“Platform for Prosperity” / “Contract for Colorado” waffling on Car “Fees” reversal poses conflict for voters
by The Peripatetic Pundit | 4:11 pm, November 27, 2009 | Comments Off
The troubled launch of the “Platform for Prosperity” (aka “Contract for Colorado”) by “some Colorado GOP leaders” at the beginning of this week in an attempt to foster party unity behind Scott McInnis as the gubernatorial candidate seems to have generated more skepticism with each passing day. Although the pre-emptive criticism by Governor Bill Ritter on the night before the Contract/Platform’s official debut on Monday certainly falls under the “politics as usual” snarky sniping at one’s opponent, even audiences presumably receptive to the platform’s principles are apparently underwhelmed.
Aside from the residual skepticism by many who had backed now-presumptive gubernatorial front-runner Scott McInnis’ primary opponent Josh Penry that McInnis is necessarily the right man behind whom to fall in line, most of the criticism – from party insiders and outside observers alike – has focused on the wording of the platform itself. Specifically, the platform’s very lack of specificity (pardon the alliteration).
This is all the more unfortunate because an early (leaked?) draft of the platform/contract was actually quite specific and prescriptive on a number of issues – from appointing “judges who respect the Constitution and try to interpret laws, not make them” to a specific repudiation of the unconstitutional, regressive, and punitive “Colorado Car Tax” vehicle registration “fee” increase under the so-called ‘FASTER’ bill, as noted in today’s Denver Post, “Car fees pose a conflict for state GOP.”
In early drafts, it was there: a direct promise to reverse the unpopular car- registration fines and fee hikes that the legislature and Gov. Bill Ritter imposed on motorists in mid-2009.
But when gubernatorial hopeful Scott McInnis’ new “Platform for Prosperity” – touted as a conservative agenda that will get Republicans elected down the ticket, too – finally emerged, the promise was gone.
It’s unfortunate – heck, it’s a darn shame – that the Reaganesque “bright contrast” of forthright, direct, and clear statements of principle and policy prescriptions of early drafts have given way to the watered-down “faded pastels” of the version rolled out Monday with such fanfare. It’s unclear whether the reason for platform backing away from such straightforward prose was the result of lawyers, campaign and image consultants, or the direct influence of the candidate himself, but it does seem clear that what could have been an opportunity to raise a standard to truly “rally the troops” has been squandered – the bold gives way to the tepid, and is greeted with a collective yawn.
It’s even more unfortunate that Colorado voters are not presented with a clear choice between candidates with strong, clear, distinct positions on the Colorado Car Tax, especially since “FASTER is and will be the most expensive and burdensome legislation ever borne by the citizens of Colorado without their approval. The pain of FASTER is just beginning.”
Colorado voters are instead stuck between candidates apparently beholden to a different set of special interests – Ritter clearly supports the regressive and “painful” tax, while the Republican front-runner apparently wished to avoid having “riled the amalgam of transportation and business interests that backed FASTER.”
“It’s a classic example of an issue on which the Republican Party is conflicted,” he [analyst Eric Sondermann] said. “On one hand, there’s significant public sentiment against the fees. On the other, contractors and the highway lobby are a significant Republican constituency.”
Fortunately, not all Republican lawmakers (and possibly some Democrats – although none have spoken out strongly against the tax, despite it’s heavy impact on the working poor and fixed-income retirees, supposedly a Democrat constituency) are so unwilling to take a stand on behalf of the people (funny, since We The People are their employers, are we not?), despite the fact that “”FASTER was done wrong and is not viewed as legitimate.” State Representative Kent Lambert (R, Colo. Springs) made it clear that he and other Republicans intend to “shoot for a repeal” of the ‘FASTER’ Colorado Car Tax.
“One of the problems we have right now is that this appears to have been done by a fairly small group that are involved in the debate with the McInnis campaign,” Lambert said. “(FASTER) is definitely a campaign issue. The fines have made people irate about registering their vehicles and appear to be something that’s ongoing.”
Until the Republican candidates can offer voters a clear distinction between approaches to solving this and other issues, Colorado voters will likely remain “conflicted” – and possibly remain at home on election day. This would be a shame, as the parties – at least in principle – DO offer clear alternatives. A platform that effectively and forthrightly expressed this to the voters would go a long way to help clear up their choices on the ballot.
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