President Obama and the woeful financial condition of Illinois were the subject of his opening remarks.
"The president said 'the private sector is doing fine,'" the Wheaton Republican began. "And I would argue that he is free to say that, but he is really revealing that his standard is the state of Illinois. If Illinois' economic performance is your world view, then you can maybe make the argument that things are fine."
The Prairie State is not doing 'fine,' Roskam argued, not that anyone in the media room needed to be convinced--mainstream reporters included. And of course the private sector isn't doing 'fine' either.
Roskam condemned Illinois' disgraceful gerrymandered congressional remap--drawn behind closed doors by Democratic party bosses--but he predicted that GOP candidates will "overperform" in November. "In large part," he said, "because they are running within the context of a state that is being miserably run and it has been miserably run by one party for quite a long time."
I asked Roskam about the possibility that Illinois will request a federal bailout. Although last month Governor Pat Quinn said that he would not seek one, that was before the collapse of the state's pension reform bill. In 2011, Illinois budget footnotes raised the possibility of "seeking a federal guarantee of the debt" in regards to the state's $85 billion in unfunded pension obligations. Roskam led a Republican effort to rebuke that idea. In his reply to my query he said that such a bailout is still "a complete non-starter" and that it is "simply not going to happen."
Roskam also field questions about national security, project labor agreements, and the regulatory overreach of the Obama White House. Under a Romney administration, Roskam envisions Congress enacting the type of regulation that "is smart, thoughtful, and makes sense--and isn't just driven by a narrow agenda."
Warner Todd Huston of Publius Forum asked a question too. He has four CPAC Chicago reports:
- CPAC Chicago, Wisconsin Praised, Obama Razed — Part One: Rick Santorum, Ron Johnson
- CPAC Chicago, Part 2: Richard Mourdock, Chris Christie, Herman Cain
- CPAC Chicago, Part 3: Bobby Jindal, Peter Roskam, Michele Bachmann
- CPAC Chicago, Part 4: Joe Walsh, Randy Hultgren, Straw Poll Results