Robin Kelly: Illinois Democrats deliver while Illinois Republicans point fingers

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Earlier this month, I joined President Joe Biden as he visited Illinois to announce new steps his administration is taking to support farmers and working families. Unfortunately, the Illinois Republican Party decided to greet the president with the same misleading rhetoric and finger-pointing we see from Republican politicians in Illinois and around the country.

Over and over, when Illinois Republicans have an opportunity to join Democrats in solving our collective problems, they opt to sit on the sidelines and try to score cheap political points. While Republicans point fingers, here’s what Democrats are doing to deliver for Illinois.

Democrats at every level are fighting to lower costs. Statehouse Democrats passed a balanced budget with $1.8 billion in tax breaks at the pump, at the grocery store and on property taxes for working families, while Republicans decried the relief as a “campaign tool” and voted against it.

Democrats also added $1 billion to Illinois’ rainy day fund while making major investments in our state’s education and social service programs. It is this fiscal responsibility shown by Democrats that has resulted in six credit rating upgrades for Illinois in the past year, saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in future interest payments.

Our state even got positive news from the U.S. census, as last week we found out Illinois actually added 250,000 residents in the past decade, countering a long-running — but ultimately false — narrative about Illinois’ decline.

But instead of cheering this universally positive news for the state, Republicans complain, content to criticize instead of putting politics aside to focus on making progress for Illinoisans.

This hyperpartisan pettiness also plays out in Washington.

When congressional Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan to lower housing, health care and child care costs, every Republican voted no. When Democrats led the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure law, making a once-in-a-generation investment in our roads, water systems, internet connectivity and more, 4 in 5 Illinois Republican members of Congress voted no.

Recently, I joined my Democratic colleagues in the House to support bills that would cap the cost of insulin, increase the supply of baby formula and ban price gouging at the gas pump. In each case, Illinois Republicans overwhelmingly opposed these critical pieces of legislation while at the same time blaming Biden and Democrats for creating the challenges they refuse to help fix.

The bottom line is that while Democrats are focused on passing real solutions to lower costs and invest in our country, Republicans are simply trying to score political points ahead of the next election.

Illinois Democrats are also taking concrete steps to address and combat gun crime, like banning untraceable ghost guns, a first for any Midwestern state, and investing in anti-violence programs. Meanwhile, many Illinois Republicans opposed the effort to restrict untraceable guns and continue to push for firearms to be easier to obtain.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is joined by state Sen. Jacqueline Collins, mothers of gun violence victims and others on May 18, 2022, at The Ark of St. Sabina in Chicago as he signs a bill restricting the sale and possession of unserialized firearms, also known as ghost guns. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

It is truly disappointing to see how gleefully GOP candidates use gun violence to advance their campaign goals instead of joining together in a bipartisan manner to advance real solutions.

In fact, not only are Republicans rejecting ideas to fix our shared problems, but also GOP leaders have come right out and said that if they gain power in the midterm elections, their agenda is to increase taxes on middle-class families, gut the Affordable Care Act and potentially sunset Medicare and Social Security every five years.

Plus, Republicans are now openly floating a nationwide abortion ban should Roe v. Wade be overturned, along with draconian restrictions on birth control and potential attacks on marriage equality and other long-settled freedoms.

From the economy to crime to social issues, the Republican agenda is an absolute disaster for Illinois families.

It is crystal clear that Illinois Republicans have no solutions to the real-world problems that families in Illinois face today and instead would like to play political games to get right-wing retweets and cable news attention. But regardless of GOP finger-pointing, Democrats will continue to focus on delivering for Illinois.

The people of our state deserve nothing less.

U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, who represents Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District, is chair of the Illinois Democratic Party.

Submit a letter, of no more than 400 words, to the editor here or email letters@chicagotribune.com.

via Chicago Tribune

May 23, 2022 at 06:07PM

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