This weekend’s Roanoke Times quibbled over whether former Governor Jim Gilmore’s ‘no car tax’ pledge was — in their words — a fraud.
Let’s review. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Virginia’s tax coffers began to tighten. Reagan National Airport was effectively closed — absolutely for 23 days, and then slowly reopened over a four-stage process. Cost to Washington National Airport was $330 million a day and $27 million a day in state and local revenues. This was all after the beginning of an economic downturn that dominated the headlines earlier in 2001 that sparked the Chichester-Gilmore staring contest.
What Governor Jim Gilmore accomplished was a five-year phase out program, one that was well under way when he left office in 2002 and was promptly halted by more moderate members of the Virginia Senate working with then-Governor Mark Warner, with Warner breaking his own campaign promise not to raise taxes and capping Gilmore’s car tax relief.
In short, the charge of “largely fraudulent” hurled by Dan Casey of the Roanoke Times isn’t just unfair — it’s a vicious slander and a calumny, and completely ignorant of both the circumstances of the 2004 Warner-Chichester tax hike and the very real and substantive year-to-year tax relief given to hard working Virginia families.
One hesitates to engage in a round of “whataboutism” when contrasted with some of Casey’s other cases, yet in this instance one man’s equivocation is another man’s precedent.
Let’s review: Warner worked with Chichester to bring about a tax hike to resolve Virginia’s education system. Today? With failing schools in Virginia’s inner cities and Petersburg on the brink, the relationship between Richmond and her localities is worse than ever. Kaine colluded to draft an illegal tax hike, one thankfully stopped by Delegate Bob Marshall through the courts. McAuliffe’s hallmark achievement? Medicaid expansion… and the Republican-led General Assembly has stuffed that idea as a budget buster for four years running.
Are all three of Virginia’s modern Democratic governors “frauds” by Casey’s arithmetic?
Casey notes that future General Assemblies have tweaked the car tax, capping relief at $950 million annually. Yet that tax relief doesn’t seem to bother the well heeled as much as it is needed and desperate relief to Virginia’s working families who otherwise couldn’t afford the a surprise $500 tax bill every spring.
Most notable in all of this? Gilmore legacy is represented in an annual billion-dollar tax cut, applied every year to those Virginians least able to afford the draconian taxes imposed by the Commonwealth.
That is hardly a fraudulent legacy. Moreover, Gilmore’s respsonse to Casey by way of telephone to address the success of the ‘no car tax’ pledge — give me a second term and I’ll finish the job — is a gauntlet thrown down, indeed. Few Virginians on the right have the stature and conservative legacy to keep such a promise.
At a time where Gillespie is decrying the tax hikes of the last 15 years in his bid to become the next governor of Virginia, over $15 billion in tax relief is hardly the definition of a fraudulent pledge. More like a promise kept.