Gov. Robert F. McDonnell has begun talks with legislatures to improve the condition of the state’s transportation system with a proposal eliminating the gas tax and raising the sales tax.
The bill is conceptually balanced at first glance; only after a second’s thought does it become a real head-scratcher.
McDonnell’s new law would remove the 17.5 percent gas tax for an increase in the sales tax from 5 percent to 5.8 percent. According to Huffington Post’s Olympia Meola, this would bring an influx of approximately $3.2 billion in additional funds to the state government over the next 5 years.
Economically, the plan makes sense. The extra funds would improve Virginia’s infrastructure, with new roads being paved throughout the state. But since the elimination of the gas tax would incentivize auto transportation, more people would fill those new roads, as more people take advantage of cheaper gas.
Those in favor of the law, as outlined by the Washington Post’s Mohana Ravindranath, are mostly businesses whose service is auto transportation — moving services, taxi drivers, distribution facilities. All are significantly important to society’s efficiency dependence, but their benefit is not enough to outweigh the increased congestion and pollution that will accompany this legislation.
If anything, the gas tax should increase. The state government should be placing incentives on mass transit and carpools. They should reward those who made the decision to purchase more environmentally friendly vehicles — not create a $100 flat tax for owning such vehicles, as is part of McDonnell’s proposal.
This situation has made me wonder how a smart man like McDonnell could bring forth such a senseless proposition, and I believe it has much to do with an issue I’ve touched on in a previous column.
The pressure on current conservative politicians is at the hands of other republicans. In order to be re-elected to their respective offices, these officials are more concerned about beating other republican possibilities in primaries than the democratic opposition in the actual vote.
In other words, in order to ascend politically, conservatives must make decisions that are more focused on appeasing their party, to gain favor over other republican runners, and less focused on the well-being of the citizens.
This is especially prevalent in highly conservative areas where there is little chance of a liberal victory. It just so happens that McDonnell’s one-term limit as governor is shortly coming to a close. His political career, though, is far from over.
McDonnell can’t just raise taxes because, ever since George H.W. Bush, doing so is considered political witchcraft.
When President H.W. Bush said, “Read my lips: no new taxes” at the 1988 Republican National Convention and proceeded to raise taxes once elected, his credibility was shot. Now, it has become a widely held concept that raising taxes, for whatever reason, good or bad, is Republican Party treason. Therefore, in order to offset raising the sales tax, McDonnell wants to throw the gas tax out entirely — an irrational plan as a product of diaphanous political endeavors.
This is no way to govern. The political system has become so convoluted and twisted in itself that it’s lost sight of its purpose. It’s “for the people” not “for the self-promotion.”
After the impasse in Washington over the fiscal cliff nearly caused another recession and this ridiculous legislation, I find myself growing tired of the partisan malarkey.
There needs to be a mentality change. There needs to be more focus on the many governed rather than the few governing. And McDonnell’s proposal is just another example of the pothole politics running rampant throughout the system.