- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 16, 2001

Virginias much-loathed personal property tax on motor vehicles known more commonly as the car tax is proving harder to get rid of than poison ivy. Despite the heroic efforts of Gov. James S. Gilmore, Virginia lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have wheedled and whined about the "lost revenue" and the "need for austerity" meaning taxpayers must dig deep in order to continue subsidizing the state bureaucracy and its minions. Note that "austerity" almost never applies to government which in the warped value system of today has primary claim (at least in the minds of some) to the money earned by ordinary citizens. Whatever may be left over is "granted" to the wage-earning, tax-paying serfs.
Citing the economic downturn as their latest excuse for thwarting Mr. Gilmores promise to get rid of the highly regressive annual levy, state lawmakers are turning the screws issuing bleak pronunciamentos about the ability of the government to perform its vital functions if the car tax is phased-out. To people who depend upon the government for their daily bread, an endless stream of taxpayer dollars is always essential and all government functions "vital." Much more so than the needs of ordinary taxpayers to meet their monthly mortgages, pay their bills and take proper care of their children.
Sadly, the list of turncoats now apparently includes both Republican candidates for governor Lt. Gov. John H. Hager and Attorney General Mark Early. Both have intimated that they would consider holding up the scheduled repeal of the tax if state revenue from other sources continues to slip. "Any prudent man has to wait and look at the situation," Mr. Hager has said. It goes without saying that Mark Warner, the liberal Democratic candidate for governor, is all for sticking it to taxpayers by rescinding or delaying the promised repeal of the car tax.
Shrill cries about "education" and "our children" the reflexive, thought-effacing catchphrases issued by pro-taxers intended to quash all rational debate in a treacly ooze of emotional blather will grow in intensity over the next few weeks and months, as the race for governor heats up and the car tax becomes a major campaign issue. But voters should not be gulled by overwrought demagoguery, and the Republican candidates for governor should rethink their hedging on this issue and remember who theyre supposed to represent.


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