Thursday, October 2, 2008

DFA Takes On Risch

*Editor's note: Yes, I'm a few days slow posting this, but better late than never...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Contact: Daniel I. Medress
Office: (802) 651-3200, ext. 148
Cell: (213) 814-8663

Risch Not Popular with Newspapers, Fellow Republicans

BURLINGTON, VT -- During Jim Risch’s 37 years as a politician, he has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Some have been bold enough to say so out loud, despite Risch’s power and reputation for abusing it.

Following Risch’s victory in the primary race for Lieutenant Governor in 2002, sitting Lieutenant Governor Jack Riggs called Risch a “career politician” and told Boise TV station KTVB that he questioned Risch’s honesty. He also noted that Risch had been beaten in his home county. “He did not win Ada County, where people know him,” Riggs said. “I think that’s a good perception.”

Fellow candidate Larry Eastland agreed with Riggs, and had his own explanation for why Risch won. “It wasn’t just the dollars. It was a combination of the dollars and deceptive advertising the dollar bought. It’s deceptive for a downtown Boise trial lawyer who spent 30 years earning his money as a trial lawyer, who has a ranch as a tax write-off, to spend huge amounts of money calling himself a rancher,” Eastland said.

The state’s largest newspaper has also found itself on the wrong side of Risch. Calling him a “shoot from the hip type” and “a hard-edged lawmaker who inspires fear,” the Idaho Statesman concluded that Risch “made his reputation as an iron-fisted leader in the (state) Senate.”

During the primary in 2002, the Statesman’s editorial page said of Risch, “He claims to have ‘mellowed,’ but has never erased his image as an autocratic bully. And his willingness to do anything in the name of politics . . . leaves us worried.”

In the current campaign, several newspapers have taken Risch to task for being less than honest is describing the tax shift he authored as acting Governor. “The tax overhaul . . . is doing no favors for working-class Idahoans,” the Statesman wrote. “For Risch to air television ads saying he delivered ‘the largest tax cut in state history’ is an act of political cynicism.” The paper concluded that “This says a lot . . . about the way the lieutenant governor might approach tax and economic decisions facing Idaho’s next U.S. Senator.”

In a piece titled “Robin Hood in Reverse,” the Idaho Falls Post Register said Risch was “distorting” his tax shift. “The big winners were businesses, which got a $60 million tax break. The losers were individuals, who ended up paying $10 million more.” Noting Risch’s ads touting his “tax cut,” the paper concluded, “and you wonder why people get cynical about politics.”

Private economists have also taken Risch to task for his deception. Former Idaho Chief Economist Richard Slaughter wrote in the Idaho Statesman that what Risch did was a tax shift, not a tax cut, and that ordinary Idahoans paid more in increased sales tax than they saved in property tax.

“The result of shifting from property tax to sales tax is that wage earners now pay twice the tax on groceries and other necessities as before, while businesses and organizations favored by Risch are totally exempt.” He concluded, “You remember the old saw, ‘figures don’t lie, but..."

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