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Editorial: It pays to be a state employee

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Most Oregonians who buy their own health insurance policies may pay significantly higher monthly premiums next year. The highest proposed average increase in premiums is 32 percent and the lowest was just over 14 percent.

Many state employees face a similar problem with increasing costs of health care…

We Respond & Your Comments

But Oregon state employees aren’t like us. They won’t be hit with a 14%, or even a 4% premium increase. Because, thanks to their BFFs in the Legislature, their increases are capped at 3.4%. Nice gig, huh?

Were we cynics we’d think maybe their sweet deal is somehow related to the fact that in the 2015-16 election cycle Oregon public employee unions tossed $264,925 into political campaigns. If Oregon follows national averages, 86% of this loot went to Democrats, who control the Legislature.

Here’s the takeaway:

  • Your taxes pay public employees’ salaries
  • Public employers withhold money from these salaries for union dues
  • Unions spend the dues to elect Democrats
  • Democrats then bargain with the same unions over salaries and benefits

And the beat goes on. Who wins? Democrats and public unions. Who loses? Look in the mirror.

Yes, a nice gig indeed.


As Spending On Lobbying Increases, Transparency Remains Murky

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

By Hillary Borrud, Capital Bureau, East Oregonian

 SALEM — Businesses, special interest groups and governments have increasingly invested in lobbying Oregon lawmakers and other state officials over the last nine years. And based on spending data from the state, those groups appear to have concluded lobbying is a good investment: reported annual spending on lobbying increased 15 percent from 2007 to 2015, when adjusted for inflation…

The EO Media Group/Pamplin Media Group Capital Bureau categorized lobbying spending in Oregon by industry and sector using data from the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks spending on lobbying by industry at the federal level. In total, groups spent more than $251 million on lobbying over the last nine years, according to state data…

We Respond & Your Comments

Gee, we can’t figure out why businesses want to blow all this loot on lobbyists. After all, lobbyists don’t produce anything for them to sell. So why not spend that money on expansion? Or maybe some new employees? Wouldn’t that be more productive?

Could it be that some level of government regulates:

  • How much to pay some employees?
  • How much time off to give them for maternity leave?
  • How much sick leave to give them?
  • How much of their profits they have to turn over for an ever-growing list of taxes?

Then there are never ending regulations that tip the scales in favor of big businesses that can afford to deal with them and leave smaller competitors gasping for air. And the government picking winners and losers based on who’s “greenest.”

So lobbyists become businesses’ main line of defense against more government intrusion. Want to get rid of lobbyists? Get the government off of businesses’ backs.


Governor Still Won’t Say Where She Stands on Proposed Tax Increase but Will Say How She’d Spend the $3 Billion…

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

By Nigel Jaquiss, Willamette Week

Gov. Kate Brown is playing coy on Initiative Petition 28, the proposed corporate tax increase that will raise $3 billion a year in new tax revenue.

Brown, a Democrat, has been close to the public employee unions backing the measure for her 25-year political career—but she has repeatedly declined to take a position on the measure…

Today, Brown issued a page-and-a-half “Corporate Tax Implementation Plan” for the measure, suggesting ways the revenue could be spent…

Here’s the spending part:

The plan endows a new Career Pathway Fund that supports significant expansion of career and technical education…
Increase the number of students who complete high school with an industry credential…

Expands the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Expands energy assistance programs for low-income consumers

And here’s Brown’s attempt to make the measure less painful for Oregon employers:

Allows businesses subject to IP-28 to subtract a portion of Oregon payroll costs from their annual corporate tax obligation.

Offers investment incentives through the Oregon Growth Fund that benefit Oregon businesses.

Brown also proposed a carve-out for software companies that are located in Oregon but have extensive sales in other states…

We Respond & Your Comments

Why hasn’t Guv Kate endorsed IP-28? Because today it’s positioned as a tax. But Kate’s spending plan is the first step in repositioning it as help for “the kids” and “the poor.” So anyone opposing the tax is anti kids and anti poor. Kate, compassionate Liberal that she is, will then jump on the 28 bandwagon.

Once IP-28 passes Kate’ll start choosing winners. They’ll inevitably be those who support…Kate and her Dems. Willamette Week (above) says she wants a carveout for software companies. This isn’t in Kate’s current spending plan, but don’t be surprised if it pops up. Then other companies will start giving money to slop up at the “Carveout Trough.”

And there’ll be “investment incentives through the Oregon Growth Fund.” Translated: Pro Katers will get IP-28 relief for dumping your bucks into the State fund that picks more winners (read “contributors”) to lard your bucks onto.

Liberals are always compassionate. They’re always for kids and poor folk. Because there just ain’t no end to the good you can do with somebody else’s money.






My View: Let’s have national vote by mail

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Fifty-one years ago, President Johnson urged Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act. And in the face of implacable opposition from Southern states, Johnson clearly laid out the stakes: “Every American citizen must have an equal right to vote”…

[Sadly,] Americans are facing new barriers to exercising their fundamental right to vote.

Across the country, there are stories of long lines, inexplicable purges of voter rolls and new requirements that make it harder

for citizens to vote. There is no excuse for accepting this state of affairs…

Thankfully, there is a solution.

…In Oregon, every voter receives a ballot two or three weeks before an election date…

So my proposition is the rest of our country should follow Oregon’s lead and offer all voters a chance to vote by mail….

My view is voting rights are simply too important to abandon the field to special interests who would manipulate our government…(emphasis ours)

We Respond & Your Comments

Gosh, Ron, we are truly touched by your selfless, patriotic desire to stop “special interests who would manipulate our government.”

But we do have a few questions:

  • Do Metlife, New York Life Insurance and Citigroup count as “Special Interests?”
  • How about Prudential Financial and Massachusetts Mutual Life?
  • According to the Center for Responsive Politics they, via their PACs, employees & immediate families, tossed a cool $194,700 your way.

Just two more questions, Ron – Do you think your being Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee had anything to do with their generosity? Did they have a little government manipulation on their minds when they signed those checks?

Just wondering.


Excerpts from Gov. Kate Brown’s 2016 “State of the State” Speech

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Together with my newly formed Small Business Advisory Cabinet, we will work with government agencies to provide troubleshooting and customer service to our small businesses…

Just what small businesses need – a new bureaucracy!

…global climate change is the major threat to our quality of life…

Folks in Brussels, Paris and San Bernardino might disagree with you.

Leadership from Speaker Kotex and the Legislature provided additional tools…to remove barriers to creating affordable housing statewide…

Ever think of advocating expansion of Urban Growth Boundaries to increase housing supplies and decrease prices?

Best of all…I approved the nation’s first “coal to clean” law that gives Oregon a vision for a future free of coal-powered electricity…

You mean you kicked the can down the road so some future politico will be stuck with it. Nice.

The key to continuing to grow the economy…is Oregon’s small businesses…

Right, Kate – and a trainload of new regulations is just the ticket here.

I will continue to champion much-needed seismic upgrades…[and] develop …a transportation package…

These investments will support the strong business sector Oregon needs…

Kate: What’s the difference between “investments” and “spending”?

…this too was a watershed year for Oregon, with several first-in-the-nation achievements of our own:

Our Three-tiered minimum wage increase…Oregon Motor Voter…

OK, so you’ve raised the price of labor and registered a slew of Democrat voters.

Now – Kate’s crowning achievement…

Oregon now allows pharmacies to dispense birth control pills without a prescription…

Kate, you’re a governor for the ages.


Looking back on a year as secretary of state

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

   – Jeanne Atkins, Oregon Secretary of State, for Oregonlive

Friday, March 11, marks one year since I took the oath of office as Oregon’s secretary of state.

…While I have certainly “taken care” of the agency this last year, I have also served with my own goals and expectations for the agency. I was determined to keep the agency moving ahead …I committed to successfully implementing Oregon’s first-in-the-nation program to automatically register Oregonians to vote.

As of Jan. 1, Oregon’s “motor voter” law is up and running smoothly. With this pioneering law, we are adding thousands of voters to the rolls every month….

We Respond & Your Comments

Under our new Motor Voter Law, when Oregonians apply for drivers’ licenses they’re automatically registered to vote. They can choose which party to join or be registered as “unaffiliated.”

According to our secretary of state’s website, “The program…provides a secure, simple and convenient way for more Oregonians to be registered voters.”

How many new voters will be registered?  And why was Guv Kate sporting such a huge grin when she signed it? They project about 300,000. Now – about that grin.

Oregon was the first Motor Voter state. The second? California. What do they have in common? Hint: It’s more than just having governors named “Brown” and Democrat governors and legislatures!

“The Brownies” will say they did it out of concern over low voter turnouts. But we know better – they love motor voter laws because they’ll generate more Democrat voters – lots more.


Oregon Lawmakers Consider Free Postage For Voting By Mail

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Chris Lehman, Northwest News Network

Voting in Oregon could get even easier — and cheaper. Lawmakers are considering a measure that would require the state to pay the postage when voters return their ballots through the mail…

This would let people return their ballots without stamps. The government would pick up the cost of postage.

Advocates, including the Oregon Bus Project, said millennials rarely mail anything and are often confused about where to buy stamps. They said having the state pay for postage would give younger voters more access to the polls.

The bill doesn’t have a price tag yet, but if every eligible voter took advantage of the offer, it would cost the state more than $1.2 million per election…

We Respond & Your Comments

Here it is, Dear Readers – Liberalism, Progressivism, Idiotism – whatever you want to call it – on steroids.

Look at the premises behind this latest act of Salem lunacy:

  • People are stupid – Despite the fact that there are ballot drop boxes scattered around like goose poop in Alton Baker Park, people are too darn dumb to find them;
  • Millennials, who can root out 200 micro-aggressions and 26 “Safe Zones” every day at every college, can’t figure out how to find a stamp and slap it on an envelope;
  • People aren’t responsible for returning their free ballots;
  • People are so irresponsible they’re glad to let “The Government” pay for it. Look, Stupid, it’s not “The Government.” It’s your neighbors.

This is just the latest, and maybe the stupidest example of how happy these Salem space cadets are to spread your money around.


Solyndra times five: What’s up with the $2.65 billion in federal loans to Abengoa?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

   – Ron Ninkolewski,

…Renewable energy company Abengoa has received a combined $2.65 billion in loan guarantees…. But with the company teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, it’s unclear if taxpayers will get stuck paying off the loans…

Based in Spain, Abengoa SA is teetering on the verge of insolvency…

The renewable giant got — from the U.S. Department of Energy — loan guarantees of $1.45 billion to build the Solana solar plant in Arizona…

… William Yeatman, senior fellow…at Competitive Enterprise Institute… (said) “The total amount of these loans is something like five times bigger than what Solyndra got.”…

Solyndra…received $535 million in a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy in 2010. The next year Solyndra filed for Chapter 11, with taxpayers getting almost none of the money back. ..

President Obama…cited the DOE loan guarantee to Abengoa… saying, “After years of watching companies build things and create jobs overseas, it’s good news that we’ve attracted a company to our shores to build a plant and create jobs right here in America.”…

We Respond & Your Comments

In previous issues we’ve detailed the billions of dollars lost to Oregon and other taxpayers thanks to governments’ obsession with green energy. So here we’ll just summarize why these loans are a lousy idea:

  • Governments do a bad job of picking winners because they do so based on their personal preferences, vote-grubbing potential or campaign finance needs;
  • The loans they make/guarantee or, worse, their outright grants aren’t made with their own money, so they’re less discriminating in their choices;
  • They often make loans to entities that can’t get favorable treatment at banks because they’re bad credit risks.
  • In the Obama Administration bureaucrats follow the lead of the boss, who’s chasing green energy like Captain Ahab obsessively pursued the Great White Whale.

Memo to all city, county and state politicos: You don’t do loans for a living. You’re not good at it. Leave it to those who are – they’re called banks.


State program helps Oregon businesses grow exports

Thursday, December 3, 2015

 Elon Glucklich, The Register-Guard

Sales at Lesli Larson’s Eugene business, Archival Clothing, have risen a modest 10 to 15 percent each year since its 2009 founding. But 4,000 miles and an ocean separate Larson from some of her most loyal customers.

Japanese shoppers have flocked to Archival’s line of canvas and twill bags, wool caps and shawl sweaters in recent years…

In April, Larson joined seven Portland companies on a weeklong business expo to Tokyo to promote their companies — a trip she wouldn’t have made without help from an Oregon program seeking to boost exports of locally made goods.

Attending an international trade show typically costs a business $8,000 to $20,000, a price out of reach for some small businesses, said Ryan Frank, a spokesman for Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency….

We Respond & Your Comments

How nice! Business Oregon, AKA“The government,” gave thousands to Lesli so she could go to Japan! But we know who “the government” is – it’s you, us and our neighbors.

Do you own a business? Did “the government” ever pay for you to go to Japan to find new customers?

This program depends on “the government” picking winners like Leslie and leaving losing applicants to pay their own way. And we know how great governments are at picking winners and losers (think Solyndra). “The government” picks winners and losers with all the skill of a fall down drunk at a Vegas sportsbook.

What’s happening here is that “the government” is confiscating money from tax paying businesses which might otherwise spend it on expansion. Worse yet, they’re taking it from businesses that might be Lesli’s competitors and giving it to her! Why is she more deserving than businesses who paid their own way to Japan?


Let us have your thoughts on this.


Campaign reform activists look to curb Oregon contribution limits

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Associated Press

SALEM — Activists looking to reform campaign finance in Oregon are taking steps to get a measure limiting contributions on the November 2016 ballot…

Daniel Lewkow of Common Cause Oregon said if the Legislature does not pass a bill putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot to curb campaign contributions his group will work to collect the 177,000 signatures to do it themselves.

“People like legislators to act on issues, not to ignore issues,” Lewkow said last week, adding that voters “cannot be more clear that they want them to act on money in politics.”…

We Respond & Your Comments

Here we go again…howling about “money in politics.” Herewith our observations:

  • 2012 election spending for all Federal offices (President, Senate, House) totaled $6.285 Billion. That’s about what we spend every year on potato chips;
  • Nobody likes writing out checks to politicians. But we do it. Here’s why…

Government constantly intrudes into our lives. It tells us what kind of lightbulbs to use, how much water we can run through our showers and toilets, what kind of grocery bags are permissible, etc., etc.

So here’s the answer to a campaign reformer’s prayer: If you want to reduce money spent on

politics, reduce government intrusion into our lives. Otherwise you might just as well try to

stop flowing water. But like money in politics, it’ll always find its way out.