Sunday, January 20, 2008

[Oregon Politics] State Representative Andy Olson Lays a Stinker

[Note: I am too lazy to format this properly.]

I almost thought this was written by Hasso, it's so far from honest.

Anyway, State Rep. Andy Olson, a Republican, had a column in the DH about the most recent legislative session. He painted it as something of a disaster for Oregonians, but I have issues with his use of language.

Away we go. Olson:

The Oregon Legislature was given a 20 percent increase in revenue last year due to the hard work of Oregonians making our economy strong. That’s $2.4 billion more than state government was expecting. Unfortunately, $2.4 billion was not enough. The majority in the legislature still voted to raise your taxes and fees by over $620 million.

He doesn't say if that's before or after the kicker takes effect. If it's after, then a 20% increase is meaningless. And there's no reason to come down on the increased taxes and fees without knowing what they are unless you are so simpleminded as to think any tax or fee increase, anywhere, is always a bad thing.

Yes, I know that's practically the mantra of the Republican Party, but I would hope that Oregon Repubs would know better.

Olson again:

Even worse, the legislature added $923 million to the backs of Oregon taxpayers in new state debt.

Personally, I don’t like debt, especially when it’s saddled on future generations of Oregonians. The wise and more responsible thing to do is to pay as you go and not use the credit card.

I.... agree with this, at least in principle. I know many economists think that it's a good idea to have a mild debt load, but I disagree.

Moving on:

The legislature also increased the size of state government. There were 1,178 new state employees added to the state payroll.

So? What if these "new" jobs are simply making up for previous cuts due to budget shortfalls? What if they are, say, state cops? This is another example of Olson relying on a simplistic measurement (State government bad! Must shrink! Services? Who needs services?!) to obscure the truth - which is, no matter what the content, going to be more complex and nuanced than Olson suggests.

More Olson:

Just within the last few months, Gov. Kulongoski gave $12 million in pay raises to his political appointees and $20 million in pay raises to smooth sour relations with union employees.

Uh, Andy? A couple of things...

1. The pay increases probably came in one bill, and if that bill passed recently, then you've got no business implying that there were other pay raises ("within the last few months").

2. The dollar amounts are big numbers, but without context - like how long it's been since state employees got pay raises, or how big of a percentage each employee got, or how the raises were distributed, or how many years this set of raises is supposed to account for in the future... you get the idea. Olson is relying on the size of the number and the context to scare people, which, while being standard procedure for Republicans, is shitty politics.

3. Unions? Is this some sort of code word? Am I supposed to see how evil Ted K. is because he doesn't hate unions? Do I even trust Olson at this point enough to believe him about the reason Ted K. gave the raises? No.

4. Notice how state employees are either "unions" or "political appointees"? I wonder if those categories are exhaustive, i.e. they cover all state employees, or if there is another category that also got raises that Olson doesn't care to mention.


Sen. Frank Morse introduced SB 1039 to increase oversight of state agencies. The bill passed the House and Senate but was vetoed by Gov. Kulongoski.

Republicans introduced another bill, HB 2550, to hire a legislative auditor to measure the performance of state government. Democrats killed this bill on a party line vote.

Why were these bills killed? What were the contents that made them objectionable? Again, Olson is relying on the idea that anything the Dem Reps or the Dem Governor do must be a bad thing because the people doing it are Democrats, not because the move itself was bad.

More Olson:

Despite record spending, the Legislature failed to fund several important priorities. Nearly seven out of 10 Oregonians want to see additional state police on the road. That’s why I sponsored HB 3535, which would have provided 24/7 Oregon State Police coverage without raising your taxes.

Despite bipartisan support, Democrat leadership kept this legislation locked up in committee.

Is it possible that the Dems passed a different bill relating to state police? Reading Olson, we'd never find out.


Democrats also stripped general fund dollars from Oregon Project Independence, which allows seniors to receive care in their own homes.

But did they fund it another way? The wording of the sentence - picking out general fund dollars as opposed to saying "decreased funding" - suggests that's the case. Bad Andy.

Yet More Olson:

They also shut down and de-funded the bipartisan “Big Look” Committee that worked to update our antiquated land use laws.

Why? Maybe there was a good reason to do so. Maybe they replaced them with something else. Or maybe Olson's right to condemn the Dems for doing this - but we'd never know because he doesn't tell the whole truth on anything else, so we have no reason to believe him here.

OK this is the last Olson:

Thanks to uncontrolled spending, reckless borrowing and misplaced priorities, 2007 was a year Oregonians would rather forget. Better days are yet to come.

Nice. Close with a statement designed to look like truth but built on a few hundred words of lies, so say nothing of the fact that 2007 was hard for Oregon Republicans because Oregon Dems were very successful.

I think this piece by Olson is a carefully-written piece of propaganda, probably actually authored by an aide or at least a team of folks that included Olson. The wording is very precise, designed to get straight at Olson's perceived base of support by appealing to conservative hot topics. It's also an insult to honesty.

Commenter Barefoot gets at something interesting:

When this paper accepts a purely partisan piece such as this, regardless of the party, I would like to see the counterpart from another similarly ranked elected official (in this case, a Democrat state representative) run simultaneously.

I call this concept "Equal Time".

Equal Time is no longer a legal requirement as far as I know (thanks to Ronald Reagan), but it should be - or it should be replaced by something better.



Anonymous said...

I may know who IE is ... She just gave us a lot of hints on her last blog and the conclusion is .....
Josh Wineteers Wife!!! Do the homework and you will soon see for yourself!!

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.