A Dismaying Turn of Events

Wow, the General Assembly agreed Saturday to expand the Medicaid program and debauch transportation funding in a grand compromise agreement. Politics and statism triumphed. Free-market principles and liberty lost. All in a state with a Republican governor, a Republican House of Delegates and a Senate split between Rs and Ds.

Does the Republican brand mean anything anymore, other than a pragmatic willingness to compromise? Where do market conservatives fit in? Do we have a political home anymore?

For now, all that remains to us is to soldier on in defense of our principles. When the leviathan state eventually collapses under its own weight, as it surely will, we will be there to explain what happened and to point the way back to freedom and fiscal rectitude.

— JAB

44 Responses to A Dismaying Turn of Events

  1. And soldier on we will.

  2. All the Tea Party types had to do in order to avoid this mess was:

    1. Recognize that inflation is a reality.
    2. Propose a bill that would keep the gas tax in line with inflation.

    Instead, the Tea Party added inflation to evolution, global climate change and women’s rights as things they don’t believe in.

    To his everlasting credit, Bob McDonnell would not sit idly by and watch Virginia go down the transportation funding tube.

    To their everlasting discredit, the Tea Party types in the RPV forced a situation where McDonnell had to cave in on many different things to protect his transportation plan.

    If there is guilt to allocate, it all lands squarely in the Tea Party faction of the RPV.

    • I could not agree more.

      This not-so-good solution is the product of years of Tea Partyesque orthodoxy (I acknowledge that the Tea Party did not exist before 2009, the ideology did). There have been a lot of solutions proposed for years including smart growth and its land use reform policies.

      But basically the Tea Party ideology has pretty much blocked any and all ideas to effectively reform transportation in Virginia.

      So you end up with a crisis forming, just like you saw in health care…..which usually leads to poor governance outcomes.

      By the way….there’s a pretty interesting development going on in Orange County on Route 3 detailed in the Free Lance Star. The Planning Commission just recommended proffers of about 10% of the recommended amount for a “mixed use” development near the WalMart. I wonder what the Board of Supervisors will do.

      • re: proffers – cash proffers are turning out to be viewed as damaging to economic development in these days of a tepid economy and slower growth.

        we’re not building new schools and new business start ups are fewer and farther in between essentially stranding accumulated proffer money for roads.. the money just gets set aside and it siphoned off the prospective business capital.

        Up north where TMT lives – proffers are used to mitigate higher density impacts.

        Down in Orange.. on Route 3, probably the most that is needed is a traffic signal, right?

        Proffers in neighboring Spotsy usually directed at residential growth to pay for schools, libraries, fire/rescue, and road issues in the immediate vicinity of the development.

  3. Here’s what the headlines should read, “Bob McDonnell saves the RPV!”.

    Every senator from Hampton Roads voted for HB2313.

    Republicans were about to add Tidewater to their list of “no go zones” in Virginia. That would have sunk them. Instead, McDonnell’s compromise leaves them breathing and able to fight another day.

    • maybe. The right flank of the GOP in Virginia is not happy and that is putting it mildly.

      A list of “traitors” has already been drawn up and there is strong talk of “primarying” the miscreants.

      As far as I am concerned, that can only be a good thing because that’s how Dems get excellent chances to pick off seats…

      ;-)

  4. I’m mostly with DJ on this.

    This is what happens when your anti-tax ideology becomes unrealistic and toxic.

    bad stuff happens.

    you can compare this to ObamaCare – if you wish. When you ignore a serious problem and oppose any/all potential solutions then in the end what does eventually pass if ugly to the bone.

    You can lay this problem directly at the feet of those who oppose any/all taxes no matter what and promise as much gridlock as they can muster to shackle attempted responses to real problems.

    The irony is that McDonnell himself used the tea part slime to coat Creigh Deeds and in the end -he did essentially what Deeds advocated but not in an elegant user-pays fashion – he did it in the most butt-ugly smelly way possible – because he had to find a way to twist and turn through the folks who were perfectly happy to watch the situation fester and atrophy.

    The really bad part is that we needed to reform the way we do transportation in Va and in the end – we ended up not only not reforming but destroying the user-pays nexus.

    all of this because of the way the Republican party has chosen to conduct itself these days – a party of Neanderthal Nay Sayers.

    you want butt ugly – you got butt ugly.. congrats.

  5. Yes, DJ — a simpler solution could have been achieved many, many years ago, certainly as part of the 2004 tax package. Had that added a nickel on the gas tax and an indexing provision, the pressure to do something more would have been reduced. Not eliminated, but reduced. One reason I continue to count myself a Republican, at least outside of the Washington Madness Zone, is we believe that if you want something you pay for it.

    That said, the gas tax is not going down in Hampton Roads or Northern Virginia, just in the rest of Virginia. There is still a major user fee component. A 5.6 percent rack tax in those regions will produce a similar amount of revenue to the current 17.5 cent per gallon tax. And I predict the lower rack tax outside of those regions will have zero impact on the price, people will realize that, and the rack tax will rise again in those regions. Instead of 9-9-9 (remember that?), Virginia is settling on 6-6-6, six percent on the sales tax. six percent on the wholesale price of fuel and six percent on incomes (well, 5.75).

    The challenge in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia will be to use the money with some sanity. You already see the petty parochialism showing up, as the Loudoun and Prince William Republicans are justifying their no votes by attacking Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria….Hampton Roads may split up badly as well. Be careful what you ask for.

    Medicaid. How long can Virginia stand against the tide, really? You want to see political power at the General Assembly, check out the hospitals, nursing homes and medical providers. They pulled out all the stops (and may have been cheering the Democrats on when the Democrats took the transportation bill hostage.) Virginia needs to squeeze as much reform and efficiency as it can out of hte feds before it gives in, and it will get some, but eventually it will happen. Obamacare is a national disaster, but if follows the smaller but similar disaster of passing Medicare Part D drug benefits without paying for them. Again, to Obama’s credit, his plan does include massive taxes to pay for much of this. Bush’s did not. But that is the Washington Madness Zone for you.

    • Breckenridge:

      You and I share similar beliefs but come to different conclusions. I am a Republican at the national level but a Democrat at the state and local levels. In my book, Obama is every bit as much as a radical reactionary as the Tea Party types in the RPV. In fact, I see a lot of similarities between Obama and Cuccinelli. They are both willing to lie, cheat and steal for their ideological beliefs.

      On the transportation funding debate, this is the first serious shot against the extreme implementation of Dillon’s Rule in Virginia. Once you set up overtly separate taxation structures centralized control is an inevitable casualty. Oddly, this aspect of the deal has gone unnoticed.

  6. let’s make no mistake here. This is about governance.

    and it’s about the “see no evil” school of governance which says you can’t make changes if it involves more spending on something even if in doing so it is more cost-effective and leads to longer term lower costs.

    with transportation – we were looking at the idea of indexing the gas tax as a tax increase and that by not doing it – we were saving money and helping taxpayers instead of hurting them.

    If you think that logic sounds dumb – I agree but that is the logic we had.

    It’s the same thing with MedicAid. What are the costs right now of people who don’t seek preventative health care and wait until they have an advanced and expensive disease and then have the rest of us pay for it via uncompensated ER care which is cost-shifted to the rest of us on the the order of $1000 per year in increased insurance premiums AND people who get too sick to work then stop working then seek MedicAid to pay for their advanced diseases?

    this is about governance and the GOP has adopted the idea that if we do anything that involves spending more that it’s not an investment and it’s not prudent unless we make one-for-one cuts in something else.

    I’m not advocating for tax increases. I’m saying that there are costs for doing nothing also. and that sometimes tax increases – will save money in the longer term but you can’t do that if you don’t invest the money to start with. It’s like knowing you have a car that is killing you on gas mileage and knowing that a new one will pay for itself – not overnight -but over time and refusing to get the new car because it requires up-front money that puts you into a hole until it gets to the part of paying back.

    I say the GOP has a “see no evil” approach to this because the Lucy football game has been played on this issue – over and over – where the investment promises longer term returns and in the longer run – costs only go up from increased spending and there is no discernible ROI.

    back to Va transportation. We needed reforms not gridlock. We got gridlock instead and the follow-on butt-ugly response to gridlock.

    you have to govern. you have to move forward. If you don’t, bad stuff happens.

  7. Are we going to see health insurance premium cuts? The GA should have mandated premium cuts equal to the proposed savings from expanding Medicaid. Don’t hold your breath. There will be no savings, but higher than expected costs.

    One provision of the Transportation Bill must be changed. The additional revenues raised by the higher sales tax in NoVA do NOT go to the governing body of the jurisdiction where the money was raised, but rather, to the unelected Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. Moreover, this body does not reflect one person, one vote, as Fairfax County has only one vote. The NVTA is a playground for lobbyists. The higher tax revenue raised in Fairfax County should be appropriated by the BoS and no one else. The NVTA is not accountable to voters. It should be abolished and must not control the extra tax dollars we will pay.

    • health insurance premium cuts? no guarantees but countries that have large universal health insurance pools tend to spend less money on uncompensated ER care and MedicAid to the point where their costs are about 1/2 ours.

      the question is how do we get from where we are now to less costs like other countries.

      no action means we don’t get there. blocking any/all attempts to change means you get butt ugly legislation.

      you pays your money and makes your choices.

      same deal with regional transportation. You fight any/all reforms and you end up with butt ugly that you say “must be changed” but it is what it is right now and the chances of getting it changed are what?

      • My state senator Barbara Favola was arguing premiums could be cut with the expansion of Medicaid. So where are the premium cuts?

        • they won’t get cut overnight. assuming the insurance companies pass on the savings from lower ER visits that cost-shift – there should be eventual savings that way – the same way that more people getting care sooner catch disease quicker cost less over time but not right away.

          but the bigger point here is that there were other ways to skin the health care cat but the opponents did nothing. They talked about possibilities and were content with doing nothing.

          When you do nothing and oppose other ideas – what happens eventually is not pretty nor is it optimal but it was could be accomplished. That’s what happened in Va with transportation and what happened nationally with health care and immigration.

  8. Like the Catholic Church, much maligned through the centuries but still standing strong, so will go the RPV and the GOP. I’ve learned to ignore the criticism and solider on.

    • Interesting analogy. As a practicing Catholic, I see many similarities. For example, the Republican convention in Virginia and the college of cardinals. Both will be picking a new leader shortly. Neither trusts their own constituents / followers to make that choice. However, the college of cardinals will actually deliberate. I do not believe that the name of the new Pope is already know. The Republican primary is another matter. The nominee is already decided. The constituents at large will have no say. There are two very viable candidates – Cuccinelli and Bolling. But one will never get a fair shot at running for governor. Well, at least he won’t get a fair shot at running as the Republican candidate.

      The big difference between the Catholic Church and the Republican Party in Virginia is that the Catholic Church is more transparent in its dealings.

      Glad to hear you will “soldier on”. I assume the same is being said by the Green Party, the Paulistas and every other group rapidly becoming a fringe novelty act.

      • DJ, the core of the GOP – state and national – is strong, diverse, and it will be ready for 2014 and 2016.

        As for the national GOP, it controls a majority of governorships and state legislatures. This was not magically done, rather our folks mostly led center-right, ignored the vitriol from the Left, and remained in contact with voters. We will keep doing that.

        We will keep winning. This country is a center-right country. The radical Left in the Democratic Party know that and that is why they need to moderate when they run for office or they will lose. The Democrats, with Obama, has decided it wants to lead left, take the country left. The Democrats purged Blue Dogs from their ranks a decade ago; for that political mortal sin, there is no return.

        One item missing from this thread are the numerous court victories that keep coming in on our side against ObamaCare. This, the local and state wins, and then some, is what I mean by soldiering on. Will the Virginia GOP learn these lessons? Time will tell.

  9. Thanks for making my case about parochialism right off the bat. As I said, these regional tax packages are going to create real regional political challenges. The NVTA is far more ready for this than the Hampton Roads TPO, in my opinion. And had there been even a shadow of a regional organization ready to take on the task, with some political credibility, there would have been a Richmond component. Now there is going to be a big hole in the Golden Crescent. Gold only at the ends, I suspect….When the deal on the RMA collapsed, so did the possibility of Richmond regional transportation funding bump…

    If you have found a place where the lobbyists do not play, please advise….

  10. re: real regional political challenges.

    NOVA has an MPO in addition to NVTA. it’s true that NVTA has great influence over NoVa input to the MPO though but I’m not quite understanding Breckinridges point.

    • I believe that Breckenridge is quite correctly pointing out that NoVa is not a homogeneous entity. Heck, it can’t even be readily defined. The western Loudoun crowd has walled themselves off from increasing density with Rt 15 as the demarcation. The “rural crescent” in Prince William has done the same. TMT correctly points out that the NVTA is not based on population. There will be intra-regional haggling.

      As usual, Richmond has failed to put together any regional governance apparatus. At least that’s the impression that I get. Of course, their infrastructure has been so overbuilt they might not care for a while. The people in Henrico seem content to live with an allocation process that puts them at a big disadvantage relative to the only other county to maintain its own roads – Arlington. As Breckenridge says, the so-called Golden Crescent may only see gold at the two endpoints.

      Next up, de-evolution of all road maintenance except for roads of state-wide significance. This will bring more of the structural issues in Virginia to the fore. There are too many counties. Too many of the counties have such small populations that they are not effective political entities. Meanwhile, Virginia’s virtual monopoly on independent cities also needs to be addressed. There is no reason that land use and transportation policies should be independent matters between the City of Fairfax and Fairfax County. Cities should be within counties like they are in the other 49 states.

      It’s time for Virginia to stop being the oddball in everything. There are good reasons that 46 states have localities maintain local roads, 49 states allow the governor to run for two terms (or more), 48 states prohibit legislators who are practicing lawyers from electing the judges who will preside over their cases. The list goes on.

      • re: the church/GOP will always be there…

        philosophy does not die – but not dealing with obvious and known problems is not an excuse for the legitimacy or illegitimacy of a philosophy.

        The Church might go on but what kind of a church is it going to be if Priests continue to be predators?

      • re: ” As usual, Richmond has failed to put together any regional governance apparatus.”

        Richmond?

        Richmond HAS given us Planning Districts and a passel of laws that encourage and incentivize regional approaches to infrastructure and operations.

        re: devolution

        currently the norm in 33 cities and towns in Va and it works pretty good because when a land-use decision is made, it is combined with the transportation impacts.

        Why is it Richmond’s fault that counties won’t become responsible for their land-use decisions?

        • In this case, I mean the city and surrounding areas of Richmond. There is an NVTA. Is there an RTA?

          Cities and towns in Virginia have considerably more autonomy that counties in the current Virginia constitution. In one example, they are allowed to add as much additional tax as they like to cigarettes. Only two counties have been given that right – Fairfax and Arlington. But, both counties are capped at adding no more than a tax equal to the state tax of $.30 per pack.

          Arlington County is effectively a city. It have a population density 2.5X that of the “city” of Richmond.

          Despite being 6X the land mass of the “city” of Richmond, Fairfax County has a population density that is about 80% of that in the “city” of Richmond.

          In fact, Fairfax County has a higher population density than most of Virginia’s independent cities. For example, the “city” of Roanoke has a population density of 2,262 per sq mi while the “county” of Fairfax has a population density of 2,738 per sq mi.

          The Virginia Constitution should be changed to grant a county charter for any county that desires city-like autonomy.

          The Virginia Constitution should also be changed for the incorporation of cities within counties.

          The census Designated Place of Huntington, Virginia – where I grew up – has a population density of over 14,000 people per sq mi. That’s a greater population density than the City of Chicago.

          Ed Risse always had the levels of governance figured out. The concept of a three level structure – country, state, county or country, state, city is hopelessly out of date.

          Proper governance structure is a pre-requisite for proper policy.

          Virginia’s governance structure is badly in need of repair.

          • how does the ability to tax more affect the development process where counties don’t do the same level of due diligence on transportation impacts than cities, towns and 2 counties do?

            I’d say if anything if they are irresponsible about development decisions .. I’d not want them to have additional taxing power anyhow.

            the ability to tax does not make the locality make better development decisions – what makes them do that is having to live with the transportation impacts of their land-use decisions without relying on daddy-Warbucks VDOT to bail them out under the guise of a “core” state responsibility.

            Counties can be grotesquely irresponsible sometimes when catering to development interests whose plans impose transportation costs much less maintain a plan that they carry out as incremental development takes place.

            these impacts end up as projects on VDOT’s 6 year plan … long term unfunded projects.

            My county has about 10-15 of these…just sitting there.. with no chance of being funded… anytime soon.

            we had a transportation referenda with the costs based on low-ball construction estimates and what we ended up buying in most cases for traffic signals at about 4 million per.

            VDOT and the state are not going to allocate more money to a locality than what that locality collects in gas taxes – over the longer run.

            they may advance you some dollars to get a project done but then in the out years you get less money to even it out.

            but every locality thinks that they’ll get more money from VDOT and it just don’t happen.

            All of this happens because localities in Virginia (unlike other states and Va’s own cities and towns) have come to believe that VDOT will bail them out of their poor land-use decisions.. and it don’t happen..

            giving the locality more taxing power won’t fix this.

  11. With its new authority to appropriate sales tax revenues, the NVTA is probably unconstitutional for violating the “one person, one vote” standard. Those individuals who live in districts represented by the three members of the General Assembly have more sway than those who don’t. That is unconstitutional according to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    • Don’t know about that. They don’t levy taxes, they allocate the funds, no? The CTB allocates funds and does not comply with any sense of “one man, one vote”.

      • yeah but the NVTA is not only not elected officials, they’re not appointed by elected officials either. They are purely an Ad Hoc lobby group with no ties to govt at all.

        but I do wonder what mechanism the state devised for deciding who can spend monies that allocate to the region.

        My hopeful guess is that they get allocated through the MPO (or other authority) on a majority vote of the jurisdictions that can levy the tax – as opposed to allocating the funds directly on a proportional share basis.

        this would then actually force the localities to look at transportation regionally though I admit they could essentially do the same thing they do at the MPO with regional dollars from the Feds and just agree among themselves how to divvy up the money on a project basis and at that level – the CBT and it’s local reps can also get involved (and I’ve seen this happen).

        but there is no way in hell that the NVTA is going to get any of their fingers on this money.

  12. In 2010 24% of likely voters identified themselves as tea party members. By 2012 that drpped to 8%.

  13. re: who spend the region sales tax.

    if that sales tax does not accrue to the localities proportionally and NVTA ends up with the authority to spend it, I would agree with TMT that this will stand only about as long as the last attempt at Regional authority taxation did.

    I guess I’m surprised (once again) that the AG did not weigh in on this (as he did for the MedicAid question).

    Good catch TMT!

  14. re: tea party when tea party was not “cool”….

    these folks have always been around … it’s really not a new thing. What’s new is that they’ve used to internet to “discover” each other and to mobilize and I’m not convinced that they’re not going to attempt to “primary” the GOP they think just turned RINO…. and in Virginia’s rural areas, it may well work. The GOP pretty much owns the rural vote – Nationally and with States… the GOP margins for elections, national and state in the rural areas is 60-70% EVEN in areas with substantial minority presence.

    I don’t think that changes much. What changes is the gradual demographic shift towards urbanized areas which tend to be blue.

    Not sure how the GOP deals with this ….given the hard right that makes up a good portion of the party.

  15. From what I’ve dug up, the NVTA was created in part to enable special interests to manipulate the transportation funding process more easily than they can manipulate funding through the standard appropriations process. It’s much harder to get the General Assembly to appropriate money for a boondoggle or a board of supervisors than some body most people have never even heard of. Giving the NVTA taxpayer money may be its undoing.

  16. If NVTA gets to control the spending of the additional sales tax – there’s going to be trouble in river city.

  17. “Not sure how the GOP deals with this ….given the hard right that makes up a good portion of the party.”

    The GOP deals with being a permanent minority. All it takes are the rural county versions of Jim Webb to step up. McD little compromise will speed up a Democrat majority.

    Trust is a terrible thing to waste, and the GOP has a decade long track record of pulling unsavory things out of their rear.

  18. naw… just looked at the “board” of the Va members of the TPB and NVTA and the NVTA has no govt or elected folks on it.

    so that brings up an intriguing question as to how the regional sales tax accumulates (as one regional fund or separate jurisdictional funds) both in Northern Va and Hampton Rds.

    In H.R. – there will be no joy because the MPO and many citizens are at odds anyhow on their region’s priorities.

    • “The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority has sixteen members as follows: the mayors or chairs, or their designees, of the nine cities and counties that are members of the Authority; two members of the House of Delegates appointed by the Speaker of the House; one member of the Senate appointed by the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections; and two citizens who reside in counties and cities embraced by the Authority, appointed by the Governor. In addition, the Director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, or his designee, and the Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner, or his designee, will serve as non-voting members of the Authority.”.

      No elected officials serve on the CTB or the MWAA or the UVA BoV.

      The NVTA might or might not have elected officials depending on who the mayors, et al decide to appoint.

      Why do you find this unusual?

      • NVTA = Northern Va Transportation Alliance (also).

        my bad.. I did not realize there were TWO groups with the same acronym title.

        oh geeze.. this is the 2002-created body… I think we might be headed for the same Va Supreme Court encore here.

        the way the law works is that if a tax is enacted – then the folks that decide how to spend it – have to be direct elected and the NVTA are not.

        you also have a Federally-mandated MPO that by Fed law must decide how Fed/state monies are allocated.

        hmmm.. might be interesting how this works out… I wonder what the new law says about who controls the regional money?

        anyone know?

  19. It no longer matters what the citizens think. The Third Crossing will be built, and the HRBT will take a back seat.
    Tunnels? Done.
    460? Done.
    VB Parkway? Canceled.
    What’s left? Nothing.
    Fraim won, HR citizens lost.

  20. A question to TMT and DJR:

    Chap Peterson voted against this bill, in part, because he is strongly opposed to different localities having different tax rates for transportation and I wanted to ask your views on this.

    Also – along the same lines – would you view the regional sales tax as an optional tax similar to the local option of paying more for schools than the state provides funding for?

    what say you guys?

    • Chap is frustrated since his proposed indexing of the gas tax (defeated last year) was a much better proposal.

      He also knows that this a step in diluting Dillon’s Rule.

      The education funding formulae are opaque. These regional transportation taxes are not.

      The next shoe to drop will be the de-evolution of local roads to counties.

      The General Assembly’s death grip on Virginia has been loosened and Chap doesn’t like it.

  21. The Transportation Bill is complicated and is “sausage making at its greatest.” I can respect a vote for or against the Bill. My biggest problem with the additional taxes paid in NoVA is the requirement to give the NVTA control over most of the additional revenues. I believe the NVTA is unconstitutional as it does not reflect one person, one vote.

    I would not oppose the additional sales tax in NoVA if all the revenues from Fairfax County stayed in Fairfax County.

  22. WSJ is reading your mail, Jim. That’s a good thing.

  23. The Medicaid expansion is much more important than the roads, which have many business proponents and would have gotten done somehow.

    The big thing here is Medicaid. Jim – I don’t understand what in the world you’re complaining about. This is what getting things done looks like.

    And what is a “market conservative” (the latest Randian catchword?) anyway when it comes to health care? It appears you mean the status quo, which is completely screwed up and out of control. Expanded Medicaid coverage will save money for the Commonwealth and every individual with health coverage.

    Our current system misuses market forces – encouraging individuals to overuse and providers to overcharge. Oh, is that what you mean? “Market conservative” means allowing hospitals, drug companies, imageing companies, and other providers to take advantage of a distorted market. It means pushing the costs of care of those who can’t afford insurance on to those who have insurance, and make sure no one ever questions the care or the cost, in the name of freedom and fiscal prudence. Hypocrites.

  24. As a long-time fiscal conservative and relatively consistent Republican voter, the GOP lost me the minute their governor suggested that we eliminate the gasoline tax and charge extra for high-mileage cars. It terrifies me that apparently GOP voters can’t see the contradiction of making people pay more to consume less at the same moment one boosts consumption by charging less.

    Virtually every other democracy on the planet has higher gasoline taxes than the United States and, therefore, less gasoline consumption; less need to keep carrier groups in the Persian Gulf; less desire to drill above the Arctic Circle; less obesity; less foreign policy disasters and more good transit.

    We have a governor producing incredibly bad policy. Hence, if he does look in the mirror and see “Senator or President McDonnell,” his own state’s fiscal conservatives will be forced to crack that reflection.

  25. What would the transportation situation look like in the event the entire state were to apply Fairfax County’s 59.5% – 40.5% landowner – taxpayer split to all transportation improvements necessitated by rezonings?

    I believe our tax dollars would go much further; development would either be of right or, if rezoned, financially strong; and boondoggle, giveaways would diminish rapidly.

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