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Category ArchiveVirginia politics



Virginia politics Richard Falknor on 10 Jan 2013

McDonnell Tax Scheme: Too Many Moving Parts, Open Questions?

UPDATE JANUARY 10!  The astute Peter Samuel (TollRoadsNews) draws our attention to Dr. Ron Utt’s “Governor McDonnell’s Seppuku Transportation Plan” (BearingDrift) where the author and longtime Heritage expert declares “Sadly, the Governor’s new views on transportation are not unique, nor are they materially different from those of Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley, President Barrack Obama, the Sierra Club, the Piedmont Environmental Council, Smart Growth America, and a host of other progressive entities and persons. While there is not the time or space here to get into the flaws in the many individual components of this plan, one can’t help but be impressed by the Governor’s and the Attorney General’s apparent breathtaking turnaround on the Silver Line (Dulles Rail), one of the largest and costliest real estate deals on the East Coast, which — by the sponsor’s own admission to US DOT — will have no lasting impact on congestion or air quality. Nonetheless, the Governor’s proposed tax increases will fund a $300 million grant to Dulles Rail, provided that ‘the reforms identified by the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General are implemented.’ In human speak what the governor is saying is that this funding will be withheld until a corrupt and mismanaged, multi-billion dollar wasteful boondoggle is reformed into just a multi-billion dollar, wasteful boondoggle.”

* * * * * * * * * *

McDonnell Tax Scheme: Too Many Moving Parts, Open Questions?

“Governor, we have known you for a very long time, and I applaud you for many initiatives you have undertaken in your years of public service.  But I am frankly shocked that a Republican Governor, and especially during this horrible economic climate, would choose to burden taxpayers more by proposing to raise the sales tax! Basically, we are supposed to be happy that we will pay less for gas, but more for everything else! Do you think the majority of people will not see this for what it is?  Our Republican leaders must stand firm against the tide, and truly serve those whom they are elected to serve.  There are other ways to raise revenue, like cutting spending. Why not cut the budget 1-1 1/2% and use that money for transportation?  If families can relinquish spending a penny out of every dollar, certainly the government can.  ‘Tax and Spend’ is how we got in this financial mess in the first place.   All the Democrats have to say is ‘Candidate X voted to raise the sales tax an additional .8%!’  In fact, most people will miss the decimal point and read 8%.  In reality, though, the sales tax is being increased by 16%!  This is a political nightmare for Republicans and horrible for ‘we the people.”’  –Catherine Ann Marshall, January 8, 2013.

We wrote in 2009 (click on foregoing link) that then-gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell had “the scent of a statist,” and nothing seems to have changed as we consider the governor’s “2013 Transportation Funding and Reform Package” increasing taxes and thus the reach of state government.

The McDonnell Team as we explained in 2010 (click on foregoing link) apparently sees the Commonwealth government as more of an economic and industrial and social planner rather than an impartial protector of free markets. 

This Team seems, in short, business friendly but not market friendly. James Pethokoukis (Reuters) defined the difference —

“Yet while a pro-business agenda may intersect at points with a pro-market one, they are not the same thing. Pro-market public policies make markets function fairer and more efficiently for everyone. They encourage competition and ‘creative destruction’ and entrepreneurial capitalism. Pro-business policies often shift taxpayer money and other government goodies to favored companies, raise barriers to entry and otherwise defend the status quo.” (Highlighting Forum’s.)

Instead of  advancing tax proposals to make Virginia more competitive — such as eliminating the state corporate  tax and thereby bring more real prosperity and consequently tax revenue to the Commonwealth — we are this week given a meretricious package that advertises no gas tax, but increases the state sales tax and adds an additional tax (‘fee increase’) for car owners.

And all this and more: under the questionable flag of ‘transportation improvement,’ the McDonnell Team is marketing these tax increases to a General Assembly GOP majority they hope to be docile lawmakers and to a media they hope will be  ‘reporters without questions.’

But readers can make their own judgment: click here for the details of “Virginia’s Road to the Future:  Governor McDonnell’s 2013 Transportation Funding and Reform Package.”

One marvels at the political audacity of  increasing the tax on car ownership to pay for transit, and then proposing to use “the first $300 million of the additional 0.25 percent sales tax commitment to transportation” for Metrorail expansion with all the financial and other peril it brings to northern Virginia. The Marketplace Equity Act of which the McDonnell proposal speaks so confidently is not as universally admired as one might infer from the McDonnell pitch.  Click here to read former U. S. senator and now Heritage chief Jim DeMint’sNo Internet Taxation Without Representation: Subjecting online retailers to 10,000 local tax jurisdictions is a terrible idea.”

Tax Foundation: Governor’s “Smoke & Mirrors”

The Tax Foundation will have none of it.  Joseph Henchman and Scott Drenkard declared on Tuesday (click here) that “Virginia Governor Proposes Smoke & Mirrors Transportation Financing Plan” and summarized —

“But McDonnell’s plan to move away from user-related taxes and fees towards general revenues is going in the wrong direction. When road funding comes from a mix of tolls and gas taxes, the people that use the roads bear the cost of them. By contrast, funding transportation out of general revenue makes roads ‘free,’ and consequently, overused. Theory and past experience suggest McDonnell’s plan will result in further congestion and continual underfunding of transportation in Virginia. The next governor and legislature might see the reintroduction of the gas tax while retaining the higher sales tax. Virginia’s transportation problems are serious and require a serious plan.”(Highlighting Forum’s.)

FCTA’s  Arthur Purves – Decades of Shortchanging Transportation

Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance (FCTA) expert Arthur Purves has long criticized the Commonwealth government for shortchanging transportation while allowing general-fund spending to soar –

  • In 2002 FCTA wrote, click here
“Fairfax County Taxpayer Alliance analyses show that between 1979 and 2002, Virginia inflation-adjusted spending increased 100 percent per student for public schools, 40 percent per student for public colleges, and 60 percent per resident for welfare. However, inflation-adjusted spending per resident for transportation was the same in 2002 as it was in 1979.”
  • In 2011 FCTA wrote, click here
“Massive spending on education and healthcare is one of the major reasons there is inadequate funding for roads and bridges. The other reason is Dulles Rail.”

This morning, long-time taxpayer advocate Purves emailed  —

“You do not need to raise taxes for transportation.  You will have adequate funding for transportation if you rein in out-of-control spending for public schools, the Virginia Retirement System, and Medicaid.”

Where Do We Go From Here?

Of course, Virginia needs a sound state transportation plan with adequate resources for roads. This is a core function of government.  Such a transportation plan, however, should be cost effective, and pork free —  with strong firewalls against raids by crony capitalists. The giant Dulles Rail schemes, for example, simply did not meet this test.

Heritage’s analysts, as we have written (click here and scroll down to ‘The Fight Against Dulles Rail Didn’t Start Yesterday’) have documented that disaster as it developed.

But the governor’s approach reflects a larger Virginia GOP policy deficiency than that of transportation.

We believe that too few Virginia GOP state lawmakers are ‘market friendly’ – and the governor’s statist inclinations are clear enough (see Cato’s rating of ‘C’ for governor Bob McDonnell in the foregoing link).

What can we do? One suggestion might be that the conservative Virginia base — including those Tea Parties not yet co-opted by the Virginia GOP Establishment — come together to work up genuine alternatives, perhaps first on transportation and then in other crucial areas.

Here is a possible start: perhaps a respected delegate of principle, energy, and learning might consider founding within the Virginia House of Delegates an equivalent to the House of  Representatives Republican Study Committee – the caucus of House GOP conservatives?

Fiscal Policy &Virginia politics Richard Falknor on 28 Jun 2012

Gov Bob Pitches Loudoun Metrorail: But Is He A Scott Walker?

“There are those – many on the right, but many more on the left – who govern from a perspective confident that the assemblage of experts really do know what’s best for the sheepish, meandering people.” (Highlighting Forum’s) – today’s Transom

Liz Essley (Examiner) revealed Tuesday – –

“Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell urged fellow Republicans in Loudoun County to join in the second phase of the $6 billion Silver Line on Tuesday, just days before the county’s deadline to decide.

‘It’s something we have to do. It’s one of America’s most critical infrastructure projects,’ McDonnell told a group of developers, engineers and politicians Tuesday night. ‘This is the gateway to the nation’s capital.’”. . . .

“’It’s one of the most expensive infrastructure projects in the country. Two hundred and fifty million dollars a mile — that’s real money,’ he said.”

Indeed. That’s real pork. No wimpy Bridge to Nowhere up among the ice cubes.

Those who know best?

And the Commonwealth governor preaches straight to the choir:  “developers, engineers and politicians.”

Maybe Mr. McDonnell is a little light on content – – “this is the gateway to the nation’s capital” – – but the Old Dominion’s own vice-presidential aspirant certainly knows how to turn a fancy phrase.

Is the Northern Virginia Tea Party AWOL?

We have asked the good Mr. Ron Wilcox twice about his own Tea Partiers stand on Metrorail to Loudoun.

But organizer Wilcox must have missed the picture the Virginia governor paints of a very costly future even as Mr. McDonnell pretends we are approaching –in Winston Churchill’s famous phrase — “broad, smiling uplands”.

 “Two hundred and fifty million dollars a mile — that’s real money.”

Surely that is “fiscal” enough for even this GOP-tame Tea Party to address.

More Loudoun GOP Flight From Robust Debate

Reportedly Ryan Nichols, the head of the Loudoun County Young Republicans, last Monday evening suggested that the Loudoun County Republican Committee (LCRC) develop a resolution addressing Metrorail to Loudoun.  Before Nichol’s recommendation could ripen at the meeting, LCRC chairman Mark Sell accepted a motion to adjourn.

Opponents of Mr. Nichol’s recommendation, we are told, declared it was divisive at a crucial time.

Of course, conservatives believe that the LCRC should hold elected officials accountable when they wander from the right path.

Long-time Loudoun GOP operatives, on the other hand, believe that the sole function of the LCRC is that of a cheering section for GOP incumbents and nominees, and a source of campaign volunteers and money.

Their maxim: No policy questions, please! They are to be decided by your betters.

What is to be done to stop the Metrorail Leviathan?

As we have long feared, the current balance of political forces has favored Loudoun County government approval of Metrorail to Loudoun.

Extensive sound analyses and the national debt crisis are apparently not proving persuasive with the majority of the Loudoun County Supervisors.

At this late date, can the opponents of this Leviathan credibly convince enough supervisors now favoring Metrorail to Loudoun that they will be strongly opposed in their next primary if they do not come to a better mind before the vote? 

The Achievements of Loudoun Opt-Out

Whatever the supervisors’ vote on Metrorail to Loudoun expected next Tuesday, opponents have already done a Herculean job in a polity not much given to citizen reversal of the local Establishment.

In particular, conservatives should be grateful to David LaRock for putting together such a well-focussed citizen organization as Loudoun Opt-Out in the Loudoun GOP culture albeit one with a promise for movement in a genuinely conservative direction.

A “Shadow Cabinet” To Track Impaired Supervisors?

Our suggestion would be to build on the fine work Mr. LaRock and many other opponents have already done, and put together a “shadow cabinet”  with its own website and credible Loudoun citizens as “shadow supervisors” of those incumbents who vote for Metrorail to Loudoun.

Those erring politicians will need close monitoring throughout the balance of their term. 

This is because “crony capitalism” is a hard addiction for many GOP politicians to kick.

 

 

Fiscal Policy &Virginia politics Richard Falknor on 12 Jun 2012

Loudoun Metrorail: “Supervisors would…find better odds in Vegas.”

UPDATE JUNE 24! Loudoun Opt-Out declares “$600 Million Bonus If Loudoun Opts Out of Metro – Pay $0… Risk 0…” Click here.

Last evening a Washington Examiner editorial declared

“Metro — which already has a $13.5 billion maintenance and capital replacement backlog — still refuses to provide even basic ridership, revenue and operating cost projections. According to an April 12 memo to Loudoun County officials from consulting firm Desman Associates obtained by The Washington Examiner, ‘detailed daily boardings projections — which are critical to forecasting parking demand — [were] not available’ from either MWAA or WMATA. The only forecasts available were from 2004.

The lack of updated information should send shivers down the spines of Loudoun County supervisors, who must decide by July 4 whether to opt in or out of Phase 2. So should contingency plans to slash local payrolls currently being made by top federal contractors in the event that the federal sequestration goes into effect in January. Supervisors would likely find better odds in Vegas.”

As we pointed out in our Dulles Metrorail: Is Loudoun Losing Control of Its Future? the whole Dulles Rail scheme is one of the offspring of the Beltway GOP.

Think the Beltway GOP has learned fiscal prudence? 

RedState’s Erick Erickson asks today (click here) –

“Did you know that House Republicans are still defeating amendment after amendment to cut spending — even relatively small amounts?”

Editor-in-chief Erickson explains – –

“You probably didn’t realize this because, for some reason, no one is reporting it. So here are just a few of the amendments the House defeated last week. If you’re not happy with this record House Republicans are compiling this election year, let them know now!” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

Read more.

Note that Loudoun’s U. S. Representative Frank Wolf, one of the fathers of Dulles Rail, voted against six of these eight proposed cuts.

Heritage Action’s report card gives Mr. Wolf a rating of 54 %.  By way of  comparison, scroll down here to see Heritage Action’s top House performers.

Counter-intuitive: of those 20 members who scored 90% or more, fewer than half — arguably only nine — are Tea Party freshman.

A Bi-partisan Explosion in Government Spending?

Today Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore (Wall Street Journal) reveal  in their “Obama’s Real Spending Record: There’s no way around the facts. Under Presidents Bush and Obama, government exploded as a share of the economy”- –

“Sadly for fiscal conservatives, the biggest surge in government spending came during the last two years of President George W. Bush’s eight years in office (2007-2008). A weakened Republican president dealing with a strident Democratic Congress, led by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, resulted in an orgy of spending.

Mr. Bush and Republicans in Congress capitulated to and even promoted each and every government bailout and populist redistribution canard put before them. It’s a long list, starting with the 2003 trillion-dollar Medicare prescription drug benefit and culminating with the actions taken to stem the 2008 financial meltdown—the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, the bailout of insurance giant AIG and government-sponsored lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the ill-advised 2008 $600-per-person tax rebate, the stimulus add-ons to 2007’s housing and farm bills, etc.”

So much for the Bush “legacy.”

And this spending orgy undoubtedly played midwife to Dulles Metrorail.

Virginia politics Richard Falknor on 04 Jun 2012

Metrorail: Is Loudoun Losing Control of Its Future?

“One of the most pernicious ways Republicans tend to …  [expand the role of government] when in power is to conflate being pro-business with being pro-free market….Being ‘pro-business’ could mean passing legislation that grants big businesses with highly paid lobbyists tax credits, subsidies, or regulatory advantages. Being truly free market means stepping out of the way and allowing businesses to compete against each other and bear responsibility for any risks they take.”  – – Philip Klein

  

If the Loudoun County supervisors bind their jurisdiction to paying the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) for Dulles Rail over coming decades, they will speed homeowners and commuters — those who do not flee elsewhere — into a whirlpool (like that above) of mounting taxes and tolls against which citizens may be powerless.

 

A Reforming Agenda or Building Pyramids?

But first, some basic questions: in November of last year,  nine Loudoun County Republican supervisors were elected or reelected. Presumably they were aware of the goals of the Tea Party movement which had given the GOP control of the House of Representatives in January of that year.  Loudoun voters’ hope of reaching these goals  may indeed  have contributed to the supervisors’ own election victories last November.

Yet at least some of today’s supervisors seem well on the way to giving priority to harnessing taxpayers to Dulles Rail and thereby to MWAA. One is reminded of a Pharaoh building a pyramid for his life in the next world – – except that the rulers of ancient Egypt likely were not in thrall to the local desert developers or to the Union of Nile Stone Haulers.

Where Are the all-GOP Supervisors’ Priorities?

So why are the supervisors instead not putting their first and best efforts into rightsizing  Loudoun government: deregulating wherever possible, privatizing wherever sensible, making the county “administrative state” (civil service) really accountable, and probing and analyzing the school budget? (Here — scroll down to #52 — is their January 3 vote against property rights where only two supervisors on that day, at least, kept their honor as conservatives.)

If they find this counsel on school budgets puzzling, we refer them to the 2012 testimony of the next-door Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance here and here.

The Fairfax numbers are, of course, different, but the concerns FCTA raises

  • “In setting salaries and benefits, the principal components of the school budget, we must consider what is just. Many teachers are paid much more than the taxpayers who provide the funds to pay them.”
  • “Is it fair to have private-sector taxpayers pay an extra $1800 in taxes to fund badly managed public-sector pensions, especially when those private-sector taxpayers no longer get pensions? We are paying high taxes for low achievement.  Last year’s ACT college admission test showed that only 46 percent of the 3,707 FCPS seniors tested were prepared for college.  School competition, not tax hikes, will raise achievement. The supervisors and schools should be cutting taxes by $1500, not raising them by $300.”

are likely those that should be scrutinized in Loudoun County.

The Loudoun Political Class Marches On

The Loudoun Establishment – -for want of a better phrase – – is doing its utmost here and here to ensure that the Board of Supervisors approve an expensive decades-long entrapment for ordinary homeowners called “Metrorail to Loudoun” or officially Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

The Crocodile in the Supervisors Board Room

Last February we wrote MD & VA: Defense Voices Foresee Grim Local Cuts (New)  —

This story . . . shows the proposed cuts on defense spending on the five most-hard hit counties in Maryland and Virginia: see the charts below.

From this chart, we see that Loudoun County may likely suffer defense cuts of $675 million, and neighboring Fairfax County of $4.647 billion to which should be added defense cuts in Fairfax City of $371 million and in Falls Church City of $22 million.

With regional cuts of this magnitude looming, how can the good Loudoun County lawmakers even contemplate buying into a giant tax-eater like Metrorail to Dulles? What are they thinking?

Long-time northern Virginia management analyst (and recognized conservative voice) Michael Giere (click here) told Blue Ridge Forum – –

“Leaving aside the question of whether Metro can run anything successfully; how realistic is it that the regional and national economy is going to be peachy in the next few years providing the revenue growth needed to feed Metro? Not good is that sad answer. Even if there is a nice Romney bump with his hopeful election in the fall, the future may already be cooked.

The grim reality is that the baseline budget has been inflated by the federal government by a huge percentage, and Obama and Congress have allowed systemic trillion dollar deficits to become the new normal.  It seems difficult to believe that the political class will have the guts to return to the baseline budget of even 2008; but you can guarantee that defense spending will be dragged out onto the public-relations altar to show the voters that they are making ‘tough’ decisions. What will big defense cuts mean for the regional economy?   

We’re borrowing 40 cents of every federal budget dollar now, and you could strip every penny from every millionaire in the nation and not even run the government for a month. The country is now leveraged well over 100% of debt to the gross economic output per year. That makes it plainly obvious that there will be a crash of the dollar, or inflation will devalue the dollar, or there will be some type of repudiation of the debt; perhaps some combination of all of them. 

My money is on inflation – it’s the path of least resistance for Congress, and they can try to shift political blame to the President.  This would devastate the housing industry – again. It’s a simply mathematical formula that for every 1% the mortgage interest rate increases, millions of potential buyers are no longer qualified to buy.  Some estimates are that returning to historical norms with mortgage rates in the 6% or 7% range in the short term could drive home prices down another 25 or 30 percent by crushing an already devastated market.  What would happen to the regional economy if we had even 10% devaluation in housing? And these are just the most obvious economic issues at hand.

Metro Dulles is a disaster that has already happened, and not one rider has gone to the airport yet!” (Highlighting Forum’s.)

“Loudoun Opt Out” To the Rescue

We all owe a major debt to those who put together the Loudoun citizens voice known as Loudoun Opt Out. They are doing yeoman service to protect Loudoun citizens from Loudoun crony capitalism. Click here for some of the hard questions these activists pose.

But The Fight Against Dulles Rail Didn’t Start Yesterday

Way back on March 3, 2008 we drew readers attention (scroll down) to the Heritage WebMemo by Wendell Cox and Ron Utt entitled “Dulles Rail Boondoggle Exposes Flaws in Federal Transportation Policy” which explained –

“The project’s own projections reveal the lack of any benefit that would justify its enormous cost:[noting]   “The capital cost per new rider attracted to transit from a car (daily rider annualized) exceeds $15,000. That is enough to lease each new transit rider two BMW 328i convertibles for life and still return a few thousand dollars to the taxpayer. By this measure, the Dulles extension would be one of the most expensive new transit projects ever conceived” . . . [and pointing out] “Virginia’s four most prosperous commercial and residential areas–Tysons Corner, Reston, the Loudoun/Dulles tech corridor, and McLean–have one important thing in common: None is served by the existing rail transit system!”                                                                                 

And last September economist Utt again raised a red flag with his “The Dulles Rail Financial Disaster Continues” (Bacon’s Rebellion).

Revealed Utt – –

“The yet to be completed 23-mile extension of the Metro rail line to Dulles airport is already confronting serious financial difficulties. Added to the money problems are a series of lapses in management’s performance and the revelation that flaws in the system’s design will discourage ridership and further diminish its currently projected marginal contribution to regional mobility. In response, the system’s manager – the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) – is seeking bailouts from the state of Virginia and from the federal government.

A Project Doomed to Fail. The only surprise in all of this is that the many people in charge of overseeing the project are surprised and disappointed by these revelations: As the record reveals, the mediocre performance of the system was predicted by the project’s own justification report submitted to the federal government in 2004, and recognized by the leadership of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) during the Bush Administration who refused to fund the project until beaten into submission by Congress.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

A Brief History of Dulles Rail Pork

Which members were doing the “beating”?  Among them, the good Mr. Cantor here; and veteran House appropriator Frank Wolf here. But let’s not shortchange former Representative Tom Davis for trying to bringing home the bacon.  As we wrote – –

“Last July 17 [2006], in one of the House of Representatives leadership’s less prescient moments, that body approved arguably the largest earmark of modern times — $1.5 billion to the management-challenged Metro transit system. This stand-alone package (HR 3496) authored by Representative Tom Davis and supported by Representative Frank Wolf, two Virginia Republicans, has a special gift for the unwary taxpayer. In Heritage’s Ron Utt’s words:

‘As troubling as this inequitable transfer would be, Mr. Davis’s proposal also requires that, as a condition of Metro receiving the $1.5 billion federal bailout, all communities in its service area establish a ‘dedicated funding source’ (a euphemism for a tax increase) to match the federal subsidy.’”

This measure failed of enactment in 2006.

We also cautioned in 2006 – –

“Some old-line Virginia Republicans, even if not entirely comfortable with these raids on the U. S. Treasury in behalf of local outstretched hands, nonetheless object to such public scrutiny of Republican spending during an election year. What they entirely miss is that this kind of egregious spending jeopardizes the House Republican majority nationally even if such Congressional largess may go down relatively smoothly in northern Virginia.” (Highlighting added at press time today – – Forum’s.)

Supervisor Ken Reid Has Been Raising Some Warning Flags

Supervisor Ken Reid has asked some fundamental questions about Dulles Rail, and last Friday he proposed (scroll down) a special tax district for Broadlands and Ashburn – –

“The evidence shows that extending Metro into Loudoun County will NOT alleviate traffic congestion; will be used by fewer than 10 percent of all Loudoun Commuters when it opens in Loudoun around 2018; AND will NOT yield a positive economic impact until 2035-2040, yet will begin charging Leesburg homeowners 3.5 cents on top of their County and Town taxes — just at the outset.

Metro will NOT necessarily boost our jobs base and will be competition for funding for schools, public safety and other services. Plus, opting out of rail will save $580 million on the project, and about $1.20 each way for users of the Dulles Toll Road (tolls may go to $4.50 EACH way next year!)

In addition, we now have learned that Loudoun’s share to be part of Metro in 2018 is $34 million a year, of which $11 million would come from gas taxes we pay at the pump to support our commuter and local buses and Leesburg’s transportation needs. All of this money would be lost to Metro if we opt in and Loudoun will be forever beholden to an unelected and unaccountable Metro Board and Metro’s never-ending demands for more cash to maintain its corroding system.

However, many feel having Metro within Loudoun’s borders is a “good thing,” despite the fact a station will be accessible to us via Rt. 28 at the Toll Road — for which Loudoun taxpayers will not have to pay a dime — since Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors elected to ‘opt in’ to Phase 2.

Therefore, one of the fair and necessary conditions for my supporting Metro past Dulles Airport to Ashburn is a tax district in the area which receives the direct benefit from residing within short distance of the proposed stations. Such a tax district means residents of Leesburg are not unfairly footing the bill so Ashburn and Broadlands can see their average 6.8% increase in home values from Metro access.”

Supervisor and business-information publisher Reid has done outstanding service in getting the lamentable facts about Dulles Rail to the public. We have some reservations about his tax-district solution, but that is another topic for another day.

Tax and Regulatory Predators

We have grave fiscal and liberty challenges on the local level, not just at the Federal level.

We face tax and regulatory predators right here in Loudoun County.

These might well be: those working for apparently limitless expansion of local public employment and demanding excessive pay-and-benefit packages; crony capitalists who seek special preferences from local legislators who can’t (or won’t) distinguish between business-friendly and free-market-friendly policies; those business interests that profit from anti-competitive local regulations.

It is important to make the best case against such local tax and regulatory missteps on the merits

But stopping a Leviathan like Dulles Rail to Loudoun is not purely an intellectual exercise.

The balance of political (lobbying) forces could well be against taxpayers and commuters

One sovereign remedy — before any final vote on Dulles Rail by the Loudoun supervisorsis the credible threat of  primary challenges mounted by respectable candidates against one or more supervisors who would  jeopardize the household budgets of Loudoun homeowners and commuters by supporting Dulles Rail.


Conservatives &Virginia politics Richard Falknor on 24 Jul 2011

The Loudoun Political Class Just Won– But For How Long?

(For the convenience of our readers, this is a separate version of our “update” yesterday to Friday’s Tomorrow’s GOP Convention vs. Loudoun’s Political Class)

The Loudoun County GOP, in its convention yesterday morning, nominated Scott York as its candidate to be chairman at large (foregoing link from Leesburg Today.)

York is a long-serving, big-government chairman at large who previously held that office as an Independent, and in 2007 endorsed five Democrat challengers to his Board of Supervisors colleagues.

By nominating York yesterday, the County’s Political Directorate also got a vote of confidence from Republican rank and file. In a further tribute to Mr. York’s skill, he was able to attach the GOP brand to his own political organization.

York challenger Steve Stockman had articulated a pro-market, right-sizing-government approach to all who would listen, while casting doubt on northern Virginia’s Dulles Rail scheme– in the advancement of which Mr. York was heavily invested politically.

Stockman also underscored property-rights protections, and the need to sever the County’s connection with the “ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability” organization (which implements the UN environmental program, Agenda 21).

Independent businessman Stockman (who had some time ago held office as a Loudoun County supervisor) told the convention that the morning’s selection would determine the shape of Loudoun County for the next forty years. In short, it was a turning point.

In this, he may have been wrong.

One commenter we read on a blog in another part of the forest indignantly noted how close the chairman election was.

Yes, indeed. The closeness of the election is the key.

For the first time that we can remember, a coherent alternative vision of government was presented to the rank and file of Loudoun Republicans assembled in convention, and elsewhere through Stockman’s campaign, and roughly 47 percent (by weighted vote) bought the alternative vision.

And this 47 percent bought it — in spite of the obvious resources available to the Loudoun Political Class and the megaphone of Mr. York’s incumbency.

But the Loudoun Government Machine nonetheless garnered 53 percent of the GOP rank and file.

And they did so in spite of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s endorsement of Stockman.

(Apparently the Loudoun GOP sees Mr. Cuccinelli’s conservative principles as fine and dandy for Richmond and Washington. They are not, however, to interfere with business as usual in Leesburg, the Loudoun County seat.)

But it is unreasonable to expect that a Stockman campaign revealed on April 11 would quickly turn around a Loudoun GOP culture long oriented more to incumbency than to conservative policy reform.

One of our Maryland colleagues recently visited Lech Walesa in Poland.  The Polish anti-communist patriot told our Maryland friend that Americans were too concerned with the next election, thinking only in four-year increments, not with the longer reach as the Poles had learned to do.

On the national level, the Other Team, for example, risked (and lost) their control of the U.S. House of Representatives last year in order to move America into a planned, and more redistributive economy.

The Other Team bet (and the results are still not yet in) that the GOP would be more interested in making all that a winning campaign issue than, after the election, undertaking the contentious labor of repealing key Obama legislation and dismantling his bureaucracy.

But in their longer reach, we believe Loudoun County Republicans can move in a more hopeful direction.

How About A Loudoun Conservative Action?

We would suggest that Loudoun conservatives, building on Mr. Stockman’s substantial support shown yesterday, set up a kind of local equivalent of Heritage Action to provide the voting public with timely free-market analyses and alternatives to the Loudoun County government’s business as usual.

We cite Heritage Action as our example because it is not some tame research arm of the GOP.

Rather it  – – and its parent the Heritage Foundation – – keep their conservative policy and intellectual independence and set their own agenda.  The Heritage Foundation, for example, through its fiscal research played an indispensable role in stopping the Bush-Kennedy amnesty initiative.

After all, Loudoun County is nearly the wealthiest in the United States with a very substantial budget. Consequently the County government needs all the conservative oversight possible.

An independent Loudoun Conservative Action organization could examine –

     

  • what the supervisors are voting on before they do so;
  • what they should be looking into;
  • what the taxpayer-supported schools are teaching;
  • how well they are teaching; and
  • the effectiveness and the preparedness of the County’s public-safety operations.

These tasks are just for starters.

To borrow from another Republican of another era, Carl Schurz, the overall mission of Loudoun Conservative Action for the County government might be:

When right, to keep them right; when wrong, to put them right.


 

Conservatives &Virginia politics Richard Falknor on 22 Jul 2011

Tomorrow’s GOP Convention vs. Loudoun’s Political Class

UPDATE JULY 23! Scroll to bottom to read “The Loudoun Political Class Won Today –But Tomorrow?”

Mark Steyn wrote last Saturday about our spending (a.k.a “debt”) crisis that – –

“All the charade does is confirm to prudent analysts around the world that the depraved ruling class of the United States cannot self-correct, and, indeed, has no desire to.”

Steyn just meant Washington, D. C., right?

Wrong.

Steyn’s insight is just as applicable in Virginia’s mega-jurisdiction Loudoun County whose political class has been wallowing in threats to property rights and grandiose spending schemes like Dulles Rail.

Get the taxing details. Scroll all the way down to read Sally Mann’s “The Problem with Scott York’s Thinking: Crony Capitalism.”

Delegates to tomorrow’s Loudoun County Republican convention have an opportunity to turn matters around by supporting Steve Stockman and his allies: nominating this wise leader can bring a conservative perspective and a lifetime of outside as well as government experience to the chairmanship of the Loudoun County Supervisors.

Does Loudoun’s political class – – like the political class across America – – have the ability to self-correct, or indeed any desire to do so?

Whatever your answer, GOP Convention delegates can help Loudoun’s political class get on the right track as early as tomorrow morning!

* * * * *

The Problem with Scott York’s Thinking: Crony Capitalism

By Sally Mann

July 22, 2011

“Chairman of the Board of Loudoun Supervisors Scott York supports the current Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority (MWAA) agreement to bring rail to Dulles Airport and beyond, under which Loudoun will pay a fixed percentage of the final cost.

The problem is that cost estimates keep going up — the project is already more than a billion dollars over budget!

We need to rethink the Metrorail-to-Loudoun project.

The MWAA will build the rail to Dulles Airport whether or not Loudoun supports it financially.

By agreeing to pay a percentage of Phase 1 (to Reston) and Phase 2 (to Dulles Airport and then to the two stations beyond Dulles), Loudoun County has committed to borrowing almost $2 billion at 6% interest – – and paying for parking garages and all the rail car storage – – just to get the two stations beyond Dulles built.

Do we really need metro rail beyond Dulles Airport in Loudoun? At what  price?

What we have done under the current agreement is to write the MWAA a blank check for Phases 1 and 2  to get these two extra stations. We cannot afford it!

Instead of rail, we should consider busses or extra road improvements – – they are so much cheaper and provide immediate, tangible benefits!  At least we must have a firm price, and a clear understanding of what we will and will not be obligated to pay.

We have a window of opportunity to opt out of this irresponsible agreement, up until 90 days after the Phase 2 planning is complete – – a deadline coming up soon.

We need to opt out now, to re-evaluate the costs, our needs, and whether these huge loans, with interest and up-front payments, are reasonable or even necessary.

We need to examine if these two extra stops, the proposed parking decks, and the storage for all rail cars in Loudoun are worth the cost to Loudoun taxpayers. We need seriously to consider whether we should instead make the investment in desperately needed local road improvement? and let the rail end at Dulles.  I think the latter is the correct decision.

Obama’s United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has done us no favors.  He has made some minor concessions, removing the $300 million (note, not ‘half a billion’ as claimed by Scott York in recent press releases) underground tunnel to the airport, for example.

But Loudoun is still held in an agreement where we pay a percentage for the entire rail line, no matter what the costs turn out to be!

Here is a sobering thought. Under the current agreement, the MWAA’s bureaucrats can run up costs as high as they please, hire expensive cronies, and overspend. But we will not be able to do anything about it.

Did you notice how they took out the underground tunnel, but they added in a $7.2 million conference room for the MWAA?  Seems pretty extravagant for a conference room.

The MWAA agreement is further short sighted and deficient in that it lacks an understanding about Dulles Toll Road tolls. The agreement failed to secure a commitment to keep the tolls low, and so the MWAA is raising the tolls to pay for rail.  Loudoun is paying through the nose with this adverse agreement and we must opt out, while we still can.

Once we do opt out, we will get about $80 million back immediately, or $.10 on the tax rate – – for money that has been put aside for Phase 1 (just a partial payment, but we are saving in advance until Phase 1 is complete and we know how much we owe.)

Even local Democrats are objecting to the cost. According to the Ashburn Patch:

‘Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said even though the LaHood proposal will cost less, much of the cost (such as for garages and the Route 28 station) has just been moved around.

‘I will say that neither the commonwealth nor the feds are keeping a commitment to the citizens,’ she said. ‘More cost is now pushed down to the local level.

Jim Corcoran, president & CEO of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Silver Line Phase 2 coalition agrees that too much of the burden is now on local jurisdictions.

‘While the Chamber supports most provisions of Secretary LaHood’s proposal, the current proposal places an unfair burden on Fairfax County taxpayers,’ he said in a statement. ‘LaHood’s proposal adds $136 million to Fairfax County’s share of the cost by transferring responsibility for the Route 28 Metro station.’” (Underscoring Mann’s.)

This is why Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio voted against the compromise that Scott York supported with Secretary LaHood.

Why are many of our Loudoun Republicans staying silent – – working behind the scenes to make this some sort of victory for Scott York?

It would be no victory, but a disaster.

And here is the biggest reason that you should vote for Steve Stockman in the upcoming convention to nominate our Republican candidate for the Chairman of the Board of Loudoun Supervisors. Stockman will opt out, to re-evaluate, and re-negotiate, if it makes sense.  He will spend Loudoun dollars responsibly where we need improvements, not throw away millions – or billions.  He will not give a blank check to the MWAA, unelected bureaucrats who think labor unions are the way to go in Virginia, a right-to-work state. These kinds of deals hurt Virginia, hurt Loudoun businesses, and are breaking the backs of Loudoun taxpayers.

The recent deal struck between Obama’s LaHood and Mr. York is bad from any perspective.  It is misleading to suggest that York is any kind of fiscal conservative, or even a responsible steward of Loudoun’s tax money.  Don’t be deceived by self-serving spin. The agreement is a terrible deal for Loudoun.  This is crony capitalism at its worst.

We need to elect a leader who knows the difference between ‘market friendly’ and ‘business friendly,’ who will right-size our county government, and who will not buy into the bread and circus of Dulles Rail.”

UPDATE JULY 23!

The Political Class Won in Loudoun County Today – – But in the Longer Run?

The local GOP, in its convention this morning, nominated Scott York as its candidate to be chairman at large.

York is a long-serving, big-government chairman at large who previously held that office as an Independent, and in 2007 endorsed five Democrat challengers to his Board of Supervisors colleagues.

By nominating York today, the County’s Political Directorate also got a vote of confidence from Republican rank and file. In a further tribute to Mr. York’s skill, he was able to attach the GOP brand to his own political organization.

York challenger Steve Stockman had articulated a pro-market, right-sizing-government approach to all who would listen, while casting doubt on northern Virginia’s Dulles Rail scheme– in the advancement of which Mr. York was heavily invested politically.

Stockman also underscored property-rights protections and the need to sever the County’s connection with the “ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability” organization (which implements the UN environmental program, Agenda 21).

Independent businessman Stockman (who had some time ago held office as a Loudoun County supervisor) told the convention that the morning’s selection would determine the shape of Loudoun County for the next forty years. In short, it was a turning point.

In this, he may have been wrong.

One commenter we read on a blog in another part of the forest indignantly noted how close the chairman election was.

Yes, indeed. The closeness is the key.

For the first time that we can remember, a coherent alternative vision of government was presented to the rank and file of Loudoun Republicans, and roughly 47 percent (by weighted vote) bought it.

And this 47 percent bought it — in spite of the obvious resources available to the Loudoun Political Class and the megaphone of Mr. York’s incumbency.

But the Loudoun Government Machine nonetheless garnered 53 percent of the GOP rank and file.

And they did so in spite of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s endorsement of Stockman.

Apparently conservative principles are for Richmond and Washington; they are not to interfere with arrangements in Leesburg.

But it is unreasonable to expect that a campaign announced on April 11 would quickly turn around a Loudoun GOP culture long oriented more to incumbency than to policy reform.

One of our Maryland colleagues recent visited Lech Walesa in Poland.  The Polish anti-communist patriot told our Maryland friend that Americans were too concerned with the next election, thinking only in four-year increments, not with the longer reach as the Poles had learned to do.

On the national level, the Other Team, for example, gave up their control of the U.S. House of Representatives last year in order to move America into a planned, and more redistributive economy.

They bet (and the results are not yet in) that the GOP was more interested in making all that a winning campaign issue than, after the election, undertaking the contentious labor of repealing key Obama legislation and dismantling his bureaucracy.

But in their longer reach, we believe Loudoun County Republicans can move in a more hopeful direction.

Loudoun Conservative Action?

We would suggest that Loudoun conservatives, building on Mr. Stockman’s substantial support this year, set up a kind of local equivalent of Heritage Action to provide the voting public with free-market analyses and alternatives to the Loudoun County government’s business as usual.

We cite Heritage Action as our example because it is not some tame research arm of the GOP.

Rather it  – – and its parent the Heritage Foundation – – keep their conservative policy and intellectual independence and set their own agenda.  The Heritage Foundation, for example, through its fiscal research played an indispensable role in stopping the Bush-Kennedy amnesty initiative.

After all, Loudoun County is nearly the wealthiest in the United States with a very substantial budget. Consequently the County government needs all the conservative oversight possible.

An independent Loudoun Conservative Action organization could examine —

     

  • what the supervisors are voting on before they do so;
  • what they should be looking into;
  • what the taxpayer-supported schools are teaching;
  • how well they are teaching; and
  • the effectiveness and the preparedness of the County’s public-safety operations.

These are just for starters.

To borrow from another Republican of another era, Carl Schurz, the overall mission of Loudoun Conservative Action for the County government might be:

When right, to keep them right; when wrong, to put them right.


Fiscal Policy &Virginia politics Richard Falknor on 21 Jul 2011

Debt Crisis: Appropriator Frank Wolf & the Gang of Six

UPDATE! Scroll to end — “Thirty Problems with the ‘Gang of Six’ Proposal

As what is becoming an historic struggle over bringing Federal spending — and thus Federal power — under control, northern Virginia Representative Frank Wolf (and Tennessee Democrat Jim Cooper) on Tuesday wrote to House Speaker John Boehner and Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi —

The Gang of Six plan is bitter medicine and, while not perfect, could restore our fiscal health. There is never a convenient time to make tough decisions, but the longer we put off fixing the problem, the worse the medicine will be. We believe this approach deserves the full and immediate attention of the House of Representatives.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

Ben Pershing in his Washington Post piece of yesterday “Frank Wolf backs ‘Gang of Six’ plan” even claimed “Wolf has long been an advocate for fiscal discipline” citing as evidence Mr. Wolf’s own website.

Let’s see how conservatives view the Gang of Six “plan” which Mr. Wolf endorses. They estimate tax hikes ranging from $1 trillion to $3 trillion.

Today the editors of National Review on Line in their “Government by Platitude” declared–

“Some Republicans are getting desperate over the debt-ceiling debate, but we hope not desperate enough to embrace the Gang of Six proposal. It may be the worst of the debt-ceiling compromises placed before them to date.” . . . . “The main deficit-reduction instruments would be a $1.2 trillion tax hike and deep cuts to defense spending”. . . . “If the tax side is contradictory, the spending side is simply fuzzy — it depends on the vaguest of generalities. It calls for the government to ‘encourage greater economic growth’ and ‘spend health-care dollars more efficiently.’ That is government by platitude.”(Underscoring Forum’s.)

The American Enterprise Institute’s Marc Thiessen in today’s Washington Post reveals “The Gang of Six’s $3 Trillion Tax Hike” —

“When normal people judge what constitutes a tax increase, they compare what they will pay tomorrow to what they are paying today. If that number goes up, it’s a tax increase. That is not how the Gang of Six did its tax calculations. The Gang of Six’s assumptions are based on current law, not current policy. Big difference. Current policy assumes Americans will continue to pay what they are paying right now. Current law assumes that, over the next decade, taxes will go up by some $4.5 trillion dollars because of tax cut expirations. The Gang of Six reduces this $4.5 trillion tax increase by $1.5 trillion — and calls it a tax cut. But the practical result is really a $3 trillion tax increase over what Americans pay today.”

And for those who would prefer to get their analysis from a Republican pillar, here (video) is senator Jeff Sessions, ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee

The Tea Party People: Why Shouldn’t They Be Angry?”

The myth that the Gang of Six outline is a concrete plan with $4 trillion in deficit reduction: ‘My staff on the Budget Committee, taking the summary pages that they’ve produced for us, can only find $1.2 trillion in reduced spending in that outline, along with what is clearly a $1 trillion tax increase. Where does the other $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction claimed in the outline come from?'”

What did Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions say about our fiscal fix?

“When this kind of leadership has occurred in the Congress of the United States of America, it is utterly, totally indefensible — it should never, ever have happened.”

Conservatives should hear the entire Sessions video.

But the good Mr. Wolf is a big-government Republican, and he is — and has been — a part of the Beltway GOP Establishment.

In our May 14 post “Does Appropriator Frank Wolf Seek A Taxing Bargain?” we summarized

“Some Highlights of the Wolf Spending Record”

“We vividly recall Dan Mitchell’s warning in 2003 that the House-of-Representatives-embellished Medicare Prescription Drug Act would jeopardize the Bush tax cuts.  Mr. Wolf along with most (but not all, Mike Pence for example) Republicans supported that measure.  (To apportion paternity equitably for the Medicare Prescription Drug Act, Mr. Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform failed to put a spoke in the wheel of that major entitlement expansion so important to the Bush White House.)  Frank Wolf also voted for an expansion of the costly SCHIP program during the opening days of the Obama Administration; he had earlier voted to override then president George Bush’s veto.  (See our A Rush to Government Medicine: SCHIP and the ‘Stimulus.’ ) Mr. Wolf also voted for No Child Left Behind. He voted for the TARP bill in 2008, although one wouldn’t know it from his current anti-deficit rhetoric. Just last month, he voted against the tougher (even than Ryan) Republican Study Committee (Garrett) version of the FY2012 Budget Resolution.”

“Mr. Wolf expresses concern about the supposed Grover Norquist opposition to getting rid of the ‘ethanol subsidy’ in his Thursday Washington Post op-ed. But in 2007 Wolf voted for the final version of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 which mandates ethanol use. In fairness, Wolf’s op-ed was referring to a dispute over what constitutes a tax hike. But he is using the properly criticized ethanol program as a sympathetic back drop. Consequently readers should be aware of Wolf’s vote for the ethanol mandate. Here are the final 2007 Senate and House votes. Here is our take from 2008: Senate Energy Expert: ‘Dramatic’ Action to Fix Ethanol Mess, where GOP Senator James Inhofe slams the 2007 ethanol mandate.”

Senator Jeff Sessions:
“We’ve got a battle over the vision for the future of America.”

 

Mr. Wolf’s positions were rarely if ever publicly questioned by the local GOP Establishment. He can accurately say that he spoke for the movers and shakers of Loudoun County. Consequently they now share responsibility for the actions he took in expanding the Federal (and by derivation) the local role of government.

The only remaining question is whether any grass-roots conservative groups in his Congressional district have emerged with sufficient grit and wit effectively to call Mr. Wolf to account and bring him to a better mind.

Stay tuned.

* * * * *

UPDATE! Michael Hammond, former General Counsel of the Senate Steering Committee, spells out “Thirty Problems with the ‘Gang of Six’ Proposal.”

 

Common Defense &Virginia politics Richard Falknor on 11 Apr 2011

Virginia’s 87th District: Who Is David Ramadan?

SCROLL TO BOTTOM FOR UPDATES! Did the Loudoun Times’ John Geddie attend the same April 14 Leesburg meeting As VAST’s Jim Lafferty? Will voters ever get Mr. Ramadan’s detailed perspective on how Shariah relates to the US Constitution and our traditional liberties?

* * * * *

David Ramadan is running for delegate to the Virginia General Assembly in the proposed 87th District, located principally in Loudoun County, and also in two precincts in Prince William County.

And Grover Norquist is coming to highlight Mr. Ramadan’s political debut next Thursday.

Mr. Ramadan came to our attention last August as a Muslim Republican very upset that some of his fellow Republicans opposed the building of a large mosque near Ground Zero in New York City.

You can read his position in Brian Beutler’s post “GOP Muslims Fear Failure Of Bush Outreach Efforts After Anti-Mosque Furor” in TPMDC last August 18–

“After winning nearly 80 percent of the Muslim vote in 2000, George Bush bled much of it away in the post 9/11 era. The war in Iraq, the PATRIOT Act, detainment and other policies drove at least half of that support to John Kerry and third party candidates in 2004. But all the while, several influential Muslim Republicans, both inside the administration and out, were working hard to staunch the bleeding and build a donor base among wealthy members of the Muslim community.

Today, several of them say that their efforts are being undermined, if not completely destroyed, by Republicans stoking anti-Muslim sentiment by opposing the construction of the Cordoba House — now known infamously and inaccurately as the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’.

‘We’ve been working hard, some Muslim Americans, some non-Muslims, to keep the Muslim American community and other minorities on the party side, to keep relationships going,’ says David Ramadan, a Vice Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. ‘All of that is threatened to be thrown down the drain.'” . . . “Ramadan echoed a sentiment that conservative activist Grover Norquist shared with Slate: in Norquist’s words, ‘Republicans will lose Jewish votes by focusing on a mosque in New York…. You’re going to lose Jewish votes, Indian votes, Buddhist votes. Every member of a minority group looks at a situation like this and says, oh, the people hitting this minority will eventually start hitting me.’”

A Giving Man

Whatever his views, Mr. Ramadan is a generous man politically.  On August 11, 2008 he gave $ 10,000 to the McDonnell for Governor campaign and another $10,000 September 30, 2009.  He also gave a total of $2,850 to the Loudoun County Republican Party in 2008 and 2009 Click here for the appropriate Virginia Public Access Project links. Also listed here and here are five [corrected to six] General Assembly candidates to whom Mr. Ramadan made contributions.

Appointed to George Mason Board of Visitors

Virtue, as we all know, is its own reward. But governor Bob McDonnell apparently wanted to recruit Mr. Ramadan’s talents for the Commonwealth, and appointed him to the Board of Visitors of George Mason University last July 1.

So Where is David Ramadan on Shariah and the Constitution?

Many conservatives though not all Republicans are concerned about the threat of Shariah to our liberties and constitutional freedoms.  As former Reagan defense aide Frank Gaffney explains – –

“Suddenly, it seems, everyone is talking about Shariah. In particular, growing controversies over proposed mosques at ground zero and other sites are becoming powerful ‘teaching moments’ – raising awareness about the repressive theo-political-military-legal doctrine that animates the builders and that their fellow adherents seek to impose on the entire world. Unfortunately, too many Americans remain unaware of the magnitude of the danger we face from Shariah. Worse yet, their ability to comprehend this threat, let alone respond appropriately to it, is being disserved by people who know better – or should.

Readers can click here for a link to the introduction to the deeply researched “Shariah, the Threat to America” published by the Center for Security Policy.

However anti-tax-hike voice Grover Norquist, Mr. Ramadan’s “special guest” on Thursday, does knows where he is on Shariah.

Potomac Tea Party Report declares “Norquist: Islam completely compatible with US Constitution….and calls anyone who disagrees Islamophobic!”

“Grover Norquist (head honcho and really sole founder and sole operative at Americans for Tax Reform) continued to create controversy and chaos at the Conservative Political Action Conference meeting in Washington, DC this week by giving an interview to the far Left George Soros media outlet Think Progress.*

 

If you are a new reader, please read my earlier posts on the controversy, here and here.

This is the report from Think Progress about what Norquist said to continue to fan the flames on the subject of whether there is an Islamist influence on, or infiltration of, the Republican Party (kind of makes you wonder whose side Norquist is on because when you call someone an Islamophobe it’s tantamount to stirring controversy, trying to shut people up, and certainly not keeping the party together)…”

We suggest readers read the entire Think Progress report for themselves.

From our perspective, the subject here is really Political Islam.

Last February 13 in our Who’s Afraid of Grover? How Many Eminent Conservatives? we wrote —

“Yesterday at CPAC 2011, David Horowitz gave us chapter and verse on what he terms ‘Political Islam’ and its penetration into the conservative movement, the GOP, and our civic institutions. Here is that video. Stay with the video until the middle where long-time conservative publisher and campus reformer Horowitz discusses Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan.”

Grover Norquist is Mr. Ramadan’s heavy-hitting GOP endorser.

Our sources, moreover, tell us that Mr. Ramadan is well regarded in the Virgina GOP community.

But whatever Mr. Norquist’s take, voters will want to have Mr. Ramadan’s own views on more than the “Ground Zero Mosque” — certainly his thoughtful perspective on how Shariah law relates to the U.S. Constitution.

This requires an informed answer in spite of Grover Norquist’s dismissive comments.

And a broader question follows: Do northern Virginia Republican voters see Shariah as a serious concern?

* * * * *

UPDATES: Did the Loudoun Times’ John Geddie attend the same April 14 Leesburg meeting As VAST’s Jim Lafferty?

Jim Lafferty emailed his report “Last Night in Loudoun” on “candidate night” last evening at the LCRC (readers can see Lafferty’s entire report via “Atlas Shrugs” here).  Some Lafferty excerpts:

“It was candidate night at the Loudoun County Republican Central Committee.

‘Conservative’, pro-Ground Zero Megamosque House candidate David Ramadan showed up with his entourage. He had a guy with a camera snapping pictures and bumping into some of our people until the police told him to stop it.

Ramadan is an associate of . . . Grover Norquist.

Grover was at an invitation only announcement at a Leesburg restaurant but he didn’t come to the central committee meeting.

Ramadan made a long and rambling announcement speech in which he accused critics of the Ground Zero mosque of being anti-Constitutional. Allow me to give you the main points — he is proud of America and he likes the Constitution a lot. He did a huge amount of name-dropping about all the big name Republicans (McCain, McDonnell, Keith Fimian, George Allen, Frank Wolf) he knows, but he made a big mistake – he mentioned Grover Norquist and loud boos filled the standing room only crowded hearing room.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

Loudoun Time’s John Geddie writes today in his “Mini-protest doesn’t damper [sic] Ramadan campaign announcement”– –

“A familiar face in Loudoun GOP circles and campaigns, David Ramadan could well expect rousing support for his House of Delegate candidacy. However, a small number of protestors displayed signs outside the April 14 Loudoun County Republican Committee meeting voicing their concerns about Ramadan’s background and supposed beliefs.”

Read Geddie’s entire article here.

EARLIER UPDATES: ANTI-SHARIAH TASK FORCE COMING TO LCRC THURSDAY; DICK BLACK ENDORSES JO-ANN CHASE IN 87TH DISTRICT RACE.
  • Jim Lafferty of the Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force emails “Here is the time and location of the Loudon County Republican Central Committee meeting where Grover Norquist will appear to announce the candidacy of David Ramadan for the 87th District House of Delegates seat. Please be there around 7 p.m. and bring a sign. Date/time: Apr 14, 2011 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm Loudoun County Government Center.Board of Supervisors Room 1 Harrison St, Leesburg, VA 20175.
  • Dick Black emails that “I have endorsed Joann Chase, who is running against Ramadan.”

Fiscal Policy &Virginia politics Richard Falknor on 28 Jan 2011

Fiscal Experts Rate Maryland and Virginia Governors

UPDATE JANUARY 31! Manhattan Institute (MI) senior fellow E.J. McMahon in the New York Post reports – – “On the eve of what could be the biggest state budget showdown ever in New York, Gov. Cuomo has taken a big step toward delivering on the single most important promise he made to taxpayers in his successful 2010 campaign.On Friday, Cuomo sent the state Legislature a bill capping the annual growth in local property-tax levies at 2 percent a year or the inflation rate, whichever is less. The bill was promptly introduced by the Senate majority leader, Dean Skelos (R-LI), and seems likely to pass in that house as soon as today.”. . . . “For the first time, New Yorkers in most school districts outside New York City would have the ability not only to cap growth in property taxes but also to freeze the levy from one year to the next.” Read the entire McMahon article. If enacted, Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo would give many New York state voters some effective elements of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights before either Maryland or Virginia voters gained similar powers.

* * * * * * * * * *

Under the respected Manhattan Institute umbrella, Public Sector Inc. (PSI) has this week published their “Experts Rate the Governors” which they explain is

“. . . a series of short articles. PSI contributors and guests evaluate what governors are saying about public employee issues in their State of the State addresses. This week we’ve rated eight governors, mostly in the northeast, plus Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York City.”

Here are analysts Eileen Norcross on Maryland, and Joseph Henchman on Virginia. (Click on state names for entire evaluation.)

Maryland

“Despite all the ‘cutting’ from the projected budget baseline, the budget is slated to grow by 3 percent in FY 2012. And the Governor continues to rely on fiscal sleight of hand–moving money to the general fund from the capital budget, and replacing capital funds with new bond issues–a maneuver that will fill $251 million of Maryland’s budget gap. While these small reforms to the state’s pension system are a move in the right direction, they don’t go far enough. Maryland’s pension shortfall isn’t the $19 billion it officially reports; using honest accounting, it’s several times larger, with the system slated to run out of assets by 2024. While bolder reforms are needed, O’Malley has taken a move to defined-contribution pension benefits off the table. O’Malley’s budget is the archetype of an effort to ‘muddle through’ with a patchwork of narrow cuts and accounting gimmicks, instead of real reform to unsustainable compensation practices. As a result, O’Malley earns a grade of D.”

Virginia

“Bob McDonnell came into office in Virginia at the same time as Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey. Conventional wisdom at the time was that McDonnell would achieve great things while Christie would be crippled by an opposing Democratic legislature. Somehow, the opposite has happened: Christie has risen on the national stage after remarkable achievements in his state, while McDonnell has struggled to play a much easier hand in a fiscally conservative manner. Republican legislators have already begun criticizing the pension underfunding, along with plans to borrow against future transportation receipts and to reallocate sales tax revenues. McDonnell’s plans outlined in his speech consequently may have a tough time winning approval. Altogether: C.”

And don’t miss the Josh Barro-moderated podcast on four states: New York, Michigan, Washington, and New Jersey.

Faithful readers know we have written at some length about the “getting and spending” policies of Maryland and Virginia governors — most recently here and here — from a conservative perspective.  

Of course, we shall continue to track these crucial matters — but this evening we wanted you to have the “right take” from the experts for your weekend consideration!





Tea Parties &Virginia politics Richard Falknor on 22 Sep 2010

Who’s Excluded from VA Tea Party Convention Top Lineup?

UPDATE OCTOBER 8! “George Allen preps for 2012 Senate bid” reports Politico (via NRO’s Kathryn Jean Lopez) —  “But Allen’s path to the GOP nomination wouldn’t necessarily be wide open. Allen could also face a primary challenge from a more conservative Republican candidate, according to Virginia GOP operatives.”

 * * * * *

“‘We don’t need a lot of Jim DeMint disciples,’ Lott said in an interview. ‘As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them.'”    (Underscoring Forum’s.)

Anita Kumar in her Washington Post article yesterday “Va. plans tea party convention; McDonnell among top officials to attend” reports – –

“Virginia’s top three elected officials, including Republican Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, will speak at the state’s first ‘tea party’ convention next month, a sign that the grass-roots movement has grown in strength and popularity. About 3,000 people are expected to attend the event Oct. 8-9 in Richmond, just three weeks before the midterm elections. “

Kumar continues – –

McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) will participate on a panel about reforming state government, while Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) and former governor George Allen will speak about federalism.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

But where is delegate Bob Marshall on the top lineup?

Marshall has been widely recognized nationally for the enactment of his Virginia legislation to resist Obamacare.  Marshall is also well known in Virginia for his successful suit which led to the voiding of unconstitutional Virginia taxes.  He is competent as a legislator, he masters the murky details of policy, he is outspoken, not just on values matters, but on fiscal integrity, he is innovative, he is his own man  – – everything likely to make him toxic to many in the Richmond GOP Establishment.  Even worse, he has worked with Tea Partiers from the start!


Yes, Bob Marshall will be at the convention
but not with star billing. He will be speaking at two break-out sessions at the Tea Party gathering thanks to the timely intervention of the “Take Our Country Back PAC.”

Why is Marshall excluded from top billing?  Because this “Tea Party” group apparently favors one likely, if government-expanding, U.S. Senate candidate, George Allen, over another, Bob Marshall. Of course, both should have prominent billing. Their solution to the Marshall “problem”?  If he can’t be made to disappear, marginalize him.

And what about all the rest of us in the Tea Party movement: will Marshall be only the first Virginia conservative to run afoul of such top-down Tea Party “orthodoxy”? Is his exclusion our canary in the mine?

One might expect this kind of maneuvering from the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV), but from those who sail under the Tea Party flag? 

Staff writer Kumar quotes convention organizer and sometime Allen aide Jamie Radtke:

“This is a whole segment of the population that has been disengaged,” she said. “We want to educate and motivate.”

We believe Mrs. Radtke has got it backward.  The people she condescendingly calls this “segment of the population,” the paying attendees, should be the ones who “educate and motivate” many of the politicians with top billing – – – and maybe even Mrs. Radtke.

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