The right side of the political spectrum continues its wringing of hands over the press that gubernatorial candidate Sen. Russ Potts gets. The latest is a pretty innocuous article by Tyler Whitely of the Richmond Times Dispatch. It treats us to few bits of real news (that Potts says he won’t run again after this race being one of them). One Man’s Trash’s tirade against RTD is inexplicably described as “incisive ” by Bacon’s Rebellion. And of course, Commonwealth Conservative is also upset with Potts and calls Trash’s post “analysis.”
While the right gnashes its fangs over Potts and the press he gets, it ignores Jerry Kilgore’s patently absurd promises. Granted, Potts has thus far not said exactly how he will pay for his transportation programs, but he makes clear that more revenue — and he uses the word taxes — are needed. In fact, Norman at Trash rants about Potts saying he’ll fund transportation by “putting everything on the table.”
“Everything, then means everything that can be taxed. How visionary.”
Of course, clear vision is not something their candidate seems to have when it comes to how he’ll pay for his promises. The Hampton Roads Daily Press editorial page, which also criticizes Tim Kaine and to a lesser extent Russ Potts for fuzzy math, takes particular aim at Kilgore for outlandish, irresponsible politicking.
As for Kilgore … well, Kilgore appears to be operating on the basis of some sort of new math where, apparently, it just doesn’t matter if the numbers don’t add up.
Check these off: Kilgore embraces all of Kaine’s tax cuts and adds repeal of the 2004 state budget agreement. He would have voters decide for themselves on taxes via referendums, but also wants new regional transportation authorities with taxing powers.
That’s just for starters. Earlier this month Kilgore got on a dizzying roll.
He started out in Norton by making a big pitch for the so-called Coalfields Expressway, a $4 billion, 51-mile boondoggle for three rural southwest Virginia counties. Kilgore promised to make the road a priority, despite the fact that the federal government recently pulled out of the project, citing ballooning costs.
Kilgore also called for expansion of the Governor’s Opportunity Fund (that’s the money the governor hands out as “enticements”), urged the doubling of tax credits for economically distressed areas (“good money after good money,” he said) and pledged to abolish the estate tax.
Warmed up, Kilgore trotted over to Henry County and said he wanted a new four-year college for Southside. “We can’t wait. We have to work on that (a new college) immediately,” he told a crowd.
Finally, appearing in Charlottesville before local government officials, Kilgore was back on the subject of roads. He opposes increases in the state gas tax, but told local government officials that he would complete old road projects, widen Interstate 66 within the Washington Capital Beltway and get the third crossing of Hampton Roads done.
The money for these fine transportation undertakings will be drawn from the state’s general fund, the principal source of revenue for education. Or so he says.
And where exactly does that leave Kilgore’s commitment to the traditional Republican principles of smaller government and fiscal responsibility? He’ll need to say, because from this vantage point it’s hard to see.
I just wish the right would be intellectually honest. I think starting the conversation by saying you’re against tax increases is bass ackwards. Star with what you expect from government and then determine how to pay for it. But taxes seem as far as many on the right can go with respect to financial planning. Letting your candidate off the hook by passively endorsing outlandish promises suggests that principle is not at the heart of the right’s agenda.