largest tax increase in Virginia history

The RINO Double Standard: People Watching At Eric Cantor's Advisory Committee Meeting

Last night 7th District U.S. Representative Eric Cantor had one of his quarterly Advisory Committee Meetings. These events are a lot of fun and you get to meet people from all over the 7th Congressional District and talk about all issues political and otherwise. But mostly political.  At political events, one thing that always astounds me is that a member of the General Assembly, who has unsuspectingly reamed you out in his office a few months ago, can shake your hand and backslap you as if he either doesn't remember or doesn't care. That happened to me last night. Not that I care. In fact, I initiated the greeting just to see how he would handle it, knowing that no matter how he reacted it would give me something to talk about. Ha!

Later, I also noticed this RINO senior member of the Virginia Senate, applaud most of what Congressman Cantor said during his presentation except, coincidentally or not, when Congressman Cantorcalled for tax reductions for all taxpayers. Senator RINO's arms stayed folded. However, perhaps it wasn't a coincidence: I also noticed a man approach him with a Jim Gilmore for Senate lapel sticker. The man said, "I've been asked to give this to you." Senator RINO said, while pushing the sticker back at the man, "You can tell them you did," and they both laughed out loud while the congressman was still speaking. Real funny.

That's the RINO double standard. You see, it's divisive when you don't fall in line with them, but when they break away to support the other party or issues anathema to conservatism, it's all about unity or good government, no matter how ill-advised the policy is. Needless to say, this RINO fought Governor Gilmore on his budget and walked lockstep with Mark Warner in slamming us with the largest tax increase in Virginia history despite record budget surpluses.

No Confidence Vote?

Everyone remembers Queen Elizabeth's visit here in May 2007 to celebrate Virginia's quadricentennial. Although figures show her visit's impact didn't give historic Jamestown more than a short-term boost in visitation, apparently Her Highness did have an influence among some General Assembly Democrats. For as much as state Dems are publicly giddy over the possibility that Governor Tim Kaine may be nominated by their national party for vice president, they don't want to be seen in his presence — kind of like the British Parliament's vote of no confidence. You see, His Excellency had to make a tail-between-the-legs-presentation to the General Assembly money committees Monday, where he had to admit he overestimated revenue projections when crafting his budget — perhaps conveniently, so as to add new programs, such as pre-K. He did this despite repeated warnings by lawmakers of both parties, as well as Delegate Lacey Putney (I-19, Bedford), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, who released a statement he sent to the governor last winter (read here). So on Monday, Vice Pres, uhhh, Governor Kaine had to suck it up and announce plans for cuts to the $78 billion two-year budget.

But some didn't get the message. Not first hand, anyway. That's because several key Democrat legislators were missing. Some  pretty big donkeys, too, including House Democrat Leader, Delegate Ward Armstrong (D-10, Martinsville), a member of the House Finance Committee; House Democrat Caucus Chairman Delegate Brian Moran (D-46, Alexandria), also a Finance Committee member and a 2009 candidate for governor; and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield), who sits on the Senate Finance Committee. They are in addition to Jody Wagner, who just happened to make her resignation as Finance Secretary effective the previous Friday. She's the one who advised then-Governor Mark Warner that we needed a tax increase because Virginia's budget was running a "deficit." It was that pretense under which we had shoved Virginia's largest-in-history-tax-increase at us. Turned out, we ran three consecutive years of record surpluses. So, for four years she underestimated; the last three she's overestimated. Now, she's running for lieutenant governor. (How will she know how much money she needs to raise for her campaign?)

So why did all these people avoid VP/Governor Kaine? Wagner's absence is easy to understand — the target on her back already is bigger than the ones at the Olympic rifle range. The legislators were afraid, perhaps, of being perceived as accepting of budget cuts, which would anger their liberal base. Or maybe they don't want to be identified with the financial mismanagement of the nation's "Best Managed State." Whatever the reason, it was a no confidence vote on the man they think should be the country's number two.

Quotes Of The Day

New Republican Party of Virginia Chairman, Delegate Jeff Frederick (R-52, Woodbridge) spoke at today's Tuesday Morning Group Coalition meeting about his efforts to revitalize the state GOP. On former governor and Democrat Mark Warner's claim the fiscal sky was falling as a pretense to go back on his campaign promise not to raise taxes and push through the largest tax increase in Virginia history, when in fact Virginia was running record surpluses, Frederick said:

If anything was falling from the sky it was money. 

Then, when asked about some Republicans who favor increased taxes, he said:

Some Republicans think it's okay to raise taxes because we're a "low tax state." We're a low tax country compared to Sweden. Does that mean it's okay to raise taxes and pay 56 percent of our money to make our government bigger?

Another speaker today was Paul Jacob (read about him here), who is president of the pro-initiative group Citizens in Charge and a senior fellow at the Sam Adams Alliance (we hope to blog about this new coalition, which seeks more open state government, soon). Jacob noted that while he and two others were indicted in Oklahoma simply for seeking petitions for a ballot initiative (read a Forbes editorial here), several states are seeking to grant convicts voting rights, including here in Virginia, as well as allowing phantom registrations.

"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.

So, What Position Will M. Warner Take?

Now that we know — as if we needed confirmation — that Governor Tim Kaine will outline a tax increase for his transportation plan come Monday, it puts a certain former governor with a, shall we say, shady history on the issue of taxes, in a bit of a bind. Will former Governor Mark Warner embrace the plan? If he does, it will explode his already gaping tax credentials hole into a crater. If he doesn't, he gives the low-tax General Assembly Republicans all sorts of cover and undermines his hand-picked successor. What will it be: His natural appetite for taking away hard-earned money from Virginia's families? Or, will will he throw his pal, in what seems to be the trend this Democrat political season, under the bus? Most likely, he'll use the time-tested political dodge. But he won't get away with it.

Look at his record of broken promises and reversals of position, which is piling up faster than dead bodies during whack frenzy last-season of The Soprano's:  

  • Promise: Finish the car tax elimination. Result: Didn't even try.

  • Promise: End the death tax. Result: Vetoed it.

  • Promise: No tax increase. Result: Largest tax increase in Virginia history despite a surplus.

Which brings about another question: Since we didn't get into the "transportation crisis" overnight, who didn't get the job done before Governor Kaine? I mean, who was the governor between 2002-2006? Oh yeah, the same Mark Warner who wants raise our federal taxes as well (after months of denying it, he went on record yesterday saying he wants to let the Bush tax cuts expire). 

Not that these are tax issues, but adding to the skepticism of his veracity and trustworthyness, Mr. Warner now says he's not for a date certain for withdrawal from Iraq. Really? This is what he said at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in February:

"And come January, 2009, we need to start to bring our brave troops home from Iraq. . . ." Sounds pretty certain to me.

He also vetoed a Virginia energy plan agreeing to off-shore drilling if the feds ever granted such permission. But at the Shad Planking April 16, he said:

"I've said in terms of offshore, we ought to take a look."

Who can trust this guy? Tim Kaine better hope he can or his plan will end up in the same place those Soprano's characters did. We continue to hope.