Tuesday, March 5, 2013

False Dichotomy, Real Fissures... & Renewed Hope!

Oh, my. Guess who's suddenly changing his tune on "The T Word"!

Nevada Senate Republicans called on the Legislature today to both remove the mining industry’s constitutional tax protections and find a way to increase taxes on the industry as an alternative to the margins tax ballot initiative.

The announcement comes as the Legislature today prepares to hear testimony on the initiative petition supported by the state teachers union to create a margins tax on business revenue. [...]

“We believe the current discussion relating to broadening the tax base and finding more money for education is important,” said Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson. “To that end, we will continue to work with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to identify sensible structural reforms to Nevada’s revenue system.” [...]

“Billions of dollars of nonrenewable natural resources are extracted from our state and shipped out-of-state every year,” Roberson said. “These resources cannot be replenished. At some point the gold will be gone. And, when the gold is gone, mining will be gone. It is imperative that we ensure that Nevadans get the best deal we can, while we can.”

Oh, yes. That's right. One time "tea party" darling Michael Roberson has now completely ditched his Grover Norquist/Chuck Muth "NO TAX!!!" pledge! Welcome to the Caucus of the Sane, Senator Roberson.

Oh, but wait. There's a catch. Even while co-opting progressives' message and ideas on mining tax reform, Roberson and his fellow Senate Republicans are trying to misuse this to kill The Education Initiative!

Now think about that. Senate Republicans are essentially playing out their fucked up version of "Sophie's Choice" by sacrificing their once sweet & sultry relationship with the mining industry so they can save their other big business sweethearts. How... Yuck.

But wait, there's more. Roberson is also trying to divide and conquer the left with this move. He's betting his sudden move on mining tax reform will create a fissure within the Democratic Caucus while further alienating Democratic leadership from the progressive base.

Frankly, Roberson need not worry about the latter. Marilyn Kirkpatrick is already doing a great job at that. Yet even with that, there won't be any mass exodus from the Democratic Party just because of a few boneheaded moves by a few Dems. (Instead, there may be more primary challenges next year.) Meanwhile, he should probably be more concerned amour the fissure he's about to create in his own party.

Roberson will take the lead, but I understand he has support from Ben Kieckhefer, Joe Hardy, Mark Hutchison and Greg Brower. But my guess is a few members of his caucus will not be at the news conference today.

Now about Gov. Brian Sandoval....

Clearly, Roberson didn't clear this with Brian Sandoval. And it's unclear at this point just how many Republicans Roberson actually has behind his brand new tax plan (ripped out of PLAN's playbook).

It's just hilarious to see these silly games and real divisions arise from a false dichotomy. We really don't have to choose fair taxation for mining companies or fair taxation for other multinational corporations ripping us off. No really, we can have both!

Both sets of companies have gotten away with excessive corporate welfare. And really, this kind of chaos emanating from both Democratic and Republican leaders may bode quite well for progressive activists working to achieve both... And even more in the future. For far too long, "Tea Party, Inc." has held the party line on all taxation while various corporate lobbyists conveniently blamed each other's clients for Nevada's great EPIC FAIL on taxation. All of it was truly just kabuki theater meant to divide and conquer so no power player in Carson City would have to worry about any real progressive tax reform.

Today, this is finally changing. This time, the fissures are real. And the prospect for smart tax reform is real. Michael Roberson may not recognize this, and perhaps it's best that he doesn't right now. But really, he's doing progressive activists a big favor today. Thanks, Senator!

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