I did an interview with a reporter for the New York Times this week and took a bit of a contrary position from many conservatives about this last election. You see, I don’t see it as a referendum in favor of a super-strong conservative agenda, much as I wish it were otherwise.
Indeed, the victories of 2014 weren’t like those of 1994’s Contract with America or 2010’s Rise of the Tea Party. Instead, Republicans just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
This was really more of an election that Democrats conceded – like Republicans did in 2006 – than of conservatism winning. So there simply isn’t a voter mandate to steer hard-right. That said…
There’s also no mandate to govern as moderates.
Name one Republican legislative or statewide candidate in Nevada who ran this year as a moderate, not a conservative.
Name one Republican who ran in 2014 – including Gov. Brian Sandoval and Sen. Moderate Mike Roberson – who ran on a platform of “Elect me and I’ll jack up your taxes.”
Name one Republican who ran in 2014 on a platform of “Elect me and I’ll explode government spending by $1 billion dollars.”
There ain’t any.
So while there may be no mandate to adopt everything on the wish list conservatives sent to Santa right after the November election, neither is there a mandate to deviate from core conservative principles of less government, lower taxes and greater individual liberty. If certain Republicans (hello, Sandoval and Roberson!) wanted to grow government and raise taxes they should have run on such a platform.
So while conservatives may not get the dramatic reductions in government and taxes we want in this coming legislative session, neither should the moderates get the dramatic increase in government and taxes they want in this coming session. Indeed, absent a true, unambiguous governing mandate by either side, the status quo is the way to go.
The Economic Forum estimates that taxpayers will provide the government an allowance of some $6.3 billion over the next biennium. Nevada’s government currently overspends around $6.7 billion – funded partially by a “temporary” tax hike package from 2009 in the neighborhood of $600 million that needs to finally have a stake driven through its cold, black heart this session.
So the plan of action should be to eliminate the “sunsets” and cut $400 million out of the budget.
Let’s start with rolling back every program the governor and legislators expanded over the last two sessions, and cancel all the new programs foolishly and recklessly adopted in the middle of the great recession. Including, if not especially, that Medicaid expansion foisted upon taxpayers by Sandoval.
Then rearrange the deck chairs. Set priorities.
If you want more money for education, fine. Let’s do it. But take the money from some other part of the budget that isn’t as important or isn’t a proper function of the government in the first place.
For example, why is the government providing roadside automobile service in competition with private operations such as AAA? Why are you and I paying to have a government employee change some poor schmuck’s flat tire or bring them a gallon of gas?
And then, if you really want additional revenue in the budget, do it through economic development.
For example, every one of us knows that legal recreational marijuana is going to pass overwhelmingly in Nevada if it goes on the ballot in 2016. Even those adamantly opposed to legalizing marijuana see that writing on the wall.
So why wait until 2017 to start collecting the millions and millions of dollars in tax revenue that we could begin spending as early as this coming July 1st? The Legislature should legalize it and tax the THC out of in the first 30 days of the session.
And if ever there was a time to re-open the debate and negotiations on Yucca Mountain, this is it.
Still not enough revenue? Then I suggest we embrace the notion that you get less of that which you tax and begin taxing welfare payments, food stamps, unemployment and government employee labor unions. For that, I just might be willing to break my Taxpayer Protection Pledge!
So let it be written; so let it be done.