Friday, October 31, 2014

HAWVER: Ignoring election’s hottest topics

By MARTIN HAWVER, At the Rail | 7/28/2014

Well, except for some of you who early-voted, you have about a week to decide just what sort of campaign you have been treated to by the candidates out there at the parade or park or community dinner or maybe at the front door.

And it’s going to be interesting because this election cycle is different than ones we’ve seen recently.

Well, except for some of you who early-voted, you have about a week to decide just what sort of campaign you have been treated to by the candidates out there at the parade or park or community dinner or maybe at the front door.

And it’s going to be interesting because this election cycle is different than ones we’ve seen recently.

There are hot-button slogans that, with just a glance, appear to be virtually useless except to fill out speeches or brochures, and there are issues that probably are important, but which nobody is talking much about.

A campaign that is mostly about slogans? Check the GOP primary to replace retiring Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, who served three terms.

Anyone talking about car insurance, life insurance or maybe whether you got a good estimate on the cost to replace that damaged roof? Nope, it’s the Affordable Care Act, and while most everyone either likes it or doesn’t like it, there is virtually nothing that the Kansas insurance commissioner can do about it. It’s almost like campaigning in opposition to hail.

What? Isn’t that most of what we’re hearing on the campaign trail, this Obamacare and how the Republicans in the race don’t like it? Yes, but there probably is more that a Kansas insurance commissioner can do about fire insurance and car insurance and such than Obamacare. You just aren’t hearing much of it. Biggest issue in the insurance race that few are hearing about is whether insurance companies ought to be subject to Kansas regulation, so Kansans get the insurance they are paying for, and not being tricked.

For most legislative races, while there is still the Obamacare issue that state lawmakers can’t do anything for or against — that’s our U.S. Congress, not the Kansas Legislature — it’s still a hot topic.

The real question reflects on us voters. Why do we keep the screen door open for candidates who talk about something they can’t fix or kill, anyway?

Now, once the talk about Obamacare is over, we get to the stuff that ought to matter to us, but frankly, we’re not hearing much about.

There are always taxes, and so far, most candidates for the Kansas House where something can be done about the state income and sales taxes aren’t saying much. It’s either roughly “we’ll see how it works out” to “well, I’ll have to get into office to start wrangling with that.” It’d be nice if most candidates had some idea of what they’d like to see done ... either raising some taxes or halting the income tax rate cuts, or maybe just deftly taking the other side of the issue: Spending.

And, that other side, it’s either we’re spending too much or we’re not spending enough on — fill in the blank — or it’s too early to tell.

Maybe that is the real answer. So far, state revenues have dropped while some 190,000 Kansans and their businesses aren’t paying state income taxes. Maybe they’ll spend that money they’re saving on taxes to hire new workers or buy machinery or maybe just vacation in the state and spend the money on their families.

It might just be too early to tell how that goes. Might happen, might not happen, and we’re finding out month to month how that lower taxes to free up spending is working.

But this is the last week to get at least an idea on what that candidate on the doorstep or at the coffee shop or neighborhood meeting is thinking about the issues, and how that lines up with your beliefs.

And, whether that candidate is still using the lines he/she used to try to get a date in high school ... hoping you’ll settle for letting him/her leave a good impression, either with some real information, or by just being nice ...

Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report. Visit his website at www.hawvernews.com

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