Probably not permanently, but the economic policy excerpts from Rahm Emanuel’s stump speech last Saturday could lead one to believe that:
. . . we cannot ask taxpayers for more when families are struggling to stay afloat in this economy. We cannot price Chicagoans out of their homes, their schools and communities. This is no time to even talk about raising taxes. Our first responsibility is to make the tough choices that have been avoided too long because of politics and inertia.
Whether or not the call for austerity measures will survive the primaries remains to be seen, but the text itself is a definite acknowledgment of a political reality: Not even the largest municipal governments can rely on being too big to fail anymore; if major cities like Chicago continue along a track of gratuitous taxation and burdensome regulation, business will move elsewhere.
Not only has Daley’s Empire raised its sales tax well above its primary competitors, Los Angeles and New York, but it has also accrued pension liabilities which are three times larger than the fund designated to pay for them.
The state legislature in Illinois did not experience as significant a change as those of its neighbors, but the state (and, implicitly, Chicago) now must bid to stay competitive among a sea of elected officials pledging less governmental interference.
It could be argued that the tax cuts that the former-White House Chief of Staff has called for, such as the elimination of the employment-head tax, do not go far enough; his speech does not address pressing social issues such as family breakdown, though a socially conservative agenda in this area is also a fiscally responsible one. It may also be that, whoever the next mayor of Chicago is, he or she will only adopt budgetary measures which are conservatively radical when the city needs measure which are radically conservative. Still, Americans can rest assured that voices across the spectrum are beginning to recognize that only a more fiscally disciplined agenda which decreases spending and encourages economic growth can solve our budgetary crises. We’re all capitalists—for now.
James Banks is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm