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Drive-By Muthings on Another GOP Defeat

On the morning after getting royally screwed by some Assembly Republicans on the tax issue yet again, just some random rants today, folks. And for the record, when I say “Republicans” today, I’m not necessarily referring to all Republicans; just the bad ones. You know who they are. So do they.

* The saying remains true: Republicans never blow an opportunity to blow an opportunity.

* It was an unforced error. The Democrats didn’t need a single Republican vote to pass yesterday’s room tax increase which was placed before the Legislature by one of the GOP’s mortal enemies: the teachers union. But seven Republicans – suffering from the political version of the Stockholm Syndrome – gave the D’s all the cover they needed to remove tax hike as an issue for the 2010 campaigns. The D’s knew they needed some naïve Republicans to protect their majority and found seven of them foolish enough to fall right into the trap. How depressing.

* This wasn’t the end of Taxapalooza 2009, by the way. It was just the beginning. I’m told Democrats have at least SEVEN additional tax hikes being drawn up for later this session. Rumored to be under consideration are: a hike in the sales tax, a hike in the gaming tax, a hike in the cigarette tax, a hike in the alcohol tax, a hike in the modified business tax, a new business income tax, and a tax on services – such as dry cleaning, accounting and auto repair. Seven Tax Hikes for Seven Republicans. Has a nice depressing ring to it.

* The main argument used to twist GOP arms into voting for the third largest tax hike in the state’s history is that their voters voted for it. No they didn’t, as I demonstrated here last week. But let’s concede that point just for argument’s sake. Then how to explain Republican Assemblyman Pete Goichochea’s vote? His district includes Lander County…and Lander County rejected the advisory question by a solid 2-1 margin last November. So what the hell was he thinking? Actually, I know. And wait’ll you get a load of it. Stay tuned…

* Republican Assemblyman Joe Hardy voted for the third largest tax hike in the state’s history. No surprise there, though. He’s the last Republican still in the Assembly who voted for the largest tax hike in the state’s history back in 2003.

* In trying to spin his vote for the third largest tax hike in history yesterday, Hardy said, “We are in a fiscal hole, and if we do not add some fill to that hole, we are going to be in an abysmal pit.” Lame-o. How many historical tax hikes will Hardy vote for before he finally realizes that we have a spending problem, not a taxing problem?

* If Republicans who vote for tax hikes are, as Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform puts it, “rat heads in Coke bottles” which destroy a brand, Hardy is the “rat head” poster child.

* “If they’re smart, they’ll use a red herring,” write Las Vegas Sun reporters Cy Ryan and J. Patrick Coolican, giving Republicans a warning of what is to come from the Democrats. “That was the wisdom of a few lobbyists, wealthy white men all, assembled Tuesday outside the Legislature. They were discussing the smartest strategy for rolling out a tax plan. The logic goes like this: Release a tax plan, and the opposition quickly lines up and kills it. So release a tax plan you have no intention of supporting (that’s your red herring) and let everyone attack that while you secretly prepare and pass your actual plan.”

* Alas, even knowing what’s coming, Republicans will still fall for it in a heartbeat.

* I hear it all the time. “Chuck, you just don’t understand. The Legislature is all about the art of compromise.” OK, fine. Tell me what the “compromise” was yesterday. What did Republicans get yesterday in return for frittering away the single best, most powerful issue they could have had going for them in 2010? PEBS reform? PERS reform? Education reform? A hard spending cap? Answer: Squat. That’s not compromise. That’s capitulation.

* Assemblyman Tom Grady said he voted for the tax hike yesterday because “we have been meeting in a bipartisan manner to try to save rural mental health clinics, and I have three in my district that we’re ready to close. And if we don’t fill this hole, I will lose those clinics.” Apparently Grady and Hardy coordinated their “hole” message, which is at least a start. Because other than that there has been NO message coordination coming from Assembly Republicans whatsoever.

* That said, where’s the guarantee that Grady’s rural health clinics will be “saved” even after selling out his tax vote? Fact is, there is none. Only a “hope” that the Democrats might toss him some table scraps at the end of the session. Strong negotiator there, huh?

* And isn’t Mr. Grady at least a little bit ticked off at being the victim of such political extortion? I mean, he was threatened with shutting down rural health care clinics in exchange for a vote to further enrich the teachers union! Where’s the outrage? Why is Mr. Grady taking this lying down? Thank you, sir, may I have another.

* Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert (R-Reno) didn’t oppose the tax hike. Instead, she actively lobbied her GOP colleagues to vote for it. She indicated she felt she had to do it to get a “seat at the table.” No offense, but I give my two-year-old a seat at our table, too. But that doesn’t mean he gets anything he wants. He gets what we give him. So tell me again why it’s so damn important to have a “seat at the table”?

* Everyone likes Heidi personally. I know I sure do. But this is not a popularity contest. It’s politics. And Heidi simply isn’t a strong leader. She has fractured her caucus right down the middle almost from day one. She’s not a political strategist. She’s not a political tactician. She’s not a movement conservative. And she’s not very good at communicating with the outside world – with the media and with potential conservative allies. So I’m gonna avoid the Christmas rush by suggesting right now that this is one of those times when you SHOULD change horses in midstream. This situation under Leader Gansert is only going to get worse as the pressure of the session builds, not get better.

* Assuming this third largest tax hike in history passes in the state Senate – where Bill Raggio is still the de facto Senate Majority Leader even though Democrats have the numeric majority – Gov. Gibbons will foolishly sign it. “The governor has always said yes to this increase,” said Daniel Burns, his communications director. “The voters of Clark and Washoe counties have spoken, and he will not go against the people.”

* Of course, I lost what little remaining respect I had for Jim Gibbons when he broke his Taxpayer Protection Pledge to “the people” to oppose and veto any and all efforts to raise taxes by putting this tax hike in his budget. But this claim that the voters have spoken on the room tax hike is pure bull$#&! and Mr. Burns should quit parroting this lie.

1.) There is no “vote of the people” loophole in the tax pledge the governor made to voters in 2008. 2.) The voters in Clark and Washoe counties voted for an advisory question, not this specific piece of legislation. 3.) This tax hike will affect the ENTIRE state, not just the people of Clark and Washoe counties. EVERY Nevadan should get a chance to vote on this EXACT proposal, not just the voters of Clark and Washoe.

* Gov. Gibbons is a lame duck. He’s not going to run for re-election in 2010. And if he foolishly does, he’ll lose. And in the process pull the entire GOP ticket down with him. Republicans thought they’d reached bottom last November. Not even close. Prepare for political Armageddon if something doesn’t change dramatically for the GOP very soon.