Thursday, October 28, 2004

Updated October 28 at 12:30 am, revised significantly at 1:00 pm
Bean- the Great Equivocator, snatches Defeat from the Jaws of Victory? Crane is AWOL? Can he run and hide? Wouldn't you think that with all the money Crane and Bean are spending that they could get some good advice? You would think that, but you would be wrong. Okay, I will help them both out. Free advice, which perhaps they should value at cost.

What do Bromberg and Bean have in common? Yes, they are both Ds but you will have to do better than that?
Phil Crane [R] is AWOL in the 8th Cong. Dist. race and his Opponent, Melissa Bean [D], at least is “showing up,” but then she ducks and dodges on the Bush Tax Cuts.
Cong. Phil Crane (R- Wauconda; 8th Cong. Dist.) came on Public Affairs in June 2003. However, he declined to come on “Public Affairs,” for the last four months. Additionally, it was reported that Crane has declined, recently, to appear on WBBM’s “At Issue,” and WTTW’s Chicago Tonight. Moreover, he seems to have ducked and dodged similar programs as well as virtually all opportunities to make joint television or radio appearances with his opponent, Melissa Bean [D- Barrington].

I have criticized, on the air, Crane’s avoidance of such appearances and I have been complimentary of Bean’s willingness to do such appearances and to subject herself to tough questions from other journalists and me. Further, in light of the above, as a show host, one doesn’t want to penalize the candidate [Melissa Bean, in this instance] who is willing to appear on the show by being too tough on her and thus rewarding the candidate who ran for cover.

On the other hand, you can’t do what Ponce did last night [see, below], that is, simply give Bean a pass on the issue of how she would have voted on the Bush 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. About ten days ago, on Craig Dellimore’s At Issue, Bean said she probably would not have voted for the Bush Tax Cuts because she preferred other options. That, of course, makes no sense. We can't have 535 U.S. Representatives and Senators telling us they each support their own tax cut plan and therefore they are tax cutters, even though they would not have voted for the primary tax bill that was up for a vote.

Bean also said her answer was a “Probably,” as opposed to a less equivocal answer because she was not in Congress at the time and she “did not have all the specifics.” On my show, she said, in August 2004, that she didn’t know how she would have voted because she “wasn’t there,” and she “didn’t have the facts in front of her.” [See, below]. Of course, it is not just Bean who likes to use such dodges.

Democrat Michele Bromberg [running in the 17th Dist. for state representative against incumbent Republican Beth Coulson largely on the platform that Michele is a D and Beth is an R] was fond of saying on my show that she did not know how she would vote on such well known and controversial bills as the Affordable Housing Act "cuz she was not there." Which handlers are telling candidates that it helps them to argue they couldn't possibly know how they would have voted on significant and widely discussed legislation "cuz they were not there." Whoever is paying for such handlers should probably ask for their money back. I would.

Put aside the issue of whether the above statements of Bean imply she is likely to support repeal of the Bush tax cuts. And, I do not know whether she made any explicit statements indicating same. However, what is clear is that Bean is equivocating on the tax issue. Bean is ducking and dodging by saying, as she has said, “I can’t answer that question,” because (1) it is rhetorical, which it clearly is not, (2) it is hypothetical—to which we would say, so what? As Dellimore said to her, that would be true as to most, if not all, questions put to her or any other non-incumbent, (3) Bean was not in Congress then, so she can’t be expected to give an answer—oh, please and (4), Bean does not “have all the facts in front of her.” Oh, please.

I don’t endorse candidates, but I do give gratuitous advice to Rs and Ds. And, I would argue that giving answers like the above seems calculated to help Bean snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. She is almost inviting Crane to run an ad, if he has not already, labeling Bean as the "great equivocator." Of course, Bean could steal a page from Maria Pappas' U. S. Senate primary campaign and run an ad showing Crane as an empty suit running away from a debate opportunity.

On the other hand, the Crane campaign seems so inept and scared to put Crane “out there” that it may not matter what Bean says on taxes, or on anything else.

And, can you imagine, the above notwithstanding, that the Bean-Crane race is the only competitive congressional race in Illinois, and perhaps the closest high-level race in the state of Illinois, vying for that title with the race for an Illinois Supreme Court seat [Justice Maag (D) and Judge Karmeier (R)]. In addition to the above two referenced races, there are maybe fifteen competitive state legislative races out of almost 140 such races.

Look what gerrymandering has brought us-- a sad day for democracy. Of course, we still have a relatively large proportion of competitive U. S. Senate races-- because no one has yet figured out how to gerrymander a state. But, in Illinois, gerrymandering the state was not necessary for the U. S. Senate race to become lopsided. The Republicans figured out how to lose that race, by a big margin, all on their own- with an assist, though, from that so-called Republican Paper, the Chicago Trib-Daley Combine-- who decided that "Combining" Decency, Good Public Policy and the American Way required there be full disclosure of any candidate’s predilections for sex clubs, even if it meant that the Trib would become a "Player," by spending big bucks to pry open sealed child custody records, an act, oddly enough, it doesn't seem to have much of a stomach for elsewhere. You have to wonder why the Trib-Daley Combine was so hot to pry open Jack's records, but nobody else's, don't you? Stay tuned.
Phil Ponce: In one of the ads that your opponent is running, he says that you plan to raise taxes to the tune of one trillion dollars. Those are a lot of taxes. Is that what you plan to do?

Melissa Bean: I have never said that. Phil Crane knows better. He is confirming our charge that he has lost touch and that he really has no significant legislative accomplishments to run on and so he is throwing out baseless, unfounded attacks instead of talking about his record and one would think after thirty five years he would have more to talk about.

Ponce: Well…what is your position on taxes? Which ones do you support? Which ones are you against? Generally speaking.

Bean: Well, as the Tribune said, who endorsed me…the Tribune, who is particularly conservative on taxes, has said that I have a very sound fiscal policy and I am very proud of that.
Bean: …And, I do want to go back and answer your question on taxes. I want to make clear that I do support tax cuts. I always have and I have been consistent in that but where I have been critical is that our tax code is so weighted to the large lobbying interests that families of the small business community are carrying their unfair share of the tax burden and so I would like to see more credits targeted to the small business community. For instance, the 2003 [tax] cuts only included 3% targeted to that community while roughly 75% of the job growth has come from there.
Melissa Bean, Interviewed on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, October 27, 2004
Craig Dellimore: Now, would you have supported or would you have voted for the Bush tax cuts, as they were, had you been in Congress?

Melissa Bean: Well, it’s a rhetorical question and there were multiple bills proposed. At the time, I probably wouldn’t have because there were other proposals that would have provided more stimulus to the small and medium size business community. But I have not said I would focus on repealing those cuts that are in place, which my opponent is trying to create as an attack. And, I don’t know where he has gotten that from.

Dellimore: But, but, you would not have voted for the package that eventually became the law.

Bean: I wasn’t in Congress. I don’t have all the specifics of it but from what I know of it-- probably no.
Melissa Bean, WBBM- AM 780 Radio’s AT ISSUE with host Craig Dellimore, aired on October 17, 2004
Jeff Berkowitz: Phil Crane has been known as a big tax cutter, right? He has supported unequivocally—

Melissa Bean: No, he claims to be a big tax cutter.

Berkowitz: He has supported unequivocally President Bush’s program to cut taxes in 2001 and again in 2003. That’s correct, right?

Bean: Correct.

Berkowitz: Now, a good portion of that was tax cuts across the board on marginal rates of taxation, right?

Bean: Um-um.

Berkowitz: Now, how would you have voted on that? Would you have voted for either of those packages [Bush 2001 or 2003 tax cuts]? If you had been the …Congressman from the 8th Cong. Dist. …if you had been that person… [Congressman] in 2001 and 2003, would you have voted yes or no on those tax cut proposals?

Bean: I liked a lot of the tax cut proposals.

Berkowitz: But, you have to vote yes or no.

Bean: My challenges with Crane have not been on the tax cuts but on just the tax code in general because on your point about accountability, he tends to provide in the tax code always relief for those largest lobbying interests.

Berkowitz: All right, we will have to find out [about that]. But, back to taxes, if you had to vote in 2001 or 2003 for the Bush Tax [Cut] program, would it have been a yes or no?

Bean: Well, there were a couple of different options…

Berkowitz: Don’t you, at the end of the Day, when you are a congressman- you have to vote yes or no on what is being proposed, right?

Bean: Hm, um.

Berkowitz: The [tax cut] legislation that passed came before the congress. If you were there, would you have supported it, would you have voted yes or no on that vote?

Bean: I’d have to go back and look at it. I wasn’t there. It is a rhetorical question.

Berkowitz: So, you are not going to answer it.

Bean: I don’t have the facts in front of me, no.
8th Cong. Dist. Candidate Melissa Bean [D-Barrington] recorded on August 14, 2004, and as is airing this week on “Public Affairs,” in the suburbs and as will be airing throughout the City of Chicago on "Public Affairs," on Monday, Nov. 1 at 8:30 pm on Ch. 21 [CANTV].
Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of “Public Affairs,” can be reached at