On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Eyman Out Of Step With Washingtonians

Tim Eyman continues to get a the red carpet treatment from Washington newspapers, but it is questionable whether those newspapers are providing equal rebuttal space to his critics. So on their behalf, I will.

Saturday's The Olympian ran an opinion piece by Eyman that was full of right wing spin. Let's break it down...

The narrow loss of Initiative 912, which would have repealed the gas tax, was still a huge victory.
I-912 did not "narrowly lose". It lost by 9%!! Add to that the fact that supporters were cockily proclaiming it would win by 15 to 20%, and that's an even bigger defeat.

Spin it all you want Tim, but this was a huge defeat. People rejected the something for nothing crowd get-nothing-done tactics that was all I-912 promised.

I-912 successfully forced a public vote and required politicians to explain and justify their tax hike, giving the taxpayers the final say.
I-912 also showed politicians that their sneaky, underhanded attempt to avoid voter approval by saying their tax hike was an emergency didn’t work. Taxpayers found a way to give voters the final word. We don’t want it to be easy — in fact, we want it to be darn tough for politicians to raise taxes, and I-912 forced them to fight tooth and nail for it.
Problem is that a great deal of the projects being funded by the bill are an emergency, and judging by the vote of the people, they felt it was too. Taxpayers always have had a way to vote on what the legislation does: they vote for or against their representatives in Olympia. That's how a representative government works.

Thanks to the I-912 campaign, politicians know how furious the voters feel about unilateral, non-voter-approved tax increases.
The results of I-912 showed narrow support for one tax increase.
Actually, it showed overwhelming support for this tax increase. A 9% win is a romp. The small minority of voters that put the initiative on the ballot was never representative of the will of the people.

Voters didn’t hand over their wallets and say, “Take it all.” The simultaneous and overwhelming passage of performance audit I-900 shows that voters continue to prefer more effective spending of existing tax revenues, not tax increases.
Voters voted against I-912. The transportation bill was never about asking taxpayers for all their money.

The people support the constitutionally guaranteed initiative process.
That's a highly debatable statement Tim. Three of the five initiatives this year failed badly.

Voters realize that initiatives are their only effective way to influence Olympia. Initiatives give the average taxpayer an equal voice in the process. Only a tiny, whiny sliver of elitists dislikes having the people participate in these public policy decisions.
Oh please. The people of Washington have the chance to influence Olympia every time they vote for who they want to represent them in the legislature. Initiatives usually do nothing more than ignore the complexities of lawmaking, and throw measures to a vote by a public that is largely under-educated about the issues. This is especially true with anti-tax initiatives that cater to a population's natural dislike for taxes, which usually blindly trumps any consideration for the need for the specific tax in question.
Prior to Election Day, high vehicle tabs were radioactive in every area of the state except Seattle. But on Nov. 8, even Emerald City taxpayers rebelled against the monorail’s tax on vehicles. Why? Because it’s artificially inflated and dishonestly calculated.
No, voters rejected the specific plan. Unfortunately that has been interpreted as voters rejecting any kind of Monorail plan. Somehow Sound Transit is able to lobby for federal dollars to help finance their project, but the Monorail was always straight jacketed into a motor vehicle excise tax that was woefully inadequate on its own to finance the transit system.

Next year, we’re pushing an initiative called “$30 tabs, round 3” that not only lowers vehicle tabs to $30, but requires that vehicle taxes be calculated using a vehicle’s market value, not the dishonest, inaccurate and artificially inflated manufacturer’s suggested retail price.
Tim, you claim the goal of your next initiative, that flattens vehicle tab taxes at $30, is to calculate the tax based on a vehicle's market value. I have to ask though, in which country Tim? Communist Cuba? Since when does a Hummer cost the same as a Ford Focus? If one tax is to be flattened, then why not all the other taxes paid at purchase time that are at least a percentage of the purchase price? Indeed a flat tax costs the Focus buyer a larger percentage than it does a Hummer buyer.

Others have also responded to Eyman with the following comments at the The Olympian site.

Lynn from Evergreen Politics wrote:
Initiative 912 was an attempt to knee-cap our legislators and governor and prevent them from doing the work they were sent to do - thoughtfully deal with the issues of transportation, education, healthcare and the welfare of the citizens who elected them. It was only nominally about transportation.
Michael from blatherwatch wrote:

Gosh, Tim: is that the editorial 'we' or the royal 'we?'

What chafes me is the Olympian's participation in Eyman's spin. In the bio line at the bottom of the page, the Olympian let him call his group, "a grassroots taxpayer-protection organization." Although I'm sure he wrote it, this righteous-sounding appraisal misleadingly appears to have been written by the Olympian. A less partisan, more journalistically honest referrence would be: "an anti-taxation activist organization."

Even more factual would be: "an anger-driven, demogogic, anti-tax, personality cult."
Chris from Stop 912 added:

Anybody who predicts the future based on this outcome, in this election year, might ought to stick to tea leaves or weather forecasting. Sure, there was a message about taxes and government accountability, but those of us who tend to believe state government is accountable and does a decent job--we got lucky. Katrina and Wilma and the earthquake in Pakistan all managed to remind voters, unfortunately, why it is that government needs a few bucks from time to time, to do whatever it is that government does. At least, with respect to roads. And nobody should take that message or its memory for granted. Because Tim Eyman certainly won't.
Well said.

Tim, the people of Washington state are tired of you and your friends legislating from your bedroom. If you want to get involved in legislation then run for office. Otherwise, if people don't like the job their legislators are doing they can simply vote the bums out.

Obviously, by the overwhelming vote against the obstructionist initiative that was I-912, people have shown they approve of the direction in Olympia and the courageous choices the legislature and the Governor have taken in making a start in dealing with the massive backlog of transportation projects.

4 Comment(s):

Comment by: Blogger Carl

Hell of a post. I'd just make one little correction. In the 4th paragraph you probably meant that "supporters were cockily proclaiming it would win by 15 to 20%." Also, it is interesting that Tim Eyman doesn't believe we have any influence over anything other than the 5 or so things on the ballot.

11/21/2005 6:55 PM PT  
Comment by: Blogger Daniel Kirkdorffer

Oops. Correction made. Thanks for pointing that out. I went through 5 months of run-up without mixing my negatives and positives on this initiative until now. Glad the sucker is over and done with.

11/21/2005 7:35 PM PT  
Comment by: Anonymous Thomas Trainwinder

Eyman uses fear and intimidiation -- along with misstatements and base human reactions -- to further his lifestyle.

When I moved here, I heard the rhetoric of how I had moved to the most heavily taxed state.

Hah! My total tax burden remains less than 1/2 of what I had paid in the two other states I lived in most recently.

How he gets away with these lies I have no idea.

11/22/2005 8:01 AM PT  
Comment by: Anonymous EvergreenRailfan

Eyman needs to take a little detour to SODO on his way to Olympia to file his next initiative. SODO construction of Light Rail is continuing, and showing signs of it. The Operations and Maintenance Facility is rising, the SODO El is almost complete, with the Mole ready to begin digging the Beacon Hill Tunnel, tracks have been laid besides the Busway, and Lander and Royal Brougham Stations are rapidly rising up. 2 years ago one would probably wonder what was that big empty mess near Spokane St, well, that is the Maintenance Facility. Also, Tukwilla Construction for LRT progresses, with the trackway being installed on the elevated sections near SR-518. If it were not for the safety improvements desperately needed for our Highways, we may be seeing some questioning the need for mega-highways that may be obsolete when Global Peak happens with Oil Production. I am not a doom and gloomer, but I would like to see all options covered.

12/05/2005 3:15 AM PT  

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