By Thomas Crawford of Portland, Oregon. Thomas is a full time student and part-time politics junkie at the University of Puget Sound, where he studies U.S. Politics and Creative Writing. Previously, he contributed "The Real Lesson of the Palm Springs Trip".
Oregon Republican House candidate Steve Newgard (running in HD-40 against Democratic candidate Brent Barton) says he stopped paying his taxes so he could pay for his son’s college tuition outright. As a college student myself, I understand how difficult it can be to afford skyrocketing tuition costs. Fortunately, there are several ways that students today can manage the steep costs of higher ed. I, for example, took out loans which will likely haunt me well into middle age, and am working graveyard shifts as a campus security employee. My mother and father scrimp and save to help ensure I get an education as well; it is a hardship for them and for their middle class incomes, but they manage.
Newgard, however, has come up with a different method for paying for his son’s college: he stopped paying taxes on his home, his income, and a million dollar investment property.
Boy, do I feel silly. If I had known all my folks and I had to do to get out of paying taxes was say “Gosh, college is expensive,” that would have been my first choice.
If this article so far seems overly sarcastic or snide, I apologize, but the sarcasm is the only thing keeping my eyes from bleeding as I gaze upon this man’s hypocrisy. I might be a little more understanding if Newgard hadn’t already distributed campaign literature reading “Vote for people and policies that grow jobs so we can generate the tax dollars to fund education and other services that are essential.” Way to put your money where your mouth is, Steve.
Newgard has said in an interview with Willamette Week that his failure to pay taxes is “nothing to be proud of,” but he misses the point. Times are tough, and even as the economy slowly recovers, people are still going to have financial trouble. What’s upsetting about Newgard’s case is that he holds up his desire to pay for his son’s college as if it’s a viable defense. It’s not. You take out loans, you put in a few extra hours where you can, and you make sure you pay your bills.
For every other family, taxes aren’t optional.
If Newgard is having so much trouble budgeting his personal expenses, how can we expect him to do anything for the Oregon economy down in Salem? It’s impossible to hide from the truth on this one: we can’t.