Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Belleville News-Democrat | 03/27/2006 | Blagojevich starts spinning

Belleville News-Democrat | 03/27/2006 | Blagojevich starts spinning

Gov. Rod Blagojevich's strategy for getting re-elected is pretty simple: Support emotional, feel-good programs and laws, then dare Republican challenger Judy Baar Topinka to oppose them.

It's a strategy that could prove costly to the people of Illinois, in dollars and in damaging policies.

One Tuesday, even before Topinka won the GOP primary, Blagojevich began his attacks. He touted All Kids, a universal health insurance program for children that lawmakers rushed to approve in the fall with virtually no discussion. "I don't know what she's thinking when she says no to health care for kids," Blagojevich said.

Maybe that Illinois can't afford its existing Medicaid and other health care programs, much less $45 million a year -- for starters -- for a new entitlement.

Then Blagojevich proposed raising the minimum wage $1 an hour, from $6.50 to $7.50 an hour. He challenged Topinka to support the increase.

Why not a $2 an hour increase, governor? How about $10 more an hour?

Businesses, not the state, should decide what to pay their workers. Raising the minimum wage -- already higher than the federal minimum -- would increase the costs of doing business in Illinois, which already has a reputation as unfriendly to business.

Wages are an important part of a company's business equation. Businesses likely would either have to raise their prices to cover the costs or cut the number of employees. Neither would help the people of Illinois.

Next Blagojevich renewed his call for a ban on assault rifles, and said Topinka's opposition was a "shocking and shameful capitulation" to the National Rifle Association and the Illinois State Rifle Association. Never mind that his proposal doesn't stand a chance of passage -- nor is there any evidence it would decrease the crime rate if approved. The federal assault weapon ban expired in 2004, and that hasn't resulted in any increase in crime.

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