By Ruth Conniff on August 05, 2014

By Ruth Conniff

If you are not in the Chicago media market, you might not know much about Bruce Rauner, the Mitt Romney-like candidate for governor in Illinois, who is running ahead in the polls against Democratic Governor Pat Quinn.

If Rauner wins, Illinois will have a lot more in common with its neighbor, Wisconsin. Politically, Rauner resembles union-basher and school privatizer Scott Walker. Only Rauner is much, much richer.

In an interview with the Chicago Sun Times, Rauner talked about his career at GTCR, the Chicago-based private equity firm he founded.

“I made a ton of money, made a lot of money,” he told Sun Times reporter Natasha Korecki.

When Korecki asked Rauner, a billionaire who owns nine homes and made $53 million last year, if he is part of the 1 percent, he corrected her: “Oh, I’m probably .01 percent.”

Last Sunday, the Sun-Times broke the news that Rauner has made himself even richer by avoiding taxes and hiding a lot of his wealth in the Cayman Islands.

Rauner has not released his current tax returns, so the full value of his offshore accounts is not verifiable, but the Sun Times was able to document five offshore holdings by Rauner in the Caymans.

A detailed analysis by the Chicago Tribune shows that Rauner used many other complicated tax strategies "out of reach for those of more modest means" to cut his tax bill to less than half the rate paid by other earners in the top bracket:

Thanks to one business-tax strategy, Rauner paid no Social Security or Medicare taxes at all in 2010 or 2011, the Trib reports.

Meanwhile, Rauner is campaigning against “government union bosses,” and teachers unions in particular, and is targeting public employee pensions, with a plan to freeze the Illinois pension plan and convert it into a 401(k)-style retirement account, in order, he claims, to save the state billions.

He says he got into the race because he wants to "reform" public education, and is a big charter school advocate.

"I am adamantly, adamantly against raising the minimum wage," Rauner said in a campaign event captured on video in January.

He has since backed off that position, and says he supports a minimum-wage increase.

Rauner’s campaign has also had to respond to stories about his phone call to Obama's education secretary Arne Duncan, pulling strings to get his daughter into prestigious Walter Payton College Prep High School, after the school rejected her.

The Sun-Times reported in January that Rauner made a $250,000 contribution to Payton after his daughter was admitted.

Rauner's story shows what's behind all that union-bashing and belt-tightening for the poor and middle class--rightwing billionaires like Rauner push these policies, even as they play by an entirely different set of rules, dodging taxes, pulling strings, and get special treatment most people could never afford.

If he is elected, Rauner, like Walker, might support legislation to loosen the rules to help other wealthy investors and corporations avoid taxes by parking their assets abroad--leaving even less revenue for the public sector he and his rightwing billionaire friends love to bash.


Ruth Conniff is the Editor-in-Chief of The Progressive Magazine.

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Comments

Why does this surprise you. The GOP has always believed in lying, stealing and cheating their way into office.
Just really Sad///
Illinois elects this guy, and they move closer to becoming like us, WISCOTUCKY

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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