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Why Illinois Republicans Owe Pat Quinn's Budget Director a Drink

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Why Illinois Republicans Owe Pat Quinn's Budget Director a Drink
Why Illinois Republicans Owe Pat Quinn's Budget Director a Drink

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Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D-IL) addresses voters during a campaign stop at a downtown hotel on February 1, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.

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Illinois Republicans are already jumping all over a potential income tax increase that Governor Pat Quinn's budget director, David Vaught, leaked Wednesday.

Bill Brady is holding a press conference at 3 p.m., specifically to address Vaught’s statement, and Senate candidate Mark Kirk issued a statement linking Alexi Giannoulias to the idea.

Vaught, who told Bloomberg News that Illinois plans to raise its income tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent next January is obviously not being paid for his political skills.

The tax increase that he discussed is even bigger than the increase Quinn proposed this year. And it’s a really, really dumb thing to say three months before an election.

“Obviously, we have a difference of opinion with Gov. Quinn and his call for a 67 percent tax increase,” said Brady’s spokeswoman, Patty Schuh.

Kirk also released a statement, attempting to link Quinn with Alexi Giannoulias, who has also called for a state income tax increase

“With unemployment in Illinois above the national average, we should not make Illinois even less competitive by raising the state income tax,” Kirk said. “Alexi Giannoulias’ plan to increase state and federal income taxes would put our economic recovery at risk. I oppose tax increases in Washington and I urge state lawmakers to oppose the Quinn-Giannoulias tax increase in Springfield.”

Giannoulias's camp fired back, saying the state's income tax isn't decided in the federal government.

"Given Congressman Kirk's well-known aversion to facts and details, it's not surprising he seems to think he's running for Governor today.," Giannoulias campaign spokesman Matt McGrath said. "Of course, this is a man who recently voted against the largest middle class tax cut in history, but supported and continues to defend the irresponsible Bush tax cuts for the wealthy that generated the largest deficits in U.S. history and contributed nearly $1 trillion to the national debt.  With that record, I'd probably consider running for a different office, too."

Back at the state level, Vaught estimated the tax hike will raise $6 billion for Illinois, almost half of the state’s budget gap. But didn’t the Democratic Party learn anything from Walter Mondale, who promised to raise taxes in his acceptance speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention -- and went on to win one state? Quinn is already losing 44-37, according to the latest Rasmussen poll. That gap may get even bigger after voters sit down and figure out how much more they’ll have to pay in taxes if Quinn’s increase goes through.

As we’ve pointed out before, raising the state income tax is politically impossible, because Illinois' flat tax ensures that everyone will get hit. If Quinn and Vaught proposed a progressive tax, they’d win a lot more respect for their political acumen. As it is, Vaught's loose lips may have just sunk Quinn's ship.

Related Topics Pat Quinn, Bill Brady, Say What?
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