The Wonder Years. Despite his fetish for Mayberry-like settings, Ken Cuccinelli makes some good progress with his latest TV ad. Set in what looks like a local hardware store Cuccinelli talks about cutting taxes for small businesses and the middle class by eliminating tax breaks for the well connected. Candidate Cuccinelli is still short on details. However, the general philosophy of lowering tax rates by closing loopholes is a good one.
Chap stick. I am going to assume that the loopholes Cuccinelli hopes to close are the endless and permanent giveaways engineered by the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond. Cuccinelli hasn’t specified what loopholes he’ll try to close but there has been increasing scrutiny of the Virginia General Assembly playing Santa Claus for their friends. Jim Bacon wrote about the disgrace of the Orion Air giveaway. Sen Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax), one of the non-clowns in the General Assembly, went as far as proposing a constitutional amendment that would cap all special tax breaks at five years. The tax breaks would end after five years unless specifically extended by the General Assembly. Petersen’s exercise in common sense (SJ281) lost by a 12 – 27 vote in the senate.
Across the aisle. One of the most interesting things about the SJ281 vote was the composition of those voting “yea”. Joining Petersen were NoVa Republicans like Dick Black, rural Democrats like Creigh Deeds, Republican Attorney General hopeful Mark Obershain and Democratic Lt Governor candidate Ralph Northam. In fact, the votes for SJ281 pretty much lays out an inventory of non-clowns vs clowns in the Virginia Senate. Sadly, the clowns outnumber the non-clowns by more than two to one.
Not on my tax break. I am sure that there are plenty of special interests who believe that their tax breaks are sacrosanct. I have heard that some environmental groups were worried that SJ281 could have threatened the tax breaks that come from putting land into conservation easements. Of course, the General assembly could simply vote to extend those tax breaks once every five years.
How much? If these tax breaks and tax credits are in Cuccinelli’s gun sights he may be able to afford a sizable tax cut by rolling them back. Stunningly, the Virginia Pilot estimates that various tax credits and carve outs cost the Commonwealth $12.5B per year. Cuccinelli could cherry pick only the worst giveaways and easily fund his proposed $1.4B per year tax cut.
Lemons into lemonade. The recent scandals in Richmond have escalated the suspicion of Virginians that their state government is somewhere between sleazy and outright corrupt. Cuccinelli himself is immersed in a mini-scandal around Star Scientific. These scandals are small potatoes compared to the billions and billions given away to the well connected by the General Assembly. Cuccinelli can go from goat to hero by taking on these freebies.
- D.J. Rippert