Thursday, September 03, 2009

A tale of two Illinois Gubernatorial Candidates on taxes: Two Dans, Dan Hynes and Dan Proft

Proft and Hynes: An issue contrast

Here is a contrast I bet no MSM member noticed. Not Carol Marin [Host, WTTW], not Bruce Dold[Tribune], not Laura Washington[Sun-Times] and not Mick Dumke[Reader]. Each of whom appeared last night on "Chicago Tonight," to discuss the Guv Primaries, the U. S. Senate Primaries and the goings on at the Cook County Board. [The program repeats around 5:20 am this morning on ch. 11 in the Chicago Metro area].

Dan Hynes came out of the blocks yesterday, officially, and announced a run for Governor in the Democratic Primary, kicked off with a whopper of an income tax increase. 5.5 billion dollars [about 40% more than his Democratic rival, Gov. Pat Quinn], all from the Illinois individual income tax, and all, said Comptroller Hynes, from those earning more than 200K per year. The increase for those individuals would range from 0.5% to a maximum of 4.5%, meaning those individuals or families at the top income range, over one million dollars, would pay a marginal rate of 7.5 %.

Telling a quite different tale was Republican Primary Gubernatorial candidate Dan Proft, Carol Marin’s would be pin cushion [over the issue of his PR firm’s Cicero compensation]. Proft announced a few weeks ago on “Public Affairs,” he would cut the individual and corporate income tax in Illinois by 50% across the board, meaning the individual rate would fall from 3% to 1.5% and the corporate rate would fall from 4.8% to 2.4%, for all individuals and corporations, irrespective of income.

Proft argued this is necessary [Watch here] to reverse the message that Illinois has been sending that drives businesses and individuals out of Illinois. Proft said on “Public Affairs,” “The only way Illinois is viable short term or long term is to send a signal that we want businesses here because right now the signal that we are sending to the entire globe across the planet is ‘Don’t come to Illinois.’ ”

Questions for Dan Hynes

One question that the WTTW panel might have wanted to ask of Hynes is what kind of message does his tax increase send to small businessmen and businesswomen, many of whom pay individual, not corporate income taxes, and whose contraction would result in lost jobs for other men and women in Illinois. But nobody on the Chicago Tonight panel raised that issue.

Another question to ask Comptroller Hynes would be-- does his estimated increase in tax revenue of 5.5 billion dollars neglect to take into account that at least some individuals with incomes greater than 200K will move to states that do not have such high or “progressive,” income taxes for individuals like them. Because if he didn’t take that outmigration into account, Hynes’ tax revenue estimates are on the high side. This is what Art Laffer might call a “supply side,” or “incentive,” effect. I would have expected Bruce Dold to know this and most likely he does. But, his willingness to remain silent on the issue might explain why he gets invited to Carol Marin’s WTTW parties and this journalist can only watch them.

A question for Dan Proft

Finally, somebody might ask Dan Proft how he would “make payroll,” as they say, in the short-run, for the State. That is, Proft might argue that his tax cuts would ultimately expand the number of people and businesses in Illinois, raising tax revenue. But, that might take some time. What to do in the short-run? Charles Thomas, Political Editor at ABC-7 News, asked that very question to Proft this past Sunday night. Proft’s answer was that (1) he would sell or lease the lottery, a business he doesn’t think the State should be in anyway, for ten to twelve billion dollars (2) Illinois should seek a waiver to use Fed stimulus funds to cover some of these budgetary costs in the short-run]. This should enable the State to get by, as it “fixes,” its revenue system.

Proft gave that answer to Thomas on WVON’s 1690 AM Radio program, “Voice of the people with State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford.” Rep. Ford had invited this journalist to co-host the program and this journalist invited Proft, Thomas and Democratic Cook County Board President candidate Terry O’Brien to join the show as guests.

Proft and O'Brien: Similarities?

There was an interesting convergence of sorts as Republican Proft argued for lower state income tax rates and Democrat O’Brien argued for lower Cook County sales tax rates. And, Thomas and Berkowitz practiced the art of journalism by asking challenging questions. And, Rep. Ford no doubt took some pride in the intellectual diversity his show was bringing to his listeners. You have to wonder if anybody at WTTW was listening.

Eye on Dan Hynes

Oh yeah, it’s possible, but unlikely, some of the above was covered at yesterday's Hynes presser. This journalist is still trying to get on the Hynes media list, so he can get notice of pressers, ask Comptroller and Democratic Primary Guv candidate Dan Hynes these questions directly and know, for sure, what was asked of Hynes. Maybe next week.