on which to deal, and on which to try to reach some sort of consensus, and so that was he was able to work with Gorbachev, for example, to remove a whole class of nuclear weapons from Europe, because there was the feeling, on the part of Gorbachev, that Ronald Reagan would keep his word and he was dealing honestly with him. Dan Proft: We’re talking to former United States Attorney General Ed Meese, and Attorney General Meese, you’re a legal scholar in your own right, I know you’re on the board of directors on the Federal Society - it’s a great organization for young originalist lawyers; we’re mourning the passing of Nancy Reagan shortly after we’ve mourned the passing of Antonin Scalia; a report out yesterday that don – excuse me, jumping the gun - President Obama is meeting with prospective supreme court nominees, and I wonder, as you reflect back over the last 30 years, since you served as Attorney General, if you think that this country is getting away – on both sides of the aisle – getting away from the rule of law and succumbing to the rule of men, and if you see that as a real danger on the horizon. Ed Meese: I think this is a real danger, and I think it is important that we go back to the constitution; that we’ve had nominees for the Supreme Court who when they were undergoing hearings before the Senate promised that they would follow the Constitution, and yet, when they got into the Supreme Court Chambers themselves had been voting on cases exactly the opposite, in terms of following the Constitution; and I think we need to go back to the Declaration of Independence, with its promise of freedom, consent of the govern, those kinds of concepts, as well as the Constitution itself; if we’re going to have the kind of country that the founders gave us, and which it’s our job and each generation to preserve. Amy Jacobson: Is there anyone in particular that you’d like to see next as a Supreme Court Justice? Ed Meese: Well, I think there are a number of them, but I’d better not mention anybody; I’m sure that would jinx it. Dan Proft: Alright. He is former United State’s Attorney General Ed Meese, also involved in the Federal Society; also involved in the Constitution Project at the Heritage Foundation; Attorney General Meese, real pleasure; it’s a real honor to speak with you. Thanks so much for your time. Ed Meese: Thank you, good to have been with you.

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