Republicans, Pass Tax Reform or Else

Complete Republican control of the Federal government has been disappointing, to say the least. While good things have been done with judicial appointments and in regards to deregulation by executive authority, the GOP congress has yet to pass a landmark piece of legislation. Failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is the most glaring example of the shortcomings of our elected officials in Washington. Now with tax reform on the table, the congressional Republicans have one last chance to prove themselves worthy of the trust we have put in them, pass a comprehensive tax reform bill, or face the consequences.

While we are just now getting the details on the proposed GOP tax plan, the prospects have been quite exciting. Lower corporate taxes, repatriation of money from overseas, a doubled standard deduction, fewer tax brackets, and the elimination of many loophole and carve-outs have been staples of conservative economic thought since the Supply-Side Revolution. If Republicans can’t come together around a combination of pro-growth and middle-class tax cuts, then it is unclear what you could get them together on.

The political challenge looks like it could come from Republican members of Congress living in high tax states like California or New York whose constituents would be hurt by the provisions of the plan that eliminate the deduction for state income taxes. Philosophically we can debate if our Federal Tax code should be subsidizing the ridiculously high tax rates in California, but at the end of the day, you would expect a number of Republicans in Congress will side with their constituents over the party. The GOP has around 20 extra votes House of Representatives which could make things close. Currently there are 14 Republicans representing California in the House of Representatives, and New York who has 9 Republicans, if these representatives banded together the could derail tax reform, not to mention the possibility of Republicans from other high tax states like Illinois getting involved. Thankfully in the Senate, all of these high tax states have exclusively Democrats representing them.

So there may be some horse trading and some compromises made within the Republican caucus in order to get a bill though. As with any major piece of legislation, there will be winners and losers at the end of the day. Lowering the cap on mortgage interest deduction from $1 million to $500,000 is sure to ruffle a few feathers among the Republicans, especially those allied with the homebuilders and realtors lobby. While the details are definitely important, and I hope our representatives hash out this issues, it is inevitable that some Republicans will need to swallow some bitter herbs in order for the entire plan to make it through.

So here is my advice to those Republicans: swallow the bitter herbs. Republicans in Congress already look like the Gang that Can’t Shoot Straight because of their inability or unwillingness to repeal Obamacare. The President and the GOP need a win, and tax reform is the perfect issue to get that win on. So put up a fight over the provisions of the plan that you find objectionable, but when that final bill hits the floor, you better vote for it or face the consequences at the ballot box.


Jacob Vandever is political activist, lifelong Oregonian, and proud Oregon State graduate. Jacob is the Editor of the Oregon Upstart Blog.

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Posted by at 03:01 | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Prejudice makes bad policy: my response to Wim de Vriend

In his final installment of a four-part anti-immigration series, Wim de Vriend meets Webster’s description of prejudice: “an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge.” He devoted his sprawling prose to a handful of sexually violent anecdotes involving immigrants without even the slightest attempt to present evidence these outlying instances are representative of American immigrants.

As the Alt-Right is forced to extrapolate from an unusual event in Germany two years ago, it merely highlights the fact that immigrants generally don’t harm us. Appeals to emotionally charged stories about things that nearly never happen are how needless government regulations get enacted.

Public policy should be based on evidence, not cherry-picked stories of the bizarre. That evidence has long been very clear. Immigrants commit crime at a significantly lower rate than the rest of us.

A typical Arab in the United States does not rape women. He’s an engineer at Intel, a finance manager at Nike, or mans a food cart selling falafels. The west side of Portland flows with the very kind of people de Vriend paints as monsters. There aren’t many gang rapes in Beaverton, Oregon, but there’s a whole lot of prosperity along Highway 26 thanks to the hard work of that sunset corridor’s many immigrants. Getting rid of that flow of human productivity will not lower our crime rates, but it will lower our standard of living.

It’s ridiculous that de Vriend keeps referring to Japan as some kind of an anti-immigration success story. Japan’s economy has been devastated for lacking the labor growth and dynamism that we have enjoyed over the past generation. Despite the punctuating dips of the occasional recession, the United States has been living in the wealthiest moment in its history in recent decades, continuing to break new world records in affluence this year. Japan peaked in 1990.

Our future is so bright, de Vriend’s pessimism is just detached from the fundamental reality of a googled world. He says the “chances of seeing another industrial revolution demanding millions of new, unskilled workers seem quite slim.” Yet we have revolutionary technologies building abundance all around us. That affluence will afford more human services. We will have to cook for ourselves less, and the need to mow our own laws out of economic necessity will continue to decline.

Who are we? America is an open society with no ethnic identity.  We are forged by a common Lockean Liberal ethos that is more powerful than the few among us, like de Vriend, who sometimes arbitrarily reject it. Indeed, it’s ironic that he, himself an immigrant, would question the fitness of other people to nest into America’s culture, when the blood-and-soil nationalism of the old-world that he has brought with him to our country is more alien to America’s founding than the rest of today’s “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of A Brief History of Political Cultural Change.



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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Government Regulation, immigration | 3 Comments

Immigration Part 4: Could it be too much of a Good Thing?

by Wim de Vriend 

That too many Muslim immigrants are incapable of behaving by western standards was shown convincingly during the Christmas/New Year’s season 2015/2016, in Cologne and other German cities, when groups of middle-eastern men would surround individual women, to rob, molest, injure and rape them: Continue reading

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Posted by at 09:49 | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Why Protesters of Betsy DeVos Can’t Understand What She’s Talking About

By Steve Buckstein

What would you do if you read an article about an Oregon public high school whose students seemed to be performing well above state averages? If you’re U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, you’d hop on a plane and come sit in on three senior classes at the school─McMinnville High School. That’s exactly what DeVos did on October 11. She also met privately with some students and friends, including Cascade Policy Institute School Choice Outreach Coordinator and 2012 Oregon Mother of the Year Bobbie Jager.

Her visit didn’t go unnoticed by those who incorrectly believe she’s out to destroy public education. Some 200 protesters, including teachers union officials, stood outside the school and let anyone who would listen know that they don’t want the school choice policies DeVos advocates anywhere near what they apparently see as the only educational institutions worthy of taxpayer support.

Continue reading

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Metro’s New Plan to Keep Voters out of Chehalem Ridge Nature Park

By John A. Charles, Jr.

On October 19 the Metro Council adopted an Access Master Plan for the Chehalem Ridge Nature Park. This is a former industrial tree farm of 1,230 acres that Metro bought from Stimson Lumber Company in 2010.

Chehalem Ridge is Metro’s largest land purchase financed through the bond sale program approved by voters in 1995 and again in 2006. However, it’s not clear why it was ever a priority. Located just east of Gaston, Chehalem Ridge is outside the Metro boundaries and far from any urban population. The roads leading to it are narrow and winding, and there is no public transit. The entrance is gated, and the land has never been open to the public.

Chehalem Ridge is supposed to be the “crown jewel” of the Metro parks system, but the land itself is unremarkable. According to the Master Plan, prior surveys found “no significant natural areas on site.”

Surveys also showed “no historic or archeological materials” and “no cultural resources were found.”

In short, this is a generic parcel of overgrown timberland with minimal ecological value and almost no recreational appeal. Continue reading

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Posted by at 02:53 | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Measure 101: things that make you go hmmm

The coming ballot measure to repeal parts of this year’s HB2391 has brought out a parade of the bizarre from its opponents. Crass partisanship went from merely bad to mockingly banal in three ways. Continue reading

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Medicaid, State Taxes | 3 Comments

Social Media Unleashes on White Male Portland City Council Candidate

Spencer Raymond seems like a nice enough guy.  The owner of The Civic Taproom took to social media the other day to announce that he was moving on from OPB where he worked as an announcer and producer in order to take a more active role in the community and seek a seat on the Portland City Council.  Seems like an innocent enough act, but social media thought differently.

Facebook commenters piled on the brand new candidate for Council Seat number three, with calls for him to drop out of the race and support one of the three women of color currently in the race. Continue reading

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Posted by at 09:00 | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Knute Buehler: Kate Brown’s Carbon Plan is Another Massive Giveaway to Special Interests

By Knute Buehler

After three years in office, Gov. Kate Brown has provided Oregonians with a sense of how she defines leadership: Raising taxes on pretty much everything Oregonians purchase, use, need and enjoy.

At first, Brown was an accidental governor. But her obsession with new taxes is no accident at all, whether proposing her own tax hikes or falling dutifully in line behind various special interest plans. Continue reading

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Posted by at 10:13 | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Do-Nothing Senate Tackles Tax Reform

Right From the Start


Last week a group of Republican senators sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging Mr. McConnell to extend the working days and hours of the United States Senate. The petitioners were Sens. David Perdue (R-GA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Dean Heller (R-NV), Ron Johnson (R-WI), John Kennedy (R-LA), Mike Rounds (SD), Luther Strange, (R-AL), Roger Wicker R-MS), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK). Not surprisingly, with the exception of Mssrs. Wicker and Johnson, the remaining members are all first term senators. Also not surprisingly, not a single member of the Republican elites (Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Jeff Flack (R-AZ), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bob Corker (R-TN) nor Lamar Alexander (R-TN) joined in the request. Continue reading

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in 2018 Election, Congress, Government Waste, McCain, President Donald Trump, Public Employee Unions, Republican Party, Tax Reform, Taxes, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment

When Is a Health Care Tax Not a Tax?

By Steve Buckstein

Oregon state legislators who voted for you to pay higher health insurance premiums and higher hospital costs don’t want you to think you’ll be paying more because they raised taxes. In their words, they aren’t raising taxes at all; they’re simply putting assessments on these services and letting insurers and hospitals pass on the extra costs to you.

Three legislators who don’t want you to pay these higher costs collected more than enough voter signatures to place Referendum 301 (now Measure 101) on the ballot in January, so you can vote No and stop these new taxes from going into effect.

The problem is, when you see your Voters Pamphlet and ballot, you won’t see the words “tax” or “taxes” anywhere in the official statements. You’ll only read about “assessments.” Apparently, tax supporters think you’re more likely to approve them if you don’t believe they’re taxes at all.  Assessments sound so much more palatable, don’t they? Continue reading

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

John Taylor’s appointment seems unlikely

It was great to write last week about the potential appointment of John Taylor as the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve, but that now appears unlikely. After meeting with the current Fed chair, the President declared there are five finalists and that he likes all five of them. Both Janet Yellen and John Taylor were on that short list.

It’s hard to understand how anyone with a clear position on monetary policy would include both on the same list of finalists. Discerning Trump’s views on interest rates and the value of the dollar have been even more challenging than making sense of his foreign policy.

Also on this list is a bona fide moderate. Jerome Powell (pictured above) stands as a centrist choice between the inflation hawks like Taylor and doves like Yellen. It’s now being reported that Powell has emerged as a favorite. Continue reading

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Federal Reserve | 2 Comments

The Johnson Games

Representative Mark Johnson recently announced that he would be resigning from his position as State Representative in order to take up the job of President and CEO of Oregon Business and Industry, the new business organization formed when Associated Oregon Industries and the Oregon Business Association merged. I am hopeful that Representative Johnson will help bring about a more unified voice for businesses in this state. With such a wide variety of industries and sectors it is easy for the business community to fracture on any number of issues and at times it has led to mixed signals or mealy-mouthed responses when the legislature has approached businesses for their take on policy changes. I am optimistic that Representative Johnson will be a strong voice for business in Oregon, but his resignation presents new challenges for Republicans in Oregon. Continue reading

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Posted by at 12:26 | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Taxpayer Association backs Ontario Sales Tax Referendum Petition

By Taxpayer Association of Oregon

Ontario voters are reviving democracy by launching a referendum repeal petition campaign to stop the newly passed Ontario sales tax.  They are called Stop Ontario Sales Tax.

In September, the Ontario politicians quickly voted to make Ontario the only city in Oregon with its own sales tax.  Being the only city in Oregon with a sales tax is like hanging a sign on our local businesses saying “Don’t shop here” or a sign to future businesses “Don’t locate here”.   Taxpayer don’t want to see their city lose customers and lose jobs because of new and unnecessary taxes. Continue reading

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Posted by at 09:41 | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The End of the Republican Majority


As the United States Senate returns after yet another vacation its workload has been increased dramatically by President Donald Trump. I’m still not on the Trump Train but I do admire his work ethic and now his expectation that others should demonstrate a similar one.

To date, with the exception of the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court, the Republican controlled Senate has accomplished precisely nothing. The Republicans have NOT repealed and replaced Obamacare. They have NOT adopted a budget resolution. They have NOT provided a tax reduction and tax reform. They have NOT provided any solution to the immigration mess including securing the borders. They have, however, taken numerous vacations and worked three days per week. They have also spent an inordinate amount of time criticizing President Trump and each other. For a group of men and women who have accomplished nothing their criticism of others rings pretty hollow. Continue reading

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in 2018 Election, Congress, Illegal Immigration, immigration, Leadership, Obamacare, President Donald Trump, President Obama, Tax Reform | 6 Comments

Stop Healthcare Tax Petition makes ballot, breaks record!

Petition submission qualifies over 82,000 signatures with a record-setting 85.43% validity rate for January ballot

SALEM, OR. — Today, the Stop Healthcare Taxes Referendum 301 chief petitioners qualified 82,312 signatures with a record-setting 85.43% validity rate for the January 23rd, 2018 special election to let voters vote on healthcare sales taxes passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Kate Brown. Continue reading

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Posted by at 07:24 | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Central Oregon Union Leader Accused of Attempted Church Break-In

By Northwest Spotlight

As first reported by The Bulletin, Yajnesa “Yaju” Dharmarajah, is being accused of allegedly attempting to break into the Westside Church in Bend, Oregon. According the Bend paper:

Police found Yajnesa “Yaju” Dharmarajah, 43, outside the church wearing a ski mask and gloves just after 4 a.m., according to a Bend Police Department news release. Dharmarajah allegedly had a crowbar in his hand, and after checking the building, officers found several areas damaged in a way consistent with an attempted break-in.

Dharmarajah was also found with a loaded 9 mm handgun. He was booked into the Deschutes County jail under suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon, possession of burglary tools, first-degree burglary and first-degree criminal mischief. According to the jail, he posted 10 percent of his $45,000 bail and was released.

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Posted by at 11:42 | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“Shuffling” Is for Playing Cards, Not School Kids

By Kathryn Hickok

Portland Public Schools is redrawing the boundaries of more than a dozen schools and reassigning 5,000 students, ten percent of its enrollment. According to The Oregonian: “To make sure no school ends up understaffed or overcrowded, students must be shuffled.”

In government-run school districts, kids are cards in a deck. The bureaucracy gets to deal, assigning students to school buildings based on their residences. And even when parents exercise choice by moving into a neighborhood, gaining access to special school-based programs, or enrolling in charter schools located in underused facilities, the district retains the right to shuffle and deal over. Continue reading

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Whose Money Is Your Oregon Kicker Refund?

By Steve Buckstein and Kathryn Hickok

State economists have confirmed that individual Oregon income taxpayers will receive kicker refunds next year. Based on the May revenue forecast, more than $463 million will be returned to taxpayers as a credit on their 2018 tax bills, with the average refund being $227.

But with the news that the coming refunds will reduce our tax liabilities, some are criticizing the way the kicker law works, while others argue the money really belongs to the state, not the taxpayers. They argue that as long as any group of Oregonians—or any state government budget item—has a “need” for that money, then the money should go to them instead of back to the individuals who earned it. Continue reading

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Posted by at 12:30 | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

John Taylor for new Fed chair

The Wall Street Journal reports that President Trump met with Stanford University’s John Taylor on Wednesday to possibly be the next chair of the Federal Reserve. Before this news became public, expectations were beginning to grow that former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh was the early favorite.

This is great news, and I’ve been waiting patiently for something nice to write about the Trump administration. Such an appointment would be the monetary policy equivalent of appointing Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Continue reading

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Economy, Federal Reserve | 1 Comment

Knute vs. The “Anti-Knutes”

With the announcement from Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer that she would not be seeking the Republican nomination for Governor of Oregon we are getting a better idea of what the 2018 field is going to look like.  With DeRemer’s exit from the race, it appears that the race will consist of front-runner Representative Knute Buehler and a handful of others jockeying to be the “Anti-Knute” candidate.

As of now, it looks like the other candidates will be Sam Carpenter, former candidate for the US Senate, Bruce Cuff, who ran for Governor in both 2014 and 2016, and Greg Wooldridge, former commander of the Blue Angels who has appeared in recent polls for Governor.

Additionally former Democratic candidate for Governor, David “Water Slides” Stauffer, and the man with the most epic beard, Keenan Bohach have campaign committees set up to run for the Republican nomination.

In the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney held the position of frontrunner for most of the race.  Some of the more conservative element of the GOP base who didn’t like Romney spent much of the race bouncing around between different “Flavor of the Month” candidates.  Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, and Herman Cain all had times where they were up in the polls and seemed to be the chosen “Anti-Romney” candidate.  With this opposition unable to coalesce behind any one candidate all Mitt Romney had to do was hold onto his base and avoid making any outrageous mistakes and was able to win with an overwhelming lead in the delegate count.

An example that is more fresh in everyone’s mind should be the 2016 GOP Presidential Primary where the entire race appeared to be “Trump vs. Everyone Else” and with seemingly countless candidates attempting to position themselves as the counterbalance to Donald Trump it helped him to secure the nomination and eventually move on to win the Presidency.

As Richard Nixon once said, “if you ever hear of a group getting together to stop X, be sure to put your money on X.”

With Chavez-DeRemer out of the race, Knute Buehler seems to have his lane all to himself. Knute is now the only socially moderate candidate with experience serving in government and a demonstrated ability to fundraise.  The other candidates will lock themselves in a battle of seeing who can “out-conservative” the others or who can hit Representative Buehler the hardest.  All the while Buehler just has to do what Mitt Romney did in 2012 and what Donald Trump did in 2016, hold onto your base and hope your opposition keeps fighting amongst themselves all the way to election day.

Oregon deserves better than Governor Kate Brown.  Regardless of who wins, I want to see a GOP Primary that produces the nominee best suited to take on Governor Brown and the entrenched Democratic establishment in this state.  Likely  it could be fairly brutal at times, but at the very least should be entertaining for us political nerds.

Get your popcorn ready.


Jacob Vandever is political activist, lifelong Oregonian, and proud Oregon State graduate. Jacob is the Editor of the Oregon Upstart Blog.

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Posted by at 11:07 | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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