Mike Coffman launches "Tax of the Day" attack on Joe Miklosi -- starting with plastic bags
As the nation debates the role of government programs and taxes in the American economy -- in response to a leaked video of Mitt Romney -- Colorado taxes are now at the center of a vicious back-and-forth between two candidates battling for a local congressional seat. Yesterday, the re-election campaign for Representative Mike Coffman launched "Joe's Tax of the Day" -- a daily e-mail blast attacking Democratic challenger Joe Miklosi's record.
The first target? Plastic bags.
"Right now, we are in a recession. Everyone is hurting, whether it's middle-class families, small businesses owners, senior citizens," says Coffman spokesman Owen Loftus. "Joe Miklosi's response to the recession is to tax everyone."
This is just the latest move in a hard-fought race to represent the sixth district of Colorado -- a race which has become increasingly negative, most recently with a heated debate around higher education and a recent TV ad released from the Miklosi campaign focused mostly on attacking Coffman. The sixth district was redistricted and includes parts of Aurora, where Coffman has some enemies not affiliated with Miklosi.
The daily press releases from the Coffman campaign, which are scheduled to continue through October 15, are designed to draw attention to Miklosi's extreme record on taxes as a state representative, says Loftus. Coffman began this specific campaign by focusing on a measure that Miklosi sponsored in a statehouse bill that would have created a fee tied to plastic bags.
In response to the announcement of a daily attack on taxes, Miklosi's campaign argues that Coffman is completely misrepresenting some fundamentals of how taxing works in Colorado through the state's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights Amendment, or TABOR. Miklosi's campaign was quick to point out that the state constitution says only Colorado voters can actually raise taxes.
As is outlined by the Denver Post, part of the back-and-forth on this issue has to do with the difference between a "fee" and a "tax," since lawmakers can enact fees, but voters must approve taxes under TABOR. Fees are designed to cover the cost of specific goods or services, while taxes are more general. Additionally, Republicans have framed the elimination of tax breaks as tax increases.
Loftus says it's all just jargon.
"[Miklosi] can call votes to raise taxes whatever he wants. He voted to take away money from Coloradans during this recession," he says, adding that whether they are fees or taxes, they impact voters. "You are seeing it taken out of your paycheck. You are seeing that fee as a tax."
But Miklosi spokesman Ryan Hobart said in a statement: "This whole line of attack is a complete and total falsehood, and Mike Coffman knows it. The state constitution says only the voters of Colorado can raise taxes, under the TABOR Amendment."
Continue reading for more on the debate around fees for plastic bags.