Into a Corner
Saturday, March 25, 2006 :::
Bill Howell's press release excoriating the Governor's tactics in the tax fight have made news, of course. But what is very interesting about the back and forth is not so much the tenor, which is a cut above sand lot, but the possible results they will bring.
The House is fighting back, and it must. There is general agreement that if the House folds on taxes this time, then there will be consequences in 2007. Bill Howell's speakership is on the line, and the tenor of his press releases show this. The threat to the GOP majority in the House, however, may not be as great as generally believed (owing more to gerrymandering than anything else...but even this is temporary).
It's the Senate where the real problems exist. It is possible that there could be a number of Senate GOP retirees in 2007, some of who are among the self-described moderate camp. There are also those members on the electoral bubble in NoVa, where demographics and the lingering memory of the Kilgore Debacle will make for a number of very close, very expensive contests.
The end result of all the back and forth, if it results in yet another tax hike on the order of what the Senate and Governor propose, might then be a smaller GOP House majority and a Democratic Senate (a mere formality, for some).
But then there is also this: the Governor has made it known, informally, that he wants a solution that allows the House to "win" -- a face-saving measure that will allow Bill Howell to survive. There is nothing wrong with this impulse. But it does belie the Governor's reluctance to lose Howell -- and face a replacement as Speaker who is far more hard-edged. Kaine's campaign-like approach has, so far, generated a strong House response...they are hanging together. And while it will come as a shock to no one to see a handful of Republicans move rapidly toward Kaine's arms, there may not be enough this time to put his plan over the top. And the harder he presses, the more likely it becomes he will fall short.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 3/25/2006