John Laird: Summer sounds, flagrant falsehoods and twisted taxes

By John Laird, Columbian Editorial Page Editor

Published:

 
photoJohn Laird is The Columbian's editorial page editor. His column of personal opinion appears each Sunday. Reach him at john.laird@columbian.com.

Notes, quotes and anecdotes while harrumphing at the 180 performed by both Democrats and Republicans since the Bush administration over a president's use of executive privilege:

They've got a moratorium on facts inside the kennel — Kindly disregard the "downtown is dead" yapping from the Hounds of Whinerville who are predisposed to hate downtown and haven't even been downtown for years. Evidence to the contrary continues to pour in, including the crowd of about 5,000 people at Thursday evening's opening of the Six to Sunset concert series at Esther Short Park. This is the 26th year of the free concerts, which continue through Aug. 9.

Also, free noon concerts start Wednesday at the park, with free movies on Friday night. ("Jurassic Park" and "WALL-E" are coming up.) Kudos to Vancouver city officials for organizing this top-notch contribution to the local quality of life. For more information, visit www.cityofvancouver.us/concerts.

Trousers ablaze — For a man who never finished college, Rush Limbaugh revealed an admirable comprehension of world history when he described the health care mandate as "nothing more than the largest tax increase in the history of the world."

Oh, my! Really, Rush?

Politifact.com put the microscope to El Rushbo's bombast, using data from the nonpartisan federal Joint Committee on Taxation, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the U.S. Department of the Treasury. As a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product through 2019, Politifact.com notes, "tax increase provisions of the health care law would amount to .49 percent of total GDP." That would be smaller than tax increases approved by Presidents Reagan and Johnson, and "significantly smaller" than tax increases during World War II and in 1961.

Yes, the health care bill does "reverse a trend of federal tax cuts and represents the first significant tax increases since 1993," but Politifact.com assigned to Limbaugh's assertion the rating of "Pants on Fire."

Tough batting order for a pitcher — Imagine you're helping lead the effort to repeal legalized gay marriage in Washington state. Among your corporate opponents are Microsoft, Google, Nike and Amazon. That means your enemies include the largest software company in the world, the Internet's most visited website, the world's leading supplier of athletic shoes and apparel, and the world's largest online retailer.

Your four foes — according to my unofficial calculation -- had a combined revenue in Fiscal Year 2011 of $175.7 billion and together employ 228,677 people worldwide.

Good luck facing that batting order. Play ball!

Speaking of gay marriage — Here's a heads up for folks on both sides of this issue about Referendum 74, which will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. R-74 does not -- repeat, NOT -- call for repealing legalized gay marriage in Washington state. To the contrary, it asks voters if Senate Bill 6239 (which legalized gay marriage in the state) should be upheld. Therefore, supporters of gay marriage should vote "Approved" on R-74, and opponents of gay marriage should vote "Rejected" on R-74.

Don't expect any sympathy out of Oregon — Despite my previous explanations, the futile lament persists that Oregon should make some kind of concession for Washington residents who have to pay state income taxes because they work across the river. Folks, this just ain't gonna happen, and here's why: Only a fool, or the most naive observer, would expect Oregon legislators to stop extracting taxes from people who -- get this -- never get to vote in Oregon! (In the case of 50,000-plus Clark County residents who work across the river, Oregon extracts more than $100 million annually in state income taxes.)

As the bridge-toll debate continues, we can talk about a discounted toll for weekday commuters, or Oregon employers cutting some kind of deal with workers who live in Clark County, or some other solution, but the Oregon state income tax really doesn't belong in the debate.