One moment like that came Wednesday in Rich Miller's Capitol Fax.com weblog on Illinois state politics and government. It came in a twice-updated item on the lowering of Illinois' bond rating and subsequent partisan political rhetoric by the governor of an adjoining state. Under the headline "*** UPDATED x2 - Scott Walker piles on *** S&P lowers Illinois rating a notch - Quinn wants leaders meeting in early September" (in its final updated version), it reported:
... Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services lowered its rating on Illinois’ general obligation (GO) bonds to ‘A’ from ‘A+’. At the same time, Standard & Poor’s assigned its ‘A’ rating to the state’s $50 million GO bonds of September 2012. The outlook is negative.Got that? Clear enough, especially if you've been following the Illinois Legislature this year. But the moment of real clarity came during an exchange in the comments section.
“The downgrade reflects the state’s weak pension funding levels and lack of action on reform measures intended to improve funding levels and diminish cost pressures associated with annual contributions,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Robin Prunty. “The downgrade also reflects continued financial weakness despite significant measures in the past two years to improve structural budget performance,” added Ms. Prunty.
It's often like that on the Capitol Fax blog. Its readers include a lot of players in the world of legislative politics, and often they bring to their comments a perspective honed by experience.
The exchange began at 12:44 p.m. with reader "Grandson of Man," who said the state simply needs more revenue and suggested it could be raised by a "progressive income tax." He, or she, added, "I realize that income tax reform is a very steep hill to climb, but so is pension reform."
Reader "Plutocrat03" replied at 1:03 p.m.:
... It is nothing but misdirection to claim that any of the State’s fiscal problems can be solved by soaking the rich further. There are too few high earners out there to offset the loony spending the state is engaged in.Which reader "wordslinger" quoted and answered at 1:40 p.m.:
–the loony spending the state is engaged in.– Loony schools. Loony nursing homes. Loony hospitals. Loony state troopers. Loony roads. It’s crazy. Why should I have any responsibility for any of those things? I’ve never gone to school, or a hospital or used the roads. And I don’t care if anyone else ever has use for them either. See, it’s all about me, all the time. That’s what they taught us in Sunday school.Which of course isn't exactly isn't what I was taught in Sunday School. The irony couldn't have been clearer.