Thursday, January 23, 2003

"If that's a basis for someone to call you a Democrat, then on those issues I guess that's what I am."

Nevada's "Republican" Gov. Kenny Guinn, commenting on suggestions that his call for major tax hikes makes him sound like a Democrat.

AT LAST, A PULSE: The Clark County Republican Central Committee issues a challenge to Guinn's Great Society: A resolution calling for GOP lawmakers to cut spending and resist tax hikes ... and for the Legislature to put any proposed tax hikes before the voters in the form of a referendum before they take effect.

The resolution may not stop the lion's share of the tax hikes. Most of the components of the package will come before the Legislature in March and take effect immediately, since they're designed to close the deficit in the current fiscal year and in the next budget cycle and then "sunset" (yeah, right) at the end of the 2005 legislative session. But if GOP activists can peel off a handful of lawmakers, that may be enough to slow the tax train.

BOMB-THROWER ALERT: Good to see GOP gadfly Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, causing mischief again. On Wednesday, Grover said Guinn's tax proposals threaten Nevada's business-friendly environment, ranked first in the nation in 2001 by the Small Business Survival Committee. Saith Grover:

"When Governor Guinn calls legislators cowardly for opposing a tax hike, he should rethink his own lack of courage at taking a bite out of Nevada's budget."

This has the fingerprints of another rabble-rouser, former Nevadan Chuck Muth, all over it. For years, Muth, now executive director of the American Conservative Union, headed the libertarian-leaning Nevada Republican Liberty Caucus, and was a thorn in the side of the state's GOP establishment. Something tells me Chuck asked Grover for a little favor.

MY COLLEAGUE, UNCLE MARTIN: The latest throat-clearing by Las Vegas Sun Editor Brian Greenspun, urging the Legislature to raise taxes at least as much as Guinn has suggested, contains this gem:

"Some alien in the media suggested that we don't need a Department of Motor Vehicles because it was just a ruse for the police to keep track of us."

That "alien" is my friend and colleague Vin Suprynowicz, whose column last Sunday challenged the notion that state government had been cut to the bone. Vin actually foreshadowed the response his recommendations would get from the clueless Greenspun crowd:

"The centurions of the kleptocracy will doubtless ridicule every one of these proposals as 'fantastic, extreme and ridiculous.' Which tells us how hard they're really looking for ways to reduce the size, cost and intrusiveness of government in our lives, doesn't it?"

As is typical, Greenspun isn't bright enought to get Vin's point. And, again as usual, he didn't disclose his obvious conflict: Nowhere in the column would the neophyte reader know Greenspun served on Guinn's Task Force on Tax Policy — which, BTW, made sure that Brian and his fellow duffers ducked some of the new levies: The task force's proposed "entertainment" tax proposal excludes rounds of golf and country club memberships.

As for calling someone an alien, remember the story of the pot and the kettle. Didn't Greenspun purchase an estate in Del Mar, California, a year or so back? And doesn't he live there much of time?

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