Bradbury's Puzzling Comment on 66 & 67

Steve Novick

One of Bill Bradbury's big pitches to progressives - which, even as a Kitzhaber guy, I have recognized as a strong pitch - is that he was a strong supporter of Measures 66 and 67. So I was puzzled to see, in the new Portland Monthly, this exchange with Bradbury:

Chambers: How are you going to keep businesses from leaving Oregon because of Measures 66 and 67? Some are already planning to.

[Bradbury]: We need to repeal 66 and 67. That’s a huge challenge given the fiscal situation. But frankly, I think 9 percent is a pretty high income tax. Let me be clear: I’m not proposing repeal. But I’d certainly look at it if we have serious impacts from the increase. I don’t think it’s sustainable.

I'm not excited by what Kitzhaber said on the topic - he criticized the 'gross receipts' portion of Measure 67, while suggesting a sales tax is a good idea. In fact, a sales tax would be harder on most 'high volume / low margin' businesses than the Measure 67 gross receipts tax: paying a 5% sales on everything you buy is a lot more expensive than paying a 0.1% gross receipts tax on your sales. And a sales tax is more targeted at truly Oregon businesses than a gross receipts tax; it hits businesses that are buying things from other businesses in Oregon, whereas a gross receipts tax is largely paid by out-of-state businesses that sell stuff to Oregon but may not otherwise have much of a presence here.

But while I can argue with what Kitzhaber said, I am baffled by what Bradbury - an enthusiastic supporter of 66 & 67 - said. What gives?

UPDATE: Bradbury now has a statement out saying he misspoke. See Jeff Mapes.

Comments

  • Boats (unverified)
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    It is indeed a curious notion that liberals have which posits that productive folk [i]don't mind[/i] carrying tax eaters and the unproductive into perpetuity. Those who can will vote with their feet and get out from under these economically illiterate assholes in Salem..

  • Rulial (unverified)
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    Your link is broken. Here's a correct link.

  • Bob Wiggins (unverified)
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    Steve wrote: "In fact, a sales tax would be harder on most 'high volume / low margin' businesses than the Measure 67 gross receipts tax: paying a 5% sales on everything you buy is a lot more expensive than paying a 0.1% gross receipts tax on your sales."

    That is just as likely to be false as it is true. Take a business doing $10 million in Oregon sales and losing money. Under M 67, they have a $15,000 tax bill. Under a 5% sales tax, they would only be worse off if the business purchased more than $300,000 of tangible personal property. A software company, for example, would almost certainly be better off with the sales tax (not that I'm advocating a sales tax).

    Bradbury's comments are interesting.

    Bob Wiggins

  • LT (unverified)
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    I would have questioned the premise of the question. Is Saks (never exactly in tune with the Pacific NW) leaving Portland the sort of thing the question was about?

    Is tax code the only reason a company leaves a state?

  • backbeat (unverified)
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    Not any more troubling that Kari on the KPOJ this AM calling a Democratic woman a "brassy babe."

  • James Frye (unverified)
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    I'm amazed and troubled at the Bradbury remark about 66/67 but if Kitzhaber's solution is a sales tax - something that proportionally hurts the poor the most, never goes away and always goes up (I base this on living for 26 years with California's sales tax system) - I'll stick with Bill. We don't need a sales tax, we need tax enforcement on our progressive state tax and get those who should be paying more to use the commons to do so.

  • Doug (unverified)
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    backbeat - FYI, Mr. Chisholm has been known to get a little liqoured up and spout off at the mouth. Some people get mean, when they drink. Others just turn into sexist a-holes. I wonder if he'll appologize? Don't count on it!

  • Ralph (unverified)
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    There you have it. Bradbury is crackers. Always has been.

  • backbeat (unverified)
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    So sick of faux-progressives.

  • (Show?)

    I'm going to ignore Doug's personal attack.

    Backbeat, my comment this morning about Rep. Hoyle was meant as a compliment. Obviously, I hadn't had enough coffee before going on the air. As soon as I was off the air, I got an earful from my lovely bride. Not too much later, I spoke with Rep. Hoyle and expressed my chagrin.

    Duly chastened.

    Now, back on topic.

  • jonno (unverified)
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    I keep hearing rumors that businesses are leaving OR because of 66/67. Is there any real evidence of this claim? I've not seen any except for the cryptic Saks reference upthread. Seriously, I'd like to know if there are any confirmed cases of tax-inspired company exits.

  • anon (unverified)
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    Keep your eyes open as large retailers' leases expire. Don't be surprised if the high volume, low margin outfits close their doors.

  • backbeat (unverified)
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    Thanks Kari.

  • Read the whole transcript, Mr. Novick (unverified)
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    To paraphrase the great communicator, there you go again, Mr. Novick. You've endorsed Kitzhaber, and already fired off three columns attacking Bradbury's education plan (when your own candidate doesn't have one....except to call for a sales tax...is this really a wise strategy?).

    These attacks seem odd coming from the camp that has more money and claims to have a large lead (according to Kitzhaber's polls....). Maybe the internal Kitzhaber polling shows things aren't so rosy, so we need to keep attacking Bradbury here...?

    Despite Mr. Novick's contortions and twisting of text, this is really a non-issue. Much more could be made out of Kitzhaber's opening the door to LNG at one debate in Lake Oswego, then saying he was against LNG at the Multnomah County Dems debate. But you won't hear Mr. Novick spin that.

    It would help to read the full transcripts.

    The Portland Monthly seems to have posted "edited" transcripts and "full" transcripts of the interviews. I would suggest reading the "full" transcript, Mr. Novick. Here's the portion re M66 and M67 from Bradbury --

    <hr/>

    Forbes: After Measures 66 and 67, we’ve given up the ability to do all the reform that needs to be done. There’s no trust.

    (Bradbury) I wish 66 and 67 were temporary.

    Chambers: How are you going to keep businesses and individuals from leaving Oregon because of 66 and 67? Some are already planning to.

    (Bradbury) I think you need to repeal 66 and 67. That’s a huge challenge given the fiscal situation. But, frankly, I think 11 percent is a pretty high income tax. Let me be clear, I’m not proposing repeal. But I’d certainly look at it if we have serious impacts from the increase. I don’t think it’s sustainable.

    Peppler: Keep in mind that part of the deal with the Oregon Business Alliance was that the members would agree to the temporary business tax and then we would help fund the campaign for kicker reform. Unfortunately, it was rejected out of hand by the legislative majority.

    (Bradbury) When you have the business community coming to the legislature, saying, “We recognize the need; we’re willing to pay our fair share,” my advice would be, go for it. Come out with a remarkable coalition. That’s the role of the governor.

    <hr/>

    Note -- the figure given in the full transcript is "11 percent" not "9 percent" as it appears in the edited transcript (that's not a typo on my part)

    What Bradbury says isn't far from what Kitzhaber says about M66 and M67 (from full transcript):

    "It was very unfortunate that Measures 66 and 67 ended up on the ballot. I do not believe that they couldn’t have been brokered. Once on the ballot, it was a Hobson’s choice. I voted for them. But it was a stopgap, not thoughtful tax reform."

    I think both candidates are saying much the same thing. There's an implicit criticism of Kulongoski by both of them here for not being more actively involved in brokering a fix. Both Bradbury and Kitzhaber feel something could have been worked out as the business community came to the table and wanted to work with the legislature. Both of them see a ballot measure campaign as a divisive way to resolve the issue. Neither of them think M66 and M67 are a long term solution.

    Still, even if it's a Hobson's Choice per Kitzhaber, Bradbury clearly was the one who saw the impact on Oregon of not passing M66 and M67, and actively supported the measures. Kitzhaber stayed on his intellectual high ground being "thoughtful" while others worked to pass the measures.

    <hr/>

    Mr. Novick has over-scrutinized Bradbury's comments, which is to be expected of an endorser of Kitzhaber. Perhaps more scrutiny should be paid to Kitzhaber's interview. What exactly is he position on LNG? Here's what Kitzhaber says:

    "I have some big environmental concerns about siting LNG. But there’s some larger question we should ask first: what is the transition fuel? The fact is, a commitment to wind is a commitment to natural gas because you have to have reliability in the transmission grid. So what role does gas play, and how do you secure the supply? And then does LNG play a role? We haven’t asked any of those questions."

    A lot of folks have asked those questions. We have an adequate supple of domestic natural gas. We do not have to build more infrastructure to import a fossil fuel from overseas, in a highly explosive, liquefied form, to pollution spewing terminals, and then to miles of pipelines through our valleys, forests, vineyards, and farmland, so California has gas. When is Kitzhaber going to get this?

  • (Show?)

    The state is facing at a massive shortfall in 2011-13 of $2.5 billion. The legislature chose not to fix the kicker. And now a confusing remark suggesting a walk back on 66/67.

    Both D guv candidates seem to be desperately seeking solutions to keep Oregon from entering the red zone. Of course Oregon is not unique, many states are suffering because of the global economic meltdown.

    I look forward to both candidates clearly outlining their plans.

  • blackandblue (unverified)
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    "When is Kitzhaber going to get this?"

    I think he gets it just fine:

    • Oregonian, June 7, 2009, Supporters of LNG build a pipeline to Oregon lawmakers: "Making campaign contributions 'doesn't buy you a vote,' Kantor told the crowd assembled for the company's annual shareholder meeting in late May. But 'it does allow you to have a conversation.'"

    • Willamette Week, November 30, 2009: "Ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber collected $1,200 from NW Natural exec Gregg Kantor (Neil Goldschmidt’s former press secretary) for his run in the Democratic gubernatorial primary."

  • Jason (unverified)
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    They've seen the light.

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    To the individual calling her/himself "Read the whole transcript, Mr. Novick" --

    This is the 21st different name you've given yourself since January 1. Please stop. The name field is not a subject line. You will discover that your comments will earn more credibility over time if you use the same pseudonym each time. Your reputation - hopefully positive - will move from discussion to discussion.

    Of course, if you contradict yourself, that will tend to reduce your credibility.

    For our readers, I will note that you are the same person that posted on February 9 under the name, "Where was Kitzhaber on M66 and M67?". You wrote then:

    Kitzhaber calculated it to be politically safer to keep a distance from M66 and M67, expecting the measures to fail, so that he would not be damaged in the November election by his support for tax increases. That's not "bold" -- as Novick characterizes Kitzhaber in the lovefest endorsement quotes above. That's fearful, a politics of caution and self-preservation that may be a symptom of past fights and failures in Kitzhaber's career. He wouldn't stick his neck out for this one.

    I'll leave it to our readers to decide how that meshes with your defense of Bradbury's call to repeal Measures 66 and 67 -- both in the full and edited transcripts.

  • backbeat (unverified)
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    Per Mapes, Bradbury has now corrected himself. Pretty worrisome, though...big thing to forget. Is he okay? http://blog.oregonlive.com/mapesonpolitics/2010/03/bradbury_says_he_misspoke_on_t.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

  • Read the whole transcript, Mr. Novick (unverified)
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    Wow. I had no idea, like, that you were tracking my whereabouts, Mr. Chisolm. That makes me feel special. Not sure I'm going to bend over, knowing you're there, but it makes me feel special. And, again, which candidate is paying you to build his website?

    Your comment is really about that name field, right? You're not troubled that the content of my comments makes a strong case for voting for the candidate who isn't paying you for services rendered. If I were pro-Kitzhaber, you would still notice me and bring up that name field, right?

    I haven't read any guidelines here on posting comments. If there's a prohibition on attempting a thematic or catchy title at the top of a comment, I was unaware. I think I've seen other such comments posted with titles in the name field. Have you lectured them?

    <hr/>

    "...meshes with your defense of Bradbury's call to repeal Measures 66 and 67"

    In his full (and edited) comments, Bradbury says: "Let me be clear, I’m not proposing repeal." As he hasn't called for repeal, I can't very well defend such a call. Or contradict myself.

    I think you and Novick are trying to spin a mountain out of a mole hill here. Beats spending time laying out what a great candidate Kitzhaber is, and what a strong campaign he is running.

    Perhaps you can explain Kizhaber's various comments on LNG? Novick hasn't managed it.

  • Theresa Kohlhoff (unverified)
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    Good luck to both of them trying to talk us into repealing 66/67. We need more revenue, and no more "partnering" with business. I agree with the person above who said he or she was sick of faux-progressives.

  • (Show?)

    Kari - I've been wondering when you would reach the "had enough" stage with the poster with 21 different names --- He/she is the blog version of the Merkley tracker hired by the G. Smith campaign.

  • LT (unverified)
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    "Good luck to both of them trying to talk us into repealing 66/67. We need more revenue, and no more "partnering" with business."

    Right on!

    Bradbury has apologized. Let's see what either of them have to say about kicker reform.

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    I think it's pretty obvious that Bradbury misspoke; he immediately contradicts himself in the same paragraph.

    That said, it's disappointing to see neither man considers our current tax structure worth fixing permanently with regard to income. Suggesting that it should have been temporary is to say that the prior rates were OK; we just need a little extra right now to tide us over. The reality is that corporate taxes hav shrunk by over 2/3 in this state since the 80s, and we have one of the flattest personal tax rates in the country.

  • (Show?)

    Mr. Readthetranscript,

    Yes, my primary concern is the name thing. The #1 complaint we get from our readers is anonymity. I have long argued that persistent pseudonymity is a reasonable approximation of full IDs. That is why I have made this same request many, many, many times over the years - both to subjectliners as well as people using simple first names ("John") rather than something more descriptive.

    And yes, I've made that request of friends and allies, too. Pick a name and stick with it. It's better for the water cooler in general, and it improves your personal credibility.

  • Alex (unverified)
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    How about supporting elected officials who went out on a limb and supported 66 & 67 in red counties? Like Deschutes County DA Mike Dugan who has drawn a challenger who is attacking the fact that Dugan was one of only 5 DAs in the Voters Pamphlet urging a YES vote on 66 & 67.

  • Boats (unverified)
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    The #1 complaint we get from our readers is anonymity.

    Wow. Lots of your readers are even bigger idiots than they come across as. A reasonable person's number one complaint about this site should be turgid writing by the various contributors.

    Anonymity? That's daft. Were my handle "Jaroslav Jablonsky," I'd be just as anonymous and none of the critics of anonymity would be any better off for it. That "George Orwell" fellow must have really pissed off those precious few college educated critics of anonymity when they first discovered the British author's real handle was "Eric Arthur Blair."

    Dullards. One can only imagine what they'd think of Mark Twain.

  • Read the whole transcript, Mr. Novick (unverified)
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    Memo from Kari to the commenters above named Ralph, Doug, Paulie, Jonno, anon, Jason, and Alex:

    Sorry to call you out like this, but please find a more descriptive handle to replace your simple first name, or lack of name. See above. Something like "Boats" would do. Or "backbeat." If you put something like "torrid" in front of your name, you are certain to increase your personal credibility.

    And please refrain from attacking the messenger, instead of addressing the content of the message. It's bad form, and not a practice here at blueoregon....

  • Steve Rosenbaum (unverified)
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    Kitzhaber was correct to criticize the gross receipts portion of measure 67 -- just about any economist would tell you that it gross receipts taxes are bad public policy.

    The gross receipts tax is also politically very harmful to the progressive cause.

  • Boats (unverified)
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    Tax eaters do not have to meet a bottom line, so of course a gross receipts tax looked scrumptious to them.

  • George Anonymuncule Seldes (unverified)
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    BTW, businesses buying from other businesses don't pay sales tax if the goods are to be resold, which is most of what businesses buy. Sales tax is only levied against the ultimate purchaser.

  • Tim McCafferty (unverified)
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    A company that earns a net profit over $250,000.00 a year would pay 1.8% after the first $250,000.00 earned in Oregon. This could encompass a business that employs 1-6 employees? An average size would be of interest to me, and where I might source that imformation.

    A company grossing $500,000.00 or more would pay 0.10% of all revenue over the first $500,0000.00 earned in Oregon. This would amount to $1000.00 per million dollars $1,000,000.00. This means any out of state business whom do little or no business in Oregon while enjoying our corporate standing will be called upon to pay $150.00 a year instead of the $10.00 paid since 1931.

    If their are companies that find the burden so great, or offensive that they need to leave the state, I say; "don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya!" What is the value of public schools meant to do the least for our children to save tax burdens of the wealthiest, and corporations that have had they way with taxation, regulation, and labor until we find ourselves where we are today.

    <h2>What is the value of roads, bridges, water works and transportation that makes life difficult, and inconvient. The states have huge challenges left them from going on 40 years of corrupted governance, and tax strangulation of states in a time of great need of the vast majority of Americans. We are our government, and need to give the process more consideration than slogans, and talking points.</h2>

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