Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This dog won't hunt

Rep Raul Labrador has an opinion piece in the Statesman, in which he chides supporters of a local option transportation tax for not being willing to compromise. He said the opponents of the tax bill compromised when they offered a constitutional amendment that, if passed, would allow such a local option tax. Labrador is amazed.
The proponents of local-option taxes, however, chose to vote against this compromise rather than accept less than 100 percent of what they wanted. Amazingly, these individuals not only rejected the compromise but now complain that conservatives are too rigid and not willing to work with them to solve the problems of their local communities. They will not even acknowledge that conservatives tried to meet them halfway on the local-option sales tax.
Well, I’m also amazed, because Labrador either actually believes that he offered a compromise, or he is lying and he thinks we’re stupid enough to believe it.

The constitutional amendment was a poison pill provision designed to kill the local tax option. A constitutional amendment is inherently difficult to pass, needing to clear both houses by 2/3ds majorities, then be ratified by voters. That’s not a compromise, that’s a ploy to kill the bill while still trying to take some credit for compromise.

The conditions for the bill - single jurisdiction, super majority approval, and targeted spending - can all be imposed in legislation without amending the constitution. The only thing an amendment might do is make it harder to take away the ability to levy the tax should a later legislature change its mind, because the constitution would have to be amended again to strip away the power granted in the first amendment. I do not believe that opponents of the local option tax sincerely offered a measure that would make it harder to oppose the tax.

Has anyone heard an explanation for the “need” for the amendment? If the idea is to ensure that local voters can’t be taxed easily, the super majority requirement would address that. What excuse is offered for requiring an amendment? Labrador offers none.

Given that the constitutional amendment is unnecessary and counter to the conservative position, it seems clear to me that it was offered solely as a poison pill. Labrador was therefore either deluded, or lying. Or to put it another way, he was either naive, not very smart, or dishonest.

Is there any other explanation?


Sisyphus said...

No other explanation. Whatever answer you pick its still bullshit.

Thanks for posting on this. It was screaming for a response and you did justice here.

fortboise said...

Who knows what is in Labrador's head, but on the shiny surface, it seems "naïve" and "not very smart" are unlikely.

This has the stink of classic Atwater/Rovian politics: give the knife a good twist after you've sunk it in the back.

Gosh, what's wrong with these people who don't understand compromise?!

In a pig's eye.