Liberal agenda aggressively pushed in brave new world of Democratic rule
Donald Rumsfeld popularized the terms “known-knowns” and “known-unknowns” during a now-famous Pentagon press conference in which Iraqi WMDs were the subject of the day.
The terms are useful in describing the horrors of the legislative session in Denver, too.
Let’s look at the known-knowns.
First, the Democrats in the Legislature have pushed an aggressive social agenda to the exclusion of much anything else. Senate President John Morse was excoriated by his hometown newspaper in late March for saying “social issues take precedent because they make Colorado a more equitable place.”
Spare me the whole social justice routine, Senator. Truth be told, the Democratic social agenda has been propelled as much by campaign finance quid pro quo as anything else.
With the exception of the in-state tuition legislation for illegal-immigrant high school graduates, virtually every other liberal social reform pushed this year — civil unions, gun and magazine bans, banning drilling, rekindling the new energy economy by increasing renewable energy mandates, repealing the death penalty, softening sentences on drug offenders — has had a major liberal donor encouraging its passage behind the scenes.
Next known-known: The Democratic Party in Colorado is not a center-left party any longer, if it ever was. In a story Monday, Durango Herald Capitol correspondent Joe Hanel said, “If the session ended today, it would go down as one of the most productive and liberal ever…” Some might use a different word than “productive,” but you see Hanel’s point: The boys and girls down at the Statehouse have adopted the first several chapters of George Soros’ personal political platform.
An ancillary question: If this is one of the most liberal legislative sessions ever, what does that say about Gov. John Hickenlooper?
The final known-known, a consequence of the Democrats’ hard turn left, is this: The two-year respite of fiscal discipline that occurred when Republicans controlled one chamber has been terminated, and we have turned back the clock to the Ritter-era of business-as-usual-budgeting.
This year, Colorado has fully tied its fiscal ship to the anchor of Obamacare, rapaciously expanding a Medicaid program, with no real reform to the underlying program that is unsustainably broken. And while the state’s budget actually shrank at one point recently, this year it has come roaring back. The budget the governor will sign is about $1 billion more than last year.
If that seems dour, consider this: The big known-unknown of this session will be worse than the sum of the known-knowns added up and multiplied by 3.14. Democrats are pushing a new school finance plan that will cost, we think, about $1 billion in new taxes in the form of, we think, increased income tax rates to Colorado businesses and families that, we think, will be decided as part of a ballot question this November. (Note: this is $1 billion in addition to the new $1 billion already in the budget.)
I say, “we think” to all of these hyper-important questions because those crafty characters in the Democratic Party are pushing a bill that only details how new education tax increases would be spent. All the other questions about the tax increase — who, what, how, when we all get the fiscal shaft — are still shamefully unanswered at a time when the bill has passed through the bulk of the legislative process.
These questions, we think, will be answered as part of a coordinated effort by outside groups for a ballot measure this fall. In the meantime, the Democrats’ embrace of this school finance bill is akin to Nancy Pelosi’s embrace of Obamacare – vote now, read later.
Think legislators of both parties should have the answers to these tax increase questions before they are asked to vote on the school finance measure that spends all the new taxes? Not in this brave new world of Democratic rule, where the only thing worse than the known-knowns is that which is unknown.
Josh Penry is a former minority leader of the Colorado Senate. He is a graduate of Grand Junction High School and Mesa State College.