Thursday, February 11, 2010

Colorado "Republican" Sues to Bring Down Taxpayer's Bill or Rights

In my home state of Colorado we have a little thing called the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR.  TABOR is a ballot measure that was passed in 1992 by the citizens of Colorado to limit the State from imposing new or higher taxes on Coloradoans without the consent of the citizens via referendum (taxes can escalate based upon population growth and inflation).  Herb Fenster, an attorney in Boulder, Colorado, is now suing the citizens of Colorado over TABOR claiming that it violates Article IV, section 4 of the U.S. Constitution which requires the Feds to ensure the States provide their citizens with a republican form of government.  He asserts TABOR is a form of pure democracy that prevents the State legislature from performing its most important functions, "tax[ing] and spend[ing]."  (View an article about the pending case here.)  Aside from the fact that only someone from Boulder would consider himself a Republican (as does Mr. Fenster) still initiate this lawsuit, his contention is completely without merit.

First, a republican form of democracy means that the citizens elect, by popular vote, their politicians (there may be an electoral college involved depending upon the political office up for election).  Those politicians are the ones empowered to make decisions and cast votes, presumably as a representative of the citizens by whom he was elected.  The differentiation between an outright democracy and a republic is that outright democracy allows a small majority to rule (i.e. less than 50%).  For instance, if there were multiple candidates for President and all New Yorkers voted for one candidate while the rest of the country voted for different candidates, it would be possible for New Yorkers to send their candidate to office although they only represent a small fraction of the total voting population.  The Founders wrote of this threat whereby a minority ruling faction could take hold of the political process in the country against the will of the actual majority.  Is it any wonder the Progressives are in favor of pure democracy?

TABOR was put in place after Coloradoans voted in favor of the amendment to Article X of the Colorado Constitution in 1992.  Douglas Bruce was the Colorado representative who authored the amendment.  The Colorado Constitution delineates the process for amending the same in Article XIX which stipulates that any proposed amendment must first go to vote in the State House and Senate and must pass both houses by a two-thirds majority.  Thereafter, the proposed amendment goes to the ballots where it must pass by a majority vote of the electors.  To reiterate: TABOR had to first go through the Colorado House and Senate.  In other words, TABOR was a by-product of a republican process established in the Colorado Constitution.  If TABOR represents a violation of Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, then Article XIX of the Colorado Constitution would have to be in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution and would never have been accepted when Colorado joined the union of States.  Clearly, TABOR was enacted via a republican process and any pure democracy was only an additional check and balance required per Colorado's Constitution.

Instead of going through the process of initiating a "corrective" amendment to the Colorado Constitution - which would be the proper way to do it in a republic - attorney Herb Fenster is obviously hoping for an activist judge to side with his contorted views.  Herb, and many like minded Coloradoans, don't like that TABOR caps taxation because they say it hurts Colorado by limiting things like funding  for education and road repairs.  Put another way: Herb and his ilk don't like tax caps because it doesn't let Colorado be completely irresponsible with it citizen's money.  Yes, times are tough and some hard choices have to be made.  Guess what?  Privately employed Coloradoans are very well aware of those hard choices and I'm guessing most of them aren't too sympathetic towards the "poor poor politicans" who have to buck up and find a way to get things done on a more frugal budget.  Herb, stop the whining and start providing solutions, not more problems.

My two cents: the rest of the nation could benefit from a TABOR!

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