I know there will be a great many conservative Republicans who will find this shocking, but their "beloved" governor, Bruce Rauner, hates the honorable President of the United States, one Donald J. Trump. It's the dirty little secret of the 2018 Illinois gubernatorial campaign.
So how did this old Democratic liberal manage to discover such a well kept secret? Actually, it's been hiding in plain sight all along. All you had to do to discover this salient fact is listen to Governor Rauner's anti-Pritzker campaign commercials. You know the ones. They take great delight in pointing out that J.B. Pritzker saved a fortune in property taxes through the clever maneuver of removing the toilets from his palatial mansion.
Now even I have to admit that this was a pretty damned outrageous thing for good old J.B. to do. But, after all, it worked. And in the world of tax appeals, success is the only true measure of the appropriateness of such shenanigans. How can a liberal say such a thing? Easy! I'm just using the Trump argument. It's been the Donald's position as long as I can remember and always has been. When Donald Trump declared bankruptcy to avoid paying a boatload in taxes or when he stiffed any number of tradesmen and refused to pay them for the work they did for him, what was Donald Trump's answer? It was just smart business. So if Bruce Rauner paints J.B. Pritzker as some kind of voracious tax cheat, he has to paint Donald Trump with the same brush. And when you get right down to it, you COULD say Governor Rauner tars himself with the same brush because he used the same kind of slick tax appeal maneuver to get himself a nice property tax break.
Now you may ask yourself how a self-confessed, left-leaning, old-fashioned liberal comes to the defense of incredibly wealthy men taking advantage of an unfair tax system. And you'd be right! But the fact is that I'm not really defending these tax rip-offs. What all this tax skullduggery represents to me is yet another example of class warfare. Now most of the time, the charge of waging class warfare comes from wealthy political donors against politicians arguing that the idle rich should actually pay their fair share of taxes. And when you get right down to it, I guess it is. The important thing to remember, however, is that this kind of class warfare almost always fails. True tax reform ideas hardly ever succeed!
Donald Trump is famous for saying the system is rigged. And he's right. It IS rigged! It's rigged in HIS favor and in favor of all wealthy people, regardless of their political ideology or political party. Let's be honest about it, no matter how rich most people get and no matter how easily they could manage to afford to pay more in taxes to help out those less fortunate than themselves, most rich people don't want to do it. They want to hang on to every last dollar their greedy little hands can get hold of, no matter who it may hurt.
Yes, J.B. Pritzker jobbed the system to weasel out of paying a few more measly dollars in property tax. And that's bad! But when Bruce Rauner points this out as being some kind of horrific tax rip off, he may be telling the truth, but he's also acting like one gigantic hypocrite. The question before the house is this, when does a smart business practice cross over to become a tax rip-off? When it is used by a wealthy Democrat? If Bruce Rauner is so upset about the unfairness of the property tax system in Illinois and if he wants to put a stop to such outrageous exploitation of tax loopholes, why doesn't he propose to close every last one of them? And not just for good old J.B. Pritzker but for Bruce Rauner and Donald Trump as well!
Filed under: Politics