What do the possibility of tolls on I-66 and President Barack Obama’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act have in common? How could these two seemingly unrelated stories have anything in common? Both are part of a greater, national story, a true story of frothing mad greed.
Think about that old children’s tale. Here is version from Aesop’s Fables.
ONE day a countryman going to the nest of his Goose found there an egg all yellow and glittering. When he took it up it was as heavy as lead and he was going to throw it away, because he thought a trick had been played upon him. But he took it home on second thoughts, and soon found to his delight that it was an egg of pure gold. Every morning the same thing occurred, and he soon became rich by selling his eggs. As he grew rich he grew greedy; and thinking to get at once all the gold the Goose could give, he killed it and opened it only to find,—nothing.
Tolls On I-66
Unfortunately, the idea of tolls on I-66 is something VDOT likes.
Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne today announced a plan to ease congestion on the traffic-clogged Interstate 66. Proposed improvements would move more people, enhance connectivity and provide new travel options on I-66, from I-495 (the Capital Beltway) to U.S. Route 29 in Rosslyn.
Tolling is proposed on this section of I-66 in both directions during rush hours to deliver free-flowing and more reliable travel, and support multimodal improvements that benefit I-66. Vehicles with three or more people would travel the lanes for free during peak periods, while other drivers would pay a toll to use the lanes. The lanes would remain free to all traffic during off-peak periods. (Continued here on VDOT’s website)
What would be done with the money? Our glorious leaders would collect the money from I-66 commuters and spend it on other, unnamed projects. Essentially, the toll is just a another way to milk the “rich” in Northern Virginia.
Here are some sample news stories.
- I-66 inside Beltway toll plan unpopular at town hall (potomaclocal.com): Covers a Haymarket, VA townhall on the subject. Delegate Bob Marshall (R) expressed this observation: “These tolls will affect the value of your home and the number of businesses that will locate here.” Don Shaw, his Democratic Party opponent said: “This is not a partisan issue.” Apparently, Shaw wishes Governor Terry McAuliffe, a DEMOCRAT, had waited until after the election to propose more taxes.
- With big TV ad buy in Va. House races, Republicans zero in on I-66 toll plan (www.washingtonpost.com): With it’s usual air of neutrality, The Washington Post defends local Democrats. Of course, local Democrats don’t support taxing the local “rich.” It is those “rich” people somewhere else they want to tax.
- The basics of Gov. McAuliffe’s I-66 toll plan (www.loudountimes.com): This article addresses the mechanics of collecting the tolls and gives some idea who would pay.
- I-66 Toll Plan Faces Heavy Criticism (www.leesburgtoday.com): Here we get a synopsis of what some have been saying.
- House Republicans Call on McAuliffe to Shelve I-66 Toll Plan (thebullelephant.com): This posts a release from Speaker Bill Howell’s office. He is against this proposed tax increase.
- STOP I-66 tolls (www.delegatebob.com): Delegate Bob Marshall (R) has a history of being against tax increases. Of course, he is against this one too, and with good reason.
- Sen. Dick Black Fighting I-66 $17.00 Tolls (www.facebook.com): Similarly, Senator Dick Black (R) is against the I-66 toll. His problem is that his opponent wants to paint him as against birth control, but think about it. Even if he was totally against birth control, what could he possibly do about it? It is a non-issue, a silly, lying distraction, by a candidate who is vehemently supported by that reliable bastion of truth, justice, and the American way, Planned Parenthood (Do you need parts from a dead baby? Give them a call.).
President Barack Obama Uses His Pen To Veto A Defense Bill
That, congressional Republicans said, is an unprecedented and irresponsible use of the veto power.
“The president has vowed to veto it. Why? Because he wants to stop and spend more money on his domestic agenda,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Wednesday. “It’s time to put our troops first, time to stop playing political games.”
Since Congress started passing annual defense policy bills in 1961, they’ve been vetoed four times by Presidents Carter, Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush. Each time, it was for a specific policy reason: a nuclear aircraft carrier for Carter, missile defense for Reagan and Clinton, and Iraq policy for Bush. (from Obama vetoes defense bill in high-stakes showdown over spending (www.usatoday.com))
Think about what Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said. That defense bill is $612 billion. As big as that sounds, the defense budget is still only a small part of the Federal Budget. In 2016, the Federal Government is expected to spend about $0.9 trillion on defense out of a $4.0 trillion budget (from here). Yet consider how Sequestration works.
What is sequestration?
Sequestration is a tool to implement strict spending cuts agreed to under the 2011 Budget Control Act, which required $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts split evenly between Defense and non-Defense agencies. (from here (www.afge.org))
What was Boehner thinking when he agreed to such nonsense? Isn’t NATIONAL DEFENSE the primary job of the Federal Government? Apparently not. Half the Federal Budget goes into Social Security and health care programs. So it is now “politically safer” to cut defense spending.
What is Obama up to?
“Obama says he opposes the bill because it uses creative budget maneuvers to boost defense spending by $38 billion without increasing domestic spending. Obama wants higher spending for both,” reports ABC News, which also mentions the President was upset that the bill would make it harder for him to close the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. (from Obama Vetoes $612B Defense Bill Over Gitmo, Increased Defense Spending (www.breitbart.com))
As usual, Obama wants to waste more money, and he apparently wants to turn terrorists loose on us too.
What will Republicans do? If history is any indication, they will make some noise. In fact, the clucking chickens have already started.
Republicans erupted in near-universal criticism. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, called the veto “misguided, cynical and downright dangerous.” And more than a dozen House and Senate Republicans, including Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, joined in accusing Obama of putting politics ahead of the troops. (Obama vetoes $612 billion defense policy bill over budget dispute with Republicans (www.usnews.com))
However, Republicans will probably fold.
Republicans have pledged to attempt to override Obama’s veto, but it’s unlikely they have the votes to do so.
The Senate voted 70-27 to pass the bill, and overriding the veto would require 67 votes. But Democratic leaders have said some members would switch their vote to avoid defying the president.
The House vote count, 270-156, would not be enough to override a veto, which would take 290 votes.
Asked how confident the White House is Obama’s veto will be sustained, White House spokesman Eric Schultz replied: “very.” (Obama vetoes defense bill (thehill.com))
Consider the temptation. Republicans now have a ready-made excuse to increase spending. They can blame Democrats.
- Obama Vetoes Defense Bill Over Gitmo and His Demands for More Non-Defense Spending (www.theblaze.com): The focus of this story is what motivates Obama.
- Obama vetoes defense bill, sends it back to Congress (www.reuters.com): Here we have a recitation on the matter.
- Obama uses veto for only fifth time, rejecting defense authorization bill (www.washingtonpost.com): Here we have the Liberal view of what motivates Obama.
In Fiscal Year 2015 (ended on September 30th), the Federal Deficit was $438.9 billion (from here). Undoubtedly, that deficit was disappointingly small for some of our elected leaders.
Virginia’s Constitution requires a balanced budget. Hence, that explains Governor Terry McAuliffe’s eagerness to find another revenue stream.
Are you a taxpayer? To many of our political leaders, you are a goose that lays golden eggs. Watch out for politicians with sharp instruments.