Flavor of the weak

Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  November 1, 2006

According to the polls (a phrase that carries the implication that whatever comes next is rated on the plausibility scale well below doubtful and just above complete crap), the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights is losing ground faster than the Iraqi army. The latest surveys show that anti-TABOR advertising has convinced many voters the measure will:

• Cause Lyme disease.

• Repeal the law of gravity.

• Lead to the election of unrepentant Guantanamo detainees to the Maine Legislature.

The reason some members of the public accept these claims, say the pollsters (a euphemism employed because it might be libelous to call them crack whores) is because they are either folks with IQs lower than the average cribbage hand, people who locked in their heating oil price back when it was $2.89 a gallon, or somebody who went to court to add “Thu Peoples’ Hero” to his name.

A sensible person might conclude that if TABOR goes down to defeat on November 7, these numbskulls (not a euphemism) will get exactly what they deserve:

• No limits on spending.

• Continuing budget increases.

• More liens for unpaid property taxes on Chandler Woodcock’s house.

In other words, everything stays the way it is. Unless it gets worse.

Wait, I hear someone (possibly a pollster or some less polite term for drug-addled prostitute) shouting, what about that alternative to TABOR proposed by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, the Maine Municipal Association and the Maine Education Association? Surely, with those powerful interest groups pushing for it, the Legislature will be forced to approve a measure that will hold down growth in the state budget.

In case you missed it, the Chamber plan allows for a higher spending cap than TABOR, because it includes increases in personal income as well as inflation and population. Where TABOR would require a two-thirds vote of elected representatives and approval by voters to override its spending limits, the Chamber’s plan lets the Legislature overspend any time it can muster a two-thirds majority. TABOR mandates a public referendum before taxes can be raised, but the alternative plan doesn’t. TABOR limits state and local borrowing by including repayment of debts in its spending limits, while the Chamber offers more liberal debt requirements for the state and none for municipalities.

Still, the alternative proposal might do some good if it became law. Except, it’s never going to become law.

According to a prominent Democrat with first-hand knowledge of the negotiations (but who can’t be identified because he or she would send several unemployed mill workers to my house to beat some ethical standards into my head with crowbars), the teachers’ union and the municipal association aren’t any more enthusiastic about their alternative plan than they are about TABOR.

“The MEA and the MMA had to be dragged to the table kicking and screaming,” said the Dem leader. “They only agreed [on the compromise] because it was obvious that if they didn’t, the Maine Chamber was going to endorse TABOR.”

So what, said someone who sounded suspiciously like a crack whore. Even a lukewarm endorsement by such influential special interests should be sufficient to assure legislative passage of the alternative.

Crack does awful things to the reasoning ability.

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