Friday, March 04, 2005

Gubernatorial Flunking

Via Doug at Bogus Gold, I see that the Cato Institute's 2004 report card on the tax policies of America's state governors is now online in PDF format. Edward G. Rendell, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, sits near the bottom of the freshman class with a grade of "F". Here's what Cato has to say about "Fast Eddie":

Edward Rendell’s low tax grade is a result of his stubborn insistence on raising taxes. After vetoing a budget that balanced the state’s books without raising taxes, Rendell lobbied for a 33 percent hike in the income tax, an increase in the beer tax, and a new tax on cell phones. Even though his plan included some property tax relief, it still would have resulted in a net tax increase of more than $1 billion.
I wish I could say that I am surprised. Actually, I wish I could say that we the voters of the Commonwealth sent Rendell back home to Philadelphia in the 2002 election. But I can't. What I can say is this: A state that elects a Republican state legislature and two Republican Senators ought to be perfectly capable of electing a fiscally responsible Republican governor and putting its electoral votes behind a Republican presidential candidate. But it doesn't. And the paragraph excerpted above explains exactly why it should. There's more:
The main reason the freshman Democrats didn’t earn a higher average grade (than "D") is the fiscally reckless records of governors such as Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania and James McGreevey of New Jersey. In the cases of Rendell and McGreevey in particular, the moderate “New Democrat” rhetoric that both politicians used in their runs for office—Rendell ran on his tax-cut record as mayor of Philadelphia, and McGreevey stated flatly that he was committed to not raising taxes—was abandoned shortly after they were inaugurated, and massive tax increases followed.
Keep in mind that Rendell was Bill Clinton's DNC head, and the "New Democrat" strategy is what got Clinton elected President twice. Run from the middle, govern from the left. Rendell might easily have been a "Clinton Lite". That wouldn't have been so bad, but it's not quite correct. He's more like "Clinton HEAVY". Instead of Hollyweirdos, his troops are union thugs.

The reports card's summary of Rendell's fiscal performance has a few choice nuggets:
He came into office with a reputation for being a fiscal conservative who was willing to take on the powerful unions in Philadelphia.
In other words, he was beamed over from a parallel universe. Unless, of course, "take on" is another way of saying "enlisted as supporters".
Rendell’s first budget would have eliminated the state deficit with $1.6 billion in spending cuts. But he quickly stated that he proposed it as a gimmick to show how painful it would be to close the budget gap without a tax increase.
A "gimmick". A tease. Evidence that the Democratic Party has the appropriate animal symbol in the Jackass.
The legislature, however, called his bluff and passed his no-tax-hike budget before he had introduced his promised package of tax increases. Those tax increases were accompanied by
around $2 billion in new education spending. Rendell made good on his threat and vetoed
his own budget to prevent the state from balancing its books without hiking taxes.
I take back what I said before. Rendell didn't come from the parallel universe; he's beamed the rest of us into his parallel universe. What kind of way is this to govern? Does he think he is playing with children? What is it with the Left and its crappy attitude towards those of us on the Right?
Even when the federal government bailed out Pennsylvania with $900 million, Rendell didn’t back down from his tax hike.
What do I keep saying on here every time I mention Rendell? It is not just Pennsylvania's problem; it is everyone else's problem, too. I sometimes wonder if any of these Democrats have been weaned since they were born.
The state legislature fought Rendell’s plan in a bruising year-long fight during which even
Democrats in the Pennsylvania House refused to vote for his tax plan.
Alright, I take it back. They are not all bad.
Ultimately, they accepted a $700 million tax hike, including a 10 percent income tax increase.
One way or the other, they get it from us. How do we know this wasn't something that Rendell planned when he was drawing up his first "gimmick" budget proposal?
Pennsylvania taxpayers are probably disappointed by the death of the tax-cutting spirit that guided Rendell when he was mayor of Philadelphia.
Since I never considered voting for the guy, I can't say that I am disappointed because I expected something like this from him. And think about this: When he was mayor of Philly, his constituency was almost solidly Democrat. He was cutting taxes on a group of "Us". Now that he is in Harrisburg, it's "Us" versus "Them". He has an incentive to punish rather than to reward the taxpayers since some of them are Eeeevil Republicans. Like ME.

Lynn Swann's candidacy in 2006 is looking more and more appealing.

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