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Buck Up, You Conservative Losers!

The Las Vegas Sun published a session wrap-up on Tuesday including “a scorecard of who won and who lost this session.” Two of particular interest…

WINNER: “Pete Goicoechea/Assembly Republicans”

I kid you not.

The Sun praises “Tax My Meat” Pete, who said last year that taxes would likely have to raised and then “held firm” on that position. The paper also applauded Goicoechea for flipping Gov. Sandoval the bird during most of the session and negotiating for tax hikes. The Sun further notes that while Assembly Republicans ended up “unsatisfied” with the reforms (bag of magic beans) they got in return for selling out on tax hikes, “Senate Republicans came around to their position.”

OK, that last part isn’t exactly true.

The ONLY reason a minority (4 out of 10) of Senate Republicans came around to negotiating an extension of the sunsets for reforms is because Gov. Sandoval reversed course on extending the sunsets. Assembly Republicans had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with those four Senate Republicans flip-flopping the way they did.

In fact, Assembly Republicans were collective eunuchs in the negotiating process. The Democrats never took them seriously. Assembly Republicans were actually negotiating with themselves…and LOSING! The only way to consider Assembly Republicans a “winner” in this session is that Sandoval and Senate Republicans saved them from looking like complete boobs.

LOSER: “Chuck Muth/movement conservatives”

Actually, it’s hard to argue their point here:

“Brian Sandoval…promised no new taxes and not to extend taxes set to expire. Those pledges ran counter to his reputation as a moderate and his surrounding cast of middle-of-the-road Republican characters.

“When the Supreme Court ruled that the state couldn’t use local tax money to solve the state’s budget problems, Sandoval seemed to leap at the chance to extrapolate the $62 million at issue in the court case into a $650 million problem. Or at least that’s how Muth and other conservative activists saw it.

“Sandoval came out breaking his pledge, but looking reasonable in the process. Conservatives lost their best chance in a generation to dramatically shrink government. And while some reforms to education were significant, none of the changes to collective bargaining, for example, dramatically changed the landscape. Now the conservatives are left bellyaching, their second conservative GOP governor having left them disappointed and alone on an island of ‘no new taxes.’”

Brian Sandoval did make a promise. A firm, unequivocal promise. And he stuck with it long enough into the session to the point that conservatives, who were always suspicious of his conservative bona fides, began to believe in him. I know I did.

And yes, as the left slammed the governor over and over again for holding firm, movement conservatives stood by his side every…step…of…the…way.

Then he yanked the football away at the last minute.

Not only did the governor go back on his word not to raise taxes by extending the sunsets, he dramatically increased spending above and beyond the 2007 level that he, himself, said the government needed to return to. Instead of a $5.2 billion general fund budget, we ended up with a $6.2 billion budget. I believe I no longer believe again.

So, yep, the forces of bigger government absolutely won and movement conservatives absolutely lost what was, indeed, the chance of a generation to dramatically shrink government.

And yes, face-saving claims to the contrary, the reforms Republicans got in return for making such a HUGE concession on tax hikes amounted to barely table scraps.

But I will take issue with the notion that we are alone on the island of no new taxes.

Absent that Supreme Court ruling, Gov. Sandoval would have held firm and would not have raised taxes by extending the sunsets. And Senate Republicans would have backed him all the way…and Assembly Republicans would eventually and reluctantly have meekly gone along for the ride.

All of those Republican “moderates” would have embraced our “radical” and “extremist” budget without tax hikes. At least for a while there, the “hard right” was right there in the mainstream of GOP orthodoxy.

So I’m not willing to concede that movement conservatives are isolated on a No New Taxes island. Brian Sandoval ran on no new taxes. And he was elected with a huge no new taxes mandate by the citizens of Nevada. And I see absolutely no change in the electorate regarding whether or not they want higher taxes suspect polls with leading questions and false choices to the contrary.

But there’s certainly one way to prove it. Let’s see how many legislative Democrats now run on a platform of making the sunsets permanent AND imposing their new haircut tax and gross receipts tax.

My guess is they’ll run from those tax hikes next year like scalded dogs.

If there’s a No New Taxes island out there, it’s the size of Australia and jam-packed with people like on Manhattan. On the other hand, Tax Hike Island is more like Gilligan’s Island.

Did movement conservatives lose? We sure did. But like J.R. Hildebrand at the Indy 500 this year, we were “that” close. Granted, close only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades, but this was just one season in a never-ending sport.

We’ll come back again next session….and the Senate will be even more conservative – with conservatives possibly even being the majority of the majority.

As for the Assembly, Goicoechea will be gone (praise heaven!) – meaning the leadership level can only improve. And after a culling a few numbnut RINOs (paging Assemblyman Sherwood; Assemblyman Mark Sherwood) during next June’s primary races, I think conservatives could actually become the majority of the minority.

The bottom line folks: We only lose if we quit. I’m not about to give in or give up. How about the rest of you on No New Taxes island?


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