Elephant Ears

This blog is dedicated to the political happenings in the Valley and Southwest Virginia. As the the name implies, this blog will have posts based on what is heard by this elephant's (GOPer's) ears. It is also a great treat to get while at the county fair or a carnival.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Road to Majority

Now that we have lost the Senate majority, we need to find a way to get it back. This is obviously a long process that will not happen for at least 4 years (unless an unforseen opening occurs). Even so, the GOP needs to start doing things to position themselves to retake the Senate in 2011; and also hold the House in 2009.

As I said in my last post, the key to achieving our goal is putting forward a positive limited government platform that will resonate with people. We cannot be the party of simply lower taxes and social issues; we have to be the party that efficiently uses our tax dollars and that defends why we need strong moral values.

The best example of this is in the budgetary process. One of the biggest problems our state's (and every government) budget is faced with is social backlash. If the government gives anyone or anything less money than last time around; its a cut in funding. In fact, if something is given less money than they asked for but is still more than last year it is viewed as a cut. The problem is, no one cheers when we cut funding for something; they only complain. Certainly there are people who favor cutting stuff, but they are usually silent when it happens.
We have to be the party that explains why something is being cut (either literally or by media standards). This can only be accomplished one way: prioritized spending.

In our own families, we prioritize what we need to spend money on and we spend it in that order. If we are lucky enough to have some left over, we save it. If not, we have to cut out something. For example, most people would say their house payment is pretty important, so they make sure they have enough money for that. If that means they have to cut back on going to Outback Steakhouse, thats what they do. Every voter does this, and its a pretty simple concept to understand.
Unfortunately, government rarely works this way. We say, "well education needs more money and so does the transportation. I guess we have to borrow money or raise taxes, b/c we can't cut anything." No family runs their personal life this way, so why should government?

What I propose is that our party's leadership has to put forth a platform of priorites. If transportation truly is our biggest "crisis", then we should first budget our money for that. If education is second, then we should fully fund that. If this style ends up resulting in money running out when we get to the Art Foundation's funding, then they don't get any.
This is what feeds into tax policy. If we approached government like this, it would severely limit tax increases b/c you would have to show the people what you were raising taxes for. If we fund everything but the Art Foundation and they still want money, our Delegates and Senators have to essentially vote to raise taxes to fund that program. It makes it much tougher to approve something like that, when it is viewed that way. On the other hand, if we get halfway through education and run out of money, then if people want more money for schools and are willing to pay for it, then they can. In another scenario, if we fully fund everything and we still have money left over; we can return it by cutting taxes. This way, we are being efficient with our tax money and ensuring that the most important things get done.

This also has the effect of making people look for ways to reduce spending. Right now, there is very little incentive to find waste; b/c everything is rolled up together. Under this system, cutting waste may be what allows your project to get funded when it otherwise would not have.

Until our party looks at the budget like a family, it will get tougher and tougher to get the people to trust us to handle their money.

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