When the Rhetoric Doesn’t Hit The Road

By John Fredericks

Conservatives who are deriding Virginia’s pending transportation compromise are peddling a delusional response to a landmark transportation reform package that is finally aimed at addressing the Commonwealth’s economic crippling 30-year transportation crisis.

The failure to find and fund a serious solution to our roads and traffic congestion dilemma is threatening the entire long-term financial stability of Virginia.

If we don’t fund at least $1-2 billion per year in infrastructure improvements that include major capital investments in new roads, bridges and tunnels, we’ll repel new business growth, force companies out of the state, lose mammoth port business opportunities from the widening of the Panama Canal, and jeopardize the Navy’s Norfolk aircraft carrier base contingent.

The result: we’ll eventually bankrupt the state due to declining job growth and a shrinking economic pie. This will make sequestration look like child’s play by comparison.

But logic has trumped sound reason for some otherwise sober conservatives who are caught up in the knee-jerk amen corner of the right-wing Grover Norquist typecast ideologue fringe.

Press releases and e-mail posts have filled cyberspace with brazen rhetoric accusing anyone who is considering this deal a RINO, a liberal — or in the words of some – being against the federalist papers and dismissing James Madison, abandoning the U.S. Constitution, dishing George Washington, and even selling out to Vladimir Lenin.

These sound bites about “no new taxes” and “Republicans sold out” might be politically expedient, but they defy political reality, deny logic and decry common sense.

You can’t fund $2 billion per year from the general fund when we have a divided government.

Leadership requires tough choices in crisis.

Bottom line: we can do this conservative alpha chest beating all day long — it might get you a booking on Fox News or a quote in the Daily Caller — but it doesn’t address the real problem at hand.

This is not a perfect bill. It has some major flaws, like the fact that it does not legally mandate a transportation lock-box for the funds. Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) will have an opportunity to reconcile some of that when, and if, it gets to his desk.

House of Delegates Speaker William Howell (R) said on our radio show on February 21 that he has the 51 votes necessary for the deal to pass the House.

The bill’s fate is in the hands of an evenly divided state senate.

I commend the governor for displaying the guts and exemplifying the necessary political courage to force a real solution in this general assembly session.

Those who are opposed need to forward a specific plan of his or her own — that has a realistic chance of becoming law — or ratchet down the rhetorical discourse.

Denial of this compromise is economic suicide for short-term “feel good” political gain.

I advocate passage of this bill. We need to fix our roads now and we have to pay for it.

Companies will no longer locate to this state or expand their current operations without a comprehensive transportation plan.

It’s taken 30 years. We can’t lose another 30 days.

John Fredericks is syndicated radio talk show host in Baltimore, Md., Washington, D.C., and Virginia and can be heard M-F 6-9 a.m. on WTNT –AM 730 & 102.9FM in D.C., WLEE AM 990 in Richmond, WHKT AM 1650 in Tidewater and WBRG AM 1050 & 104.5 FM in Lynchburg – Roanoke or streaming online at www.thejohnfredericksshow.com. The opinions expressed in sponsored posts are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Virginia Line Media, LLC or its officers.

  • “defy political reality, deny logic and decry common sense.” Hmm. Logic: budget has exploded, surpluses have been spent, and spending has far outpaced inflation and population growth. Reality: the state legislature never gives money to traffic alleviation projects or road maintenance. Common sense: if the legislature refuses to spend money it collects and has the ability to spend on roads, you change the people in the legislature – you don’t go whining to the taxpayer saying…but..but…but we have no money! (When you spent it all on something else despite the fact you say roads are so important).

  • Loudoun GOPer

    Hey, John. Instead of bashing Conservatives for not wanting to turn over billions more in taxes to a government which already is proposing to spend over $40 Billion a year, why don’t you bash the Rino’s who refuse to prioritize transportation and fund that 1-2 Billion a year out of what they already take from us???

    I know for a fact that Senate Republicans were presented a transportation plan that would raise almost as much revenue as the Governor’s plan, but did not raise a single dime in taxes, and it was rejected by Rino’s in the caucus who just couldn’t conceive of shifting money from the General Fund to transportation.

    So again, Mr. Fredericks, why is your anger only directed toward those elected officials who actually stand up for Republican principles, instead of the ones that vote like Democrats?

    • HI Louden, no anger here, just common sense. We need to fix our roads, and Virginia has a divided government. The rhetoric is entertaining, but the fact of the matter is the General Assembly has not passed comprehensive transportation reform since 1986 — going on three decades. You made my point – the other proposals have died on the vine. Time is running out…

      • Sisyphus

        Divided government? Between Republicans and Republicans and Republicans? Or are you suggesting that Lt. Gov. Bolling is somehow sawed in half? And maybe a lockbox? Permanent tax increases to solve temporary problems? Or my favorite proposal, indexing the gas tax to gas prices so that consumers can get socked with soaring gas prices and taxes in the same instant. Nothing like kicking a taxpayer when he’s down, maybe grind his face in the pavement some.

        Pffft. The slightest exercise of common sense shows this is a bad deal for Virginians.

      • Loudoun GOPer

        ” peddling a delusional response…”

        “caught up in the knee-jerk amen corner of the right-wing Grover Norquist typecast ideologue fringe…”

        “we can do this conservative alpha chest beating all day long…”

        Sure, John. No anger, there. No bashing to speak of.

        “You made my point – the other proposals have died on the vine.”

        No, John, You have made my point. I told you that Republicans Senators rejected a plan to fund transportation without raising taxes. Your response is not to attack them as being delusional, knee-jerk tax raisers, but to simply shrug it off as another failed proposal.

        You reserve your criticism for the Republicans who reject the call of ever increasing taxes under the guise of “we have to abandon fiscal sanity now or else the sky will fall!”

        You seem to forget that we have heard this all before. Today we need to raise taxes for transportation. Tomorrow we will need to raise taxes to fund the medicaid expansion the Governor is considering. The day after that we will have to raise taxes to fund education again (that crisis comes around every four or five years).

        Every time it will be a crisis, and every time Conservatives who stand up and say that we need to make choices with the money we have will be vilified as ideological neanderthals.

        It is a tired old story and we are tired of listening to it.

    • The answer is apparently that, although Bearing Drift claims to be “Virginia’s Conservative Voice”, the only BD author that is actually conservative is Tim Donner.

  • Raising taxes isn’t a tough choice – it’s the avoidance of making tough choices.

    A tough choice is deciding what you want to do without in order to get what you want and still live within your means.

    Once again, government grows at the expense of the people and fauxpublicans cheer it on as a practical solution to a problem.

    • Raising taxes is a tough choice, and one that isn’t favored. Increased taxes do not necessarily mean an increase in the size of government. I get tired of folks using th tired old “unwilling to make tough choices” line when they aren’t identifying cuts they’d make to match the revenue needed.

      • ” Increased taxes do not necessarily mean an increase in the size of government.”

        There you go again.

        (Is there some way I can embed a facepalm image in my post?)

  • pinecone321

    John Fredericks, you are a drama queen. You post just as the liberals do when they want what they want. Make it all sound as though the sky is going to fall on the state of VA. if we don’t do what you think, along with the liberals, we ought to do. And dammit do it now. No surprise there. The Bill Bolling doctrine and manifesto.

  • DJRippert

    Let’s start with the gas tax. Frozen in cents per gallon at 1986 rates. The buying power of that tax goes down every year. It is an annual tax cut. From that simple fact most of our transportation problems spring.

    There have been multiple attempts to index the gas tax to inflation. All made by Democrats. All rejected by Republicans. Indexing a tax to inflation is not a tax hike. It is accounting for inflation. If you don’t understand that, ask yourself how happy you’d be today if you were earning your salary from 1986. The RPV’s unwillingness or inability to understand inflation is what caused this crisis.

    Republican Bob McDonnell is the man fixing this crisis. So, it’s fair to say that the Republicans are fixing the mess they made.

    Is the plan perfect? Hardly. It’s barely adequate. However, it is a whole lot better than doing nothing.

    Cuccinelli has opposed the program but has no specific idea what to do instead. McAuliffe supports the program even though it was pushed by a Republican governor. That’s the difference between the actors in this saga. McDonnell and McAuliffe: Men of actions. Cuccinelli: a man of words.

    Virginia needs men of action.

    • Loudoun GOPer

      Since this plan will most likely pass with Democrat votes and get signed into law, do we have to wait five years or so for the money to be wasted, or an equal amount of money siphoned away from the transportation trust fund and spent on education, social welfare programs, etc.. and for traffic to keep getting worse to say “we told you raising taxes again wouldn’t solve the problem” or can we just get right to it?

      • Loudoun – I say why wait too? If we pass this, let’s ditch the charade and just raise the wholesale gas tax to equal 17.5-cents on the gallon, as it does now. We’re just going to hear politicians in the future claim that this tax is the lowest of any gas tax of neighboring states and the lowest it’s been for more than three decades!

        • George from Cleveland

          Feed the beast, in action

          Decentralization, is the answer

          • you got that right… now try applying the principle to foreign policy, you might be surprised where it takes you

          • George from Cleveland

            Decentralize? To allow Russia and China their own sphere’s of influence?


          • Russia and China will have their spheres of influence due to economic realities, and no amount of military power can change that. Russia will soon be the #1 oil producer and China is already the #1 manufacturer. Had we taken care of business here at home like we should have instead of wasting blood and treasure abroad, we would have been #1 in both by this time.

    • EricMcGrane

      Where was McDonnell’s action on Obamacare? Oh yeah, that was Ken’s action. VA *does* need men of action…and already has one in Ken.

      I GUESS you could call a new tax slush fund “action”…..sure.

      • What action? File a lawsuit that gets thrown out at the 4th Circuit? There is no reason to be blaming any state officials for Obamacare.

  • Walmart is famous for asking their suppliers to reduce their prices by 5%, or the supplier would loose their business.
    We should expect no less from Richmond.
    5% of a bloated $40+ billion budget is more than enough to fix our roads.

  • The ultra rhetoric coming from the “grassroots” on this issue is just another display of the behavior that is driving businessmen and Main Street, former diehard Republican constituencies, into the arms of “pro-business” Democrats like Warner and Kaine.

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