In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Talk about wanting it both ways. Gov. Jennifer Granholm, in her best imitation yet of Fred Astair (old dancer from the movies), waltzed all around the road revenue issue the other day and it was a sight to behold. Taking the leadership role, the governor told scribes in this town that she's ready to scrap the 19-cent a gallon gas tax which for decades has been the major funding source for our decrepit roads. The road-building lobby has declared the gas tax a dinosaur because it no longer raises enough bucks. In its place the road guys want a floating tax that goes up or down with the price of gas. The governor boldly endorsed the shift but refused to call it a tax increase per se. And h ere's where she wanted it both ways. When the price of gas goes down, she explains, the motorist would get a tax cut. She can say "tax cut" because that sounds good, but when the price goes up, the tax will go up and that's where she gets a lump in her throat. "On the day that the new tax takes effect, it will not be a tax increase," she lectures the capitol press corps. Technically that is true, but on day two, if the price goes up, the state will begin to collect more money. Downriver democrat Sen. Ray Basham says, "If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it is probably a duck." Sen. Mick ey Switalksi is from Macomb County where even the hint of a tax hike sends chills down everyone's spine. He argues it is not a tax increase although he concedes "There are always people who will call it that." A reporter tried to get the governor to make that confession and she stood her ground. "I know you want to be able to put words in my mouth, but I won't let you." Well that settles that. When the state collects more money on a tax, that is not an increase. Quack. Quack