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January 19, 2009 06:49 PM UTC

A Chance to Slay the TABOR Dragon?

  • by: Colorado Pols

Getting to the roots of Colorado’s endless fiscal nightmare is a delicate affair, as the Denver Post reports:

During a legislative session in which budget cuts will dominate the debate, several state political players from both parties have had initial but serious discussions about whether to take on that most famous of the state’s budget-binders: the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

In fact, some lawmakers opposed to TABOR said the current economic gloom might just provide the opening needed to defeat their old foe.

“There’s a consensus that the constitution doesn’t allow the legislature to deal with the issues facing the state,” said state Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder. “. . . I think there’s a feeling we need to do something.”

TABOR, among many other things, constrains the budget during healthy years by placing a revenue cap on the state. All revenue that comes in over that cap must be refunded. Generally speaking, Republicans adore the limitations and Democrats despise them.

The measure’s revenue limitations are in a timeout scheduled to expire at the end of 2010, though state coffers wouldn’t be bumping up against the cap this year anyway.

Sure, but the inability to build up reserves–or even use additional revenue to catch up deferred maintenance–in healthy years is a big reason why even minor economic downturns become budget-slashing emergencies for the state. And it’s not just TABOR, but TABOR’s interaction with numerous other spending mandates and limitations in the constitution that leaves lawmakers powerless to do anything besides cut when times get lean.

We said a couple days ago that the upshot in this bad situation may be that voters will get a bitter taste of the hard-right “drown the beast” model of (non)government perforce. There’s a consensus building that experiments in Colorado with shackling government to a mass of competing limits, with no concern for the increasing damage these twitty ideologically-stilted thinktank proposals are doing–indeed, the damage being an explicit goal–are one of the great failures of our times.

Evan Dreyer, a spokesman for Gov. Bill Ritter, said representatives from the governor’s office also have spoken with lawmakers about pursuing a TABOR change, something Ritter urged legislators to do during his State of the State speech.

Heath said he has also talked with University of Colorado President Bruce Benson and Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce boss Joe Blake.

Benson – a former state Republican Party chairman who supported the 5-year TABOR timeout known as Referendum C – confirmed the discussion on Friday and said “everything’s on the table.”

…Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry [said] taking on TABOR in a year when the state has so many other pressing fiscal issues would be a distraction.

“TABOR has zero impact on the budget cuts we will be forced to make this year,” Penry said. “Those are due entirely to the economy.”

Isn’t Josh Penry’s hubris-riddled statement exactly what we’re talking about? It’s not even cute anymore, it’s a simple inability to see beyond one’s own nose. To willfully refuse to acknowledge the underlying issues that impact Penry’s and the whole state government’s ability to function…well, it’s not quite the opposite of leadership, but it’s pretty close.

On the other hand, Democrats say sure–cast your lot with the throwback Doug Bruce TABOR warriors. Grandstand on yesterday’s battlefields. Tell us how great it is now that the government is broke like you’ve wanted for years. Better educated voters may be waiting in 2010 to make the whole Republican party pay dearly for it, to the dismay of Benson and other more reasonable figures.

This is something that former GOP Governor Bill Owens, for all his faults, began to realize toward the end of his term. Sometimes the ideology must give way in the face of reality–just a little, just enough that we can continue arguing about “big” or “small” government against the backdrop of a functioning government. But Senator Penry, it seems you’re no Bill Owens. And yes, the fact that you take that as a compliment is part of the problem.


71 thoughts on “A Chance to Slay the TABOR Dragon?

  1. You guys beat me to it, here’s what I posted at my blog this morning…

    …Until TABOR is eliminated Colorado will continue to be a Deep Southern state located in the Mountain West. It’s a tragedy that a state with the economic and intellectual resources of Colorado is doomed to rank as the 48th or 49th state in the nation in public health and education measurements. Our lawmakers are prevented from saving for hard times and from capitalizing on the good times to keep our state services functioning. Coloradans already enjoy a a very low tax burden, allowing government revenues to keep up with inflation and thus to continue to fund essential services is not a radical leftist position, indeed it is the only sensible position.

    To give an example of how TABOR is damaging the state lets look at transportation and the gas tax. Colorado has not raised its gas tax since 1992 when TABOR passed. Gas tax revenues are directed towards critical transportation infrastructure issues. Current gas tax rates are about 40 cents a gallon, if we had kept up with inflation our current rate should be about 58 cents/gallon. Current transportation funding needs are pegged at about $1.5 billion but the legislature and the governor have, essentially, no way to raise those needed funds. The consequences of this are that Coloradans lives are at risk. The Rocky Mountain News reported in the wake of the 2007 Minneapolis bridge collapse that,

    Nearly seven percent of bridges in Colorado are labeled structurally deficient, the same federal rating given the span that collapsed Wednesday in Minneapolis.


    Among them is a Denver span traveled by more than 139,000 motorists daily, a crumbling 43-year-old concrete stretch of Interstate 70 described as the worst in Colorado by Mark Leonard, the chief state bridge engineer…

    Colorado has 3,757 bridges owned by the state and more than 4,790 bridges owned by cities and counties. Of the 3,757 state-owned spans, 110 are considered in need of replacement and another 375 are in need of rehabilitation, said CDOT spokeswoman Stacey Stegman.


    Stegman said CDOT spends about $30 million a year on bridge repair and replacement. The department’s annual budget is $1 billion.

    Is it going to take a similar tragedy here in Colorado to move the TABOR ideologues in to action? Sadly I believe the answer is yes.  

    1. In California, Democrats have spent the state into virtual bankruptcy, and the state doesn’t have enough cash to meet its financial obligations despite the freedom to raise taxes to the moon.

      Moony tax policy won’t save Colorado. Disciplined tax policy, as enforced by TABOR, will.

      Liberal fascists use crises to increase their power, rush through unwise spending programs and raise taxes.

      So this is another power grab by politicians and self-serving administrators of public institutions that can’t and won’t make the sacrifices that taxpayers are making every day.

      Bruce Benson was a lousy gubernatorial candidate back in the early 1990s, and he’s proving that he’s a rich SOB who’s more interested in his legacy than in the welfare of Colorado.

      It’s time for politicians and their supplicants to realize that when times are tough, you pull in your belt and get on the team. Instead of working to increase your personal power, work to make Colorado economically sound so that we can come out of this recession strong and ready to take on the world.

      Taxpayers need tax cuts. They can’t afford to subsidize politiciians’ and special interests’ pet projects, and they shouldn’t be forced to.

      I know this is an anti-TABOR blog, but I want you to know that thinking people don’t agree with you.

      1. Ya know, I’m embarrassed at how many times I call you an idiot, but you keep proving it.  Reality and facts mean nothing to you.

        Yeah, right, TABOR has served us well.  For a preview, look at El Paso County.  Yeah, jus’ great.

        Taxpayers don’t need tax cuts!  Taxpayers need a government that can function and a legislative body that isn’t in a strait jacket.  

        “Taxes are the price of democracy.” Justice Bryant????

      2. Funny, the last time California faced a budget crisis it was all the fault of the Governor. Now that a Republican is in charge, its the fault of the legislature.

        Your entire post is a red-herring. We will never be California for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately thanks to folks like you we’re giving Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana a run for their money.

        Colorado’s roads and bridges are falling apart. Our rate of childhood poverty is increasing at frightening levels (up 76% since 2000). Our public universities, the backbone of our economy, are on the cusp of becoming the first in the nation to go private.

        You and your ilk show no interest in addressing any of these issues. Instead, like simple-minded and selfish children, you demand that your selfish interests be sated – damn the consequences for the state.  

        1. If low taxes and minimal public infrastructure were economically viable, Alabama would be a national model instead of a joke.

          There are things that are done more cheaply when they’re done collectively and with an eye to heading off future costs.  That’s why childhood health care, preventative road maintenance, and substance abuse treatment are cost-effective.

          You can pay now or pay later. Idiocy like TABOR forces us to pay later, which is ALWAYS more expensive.

        2. Now it’s obviously the problem.

          Never say Colorado will never be a California. A year ago people said stocks never would drop 40% in a year. They said big money center banks and investment banks never would collapse. And, of course, Fannie and Freddie never would fail. Bush never would nationalize banks and automakers.

          You can hope, but it’s dangerous to use the word “never.”

          It’s also wrong to lie with statistics. Comparing Colorado, which is rich in natural resources, including its highly educated people with the poor states of the states makes no sense.

          I don’t believe your ranking of our spending on universities, but if you’re right, so what? We have strong universities whose budgets are out of control. They could cut their budgets by 10% to 20% and the average student wouldn’t notice. Get rid of the extraneous crap and you’ll have a well run school.

          Universities and colleges around the country are cutting their budgets sharply, according to today’s NYT. The wise guys running their endowments made bad investments. We’re supposed to pay for those mistakes?

          Take a look at the childhood poverty stats. How much of that increase is due to the influx of illegal immigrants? How much is do to teenage pregnancy and single parent homes? How much is due to a lack of political and moral leadership and irresponsible parenting, not to mention politically dysfunctional schools?

          And how much worse is childhood poverty in Colorado versus comparable states? Time to get real, Steve.

          In good times, the state could afford to try to right the foibles of the people responsible for keeping kids out of childhood poverty—their parents.

          Think about it. If the parents had accepted their educational opportunities instead of worrying about being too smart, they and their kids wouldn’t be in poverty. Indeed, if the kids had two parents, it’s unlikely they would be in poverty.

          Blaming society for having illegal immigrants and people who made bad personal decisions is irresponsible.

          In my view, politicians and community “leaders” are trying to make hay out of the poverty stats just to enhance their personal political power.

          And that is  wrong. It’s also wrong to be an advocate  for the poor without being honest about why a lot of people are poor and that a lot of the poor are self-made poor.

          Take care of the people who are poor because they have low IQs, poor health and debilitating handicaps. Make examples of the self-made poor so their kids will make better decisions.

          1. thanks to TABOR.  The child poverty rate shot through the roof from 2000-2006, before Ref C kicked in, and when the effects of TABOR shredded the public safety net. Wyoming and New Mexico, two states that have higher per capita spending rates than CO, saw a decrease in child poverty in the same period.

            Rich people aren’t virtuous, and poor people aren’t immoral. Look no further than George Bush for proof that being average – or below average – but rich will get you ahead in life.  

            Define self-made poor, because if it’s defined as not working, that’s false.  And not that it matters, but 60% of CO families below the poverty line are white, and 90% are headed by US citizens.

            Most poor families (85%) have at lease one working member, and most people who lack health insurance – the #1 cause of bankruptcy – are working, too. Currently, a full-time minimum wage worker (40 hours/week, 52 weeks/year) would earn $10,712 a year, falling nearly 40% below the $17,170 poverty level for a family of three.

            And frankly, I’m not interested in passing judgment on why someone is poor, because there are plenty of immoral rich people out there and I’m not insecure enough to the Church Lady Superiority Dance. I am interested in providing the basic social services (like SCHIP) that will help them get ahead and move into the middle class.

      3. crippling state government with a constitutional amendment which constantly ratchets its revenues downward absolutely while simultaneously ensuring that any growth in that revenue is slower than the growth of the economy (shrinking the state both absolutely and relatively) is just plain foolish. One of the consequences is that local governments are rapidly “de-Brucing,” and the state is effectively disintegrating. It’s not a trivial matter: It’s an ongoing tragedy.

        1. What you haven’t told us is what services are so critical that they can’t be cut.

          Nor have you told us what you’d cut.

          “Nothing” is not an answer.

          1. Services so critical that they can’t be cut: K12 public education, higher education, health care, infrastructure maintenance, investments in economic development, to name a few.

            As for what I would cut, I honestly haven’t gone over the state budget, and so cannot answer the question. Nor, really, do I know why it is relevant. The challenge, conceptually, is simple: How to utilize government in ways which maximize the long-term welfare of Colorado’s citizens. That involves numerous choices regarding how to raise and allocate revenues. As a general principle, government spending that offers large returns on investment are to be prefered, though some spending required by a minimal commitment to immediate human needs must be accepted. Social programs should be designed to improve and utilize human capital whenever possible, rather than to simply create systems of dependency. In short, we should contemplate our social systems in their entirety, and strive to develop those systems in ways which serve our collective welfare.

            Now, given that conceptual framework (which I would hope is simply a restatement of the obvious), the question is: Does TABOR serve those ends, or obstruct them? One thing TABOR accomplishes at the state level is to ensure that the state government will CONSTANTLY shrink, year after year, for as long as TABOR is in effect. It removes discretion regarding how to raise and spend revenues, and so decreases our collective ability to address the challenges listed above. It eliminates our ability to keep surpluses which can be used in times of shortfall. And it displaces the provision of government services from the state to the local level, eliminating economies of scale, and increasing regional polarization of wealth and opportunity.

            But, other than that, it’s just great.

  2. But I remember how hard it was to get a little temporary relief with C, and how close that was.  It will need a lot of leadership and education to have a chance.

  3. 18 years ago, Douglas Bruce managed to scam the gullible right-wing voters of Colorado Springs into passing a mini-Tabor initiative that amended the Colorado Springs city charter. Its effects have been predictably disastrous, although the long boom that began in 1992 and continued through 2007 mitigated the mischief.  But here we are at last-ruled by Tabor’s demon spawn, with both city and county governments lacking the funds to deliver basic services. The Republican party, and the brain-dead amen chorus of right wing media, think tanks, and anti-government loonies that have conspired to perpetrate this continuing fraud, deserve to be thrown in the ash heap of history.

    But let’s face it-we’re screwed. Fixing things will cost money, and no one wants to pay-least of all the taxpayers.

    Unless the Josh Penry’s of the world do a quick about-face, and throw Tabor overboard, there’s not much hope.  And given that Repubs are mindlessly devoted to their anti-tax, anti-guvmint ideology, they’ll never let go of Tabor-that’d be like expecting Dick Cheney to pull out of Iraq when they failed to find WMD’s.

    1. What the earmark-loving left doesn’t understand is that there is a difference between essential government services and the costly pet projects of power-hungry left-wing politicians and the greedy special interests that support them.

      Since the early 1980s, we’ve enjoyed the greatest economic boom in history.

      When things are good, it’s human nature to live high on the hog. And did we slop at the trough of pork barrel politics.

      Hogs always are slaughtered. And now it’s the turn of the political hogs. They are being forced to realize that the world isn’t always hog heaven. Economic cycles happen because when housing and stock prices spike in buying panics, crashes follow.

      We’re crashing. And just as stock market speculators always deny that the good times are over for the Googles and Apples of the world, politicians like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd and Barack Obama always go through periods of denial that the good times are over.

      The people who survive to thrive are the ones who are quick to recognize opportunity at the beginning of a boom and even quicker to recognize that a boom is coming to an end. They make money and then preserve their capital.

      Last year and even now, a majority of investors were and are in denial. And they’ve lost 30% to 50% or more of their wealth.

      Politicians and special interests are in even more denial.

      It’s time to get real and realize we won’t be able to afford the luxury of costly, feel good social programs for years. Government has to focus on protecting our security, maintaining infrastructure and balancing the budget.

      Until the politicians get real and trim the bloat, we’ll be in deep trouble.

      1. Greatest boom since 1980?  I’ll grant ya RR finally got some economic engine fired up, but not by much.  Then Poppy Bush flopped and Clinton gave us the best economic years since FDR while reducing the deficit.  GW has been a net loss job and econimic indicator president.

        Conservatives do NOT want clean effective government.  That’s what is said, but just look at history.  And El Paso County.  

      2. Interesting that you speak of essential public services but don’t actually name any.

        I suppose collapsing bridges don’t count as “essential”, same for critical public health issues.

        How about you offer some specifics?  

        1. 1. Replace  and repair only the truly failing bridges. I’ll bet you could cut the number by 75%.

          2. Reform special education so that only the kids who really need special ed get it. Probably would save another 75% of the budget.

          3. Cut all sports and arts programs in the schools. Let parents pay for those activities, if they can. If they can’t, we’re in a recession and taxpayers and the overall good of the state come before the interests of the kids, sad to say.

          4. Stop requiring health providers to treat illegal immigrants. This will save billions.

          5. Simplify Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP and many laws and regulations in education. This would save $100s of billions.

          6. Go to a flat tax. We spend as much preparing taxes as paying them. Save $75 billion for taxpayers.

          7. Reform onerous environmental laws and regulations. Put people before plants, pests and pets. Cut the cost of making and buying vehicles. Encourage the production of energy, which would increase tax revenues and add jobs.

          8. Stop all business subsidies. End the subsidization of corn ethanol, wind farms, solar energy. In short, get politicians out of the business of picking entrepreneurial and business winners and losers. Politicians are wrong every time. Ask the Soviets. Oh, I forgot, there are no more Soviets.

          9. Cancel the Davis Bacon Act, which requires states using Fed funds to pay above market, inflated union wages, which bankrupt states and municipalities that take Fed funds to build roads, schools, etc.

          10. Ban all government contractors from engaging in defacto and actuall pay to play contributions to politicians’ election campaigns.

          Enough for now. What would you do to cut spending?

          1. 1. How do you define “truly failing?” However you define it we have billions in repairs ahead of us. How do you suggest we fund those repairs?

            2. Special ed, have you studied this issue? How do you decide who “really needs it” and how do you come up with your magical 75% number? Please explain yourself in detail.

            3. Sports programs provide after school activities for kids who would otherwise be on the streets. They also provide leadership development. They go a long way towards saving the state money from dealing with kids who may other wise be swept up in the juvenile justice system. Leadership development is critical for turning out good citizens and not just kids who know arithmetic and can recite some important historical dates.

            Art classes were among the core classes in the NCLB act. In other words, even George W. Bush understands how critical those classes are to the development of students.

            4. Health care for immigrants, would you prefer that they simply show up at the ER when they are on deaths door? This is significantly more expensive than allowing access to preventative care. We need to find ways to incorporate these people into the current system, it saves considerable money over forcing them to the margins of society. Not allowing them to access health care does not prevent them from getting sick, instead it multiplies the costs and issues when they do seek help.

            5. There’s nothing to even discuss here, you make broad statements and draw conclusions out of thin air.

            6. A flat tax isn’t going to save Colorado’s budget. It’s beginning to look like you’ve just posted a laundry list of rightwing pet causes. Besides the flat tax would actually balloon the deficit.

            7. I guess it hasn’t occurred to you that without plants, animals and pests there won’t be any people.

            8. We should clean up our corporate welfare schemes. We can start with the defense industry and move on to agribusiness. Let me know when your GOP friends are ready to address these issues. I won’t hold my breath.

            9. Davis Bacon props up local economies by ensuring that local labor is used on Federal projects. Destroying the incomes of workers and at the same time undercutting the tax base for state and local governments isn’t going to help Colorado.

            10. The 1st Amendment disagrees with you.

            Its interesting that in your rightwing laundry list you essentially ignore the issue at hand (the Colorado budget) and instead write very broadly and with no supporting evidence about pet conservative causes. You’ve clearly demonstrated that you’ve given nothing but the most superficial thought to any of these issues. Its simple to sit back and harass those who are trying to find constructive solutions to complex problems. I challenged you to provide some solutions and you’ve failed miserably. You’ve clearly demonstrated that you have no ideas to address the Colorado budget crisis and you’re only interest is in pushing your rigid ideology.  

                1. I’d rather have a a “tax-and-spend” guy who will actually pay for things as they get down, as opposed to “tax cut and deficit” guy who uses Conservative myths to govern and then blames someone else when the coffers are empty and things start falling apart.

                  Your “ten points” of spending may play well on Peter Boyles or Rush Limbaugh, but it’s founded on some much bullshit, er ideology that it’s not even worth considering as a serious debate.

                  If anti-tax asshole John Caldera, who has a special-needs kid supports some spending in schools, then maybe your blanket observation is even more empty that it sounds.

          2. 7 hours after AS posted and still no one offered another plan then to shout down at you. Well, here is the Guv plan….

            Overview of the Budget-Balancing Plan:

            Spending Reductions and Program Cuts ($201.1 million):

            – Reduce executive branch departments and programs ($166.3 million)

            – Delay General Fund payment to Fire & Police Pension Assoc. ($34.8 million)

            Transfers and Diversions to the General Fund ($289.7 million):

            – Cash fund transfers ($207.1 million)

            – Higher Education Maintenance and Reserve Fund transfer ($47.2 million)

            – Vendor fee change ($12.8 million)

            – Gaming revenue diversion ($11.9 million)

            – Other revenue diversions ($10.7 million)

            – Emergency Reserve ($134.1 million)

            Notable Elements of the Balancing Plan:

            Federal Recovery and Reinvestment Package: In the event of one-time federal recovery dollars, the top priority would be to: 1st) avoid reductions to the 4 percent emergency reserve, and 2nd) avoid transfers from the 21 cash funds utilized in the balancing plan.

            Construction Projects: freezes an additional 64 projects and saves an additional $43.4 million.

            Hiring Freeze: On Oct. 1, Gov. Ritter instituted a hiring freeze [eds: WINK ;)], which is ongoing, resulting in an $11.3 million savings.

            Gaming Revenue: … preserve at least 50 percent of those funding levels while still transferring $11.9 million to the General Fund. The balancing plan preserves:

            – $10.4 million for travel and tourism promotion

            – $1.6 million for new-job incentives

            – $823,647 for the State Council on the Arts

            – $329,459 for film incentives

            Vendor Fee Change: Colorado is one of many states that impose a statewide sales tax. … saving the General Fund $12.8 million.

            K-12 Education: … enact a number of other steps to achieve a $43.5 million savings, including:

            – Reduction to Public School Finance Formula ($20 million)

            – Charter School Capital Construction Program ($4.9 million)

            – Teacher Quality Recruitment Program ($1.2 million)

            – Alternative Teacher Compensation Plan ($1 million)

            – Summer School Grant Program ($973,000)

            Higher Education: … proposes a $30 million reduction to the FY08-09 allocation to higher education …

            Health Care: … eliminate the planned expansion of Children’s Basic Health Plan eligibility from 205 percent of the federal poverty to 225 percent … saving $21.7 million.

      3. I would like to amend my post. It’s not just the left-wing politicians who are in denial.

        Republicans are still trying to spend on roads and bridges, which is what their constituents want them to do.

        They’re as responsible for the bloat as anyone.

        Thank you.

      4. rather than on the nuts-and-bolts realities of how governments function, what is legitimately required of them, and how much it costs.

        Are earmarks and pork barrel spending serious problems we should address in serious ways? Absolutely. Is starving government the way to do it? Absolutely not. In fact, Colorado was already ahead of the curve in instituting effective ways to reduce wasteful spending: Art. V sec. 21 of the Colorado Constitution limits substantive bills to one subject; Art. IV sec. 12 grants the governor the line-item veto; Art. V sec. 32 limits appropriation bills to specified state-level obligation; and Art. V sec. 40 prohibits “log-rolling” (or “vote trading”). That’s an impressive set of tools that the federal government doesn’t have.

        1. If you can’t think strategically, tactics don’t matter.

          Colorado voters obviously didn’t think the measures you list were working back in 1992 when they voted in TABOR.

          And they correctly don’t trust legislators nor governors to protect them from high taxes and gratuitous earmarks and pork barrel projects.

          Certainly, there are services that governments need to provide, but politicians have become so dependent on bringing home the earmark that it’s gotten out of hand.

          Why do you think Obama and McCain campaigned against special interests (Obama) and earmarks (McCain)? It was because the public understands better than most political advocates and Chambers of Commerce folks that the system is corrupt and needs to be cleaned up.

          I am all for shrinking the state budget and letting local school boards and governments sell their voters on taxes and projects. Yes, richer areas get more money that way, but the rich should be allowed to spend their money on themselves, not on some politicians’ pet projects.

          The key is to spend enough on the poor areas to ensure that their kids have decent (yet to be defined) educational opportunities and that people aren’t put on the streets. But we shouldn’t be trying to give inner city kids Cherry Creek schools. No amount of money can accomplish that.

          1. 1) Obama and McCain addressed themselves to issues in the federal government, in which the perfect storm of separation of powers, federalism, deficit spending, and electoral politics has created a system of chronic and excessive pork barrel spending far more eggregious than anything Colorado has ever experienced. The federal government lacks all of the anti-pork provisions I listed above.

            2) What the electorate wants, and what serves their interests, are not necessarily identical. Populism and governance by plebiscite may appeal to particular inclinations and beliefs, but it is not necessarily a good idea. The ease with which our state constitution can be amended by popular referendum is a recipe for ongoing disaster. Several factors contribute to the folly of this excess of direct democracy: a) statutes and amendments proposed by initiative are often poorly drafted, and laden with unintended consequences; b) reliance on dedicated expertise, people who understand economics and law, is circumvented; and c) short-sightedness and socially disintegrative tendencies to undermine government’s ability to act as a collective agent on behalf of the populace inform naive decisions made by people who have neither the training nor the time to fully understand the consequences of those decisions.

            Social systems are complex. Democracy is needed to ensure that the interests of those who are represented prevail over the interests of those who represent them, but republicanism is needed to ensure that expertise and professionalism inform public policy.

            1. Yeah, the smart, educated policy experts certainly have acquitted themselves well.

              First they created Social Security, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Medicare, Medicaid, securitized mortgages, no interest mortgages and bailouts that didn’t keep us out of a recession.

              You’re a smart guy, and you think smart folks should rule even though smart guys like you seem to do dumb things over and over. If they aren’t impeached, they lose their jobs and their businesses after ruining millions of lives and fortunes.

              So don’t give me this anti-democracy nonsense.  I can appreciate that you don’t think smart folks should be second guessed and out voted by dumb voters.

              But it happens all the time. And, FYI, the country’s been doing just fine since George Washington took the oath of office despite the mistakes of the fascism- and communism-loving left during the 1920s and 1930s.

              1. as that all people do selfish things. That’s why I mentioned the importance of electoral politics for making sure that the interests of the represented rather than of the representatives are being furthered. In fact, I strongly believe (and often discuss) that that is precisely the essential challenge of social policy: Aligning individual and collective interests. That includes the agency problem of aligning the interests of agents (eg, politicians) with principles (eg, the people they represent).

                And, despite your convenient caricature, I don’t see the world in terms of “smart people” and “dumb people.” I see the world in terms of people with different kinds of training, and different demands on their time. I wouldn’t try to hire my lawyer to fix my plumbing, because he probably lacks the expertise, and because he certainly lacks the time to acquire it immediately. Neither would I rely on my plumber to determine the best economic policy, for the same reasons.

                Of course, smart, well-trained people engaging in their area of expertise not only do selfish things, but also do dumb things, all the time. For instance, plenty of lawyers do plenty of dumb things which cost their clients plenty of money or liberty, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to solve that problem by asking my gardener to represent me in court.

                There are two basic, and somewhat conflicting, challenges of governance: To maintain a government that advances the interests of the people, rather than of the people in power (except as appropriate compensation for services rendered), and to maintain a government that acts with maximum intelligence. Direct democracy might accomplish the former but neglects the latter. Overly centralized governments (dictatorships, oligarchies, etc.) might accomplish the latter, but neglect the former. Some hybrid is required to accomplish both, and that is precisely why our Founding Fathers intentionally created such a hybrid.

                Citing failures of a current form of government as an argument that some other particular form is preferable is, obviously, a completely fallacious argument. By that logic, medical malpractice can be cured by having the patient’s spouse perform the surgery, or, more to the point, you can as easily argue that the failures of government you cite prove that monarchy works better.

                If you pay attention to what I say, rather than convert it into a straw man, you would see that I am very explicit in my conviction that “smart folks should be second guessed and out voted by dumb voters.” That is the role of democracy. In fact, there is vast genius in the (untrained) many that can not be matched by the brilliant few. The average (mean) guess of a thousand non-mathematicians guessing the number of jelly beans in a jar comes within a percentage point of the actual number, while no mathematician can come nearly so close. The genius of time and numbers is evidenced in nature, where evolution “dumbly” carves out organic systems far more sophisticated than anything humans can create. In fact, all of my arguments are directed at how best to unleash and channel that collective genius in human affairs.

                And government by plebiscite clearly isn’t the answer. Both logic and evidence have demonstrated that over and over again.

                1. Steve,

                  I pretty much agree with you.

                  However we govern, we’ll always be frustrated with the results and the process. I firmly believe in representative government.

                  At the same time, I’m very discouraged by the products turned out by legislators, and I’m not impressed by many of them. See Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi for examples of idiots in action.

                  At the same time, referenda can be so distorting. The herd mentality is no more trust worthy than one-party governments.

                  This is why I’m happy to see the threat of referenda as a check on one-party governments and on legislatures and their executives in general.

                  Just as public schools need competition, elected officials need both the threat of the next election but also the threat that voters will over rule them.

                  1. but the actual use (of direct initiative, rather than of referenda), not so much. One excellent compromise would be to institute the indirect initiative in place of the direct initiative in Colorado: It gives the people the opportunity to advance legislation, but gives the “experts” a chance to suggest amendments or propose a competing measure before putting it on the ballot. Also, it’s a damn shame referendum O didn’t pass, which would have made it easier to put proposed legislation on the ballot by popular initiative, but harder to put constitutional amendments on the ballot. That would have gone a long way toward both preserving the benefits of direct government, while avoiding much of its worse side-effects. As with all things, we’re dealing with packages of pros and cons, and social policy is about both picking the best package, and succeeding in implementing it.

                    I’m glad we came to some degree of agreement: Real discourse among people with ideological differences is one of the most important ingredients of a well-functioning democracy.

    1. More lost jobs, deeper recession, crappier and crappier infrastructure, education and healthcare availability, more middle sinking to poverty and less hope for a better economy any time in the nearer future.

      And while the anti-gov types like to point to WWII as the sole reason for the end of the Great Depression, going to war won’t help this time, as proved by Iraq. Of course no previous administration (not just US but anywhere ever) ever went to war, lowered taxes and put it all on foreign banks’ credit cards, either.  

      When it comes to solutions, you’ve got nothing on the local, state or federal level. “Tax payers bill of rights” amendments have turned out just like “right to work” legislation.  The “rights” to a crappier life for the American wage earner.

      1. …by a steeply progressive income tax and the sales of war bonds.  Those monies were put into circulation and made jobs. (Although military production does not really stimulate the economy in the long run. Once a bomb is made, there is no economic gain.)

        OTOH, Hitler borrowed money from Prescott Bush’s Union Bank to fund Messerschmidts, until that socialist FDR put a stop to it.  

        1. if you wiki Brown Brothers Harriman about the Bushies, German investment in the US with them and their various business ties, and WWII.

          Of course that blithering idiot Bob Schaffer ran around campaigning this fall that if it weren’t for the conservatives in WWII “we’d all be speaking German right now ”

          I think it’s an issue of ignorance rather than revisionist history.  You have to know at least know the history in the first place in order to revise it.

    2. The problem with Tabor has to do with the ratchet/revenue & spending caps. It was sold as a simple measure to give voters the ability to vote on tax increases-but Bruce sneaked in the other stuff, downplayed it during the election, and crowed afterwards.

      Had it been a simple “vote on tax increases” amendment, it would have accomplished its purpose-to rein in runaway spenders, encourage prudence, and force legislators/special interest pleaders to make their cases to the taxpayers directly.  Instead, it put government on self-destruct autopilot.

      1. I just hope they don’t go totally down the path of repealing the ability of citizens to vote on tax increases.

        The reason this effort to kill tabor is being pulled now is to deflect the issues at hand and set up the 2010 general election. If the anti tabor crowd can make the citizens beleive that, but for tabor, Colorado would not be having a recession then it spins the anti tabor vote to a positive.

        Just as 2006 was set up with Ref C being the central point, this issue will be used by the chamber to call out any candidate as being against Colorado for not supporting the total removal of tabor. Additionally the coalition will need to avoid a review of the tie-ins to the gallagher amendment and amendment 23.

        At the end of the day the chamber will capitulate, enjoin the broad ‘community coalition’ to remove tabor. With a shinny smile on their face they will then ask their ‘business members’ to pony up millions for an effort that grants unfettered access to their pocketbook.

        The mindless sheep at the chamber will miss the fact that this gallagher amendment mandates a residential-commercial tax ratio. This ratio will continue to keep our residential tax burden low, after all, any significant increase is residential taxes would be regressive in nature.

        At the end of the day commercial property taxes increases will continue to hammer the same community that unwittingly funds mechanisms that allow them to up-ratchet.

        Meanwhile I look forward to retiring right here in CO with low property taxes … in about 80 years after I pay the tax burden for all these bailouts.

          1. This next year is a perfect opportunity to put all of the budget crippling laws on the table for a total make over. This way, everyone’s ox is there and we can make new laws that cover the big picture and our years of expience with them.  TABOR isn’t all bad, but we now know the parts that are.  Amendment 23 might be reduced or include a “when times are good” kicker or similar.  Gallagher I confess to not understand.  The tax reduction of Ref. C needs to be revisited.  Gasoline taxes and extraction taxes are way too low.  They need to follow some index and not just flat rate. Implement the rainy day fund.  Implement higher gas taxes when the price is down. Etc. Etc. Etc.

            This would be similar to the closing of military bases.  It’s all or nothing. For the voters, most of whom care not a whit for minutia, only need to be sold on the general benefit for them. And it doesn’t necessarily mean whether taxes go up or down.

            A bipartisan panel wold be a good start. Or Pols!  

            1. The chamber will do all it can to lead that bipartisan coalition of tax raisers.

              The issue the chamber will look the other way on is the defeat of gallagher. They’ll be so enthralled with themselves and the coalition that at the end of the day it (the removal of gallagher) will not pass and they’ll be stuck getting a bare butt ride on un-sanded pine.

    3. I think the grand compromise will find a better way to quantify what a tax increase is, maybe total receipts, after an inflationary increase, averaged over 3 years. The trick is to find a solid way to measure when the state is increasing it’s piece of the pie.

      And then when that does occur, I think it will still require a vote. People in this state want to be asked about tax increases.

  4.  We’d be in for much larger budget cuts if the politicians had been able to spend as much as they wanted in previous years. Does anyone really think the lege would have saved a reserve fund?

    I doubt they would have put much more to roads and bridges for that matter. More likely they would just have shoveled a few billion more in to the black hole of education boondoggles.

      1. We’re a billion dollars in the hole for the next 2 years. We haven’t avoided anything. All TABOR has done is successfully knee cap our elected leaders and undermine essential state services, public health and safety.

        You all are living in a fantasy world.  

          1. I moved to CA a few years after that.  At the time I didn’t have much interest in politics, so I’m no expert.  But my sense is that the following unintended consequences followed:

            1.  It shifted funding from local to state for K-12. In fact, this was the outcome of court rulings that agree is was the state’s responsibility to fund K-12, not local.

            2.  It warped the real estate market because of the 3% limit except for new buyers.  Or when you bought a new home.  (Florida recently voted in a complex method of carrying your Homestead Exemption to one’s next house providing blah blah blah. Once it starts, this kind of stuff never ends.)

            3.  Local services have decline a lot.  County hospitals have even closed.  

            Of course,

            1. you moved to California in the 1st place. (joking)

              I just don’t get it though. If CA has seen all these declines in government services, local services, hospital closings, k-12 destruction, poor roads, a horrible business environment, etc… then how have they developed a $40 BILLION dollar debt?

        1. Colorado will get 1-2% of President Obama’s investment monies just as a bump on the Medicaid portion. On top of that we’ll see billions in education (Polis’s $415 million projection) http://www.rockymountainnews.c… transportation and other grant monies.

          Polis said the funds would be broken into two parts over two years: $280 million to help low-income and special education students and $135 million for building repair and construction. Polis said the plan is still making its way through Congress and will be taken up by the Appropriations Committee and the Ways and Means Committee in the House in the coming weeks.

          Colorado added 1,300 FT position in 2007-2008, just this fall (during the hiring freeze) we added 300, cut $300 million from transportation for 2008-2009 and we unionized the state workforce. It doesn’t sound like we’ve exactly been tight on spending nor prioritized.

          Nice try on the “claim I’m a victim” strategy. You want knee capping, call Nancy Karrigan and ask her what it is like.

  5. Before Dougie got the State TABOR passed, he managed to put Colorado Springs behind a more onerous version: can’t accept Federal funds without counting toward revenue limits, 30 word max on tax ballot items, tougher restrictions on enterprises, etc.

    A recent Citizen’s panel suggested repealing the City’s TABOR – would get rid of the more onerous aspects but still would have kept the State TABOR in place.  You would have thought it was the end of the world with some of the comments from the Bruce clones.  Looks like all that will make the ballot is a provision to allow the acceptance of Federal funds without it counting towards the limit.

    When it was pointed out that Colorado Springs would still fall under the State TABOR, the comeback was that “you can’t count on the State TABOR being around forever.”

    Oh really.

    If TABOR is so good, why would the voters get rid of it?

  6. We can discuss this ad nauseum, bottom line is it won’t change this year.  There is no way Coloradoans are going to vote to let their government increase taxes willy nilly during a recession.  If they want to change this they need to wait until the economy gets better, of course then it won’t be a problem.

    We all have to tighten our belts right now, why shouldn’t the state tighten up with us.

    1. it’s our agent. I don’t think that it is accurate to characterize the Colorado state government as a bunch of parasites draining our wealth: For the most part, it is a bunch of hard-working people who are modestly paid to perform a vital service to the best of their ability. The state may, at times, hire more people than it needs, and that may be something that we are right in opposing, but it’s still just working salaries for some Coloradans. The state’s spending may be smart or dumb, well-targeted or poorly-targeted, but it almost all comes back to us, collectively, in one form or another.

      So it is not automatically reasonable that if we have to tighten our belts, that the state should have to tighten its as well. Think of a family in the Great Depression (The Waltons, anyone?): They pool their resources in order to stretch them farther. The state can and should (and to some extent does) work the same way: A higher percentage of our wealth should go to it in hard times than in good, so that we can use our collective wealth to get through those hard times.

      I don’t know about you, but I’m not in danger of starving or freezing this winter. More people than ever are. Doesn’t it make sense that those of us who aren’t step up and help out those of us who are?

      Furthermore, despite arguments to the contrary, states can indeed spend themselves out of recessions. The old partial truth that The New Deal didn’t do anything to end the Great Depression, and that only World War II got us out of it ignores two facts: 1) The New Deal was in fact enjoying some modest but significant success in growing the economy until 1937, when Roosevelt decided, due to that success, that it was time to try to balance the budget, throwing the economy back into a tailspin which only WWII got us out of, and 2) World War II was, after all, a massive spending program, and that is why it got us out of the Great Depression.

      For those who argue, in a blindly ideological fashion completely divorced from empirical evidence, that it is better for the economy to leave money in the hands of individual consumers and investors than to give it to the government to spend, the question is, why, then, did World War II have such a massive ameliorative effect on a failing economy?

      Of course, recessions are a great time for deficit spending, but the state of Colorado has denied itself that luxury. Maybe we need to change that, and reserve the right to run a deficit for times like this. But, alas, we won’t do it in time to deal with this recession, and we probably won’t do it ever, because there’s too much ideology informing our policies, and not enough analysis.

        1. TABOR doesn’t prohibit us from pooling our resources.  It just doesn’t allow the State to do it without our consent.

          Go write a fat check to the Denver Rescue Mission, United Way or even the El Paso County school district.  I’m sure they would love the donation and you would be putting money where you want it go.

          1. is that it ignores microeconomic realities. If provision to public goods is left to private choice, according to game theory (a currently recognized branch of microeconomic theory), then it will be underprovided. Taxation is necessary precisely because individual incentives militate against contributing to public goods, even if all individuals would strictly benefit from all individuals contributing.

            Here’s how I taught this to my high school students: We had a classroom currency called “classroom currency points” (CCPs). I started one class by making this offer to my students: Each of you can choose now weather to pay me 10 CCPs. For each of you that decides to pay me, I will give 1 CCP to each and every  member of the class, whether they paid me or not. The results varied, but here’s the follow-up explanation: For each individual, looking strictly at their individual incentives, they can choose to exchange 10 CCPs for 1 or not. Their choice doesn’t affect anyone elses, so what others do is an external issue. Following their own material self-interest, each student would opt not to enter that bargain. But if everyone, instead, agreed to the bargain, then, in a class of 30 students, each would be exchanging 10 CCPs for 30. That is the nature of collective action problems (variously called prisoners dilemmas, free-rider problems, and tragedy of the commons).

            That is precisely what government is for: To overcome such collective action problems. I’ll continue this in response to your post below.

            1. OK, fair enough, but there is one problem I have with your scenario and I’m interested as to how this plays out in game theory.

              In your classroom you are distributing 30 CCPs for every 10 that are donated.  Where to the extra 20 come from?  From an early age we all learn that nothing comes free, and this is my personal issue with government redistribution of assets.  I don’t feel that when I pay my $10, there is not $30, or even $10 of benefit that goes back out.  I have no idea if there is anyway to prove this but there has to be government overhead and the more layers of government there are the more this overhead has to be.  Putting tax dollars in at a local level should create higher percentage returns than putting them in at a state or federal level, simply due to overhead.

              My perception is that government run programs are less efficient and more easily exploited than private ones, as exampled by things like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  This may be right or wrong, but I think it’s an attitude many of us share.

              So, coming back to TABOR, as I understand it TABOR allows tax increases if they are brought to the people for a vote.  Is it possible convince the people that increasing the tax rate to include their 10 CCPs is good for everyone?  Is there any way to guarantee that it is?  Is there any hope to create an informed, intelligent electorate, or is everyone continually going to vote based on passion an rhetoric?  If passion continues to rule at the polls I don’t think it’s likely that TABOR will be overturned any time soon.

              1. The answer to your question is that we live in a non-zero-sum world. That means that that the sum of gains and losses is not zero: It may be more or less than zero, depending on the arrangements by which they are produced.

                The example using CCPs simulates the fact that there are many forms of cooperation that produce wealth. A simple example is the creation of a reliable currency, which facilitates market exchange, which increases GDP. The currency itself is government backed, the product of a collective investment. The investment, derived from collected taxes, collectively (in the aggregate) enriches the tax payers more than their tax payments collectively impoverished them. That’s where the extra 20 CCPs come from.

                Your assumption is that all government spending yields returns smaller than the initial investment. This is empirically false. Our investments in police and military are necessary to protect our citizens from domestic and foreign violence, which would cost us much more in money alone (not to mention life and peace of mind) than the taxes we pay for that security (leaving aside the questions of how much physical force is needed to maintain that security, and what other investments might yield even higher returns in that area). Our enormous investment in education, as flawed as our educational services may be, yield a mostly literate and functional population, to an extent that would be very difficult to achieve if each family were left to do so on their own. I believe that the yields on that investment far exceed their costs. And so on, and so on.

                There are certainly programs that can be debated, though I think that you are accustomed to a set of ideological assumptions that blind you to the costs of failing to make certain public investments that you consider wasted money.

                Empirically, some government programs are actually more efficient than commensurate private ones (health insurance being one example), though I agree that that is often not the case. The issue, however, is when and whether private provision is viable, and how to regulate it. If we rely on private enterprises to provide public goods, then government has a role, the very minimum, of ensuring that the private enterprise actually provide the public good. The question then becomes how much to privatize (and regulate) the provision of public goods, and how much to simply contract government to do it. There are some empirical analysis concerning when one or the other is more efficient (see, for instance, Charles W. Howe, “The Effects of Privatization of Public Services: The case of Urban Water,” in which Prof. Howe argues that privatization is most successful in industries which rely on more “flexible” technologies, permitting multicompany use of facilities, and less successful in the provision of services that are “natural monopolies.”)

      1. Your concept of government not being a giant parasite is a nice concept, but true or not, I don’t believe the average joe sees it that way.

        My position is that government should ONLY be involved those things that can’t be done by the private sector or a lower level of government (city rather than county, county rather than state, state rather than federal).  Anything beyond that is parasitic an corrupt.

        Pooling our money is a great concept, but can we trust those who manage it?  Are they going to feed the starving, or pad the pockets of those who don’t really need it?

        Discussing the Depression is difficult.choice.  I’ve read several pieces lately that say FDR’s New Deal may have actually slowed the recovery and it took a massive investment in WWII to offset the damage that was done.  Another thing that’s often overlooked is the technology that came from the war effort.  There was a phenomenal amount of advancement that took place in every arena from medicine to manufacturing as a result of the wartime push.  These changes gave something that the economy could grow on in the subsequent years.

        We can speculate all we want, but economists and historians are split pretty much down the middle when asked if FDR helped or hurt.  I doubt that any of us here will resolve the answer.  What I do know is that deficit spending is generally bad, and higher tax rates generally don’t improve an economy.  The government can encourage economic growth, provide infrastructure and do other things that might help the economy, but they don’t directly generate money and are mostly a drag on the economy.  TABOR minimizes that and I think passing it is  the best the state has ever done.

        1. human sacrifice were necessary to propitiate the gods, would I be obliged to accomodate the average Joe’s beliefs?

          1) There is a field of beliefs, ideologies, and, in general, perceptions of reality, with people occupying various locations, and perhaps slowly moving through the field as experience and education, or indoctrination, affect them. As a person with a location in that field, I strive to affect others, because I selected my location carefully, and believe that attracting others to it serves our collective welfare. Others, such as yourself, do the same, for the same reasons. None of us either has to, nor is inclined to, simply surrender to the beliefs of others. So, what “the average joe” believes is just part of the project we are all working on, each trying to create a stronger attractive force toward our own location, and hopefully yielding to stronger attractive forces (eg, more compelling arguments) when we encounter them.

          2) Why not say, instead, that government at all levels should only be involved in providing those things that it has a comparative advantage in providing; that can’t be provided as efficiently, fairly, or effectively through any other institution at any other level; that the goal of social institutional organization is to maximize benefits while minimizing costs, and to ensure that the distribution of access to those benefits is fair and impartial?

          3) The agency problem of binding agents to act on behalf of their principle is one of the factors that we must take into consideration when contemplating optimal social policies. We should not assume that it means we should eschew principle-agent arrangements because the problem exists, but rather try to measure the costs and benefits involved in particular principle-agent relationships, and whether the net results of choosing that particular arrangement for that particular purpose is preferable to any other alternative.

          4) My description of the effects of the New Deal come from Paul Krugman, 2008 nobel prize winner in economics, who won the nobel prize for his analysis of depression era economics. He may be right, he may be wrong, but if a lay person has to make a bet, the odds are in his favor.

          5) I prefer not to discuss what is “generally bad” or “generally good,” but rather to engage in precise analyses of precise circumstances to arrive at precise policy decisions. To be sure, that involves dialogue and disagreement, and my position at any given moment may be right or wrong. But, right now, I’m just arguing for a certain attitude, a certain type of approach, that eschews the sloppiness of broad-brush stroke ideologies, and seeks out the finely-honed answers to specific issues in specific circumstances.

          6) By the method described above, rather than by vague ideological commitment, TABOR appears to be quite dysfunctional, for the reasons I have stated in other posts.

          1. Outside of constitutional provisions limiting what can be passed as laws, we are (at least in theory) to accomodate the average Joe’s beliefs.  Being a republic, this comes down to how much of an elected representatives actions reflect those beliefs except where things are brought to a direct vote as in TABOR.

            The idea that government can have a comparative advantage in providing services is a nice thought.  In fact, based on the writings of Marx, shouldn’t government have an advantage in providing all services.  Historically this has not been the case.  This is why we have a balancing act between free market economics and socialism.  Capitalism provides motivation for new and better products and services but items that are not immediately lucrative suffer.  Putting all the power in the hands of the government but it removes the incentive for innovation and opens up great opportunities for corruption.

            Your sources on the New Deal may come from a Nobel Prize winner, but Paul Krugman did not win the prize for the analysis of depression era economics.  He won “for his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity”.  That doesn’t discount his opinons, but his prize was for work in international trade, not depression era economics.

            1. 1) representative government is not synonymous with populism. Representatives are elected not to govern on the basis of polls, but to use their judgment in ways which best serve those they represent. If those they represent determine that their representative has failed to do so, then they can elect another representative in the next election.

              2) The argument that, since command-and-control economics is suboptimal, all government intervention in the economy is suboptimal (the implicit argument you make in your second paragraph) is akin to arguing that since eating too much fiber is unhealthy, eating any fiber is unhealthy. It might work as a rhetorical ploy if your reader is inattentive enough, but, otherwise, it’s not a very effective argument.

              3) Paul Krugman’s most recent book was on Depression economics. I made the assumption that that was what he won the nobel prize for. My error.

              4) Regardless of whether the New Deal was initially effective (as Krugman argues), the undisputed fact is that the massive public spending project called World War II did indeed stimulate the economy and end the Great Depression. Since no one, to the best of my knowledge, disputes this fact, then no one argues that public spending has never successfully stimulated a sagging economy and ended a economic depression.

  7. TABOR was put in place to make sure that CO government doesn’t raise taxes and keep our good heard earned money that might be used to “bloat” government. Ok I can live with that, and the fact that I as a voter have to approve tax increases (although there really should be some sort of raining day fund, but that’s a different topic), why shouldn’t I as a voter also have to approve tax cuts? I mean really, are there times when I would say I don’t want that money, hell yeah if I look around and know that those tax cuts aren’t going to help the economy. Will it be harder to encourage people to not vote for a tax rebate, yes, but that’s the job of policy institutes.

    So why is it perfectly fine to have to vote for tax increases, but not tax rebates?????

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