Tax

Local Governments Never Go Out Of Business Lobbying Against Your Rights And Interests

Anyone who reads this blog with the slightest of regularity knows that a major issue we've tried to bring to voters' attention is the fact that local governments use taxpayers' money to lobby against their interests, rights and liberty at the General Assembly. Whether it's through direct lobbying or through a collective effort via their associations (the Virginia Municipal League and the Virginia Association of Counties), and almost always through both by large cities or counties, local governments actively work to empower themselves at their citizens' expense and use their hard-earned tax money to do so. It's as if they consider themselves apart from the citizenry and look out for their own fiefdoms, while the serfs unwittingly fund their own demise. A case in point was exposed in Tuesday's Washington Post concerning how well Fairfax County fared during the recently completed session, as if the county was a citizen seeking relief from government rather than the special interest local governments have become. While much of the article concerned school funding (which might not be such a problem if local governments and school boards supported much needed reforms) there were two telling sections:

County officials lobbied against a measure that would begin the process of amending the state Constitution to prevent the use of eminent domain for economic development. Fairfax officials said they thought the measure went too far.

As if protecting homes, businesses, farms and places of worship is something that can be negotiated. How would local governments like it if their ability to tax was negotiated? Oh, wait:

(Supervisor Jeff McKay, a Democrat) expressed frustration that perhaps the most comprehensive approach to solving the region's transportation woes was barely given a hearing — a bill put forward by (Democrat Delegate Vivian) Watts that would have changed the way that gasoline is taxed and allowed Northern Virginia to impose certain taxes to fund projects in the region.

If it's not taking your property, limiting your choice in education or the right to spend your money in gargantuan proportions, you can be guaranteed it's always about the right to tax you more (and more and more). Poor, poor Supervisor McKay . . . denied the right to suck away more hard-earned money from his constituents, especially gas taxes as gas station light bulbs blow out staying current with daily price increases on the way to $4.00 a gallon. It's estimated now that 15 percent of disposable income is spent on gas and we can expect food prices (and other items) to continue to climb  as transportation costs skyrocket.

But as families look for ways to make ends meet, pay the mortgage, plan for their children's college and other financial responsibilities, and worry if their jobs, farms or businesses will exist in a week, month or year, local governments continue on. They know their future. As long as they have us to foot their bill, they're golden. After all, has a local government ever gone out of business?

Obamacare Unconstitutional! AG Cuccinelli's Follow-Up From Court's Decision

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli just sent this e-mail to supporters:

As I told you earlier today, Virginia won the first round of the constitutional fight over the federal health care law. I also told you I'd get back to you with more details later in the day, and I'm keeping my promise.

I will tell you up front that I will also go into still more detail later this week — when time allows.

Arguments and Outcomes

There were two basic arguments in this case.

First, Virginia argued that the individual mandate was beyond the power of Congress and the President to impose under the Constitution. Specifically, Congress claimed that their regulatory power under the Commerce Clause allowed them to order you to buy their government-approved health insurance, even if you decide not to buy health insurance.

The judge ruled that the federal government does not have the power to compel you to buy health insurance as part of its attempt to regulate the entire field of health care and health insurance. Thus, Virginia won this argument.

Second, the federal government advanced a 'fallback' argument in case it lost on its commerce clause argument. The feds' fallback argument was that the financial penalty you have to pay if you don't buy the government mandated health insurance is a tax.

This may sound like an odd argument from a political standpoint — usually they say everything is NOT a tax (in fact, they argued the penalty was not a tax while they were trying to get the bill passed); however, they changed position after the bill became law to try and save the bill. What they were trying to do was to get the courts to agree that because the penalty would presumably raise some revenue, it was therefore a 'tax' under the taxing and spending for the General Welfare Clause of the Constitution.

No judge in the country has bought this argument, and Judge Hudson was no exception. He ruled that the taxing power of Congress does not save the bill, because the penalty for not buying the mandated health insurance is not a tax.

The federal government only had to win on either of these two arguments, while Virginia needed to win both to prevail, and we won both!

What's Next?

Certainly the federal government will appeal their loss in the district court to the 4th circuit court of appeals within the next 30 days. And whichever side loses in the 4th circuit will certainly appeal to the Supreme Court. And no one has any serious doubts that ultimately the constitutionality of the individual mandate will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That could take approximately (very rough approximation) two years. We are discussing with the Department of Justice accelerating the case, and those discussions have been very cordial thus far. More on that later.

Conclusion

Today is a great day for the Constitution. Today the Constitution has been protected from the federal government, and remember, an important reason for the constitution in the first place was to limit the power of the federal government.

Today is also a day of a small degree of vindication. When we first filed suit, the screeching of the liberals was deafening. Everything from accusing us of playing politics instead of practicing law, to filing what they called a 'frivolous' lawsuit.

I want you to know, that our team makes decisions based on the Constitution and the laws. Period. We deal with the consequences of our decisions separately, but first and foremost we have been and will continue to be true to the Constitution and laws of the United States and Virginia, regardless of whether it's easy or hard in any particular case.

"Best Managed"?

Much of the U.S. Senate race between former Virginia Governors James Gilmore and Mark Warner has been focused on the candidates fiscal management records while they were in office.  Delegate Kirk Cox (R-66, Colonial Heights), a member of the House Appropriations Committee during both governors' terms, and one of the leading advocates in the General Assembly for protecting the incomes of working Virginians by reducing taxes and reigning in spending, has a fascinating opinion piece that sorts through the rhetoric. Delegate Cox had a front row seat during the debates over eliminating the car tax, the "budget crisis" after 9/11, and Democrat Warner's effort to pass the largest tax increase in Virginia history.

The piece is well worth the read.

Speaking Of Richmond

Richmond is on a lot of peoples' minds. If not about the governance of the Commonwealth or the Special Tax Session of the General Assembly to begin June 23 or the beautiful and historic city it is, then often about the shenanigans that often take place at city hall. There's the constant fights between Mayor Doug Wilder and the school board, such as when he had movers and city police physically move the shool board's offices out of city hall; and his fights with city council.

So it is more than just a parochial concern when the city appropriates $15,000 to the Gay Community Center of Richmond. Click here to read it in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, buried near the end of an article about budget cuts city council really did make (to its credit). It's thrown in at the end, in the middle of a litany of other appropriations, such as tree plantings and economic development. You know, funding a private venture which happens to be a controversial cause, goes right along with trees and economic development. Yep. That's what I'd think.

So the city finds a bunch of waste and abuse and cuts it out only to spend a portion of the savings on a "gay center"? Why? Why does any private group deserve tax money? It's not the amount, it's not the recipient. (Yet, where are the city's pastors on this?) It's the principle: Governments are to meet the fundamental needs (i.e., core or basic) of all of its people, not give away its citizens' hard-earned money to special and narrow interests, and private entities.