Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Ron Saxton and TABOR

The Oregonian printed an article today about the Spending Limit initiative, saying that Ron Saxton has to walk a "tightrope" on the issue, because to oppose it would alienate his base, while supporting it would harm his chances with moderates.

Well, I suppose the analysis is OK as far as it goes. But it is typical of the one-sided nature of the Oregonian's reporting on political campaigns.

EVERY candidate for office has to navigate many such issues. One of the tasks of a political campaign is to talk about the things the candidate wants to talk about, not about what others want him to talk about.

Kulongoski faces the same exact problem - he must walk a tightrope between the positions his base (the unions) want him to take and what will play well in the general electorate.

Take PERS, for instance. With union endorsements jumping on the sinking Kulonoski ship almost daily, do you think that perhaps he has a tightrope of his own to walk when it comes to the festering sore of the 20+% PERS contributions that our public schools are forced to make?

But will the Oregonian ever point that out? Nope. No interest in exposing that the incumbent governor is captured by union special interest groups. That is "off message," which is that Ron Saxton has moved too far to the right for the Oregonian's comfort.

So, as a person who has long supported some kind of spending limit, does it bother me that Ron Saxton is treading carefully around this issue? Not at all.

Saxton won't campaign FOR the spending limit initiative, nor will he oppose it. He has his own campaign to run, his own ideas to talk about and his own reform plans to explain. He should not allow a ballot initiative to define his candidacy.

I think he has the right response when asked about Oregon's TABOR: that he likes the concept, but is not going to support or oppose any specific plan. No need to say more. If that conversation results in a discussion about Oregon's state spending, great. Ron has lots to say about that.

I know some of my conservative compatriots will be disappointed that Ron isn't going to take up the mantle of the TABOR and make it a campaign issue, but I think it is instructive that Don McIntire, the author of the measure, is not among them.

Don understands politics and campaigns as well as anybody in the state. He knows that Saxton has a race to win, and he will win it by pounding away at the themes and messages that Ron Saxton himself holds most dear to his mind and heart.

The TABOR is a good idea, but there is no reason at all that Ron Saxton should make it a part of his campaign. In fact, there are many reasons why he shouldn't.


PanchoPdx said...

And there are many reasons that the spending limit campaign wouldn't want to be too closely associated with any specific candidate either.

Undoubtedly many voters for Kulo, Starrett, Morely, Westlund, etc., will be inclined to vote for the Rainy Day Amendment.

Several good initiatives lost in California recently because they opted to bind themselves to Arnold's popularity when it was high (only to watch it fall).

From what I've seen, support for a state spending limit polls MUCH higher than support for Saxton for Governor at this point.

Obviously, each campaign needs to stand on its own merits and develop its own message.

Most of the folks working on the spending limit like Saxton.

Most of the folks working for Saxton like the spending limit.

If both win in November it will make Saxton's job (reducing gov't waste) much easier.

But neither campaign needs the other in order to reach its goals.

Anonymous said...

Let's have a quick review.

TABOR is in Colorado. There are many differences between TABOR and Oregon's proposed Rainy Day Amendment.

Most importantly, TABOR applies to both state and local gov't spending while RDA is state gov't only. TABOR's limit ratchets spending both upwards and downwards. RDA's ratchet is "up only." So under TABOR, Colorado government spending declined during the last recession. RDA would not force that result in Oregon.

So you can see why RDA's opposition - the usual suspects - are trying to brand-name wrongly to confuse voters. You know, just cast a shadow of doubt.

The proponents' name for the spending limit is "Rainy Day Amendment".

Here's how it would work. Unless the Legislature gains voter approval, what would otherwise have been overspending, will instead be held in reserve as rainy day funds or can be returned to taxpayers, like the kicker.

Perhaps the "imperfection" here is the simplicity. Those who find fault with the RDA may really want a blue-ribbon Fund with a special recommendation-making board of appointees (from within the political class, or course) designed to "look like" Oregon, in order to "insulate" the rainy day reserve from politics.

Other states' experience with the opponents' approach have demonstrated that - surprise - this design results in no limit on overspending at all.

Col. Bullwink said...

Mary Starrett is 100% behind the Oregon TABOR. We need the Oregon TABOR to be able to drown Oregon state government in the bathtub. GO MARY GO!!! In your heart you know she's right.

Rob Kremer said...

Sorry, Col., Mary Starrett is not going to be competitive in this race.

Anonymous said...

I am left wondering why so many people on the center/right don't understand the basics of winning a campaign. They want Saxton to come out for every issue and if he doesn't, they say "I told you so."
I know many are really "sour grapes" folks, but many are not. How, if it is possible, can these people be educated to the realities of being on message and winning an election?