Thursday, January 28, 2010

Oregonians respond to the gravity of their problems

WE ALL KNOW that Republicans look at tax cuts the way that schoolboys are fascinated by the prettiest girl in their class. In Ohio, eliminating the state income tax has become the centerpiece of gubernatorial candidate John Kasich's tax-cutting projects. But in Oregon, the voters made a kind of progressive history this week by easily passing two measures that would increase taxes on upper income residents ($250,000 and up) as well as the minimum tax levels on corporations. (The current corporate minimum of $10 has been around since 1931). Like most states, Oregon has been hit hard by the recession that has resulted in 11 pct. unemployment. Sound familiar?

The first indication of raw political courage arose in the state legislature that was confronted with plugging an estimated $727 million deficit as education and other state services continued to suffer. But the legislative action was quickly challenged by tax opponents in a referendum pursued by an outfit called Oregonians against Job-Killing Taxes.

Although you will be hearing a lot of talk this year about how cutting taxes increases jobs, there is a consensus of economic studies that the Bush tax cuts will rip upwards of $2.4 trillion from the treasury through 2010 without providing a groundswell of jobs. These cuts were covered by borrowed money, which will add another $379 billion in interest.

Well, here's to oregon, whose voters may know something about the cost of a healthier society. So much for an across-the-board tax revolt!

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