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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Wednesday | June 04, 2003

Sigh... Just another "tax and spend" Republican

There is little doubt left that the GOP has abandoned any and all principles of fiscal discipline and prudence. And while the Democratic Party becomes more fiscally responsible, holding the line on taxes and spending money more wisely, Republicans across the nation continue to do the opposite.

The latest? Alabama's new governor, Bob Riley:

Alabama's new Republican governor, Bob Riley, styles himself after Ronald Reagan, complete with a pompadour and campaign photos that show him on horseback. Philosophically, too, he is an avowed Reaganite who says he never voted for a tax increase in six years in Congress and was once named its most conservative member.

Yet this same Mr. Riley has stunned his state and his party, and risked his political future, by calling for Alabama's largest tax increase ever: $1.3 billion, or 22 percent of the taxes the state now collects [...]

"I'm caught between desperately trying to help the governor and maintaining some consistencies in Republican policy," said Marty Connors, the Alabama Republican chairman. "It's very difficult to have on one side of my desk talking points from the president on why we have to have tax cuts, and on the other side, talking points from the governor on why we have to have tax increases."

Now, it's clear that Alabama has one of the most regressive tax structures in the country -- with a family of four paying taxes after the first $4,600 in income (!). Riley's plan would attempt to address that injustice (and it had to be proposed by a Republican. Alabama Democrats were booted from the state if they so much as thought about raising any taxes to offset the revenue loss). But in any case, Riley is gone. Pencil in a Democrat in 2006.

Ironically, Bush's tax cuts and refusal to bail out the states will force many, many Republican governors to turn to tax increases. And while Bush may get his glowing moment in the spotlight, he's damning his party at the lower levels -- exposing their "tax-cutting" mantras as nothing more than rhetoric.

This, in turn, will help elect more Democrats at the state level, bolstering the party's bench, and helping shape the national agenda from the bottom up (as the GOP's moderate governors did in the late 90s, leading to Bush's election).

For every action, there's an opposite and equal reaction.

(For more on the GOP's fiscal irresponsibility, see here, here and here.)

Posted June 04, 2003 08:41 AM | Comments (33)


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