- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
No New Taxes!
2002, my last winter in Minnesota, was a pretty bleak one for progressives. Paul Wellstone was locked in a tight race with Norm Coleman, took a lead in the polls after he defied conventional wisdom and voted against the war, and then died in a plane crash. Somehow, Coleman went from commercials showing Wellstone next to Bin Laden, to commercials with Enya playing, saying he would carry on Wellstone’s message, and won. In the Governor’s race to replace Jesse Ventura, a nice sounding Minnesota native, Republican Tim Pawlenty, crushed the Democrat. And all over the State, GOP State Reps were signing a pledge from the Taxpayer’s League of Minnesota, swearing up and down that they wouldn’t raise taxes. Pawlenty, that nice sounding guy, signed on too.
In that last year, I didn’t pay that much attention that much to local politics; Minnesota was never really ‘home’ the way Philly was, I cared much more about Broad Street than Hennepin Avenue. So, I finished school, and spent a lot of time rowing on the Mississippi. Same routine every evening: Drive home from work, launch, start rowing upriver, and turnaround right before the 35W bridge.
When the bridge collapsed in Minnesota, I heard that Pawlenty had just vetoed a bill that would raise the gas tax to pay for infrastructure renewal. Obviously, raising the gas tax this year would not have saved that bridge; but it is undeniable that the GOP was basically trying to get by without reinvesting in the State. I immediately thought back to that damn pledge, how much it seemed to grip the state GOP, and how much the whole thing reminded me of Pennsylvania. Not just in the fact that we have far, far more crumbling infrastructure than Minnesota. But more in the sense that Minnesota, which has a generally good government and high quality of life, was so gripped by anti-tax fever, that it started to lose the belief that government should invest in its citizens.
In Pennsylvania, out of the earshot of people in Philly, a similar anti-tax campaign has been waged recently by the far-right, well-funded, Young Conservatives of Pennsylvania. They have aired a bunch of ads ( like this one) in various parts of the State, threatening legislators who would dare think of investing money in things like the health of Pennsylvanians, or education, or mass transit, or any other crrrrazy idea. And, to this point, they have been reasonably successful, stopping so far the Governor’s push to ensure every Pennsylvanian can have health care, that the State invest in renewable energy, and so forth.
We may have passed a bill to fix bridges, but plenty of things are failing in Pennsylvania. And while the failure of our government may or may not show up in crumbling bridges, it assuredly shows up elsewhere. In people suffering- and dying- from a lack of healthcare. In crappy schools that fail to produce productive citizens. In a lack of foresight to identify industries- like renewable energy- that will produce good paying jobs in the future.
A bridge may not have fallen in Pennsylvania, but it might as well have. Our government is failing to re-invest in its citizens, and individually and collectively, we are all going to pay the price.