Or something. Tuesday, I wrote about the reporting on the Oregon ballot initiatives, but, of course, the ballot initiative itself actually matters. And Oregon voters approved the tax increases (italics mine):
Yesterday Oregon voters delivered a huge victory for progressives by approving Measures 66 and 67, raising taxes on incomes over $250,000 and large corporations to generate $733 million to close the state’s budget deficit. The Oregon legislature had approved the taxes last summer, but a corporate/teabagger alliance organized to put it to voters in a referendum.
One wonders if the national media will cover this victory at all – much less at the levels of the Massachusetts Senate race. Although they’ll almost certainly ignore it, the lessons for California are enormous and extremely important.
The opposition ran a well-funded campaign, led by Nike, Columbia Sportswear, and other big businesses. They were joined by Ari Fleischer’s FreedomWorks and the libertarian publisher of the Oregonian, who used to be at the Orange County Register before it went belly-up. Together they ran a campaign arguing that the tax increases would worsen unemployment. But 55% of voters have rejected that, and instead showed that when a truly progressive campaign is waged, the right-wingers can be beaten. Even on taxes.
What it also shows is that progressive policies, supported by smart progressive organizing led by folks such as former US Senate candidate Steve Novick and the Oregon Bus Project, which reached out to younger voters and had a strong ground game, can beat well-funded, well-organized corporate/teabagger alliances.
Their message was deeply progressive:
These reforms protect nearly $1 billion in vital services like education, health care and public safety. These funds preserve class sizes, save jobs for teachers, provide seniors with in-home care, and provide health care for thousands of Oregonians through the Oregon Health Plan. In this time of economic crisis, we must protect those who have been hit the hardest – seniors, children and the unemployed – without putting more of a burden on the middle class.
It’s a message that works nationally.
Indeed, it does. If Democrats asked themselves every time they propose legislation, “Does this help or hurt people who make between $30,000-$100,000”, they can win. Note:
Tuesday’s strong support also validated a strategy by Democratic lawmakers to single out the rich and corporations for targeted tax increases.
Campaign ads by supporters highlighted banks and credit card companies and showed images of well-dressed people stepping off private jets. They also hammered on the $10 minimum tax that most corporations have paid since its inception in 1931.
Those messages helped counter warnings by opponents that the taxes would lead to job losses, worsening the state’s 11 percent unemployment rate, and prompt wealthy residents to move elsewhere.
“They did a great job of pounding, ‘It’s only $10,'” said Bob Tiernan, chairman of the state Republican Party.
Meanwhile the Oregon bidness community is very upset:
“It’s disappointing and discouraging,” said Pat McCormick, spokesman for Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes. “The tone and tenor was often venomous, trying to pit the haves against the have-nots.”
As opposed to shrieking, “Give me tax breaks, or the economy will die! BOOGA!! BOOGA!! BOOGA!!” That, on the other hand, is quite civil. And for comic relief that will make your irony meter explode:
He said the business community now must figure out “how to participate in a system that’s largely disconnected from us.”
Because families in the second to fourth fifths of the income distribution are so well connected. There have been so many programs to help their wages increase, provide truly affordable healthcare security, and keep jobs in the U.S. over the last quarter century. Surely, federal and state governments are just humongous rackets for middle-class people.
Snark aside, it just demonstrates, as I often say on this blog, people have to actually like this crap. Given the choice of taxing a rich guy, who profited by the fruits of their labor, or cutting services they need, enough people will vote for their own self-interest (enlightened or immediate).
Of course, since this doesn’t fit with the traditional media narrative that ‘Real Americans’ never want to raise any taxes, just cut them, this development will no doubt disappear into the memory hole….