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It’s the SPENDING, Stupid!

On Sunday, only ONE Republican in the Assembly voted against the massive spending increases in the budget proposed by Gov. Brian “The Artful Dodger” Sandoval (R&R-Partners).

Now here’s the thing that so many Republicans keep missing about tax hikes and the Tax Pledge: It’s not so much whether or not those whose taxes are being raised can afford it or if it will retard job creation. It’s about this…

If you give the government more money, the government will spend it to make the government bigger and do more “stuff.” As late President Ronald Reagan put it, “Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets.”

Or as he observed on a separate occasion, “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear.”

Indeed, the GOP reason to oppose tax hikes isn’t to oppose tax hikes for the sake of opposing tax hikes. The conservative reason to oppose tax hikes is because conservatives are supposed to SHRINK government, not expand it.

And in case there are any Republicans out there who still aren’t sure if this is supposed to be their position, allow me to refer them to the authoritative source on this subject, the late, great Arizona Republican Sen. Barry “Conscience of a Conservative” Goldwater, who wrote:

“I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size.”

REDUCE ITS SIZE!

And you do not reduce the size of government by giving it more money! What part of this don’t some dullard Republicans understand?

That said, some Republicans who voted on Sunday to allow Gov. Sandoval to spend a sh*tload more money are now in a tough position of figuring out how to pay for it. And the only way to pay for this massive expansion of government now is to…ta-da…raise taxes!

That means some Republicans in the Assembly who voted to increase spending yesterday are now going to be put in the position today of being either tax-hikers for voting to re-impose the $620 million worth of “temporary” tax hikes, better known as the “sunsets,” or world-class hypocrites for voting for higher spending on one day but against the tax hikes to fund it the very next.

Some choice.

For the record, the ONLY Republican in the Assembly who won’t find herself between this rock and hard place, because she was the ONLY Republican in the Assembly who had the balls to vote against the governor’s massive budget increase, was: Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R-Las Vegas).

Well done, Michele.

But hang on, there’s more to this story…

There is a fundamental flaw in the way the Republican Assembly caucus operates and has operated for a long, long time; and that’s that it hasn’t hired a POLICY WONK during the session whose professional, full-time job it is to review legislation and advise GOP legislators how they should vote on certain bills and why…IN ADVANCE.

Bet your arse the Democrats have plenty of these people and listen to them…both inside and outside their caucus!

So the problem is that too many Republican legislators, especially the few conservative-leaning ones, are relying on their colleagues to provide that information and advice before important votes; legislators who are part-timers who don’t “do politics” for a living, or worse, simply aren’t conservative and actually support all the grow-government policy proposals of the Democrats.

You know, like Assemblyman Lynn “The Bug Man” Stewart.

So here’s what happened yesterday, as related to me by one Republican legislator…

AB507 came up for a vote with little to no advance warning. At this point in the session, such bills come flying at legislators fast and furious. And if all you see on the board is the bill number – and you don’t already know what the bill is and haven’t read it – you’re voting in the dark.

So yesterday, conservative legislators relied on their leaders to guide them on how to vote on AB507…and their leaders led them astray. They told their colleagues the bill was no big deal; that the vote relating to re-imposing the “sunsets” would come later.

Trusting their leaders and not knowing any better, the conservatives voted in favor AB507…only to find out after the fact that the bill was the governor’s massive government spending increase!

Now, I’ll grant you that in an ideal world our legislators will have read and understood every bill before voting on it…and this one, as it turns out was a big one. But the reality is, if you don’t have a caucus director reviewing every bill in advance and providing guidance to legislators, this sort of thing is going to happen.

Indeed, recall the exact same thing happened a week ago when moderate Assemblyman Randy Kirner (R-Washoe) screwed the pooch and led his colleagues astray on the parental trigger bill!

The problem, however, even in this scenario, is that if the caucus leadership is moderate, odds are the caucus director is going to be moderate. So even direction from a full-time, knowledgeable caucus director isn’t going to protect conservatives from casting some bad votes.

No, what conservatives in the Assembly – need to do is one of two things…

1.) Get the majority of the minority and elect a conservative as Minority Leader who will hire a conservative caucus/political director for the purpose of reviewing, evaluating and advising caucus members on the “guts” of bills well BEFORE they have to vote on them, or…

2.) Create their OWN caucus-within-the-caucus and raise the money necessary to hire their OWN caucus/political director to watch their backs.

Personally, I believe you can’t have too many conservatives minding the store, so I say do…BOTH!

In any event, know that there are some conservative members of the Assembly who are pissed royally at being misled by their leadership on yesterday’s vote for the spending bill and will not only be voting against the sunsets today, but most, if not all, of the remaining spending bills, too.

Bravo!

As Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott of the Starship Enterprise was wont to say, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

These conservatives won’t get fooled again.

One final recommendation:

Republicans should embrace and run on an idea originally put forward by former conservative Republican Assemblyman Ed Goedhart in the last legislative session; that NO BILL can be voted on unless its final version has been posted on the Internet on a website available to the public, for at least 72 hours.

Had that small, minor but critically important provision been in place this session, NONE of these last-minute bills, including AB507, would be hitting legislators with no advance warning and no opportunity, not only for the legislators to read them, but the public and grassroots activists, as well.

There is simply no excuse not to have had the final versions of all bills published by last Friday at the latest, with votes on them today…instead of introducing last-minute “emergency” bills to be rammed-and-crammed down our throats.

So let it be written; so let it be done.

FAMOUS LAST WORDS

“Over the years, I’ve only heard one politician address parking woes (in downtown Las Vegas). Mayoral candidate George Harris promised to be on the street with a chainsaw the day after being elected to cut the meters down.” – columnist Joe Schoenmann of the Las Vegas Sun