Another Conservative Tax Group … Sigh

Chad Dotson, the former John Behan, has a round-up on yesterday’s announcement of the Americans for Prosperity creation of a Virginia Chapter, including this Tyler Whitley RT-D story.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for organizations that will “advocate free-market, budget-cutting alternatives to tax increases.” Trouble is, it seems to me that several organizations with that mission already exist and they form the Board of Directors for what our friend Barnie calls the “Flat Earth Society.” Most advocate tax cuts in an almost abstract, philosophical way. There’s a need for that, but there’s more of a need now for an organization that will stand up and provide practical, real-world suggestions for budget-cutting and government efficiency to make funding available for better uses or tax cuts. Taxpayers need to be informed of the waste and inefficiency in state government and to realize that it isn’t just “chump change.”

The Americans for Prosperity, Virginia Chapter, looks like it might be a little more focused on the nuts and bolts of budget-cutting. If it is, it will be a great addition to the debate. If not … Barnie will have another foil.

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  1. John K. Avatar

    No disrespect intended, but Barney’s foils seem awfully dull….

    I’m in agreement with you, Will. Let’s have some enhanced and intelligent debate and discussion about government waste and tax burdens. While low tax advocacy groups should be offering more specific solutions and counter arguments to government expansion and waste, so to should large government supporters be offering their reasoning. Simply referring to low tax advocates as a “flat earth society” should be seen as equally unpersuasive.

  2. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Just as an aside, albeit an important one: the Whitley article calls former Del. Paul Harris a possible GOP AG candidate in 2009.

    Harris needs to run for Lt. Gov (like he should have this year!) Chad Dotson is the people’s choice for AG and has my endorsement for 2009.

  3. I can sense the momentum. I’ll have some bumper stickers printed up by the weekend.

    “The people’s choice.” I like that….


  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Hey, political consultants need something to do between elections and these groups provide endless opportunities for fundraising fees, direct mail fees, phone banking fees, and to keep potential candidates (like Harris) in the news columns and on the tube. Richard Viguerie invented the model but it still works. This has Tim Phillips and Ralph Reed in the background, just like Ray Allen and Boyd Marcus are running (and billing) the group Gilmore recently founded. It’s not like you actually have to know anything about state finances to pass yourself off as an expert.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Isn’t the Concord Coalition set up to do just this?

    I’ll believe the intent of groups like this when I see people from all political stripes with no personal political ambitions leading the charge. Everyone wants effective and efficient government. This group is like the “Free Apple Pie Club.”

  6. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Anonymous (author of some great poetry and epigrams) had it right. These groups are about raising money and political profiles. Not that I don’t agree with the agenda, but it is one more straw sucking money out of the same glass.

    Of course, the day the Republican Party walks away from my values, I’ll be out shilling for some new group.

  7. Chris Saxman Avatar
    Chris Saxman

    The reason I joined Americans for Prosperity was that they correctly answered the questions that are being posed here.
    No, this is not another anti-tax group. They are willing to roll up their sleeves and actually try to change the long term structural spending problems we have in state government. I certainly understand and agree with some of the cynical concerns expressed here and will freely admit it if this does not pan out.

    They are committed for the long term. They are dead serious about structural changes that will produce long term savings in state government while producing better services. The unfunded obligations at the state and federal level are unsustainable. If we do nothing and accept the status quo, we will be passing onto our children and grandchildren a country whose national security will be jeopardized by our fiscal instability. Think our foreign debt is expensive now? Wait until the notes are due.

    This is not a 2 or 3 year campaign or an opportunity to raise profiles. This is an attempt to actually solve the problems. If we can solve this structural problems here in Virginia with political successes, then we can demonstrate to the federal government that it can be done.

    If we do not at least try, who will? We cannot fail to solve Medicaid, transportation, k-12, and higer ed cost containment.

    Join the effort. There are a lot of very smart people on this blog and we need your help. Is South Carolina the model for Medicaid? Is Florida?
    Will school choice help public and private schools? Should we replicate Milwaukee? Is there a better system for higher ed? Transportation – should the free market pay for free market infrastructure costs rather than taxpayers?

    What are the core functions of government? How should we measure the effectiveness of our tax dollars?

    We cannot just say no to tax increase and we cannot just simply raise tax rates. The current systems are unsustainable in the long term and need attention.

    Americans for Prosperity seems to be willing to do the hard work and stick out the battle for years to come. That’s why I signed up.

    I think it will work well with Speaker Howell’s Virginia Reform Initiative and will make a big difference – some day.

  8. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Chris, Sounds like Americans for Prosperity and Bacon’s Rebellion share the same philosophy. Let me know how I can help.

  9. Chris Saxman Avatar
    Chris Saxman

    Jim, keep up the good work. Stay positive and focused on the goal. Oh and sign up!

  10. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Chris Saxman: Didn’t you vote for the largest tax increase in Virginia history in the HD? It would have been nice if you had thought of these structural spending questions then as well as now. You could have offered cuts – like on the Standards of Quality – instead of raising taxes.

  11. Barnie Day Avatar
    Barnie Day

    Hey Barnie! Thanks for the book – it’s great reading…lot’s of interesting stories. Americans for Prosperity is NOT an anti-tax group, per se. We have to get away from trying to put everyone in a box – anti-tax, pro-tax, anti-growth, pro-growth, etc. My nature is to dialogue honestly and civilly. I hate incivility and the partisan edge in today’s politics, and want to do my part in restoring civility even as we restore discipline to the way government behaves fiscally and in the way it interacts with its citizenry. We can talk more. Best regards, my friend. Paul

  12. Chris Saxman Avatar
    Chris Saxman

    james atticus bowden, no i did not vote for the largest tax increase in virginia history. i did vote to cap the car tax at 70% and then voted to lift the cap until it gets to 100% – i think the bill called for 100% of the first 20,000 of value by 2012. The car tax, as many know, is an expenditure which was jeopardizing our AAA bond rating – moody’s words not mine. It is a an expenditure that is paid largely by income taxes(general fund) instead of local taxes.
    While the car tax cut did put a significant dent in money available to be spent in Richmond, we failed to make structural changes in our primary cost areas – medicaid, k-12, higher ed. Remember, structural changes will need to occur over a long period of time in order to produce the savings we will need if we plan on enacting a TABOR/TEL(i have authored several versions) here in Virginia.

    I have carried a lot of legislation designed to create a more transparent, more accountable and more competitive government. In fact, Washington Post reporters told me that the Gov yesterday credited the Cost Cutting Caucus for our work with his administration in producing a more transparent budget.

    It is not as transparent as I would like but it will be better.

    (I also carried the first school choice bill to be voted out of the House of Delegates.)

    In the short time that I have been in the legislature I have learned one very important thing, just about everyone has to buy into an idea before it will pass.
    The first step is a transparent budget and more oversight from the legislature and the public. I heard a quote from a a guy at the AFP breakfast today who quoted Reagan and i don’t know if it’s Reagan’s but it is accurate – “To get something done in politics, you have to push.”
    We had no collective response to the tax increases of 04 and now we need to push back with a positive, realistic reform agenda so that we do not have to repeat 04 again.

  13. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Chris: My apologies. It was Chris Jones who was among the 17 RINOs who raised our taxes. I knew there was a delegate Chris in there somwhere. As the dear late ‘Emily LaTella’ (sp) would say, “Never Mind.”

  14. James Young Avatar
    James Young

    In response to the original post, I’d just say “Why not? Jump in. The water’s fine.”

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