Happy New Year. I wish everyone a 2018 full of prosperity and happiness. As we ring in the new year Oregon’s political world begins with a bang.
Right out of the chute Oregonians will asked to decide the how best to fund Medicaid in a citizen-led ballot measure in a January special election. Just after Christmas you received an Oregon Voters Pamphlet and then right after New Years your ballot will arrive in the mail. All this effort is for a single issue that you, the voters of Oregon, get to determine. The question at hand in Measure 101 isn’t whether we fund Medicaid. Measure 101 is about how we fund Medicaid — whether we should create a new tax on some people’s health insurance policies to pay for Medicaid.
Note the word “some”. Only some people are subject to this new tax. Those people include Oregonians who pay full price for their own health insurance, including those who just bought healthcare for 2018 at Healthcare.gov; nearly 12,000 college students who buy their own health insurance as a requirement of attending an Oregon university; small employers (under 50 employees) which include businesses and non-profits; and our Oregon public school districts. Voting YES on Measure 101 will also lock into statute a provision that insurance companies are allowed to pass these taxes along to ratepayers, effectively creating a new sales tax on health insurance. Local hospitals will be hit with a .7% tax on their net revenues which will translate into higher healthcare costs for patient hospital visits.
Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, and immediately onto Christmas we trod only to soon-be eclipsed by celebrating the new year. However, before we leave this moment of Thanksgiving I would like to share a brief though or two. First, I hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving with friends and family. It is important we have those deep, rooted connections with one another. It is those strong familial ties that build strong communities; and from strong communities come strong States — and a strong nation.
Almost all emotional coaches tell us that gratitude is the attitude that allows us to be truly happy. Those who are thankful for much are usually the ones with the least worries, the ones with whom bitterness finds no home. And data shows those who are full of a thankful spirit also tend to live longer, healthier lives.
Thanks to a Facebook share by Oregon House Republican Leader Mike McLane, I just finished reading the original Thanksgiving Day proclamation given by President Abraham Lincoln form 1863. What is fascinating is that the midst of one of our nation’s darkest hours, with the country about to split into two, President Lincoln made time to declare this first proclamation of Thanksgiving for all Americans. One lesson learned from Lincoln’s action is that even in severe crisis, lasting good can be created.
Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown recently released her new budget for the next two years. In summary, her plan calls for:
- Increasing taxes on alcohol, tobacco, hospitals, insurers and some corporation owners.
- Making deep cuts to other programs and holding back money sought by social services and universities.
- Protecting funding for K-12 education.
As I said during the campaign, and I will say again, the problem with Oregon’s fiscal problems does not sit on the revenue side of the ledger. At last count the Oregon Treasury Department received record levels of revenue, yet the governor believes that increasing taxes is still an acceptable solution. We just saw Ballot Measure 97 go down in defeat. The clear message from Oregonians is they do not believe raising their taxes is the answer to Oregon’s fiscal problems.
Suppose for example, Nike reported they sold a record amount of shoes and apparel for 2016, yet the company lost $1.4 billion. Would you think they needed to sell more shoes or that they should raise their clothing prices? No. Any first year business student would point to their cost structure as being the problem. Budget cuts would be made immediately to get back to a state of sustainability.
Our country was founded on the truth of a Creator who gave humanity the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Founders then constructed a constitutional government of, by and for the people to protect those natural rights. The Founders continued with the Bill of Rights which included free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to bear arms and so forth. Then the 10th Amendment assigned the rest of governmental responsibilities, not expressly written in the Constitution, to two groups: State governments and the people.
51 of the 55 founders (93%) held a Christian worldview. This overwhelming super-majority believed in a higher power over government. They also believed the only fair government is one limited in size and scope, subject to the people it serves.
In Oregon this is not the case. State government cranks out thousands of new regulations each year. In addition, over the past nine years State revenue has increased 28% to record levels. Oregon’s government continues to grow and yet this is not enough.
A principle the Founders used in forming our great nation was “equality for all, special privilege for none.” King George was well known for his favoritism towards the well connected in Britain at the expense of the colonists in America. When forming a new government the Founders wanted to ensure such favoritism in government was eliminated. However, we have strayed far from this founding principle. Obamacare is a modern day example. Nearly 2,000 pages granting hierarchy of special privileges.
Another example, more close to home, is the KBRA, KHSA and other associated hydro-electric power plant (dam) removal plans. While hydro-power provides consistent (24/7/365), affordable power for everyone, the Democrat led Oregon Legislature, Obama Administration and local allies seek to change all that. Their energy policy seeks to significantly reduce hydro-power and coal-power, replacing it with green power. The end result will be a remarkable increase our electric rates. But fear not, if your use of electricity falls within a government approved special class then you will not have to pay full price like everyone else — a special privilege.
Does this Democrat energy policy follow the Founders “equality for all and special privilege for none” principle? Absolutely not. Will this new energy policy reduce Oregon’s carbon footprint? Absolutely not. Will this new energy policy enhance government power by transferring wealth from all of us to the government and government approved special groups? Absolutely.
The suggestion that centrally planned of public projects will lure new business to our area puts the cart before the horse. It is economic opportunity that lures people and businesses here, which then creates the jobs and tax base to fund those public projects.
While parts of Oregon are doing well economically (Portland/Willamette Valley), Klamath and Lake counties continue to struggle, trying to keep their heads above water in a post-Obama Great Recession world. There are two answers to this problem: Economic Development or Economic Opportunity.
Economic Development is a key buzz word used by leftists and central planners. They believe your tax dollars should be funneled in a manner they determine in order to bring about jobs and prosperity. The problem with this method is that excess public money is spent with little accountability — worse, the return on investment is poor and seldom are there tangible results of any significance. These Economic Development masterminds think they know best. If they can bend certain economic conditions (with your tax money) then maybe a stray business or two will come to our part of Oregon. Economic Development advocates are very skilled at public relations and also good at creating lots of activity — meetings, forums, trade shows, etc — in order to appear as if they are making progress. They often grab the headlines by talking about “job creation”. However, in the final analysis the only real jobs and economic certainty created are their own jobs and future. This is wrong. Beware of anyone who extols the catch-phrase of “economic development”. Empty results are the reality for the rest of us.
My campaign slogan, “Your Liberty First” is more than just a slogan — it is a guiding philosophy and reminder that the people come first, not the government.
It used to be that you could pick up the newspaper or watch a news program on television to get the daily news in an unbiased, informative manner. That is no longer the case, even in our tucked away corner of the world.
Start counting how many times my opponents get favorable coverage (also known as push pieces) in the media. Also notice how I am ignored or marginalized in that same coverage. Observe how many times my opponents’ pictures appear and my picture is not displayed.
In order for liberty to thrive and for our economy to grow, government must be limited in size and scope.
Recently I took an agricultural tour of four businesses located in the Willamette valley. Visiting these agricultural businesses was interesting, yet it did not stray too far from what I see everyday in Klamath and Lake Counties. While the particular crops may differ, the struggle of each farmer and rancher is all too familiar.
First, we visited a tree seedling farm that produces 10 million seedling trees each year. Their primary crop is Douglas Fir for reforestation efforts. They also produce several other varieties for shipment nationwide. Next, we stopped at a blueberry and hazelnut farm that also packs fruit for other farmers. We sampled fresh blueberries and observed the packing process of fresh blueberries. Third, we visited a small vegetable farmer who was clever in finding profitability by growing vegetables others deemed too difficult to grow in Oregon. Finally, we ended the tour at a beautiful cattle ranch, where a wise rancher talked about the foolishness of dam removal on the Klamath river.
I have received many questions about the upcoming “Marijuana” ballot measure in Klamath County. If passed ballot measure 18-105 would “... require Klamath County to allow State-approved licenses, allowing medical dispensaries, retail farms and retail sales to conduct business within the County.”
The perceived benefits are increased local tax revenue, an economic boost to the local economy and the promotion of liberty. These arguments sound good on the surface, but upon further investigation they are nothing but permission to provide harm to our community, in order that a few can benefit. In other words the special interests are at it again (a few benefit while everyone else pays the price).
In the mid-1800's America grappled with the problem of slavery. As a matter of fact America had been struggling with this problem before the revolution. The proponents of slavery argued that slavery helped the South boost their local economies and that the 10th Amendment granted them the liberty to do so. Sound familiar? So how did Abraham Lincoln combat these apparent obstacles? He took the moral high road and said while what the South was saying might be true about slavery, slavery was also wrong.
On February 2, 2016 I made an appearance with five other people before the Klamath County Commissioners. My objective was to urge the Commissioners to accept a plaque that stated “In God We Trust”. I wanted all who entered that room to see the plaque. Here are my notes from my 3-minute testimony:
In God We Trust - 4 simple, but profound words
WHY they are important? It is our Nation’s Motto: