A More Reasonable Assessment
Sunday, February 26, 2006 :::
Bob Gibson's Sunday column does in a few inches what a furlong of "Good Copy" hasn't done in a year...explain the battle lines over transportation. A couple of his points bearing repeating:
Reason No. 1 is the obvious political truth that legions of teachers and law enforcement officers clamoring for decent pay make a more universally appealing argument for higher taxes than road-builders, chambers of commerce and some regions' frustrated drivers stuck in daily congestion.
Educators and sheriff's deputies rank higher in public support than infrastructure needs.
Reason No. 2 is political survival through hanging together. The House GOP Caucus, which has perfected the ability this year to kill bills in subcommittees without recorded votes, has a bit of a secret pact going.
Of the 57 delegates elected as Republicans in the 100-member House, about 55 of them have signed sort of a double-secret blood oath to hang together, either out of fear of hanging separately, fear of internal party retribution or added value of being a big bloc.
I had an email exchange with a friend last night on some of these points. My thinking is that -- despite the hand-wringing of some -- the primary challenges in 2005 made a lasting impression on at least some House members. They have, for now, settled on unity. A special session may crack that facade, and the Governor -- who is following the Warner playbook move for move -- is counting on it. Kaine may yet win some or all of what he seeks. His chances are enhanced by the fact that the Richmond press corps, with very few exceptions, is eager to repeat his message. And he is further aided by the fact that the House, for all its solidarity, does not seem to understand that playing to the perfumed princes is a losing game. Seeking out alternatives is their only hope.
The House has made an effort at specificity. They propose more far-reaching reforms of VDOT, including long-overdue privatization, than the Governor. They have outlined spending on specific transportation projects (including I-81...which neither the Senate nor the Governor have addressed). But has anyone picked up on that message? Aside from a few mentions here and there, no. Their story has not become part of the narrative.
The idea Bob floats at the end -- a $750 million compromise -- is probably the more likely outcome. How will they arrive at that figure? That's the question.
And Bob is blogging now. His first post bears an uncanny resemblance to his column. Welcome aboard, Mr. Gibson.
One of us...one of us...one of us.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 2/26/2006