Just As I Thought

Fiscal Hijinks

Here are a couple things I meant to [complain] about earlier today when the blog went down.
First off, can we talk about the totally bizarre hypocrisy that is the hallmark of today’s Republican party? These are the people who like to talk about smaller government, but who have presided over a huge expansion of government — not just in dollars and personnel, but in terms of interference in our lives. From the USA PATRIOT act to the Department of Homeland Security (and may I reiterate, what a bizarre name that is — have you ever, in your life, referred to our country as “the homeland?”) the Bush administration has consistently sought more and more bureaucracy at the same time as it was cutting taxes. There is no fiscal responsibility left in the Federal government, as evidenced by the spending bill just passed:

Congress sent President Bush yesterday a $388 billion legislative package that covers the spending of every federal agency but the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1.

Bush is expected to sign the bill before midnight tonight, when a temporary measure expires.

Congress passed the package on Nov. 20. Lawmakers delayed sending it to the White House until after they overturned language that would have made it easier for some members of Congress and their aides to enter Internal Revenue Service offices and examine income tax returns.

Meanwhile, Rep. John E. Peterson (R-Pa.) brought the weather prognosticating groundhog Punxsutawney Phil out of hibernation and up to Capitol Hill to help him defend the bill’s $100,000 grant for a weather museum in his district that critics have called pork.

Meanwhile, a rare example of fiscal sanity from the city government in Washington, which shows some guts:

The D.C. Council approved legislation yesterday that will require District owners of large, luxury sport-utility vehicles to pay a higher excise tax and registration fee next year, after concluding that the vehicles contribute to air pollution and street damage.

But under the new legislation, residents with clean-air hybrid cars will no longer have to pay an excise tax and will have their vehicle registration fees cut in half.

D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) said she pushed the legislation because personal vehicles that weigh 5,000 pounds or more are becoming more popular. Schwartz said those vehicles “cause enormous wear and tear on our roads.”

The new excise tax on large SUVs would increase from 7 percent to 8 percent of the vehicle’s market value. An owner whose SUV has a sticker price of $60,000, for example, would pay an excise tax of $4,800, an increase of $600. The excise tax is a one-time payment made when an owner registers the vehicle.

The vehicle registration fee on SUVs also will increase, from $115 to $155.

The council decided to reduce fees for owners of hybrid cars because those vehicles have lower emissions than regular vehicles and run on regular fuel and electricity. The excise tax savings on a hybrid Toyota Prius, which costs about $20,000, would be about $1,200. Under the legislation, the vehicle registration fee would be reduced from $72 to $36.

Wow — amazing that this was pushed by a Republican. Of course, it could also be overruled by Congress since Washington, DC can’t even change a lightbulb without asking some dink elected by people from another state first.

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