As cities across the country grapple with tough budget decisions thanks to the economic crisis caused by Wall Street, progressives continue to demand a balanced approach that does not rely solely on cuts.
But Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is disregarding any sense of balance in grappling with the city’s $300 million budget deficit. “No new taxes, fines and fees,” he told the Chicago Tribune recently.
His comment shocked some budget analysts. “Absent some reform of the benefits that are paid out, a tax increase is just simple math — it has to occur,” said Shawn O’Leary, who is a senior research analyst in Chicago at Nuveen Asset Management. “You can’t cut your way to that kind of balance.”
If Rahm rules out tax increases, it’s likely that the only savings to be found would be through harsh cuts to the city budget, and perhaps rollbacks in pensions for public workers. That’s the cost of taking the Grover Norquist approach to budgeting, and it’s one that Chicago residents should demand that Emanuel back down from.