Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, February 28, 2005

News Digest for Today

There are a number of articles and columns out today, particularly in the Seattle P-I, that are of important note to the issues we've been talking about recently. So here's a quick run through:

More on the State Splitting Sillies...
P-I columnist Joel Connelly weighs in with his thoughts on the ridiculous proposal to split Washington State into two states. Connelly's column is brilliant, and carefully crafted. Connelly makes a number of excellent points about the East-West interdependency I talked about in my blog entry several days ago, citing specific examples to back up his arguments. I highly reccomend reading it.

The Oscars Get Political...Sort Of
Politics was largely absent from last night's Academy Awards ceremony, though it did crop up a couple of times. Host Chris Rock made fun of Bush's budget deficit and the decision to go to war in Iraq, saying:
Bush did some things you could never get away with at your job, man. ... Just imagine you worked at the Gap. You're $70 trillion behind on your register and then you start a war with Banana Republic 'cause you say they got toxic tank tops over there. You have the war, people are dying, a thousand Gap employees are dead, bleeding all over the khakis, you finally take over Banana Republic, and you find out they never made tank tops in the first place.
And though he didn't mention conservative groups like Focus on the Family by name, actor and comedian Robin Williams was clearly addressing them when he called their Spongebob SquarePants association with gays and lesbians a silly farce.

Plan to charge car owners more fees is adding up
The Seattle P-I reports this morning that the state Legislature is considering a bill "that would add new road-use fees, expand weight fees to cars and small trucks, restore local street-tax maintenance authority, and expand the ability of counties to raise local gasoline taxes for road projects."

Of course, it wouldn't be necessary for lawmakers to be considering new fees if we hadn't voted to eliminate old ones. Part of the fees are an attempt to repair some of the damage caused by Tim Eyman's Initiative 776. [Get the full scoop on the damage Eyman's initiatives have caused at Permanent Defense's Dangerous Initiatives]

NPI supports such a package because we need more revenue to maintain and improve our transportation infrastructure. It costs money to live in a society, and people need to recognize that. You can't have it all and not pay for it. Taxes are often considered to be a waste, but the opposite is true - taxes are an investment in a healthy society. The key is building a progressive tax structure, so people aren't taxed unfairly.

State Budget
Republicans and business groups this year are once again pitching their lousy argument that the state needs to "live within its means". Unfortunately, that's simply not a realistic scenario. The cuts involved for us to "live within our means" would be too painful to make and would cause tremendous damage.

Eyman initiatives are partly responsible for our budget shortfall. In order to make up for the damage that's been caused, we need more revenues just to keep up with where we are headed. Oddly enough, of course, the GOP and its business allies will support more revenue for transportation.

These people are also opposed to mild change, because they came out to lobby against proposals like the homestead exemption, which would help create a more progressive tax structure. The AWB, BIAW, and other Republican interest group allies are apparently only interested in proposals that benefit them in some way. Forget about affordable housing or tax relief for middle and low income families. That's not important. What is important is protecting big business.

Democrats need to ignore this mantra and pass a budget that does bring in new revenue that we desperately need.

King County Council
Another P-I article this morning calls attention to the upcoming King County races that will have incumbents running against incumbents. Councilmembers Bob Ferguson and David Irons are annoyned (maybe even angered) that their districts were chopped off, but that's what's you get for supporting a council downsize. What did they expect? That they should be rewarded?

The council downsizing was an act of political revenge, driven by the jail guards' union. It doesn't really have anything to do with healthy democracy. In fact, it means that there are fewer councilmembers to represent the people of King County. The vocal minority of rural landowners who are so angry about the county's Critical Areas Ordinance should be dismayed at the council downsize, because it means there are going to be fewer people representing them and their views on the Council.

There's your local news digest for today.

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