Hasan family promotes a fantasy of government without taxes

Dr. Malik Hasan’s family and the Hasan Family Foundation are in the news again.

After gaining notoriety recently when their $300,000 grant to failed GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis went sour in a very public way, they have now been exposed as the major source of financial support for the anti-tax Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101. These initiatives would restrict the ability of state and local governments to incur debt, reduce vehicle registrations fees and limit the amount of mill levies school districts can set for property taxes.

Many Republicans as well as Democrats are concerned that passage of these extreme financial measures could paralyze state government by depriving it of the necessary resources to meet such basic needs as education, health care, public safety, infrastructure, and other essentials of civic life.

Since the petitions to put these measures on the ballot hit the streets in the hands of paid signature collectors, the powers behind the plan have been shrouded in mystery. Though widely believed to be the work of Douglas Bruce, authorship of the initiatives is not established. Given that mystery, it is not surprising that the media are taking a particular interest in the major source of financial support for these extreme constitutional amendments.

CO for Tax Reform, the front organization pushing the issues, reports raising $12,000 in contributions. Of that amount, $5,000 was given by Hasan’s wife Seeme, who manages the Hasan Family Foundation. Another $5,000 was donated by their son, Ali Hasan. All other sources account for a mere $2,000, according to election reports by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

By contrast, opponents of the initiatives, including a great many Republicans, have raised nearly $5 million to oppose them. Rather than question why there is such a great discrepancy between her family’s position on the issues and that of many other Republicans, Seeme Hasan complained to the Vail Daily that she was disappointed other Republicans were not contributing to the cause.

Ali Hasan told an interviewer that he supports the anti-tax initiatives because he believes it would end state collection of fees that he considers disguised taxes. In addition, it would strengthen the 1992 Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) and force state and local governments to operate with very limited resources.

As for anti-tax crusader Douglas Bruce, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports that Ali Hasan considers him a mentor and personal political hero. “He’s one of the finest conservatives since Ronald Reagan,” the Gazette quotes Hasan as saying. “I love him as a family member and he loves me very much.”

The comparison presumably is not to the real Ronald Reagan, whose 1982 tax hike was the biggest since World War II. That was followed by another hike in 1984 that raised $60 billion by closing business loopholes. In his second term, Reagan passed the Tax Reform Act of 1986, the largest corporate tax increase in history. These increases, along with numerous smaller ones, make the real Ronald Reagan one of the most prolific tax increasers in presidential history.

But these facts are just as irrelevant to the Hasans as they are to tea party Republicans who idolize a mythic Reagan who shares their own ideological abhorrence of taxes. It is these disaffected minions the Hasans hope to rally in support of their cause.

Fortunately, according to Dan Hopkins, spokesman for Coloradans for Responsible Reform, “Businesses are stepping up to the plate because they realize this is not just the future of the state, it’s the future of business and their business that’s in question.”

Though the Republican political and business communities have rejected the Hasans’ dream of “drowning government in a bathtub,” the family apparently believes that ordinary Coloradans can be persuaded by anti-tax, anti-government rhetoric to reverse the TABOR reforms essential to keeping government functioning during difficult economic times.

The choices are clear. Voters may share the Hasans’ fantasy of government without taxes, or reject this assault on essential government services. That choice will determine the future of Colorado.

Bill Grant lives in Grand Junction. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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