The Columbia Basin Herald this past week characterized House Speaker Frank Chopp as being a Forrest Gump, "stupid is as stupid does" villain for opposing big proposed tax breaks for Microsoft and Yahoo. The tax concession, those companies said, were necessary to keep them from fleeing Grant County, where they have huge server farms. The requests were similar to the $3.2 billion in breaks Boeing Co. got from Governor Gary Locke and the Legislature when it threatened to take some of its assembly operations elsewhere. Earth to Columbia Basin Herald: The state's tax base is a disgraceful, regressive mess precisely because of subsidies such as those sought in Grant County by Microsoft and Yahoo (and those that Boeing extorted earlier). The state Department of Revenue shortly will issue a quadrennial report on "tax expenditures" (loopholes and subsidies) extended to favored sectors and companies. Its report four years ago found 503 such exemptions existing in state statutes, estimated to represent $36.7 billion in unrealized state revenue in the 2003-2005 biennium. If comparable local tax breaks were included, the total was nearly $65 billion -- a boggling figure nearly three times the size of the state's biennial budget. Since that time Gov. Chris Gregoire and the Legislature have added new tax expenditures. They also have raised sharply the regressive taxes on businesses and individuals on which our state depends. Steadily increasing sales taxes and property taxes and special levies would not be a regular part of our diet if even a portion of these huge public giveaways were not being extended to those with political muscle. Speaker Chopp deserves thanks for standing up to the big guys and setting a good example for Gregoire and his fellow legislators, not to mention our constantly revenue-seeking mayor, county executive, city and county councils. When big tax breaks go to a favored few, other businesses and individuals pay for them. Those who can least afford it thus carry the largest share of the burden. Some liberal state, huh?