What Good is a Tax Raising Republican?

God put the Republican Party on earth to cut taxes. If they don't do that, they have no useful function. ~ Robert Novak

Recently the “Republican” dominated Georgia House and Senate passed a massive tax increase to fund booty for the transportation lobby … err … I mean future transportation projects. The increase was enthusiastically supported by Georgia’s “Republican” Governor, Nathan Deal. It passed the Georgia Senate by 42-12 and the House by 129-41. That's embarrassing.

The details of the tax increase are complicated, but it includes a large increase in the gas tax and a $5.00 a night hotel/motel tax. Reportedly, part of the new revenues will fund the construction of access points to the new publicly financed Braves’ stadium. (I’m a big Braves fan, but the travesty of publicly financed sports stadiums deserves a separate rant.)

I’m sure the late conservative columnist Robert Novak was being deliberately hyperbolic in the quote above, but there is a lot of truth in his quip. Since the GOP can’t be counted on to do anything other than cave on social issues, and haven’t demonstrated a desire once in power to actually shrink the size of government, all they can realistically be counted on for is to do the right thing on taxes.

Just to demonstrate that I am a reasonable man, I’ll cut the GOP a little slack here. Unfortunately, since actively cutting taxes isn’t always on the table, I’ll modify Novak’s quip and suggest that God put the Republican Party on earth to oppose tax increases. If they don’t do that, they have no useful function.

For Republican office holders, opposing tax increases should be a spinal cord level reflex, like the knee jerk. Opposition to tax increases shouldn’t even have to go to the brain. The suggestion to raise taxes should make it to the spinal cord and immediately generate a loud, foot stomping “Hell no!”

For those inclined to criticize this view as too simplistic, look at it like this. In order to believe a tax increase is warranted, you have to believe the government in not currently taking in enough revenue, there is no fat elsewhere in the budget that could be shifted, and therefore the beleaguered taxpayers should be squeezed for more. All three points should be viscerally rejected out of hand by any self-respecting Republican worthy of the name.

This is why the lopsided margins of the House and Senate vote and the Governor’s enthusiastic cheerleading should be such an affront to rank-and-file Republicans. We send them there primarily to do one thing, and they can’t even do that right.

I don’t doubt that there are many transportation needs in the state that need to be addressed, but the way to address them is by moving spending that would have otherwise been spent on some less worthy projects. Don’t try to tell me that there is no fat in Georgia’s budget. Part of the job of legislating, like any other administrator, is to set priorities to allocate limited funds, not cry “More, more, give me more!” like some overgrown child when the taxpayers are already being stretched.

Every Georgia Republican who voted for this travesty should be primaried if they seek re-election. There must be consequences for this kind of blatant betrayal. Primary challenges are not often successful, but they are always unwelcomed. Voters have notoriously short memories. Primary challenges are one way to keep their memories fresh. If grassroots conservative Republicans are serious about their opposition to the RINO Establishment, they should start recruiting challengers now. Otherwise, they are just blowing off steam.