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Car Tabs, Bill Clinton and Jay Inslee
July 20, 2020
by William P. Meyers

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Increasing Car Tabs is dangerous to political careers

Every year in Washington State car owners renew their registrations and are issued car tabs that allow the highway patrol to easily see if a registration has expired. The revenue from tabs pays for roads and for mass transit projects like light rail that are designed to ease congestion on the highways. In 2017 the fees jumped to about $80 per $10,000 of car value. For someone with a $50,000 pickup or car that was $400 per year. People were mad, so anti-taxers led by Tim Eyman put an initiative, I-976, on the ballot to reduce car tabs to $30 per year. Despite warning about disastrous consequences, the initiative passed in November 2019. The mess is now awaiting decision by the state Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, it is another election year. The primary is going on right now, including for Governor. It is a top-two primary, so it is possible that the second biggest vote getter after incumbent Democrat Jay Inslee will be another Democrat. Several Republicans are shooting for the office, including Tim Eyman. While the are trying to outdo each other holding rallies against wearing masks and for toting around machine guns in public, my bet would be on Tim to come in second.

Speaking of the coronavirus pandemic, I have had lots of time to read. When my local Goodwill reopened I found a nice copy of 1000-page Bill Clinton autobiography, My Life. I have been reading it, enjoying watching Bill slither through a history I mostly remember, since I am about 10 years younger than him. And what did I just read: his analysis of the raising of the car tab tax in Arkansas when he was governor. It was not even his idea, the legislature sent him the bill, and he signed it. Then he lost his next race for governor, in 1980, largely crucified on the cross of the car tab [Clinton, pages 164-166].

Now I don't know if Tim Eyman has read the Clinton book, but he is sharp in his own evil, conservative way, and unlike Trump he certainly can read. I expect, assuming it is Eyman vs. Inslee, Eyman will make sure every voter knows he is the man who decreased their car tab tax, and Inslee is the man who increased it.

Lately Washington has leaned Democratic Party, and of course there are a lot of issues besides the car tabs. There are a lot of moderate Republicans (and Democrats) in Washington who do not appreciate idiots running around holding mask-free rallies. Generally Inslee gets good marks from the public.

But it is a pandemic election. People are cooped up and tending to anger. If Eyman can get them to focus their anger on Inslee and the Democrats, rather than on Trump and the Republican non-response to the Covid debacle, we might be in for four years of misgovernment.

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Copyright 2020 William P. Meyers. All rights reserved.