Sunday, December 31, 2006

Another WaPo Hatchet Job

Straight from Governor Tim Kaine's talking points memo, or perhaps that of the Senate RINO caucus, comes today's primary Washington Post editorial.

Predictable in its contempt for majority Republican skepticism of tax increase proposals ("the grown-ups have seen fit to mediate in the spitting match that passes for fraternal relations within Virginia's Republican Party"), it is rather amazing in its crocodile-tears concern/prediction that "the party ... will be punished ... for its contemptible failure to address the state's transportation mess."

Wow! And I thought we had five years of Democrat Governors who had some power and responsibility under our Commonwealth's Constitution. To read the Post editorial, you might think that Democrat Governors and their manic commitment to higher taxes had nothing to do with the failure to address transportation within existing increased revenues. And lest any you have any doubt about the Post's answer, it immediately offers its solution: "Whatever the motive for the intervention, here's the only way the mess will be solved: with taxes."

Of course, the Post offers the usual Liberal panacea for any problem: "Billions in new revenue are needed to deal just with Northern Virginia's road mess and to ensure that maintenance costs do not deplete the state's entire road-building budget within the next few years." "Billions in new revenue"!?!? What does the Post think has been coming into the Commonwealth's coffers over the last decade or more?

Indeed, the Post, like other tax advocates, ignore the fact that "an adequate, stable, long-term source of revenue" has been provided for transportation, in the form of gas taxes. They grow with consumption, of course, since every gallon of gas is taxed, and it is beyond dispute that gas tax revenue has increased with increasing population and increased road usage. Were the tax advocates honest in their analysis, to the extent that any is offered, they should 'fess up to the fact that revenues for transportation have been increasing.

Now, I suppose that one could try to make the case that existing gas taxes --- a flat number of cents per gallon, not a percentage of the price of a gallon of gas, and therefore unreflective of inflation in gas prices --- are inadequate to meet inflation in the costs of transportation improvements and maintenance, but our friends on the Left and/or the tax advocates (frequently one in the same) are intellectually lazy. So steeped in the far Left mentality of ever-expanding and ever-more confiscatory government, and confident in their ability to roll the so-called "main-stream" media, they don't bother themselves to make their case.

This is, of course, reflective in the arrogant, condescending language of the Post's rhetoric (also reflected in some obscure corners of the Blogosphere) that those trying to persuade House Republicans to surrender on the tax issue are "grown ups," and that House Republicans are "hard-liners," "fundamentalists, whose anti-tax zealotry has blocked any reasonable funding plan." According to the Post, they offer only "short-term, small-potatoes, gimmicky fixes designed more to provide political cover than deal with a generational problem." Fortunately, we have the Post to help us "sort the good Republicans from the bad," i.e., "those who comprehend that new taxes are unavoidable and those whose allegiance is more to conservative Republican orthodoxy than to the everyday concerns of commuters. "

Of course, the uncomfortable subtextual truth is that it is the WaPo and Senate so-called "moderates" who are "fundamentalists, whose [pro]-tax zealotry has blocked any reasonable funding plan" which makes use of the massive increases in the Commonwealth's general-fund revenues in the last decade or more for transportation improvements. A good case can be made that general-fund revenues --- derived from the economic engines which are Northern Virginia and the Tidewater areas --- are certainly appropriately used to insure that transportation in those areas is not left in gridlock. Yet pro-tax fundamentalists in the state Senate zealously block any suggestion to tap that existing source of revenue for vital transportation needs. Or even an honest debate about the merits or demerits of the existing gas tax.

The question is, why? The uncomfortable answer may well be to protect their ability to use those funds to protect spending in other areas, and/or to avoid the uncomfortable necessity of justifying social welfare handouts to powerful constituencies, and questions as to whether transportation is a public need superior to those handouts. Instead, they insist that new taxes are unavoidable, demonstrating that their allegiance is more to profligate and ever-increasing government spending than to the everyday concerns of taxpayers.

Another answer may well be that Democrats, the WaPo, and Senate so-called "moderates" are well aware that voters would laugh in their faces (as they did when the Great Prevaricator and his cabal came up with a scheme for socialized medicine) if their answer to more welfare spending were to assert that "here's the only way the mess will be solved: with taxes." Imagine, if you will, that existing funding for health-care handouts, government schools, and environmental and welfare spending, were not treated as sacrosanct by Democrats, the WaPo, and Senate so-called "moderates." And then imagine a Post editorial asserting that "Billions in new revenue are needed to deal just with Northern Virginia's [health-care handouts, government schools, the environment, and welfare] mess and to ensure that ... costs [imposed by illegal immigrants] do not deplete the state's entire ... budget within the next few years."

One need not imagine the electoral response to such assertions. One need only look to the 1994 congressional election returns to predict voter response. The problem is not a lack of government resources. The problem is the allocation of existing government resources. The problem is priorities. And the sooner the Republicans in the House can frame a succinct message on this issue, the sooner that rhetoric like that appearing on today's WaPo editorial page will be eletorally recognized for the nonsense that it is.

Of course, one doesn't expect reason from the editors of The Washington Post; one merely marvels on those rare occasions when one finds it on their page. Neverthless, neither should one expect --- nor leave unrebutted --- the kind of hatchet job that appeared on today's page.

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