By Peter Galuszka
If there’s any good news from the 2013 General Assembly session, it is that the hard right’s strange hold on taxation has been broken. Republicans can start acting like responsible adults once again instead of dogmatic shills or spoiled children.
Gov. Robert F. Donnell and legislators found a way to raise badly needed money for transportation although it came via a very bad law that ties itself up like a contortionist doing this and that when all that needed to be done was to simply raise the gasoline tax for the first time in 26 years.
The Democrats were right to strong-arm McDonnell into going along with expanding Medicaid. It would have been absolutely ridiculous for Virginia to hold its stubborn head high and deny thousands of needy people medical assistance so they can feel good about some ludicrous oath from Grover Norquist they may have recited at one point to get votes. The feds will be paying for the expansion until 2016 and then for 90 percent of it. Imagine a well fed delegate saying, “No, you poor person can’t have health care because it is doctrinally impure!”
The upshot is is that we need to get of the Grover Norquists, the Tea Baggers and all their ilk to get on with the serious business of running the state and country. The sequestration debacle is more than embarrassing for its stupidity. So is Kenneth Cuccinelli with Bob Marshall cheering him to to find any bogus constitutional challenge to anything he finds political impure as far as taxation.
The bottom line is that if you want fixed roads, good schools and a decent place to live, you have to pay for them through taxes. Simple. You can’t depend on private industry to see you through, especially not when a good chunk of it in the Old Dominion is actually federal government money that’s about to be cut off in a big way. You can’t do it through little shell games with public private partnerships to build roads you often do not need. And you just can’t kick the can to younger generations so you can remain holy.
In other words, the days of the Tea Party, “Boomergeddon” and all the clarion calls to the need for budget cutting are over. They’ve been over for a while. We get it. We’ve been spending too much. But it is idiotic to go cold turkey without some thought given to it because you will crash the economy and die of the DTs. You don’t cure a crash victim by denying him blood. That’s not voodoo economics, that’s vampire economics. You need a balance and that’s exactly what the Boomergeddons and Baconauts want to deny us.
As for McDonnell, well, he’s finally got his legacy. It looks pretty messy. He did manage to get more money for roads, but he did through a Rube Goldberg contraption of taxation. He has a totally wrong-headed tax on alternative vehicles which shows,once again, just how Neanderthal much of the thinking in the General Assembly is.
McDonnell failed to get legacies through privatizing state alcohol stores or erecting offshore oil rigs. Last year, the legislature got so out of control with social conservative nonsense — another Tea Party legacy — that Virginia scored on national Snark TV for its inane war against women. That cost McDonnell a hell of a lot, namely the vice presidential nomination.
Now, he’s reportedly thinking about something bigger and I gather his platform for that will be his tax victory. Good Luck.