Writings and observations

Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi

She’s not from Oregon, sure, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was stunningly tone-deaf when she visited Portland this week. What she wanted to talk about was health care and health records, and her visit to the Oregon Health & Science University was intended to underscore that. And that part of it went off well enough.

But did neither she nor anyone on her staff pay the slightest attention to what the people on the ground – in Oregon – wanted to discuss? That was a rather different topic, federal timber payments, which have been cut off by congressional action and the absence of which have created genuine crises in a bunch of counties, especially in the southwest corner of the state.

Her only substantive comment about that was, “Where we go from here is to see how to phase this system out.”

Not good enough, not nearly – these are communities in the midst of crisis. Republicans, including Senator Gordon Smith and Representative Greg Walden, promptly (and rightly) pounced on her comments. The Democrats, who ordinarily would have been happy with a visit from a House speaker, weren’t thrilled either, though they tried to spread around blame for the cuts. (You had House members like Peter DeFazio pointing fingers at the Senate.)

The more pungent and pointed response comes from down Medford way, where the loss of timber money has bitten something fierce, at Rogue Pundit. That post is worth reading; it concludes, “Pelosi wasn’t being candid about the phasing out of timber payments. The payments have ended, and the legislation to create a phase-out is languishing. This year, that can’t be blamed on the Republicans.”

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Oregon

Here’s some of what Washington initiative king Tim Eyman had to say about yesterday’s special legislative session, in which lawmakers passed two bills aimed at reducing or deferring taxes:

Your phone calls and letters and emails to legislators brought about this special session. And your phone calls and letters and emails reminded legislators the people were watching. They knew any shenanigans and chicanery would be exposed.

And it worked out beautifully. Even if for only a day, the people pushed and Olympia responded.

Is it what the voters want? No, the voters want a real 1% cap on property tax increases. Gregoire’s bill promises a 1% cap but it doesn’t fulfill that promise. But hey, we’re dealing with Gregoire and the Democrats – they’re amateurs when it comes to tax relief – it is not in their nature – so we’ll take what we can get, even a bill with a huge loophole in it. We’re glass-is-half-full kind of guys. We can’t help but be ecstatic by the results of this special session and you should be too.

There’s something especially delicious about this: I-747 received 58% voter support. But in the special session, it received 91% support from politicians in the state house. It received 81% support from politicians in the state senate. So on this day, politicians supported it by a much higher rate than the voters did. And it was signed into law by a tax-hiking Democrat Governor. What’s not to love about that?

Destined for much republication . . .

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Washington