by Max Brantley
So, in the old days, news that U.S. Sen. John Boozman had forthrightly declared his support for the sales tax increase primarily to pay for a freeway construction program wouldn't have been such big news. A Republican highway commissioner/legislator from his Northwest Arkansas home territory pushed the idea, after all.
But these aren't the good old days. Even though Republicans who controlled a committee that could have blocked the ballot measure took a powder, it has become one of the Republican Party's chief weapons in attempting to take control of the Arkansas legislature. Even allowing people to vote is considered sufficiently pro-tax to be poisonous to the 'baggers now in control of Republican "thinking."
The Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity is spending a small fortune (though it's chump change to the billionaire Koch boys) to smear Democratic candidates who approved the vote. For irony, the paid leader of the Koch push, Teresa Oelke of Rogers, comes from a construction family that has made big money off government projects, including some financed by the hated Obama stimulus program.
Typical Republican dogma: Do as we say, not as we do. Dr. No Boozman for once is charting his own course. I credit him for that if not for the poor idea of using a sales tax on poor folks to build four-lanes of questionable value. See Mississippi for miles of freeway through deserted piney woods if you really believe a new stretch of four-lane is the only thing standing between, say, Dermott and the economic development promised land.
Note that the Talk Business story on Boozman also mentions the oily U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin's evasion of the question on where he stands on the tax increase.
Second District Congressman Tim Griffin (R-Little Rock) did not directly answer a question on how he would vote on the proposal, but he did say that improving the federal deficit would be beneficial to road projects and that voters are generally supportive of infrastructure investments.
... “My experience is a lot of people aren’t interested in paying more taxes, but they don’t have a problem investing in roads and infrastructure. In fact, most people understand the importance of investing in roads and infrastructure,” Griffin said.
Both sides now.