On Special Report, Barone cited interest-group spending to explain defeat of conservative initiative, but not liberal one

››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

On Special Report, U.S. News & World Report senior writer Michael Barone asserted that an Oregon initiative that would have increased cigarette taxes to fund children's health care failed because Oregon voters did not want to pay higher taxes. Barone later claimed "the main reason" Utah voters rejected a statewide school voucher plan was "that there was a very big campaign put on against it by the National Education Association and other teacher unions." In fact, spending by an interest group also played a role in the Oregon vote -- tobacco companies reportedly spent $11.8 million in a campaign to defeat the Oregon initiative, nearly triple the $4.4 million reportedly spent by the "very big campaign" to defeat the Utah school voucher plan.

On the November 7 edition of Fox News' Special Report, during a report by correspondent Molly Henneberg about the defeat of several state ballot initiatives, U.S. News & World Report senior writer Michael Barone asserted that an Oregon initiative that would have increased cigarette taxes to fund children's health care failed because Oregon voters did not want to pay higher taxes. Later in the same report, Barone said "the main reason" Utah voters rejected a statewide school voucher plan was "that there was a very big campaign put on against it by the National Education Association and other teacher unions." He continued, "The teacher unions do not want to see teaching jobs go to people who are not their members, so they're strongly opposed to vouchers." But neither Barone nor Henneberg mentioned that spending by an interest group also played a role in the Oregon vote -- tobacco companies reportedly spent $11.8 million in a campaign to defeat the Oregon initiative, nearly triple the $4.4 million reportedly spent by the "very big campaign" to defeat the Utah school voucher plan.

According to a November 6 report on the Portland Oregonian's Politics blog, "The makers of Camel and Marlboro cigarettes contributed $11.8 million to two committees fighting the tobacco tax proposal, which called for using the 85 cents a pack to pay for children's health insurance and other health programs. The cigarette money paid for a heavy advertising campaign, which included television, radio and direct mail advertisements." The Oregonian report also stated that "[t]he tobacco money dwarfed the campaign supporting the measure. Yes On The Healthy Kids Plan reported spending $3.4 million, or less than a third as much."

By contrast, according to a November 7 Salt Lake Tribune article, "Most of the [Utah school voucher] opposition's $4.4 million came from the National Education Association and state teachers' unions from Florida to Alaska. Voucher supporters countered with more than $4 million, nearly three-quarters of that from [Overstock.com CEO Patrick] Byrne and his family."

From the November 7 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:

BRIT HUME (host): Voters around the country weighed in on a number of ballot initiatives Tuesday, and in several states made it clear they are keeping a tight hold on their wallets. Correspondent Molly Henneberg reports on issues in Utah, New Jersey, and Oregon where voters said no.

[begin video clip]

HENNEBERG: In Oregon, voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have increased taxes on cigarettes by about 85 cents a pack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cigarettes are too much already.

HENNEBERG: That money would have gone to pay for health care for about 117,000 uninsured children. So what could that signal? If liberal, blue state Oregon would vote down a children's health insurance measure, especially when Democrats in Congress are trying to override President Bush's veto of the SCHIP children's health insurance program and help pay for it in the same way?

One political analyst says, in the end, people vote their pocketbooks.

BARONE: When you ask voters, "Do you want to have a health children's health care measure?" they tend to say yes. When you ask them whether they want to pay for it or have higher taxes to pay for it, then, as we've seen in Oregon, they may say no.

HENNEBERG: New Jersey voters said no to the state borrowing $450 million in bonds to fund stem cell research. Democratic Governor Jon Corzine supported the measure, even spent $200,000 of his own money to promote it. And actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, taped a radio ad encouraging voters to approve it.

FOX: I urge you to vote yes on public question number two for stem cell research.

HENNEBERG: But in the end, New Jerseyans voted it down, perhaps not because of opposition to stem cell research, but, Barone says, because of the money.

BARONE: They've had tax increases in New Jersey in recent years, and they didn't want to shell out $450 million in bonds that they'd have to pay the interest on, even for a cause as popular as stem cell research is.

HENNEBERG: And in Utah, a school vouchers plan was voted down. It would have allotted $500 to $3,000 to each child sent to private school, with no restrictions on which kids could apply.

BARONE: The main reason that Utah voters rejected the voucher plan was that there was a very big campaign put on against it by the National Education Association and other teacher unions. The teacher unions do not want to see teaching jobs go to people who are not their members, so they're strongly opposed to vouchers.

HENNEBERG: So what can we divine from these '07 election results that may come into play in '08? Barone says taxes may become more of an issue than we've seen in recent years. He says if there's a tax revolt brewing in places like New Jersey and Oregon, it also may be brewing elsewhere.

In Washington, Molly Henneberg, Fox News.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Michael Barone
Show/Publication
Special Report with Brit Hume
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