Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Thursday, December 04, 2003  

Preview of Coming Attractions

Denny Hastert, Tom DeLay, and Bill Frist may be able to control their members, but it ain't so out here in the hinterland:

Sixteen Republican legislators who voted this year for an $800 million tax increase should resign if voters reject the increase, Libertarian Party of Oregon officials declared Monday.

If those Republicans don't resign, Libertarian candidates will run against them next year in an effort to pull fiscally conservative votes away and prevent the Republicans from winning, said Libertarian Chairman Tom Cox and other party officials....

Most of the lawmakers voting for the [$800 million] tax increase [in the legislature this summer] were Democrats, but Cox said Republicans, as members of a party that supports fiscally conservative policies, are the ones who should know better than to vote for a tax increase.

This isn't an idle threat: radicals on the anti-tax, culture wars side of the aisle have tanked more than a few moderate Republican candidates. Playing the punitive spoiler role will only further erode unity on the right.

What's particulary ironic (and I'll admit gleefully, amusing), is that the Republicans are being attacked by their own Frankenstein's monster. For fifteen years the hardcore right (in Oregon politics, right and left tend to be really far right and left) has cashed in on the anti-tax sentiment, throwing the ocassional bigoted bone out to the faithful along the way (Oregon righties started that anti-gay movement in the early 90s).

Ooops: the tail's wagging the dog, now. That hollow rhetoric was good for getting elected; it proves to be worse for governing. Confronted with the complexity of a collapsing economy (Oregon's revenues plummeted by 17% in the last biennium), Oregon Republicans had to make actual decisions rather than sneer about what morally corrupt idiots Dems were. The Speaker of the House led 11 Republicans to compose this tax increase, and now she's being targeted by the base her party has spent years nurturing.

I believe Oregon is the canary in the national coal mine. Republicans advanced untenable anti-tax laws (mostly through initiative) during the bubble. Democrats argued that these laws were untenable, but Republicans fired up the base, calling them Chicken Littles. (One anti-tax advocate, standing in the ashes of Oregon's post-boom collapse, said, "Now I want to see the calamity." He did.) Sound familiar? The national GOP is currently doing what the Oregon GOP was doing four years ago: giving out huge tax bonuses to favored backers and planting the seeds for later collapse while calling the Dems Chicken Littles. Anyone care to hazard a guess about what the economy will be looking like in about 2006?

Have a look at Oregon.

posted by Jeff | 8:52 AM |
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