Taking Bill Bradbury, and His $2 Billion, Seriously

Steve Novick

I hereby apologize to Bill Bradbury and his fans for posts seeming dismissive of Bill and his proposal to raise $2 billion for schools. As to the $2 billion, I should not have dismissed Bill’s vague promise to get $2 billion out of tax expenditures with equally vague assertions of my own. In this post, I will go through the major items in the Tax Expenditure Report, and explain why I think Bill was being unrealistic. I think this exercise is important, not just for purposes of this primary, but because the “can’t we just cut some tax expenditures?” question is one I have been hearing from a variety of fellow progressives for years.

I should also stress that I am not dismissing the idea of $2 billion for schools per se. If Measures 5 and 47 had not passed in the 1990s, schools would, in fact, probably have at least $2 billion more per biennium than they do today. So unless we are satisfied with living in the world Don McIntire and Bill Sizemore have given us (to paraphrase a line I once heard David Sarasohn use), striving for $2 billion more for schools in a worthy goal.

Finally, I should have made it clear that although I do not think Bill has a realistic shot at the nomination, I have high regard for him as a person and a progressive leader. In fact, on one issue dear to my heart, he has been demonstrably better than my choice, John Kitzhaber. Bill was one of the few electeds who went down to Lottery Commission hearings with me to protest the ongoing giveaway of lottery dollars to taverns, in excessive commissions, at the expense of schools, economic development, and natural resource programs.  As to John as Governor – well, just to prove my goodwill to the Bradbury forces, here, free of charge, is the question I would ask John at the City Club debate if I were Bill:

“John, one of the greatest ongoing scandals in state government has been the excessive commission payments the Lottery has made to video poker taverns, at the expense of schools, economic development and natural resource programs – the intended beneficiaries of the Lottery.  While you were Governor, you retained and / or appointed Lottery commissioners who perpetuated this shameless giveaway. What do you say to advocates for education, parks, salmon restoration, and economic development about that aspect of your record?”

Based on conversations I have had with John, I think his answer will be something along the lines of: “You are right. I ignored that issue. I should have done something, appointed more responsible people. I am sorry. If elected, I will end the giveaway.”  But it wouldn’t hurt to get him on the record.   

Now, let’s turn to the $2 billion in tax expenditures. I have the 2007-2009 tax expenditure book here. I don’t have the most recent one, so the numbers will be slightly out of date, but the big items will still be the big items.  (I’m leaving the much-discussed BETC out of it.)

The single biggest ‘tax expenditure’ is the fact that we do not apply the property tax to intangible property – such as stocks and bonds. That ‘costs’ $11 billion. I kind of assumed that if Bill meant to extend the property tax to all forms of wealth, that would be a big deal and he would have mentioned it specifically. But if Bill in fact intends to do that, that would be a very interesting idea, and it would be progressive: Rich people own most of the stocks and bonds. Essentially, we’d be transforming the property tax into a broader-based ‘wealth tax.’

Now, I would not jump on that bandwagon without a lot of study. The tax experts who write the Tax Expenditure Report claim that “the experience of most states that impose taxes on intangible personal property is that the taxes are difficult to administer effectively and equitably … [and] are relatively easy to avoid.”  Also, although I like the idea of a wealth tax at the Federal level, there probably is SOME point at which, in a Federal system, we might start taxing the rich enough to drive them to other states; I don’t think the 0.9% Measure 66 income tax increase is going to do it, but maybe an $11 billion wealth tax would. I dunno. 

But if Bill has that idea, it’s a serious idea. I have not heard him express that idea. But if he’s for that, it would be bold and real.  Maybe too bold. But it would be real.

But when you get beyond the exemption of intangible assets … I’m going to give you a list of tax expenditures above $100 million in the book. I think they’re all pretty tough nuts to crack. I invite Bradbury supporters to tell us which ones Bill has said he’s willing to go after.  I realize he could talk about means-testing them, not eliminating them entirely – but if that’s what he has in mind, he should tell us.

Here you go:

Cafeteria plan benefits: $286 million

Employer paid medical benefits: $910 million

Medicare Part A benefits: $190 million

Medicare Part B benefits: $130 million

Pension contributions and earnings: $884 million

Capital gains on home sales: $352 million

Life insurance investment income: $216 million

Capital gains on inherited property: $807 million (another possible progressive target, but opponents would point out that Oregon already has a separate estate tax)

IRA contributions and earnings: $120 million

Medical and dental expenses: $275 million

Accelerated depreciation of equipment: $104 million (OK, that IS a business tax break)

Property taxes (the fact that you get to deduct them): $259 million

Home mortgage interest: $972 million

Social security benefits (Oregon exemption): $299 million

Federal pension income: $137 million

Federal income tax deduction (this is what the Legislature just phased out, for the rich, in Measure 66): $747 million

Personal exemption (which we all take on our income tax): $924 million

Inventory (the fact that we don’t apply the property tax to the business inventory): $434 million

Western private standing timber: $415 million. (This refers to the fact that we don’t apply the property tax to the value of standing timber. An argument for this exemption is that otherwise we would give timber companies an incentive to harvest ‘prematurely.’  I don’t know if that’s a good argument or not. If Bill plans to eliminate this exemption, I’m ready to hear his arguments.)

Motor vehicles and trailers: $748 million (this refers to the fact that we don’t apply the property tax to cars and trailers)

Personal property for personal use: $725 million (this refers to the fact that the property tax doesn’t apply to your clothes, furniture, appliances, etc.)

Strategic Investment Program: $128 million (this is the tax break for capital-intensive companies like Intel, not applying the property tax to all their capital investments, which I probably would have voted against when it was adopted but have gradually been convinced that it probably has helped generate and retain actual good jobs – Chuck would probably disagree with me and say Intel would be here anyway. But anyway, this is in fact a corporate tax break. If Bill is going to take it on specifically I would listen to his arguments)

Farm land: $183 million (assessing land used exclusively for farming at its farm value, not its potential ‘development value’)

That’s the over-$100 million list. Does that look like a target-rich environment to you?  The progressive way to go after those things would be to means-test the hell out of them. But can you imagine the hit pieces on any legislator who “voted to cut the home mortgage deduction, tax pension income, tax Social Security benefits, tax Medicate benefits, tax capital gains on home sales …”?  Sure, you could explain that you were just means-testing those things. But you’d be taking a hell of a risk.  (And I’m not sure at what level of income the means-testing would have to kick in to raise $2 billion.)

If Bill Bradbury is willing to take that risk, and is planning to ask legislators to take that risk with him, and is willing to say so, then I might not agree with him, but I would applaud his courage.  But so far, as far as I have seen, Bill has shied away from doing that. I think he’s said he would eliminate the mortgage interest deduction for second homes, which is good, but how much does it raise?  I haven’t seen an estimate recently.

As some of you know, I am absolutely obsessed with letting people know where our tax dollars go. I think we’d have much more rational political debates, and we would shift the entire political spectrum to the left, if more Oregonians were aware of the simple fact that most of their state and local tax dollars go to education, health care, and public safety. 

I think it’s also important that we know where the tax breaks go. The fact is that the vast majority of the tax expenditures AREN’T big fat corporate tax breaks garnered by sleazy lobbyists for their clients. I wish it were otherwise. I wish I could rail against the $2 billion in sleazy corporate tax breaks that we could eliminate tomorrow if the Legislature just had the guts. Life would be easier.

But I can’t. Because there AREN’T $2 billion in sleazy corporate tax breaks that we could eliminate tomorrow if the Legislature just had the guts.  If there were, the Legislature that was gutsy enough to pass Measures 66 and 67 would have already done the job.

I can’t cheer for Bradbury’s $2 billion plan, not because I don’t like Bill Bradbury, not because I don’t want to get $2 billion for schools, but because – to quote the slogan of the Oregon Center for Public Policy – facts matter. 

 

 

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Steve, similar to means testing--what about just skimming a percentage off the top of all the ones we want to keep? Say $500 million can be killed outright, politically. Why not just cut 5% of all other breaks? Maybe I'm not educated enough to know it's not legally possible, but what about just a 95% mortgage deduction on your OR taxes instead of 100%?

  • Joshua Welch (unverified)
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    what about a modest sales tax on luxury items? Goods and services like food, healthcare, and meds would be exempted. sort of like a M66 and M67 version of a sales tax.

  • mp97303 (unverified)
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    Who defines luxury? The most powerful lobby?

  • Julie Fahey (unverified)
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    I definitely have heard him say that he’d go after the mortgage interest deduction for 2nd and 3rd homes. Which is a pretty saleable one, so no wonder why he’s emphasizing it. He’s also mentioned the Income from Foreign Controlled Corporations tax break (in an early speech to the Eugene City Club), which he said could generate $30 million.

    As to the point about being obsessed with letting people know where our tax dollars go… sometimes I think that there needs to be some kind of non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group whose sole purpose is to education citizens about government, how it functions, and how/where it spends money. Especially given that civics education isn’t particularly a strong focus anymore. There’s a page in this presentation that gives some stats about how most people aren’t very familiar with what the state spends income tax revenue on. It also says that 37% of Oregonians don’t know we have 2 U.S. Senators. Might be funny on Leno’s Jaywalking, but in real life it’s kind of depressing…

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Thank you for your responsiveness to posters on this.

    Might be funny on Leno’s Jaywalking, but in real life it’s kind of depressing…

    But what's relevant is that they have the same vote as we do and they never answer, "I don't know".

  • paul c. (unverified)
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    I'd like to see the merging of the private sector into the public sector, much like Hugo Chavez has done in Venezuela. Under this model, everyone would work for Oregon. We could control wages such that, no one person made millions at the expense of the rest. All resources could be managed for common good. This would create huge amounts of money for schools.

  • Rex Hagans (unverified)
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    Steve, thanks for educating us on the seemingly never ending myth that there is a bonanza out there in cutting back tax expenditures. I had the personal experience of working through them as part of a progressive group at least 4 sessions ago.

    And after at least 6 meetings over two months, we concluded that there was really almost nothing there that even we could all agree to cut.

    Facts DO matter, so keep after us!

    Rex h.

  • steve Novick (unverified)
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    Torrid - one raw political answer is that the hit piece on the legislator who voted to cut the home mortgage interest deduction won't say "by 5%."

  • Empty Promises (unverified)
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    Novick, good post. Me, I'd go after the mortgage deduction - it's a regressive tax break that subsidizes the landed gentry, as well as realtors and homebuilders with no real impact (i.e. seems like home prices are pumped up because of the tax deduction, so overall home costs are the same).

    However, I'd also say that Kitzhaber's plans and platforms and promises also don't add up when you look at them. One example:

    "Last year the Oregon legislature passed the Jobs and Transportation Act of 2009 which is expected to create 4,000 jobs per year over the next 10 years. This was a good start and this effort needs to be accelerated and expanded. We also need to ensure that we not only invest in our base highway system, but also address light rail, freight, marine and jetties, air and multi-model transportation needs."

    Where the hell is that money coming from? To expand over and above the new transportation taxes, while also adding other modes? Oh, it grows on trees.

  • Jeremy Wright (unverified)
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    As a rule I learned a long time ago commenting as the campaign manager on blogs is a rabbits hole you generally don't want to go down but since Steve has now wrote about this three times in the span of a week (methinks though doth protest too much - losing OEA must have really hurt) I feel compelled to go on the record here. Let me clear up what Bradbury has said in regards to $2 Billion for schools from tax expenditures.

    First and foremost - Steve, he has never said that cutting tax expenditures by 5% would be easy. It fact Bill has made it clear that it would take real leadership to make it happen. Leadership he intends to provide.

    What Bill has said is that this is a question of priorities. Do we lose another generation of children talking about, talking about reforms or do we step up and stop the 20 year decline on school funding in this state.

    Bill thinks it's time to fund our schools and he is proposing a new way of making that happen.

    Bill has also been very clear about how he would go about doing accomplishing this reduction in tax expenditures, your play at ignorance here on this fact is grating to say the least. It is in his literature, on our website and he has spoken about it relentlessly for the past several months.

    Bill would convene a group similar to the coalition we saw with Measures 66 and 67 and gather signatures to put a proposal on the ballot that would reduce tax expenditures by 5% with the resultant fund being dedicated exclusively to schools. The measure language would presumably protect some of the truly sacred and popular expenditures (mortage interest for primary residence for example) but it would DIRECT the legislature to work through the 5% savings. It would be a constitutional initiative. Would it be a tough campaign? Of course. But this is what a Governor willing to lead, come up with new ideas and implement them looks like.

    Why a ballot measure? Well unlike Steve's underlying premise Bill is far from naive as to the realities of the Legislature and the Legislative process. He knows that every tax expenditure is somebody's sacred cow and it is exceedingly difficult to say no to the pleas to save it. Let's face it, the tax expenditure report is a lobbyist employment act.

    That is why a ballot measure passed by the people (and think about how you could phrase it Steve, it's about accountability etc) would then force the legislature to cut expenditures and make the hard decisions. Just like Measure 5 forced the Legislature to step in and find a new way to fund public education (and nobody attacked them for it that I know because it was the consequences of a ballot measure passed by the people)this would provide similar protections to Legislators.

    As for Steve asking for specific expenditures - The list Steve provided contains $2 Billion dollars for schools. It simply does. And Bill wouldn't stop at "The Big Ones". As someone who conducted hundreds of audits as Secretary of State he understands savings can be found in the unlikeliest places and that every dollar adds up. Bill has been specific in examples - the mortage interest deduction for vacation homes for example - but the success of Bill's proposal lies in NOT creating a ballot measure with a list that adds to $2 Billion. That is a recipe for failure.

    The success of his plan lies in across the board tax expenditure cuts to be passed by the people and implemented by the Legislature.

    As I said at the beginning this will not be easy. But it is a question of priorities. Bill's priorities lie in fully funding schools and not losing a generation of children. That is what leadership looks like.

    Finally a word about specifics. Please name me one specific thing, of substance, that John Kitzhaber has proposed in this campaign? One thing. You may not agree with Bill's proposal for $2 billion for schools or a Bank of Oregon or opposing LNG terminals and closing Boardman Power plant but they are real, concrete ideas to move the discussion forward and start getting things done instead of simply talking about "ideas" and "transformational change" etc etc etc.

  • steve Novick (unverified)
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    Jeremy - I admit I have not read every piece of literature. What I saw was this on Bill's web site: "Currently, the state forgoes about $30 billion in tax revenue per biennium, more than the spending for education, health care and public safety combined. As Governor, I will work to reduce this lost revenue by 5 percent, either through the Legislature or through the voters by ballot measure." That seemed vague to me. If Bill's plan is to do an across the board 5%, he needs to recognize that that means cutting every one of these specific tax breaks by 5%, and that that is what he will be asking the legislature and voters to do.

  • Patrick Story (unverified)
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    Steve, This is a great discussion you have started, but why exclude the Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC) from it?

    There are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake there, including plenty of outrages, such as the giving of over $4 million to a Texas Trucking company that does not even do business in Oregon. I hope your reason for omission is not that the lobbyists for BETC simply have a stranglehold on the legislature. We have to pry it loose.

  • Jeremy Wright (unverified)
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    Steve,

    I should be clear. He is not calling for a across the board 5% reduction. He is calling for a ballot measure to instruct the Legislature to reduce tax expenditures by 5% to generate new funding for public education in Oregon. How they get there will be up to them (within the parameters laid out by the measure) but they will be constitutionally mandated to do so.

  • Bradbury has a realistic shot, or progressivism in Oregon is dead (unverified)
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    Novick, who has endorsed Kitzhaber for governor, continues to make the claim that the primary is over: "I do not think Bill has a realistic shot at the nomination."

    If this is something more than wishful thinking on the part of a Kitzhaber endorser (who might stand to benefit in a Kitzhaber admininstration -- Novick, with self-deprecating humor, keeps telling us he nearly ran for governor, treasurer, congress and county commissioner, that he could use a good paying gig, and posts on blueoregon to get rides down valley...maybe Dr. John is the ticket), then progressive Democrats in Oregon should be ashamed of themselves.

    But let's review.

    M66 and M67

    Bradbury actively supported both measures. Novick obviously did too. Kitzhaber disappeared. Not what I expected of Kitzhaber. There's the launch rhetoric of Kitzhaber -- you know, I'm not afraid to lose, already been there, so I'm gonna take bold positions. And there's the carefully culitivated independent and forthright image, with the boots and the jeans and the half mullet, so we expect Kitzhaber to cut the b.s. and not half ass it. So...Kitzhaber gets about as close to M66 and M67 as Gordon Smith got to George Bush in 2008. Why?

    He's afraid. He thinks the measures will lose, and he doesn't want to be tagged with support of tax increases come November against a Republican. Is he afraid of Dudley and his NBA record for consecutive missed free throws? Afraid of Alley's record at Pixelworks? Is he playing it safe based on the advice of political consultants, or is he still scarred from his time in office, where he pronounced Oregon "ungovernable", so he no longer believes that Oregon voters and progressives might get it right and actually pass M66 and M67?

    LNG

    Bradbury was the first major elected official in Oregon to come out and oppose LNG. Novick opposed it in 2008. Merkley and Wyden are pushing federal legislation to give states the ability to say hell no, we don't want LNG crammed down our throats by FERC. Kitzhaber...says he'll consider LNG as a transitional fuel.

    That's crap and Kitzhaber knows better, but he's got some support from private labor unions like the AFL-CIO, whose leadership says they want LNG for jobs, but talk to their membership, and they ain't so sure, and they know a lot of those jobs would go to experienced labor from the Southwest U.S. who build pipelines.

    Again, looks like Bradbury is plain and progressive -- nobody's gonna build LNG terminals and pipelines if Bradbury has anything to do with it, or offshore oil rigs, and any other environmentally stupid scheme. But Kitzhaber's not sure he wants to offend big energy concerns and some labor groups -- folks with lots of money -- so he's half-assing it.

    Kicker reform

    Bradbury says the legislature ought to get after it -- as did Kulongoski. We all know the kicker's an idiotic scheme that hampers our state government budget process by tying it to economic projections from two years ago. Kitzhaber stays out of it, taking the safe position again, hoping to hold one more issue in his pandora's box to keep the Republicans mum. Clue to Dr. K -- they are Republicans. They're gonna get a big stick and hit you over the head with it about taxes. You should be used to it by now.

    Lottery Commissions

    See Novick's post above. As Novick points out, Bradbury is right, Novick agrees with Bradbury's position, and Kitzhaber's record is a liability.

    The important thing to bear in mind is what Novick points out about Kitzhaber's record as governor re the Lottery commission: Kitzhaber appointed and retained those commissioners. This is relevant when you look at education and the QEM.

    Education

    Bradbury prioritizes it and proposed action to fund the QEM. Novick notably won't say a damn thing about the QEM (three posts, three times, no word....), but would like to spend more on schools. Not sure how. Kitzhaber says we need to talk about process and study it some more, that the education model is broken, and vaguely talks about a sales tax. (So much for remaining mute on M66 and M67...the Republicans are listening, Dr. Kitzhaber.)

    I tend to agree with the first comment above by Torrid Joe (not something that happens every day...TJ). Bradbury spents 14 years in the legislature, and since that time a much larger part of the pie is spent in tax expenditures before it ever reaches the general fund for the legislature to decide how to spend it. In other words, much of our spending has already been determined via tax credits. Bradbury's bold enough, and thoughtful enough, to propose a thorough re-examination of this model, with the aim of reining in those expenditures by 5%. Like TJ says, maybe some of that'll wind up in a big package that eliminates some credits, while just trimming back others by a small percentage. Heck, I get $50 bucks off my taxes every year by giving money to someone like Steve Novick. Why should I get that, exactly? And could I live with only a $45 credit this year. Yes. I could.

    The QEM was created when Kitzhaber was the governor, and he appointed the commission (just like he appointed and retained the lottery commission). He called upon the legislature to fund it. He never proposed how. Essentially Kitzhaber's position is that the education model he put in place as governor is broken. Whether Kitzhaber actually believes that, I can't say -- I suspect he's being guided by consultants who insist vaguely centric post-partisan blather about change will help him "win." Hell, it's working in DC, and it worked in Massachusetts, right?

    Jack Roberts made it clear last year in an Oregonian op-ed that the Republican controlled legislature always increased spending for education over that proposed by Kitzhaber in his budgets. All Kitzhaber has suggested now, to address stable funding for schools, is a sales tax.

    And Novick, his endorser, has posted three columns in the last week saying that Bradbury's proposal is unrealistic and ignoring how unrealistic Kitzhaber's position is. I can't help but wonder, if Kitzhaber and his endorser are so confident that the primary is all Kitzhaber's, why has Novick suddenly posted three times in the last week attacking Bradbury? Methinks thou doth protest too much, Mr. Novick.

    Novick's support of Kitzhaber here is beginning to look more like Elizabeth Furse's support for Gordon Smith. Furse didn't agree with Smith on choice and the Supreme Court, and the environment and the Klamath Basin, on the war in Iraq and unilaterally invading a Muslim country in the Middle East, but she kind of liked Gordon's $50 million proposal for her center at PSU.

    Novick can't get Kitzhaber active on M66 and M67. Doesn't agree with him on LNG. Doesn't agree with him on lottery commissions. And ain't comfortable talking about Kitzhaber's record on education and QEM. But he's willing to be Kitzhaber's de facto attack dog on blueoregon, three times a week. Go figure.

    If progessives don't pay attention, and support Bradbury, we may get a governor who hasn't really told us WHY he wants to be governor again, and who hasn't really staked out a single bold position that he can turn into real policy. That's not where I think Oregon should go.

  • (Show?)

    Jeremy - As of today, how many legislators have signed on for Secretary Bradbury's plan to run a ballot measure campaign to reduce tax expenditures by 5%?

  • Bradbury has a realistic shot, or progressivism in Oregon is dead (unverified)
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    "Methinks thou doth protest too much, Mr. Novick."

    If anyone actually reads the whole of my lengthy post, you may note that I say exactly what Jeremy Wright said in the beginning of his post -- riffing on Shakespeare.

    That was a long draft, and Mr. Wright's comment wasn't posted yet as I wrote my comment. The echo is unintended.

    But you gotta admit that Novick posting three columns in a week attacking Bradbury and glossing over the emptiness of Kitzhaber's campaign made that Shakespearean quote seem obvious.

    KARI CHISOLM

    I think you're fairminded -- though you get paid for building Kitzhaber's website, I appreciate that when some idiots make a stupid comment about Bill's MS, you immediately comment and correct the misinformed.

    Perhaps you should make columns on blueoregon, not just comments, available to endorsers of Blll Bradbury. To be fair, and to fulfill what I believe is the function of blueoregon, I think you should be calling Mr. Wright, and announcing here, that you're more than willing to publish 3 columns a week by an endorser of Bill Bradbury.

  • Julie Fahey (unverified)
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    I think Kari has said numerous times that anybody is free to submit a guest column to blueoregon and have it published (presuming that it meets length and quality standards). The link is right up there at the top of this page. In fact, there was a pro-Bradbury guest column published just the other day.

  • Bradbury has a realistic shot, or progressivism is Oregon is dead (unverified)
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    The blueoregon post you refer to, Julie, does provide an interesting study in contrast.

    On the one hand, three columns by an experienced media consultant, Steve Novick, some quite long, unable to make a strong case for Kitzhaber, or explain Kitzhaber's sales tax talk or his "the education model is broken" talk -- but strong criticism of Bradbury as unrealistic.

    On the other hand, an ordinary Oregon teacher posts a short column saying how engaged Bradbury is, how he listens, and why they voted for him, and nary a single word about Kitzhaber -- nothing negative about Kitzhaber at all.

    Which do you find more persuasive?

  • (Show?)
    Steve, I should be clear. He is not calling for a across the board 5% reduction. He is calling for a ballot measure to instruct the Legislature to reduce tax expenditures by 5% to generate new funding for public education in Oregon. How they get there will be up to them (within the parameters laid out by the measure) but they will be constitutionally mandated to do so.

    OK, I'm not stupid--not only is it possible to zero out some breaks while proposing a percentage cut for those that remain, it sounds like exactly what Bradbury envisions would happen with an initiative presented to the Leg.

    So the answer to the question "Where is the $2b going to come from?" sure sounds like "from the $30b we're letting get away from us now, whether for good reasons or bad." The devil is certainly in the details, but what I've heard almost exclusively from Kitz supporters is that broaching the idea is just a complete show of naivete, that you couldn't POSSIBLY achieve what Bradbury suggests--and it's basically a matter of doing the math. Until someone disputes the bare logistics of the above, saying it's not possible or plausible is not accurate.

  • DSS (unverified)
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    Just food for thought...

    In 2003, the Legislature ended the heavy-SUV tax credit and saved the state some money. But they actually went a step further...

    Oregon not only disallowed the tax credit on Oregon state taxes, but essentially taxed the use of the federal deduction. It was still a net gain for the consumer, but allowed the state to "capture" most of an ill-conceived federal tax credit.

    The voters killed it (and the rest of the revenue plan) in the form of Measure 30, but it's just an example of how there's more money in these tax credits than just what is applicable to Oregon's taxes.

  • steve Novick (unverified)
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    Torrid et al. -- For me this is a discussion that I have had repeatedly with all sorts of folks for years; the reason I have repeatedly posted on it is not so much that I think it is a big critical issue in the Kitzhaber - Bradbury race, but that it is an issue that progressives need to understand, period. As far as the Kitzhaber-Bradbury race goes, yes I have endorsed John and think he is going to win, but if Bill should pull a rabbit out of the hat I would campaign for him enthusiastically. And I agree with some of the criticisms of John that people have made here - I'd like to hear more specifics from him too. (Although he has specifically said we need to fix the kicker; indeed he was the only politician who even put a voters pamphlet statement against 'kicker in the Constitution' in 2000.) My support of John is largely based on his expertise in health care and the hope that he can lead the way in fairly, rationally controlling health care costs. But on tax expenditures, what I object to is Bill saying "5%" which sounds easy - "heck, it's only 5%!" - without spelling out what the big ticket items really are. Ultimately the legislators would wind up taking a lot of tough votes. Ginny Burdick wasn't able to get her colleagues to limit the senior medical deduction for high-income seniors; is Bill going to try to get them to tax Medicare benefits? I agree I was too sweepingly dismissive in earlier posts. That's why in this one I just put the big ticket items out there and say that I don't see the path to $2 billion but leave it to readers to see if they do. By the way Bradbury himself hasn't called for cutting the BETC by a specific amount: Here's his quote: "the Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC) is a tremendously popular program with business in Oregon because it provides direct financial incentives for companies to implement newer energy technology. The BETC has come under deserved criticism recently for its failure to provide support in the form of targeted tax credits to the emerging industries that actually need it. This does not mean we should eliminate the BETC. Rather, it calls for real leadership from the Governor’s office to implement and closely monitor the BETC to ensure it is spurring growth in emerging industries and not simply providing tax breaks for mature companies that are now thriving."

  • steve Novick (unverified)
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    Oh - and as to Jeremy's "Measure 5 forced the Legislature to step in and find a new way to fund public education" - No it didn't! The Legislature just shifted more of the General Fund to K-12 education, replacing some - but only some - of the losses from Measure 5. They cut higher education (among other things) in order to do that. During the boom of the '90's they were able to backfill more of the Measure 5 / 47 losses than expected, because, well, there was a boom and state income tax revenues were up. When the boom ended in '01-'02 school funding collapsed and so did funding for health care and other 'human services.' Measure 5 did not result in any daring new public finance policy; it just drastically reduced the total amount of funds available for public services.

  • steve Novick (unverified)
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    Finally, Jeremy says: "the success of Bill's proposal lies in NOT creating a ballot measure with a list that adds to $2 Billion. That is a recipe for failure." So Jeremy assumes that Bill himself wouldn't be able to come up with an actual assortment of tax breaks to cut that would pass voter muster and add up to $2 billion - but he would force legislators to come up with that list? It just seems all Rube Goldberg to me, and not likely to end happily. Just imagine the campaign against it! "MEASURE 88 TAXES MEDICARE BENEFITS!" "GOVERNOR BRADBURY, IS THAT TRUE?" "WELL, IT COULD BE - THAT'S UP TO THE LEGISLATURE." "MEASURE 88 TAXES YOUR HEALTH BENEFITS!" "GOVERNOR BRADBURY, IS THAT TRUE?" "COULD BE - THAT'S UP THE LEGISLATURE." "WHAT'S THIS 'COULD BE' STUFF? WHY DON'T YOU JUST GIVE US A LIST OF THE TAX BREAKS YOU WOULD CUT?" "WELL, MY CAMPAIGN MANAGER, JEREMY WRIGHT, SAYS THAT'S A RECIPE FOR FAILURE."

  • Fair and Balanced (unverified)
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    Maybe there's #2 billion available to recapture from tax expenditures in an optimistic scenario, but let's be realistic about where it would have to be applied in the short run. The answer is: to the budget deficit. The most recent published estimate I've seen is for a $2.5 billion shortfall next biennium, and it could be more. If we could get $2 billion by, say, abolishing the "itemized deduction" line on the tax return and some other things, odds are we would STILL have to cut the education budget and everything else.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Sal---Excellent question!

    I'd love to see a citizen ballot measure on kicker reform/rainy day fund. But there is a long distance between saying an idea would make a good ballot measure, and actually collecting signatures, political endorsements, etc.

  • (Show?)

    Thanks LT. My other question is that if Secretary Bradbury's "big idea" for education reform is to run a ballot measure campaign, then why is he running for Governor instead of gathering signatures? Honestly, I think the idea is ill-conceived, and the arguments they are making are borderline insulting to the intelligence of the teachers who just endorsed his campaign.

    Would he have won OEA's endorsement if he had told them that he intended to raise this $2 billion via a ballot measure campaign? We'll never know for certain, but somehow I doubt it.

  • Julie Fahey (unverified)
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    "Bradbury as a realistic shot" -- Honestly, I want to vote for Bradbury, but I'm just not convinced yet in terms of his policy ideas/views. So, no, a post about how good of a listener he is isn't going to do it for me. I am leaning towards Kitzhaber right now, but I fully expect that as more information/details come out about their proposals, I will be reassessing.

  • (Show?)

    Any ballot measure that significantly increases taxes on the middle class ($2B is significant) is not going to happen. We had a tight race with M66/67 where only 2% would be taxed, we raised half the amount, and it was a plea to stop further cuts in a depression. And anyone who claims that it is only reducing tax expenditures is assuming that the majority of voters will not be able to see the impact on their tax bill after a multi-million dollar campaign to point it out to them.

    Reducing tax expenditures sounds good when it is subsidies for business or the wealthy, but as Steve has pointed out, that is not where the big money is. If Bill is not willing to kill BETC outright after the mess we have made of it, then how is he going to go after the middle class tax benefits? And those second home interest payment deductions. Sure I agree that they make no sense, but try telling that to the construction unions, the mountain and coastal communities that depend on 2nd homes, and the homeowners with their retirement savings invested in them at a time when we are in a real estate depression. Good luck with that idea for the next four years.

    This isn't a bold idea, it is a fantasy.

  • (Show?)

    Kudos to the Bradbry campaign for putting video of tonight's debate on the web:

    http://www.livestream.com/bradbury2010

  • LT (unverified)
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    Sal---thanks for the link! I was able to watch a significant part of it.

    Our 2 former St. Senate presidents have the ability to debate issues which all Democrats had back in the old days. They both deserve to be proud of themselves!

    Now, if only we could get all our Oregon House Democrats doing as good a job educating the public on issues, that would be excellent!

  • Brock Howell (unverified)
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    Thanks Steve! I just found $4.5 billion in savings for the state, half of which I'd probably use to lower the personal income tax, and the other half I'd use to fund schools, health care, and environmental programs.

  • (Show?)

    Perhaps you should make columns on blueoregon, not just comments, available to endorsers of Blll Bradbury. To be fair, and to fulfill what I believe is the function of blueoregon, I think you should be calling Mr. Wright, and announcing here, that you're more than willing to publish 3 columns a week by an endorser of Bill Bradbury.

    As I said the other day: Any of our regular contributors is welcome to post on any topic they like, including long columns about Bill Bradbury, if that's what they choose to do. As for "one-sided", well, it's a blog, that's kind of the whole point. Have an opinion, state it.

    Most of our contributors have been here for years, long before anyone knew there would be a Bradbury/Kitzhaber race. It would behoove both campaigns to reach out and work to earn the endorsements of those contributors, if they care about what appears in this venue. Not that complicated.

    ... And to go further: Three of the four current editors of BlueOregon - Jeff Alworth, Charlie Burr, and Carla Axtman - have made no public endorsement (as far as I know) of either candidate. By my count, there are 32 BlueOregon contributors that I don't believe have endorsed either candidate.

    If the Bradbury campaign believes that winning column inches on BlueOregon is a worthy strategic goal, there's plenty of opportunity available.

    I'm not sure that's a good use of campaign resources - given that every single BlueOregon reader is going to make up his or her own mind based on criteria unrelated to BlueOregon's coverage - but that's a question for the Bradbury campaign.

    Winning campaigns are about communicating with persuadable voters. BlueOregon might be the worst place in Oregon (outside of right-wing conservative blogs) to be looking for persuadable voters.

  • Empty Promises (unverified)
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    I also find Kitzhaber's mentioning of a sales tax to be ridiculously naive - much more so than Bradbury's 5% cuts in tax expenditures.

    If we're talking candidates and reality when it comes to state finances, we're out of candidates.

  • LT (unverified)
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    All you folks in Portland, might it be possible to ask former Gov. Roberts if she could provide details of the Conversation with Oregon tax plan which lost in the House on a technicality when Larry Campbell was Speaker?

    I've seen Barbara Roberts' oral biography on Oregon Channel multiple times. She mentions that she still thinks it was a good plan.

    If someone could find out the details and write a post about it (she is, after all, not running for anything), we could have an intelligent debate here on her ideas. Maybe she has some new ideas worth considering.

  • Bradbury has a realistic shot, or progressivism is Oregon is dead (unverified)
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    I appreciate your comment, Kari, and I hope Bradbury's supporters get a fair chance to voice their support here, at least on a par with the three times a week splatter we just got from Novick (whose timing seems very very odd...Bradbury's been talking of his plan since last fall, without a peep from Novick, but I guess Kitzhaber just lost three endorsements, so Novick got unleashed to bark a lot).

    But I don't get this soapy part of your comment:

    "I'm not sure that's a good use of campaign resources - given that every single BlueOregon reader is going to make up his or her own mind based on criteria unrelated to BlueOregon's coverage - but that's a question for the Bradbury campaign."

    This is a Democratic primary. Why are blueoregon readers reading posts and comments about Kitzhaber and Bradbury at blueoregon? Because there are plenty of undecideds out there, who are persuadable. Why else is Novick posting about Bradbury in the first place? We all know that any Democratic primary campaign in its left mind would want to make their case on blueoregon. Especially one likely to be outspent by all the large contributions Kitzhaber is pulling in.

    Kari, you're spinning like blueoregon is inconsequential in a Democratic primary -- and therefore it's not that significant if an endorser of one Democratic contender in the primary is posting three times a week in support of his candidate, while we're not getting a similar number of posts in support of his opponent.

    I can't buy that. Blueoregon matters, and Bradbury deserves fair treatment here.

    And what's your pitch to generate ad revenue at blueoregon: please spend your ad money here at blueoregon, because blueoregon readers make up their minds on how to vote based on criteria unrelated to blueoregon's coverage? Perhaps we should ask Allen Alley if that's a good business model....

  • (Show?)

    Well, first of all, let me say that BlueOregon's actually pretty lousy as a "business model". It generates something like $600/month - and there are hundreds of hours every month expended here by the editors and contributors.

    Are there some undecided voters reading the coverage here at BlueOregon? Certainly. Tops on the list: the three editors that are still undecided.

    But my point is this: BlueOregon's readers are surely among the top 99.9% of the population when it comes to political awareness. Our readers know what they believe and have strong opinions. They may be hanging out here, because this is the water cooler where the other political junkies are hanging out, but I suspect that almost all of them would make the same ballot decision whether or not BlueOregon existed.

    Some of BlueOregon's readers may be undecided - but they won't be persuaded by anything they read here.

    As for our advertisers, there are plenty of reasons to advertise on BlueOregon that have nothing to do with finding persuadable undecideds.

  • (Show?)

    at last night's Kitz-BB debate, Bradbury said he would send a ballot measure to the voters that would require the Leg to cut 5% from tax expenditures to be used for education -- he demands a 5% cut but still will not detail what those cuts should be. i've got the audio if you don't believe me. so now we have the extent of his details: an unspecified mandate to cut 5% out of tax "expenditures" (he does not use "tax credits").

    oh my yes, that is so progressive.

  • (Show?)

    The claim has been made that $2 billion is available to save public education. My response is, really? Prove it. Until I see real proof I will avoid the lemming syndrome.

    Like lemmings, some voters follow the candidate to popular areas, in this case a fix for Oregon's public schools. When trying to become a knowledgeable voter, following the crowds could become a personal drowning.

    The list of tax expenditures over $100 million was informative.

  • Jim Rice (unverified)
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    You have AUDIO T.A.? Wow. AUDIO of Bradbury laying out his plan which he has done many times before in public? BREAKING. Alert the Drudge Report. A plan his campaign manager lays out in great detail, with specific reasons why he is doing it, earlier in the comments? Stop the presses!

    Well I have VIDEO with AUDIO. I know, pretty cool huh? My video with audio shows John Kitzhaber flat out lying to the MultCounty Dems about his position on LNG. When asked if about whether LNG was a viable bridge fuel and whether he would ever support it John Kitzhaber flatly said no. Hmmmm... I think it was your own reporting T.A. from the Oswego debate that made me sit up and take notice at that answer. It seems at the Oswego debate Kitzhaber said he WOULDN'T rule out LNG and it was "one of the big differences between Bradbury and himself". Which is it John? You for LNG or against it? Does it depend on your audience? What will your good buddies in the building trades say about your answer last night?

    You have to love the Kitzhaber supporters. Attacking Bradbury for not having enough specifics for his already rather specific proposal when their candidate has not, and will not, propose a single idea of substance or specificity.

    Oh he has floated one thing...a sales tax! But he won't commit to it, he's just putting it out there as maybe something we could do but only if the Republicans will join him.

  • Zap Boing (unverified)
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    Jim --

    I know! Kitzhaber supporters would apparently rather be lied to about specifics than explore a broad, albeit non-specific, policy goal.

    You hit the nail on the head.

  • Dan (unverified)
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    Empty Promises says: "Novick, good post. Me, I'd go after the mortgage deduction - it's a regressive tax break that subsidizes the landed gentry, as well as realtors and homebuilders with no real impact (i.e. seems like home prices are pumped up because of the tax deduction, so overall home costs are the same)."

    Only here in Smurfville can we find a delightful cabal of democrats gathered in an orgiastic circle-jerk, talking about the taxes they will raise on everyone else, knowing they will never have to pay it for themselves. You do realize that's what you are, right? I guess it's easy to be compassionate, generous and magnanimous with OTHER people's money. Like the addage, "Socialism is great...until you run out of other people's money."

    No wonder you all love government and government jobs so much...that's the only way you can compel other people to surrender they hard-earned cash to pay for your social engineering projects and bike paths. If you showed up on my doorstep asking for money, and with the same hubris you show here...I'd kick your ass.

    Thank GOD you know better than the rest of us.

  • Joshua Welch (unverified)
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    Here's a pice from Common Dreams from education expert Diane Ravitch on the fundamental problems w/ the Obama education reform strategy. She specifically criticizes the emphasis on privatization (charter schools) and testing.

    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/03/14

    Here's an excerpt: "Frustrated by a chronic lack of progress, business leaders and politicians expect that a stern dose of this sort of competition and incentives will improve education, but they are wrong. No other nation is taking such harsh lessons from the corporate sector and applying them to their schools. No nation with successful schools ignores everything but basic skills and testing. Schools work best when teachers collaborate to help their students and strive together for common goals, not when they compete for higher scores and bonuses.

    Having embraced the Republican agenda of choice, competition and accountability, the Obama administration is promoting the privatization of large segments of American education and undermining the profession of teaching. This toxic combination is the latest Big Idea in education reform. Like so many of its predecessors, it is not likely to improve education."

  • (Show?)

    Eliminating the tax credit paid on interest for homes, student loans, or eliminating tax credits for medical benefits, retirement benefits, etc. would reduce retirement savings, decrease home ownership, and disproportionately impact the discretionary income on middle income families.

    I suspect that BB understands all of this, and it's why his campaign refuses to give any specifics about where they'd like to reduce tax expenditures -- those are the big ticket items, and his campaign understands that cutting any of them is a REALLY bad idea.

    John Calhoun has it right when he says that finding $2 billion in dedicated funding for education at a time when the state is looking at a $2.5 billion shortfall is pure fantasy.

    The candidate - regardless of political affiliation - who comes clean with the people of this state about the gravity of the state's financial situation and can come up with a reasonable plan to address the budget shortfall is the candidate who will have my vote, and I will very likely throw whatever modicum of political support I may have in that direction.

    As of today, the only person I've seen who has come started to engage people in an honest discussion about the budget is John Kitzhaber.

    As to his ideas of bi-partisanship...

    That approach is absolutely what is indicated in this situation. There are Republicans in the legislature who have demonstrated a willingness to act in good faith on the budget -- Frank Morse, Vicki Berger, Jackie Winters, Bob Jenson, Greg Smith -- to name a few.

    Small-minded hyper-partisanship is not a valid reason not to reach out to such people, and the cold reality is that the Democrats are likely to lose at least a couple of seats in November in one or both chambers. The next governor is going to need some Republican votes, and they won't be gotten with a revenue-only solution.

    The way to dig ourselves out of this hole is to build a coalition among Democrats who are willing to cut spending and Republicans who are willing to raise revenue, not to dig the partisan trenches deeper.

  • Julie Fahey (unverified)
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    I don't particularly understand the obsession with equal coverage. The editors/contributors here post on whatever topics they want to. Is Kari supposed to force other editors/contributors to write positive pieces on Bradbury? Even if they are undecided or not interested in writing about the race? If you really want more posts on Bradbury, there is a mechanism for that, and it's called the "guest column".

  • (Show?)

    If you really want more posts on Bradbury, there is a mechanism for that, and it's called the "guest column".

    Yup. I can't promise I'll post everything -- but I'm pretty sure I've posted everything so far.

    Is it Oregon? Is it political? Is it progressive (loosely-defined)? Is it interesting? Is it likely to provoke conversation? Is it well-written? Is it original?

    If the answers to those questions are all, or mostly, "yes" - then I'm going to publish it.

  • LT (unverified)
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    To:

    Posted by: Bradbury has a realistic shot, or progressivism is Oregon is dead | Mar 15, 2010 11:54:23 PM

    I was very impressed with the debate last night. Bill Bradbury and John Kitzhaber showed the public what true intelligent debate looks like----soemthing we don't see often enough.

    I have made that statement or will make that statement several times today in different contexts, along with the line that the beauty of the debate is that individual listeners have the right to decide they both did a good job last night or that one did a better job than the other one. It is up to the individual voter to decide.

    You seem so concerned about counting pro-Bradbury vs. not pro-Bradbury comments on Blue Oregon.

    What was my comment? Pro-Bradbury, anti, or neutral?

    If you had paid attention to the 2008 primary debates on this site, you would know that the strength of posts on Blue Oregon did not necessarily equate with election results.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Posted by: Joshua Welch | Mar 16, 2010 9:42:29 AM---Thanks for the Ravitch quote. The fact that she worked for Pres. GHW Bush should show that good ideas are not all in one party.

    Sal, thanks for your comment. I, for one, support Sen. Morse's re-election, on the grounds that we need intelligent Republicans in the legislature.

    I loved this quote from you.

    "The candidate - regardless of political affiliation - who comes clean with the people of this state about the gravity of the state's financial situation and can come up with a reasonable plan to address the budget shortfall is the candidate who will have my vote, and I will very likely throw whatever modicum of political support I may have in that direction.

    As of today, the only person I've seen who has come started to engage people in an honest discussion about the budget is John Kitzhaber. "

    I don't care if it annoys people, but I have been leaning NAV and also towards measure politics against an outside quality standard.

    In this context, I can't think of a better standard than this tribute to Ben Westlund at the memorial service.

    ""Some would say practical-visionary is an oxymoron," said former Chief Justice Wally Carson. "Not so with Ben." Westlund could tell you, Carson said, "how to get there, how much it's going to cost and who is going to pay for it."

    The history of maintaining supermajority 2 sessions in a row (either party) is not long. All it takes is people who think a supermajority is arrogant, or an opposing candidate with strong local support (regardless of caucus politics, it is the voters in the districts who make the final decisions) and the numbers change.

    The more legislators we have who are open to being as honest AND involved in concrete details as Ben was, and as most members of Ways and Means are, the better off we are as a state--no matter who is in control.

  • Ms Mel Harmon (unverified)
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    To the JK supporters---how does he plan to sell the idea of a sales tax so that it won't be defeated as it has every other time that it's been proposed? And does he have a backup plan if (when) the sales tax idea goes down in flames or will he just declare us to "ungovernable"?

  • LT (unverified)
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    Mel,

    I did not hear John Kitzhaber last night saying "vote for me and I will put a sales tax on the ballot".

    If you are a Bradbury fan, go for it!

    But don't take things out of context when most things both candidates say are more nuanced than you seem to understand.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Sal said,

    "The candidate - regardless of political affiliation - who comes clean with the people of this state about the gravity of the state's financial situation and can come up with a reasonable plan to address the budget shortfall is the candidate who will have my vote, and I will very likely throw whatever modicum of political support I may have in that direction."

    Saturday, at the Westlund memorial at the capitol, W. Carson said (quote from SJ),

    "Some would say practical-visionary is an oxymoron," said former Chief Justice Wally Carson. "Not so with Ben." Westlund could tell you, Carson said, "how to get there, how much it's going to cost and who is going to pay for it."

    Those of us looking for a practical visionary for Gov. are not going to be swayed by verbal potshots.

  • Bradbury has a realistic shot, or progressivism is Oregon is dead (unverified)
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    "You seem so concerned about counting pro-Bradbury vs. not pro-Bradbury comments on Blue Oregon."

    LT -- I appreciate your neutrality and desire to have substantial debates.

    I'm not counting "comments." Nobody controls those numbers, and blueoregon publishes almost all comments, unless they're extremely offensive and unrelated to the content of the column.

    My concern was with the three "columns" posted in a week by an endorser of Kitzhaber criticizing Bradbury, while neglecting to say anything about the reality, or lack of reality, of Kitzhaber's call to work with Republicans and to pursue a sales tax.

    Seems to me one side is getting a little too long on the podium, that's all. And the audience is likely to hear the guy with the mic (the column) more than the comments in the crowd.

    Kari has made it plain in his statements above that he's open to guest columns by endorsers of Bradbury, which is fair.

    He's still being disingenuous about blueoregon's importance in Democratic primaries. Merkley and Novick had paid staff in 2008 who spent a large portion of each and every day monitoring blueoregon and trying to persuade readers here to vote for their candidate. That should tell you something.

    To claim, as Kari does, that blueoregon readers won't be affected by anything they read here is what Huck Finn would call a "stretcher."

    RE LNG and Kitzhaber's flip-flop last night --

    Kitzhaber waxed rather poetic in his closing statement last night about his dead mother, and that he told the truth at the OEA convention, and that caused him to lose the OEA endorsement. Is it that none of those folks at the OEA are able to hear the truth, or is it that they see Kitzhaber has walked away from the education model (QEM) that he put in place, and offers a sales tax to solve our budget problems?

    And, if he's now the truth teller in the race, was he telling the truth at the Lake Oswego debate when he said we needed to consider LNG as a bridge fuel, or was he telling the truth last night at Mult Co Dems debate when he said no to LNG? Or is the truth different depending on the audience?

    Truthfully, he's sounding more like a politician calculating how to win, calibrating his position on LNG to innoculate himself in the primary. He was out of touch on LNG, and despite Novick's claim that this race is in Kitzhaber's bag, Kitzhaber's flop on LNG is all the evidence you need that Kitzhaber himself ain't so sure he's going to win the primary.

  • Zap Boing (unverified)
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    "And does he have a backup plan if (when) the sales tax idea goes down in flames or will he just declare us to "ungovernable"?"

    I think we all know the answer to that, given Kitzhaber's track record so far.

    He'll declare the state "STILL ungovernable," throw up his hands, walk away, and then suddenly reappear after the rest of us have invested our time and effort rebuilding a strong Democratic majority and expect that he deserves to be the first person to take it for a spin.

    What a guy! :)

  • LT (unverified)
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    "My concern was with the three "columns" posted in a week by an endorser of Kitzhaber criticizing Bradbury, while neglecting to say anything about the reality, or lack of reality, of Kitzhaber's call to work with Republicans and to pursue a sales tax. "

    If you want to write a column, or have someone else on the Bradbury campaign write a column, saying it is unrealistic for Kitzhaber to talk about working with Republicans, then go for it!
    Submit a column using the Guest Opinion guidelines, and a week after it is submitted (no one is required to post a column within a certain number of hours after it is submitted---Kari has a life as do others involved with BO) if it has not been posted, scream bloody murder. But don't whine.

    I just got a Bus Project email about Rebooting Democracy--that Bradbury and Kitzhaber will be there. That's a dandy topic for a column, "Bradbury did an excellent job at Rebooting Democracy, and here are the details".

    Surely there will be enough Bradbury people at the event that one of them can write a column.

    About your screen name: Progressives a century ago believed in opening up the process to everyone, not the political machine idea that people are to be told who to vote for.

    It is possible for 10 people to hear candidates speak and come away with 10 different impressions.

    Personally, I am waiting to hear a candidate talk about a specific kicker reform proposal. "The voters have spoken" is nonsense given how many people currently old enough to vote were not old enough to vote when the kicker was put in the Constitution 10 years ago.

    I thought Bill and John last night showed how true public debate works. But part of that process is that we each as individuals have the right to decide what we thought of their various answers. If someone thought Bill did an excellent job on one question and John did an excellent job on another question, they have the right to that opinion.

    And if someone thinks both had more nuance in their answers than you seem to see in Kitzhaber's answers, they have a right to that opinion also. I've been to events where I appreciated the nuance in an answer and then later someone said "I was going to vote for your guy until I heard him say...." and I wondered if that person and I had heard the same answer.

    True Progressivism (at least of the original variety a century ago) meant allowing people to decide what they think for themselves, not telling them "you should believe in this answer but not in that answer".

    And as for this: " Is it that none of those folks at the OEA are able to hear the truth...", what was the final vote tally? All for Bradbury and none for Kitzhaber? Or did the delegates debate each other?

    My experience with OEA endorsements going back decades is that (as with platform debates and much else) the decision is made by the people in the room, and whether that reflects the views of the entire membership is open to question.

    (But then, in 1985 at the Dem. State Central Comm., a vote on a resolution which supposedly was "what all good Democrats believe" passed by 25-19, certainly not a representative sample of all Democrats in Oregon or probably all Dem. pct. people in Oregon. I was one of the 19. For that, I was told that thousands of volunteer hours donated to Democratic campaigns and party activity did not count---a REAL Democrat would have voted the other way. That did more to make me suspicious of peer pressure than to change my mind on the issue. And roughly 11 years later I would register NAV for 6 years -until I wanted to vote in a primary again. I may very well register NAV after this year's primary as I am not a strong partisan. I believe the best decisions are made when a group of Democrats and Republicans are able to find a way to work together on an issue.)

    We are lucky to have 2 such intelligent candidates. I told each of them to their face last summer that I thought we were robbed of intelligent debate in 2006 and I would vote for the person who I thought contributed most to such intelligent debate.

    Sorry, if you think your screen name contributes to Bill's campaign, but saying anyone who doesn't vote for Bradbury is not progressive is like saying progressives don't believe in the intelligent debate many of us crave, and that we saw last night.

  • Ms Mel Harmon (unverified)
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    LT,

    It's details that I feel JK is missing. He says he wants to put Oregon on a 10-year fiscal plan and that he wants to stop the ups/downs of our revenue stream----but he doesn't say how he plans to do that. And when asked about sales taxes, he won't commit either way. No, he didn't say he'd put it on the ballot. But he also didn't say he wouldn't or say what he would do. He's a very good politician--he tells each group what they want to hear, he's got his platitudes and sound bites down cold. He talks about "rebuilding" and "transforming" and "telling people the truth"---but he offers few ideas on how to actually move Oregon forward. Nuance? There is no subtle distinction here because there is no HERE, here.

    I like John--I volunteered for him in both his previous campaigns. But I personally feel this is more of a "do-over" campaign for him---"hey, let's see if I can get stuff done this time around that I couldn't before" and I just don't see the plans behind the words. So, I'm for Bill in this race because he is putting forth actual ideas. I hope Bill wins. But, to paraphrase Steve above, if John wins I'll gladly volunteer and work to get him elected. We're lucky to have them both in the race.

  • richard (unverified)
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    Just think, if the democrats keep up their over reaching trot to the left and lose the house and senate and Kitzhaber get's elected he can be the worthless and bitter Dr. No all over again.

    Won't you all look smart then?

  • (Show?)

    MMH - I disagree with your point about details.

    Candidates tend to speak in terms of broad themes on the campaign trail, but one of the reasons why I asked how many legislators support Secretary Bradbury's plan to put a measure on the ballot is that I know of legislators who are already working on some of the issues that you claim that Governor Kitzhaber has not spelled out the details on.

    I see this as the difference between an unrealistic promise "I'll put a measure on the ballot to require legislators to find $2 billion in dedicated funding for education" and a realistic one.

    I also disagree with you on the point of "telling groups what they want to hear". Think about it:

    Do you really believe that teachers would rather hear a candidate talk about performance measures and a ten-year funding plan, or a candidate make the promise to find an additional $2 billion in dedicated funding without mentioning the $2.5 billion shortfall that we are currently facing?

    The reason I like what Governor Kitzhaber is saying right now is that he isn't pandering in order to win votes.

    As to this business of a sales tax... What I have heard Governor Kitzhaber say is that we need to keep our options open in terms of revenue and cuts, including a sales tax. It is an example of something that needs to be evaluated, I have never heard or read anything by him that suggests it's the only option on the table, or even that it's the likeliest one.

    Personally, I think that the problems we are going to face over the next 4-6 years will make solving the last biennium's budget look easy by comparison.

    I haven't seen anyone who has all of the answers, but I am encouraged that at least some of the candidates are being realistic with voters and special interest groups about the problems we face rather than simply telling them what they want to hear.

  • Bradbury has a realistic shot, or progressivism is Oregon is dead (unverified)
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    "The reason I like what Governor Kitzhaber is saying right now is that he isn't pandering in order to win votes."

    Sal -- what did you make of Kitzhaber's flip flop on LNG last night? Why did he say it should be considered as a transitional fuel in Lake Oswego (and that it was a big difference between him and Bradbury), and then say before the Multnomah Co Dems that he's opposed to LNG?

    Could it be he's....pandering for votes?

    And if he's not worried about counting votes and just planning on speaking the truth, why didn't he show some leadership on M66 and M67? Steve Novick's had three long posts here, and now has added three long comments to the thread above (again attacking Bradbury, again no explanation of how realistic Kitzhaber's sales tax talk is....).

    But Steve Novick has run as fast as he can away from putting the words "John Kitzhaber" and "M66 and M67" in the same sentence. Kitzhaber disappeared, and the person who might be able to tell us why is a bit compromised here cause he's endorsed Kitzhaber, so he's keeping mum.

    Got any ideas, Sal, about why Kitzhaber disappeared on M66 and M67?

  • (Show?)

    I didn't see that part of the debate, and I am not at all familiar with Governor Kitzhaber's (or any of the Gubernatorial candidate's) views on LNG.

    My own view on LNG (in case anyone wants to pander for my vote) is this:

    I don't like any of the legislation to fast-track the permitting process for LNG pipelines without consent of landowners. I don't like the idea of pipelines impacting Ag land in the Willamette Valley.

    I have a much harder time opposing the proposed LNG terminal in Coos Bay because they are also talking about a gas-fired plant that will stabilize electricity generation for that part of the coast. I think it could be an important piece of the puzzle (along with improved rail service and increased port capacity) in terms of promoting real economic development in that part of the coast.

    Also, if the goal is to use an Oregon-based LNG terminal primarily to provide excess gas from Asia to markets in California, then it makes more sense to site the facility near the California border where it will have a more minimal footprint on this state.

  • Jake Leander (unverified)
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    Here's to a primary that does not descend to the kind of turd flinging fight we saw between supporters of Novick and Merkley in the US Senate primary. Thanks to Steve for the even-keeled discussion.

  • Bradbury has a realistic shot, or progressivism is Oregon is dead (unverified)
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    RE Sal and LNG

    "...if the goal is to use an Oregon-based LNG terminal primarily to provide excess gas from Asia to markets in California, then it makes more sense to site the facility near the California border where it will have a more minimal footprint on this state."

    Well, here's a really big idea. Why not site the LNG terminal IN California? Far fewer pipelines, and no footprint on this state.

    The goal -- the real goal -- is to make loads of money. But every proposed LNG site in California was rejected by the citizens in an uproar. So the LNG folks came north hoping to find some rubes who don't mind a smelly gas tank and potential explosions.

    Sorry, but this is a harebrained idea, and Kitzhaber should have known better.

    <hr/>

    RE Jake's thanks to Novick for being "even-keeled"

    A lot of those turds in 2008 came from the Novick camp.

    I find it very odd in this primary race to see a former two term governor with a large lead in fundraising and a supposedly large lead according to his own poll needing to unleash Steve Novick three times in a week to attack Bill Bradbury.

    If Kitzhaber wants to call Bradbury unrealistic, maybe he should man up and do it himself.

    And if Novick were "even-keeled" he'd explain where Kitzhaber was on M66 and M67, and how he's going to pass a sales tax, rather than attacking Bradbury as unrealistic. Seriously.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Posted by: paul c. | Mar 15, 2010 1:12:37 PM

    I'd like to see the merging of the private sector into the public sector, much like Hugo Chavez has done in Venezuela.

    "merging the private into the public" is what Baby Bush's corporate fascism was all about. Pretty sick of dittoheads using their darlings' own records to ridicule the left. Also promotes the naivety that the left might actually do something.

    Thank GOD you know better than the rest of us.

    You're welcome.

  • LT (unverified)
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    " needing to unleash Steve Novick"?

    Here is a really novel idea:

    Lots of people make up their minds based on what they hear from actual candidates.

    I agree with Jake. I was one of the undecided roughly 2 years ago -----although there were people here who were absolutely convinced that the deadline had passed to choose a candidate.

    If I had the "gall" to say I was undecided but on a particular issue I thought Merkley made more sense, then I was a "Merkleyite " and should admit it if I were honest.

    So, I wrote "thanks for making up my mind--I don't have to tolerate that sort of rudeness, obviously it is time to get a Merkley bumper sticker".

    The sticker is still on the back bumper of my car. If anyone asks about it, I say that I don't tolerate rudeness from campaigns and that is why I got the sticker.

    "Unleash" makes it sound like someone from Portland has the power to change minds in the rest of the state. If Steve had such a powerful hold on the minds of voters, why didn't he win?

    Perhaps because people made up their own minds?

    Better be careful with that rhetoric. Many of us know that the "deadline" for deciding on primary candidates is the day we start filling out our mail ballots. A campaign arrogant enough to claim the deadline is earlir than that because politics is all a game composed of teams is a campaign that deserves to lose. Bradbury deserves smarter supporters than "Bradbury has a realistic shot..." just like Novick (also a very bright, serious person) deserved better than the people who attacked anyone here who didn't say Novick was the greatest US Senate candidate ever and deserved the support of every registered Democrat.

    Last I heard, no one had removed the right of Oregonians to make up their minds as individuals.

  • timr (unverified)
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    The Alley/Dudley camps must be loving this...we are lucky to have both Kitzhaber and Bradbury. I hate to add the "eating our own" vibe, but Bradbury-has-a-realistic-shot... has convinced me. Bradbury has earned the support of progressives in the primary by repeatedly joining us in the trenches. It's ironic how easy it is to imagine the sting of a Novick piece castigating Kitzhaber for ducking M66/67.

  • steve Novick (unverified)
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    On 66 and 67: Legit question, obviously. I think John's answer would probably be that by the time he entered the race battle lines had already been drawn, and he would like to be able to bring some of the anti-66 and 67 business groups into future tax reform efforts (as he got Phil Knight to contribute $50,000 to a campaign against a Sizemore tax cut for rich people in 2000), and thought he would compromise his ability to do that by being out front on 66 and 67. I don't think that's too awful. But it wasn't ideal: I would have preferred that he take a different tack - that he had used the campaign to play a somewhat conciliatory role, but an educating conciliatory role, explaining to the business groups the 20-year context of the measures, reminding them that the 'permanent' $600+ million per biennium tax increase offset not even 15% of the $5 billion a biennium we've lost to 5 and 47.

  • Hate is not a party platform (unverified)
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    Well, I guess we don't need to hold an election.

    Per Novick's account here, Kitzhaber presumes he's governor in 2011. Why bother having folks vote?

    There's something a little presumptuous, and arrogant, in not taking a visible public stand on M66 and M67 because, if we are to believe Novick's explanation here, Kitzhaber was already thinking about how to work with anti-M66 and M67 business groups after he's sworn in.

    He has to get elected first. And if you haven't noticed, business folks like Phil Knight have already given very large contributions to Chris Dudley. They don't want Kitzhaber to be their governor at all.

    Kitzhaber has not only put the cart before the horse -- he's forgot his cowboy boots, too.

    I'm a little skeptical of this narrative, because it seems the more likely explanation is that Kitzhaber is quite worried about how win in November (if he gets that far....), and worried about the large contributions folks like Phil Knight are throwing Dudley's way, and decided to completely duck out on M66 and M67.

    Probably thinking that all such measures have failed in the past and will fail again, so it's best to not have to defend supporting tax hikes in the fall.

    It's up to blueoregon readers and Democratic primary voters to decide which Kitzhaber account sounds more plausible:

    A. I'm ducking M66 and M67 now because I'm definitely the next governor and I want to work with opponents of tax fairness on...tax reform...

    or

    B. I'm ducking M66 and M67 now because I don't want to be tarred by a well-funded Republican in the fall as a supporter of tax hikes.

    <hr/>

    I am sympathetic to Mr. Novick's ideal: even if Kitzhaber had played an educating conciliatory role during the M66 and M67 campaign, that would have been something. But he played no role at all.

    If I understand John Kitzhaber's statements on education from the debate before the Multnomah Co Dems, Kitzhaber says he plans to play an educating conciliatory role if he's elected, explain the "context" around education to Oregon voters, and then work up a tax reform plan some time down the line that would likely include a sales tax.

    Scratching my head here. Wouldn't the campaign for M66 and M67 have been a good place for a leader who once declared Oregon "ungovernable" to demonstrate those skills and renew some faith in him?

    Instead, he retired to the sidelines while public safety, social services, and education faced massive cuts.

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