Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Reinhard: TABOR isn't TABOR because I say so

The TABOR supporters are sweating bullets. Apparently the Norquist brand of government hasn't been working out so swell.

We know this because they put their boy Reinhard out front Sunday morning to spout off about it:

This Tabor is an acronym for the Taxpayer Bill of Rights that Colorado voters passed in the early '90s. Opponents of Measure 48 -- our state's public unions and spending lobby -- would like you to think the Colorado law has something to do with the "Rainy Day Amendment" that's on this fall's Oregon ballot. It's easy to see why. Measure 48-equals-Tabor is a potent, if deceitful, political argument that goes something like this:

Measure 48 is a spending limit. So is Colorado's Tabor. Colorado's Tabor has some problems that became obvious even to its boosters in economic hard times, and Coloradans voted last November to temporarily suspend Tabor. Ergo, Oregon voters should reject Measure 48.

"We never copied" Tabor, Greg Howe, a co-author of Measure 48, told The Oregonian editorial board last Monday.

Shorter Howe: We're not copycats so neener neener.

Howe is stuck because in fact the TABOR plan for Oregon under Measure 48 is very much like Colorado's. The only difference is that monies not spent in the cap wouldn't immediately go back to taxpayers. That would likely come later when the rabid righties decide that the personal kicker isn't enough anymore after the corporate kicker is repealed.

The M48/TABOR folks want us silly socialist libruls (are you listening, Gordon Smith?) to believe that the revenue is going into a rainy day fund. Of course it doesn't actually say anything about a rainy day fund creation in the proposal they want voted in.

That's the only difference between Oregon's TABOR and Colorado's. The spending cap trap is exactly the same. But because Oregonians know what a mess it made in Colorado, the righties have to say something..anything..to blunt what TABOR will do to Oregon.

Reinhard tries his best at the end of his column to do just that:

Of course, if you oppose spending limits, Measure 48 is not for you. If you think Oregon's problem is that the state is just not spending enough taxpayer moolah -- and many Measure 48 critics wanted the state to spend more, even during the roaring, high-spending '90s -- limiting state spending growth to "popu-flation" is a crime against humanity. Or, at least, a crime against the public-employee unions.

But if you think it's wise to curb state spending in good times in order to stabilize funding in bad times, the proposal on this November's ballot may be your measure. Unlike Colorado's Tabor, Oregon's Measure 48 is a spending limit for all seasons.

In other words, if you oppose spending limits then you're a socialist liberal who wants to drain Oregonians dry with every frivilous government program out there.

This is the same old tired, conservative argument that brought us the Bush Administration and a GOP federal legislature. And we know what an unholy mess that's turned out to be.

Of course people wanted us to spend more in the 90s. That's when WE HAD MONEY TO SPEND. That's when we could have restored cuts to schools and increased the public safety sector with more police and firefighters. We could build roads and improve other infrastructures. We're supposed to do those things when the state economy goes on an upswing and can bring in more tax revenue.

Instead..asshats like Reinhard argue that we should return the money to taxpayers. There's never a time when the state is allowed to take in more revenue to prepare for the bad times.

David Reinhard and those like him espouse the ideology of the lowest common denominator. He just isn't man enough to tell you that himself.