Eyman exhibits his sense of timing with 2 initiatives

Tim Eyman’s initiative mania never stops. The state hasn’t even finished counting its ballots from this election and Eyman is already promoting his next two initiatives.

Time to think? A moment to reason together? No. Eyman and his supporters are hacked off as usual and they want to strike back.

They are outraged that Eyman’s fraudulent Initiative 722 is being challenged in court. The proposal, which would create differing property taxes for houses of the same value in the name of property tax reduction, will be tossed by the courts.

To be sure, the prospect of being laughed out of court would be enough to put lesser politicians on the defensive. Not Eyman. Remember, his grass-roots group is named "Permanent Offense." The best defense, as Eyman clearly knows, is a good offense.

It’d be more accurate, though, to describe his approach as permanently offensive to the state’s system of representative government. Eyman is dedicating himself to a level of direct lawmaking never envisioned by the state’s constitution. In fact, as Initiative 695 showed, much of what he has done flies in the face of the constitution.

As an adroit, entertaining politician, Eyman, of course, should be credited with sensing genuine popular grievances and playing to them magnificently. His I-695 triumph at the polls was built on gridlock in Olympia and the refusal of legislators to acknowledge the need to modify the high annual car tab fees. And he does have the political nimbleness to adjust to what he hears. Part of the reason for floating his next two initiatives is apparently to provoke feedback from his supporters.

Next on the menu for Eyman’s initiative machine are attacks on the taxing powers of local and state governments. The two measures would require public votes before any taxes or permit fees are raised. It’s particularly sad that Eyman should try to make state law get in the way of local governments’ efforts to make decisions about services and taxes. By any traditional assessment, local governments are closest to the people and most able to make appropriate decisions. But forget analysis and America’s history of political thought. Simple ideas — sold with flair and consummate political rhetoric — are what Eyman is all about.

Though much too coy to say so out loud, Eyman’s movement is wildly infatuated with the idea that there is such a thing as a free lunch. Many people sincerely believe government has enough money already to do pretty much everything under the sun. There is a widespread belief, for instance, that Washington state could somehow solve all its traffic problems without any extra funds.

As long as we want to believe in such scenarios, there will be someone willing to feed the notion. Who knows? Maybe Eyman is right. Christmas is just around the corner.

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