Did Howell’s Mau-Mauing Tactic Actually Work?

This morning, House Speaker William J. Howell issued a press release expressing “dissatisfaction” with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s “deliberate campaign of misinformation” in a series of radio ads and automated phone calls. In particular, Howell was incensed that Kaine was touting the benefits of his transportation-financing plan without mentioning the fact that, oh, by the way, it requires an extra $1 billion in taxes.

It’s the usual spin we’ve come to expect in the 2006 Tax Wars and, even though I’m sympathetic to the Speaker’s position, I gave it a pass. There was nothing new enough here to warrant posting on the blog.

Just now, “Inside Virginia,” an electronic newsletter distributed by the Department of Business Assistance to several thousand subscribers, has arrived in my in-box. The lead story is an “article” from Gov. Kaine entitled, “Keeping Virginia Open for Business Requires Transportation Reforms.” I’ll spare you a critique of the now-familiar arguments, and I’ll question only fleetingly whether a state newsletter, paid for with tax dollars, is an appropriate P.R vehicle for disseminating the Governor’s propaganda on a legislative issue.

Of greater interest is this: Kaine actually enumerates the “user fees” he would increase to pay for the transportation improvements.

My plan includes a modest increase in user-related fees: most drivers will see only an $18 increase in their annual insurance premiums and less than an $18 increase in their annual registration fees; most new car owners will pay only $4-10 more per month on their car loans; and drunken and reckless drivers will pay increased fees for abusive driving.

I’ve been pretty critical of Kaine over the tax issue. But I give credit where credit is due. In this missive at least, he lays out clearly what his transportation plan would cost. I don’t know if this “article” was amended to address the Speaker’s criticisms or not. Regardless, thank you, Governor, for telling it like it is.

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8 responses to “Did Howell’s Mau-Mauing Tactic Actually Work?”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    When the governor talks or writes at length he lists the details, but I suspect the Speaker’s complaints are right and the 30 second commercial or robocall leave out the issue of taxes and fees. If – and I haven’t gotten called — If the phone message does accuse the House Republicans of “cutting” core services then that is a cheap shot. Just the oppostite is true and the House matched the Senate almost dollar for dollar in massive and in some cases questionable spending hikes.

    Truth died in this debate in February. It is 101 percent spin from all parties at this point.

  2. Charles Avatar

    A person buying a new car can expect to pay about 200 more this year than they would last year. It’s not much, but it not nothing.

    While I think both sides are in agreement on the increased fines for scofflaws, I question whether that will really bring in much additional revenue.

    First, there must be a reason we didn’t increase these long ago, since nobody really complains about it. That reason is that as you increase fines, it makes it more worhtwhile to fight the charges.

    Fines are generally set first to deter bad behavior relative to how bad the behavior is, but then to maximize the value to the state. Lower fines can actually bring in more money because more people will violate the law (being willing to pay the lower fine).

    Higher fines, even if collected, don’t net money to the state, because they increase the number of people who show up to fight the tickets, which drives up the cost of the ticket to the state.

    And if you really make the fines high, people will actually STOP doing the behavior, which will really hurt your revenue stream. There’s a reason nobody taxes cigarettes $10 a pack — the states are afraid people would actually stop smoking, which would be a disaster.

  3. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    When the fines ramp up the price curve artificially, like with $10 tax a pack of cigarettes, you get a black market or scofflaws.

  4. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Gee, Conservative One, you’re engaging in dynamic economic analysis — acknowledging that people change their behavior in response to fines, fees and taxes. That will never do.

  5. harrismillerfan Avatar

    This is what I was worried about. If Kaine gets bogged down in this fights, then its only that much more important that Miller gets the Senate nomination to raise his name ID enough to be elected Governor. And let me also point out that Miller, AKA Mark Warner II, would not get caught up in these issues. He would just pass a bipartisan budget.

  6. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Miller fan:

    Bipartisan budget = Democrat + RINO with tax hikes

    Partisan budget = Republican without tax hikes

    I like the partisan budget.

  7. kingfish Avatar

    Miller fan- What are you talking about? There is too much to get done in the next 4 years to spend your time worrying about the 2009 elections now. The best politics is good public policy.

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    Always fight your tickets in court, always. The ticket is chicken feed compared to what your insurance company may do to you, and conservative one is right, if everyone fought their tickets, police would be in court and not writing tickets.

    As for the rest, you cannot fix the roads without money, you cannot spend money you don’t have. Much as we hate it, tax and spend is going to have to be part of the solution.

    Not spending the money is false economy, you just have to spend more later.

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