Tuesday, March 29, 2005

You Have To Know What Team To Root For

The beauty of being a sports fan is that it is always easy to root for your team. Whether you pull for Purdue, IU, or Notre Dame, for the Pacers, the Colts, or the Komets, you’ll root for the team wearing the right colors, no matter what players are wearing them.

That’s important, because players come and go. College teams completely turn over every four years. Colts fans have been pretty lucky in that the high-flying offensive nucleus of Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, and Edgerrin James has been powering an exciting team together for six seasons.

Five years down the road, the blue and white could become a defensive juggernaut. A problem for Colts fans? No way- they will be thrilled and will cheer the Colts, hopefully to a Super Bowl victory. It doesn’t matter who is on the team or how the game is played. As long as your team wins, you’re happy.

That’s a fair summation of Hoosier politics these days, too.

For 16 years, faithful Hoosier Republicans had been pulling for their team in the hopes of an electoral Super Bowl victory. For 16 years, the Democrats retained the governor’s office, even while slowly losing their grip on the legislature. Finally, this past November, the GOP won all the trophies, with Mitch Daniels elected governor, and a Republican majority in both statehouse chambers.

Republicans were ecstatic- at first. But, just eight days after his inaugural, Daniels used the platform of the State of the State address to announce his support for a temporary tax hike on Hoosiers earning $100,000 or more.

Republicans in the club seating were stunned by the move. While there is nothing quite so permanent as a temporary tax increase, they swallowed hard and cheered, but because they support their team, and their team is in charge!

The Indiana Constitution requires the state’s budget to be balanced. This posed the new governor with a challenge, as the outgoing government left Daniels with a $600 million deficit. The quickest way to erase a deficit is to cut spending, and with Daniels earning the nickname ‘The Blade’ while on President Bush’s staff, this seemed like a lock. However, Daniels’ budget would have spent $1 billion more than with the previous budget. The two highest percentage increase items? Teacher retirement up 73%, and something called ‘general government’ up 29%. Hmm.

Well, Daniels is just the quarterback, and he’s a rookie. Why dwell on him when the Republicans have a whole team of players on this winning team to idolize?

Early in the legislative session, Senator Beverly Gard (R-Greenfield) authored a tax on food and beverages. Not to be outdone, Representatives Tom Saunders (R-Lewisville) and Matt Whetstone (R-Brownsburg) co-authored two bills that would tax food and beverages. Republicans leaving their seats thought about heading for the concession stand after the first quarter, but then chose to mill around the hallway instead.

Representative Timothy Brown (R-Crawfordsville) authored a bill giving the green light to counties to raise taxes on gasoline from 4 to 8 cents per gallon. Jeff Espich (R-Uniondale) introduced another gas tax bill, but with a tax per mile formula that makes the tax specific to your vehicle. Senator John Waterman (R-Shelburn) has even written a bill that would forbid retailers from selling gasoline at below cost. If someone wants to sell gasoline at a loss right now, I want to declare him a hero, not send the Attorney General after him. Can we go back to the huddle?

Politics and sports goes together so well that Peyton Manning stopped by the Statehouse and threw passes to the lawmakers. Soon afterwards, several Republican lawmakers forwarded a game plan of tax packages in support a new stadium for the Colts. Reps Luke Messer (R-Shelbyville), Michael Murphy (R-Indianapolis), and Ways and Means Chairman Espich all issued plans that combined taxes and gambling. Senator Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) offered yet another plan, minus the gambling, but including taxes on most service industries in Marion County. Not one of them thought of leadership as using the prestige of their office to bring prospective investors together to create a private investment. All went straight for tax packages.

When the fiscal conservative looks at the GOP team in their uniforms, they will see that the familiar elephant logo is there, but the Gipper’s government-off-my-back players are on the sidelines. Those are the Libertarians.

Governing is not sports. When governing, the policy is far more important that the colors the winning team is wearing. If you are a fiscal conservative, what is the point in continuing to back the Republican Party? The GOP has run the ball to the wrong end zone and scored a safety for the Democrats.

1 comment:

Todd S. said...

One thing that I'm interested in about Daniels' tax on 100k: Is it for individuals or households? The way I've seen it described, it's on anyone who will have a gross income of more than 100k in 2005. I have a feeling that means a lot of Hoosiers will choose to file as Married/Separately instead of Married/Jointly in 2005. And this will lead to yet another bogus revenue prediction since politicians don't seem to learn that people do things for their own benefit, and not the benefit of politicians.