By DOUG IBENDAHL • September 29, 2013
You probably think that could be a headline from The Onion – and you would be right. But only an Onion-like headline can begin to capture the ludicrousness of Tom Cross wanting to be State Treasurer after the record he clocked as State Representative and House Minority Leader.
Cross claims he’s a “fiscal conservative.”
Well at least the guy has a sense of humor. Maybe Mr. Cross should apply at The Onion.
However the damage done to our GOP under Cross’ “leadership” is no laughing matter. Cross is also no “fiscal conservative.” His actual record proves he’s all about tax-and-spend.
In 2003 for example he was one of a minority of Republicans to vote to raise 300 taxes and fees! This was part of the massive spending binge sought by the Democrats and newly elected Rod Blagojevich. Some of those massive new fees nearly put the trucking business out of business in Illinois. The business climate here has yet to fully recover.
And again in 2009, Cross voted to increase sales taxes and more fees. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
You can review a comprehensive summary of Cross’ voting record HERE.
As you’ll see, Cross not only has a long documented record of tax-and-spend, he’s also indisputably pro-abortion, pro-embryonic stem cell research, pro-illegal immigration, pro-massive casino expansion, pro-video gambling, pro-“medical” marijuana, and pro-ComEd and Ameren when they want to increase your electric rates. On the issue of same-sex marriage, Cross doesn’t have the guts to take a position for either side.
Cross has also remained in bed with the teachers unions. Over the years he’s raked-in hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign cash from these vicious opponents of education reform. Maybe Cross didn’t collect as much plunder as some liberal Democrats, but it clearly wasn’t for lack of trying.
Cross’ personal voting record is bad enough, but there’s also his embarrassing performance as “leader” of the House Republican caucus. Under Cross the House Republicans kept losing seats until at his departure the Democrats now hold a veto-proof majority in the House – something many would have deemed unthinkable just a few years ago. There are currently 71 Democrats in the House and only 47 Republicans.
Cross is also leaving the House Republican Organization (the political arm of the GOP House caucus) nearly broke – as Cross has selfishly focused on his own race at the expense of the House organization.
By any objective measure, Cross is leaving his old organization in much worse shape than he found it. But now he wants statewide office? Republicans used to be about accountability and promotion based on merit.
Cross may point to the lip service he paid to opposing the state income tax increase in 2011 or his jumping on the bandwagon for pension reform. It’s true Cross sometimes does a good job telling gullible wealthy donors what they want to hear. But everyone knows Cross wanted the money from the income tax increase. He was glad when the Democrats did the dirty work, hoping then to make political hay out of the issue. As the embarrassing GOP losses in 2012 illustrated, the “trying to have it both ways strategy” didn’t work.
Earlier this year Cross did vote “yes” on a serious pension reform bill: SB1. However, over half of his GOP caucus voted against it and there was no evidence Cross cared in the slightest. SB1 still passed the House by a narrow 62 to 51 vote, owing mostly to Mike Madigan’s whipping on the bill (it then failed by a large margin in the Senate). Cross leaves the House with pensions and the budget still a total mess.
But perhaps the biggest black mark on Cross’ tenure was the disgraceful failure of truly historic school choice legislation in 2010. SB2494 was led by State Senator James Meeks, a Chicago Democrat. But the bill had unusual bi-partisan support – as it should have, given that school choice (vouchers) is supposed to be a rock solid GOP Platform plank. No surprise, the bill was strongly opposed by Illinois’ teachers unions – and even many on the Republican side put those unions ahead of the children trapped in failing schools. The measure had already cleared the Senate, but received only 48 votes out of the 60 required for passage in the House. At the time there were 48 Republicans in the House and 22 shamefully voted against the excellent reform. But for those Republican sell-outs, that historic school choice program would be law today. Cross personally voted “yes” to cover his behind, but he did nothing to reign in the sell-outs in his caucus. Cross didn’t even speak on the chamber floor in favor of the bill before the vote. Then after the vote, Cross did nothing to call-out his caucus members who betrayed the GOP Platform and desperate families. All of this surely made Cross’ teachers union handlers very happy.
Cross has almost nothing to show for his many years in the House – unless one counts his dishonest stonewalling of SB35/SB600. Often it seemed Cross was obsessed with little beyond ensuring that rank-and-file Republicans would continue to be denied the right to vote in their own state party (also see here).
In other words, when Cross wasn’t losing seats, gorging on teachers union contributions, or helping the Democrats advance their agenda – he was working against Republican voters.
It’s no wonder he’s known across the state as Tom Double Cross.
The very idea of promoting someone with such an abysmal record and constant Democrat duplicity in his old job is an insult to all Republicans.
The good news is that Cross’ decision to run statewide means that for the first time in history, every Illinois Republican will have the opportunity to vote against the guy. Since Cross hates the idea of Republicans voting so much, we can all make that a reality for him.
Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.