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Smart Bombs: Take a bow for low taxes

Tim Eyman blasted this mass email last week: “Washington is the 4th highest taxed state in the nation:” He inserted a link to a Tax Foundation map revealing that data point. He followed that with: “I-1185 keeps us from hitting #1.”

There are two ways to take this: 1) Mr. Eyman has been shockingly ineffective at fighting for lower taxes. 2) The numbers are misleading.

Relax, campaign contributors; the correct answer is No. 2.

The very same Tax Foundation supplies a ranking of state and local tax burdens. Every year, I wait for Mr. Eyman to distribute this data, which has direct bearing on his tax limiting initiatives. But he never does. Such humility is impressive, but I figure people ought to know.

Washington state ranks 29th … lower than Idaho.

“Washington’s state and local tax burden is currently estimated at 9.3% of income (29th nationally), below the national average of 9.8%,” says the Tax Foundation website.

Take a bow, Mr. Eyman.

So what’s behind “the 4th highest taxed state in the nation?” Oddly, the Tax Foundation lumps federal taxes into that calculation, as if states could control those. The federal code is progressive. The more you make, the higher the rate. We have a lot of wealth in this state. If those rich people moved to another state, Washington’s tax ranking would drop, but what you pay in total taxes would stay the same.

Initiative 1185 (two-thirds majority for tax increases) addresses state taxes, where we currently rank 29th (have I mentioned that?). We’re in no danger of hitting No. 1, unless a bunch of rich people suddenly move here.

My trip to the Tax Foundation website also unearthed the news that Washington ranks sixth best on the State Business Climate Index. Whoa! How’s that for business friendly? Idaho is 20th!

Now there are some caveats, but I can’t be bothered. Think I’ll just blast an email saying, “Sixth Best Place To Do Business!”

Cheerleading. Look, I know Washington’s business climate is partly cloudy, but would it kill the business community to swap some negative stories with some positive ones? To hear some local politicians, you’d think they were recruiting for Idaho.

How about telling the Caterpillar story as often as the Buck Knives one? How about praising our education system? Washington has more people, more wealth and more diverse opportunities. Must be some reasons.

Why not turn those into talking points, and dispense with the Debbie Downer dispatches?

That’s our job.

DEbate review. Biden hungry; Ryan thirsty.

Do-overs. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve read, “The Romney campaign walked back the remark,” I might support tax cuts for the rich, too.

Why Wait? Paul Ryan describes Mitt Romney’s Medicare makeover for those younger than age 55 in such glowing terms it makes we wonder why the plan doesn’t allow current seniors to share in its splendor.

Joltin’ Joe. After his sleepy debate performance, Barack Obama needs a cup of whatever Joe Biden was drinking.

We interrupt This Debate. Now that both sides in the presidential race believe that aggressive retorts and talking over the other guy are the keys to debate victories, we may not get past the first question in Tuesday’s town hall.

Citizen: “As an independent voter who has yet to …”

Romney: “I can’t let the president’s raised eyebrow go unanswered.”

Obama: “Could you at least let her ask the question before you start making stuff up.”

Romney: “I don’t make stuff up. I …”

Obama: “Yes, you …”

Romney: “ … DO NOT!”

Obama: “DO!”

Romney: “DON’T!”

Citizen: “Never mind …”

Obama: “I won’t never mind, that’s what got me into trouble last time!”

Citizen: “… I think I have …”

Romney: “I demand more time!”

Citizen: “… my answer now.”

Road Rage. Drivers seem especially stupid when I’ve lost control of my day and I’m in a hurry.

Associate Editor Gary Crooks can be reached at or (509) 459-5026.