Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

The Tea Drinker's Alternative

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mike Labno may be the Libertarian nominee for the U.S. Senate, but he’s not a libertarian.

    Real libertarians don’t think the government should spend money on anything but roads, police and the army. But Labno, a 39-year-old construction manager from Oak Brook, was unemployed for 16 months during the recession, so he’s unwilling to pull the safety net out from other people who were “screwed” by government decisions.

    Labno also opposes abortion and repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, two other positions that put him out of tune with classic libertarianism. He’s a right-wing populist, which actually makes him a better candidate than a doctrinaire member of his party.

    Hoping to latch on to the Tea Party Movement’s momentum, Labno and seven or eight supporters stood in the parking lot of this month’s RightNation 2010 event, handing out fliers pointing out that he “was the only true fiscal conservative in the Senate race, and I was the only person out there who was pro-life, pro-Second Amendment.”

    Tea Party followers are not enamored of Mark Kirk. As a result, Labno’s campaign has been adopted by Alexi Giannoulias, who hopes the Libertarian can steal conservative votes from his rival.

    “The Republican Party is a shambles right now,” Labno said. “Look at what happened in Delaware. One of their hotshots was told to go home. If people vote for me as opposed to Mark Kirk or Giannoulias, then obviously those candidates are flawed. You see the other races in Illinois, and the top two guys have consumed most of the poll numbers. That’s not true with this Senate race. There is something wrong with these candidates.”

    Labno, like Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones, wants an invitation to join the Meet the Press debate between those flawed candidates on Oct. 10. He won’t get one, so here’s where he stands:

     -- Wants to extend the Bush tax cuts for Americans earning over $250,000 a year. In fact, he wants to cut taxes “in half across the board” and repeal the 16th Amendment, which authorized a federal income tax.

     -- On the DREAM Act, “I don’t want to outright say I support Arizona law, but so long as we’re not breaking the 4th amendment when we are looking for people, then I’m OK with a law.” Thinks we could solve immigration by cutting social programs: “If you chain the government down so it can’t pass money out at will, for education or health care or whatever it is, then people will only have one option: that is to come to this country and to work for whatever you want to have.”

     -- Favors overturning the recent health care overhaul.

     -- Opposed the bank bailout and the stimulus package, and wants to end farm and corporate subsidies.

    But Labno’s disdain for government programs doesn’t extend to programs for the poor and jobless. Being out of work and being a father puts him more in touch with the average, struggling Illinoisans than the “silver spoon candidates” of the major parties, he says. But it also puts him out of touch with the Libertarians.

    “As far as food stamp, welfare-type programs, you cannot stop those programs right now,” he said. “You can’t pull the rug out from under people’s feet. The government made the mess, and they put people in a position.”

    Labno claims he’s not in favor of unemployment insurance, but “since I had to pay for it, since people are forced to pay for insurance, then they’d better be able to collect it.”

    But he also says the frugality he was forced to exercise during the recession made him realize the government can’t spend its way out of an economic hole.

    “You go through 16 months of unemployment, you start to learn real fast, thank God you saved some money,“ he said. “When I was unemployed, that was my own personal recession. I wasn’t going to use the credit cards to put myself in more debt. You cannot spend yourself out of a recession. You have to look at the future. I’m a father. Another thing my two silver spoon opponents know nothing about is posterity. Neither one of these guys have children. What do they know about actually looking into the future?”