John Livingston

Where’s the Beef?

Every night I read the EYE ON BOISE review post edited by award winning journalist Betsy Russell. I am amazed at how many bills are brought up before legislative committees that remind me of the famous Wendy’s add from the early 80’s. A little old lady gets a burger from a drive in and bites into it and it is 90% bread, pickles and catsup and she says: “Where’s the beef”. The Idaho legislature is playing “small ball” and the citizens of Idaho know it. 7% inflation—12% for food, and the solons and our Governor refuse to keep their promises of cutting the tax on groceries to zero. Where’s the beef?

Income tax should be easy—1% cut across the board but no the Republicans passed, and the Governor signed a token bill that truly does little for working class people making less than $50,000. The people who need help are the ones struggling to get by on wages that are inadequate compared to the cost of day care and housing and are having to cope with high inflation on food and most everything else they buy. Yet the bill gives most of its benefits to the people who don’t need help—Idaho’s wealthy. Supported by all but one Republican in the legislature and opposed by every Democrat, the bill has now been signed into law by Governor Little. Can’t we do better than this? Where’s the beef?

And property tax should be easy. Lots of ideas but let’s keep senior citizens and those living on the margins in their homes. I favor having it pay 50% of everyone’s property taxes (or as much as $500 million will cover), including 50% of the amount paid by tenants through rent. The $500 million cost is less than the cost of the income tax cut. I also favor eliminating the grocery tax at a cost of about $193 million. The total cost for cutting property taxes and repealing the tax on food would come to approximately $693 million. It’s somewhat more than the cost of the income tax cut, but affordable considering the state’s $3 billion surplus of state and federal COVID funds. And, unlike the income tax cuts, cutting property taxes and repealing the food tax helps everyone more fairly.

The last two paragraphs come from Senator Grant Burgoyne’s (D-16) most recent constituent letter. He is my State Senator and one of the more liberal voices in the Senate, but his ideas are simpler and much easier to implement than many of the ideas coming from the RINO Republicans. I believe the real reason for this is he is not looking after any other constituency except for the people of his district. NO IACA/ PHARMA—though the hospitals seem to like him. What the Republicans have given the people of Idaho is nothing more than “head fake in slow motion”. “Where’s The Beef”? Are they more concerned with pay hikes for State employees, or putting food in the mouths of their constituents?

Along Chesapeake Bay and the Virginia Tidewater region there is a saying that “the further you get from “The Bay” the more filling you will find in the crab cakes”. I think in Idaho we could say that the “closer you get to Boise—the legislators when they come to town, the more filling you’ll find in their Laws”. And the problem isn’t just the filling in our laws, but we have a real problem with the political chefs that make our laws. They have been working far too many years in the legislative kitchens. They have gotten sloppy with their skills. Some committee chairman and many RINOs in leadership only cook for themselves and their friends who finance their campaigns—special interest lobbyists. Not the public—their constituents. They have forgotten how to ask questions like “why is the Department of Health and Welfare Budget $4billion and Idaho Medicaid has been identified as being the 4th most fraudulent State run program in the country—39% of claims made in the State are identified as fraudulent either from fraudulent enrollments, fraudulent coding or billing by providers, or redundant processes and negative externalities in the system. And JFAC proceeds with their budget hearings without insisting on an accounting or reconciliation of monies. How about “some legislative beef in the burger”? Any State agency and every private and non-profit organization that distributes or receives over $100million of transfer payments be required to undergo an annual independent outside signed partner’ audit to be made available to the people of Idaho via their legislature. Otherwise, CEOs at our major hospitals—the last CEO at St. Luke’s made $8.2million and $10million his last two years will continue eating Wagyu steak burgers in their private corporate dining rooms while patients, families, and employees, get told to belly up to the “healthy food buffet” in the basement cafeteria. “Where’s the beef?”

My first job as a kid was working at a meat packing plant in Columbus Ohio. I actually made sausage—lots of sausage and many different types of sausage. The process isn’t that hard. The classic metaphor for the legislative process has always been “that it is best left unseen because it is like making sausage.” That is unfair to the people who make sausage, because in my experience they have a far better work ethic and are more reliable than most of our legislators. They take care of their families and communities and keep their word. There is no question of agency regarding who they work for—our legislators seem to have forgotten— my constituents, my campaign contributors or State employees? A good employee never forgets who their boss is, and a good boss never forgets who their customer is.

Grocery tax down to zero Mr. Governor? “Where’s the Beef?”

Property Tax Relief RINOs in the legislature. “Stop stuffing the crab cakes”

Smaller government Idaho Republicans. “Start making some sausage”

Maybe Betsy should become a food critique.

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One reply on “Where’s the Beef?”

And like other corporate CEOs, they plunder for all they’re worth and then quit or become a Big Pharma lobbyist. It is obscene.

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