Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Politicians never break a promise, right?

Legislative Democrats have unveiled a list of platforms that sound remarkably like the kind of promises that both major parties make every election year before the bipartisan support magically dissipates once most of the lawmakers receive four more years toward a state retirement. Not that I have any doubt that both sides really mean it this time, of course.

On to the proposals. Among the indubitably good ideas are the proposals to require disclosure of every bit of lobbyist spending on lawmakers and to ban monetary transfers between political action committees, which constitute a shell game that renders impossible any chance of tracing the true origin of millions of campaign dollars. It's tough to know which lawmakers are on your side when you have no idea who's on their side.

The elimination of sales tax on food and medicine would be a great benefit for lower-income Alabamians and also would serve as a good first step toward repairing our regressive tax system. In addition, the suggestion of felony penalties for employers who repeatedly (and knowingly, as one would hope the law reads) hire illegal immigrants seems to be a reasonable response to an issue all too often approached with overblown hype and ugly rhetoric.

As for the other prongs of the Democratic agenda, the return to quadrennial property value assessments seems to be rooted more in considerations of partisanship than policy, while the "[r]ewrite the state constitution ... to say life is a gift from God" part reads like the transparent attempt to exploit religion for votes that it is. Meanwhile, the plan to require Bible literacy electives, rather than merely allowing them as is now the case, doubtless would be subject to costly constitutional challenges unless those lessons were incorporated into a broader mandatory comparative religion course. I was all for that idea last year, and I still am.

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