Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Gas Tax

If you want to see my blood boil, just send me some a news story or show me a clip from Iowa Press of a Republican in the state legislature agreeing to raise the gas tax if their Democrat counterparts decide to act on the issue. While I agree that one of the purposes of state government is to invest public infrastructure, state government also must realize that raising taxes or fees during the current economic crisis is risky, especially when you realize that the state raised motor vehicle fees just last year to help pay for our infrastructure needs.

I love to hear how some legislators think an eight to ten cent increase per gallon is really no big deal. Some suggest that it would only cost Iowa’s another $50 bucks a year give or take. I think that number is low, and I choose to resist the government incrementally taking more of my money. Maybe our elected officials should look at what the DNR just did; they took fee increases off of the table for the time being because of the economy. The same should be done with the gas tax.

The most frustrating thing in regard to this issue is the lack of discipline on the Republican side. State Representative Dave Tjepkes, the top Republican on the House Transportation committee is for the increase, as is House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen. Paulsen is employed by a large trucking firm in Cedar Rapids, CRST who want to see the increase in the gas tax. Trucking companies prefer paying gas taxes for road improvements over vehicle registration fees because it’s easier for them to pass on the cost of fuel to their customers.

Another group that is surprisingly silent on the issue is Iowans for Tax Relief. One would think that a large organization like them would at least weigh in on the issues. Their silence on the gas tax may have something to do with Scott Newhard, the VP of Public Affairs for the Associated General Contractors of Iowa, and Scott Weiser, a long time lobbyist for the trucking industry, both serve on ITR’s board of directors.

Let me paint a quick picture why this issue is a loser for Republicans.

First, when the Democrats insist that any increase in the gas tax has to be a bipartisan effort, be weary. If increasing the gas tax was such good public policy the Democrats who have majorities in both chambers and occupy the governor’s office would simply whisk the legislation through.

Maybe our leaders in the House should call up Jamie Van Fossen and Dan Rassmussen and ask them if the hint of their willingness to increase the gas tax affected their failed reelection attempts. The senate should do the same with Mark Zieman, maybe they could go talk to him about it at an Iowa Motor Truck board meeting just down the street. Zieman is their chairman.

In the 2008 elections the Democrats showed us that they could beat incumbents who supported higher gas taxes, yet many of our Republican legislators seem willing to march straight into the trap. They need to wake up. Iowa Democrats are not interested in passing good public policy for our state, they are simply just interested in getting reelected and keeping their majorities. Republicans supporting the gas tax will just help them achieve this goal.

What we have on the Democrat side is the classic good cop vs. bad cop. The bad cops are guys like Gronstal, Murphy, and McCarthy whom all represent solid Democrat districts. They are going to be very public in their support of increasing the gas tax and will pass the legislation in both chambers. This is music to the ears for trucking companies, road builders, unions, and other contractors meaning the money will flow into their campaign coffers. The good cop, Chet Culver who has already publicly said he opposes the gas tax increase due to the economy. Culver, the populist, will veto the bill and run for reelection using the line, “When Republicans and some in my own party wanted to raise gas taxes during this economic crisis, I said no!” Meanwhile the bad cops will be out there running anti-gas candidates against our Republican incumbents who supported it.

Trust me, if Republicans help pass the gas tax we will continue to lose seats in both chambers, and Chet Culver will be reelected. This is just another case where Republicans are failing to win the debate on the fiscal issues.


  1. Looks like David Tjepkes may need a primary to shape him up a bit.

    He's off the reservation!

    Any good R's from Jefferson ready to step up?

  2. Thank you Krusty! We are the party with the better ideas and in order to start winning we need to adhere to them. Raising the gas tax? Really?

  3. I think anonymous bloggers should shut the fuck up. If you don't have the guts to stand behind your ideas then go back to your job as Bruce Rastetter's errand boy and let the grown ups talk about politics.

  4. Anonymous posters with phony names to get through are dildos.

  5. I know. Like Crusty Conservative. Sack up, dildo.

  6. "Paul" and "old Alfie" are'nt anonymous?

  7. Thanks "Paul"

    I'm sorry I didn't display the dirty laundry you want aired. Or I'm sorry is exposing how Iowa Republicans and special interest groups who fight for Tax relief refuse to fight this one. And remember, that it was the anonymous writings of some of our founders that lead to our independence.

  8. That's a typical cop out for anonymous bloggers... oh, I mean Kop out.

  9. Paul,

    You seem to have plenty of time. Maybe you should start your own blog which you can talk about me and everyone else you have a problem with. Heck, I'll include you on my blogroll.

    Can't wait to see it!

  10. Way to go, Krusty. You've once again dodged the point. Well done.

    You post anonymously because you want to be able to destroy people without repercussions. Just admit it. Don't hide behind "the anonymous writings of some of our founders that lead to our independence." What you do isn't going to get you hung, and it certainly isn't going to go down in history.

    You act like you're anonymity is noble. Trust me. It isn't. It's cowardice.

    Now, feel free to dodge some more, then turn off comments.

    And, btw, my name is Paul Tanner. I live in rural Boone County and am registered as a Republican. feel free to dig up what you can on me. I don't mind. Maybe you could offer me the same chance, Krusy?

  11. I am sure Krusty didn't pick the name "Krusty" to have a sedate board. Anonymity is less inhibiting and while that may cause things to be said that should not be said as personal attacks and lies "creep" in, sometimes the likely repercussions of not being anonymous are too much and truth is not served either. I think we are better served with the existence of some discussion boards not only providing contributors anonymity, but for the publisher as well.

    If he/she were known it would be just as likely that people would accuse him / her of being a flak for whatever. It would not stop the critics. Other blogs do not see it that way but they are probably more edited. If reasonable posts do not see the light of day because of editing then that would just be enforced anonymity.

    Krusty provides reportage and commentary to start the ball rolling. Like all of ours the publishers posts are opinion. They strike me as responsible and hard hitting. Like today's post calling to task Republicans on the gas task.

    Sorry to refer to you as a "he/she" Krusty, whoever you are.
    Roger Mall

  12. Iowa passing more gas taxes, cigarette taxes and alcohol taxes is a bonanza for those just across the border in Missouri. Stores can barely keep cigs in stock after Iowa raised their cig tax and because of the lack of a bottle/can deposit those same stores sell mountains of soft drinks and cheaper booze to Iowans. Add to that the umpteen thousand gallons of lower taxed gasoline and there is a massive drain of Iowa dollars going to Missouri.

    Spend a little time in a border convenience store/gas station. It's all out of state plates. Watch the register. The smallest purchases are 30 or 40 bucks. It isn't uncommon for people to fill their tanks and then walk out of the store with cases of smokes, pop and beer.

    Come june and july and people come across and not only buy their gas, pop, beer and cigs but they buy hundreds of dollars worth of fireworks.

    Entire towns exist in Missouri simply because of high Iowa taxes and they funnel millions of Iowan dollars into Missouri. Iowa lawmakers have never understood the economic realities of the border counties.

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