Whatever impact the Oregonian expects to have on the Measures 66 and 67 election (final voting day is Tuesday) is surely going to be minimal among those who actually pay much attention to the paper. Or what's been written recently about it. What may be larger are the questions growing about just what's going on at the paper.
The impact it presumably hopes to have is what's stated in the paper's editorials opposing passage of the two measures. In the last legislative session the Assembly passed tax measures increasing the marginal tax rates on individuals with income over $125,000 a year (or $250,000 for a household), alongside a tax cut for some lower-income people, and a measure increasing the corporate income tax rate and minimum payments for some (not all) corporations. These have been challenged in the two referenda; a yes vote sustains the legislature's actions, and a no vote throws them out. The Oregonian on January 4 editorialized for a "no" vote, and reiterated the view since. "The Legislature can do better," it said.
That would seem to be that - newspapers take such positions all the time - except this time for a mass of complicating factors.
One is that the paper didn't have such a big problem with the tax increases last year, when they were passed. Editorially, it was not thrilled (like many others, there seemed a preference toward making the increases temporary), but it was generally supportive. Last June 11, it said that "You shouldn't raise taxes in a recession. But you don't close schools, boot thousands of students from universities and gut your public safety system in a recession, either. In a state that has little savings, it was one or the other, and the Democratic majority made the right choice." As for the idea that in the upcoming February legislative session lawmakers might simply adjust the tax package, the Oregonian opined on September 21, "after a brutal and expensive battle leading up to a vote - and at the start of an election year - does anyone really believe that lawmakers will, or even should, tinker with a tax package that voters have either approved or rejected?"
Considering that the Oregonian now apparently thinks just that, you have to wonder what changed.
There's a good deal more. (more…)