Sales Attacks, Part III

Charles Sheketoff of the Oregon Center for Public Policy — like state Rep. Scott Bruun, a member of the state’s Revenue Restructuring Task Force — responds to Bruun’s op-ed piece last week with his own:

Bringing stability to our tax structure

Friday, December 28, 2007

As of November, nearly half the states in the nation were facing budget shortfalls, service cuts or tax increases. But not Oregon. So if Oregon’s tax system is the worst in the nation, as a commentary last week by state Rep. Scott Bruun contends (“Changing America’s worst tax structure,” Dec. 18), why are we outshining nearly half the country?

We suffer from an economy for the few. Bruun’s proposals would make Oregon’s economy even more lopsided. His income tax scheme would heavily benefit the wealthiest. Given that from 2002 to 2005, nearly all (97 percent) of Oregon income gains went to the richest 1 percent — households with annual incomes exceeding about $360,000 and averaging about $862,000 — I can’t fathom the logic in exacerbating Oregon’s income inequality by granting a 50 percent tax cut.

Bruun correctly notes the instability in Oregon’s tax system. But he makes it seem as if there’s no way to add stability without a major overhaul and without making the system less fair. That’s wrong. We just have to save more in our reserves during good economic times to have stability during a downturn.