Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Is this the way to win an election?

Last night I was tipped off (h/t Richard Cross of Cross Purposes) to a Washington Post item regarding bipartisan support for the gas tax increase. Yes, you read that right - bipartisan.

It seems our Chamber of Commerce types have the misguided notion that increasing the gasoline tax will allow the state to fully fund transportation projects, but I ask of them: what planet are you living on again? This is Martin O'Malley's Maryland - we all know that the money is going to be spent on 1,001 items in the general fund and the rest will go to build more mass transit and bike paths we don't need.

Meanwhile, the victims of the War on Rural Maryland will have to once again pay through the nose perpetually, because as proposed by one possible scheme advanced by a state commission the gas tax isn't just going to go up a nickel each year in 2013, 2014, and 2015 - nope, it's going to be indexed afterward to a construction cost index. So as union demands get more and more brazen and the cost of construction climbs at a dizzying rate, so will the gas tax. Nice system if you can con people into believing the roads will actually get fixed.

But that wasn't really the reason why I brought this subject up - most who frequent this page know I'm not keen on raising taxes when there are so many other solutions to our fiscal woes available to us if we only had the courage to act in a responsible manner.

To continue, I'm simply going to borrow a quote from the Post piece, which is from the AP:

Former Maryland Republican Party chairwoman Audrey Scott also attended, agreeing with other supporters that infrastructure is the key to economic growth and jobs. Scott also accentuated the need to safeguard transportation money, which too often has been tapped by governors from several administrations to plug other budget holes.

"They can’t raid the money that’s coming into the Transportation Trust Fund,” Scott said. “It’s got to be there for transportation needs."

To be fair, Republicans are attempting in this session to put just such a safeguard on the TTF. But her presence at the rally would lead me to presume she doesn't mind this tax increase, undermining the vast majority of Republicans who will likely vote against it. (I say likely only because a number of General Assembly Republicans have sold us out before, some more than others.)

It's also worth pointing out that Audrey is a former Chair of the Maryland GOP who spent a year finishing out the unexpired four-year term of Jim Pelura, who resigned (read: was ousted by an unhappy Maryland Republican Executive Committee) in 2009 - she only took the position when asked and didn't seek it originally. But somehow I don't think Pelura would have graced the rally with his presence, nor would current Chair Alex Mooney.

Yet Scott is in the running to join Mooney in party leadership as a candidate for the state's National Committeewoman post which will be voted on at the party's spring convention; longtime officeholder Joyce Terhes decided not to seek re-election. As it stands at the moment, it is a two-woman race as Nicolee Ambrose, a former Chairwoman of the Young Republican National Federation, opposes Scott for the post. While both have ties to the so-called "establishment," Ambrose isn't out stating the case for a tax increase, either. This doesn't seem like a good move from someone as ostensibly politically savvy as Audrey Scott.

Moreover, in a time when we need Republicans to hold the line against the constant onslaught of state government prying deeper and deeper into our wallets and our liberties, making such an effort bipartisan only hurts the GOP. I'm certainly aware that, while business groups like the Chamber of Commerce are generally backed by Republicans, their aims aren't always aligned with the conservative cause. (One prime example on a national level is illegal immigration.) At a time when the TEA Party distrusts the party apparatus, having a member of the "establishment" waving a gas can with a dime in it to signify the extra tax - on top of everything else working families (what few there are these days) have to contend with - isn't going to make us a whole lot of friends.

Friends in high places are one thing, but friends in low places can get us the votes to win elections. Let's not get away from our fiscally conservative roots.

Crossposted on monoblogue.

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