WILSON: Guns, taxes among hot political topics in Illinois, Congress

Posted: Feb. 17, 2013 1:43 am Updated: Mar. 31, 2013 2:15 am


Several big political face-offs are ready to occur in Springfield and in Washington, dealing with everything from guns to taxes, and lots of candidates are jockeying for position for campaigns in 2014.

Fiscal cliff: Federal programs worth $85 billion are set to be cut March 1 in the newest round of the fiscal cliff. The cuts, known as the sequester, came out of budget talks by a super committee that failed to accomplish anything two years ago. Cuts were supposed to take place Jan. 1, but Congress put the cuts off until next month.

President Barack Obama wants to see the sequester replaced with something that relies on 50 percent cuts and 50 percent tax revenues.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., agrees with that 50-50 formula.

A group of 15 to 20 Senate Democrats oppose service cuts of that magnitude. They want tax hikes to represent 80 percent of the budget fixes and government program cuts to represent 20 percent.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, explained that Congress already has passed $1.7 trillion in spending cuts (over 10 years), compared to only $700 billion in new taxes.

"In order for the whole thing to tally out at one for one, we need to raise about $1.3 trillion in revenue and a little over $300 billion in cuts," Harkin told The Hill.

Gun control: Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has called for two public hearings on concealed carry legislation and gun control this week.

A Tuesday hearing will be held in the state capitol. A Friday session will be held in Chicago's Bilandic Building. Illinois is under a court deadline to pass legislation for concealed carry legislation or a federal court will set up the rules.

This is taking place while federal gun control advocates are pushing for bans on "assault weapons" and high capacity ammunition magazines.

President Barack Obama brought that message of tighter gun control to Chicago on Friday. Many Washington insiders say the best chance for agreement in a divided Congress would be on nationwide background checks for gun purchases.

Candidates: The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute released a poll of 600 Illinois respondents last week on the 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

Lisa Madigan was the choice of 31.9 percent of Democrats, easily besting Gov. Pat Quinn, who had 22.9 percent support.

Three Republican gubernatorial hopefuls were clustered with Treasurer Dan Rutherford getting 10.2 percent support, Sen. Bill Brady 9.7 percent and U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, 9.1 percent.

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon announced she would not seek re-election, but did not say what office she might seek. If Attorney General Lisa Madigan decides to make the run for governor, Simon might find that office to her liking. Simon spent four years as a prosecutor in Jackson County and 10 years as a law professor at Southern Illinois University.