Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Former Va. Governor Jim Gilmore announces

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore has announced the formation of an exploratory committee as he assesses his chances for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Mr. Gilmore is most famous for his car-tax cut: But like any liberal can tell you, no good can come from tax cuts:

“In 2001, after a recession cut deeply into Virginia tax collections and with reimbursements to localities around $700 million annually and soaring, Gilmore rebuffed efforts by fellow Republicans in the state Senate to stop the car tax phaseout.

The resulting legislative stalemate and GOP infighting left Virginia unable to reconcile its budget for the first time ever, and helped Democrat Mark R. Warner upset Republican Mark L. Earley, whom Gilmore had supported.

Warner also blamed Gilmore and the car tax for budget deficits that topped $6 billion in subsequent years.”

Some observations: The common wisdom has Jim Gilmore winning his race in 1997 solely on the strength of his no car tax mantra. While this no doubt was a huge factor in him achieving the necessary statewide fame to win, his Democratic opponent, Don Beyer (of Beyer Volvo fame) also jumped on the cut-the-car-tax bandwagon. Anyway you looked at it, the car tax was unpopular and it was going to be addressed no matter who won. (For an example of how it works, click here. The tax (before relief) in Arlington is now 5% of assessed value. A $1,000 a year for the privilege of owning a non-descript $20,000 car?)

Mr. Warner blames Governor Gilmore for the $6 billion deficits. As governor, car tax relief remained in place throughout Mr. Warner’s administration. And even accepting the $700 million annual reimbursement (which does not account for any increases in car registrations now that the tax is not as onerous), $700 million times 4 years comes up way short of the $6 billion deficit.

And although some people like to portray Jim Gilmore’s Virginia as one of draconian cuts thanks to the car tax relief, let’s remember that by 2001 (his last year as governor):

“State spending in Virginia has grown by 42 percent since 1997. The 70 percent reduction in the car tax this year will save taxpayers approximately $570 million. That amounts to 13.8 percent of the $4.15 billion revenue growth of the last four years. As a percentage of the state's total budget this year, the car tax cut accounts for only 2.5 percent.” Money Returned to People (from Governor Gilmore’s office)

For me, a 42% spending increase is nothing to brag about but you got to like that he ran on a tax cut platform and stuck with it. No endorsement but good luck, Mr. Gilmore.

Full disclosure: I briefly met up with Mr. Gilmore at a recent holiday party. He had arrived a little late and was unable to find himself a fork to partake of the buffet goodies. With the resourcefulness for which I am justifiably famous, I tracked one down and he was thus able to eat.

I’m expecting at least a mid-tier ambassadorship.

I think Gilmore is the guy for Conservatives. http://www.americancivilization.net/index.php
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