Ten Ways the Republicans Failed
by Ari Armstrong, June 4, 2003
State Senator John Andrews sent out a release recently titled, "Ten Ways the Senate Said Yes." This generated a heated internet discussion among libertarians and fiscally conservative Republicans. I've written a general overview of the legislative session, but Andrews' release offers another chance to explore recent history. Of course, Andrews deserves a lot of credit for bringing a relatively pro-market perspective to our state. But Andrews, a (Corporate) Welfare King? Say it ain't so! But just remember, as soon as we elect "our gang" to the legislature, chances are they'll also disappoint.
Andrews notes he helped protect TABOR, and for that Colorado taxpayers should be grateful. And, he adds, "I'd have preferred tougher real cuts in spending, instead of tapping reserve accounts and raising a number of fees, but Colorado's fiscal responsibility still ranks high nationally." But, unfortunately, he didn't point out that the Republican-controlled legislature passed "certificates of participation," debt that they don't really call debt in order to pretend they're not violating TABOR. The fact that politicians in other states abuse their citizens even worse is hardly an excuse or a justification.
I'll have to quote the second point in its entirety so readers will know I'm not making it up. Yes, in "a note sent from Senator John Andrews," the Republican leader excuses his party's passage of Corporate Welfare:
2. Energize the economy? Yes. We passed an aid package for two of the state's major industries, tourism and agriculture, along with increased funding for economic development. But our main focus was free-market steps to encourage enterprise by getting government out of the way. These included regulatory reform, tort reform (with several strong bills curbing lawsuit abuse), and tax reform (with a phaseout of the business personal property tax attracting strong support before dying in the Senate).
It just doesn't matter what the Republicans claim their "main focus" was -- they passed a corporate welfare package and thus flat-out stole money from Colorado taxpayers. To add insult to injury, Andrews assures us that stealing our money -- taking money out of the legitimate economy to be spent by politicians on special interest groups for political gain -- will somehow "energize the economy." Come on, Senator -- do you think we're stupid?
Again, the fact that the legislature made government marginally less oppressive in some areas in no way excuses the passage of corporate welfare. By analogy, a robber who takes your wallet filled with $200, then graciously gives you back $100, is not for that reason to be commended.
Andrews' 3rd point reminds us the Republicans are committed to a socialized water distribution system. Andrews' 4th point reminds us the Republicans are committed to socialized roads and mandatory insurance policies when using those roads, but now the terms of the mandated insurance are slightly less restrictive.
Point 5: "HB-1164 provides new ways for small business to offer health coverage on their employees, and allows insurers to sell a more affordable Chevy-style policy without the dozens of costly mandates for Cadillac-style features that have driven so many people into the ranks of the uninsured." I grant it is nice that Colorado's health-insurance laws are now marginally less socialized. Thanks, Republicans!
Point 6 reminds us the Republicans passed a limited voucher program. As I've said, I'm skeptical, but at least they're trying to do the right thing here.
Point 7 again reminds us Republicans are committed to socialized roads as well as bus service. But hey, at least Colorado's Republicans are starting to agitate for state-level socialism rather than federal-level socialism when it comes to roads. That's an improvement (I guess). But what about jitney and nonrestricted cabs?
Safety? "HB-1256 will build a new maximum-security prison to keep the bad guys off the streets." Well, if you'd let all the non-bad guys out of prison, you wouldn't need to build new ones. Yes, the Republicans passed two fairly decent gun bills, even though I wish somebody would pass true-Vermont carry, in which no license is required. "Other bills cracked down on methamphetamine labs..." Let's be clear, here: the Republicans have made it a crime to sell too many cold pills. Yes, that is what the drug war has come to.
Point 9: "affirm mainstream values." "The Pledge of Allegiance will start every day in public schools under HB-1368." Apparently, the Republicans are convinced they're better socialist planners than the Democrats are. Whether or not they are is rather beside the point (though I think it's obvious forcing little kids to say the Pledge isn't going help them develop better values).
Point 10 promises "honest elections" through a variety of means. Okay, I guess the changes have been for the better. But what I most worry about is "electronic voting" without any paper trail.
So did I actually enumerate "ten ways the Republicans failed?" Does it really make any difference? Does it matter if we formulate the questions so as to generate "yes" or "no" answers? Does spin trump substance?
Perhaps instead of generating top-10 lists proving they're "yes" men, Colorado's Republicans should learn the 12-step program described recently in a John Stossel special. In the context of that show, the program was used to break a drug addiction. Perhaps this 12-step program could also help the Republicans get over their inclinations to pass, say, more corporate welfare. "The first 11 steps are bullshit, and the 12th step is, DON'T DO IT."