Saturday, September 17, 2005
An Open Letter To The Citizens of Oregon: Dump The Cap--And Dick Armey!
An Open Letter To Citizens Of Oregon: Dump The Cap—And Dick Armey.
Oregon is becoming the next battleground in the spreading fight between anti-tax activists who want to cap government spending and their opponents who say that such a move would put schools and social services at risk.
It is irony, indeed, that the agent provocateur behind these many "movements" is FreedomWorks, a D.C. Conservative consulting group that, basically, lights the fire under the pot and then gets paid to stir it. The Chief "Stirrer" is none other than Dick Armey. Therein lies the irony. Armey has done as much as anyone to cause the current fiscal woes of state and local governments. By limiting federal programs and reducing the federal funding to states and local governments in favor of massive tax breaks for the rich, Dick Armey help to force local government to raise taxes to serve those federal citizens within their jurisdictions. Now Armey is getting fat by going around the country and fighting those local governments as a paid consultant to anti-tax groups upset over the burden he has saddled them with. He is like a modern day patent-medicine man. I call it Dick Armey's Fiscal Patent Medicine & Anti-Tax Campaign. Armey's Fiscal Elixir of Tax Caps really do no good, in fact may be harmful, but it sure feels good after you take it.
Dick Armey was House Majority Leader in 2001 when the 1.6 Trillion dollar tax cut went through Congress. Remember the $5.6 Trillion Clinton surplus? It was still intact then and Armey had his eye on it. In an interview with CNN back in 2001, the audience could almost hear Armey licking his chops: "We certainly are capable of achieving more, and there's room within the $5.6 trillion surplus to look beyond the $1.6 trillion number." But Armey didn't want to stop there; he wanted a package of tax cuts for businesses, including slashing capital gains taxes. So profligate was Armey's slashing of federal revenues, that he even got into conflict with Dennis Hastert and the White House.
The result of Armey's leadership, we all know too well: The surplus was wiped out and we are now in the throes of massive federal deficits. A major consequence of his handiwork? Cuts in federal aid to state and local governments. Cuts in federal programs are particularly hard when they constitute "unfunded mandates" such as education "reform". State supplements to medicare/medicaid are required when the feds cut their support. Thus, as the federal government withdrew during the Armey years, the states had to step in to maintain the social safety net for the working poor and the middle class. Another consequence of Armey's leadership is also that the numbers of Americans categorizes as poor and working poor have increased, making the burden upon states and local governments even greater.
For Oregon, the impact of Armey's shredding of the federal side of the federalist partnership with states is particularly dramatic: the state government has lopped $285 million from statewide school funding. Oregon schools get some money from local property taxes, but 71 percent of it comes from the state. And it's not just schools under Oregon's budget ax. The state is also slashing $200 million from its health care program for the low-income and $60 million from public safety. The governor's health advisory panel reports, of those the state has cut off, 92 percent now have no prescription drug coverage; 45 percent rely on drug companies for charity care, and most of those only get some of the medications they need. And the state cut off prescription drug coverage for 7,000 other Oregonians.
Comes now, Dick Armey, in his thousand-dollar suit and his bulbous nose sniffing the air in search of a sucker. In Oregon, he sure found 'em...thousands of them who will throw money at him to save them from the onerous and burdensome income tax increase of $81.00 a year. Oregon hasn't had an income tax increase for 75 years, but just the threat of such a thing was enough for those who object to such an increase to give that much and more to Dick Armey's fiscal Patent Medicine & Anti-Tax Campaign. By the time Dick Armey's patent medicine show rolls out of Oregon, local rubes like Russ Walker, a leader in the misnamed Citizens for a Sound Economy, will be intoxicated with the delusion that they have actually accomplished something and "Doc" Armey and his band of Anti-Tax gypsies will be hundreds of thousands of dollars richer and moving on to their next target.
So here's a question for all you Tax-Cappers in light of the Katrina disaster: Why don't you just give your money to your own state and local governments and give Dick Armey the boot? You don't need him. Caps are for the lazy citizen who doesn't want to be bothered with the daily task of citizen involvement. Tax caps are a cop-out. Individual rights and responsibilities? You bet...and that is not what Caps are.