John Laird’s Spin Cycle

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Former Assemblyman John Laird has been spinning away from his track record on taxes and spending just as he tried to spin his second place finish to Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee in the 15th Senate District primary as a win.

You’ll recall that Blakeslee just missed avoiding a run-off on June 22nd by a half-percentage point. But, Laird wrote that Blakeslee’s near miss was actually a big boost for the Laird campaign when you considered all kinds of factors and assumptions. In a word — spin.

Laird is at it again when reviewing his tax and spend record.

Laird claims that his vote for taxes was a vote to support a bipartisan solution to end the budget crisis. Blakeslee recognized that the cause of the budget crisis was too much spending and that taxes were the wrong solution.

Laird voted and/or authored tax increases on car registration, personal incomes, sales, and payroll among others while a sitting legislator.  He also supported making it easier to raise property taxes.  During the last few weeks of the recent campaign, Laird argued that sales taxes should be extended to include services.

The Laird solution for the budget crisis is raising taxes. How Blakeslee voted on the budget bill does not take the spotlight off of Laird’s tax increase mantra. He will have to own that distinction and see what the voters of SD 15 think.

Laird argues that some tax bills were just "placeholder" legislation, in other words bills that really were not intended to move forward.  But, placeholders involving tax increases are a pattern to be concerned about. The "placeholder" argument sounds like more spin.

If any of these tax measures went though, Californians would be buried in higher taxes.  For example, Laird authored the bill to raise the car tax (ABX4 6). He did not take his name off of it. It is still in the official record. The Legislative Analyst’s Office said Laird’s legislation would raise $19 billion over five years.  Bottom line is that Laird believes taxes, in one form or another, are the solution to the budget problem.

The same spin logic applies to the health care bill Laird signed on as a co-author. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office report, the health care bill (SB 840) would have imposed a payroll tax and other taxes of $53 billion in the first half-year and over $100 billion per year thereafter.  Saddling every employer and employee with a new crushing payroll tax would devastate the economy and badly hurt working families. Laird’s spin: the payroll tax bill only "accelerated" taxes.

The SD 15 campaign will go a long way to determine if a two-thirds supermajority in the legislature is in place to make it easier to raise taxes.  Pointing out the spin on John Laird’s tax and spend record helps define the differences between the major candidates. 

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