August 26, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Just say "no" to abuser fees

The editorial in yesterday's News Leader had a sharp retort to the proposed minor scaling back of the despised "abuser fees" passed by the General Assembly earlier this year: Don't waste time tinkering with an ill-begotten mess, just ditch the whole thing. The editorial goes on to pinpoint the root of the problem that gave rise to this ugly situation, and proposes a bold alternative:

Rather than pander to the Grover Norquist crowd and pull a smoke-and-mirrors puppet show about fees vs. taxes, just do the honest thing: raise the fuel tax so that everyone in Virginia and everyone passing through Virginia pays their fair, painless and shameless share of helping to fund transportation and road-building.

Their reference to Grover Norquist echoes the point I made on August 4: that the "abuser fees" are essentially a scam to raise revenues without violating the pledge taken by some legislators never to raise taxes. If there is a genuine, compelling public need for something (such as new roads or repaired bridges), there should be no shame or hesitation about providing adequate funding for it. But as long as our elected representatives are afraid to anger constituents who think that cheap gasoline is an American birthright, nothing much will change.

Run, John, run!

UPDATE: During his appearance on Meet the Press this morning, discussing Iraq war policy, Senator Warner said he will announce next month whether he plans to run for a sixth term as U.S. Senator from Virginia. I strongly hope he does run, because he is one of the dwindling number of courageous, independent-minded Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, but at age 80, he is certainly entitled to some well-deserved rest and relaxation.