Originally created 11/05/99

Tax cut issue lives



Washington, D.C., journalists who claim there's no sentiment in the country for large tax cuts, have just been proved wrong in, of all places, Washington state.

The west coast Washingtonians -- never known as hotheaded tax cutters -- voted in what may be the most sweeping tax cut and tax overhaul in the nation's history.

The ballot measure coupled a huge car-tax cut with veto power over all future taxes and fees. The cut in car taxes will save taxpayers a whopping $750 million a year.

But even worse, from the point of view of politicians and their special interest allies, is the second part of the referendum: It requires state and localities to go to the electorate whenever they want to raise a tax or fee. This marks a historic shift of tax-writing power from lawmakers to voters that no other state has adopted.

To get a gauge on how much the proposal was despised by the powers that be, it was opposed by both political parties, all local governments and a coalition of groups that seldom work together: business, labor and environmentalists.

No doubt the courts will rescue the establishment from the voters' "folly." Even so, Washington state has sent a powerful message to Washington, D.C. The GOP-led Congress should stop being intimidated by the Beltway elites from sending tax-cut packages to the president. Let him veto at his party's peril.

In other referendums around the nation, conservative causes, sadly, didn't fare quite as well. Particularly distressing was Maine voters' 55-45 percent defeat of a ban on partial birth abortions.

It became the first state where this heinous practice was actually endorsed by voters. And already the pro-abortion crowd is crowing this marks a big change in public sentiment. We don't think so.

We think it marks a big mistake by Maine voters who also foolishly OK'd marijuana for medicinal purposes -- a quack claim if there ever was one. What message does it send young people when states clamp down on cigarette smoking while promoting "pot" as a helpful medication? No wonder marijuana smoking is on the rise.

A minor setback for law and order was Oregonians' defeat of a measure that would have allowed murder convictions by an 11-1 jury vote instead of a unanimous one.

But in San Francisco, 57 percent of voters decided to ban surcharges for using another bank's automated teller machine. The banking industry has promised a court fight. Let's hope they lose.

The banks promised ATMs would reduce customers' costs, but so far they have raised them. When politicians break promises like that, they're called liars.

Voters in Washington state approve tax overhaul opposed by both political parties, all local governments and business, labor and environmentalist groups.



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