It’s a classic trick to try to extort taxpayers, yet Bill Ritter and Colorado Democrats are acting as if we’re too naive to see it.
Mr. DNA at Rocky Mountain Right yesterday highlighted a story in the Denver Post where Ritter and other Democrat leaders made an absurd and startling revelation – blaming the Republicans (who are in the minority across the board) for the inability to move forward a transportation agenda:
“I feel like this conversation broke down around politics, that we tried to get the Republicans interested in looking at how we would put together different pots of money,” Ritter said. “We began our conversation very early in the session and could not get the Republican leadership to act on it at all.”
Senate President Peter Groff, D-Denver, said Democrats could never get Republicans to sign on to a plan.
“So, we are now just crossing our fingers and hoping a bridge doesn’t fall down between now” and January, when lawmakers can try again, he said.
What’s the problem? Well, if you go on to read the rest of the story, you’ll see the problem really is that some Democrat legislators (whose party has a 40-25 advantage in the House, and a 20-15 majority in the Senate) wouldn’t go along with Ritter’s plan, because it would have involved voting for a tax increase in an election year. So that’s the Republicans’ fault?
Mr. DNA hits the issue spot on:
Ritter’s blatant confession of his complete lack of leadership is stunning. Voters elected democrats overwhelmingly in 2006, giving them the governor’s office, the House, Senate, and Treasurers office. Somehow, even with their huge monopoly of power, the lack of a clear agenda on transportation is related to the Republican minority’s refusal to budge on negotiations.
It was well documented that the GOP’s Colorado Plus One plan could have gone a long way to fix our crumbling transportation system. The governor however was interested in nothing less that a fee and tax hike on the backs of Colorado citizens.
Newsflash to Ritter and CO: The voters elected you to lead, not to play politics with our state’s transportation system. If you are too afraid to advance your ideas in an election year, it is obvious that your ideas are terrible and you are lacking any vision or direction.
But that’s where the trick comes in. Bill Ritter and the Democrats act as if there was no room in their record $18 billion-plus budget to fix crumbling roads and bridges. Why? Classic bait and switch, points out my Independence Institute colleague Linda Gorman:
Colorado legislators say they want to fix the roads and cut health care costs. What they actually do is divert money from roads to increase health care costs.
This strategy is good for government but bad for people. It allows government and its fellow travelers to create new programs and to campaign for more tax money to support them. Government officials like having more tax money to spend, but they do not like to spend it on invisible maintenance. It is far more fun to promise new programs and spend time with stakeholders who are grateful that you helped them get their hands on other peopleâ€™s money.
Letting the infrastructure crumble also facilitates an implied threat: if citizens donâ€™t ante up by rescinding TABOR as House Speaker Andrew Romanoff wants, or by paying $100 more to register their cars, as Governor Ritter proposes, then they have brought falling pieces of highways or collapsing bridges on their own head.
Democrats can shift transportation money to other pet projects that win support from various special interests, while they can go back later and extort money from taxpayers with threats of crumbling roads and bridges. But if they didn’t spend the money on the high priority of infrastructure before, who is to believe that they’ll do it the next time, if we just promise to re-elect them?
While Bill Ritter avoided the responsible Republican plan to fix roads and bridges, hoping to throw the burden on taxpayers, some of his Democrat legislative colleagues got cold feet. And as a result, the Governor wants to blame the Republicans?
Bill Ritter and Colorado Democrats: cheap tactics and poor leadership.
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