Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Regional or Partisan Divide in House?

From the news reports, the vote on the gas tax yesterday in the House involved some partisan gamesmanship mixed in with regional conflict. The Democrats made it clear they didn't want to run for re-election as the party of the gas tax increase. They wanted a substantial number of Republicans to join them in voting "yes," so several members of the Democratic caucus could vote "no."

The tax increase was rejected then, but today it passed in the House 54 "yeas" to 43 "nays."

The partisan divide may be merely a coincidence, but it could also be evidence of some deals made to cover Democrats during the next election. Of the 55 Democrats, 12 voted "no." Of the 43 Republicans, 11 voted "yes," and one was excused from the vote. That's an almost even swap between the parties.

Hidden somewhere in that even swap was probably a deal or two. I wonder what it was worth to get a Republican to vote "yes," so a Democrat who was unsure of re-election could avoid voting "yes."

Of course, there were some representatives who genuinely disagreed and voted "no" because of the way the new revenue would be spent. When their constituents must pay the added tax but won't get any direct benefit, it is no doubt hard to vote "yes."

Perhaps over time we'll find out who voted "no" for regional reasons and who did it for purely partisan reasons.


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