February 28, 2008

Idaho’s Unimportant Middle Class

Posted by Adam Graham in : Idaho Conservative, The

DFO makes a fascinating point:

I can’t believe that Butch Otter would on one hand refuse to cut or eliminate the sales tax for grocery while on the other suggest raising vehicle registration fees sixfold — to rebuild Boise area roads. Rich guys like him just don’t get it. The vast middle class in this state are getting hammered by the new stagflation. Dunno whether he’s hard-headed or surrounded by numbskull advisers but Otter continues to not impress.

I think DFO is on to something.  Otter’s problem is that Idaho’s middle class is forgotten to him. I think Butch Otter caresabout the rich, I think he also cares about the poor as evidenced by his grocery tax credit plan to bring the grocery tax credit to the extremely poor, and he cares about the rich and big business. But the middle class? Not so much. It’s the poor, the rich, and then special interests. Middle class not even on thelist.

This is the big problem for the Idaho GOP, particularly on taxes. We’ve got an income tax code that makes no sense and hits middle class workers with high rates and is extremely complex. We have some of the highest gas taxes in the nation already and on top of this, Otter’s going to add a $155 vehicle registration fee. By my count, that’s about $118 extra per year for me.

Of course, the Democrats are more better. All we hear from them is that we need more taxes for more services and more government.

In the end, the middle class gets squeezed and nobody represents us. This isn’t what I expected when I moved to one of the most Republican states in the nation. The Idaho Education Association is more important to the Legislature than Idaho Middle Class families. If the GOP wants to come back in the Ada County and avoid further losses, this has got to change.


See my views of what a pro-Middle class agenda would look like.


  1. Comment by Julie in Boise

    Adam, you say that all we Democrats want are “more taxes for more services and more government.”

    You are right. More services and more government – for the middle class (and the poor, of course). It takes taxes, which Democrats believe aren’t some communist plot but a sound investment in a society that works for everyone, but especially “the least of these.” Unfortunately, in our free market society, the least of these include not just the most poor, but middle-class Americans, whom you and I agree are struggling mightily.

    I’d argue that the Democratic Party – which has been fighting to take the tax off groceries for years, but especially since Risch increased it by 20 % in 2006 – advocates every day for the middle class. Someday, Idahoans who reflexively vote GOP are gonna wake up and say, “Wait a minute …”

  2. Comment by Julie in Boise

    Democratic Party. Sorry for the typo …

  3. Comment by W. Lane Startin

    Not this Democrat. You know I’m all about smaller, better government all the way around. Otter may have been libertarian at one time, but since he’s been in the statehouse he’s been the very prototype of a Big Government Republican.

  4. Comment by Tom von Alten

    The middle class is where the money is, which is why the Republican-driven federal tax cutting carefully avoids giving too much to them. The biggest part of the shell game is pushing the burden to future generations through inflation and debt.

    This is a perilous course for plenty of reasons, not the least of which is that the middle class provides the essential buffer between the haves and the have-nots, and allows for maintenance of civic order with only a modest armed police force, surveillance, infiltration, etc. The Bush/Cheney “energy plan” that produced a war-without-end and record profits for Big Oil is something we’re going to be paying for for many years to come.

    A “sixfold” rise in vehicle registration (“just pennies a day”) is worthy of a big headline in the newspaper, but it’s nowhere near the worst of the problems queued up by Republicans big and small.

    The Republican claim was that government was broken, and can’t do anything right. It was one of many Big Lies that resonated with just enough of the electorate to win the day, but turning it into a self-fulfilling prophecy was monumentally stupid.

    We need government. We need to fix what’s broken with it, and improve what we can. We need to acknowledge that it costs money to provide for essential infrastructure, and devise equitable ways to share that burden.

  5. Comment by Adam Graham

    I’ll reply to this in a little bit in more detail. I need a little rest now. I find it somewhat humorous that my concerns with the Idaho GOP are being plastered all over the Internet when my main concern relates to overtaxing and overspending and Julie’s main response is to defend overtaxation and overspending, thus if she’s correct, my argument is wrong.

    Now you could then argue that the Idaho GOP doesn’t represent the middle class, but if tax and spend is okay, then my argument is little more than the work of an ideological malcontent. It would be akin to me using an argument from a leftist Democrat that explains why the Democrats are Corporate Prostitutes, then refute the basis of the argument that the Democrats are Corporate Prostitutes, and then still trumpet the conclusion.

  6. Comment by Julie in Boise

    Adam, the Clinton years (especially the second term) are a good example of how government ought to work when it comes to the economy.
    For the first time in decades, we had eliminated the federal budget deficit. The budget was in surplus for four years; the nation’s wealthiest families were paying their fair share (yet continuing to do very well indeed due to the robust, tech-driven economy); and the federal government was doing a better job of funding its mandates to the states, so states were doing better, too.

    I have no interest in being an ideologue on this subject. I believe the Gingrich-led Congress deserves some credit for the good years of the late ’90s. The free market deserves much of it, too, since that was a time of great innovation and worker productivity. Not everyone shared in the good times: welfare reform meant struggles for many people. But overall, we were doing well. Things had to slow down, as they did after the tech bubble burst and especially after 9/11. But without the really bad decisions of the Bush administration – chiefly the wholly unnecessary war in Iraq and the repeated tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans – we simply wouldn’t be in the dire straits we are now. Moreover, the “go shopping” attitude of the Bush administration helped trigger the current housing crisis since it created a national culture where people were encouraged to spend way beyond their means. The free market economy – especially the gluttonous energy, health care, and insurance industries – deserve much of the blame, as well. They have thrived under an administration that looks the other way when it comes to ethics and cronyism and a culture that insists greed is good an everyone must look out for him/herself.

    I believe that both the next president and the 111th Congress must face reality on the need for leaner government and wise spending. We start by returning to the tax structure of the Clinton years, ending corporate welfare, and ending the war in Iraq. We need to direct savings from those black holes back toward helping families with health insurance, since that is hands down the biggest burden on the middle class. We also need to direct government R&D money into growing the green economy, since that has the potential to be the next big economic wave we can ride well into this century, not to mention saving the planet.

    But we can do this only if we end governmental gridlock by electing a president with a strong majority and installing a Congress with much larger Dem majorities. Then, under a Democratic-led 111th Congress and Democratic admin, the money that is spent will go toward creating a government that works for more of us, especially the middle class. That is the Democratic way. Ironically, I think that was your point, too. Face it, Adam: Reaganomics didn’t work, Grover Norquist is dead wrong, and William F Buckley Jr is just plain dead. Let’s start the 21st century …. finally.

  7. Comment by Adam Graham

    Well, Julie several things. First of all, before Ronald Reagan, we had a 70% tax bracket, and the Carter recession. Reagan pulled us out of that, and I don’t think anyone’s foolish enough to suggest we need to go back to a 70% marginal rate. The problem with the Reagan years were two-fold. One, we had to rebuild the military from the Carter years, and two, Democrats refused to restrain domestic spending.

    In the Bush years, it has been much the same Revenues have risen the past few years, but Congress has spent too much, created too many entitlements.

    Other than the military in the time of war, a Democratic Congress can never think of anything to cut. Indeed, they’ve continued to grow the government. I tend to believe a much smaller government is the way to go and will write more on that later.

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