Thursday, December 29, 2011

10 of 11: Is It 2012 Yet?

Funny enough, one of the biggest stories of this past year has been about... NEXT YEAR??!! Yep, that's right. Since hardly anything could be accomplished in Congress as our own Legislature kept kicking the can further down the road, focus turned quickly to the big election year that will begin in just 5 days in the snowy fields of Iowa. And back here in Nevada, the G-O-TEA is in full panic mode after the last R-J/8 News/UNLV poll delivered plenty of holiday cheer for President Obama and Shelley Berkley. Meanwhile, news broke this morning about another big ballot battle coming to a polling place near you in 2012.

The initiative, which would change state law, will be based on the “margins tax” proposed by Democrats during the 2011 Legislature, according to a source. That tax proposal was modeled after Texas’ “franchise tax,” which was levied on business gross receipts.

Proponents will have to collect 72,000 signatures — 18,000 in each of the state’s four congressional districts. If successful, the proposal would go to the Legislature for consideration in 2013. If the lawmakers don’t pass it within 40 days, it will go to the ballot in 2014 for voters to decide.

Advocates for changing the state’s tax structure and increasing the funding for social services and education hope to build a coalition of support among business leaders, gaming, mining, teachers and labor. [...]

However, the state’s power brokers, including gaming, mining, the teachers union and AFL-CIO, have been talking about changing the state’s tax structure since the 2011 session ended in June. The challenge: to close the state’s budget deficit of more than $1 billion.

At the end of that session, the Legislature re-extended taxes passed in 2009, but did nothing to change the tax structure, which critics say is too dependent on gaming and sales tax.

That led to widespread frustration in the Nevada establishment and a consensus that no tax, even one that was revenue neutral, could pass the Legislature, where it takes a two-thirds majority to raise a tax or fee. (A ballot question only requires a simple majority of voters for it to pass.)

Apparently, we truly are coming around full circle and "Californication" has arrived in Nevada. After several disappointing sessions full of dashed hopes and so much kicking the can down the road, the can now looks to land in our laps. And perhaps 2012 will be the perfect year to do it. After all, these folks in Chicago are feeling increasingly confident about "The Map".

Remember when Jim Messina came here in August to discuss the restart of the Obama campaign? When he was explaining how OFA was about to lay the foundation for this campaign, even some on the left were asking how on earth Obama could expect to regain the trust of Americans when so much seemed to look so wrong.

Last night, Messina acknowledged that this may be their biggest challenge going forward. So much really has been accomplished by the Obama Administration, but will the American people really care? And why should they care when the unemployment rate is still over 9%, people are still losing their homes to foreclosure, and three wars are still being waged abroad while Congress breaks for recess after debating whether or not to end Social Security & Medicare as we know it?

Now we're getting a clearer picture... And Jim Messina doesn't sound so crazy, after all. While Mitt Romney brags about his plan to force commercials onto "Sesame Street" and Ron Paul embraces pro "death penalty for teh gayzzz!!!" Christ-o-fascists, OFA has quietly been building a strong operation from the grassroots upward. And when no one was noticing, the economy started to heal and now the President isn't looking so bad after all.

Just over a year ago, hardly anyone was expecting this. But sometimes, one just has to expect and accept the unexpected. Between the changing tide (yet again) of public opinion, the revival of the Obama campaign, the new awareness surrounding "The 99%", and the huge curveball that redistricting turned out to be, Nevada in 2012 may prove to be the ultimate opportunity for progressives to rescue this state... And perhaps take this state in a bold, new direction.

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