"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty famously said in Alice in Wonderland, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."
Well, it seems Nevada state Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio (R-Reno) took a page out of the Humpster's book in a recent interview. Consider this quote:
"When we were running for office in 2008 - legislative candidates, gubernatorial candidates - no one anticipated the kind of an economic problem we were going to be facing. It developed during that time. Nobody was talking about raising taxes, particularly when there was some downturn in the economy."
Pure, unadulterated USDA bull.
The state's budget problems became front-page news in the winter of 2007. As matters got progressively worse over the coming months, an emergency budget-cutting special session of the Legislature was conducted on June 27, 2008. If after that special session Sen. Raggio still wasn't anticipating the kind of economic problems he was going to face in the '09 session, he had no business being in that '09 session.
In addition, prior to the summer of '08, Speaker Barbara Buckley was traipsing all around the state talking about tax "restructuring" - which everyone with a double-digit IQ knew was political-speak for tax hikes. Meanwhile, the teachers union was pushing for a huge room tax hike, while the liberals over at PLAN were pushing for a corporate income tax and steep increases in the mining tax.
"Nobody was talking about raising taxes," Sen. Raggio? Puh-lease.
Sen. Raggio knew darned well that people were talking about raising taxes, which is the primary reason he drew a primary challenge from Sharron Angle that summer. And because of that primary challenge, Sen. Raggio told the voters that he wouldn't support any tax hikes in 2009.
Indeed, on July 8, 2008, - well after the emergency special session of the Legislature dealing with the budget crisis - Sen. Raggio said, "This is not the time to start talking about raising taxes. It is something that we can't even consider." Less than a month later, Sen. Raggio told a voter in his district: "Well, I'm not going to raise taxes, I can guarantee you that."
As we all now know, Sen. Raggio then went back on his word and pushed forward over $1 billion worth of higher taxes last session. Which has now spawned a recall effort by voters in his district. It probably won't succeed - these things rarely do. But who knows?
In any event, the exercise will send a powerful message that voters are sick and tired of politicians telling them one thing in the campaign and then doing exactly the opposite once safely elected. Candidates, ye be warned!
• Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public policy grassroots advocacy organization.