Thursday, April 25, 2013

Unspinning the Coming "Mod Squad" Mining Tax FAIL

This morning, we examined why evolving is so hard to do for Nevada Republicans. On one hand, their base wants more ideological "purity". But on the other hand, the rest of the voters have been consistently rejecting what their base demands. So what are Nevada Republicans to do?

Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson (R-Henderson) seems to be eyeing change regardless of what the "tea party" naysayers say. He may have backslid on marriage equality earlier this week, but Senator Roberson is back on "The Mod Squad Express" as he keeps pushing his troubled IP 1 mining tax alternative. And it's driving Chuck Muth even crazier (than he's already been whenever "Roberson" falls out of anyone's mouth).

Of course, this has Jon Ralston worked into a frenzy. He had Senator Roberson on his show last night, and he was waxing poetic yesterday on the doomed tax initiative. Oh why, oh why, won't anyone else give "The Senate GOP Mod Squad Mining Tax Alternative" a chance?!

Maybe Roberson could have been more inclusive when he first spring the mining tax plan. But the “if Roberson says black, we’ll say white” attitude from Democrats is pure petulance, imputing his announcement only to killing the margins tax the business community abhors (he has been open about that) and giving him no credit for going after mining (as some of them and many of their allies have long wanted to do).

Even if they think Roberson is a shameless grandstander, why not embrace his effort if they really want more money for education? Are they really going to say they are opposed to a mining tax? Are they going to claim they prefer a broad-based solution, which they have yet to provide and, my guess is, will not offer? [...]

I have mentioned before that many people in the building – Democrats, Republicans, lobbyists – don’t trust Roberson. That is his biggest hurdle – and it may be insurmountable. He is a bull in the legislative zoo, and the other political animals are not amused.

Why folks don’t think he is trying to rebrand the GOP while also killing the margins tax, helping fund education and perhaps taking the majority is beyond me. It’s a triple bank shot, but that is what he is up to. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

“I want people to start looking at the Republican Party differently,” Roberson said Wednesday. “We can’t be the party of no, no, no.”

I can't believe this is actually necessary. But since Ralston keeps beating this dead horse, I guess we'll have to do it. So here we go.

First off, the law doesn't seem to favor Roberson. Sure, he got the LCB to write him favorable opinions. But at this point, it's three against one in Carson City as Governor Brian Sandoval (R), Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D), and Secretary of State Ross Miller (D) all declaring his initiative unconstitutional. Why? As we've discussed here before and Amicus Nevada has continued to explain, the Legislature's failure to actually vote on IP 1 (aka The Education Initiative) and propose an alternative by March 15 has created a steep legal hurdle. The LCB opinions have had to find some rather creative ways to stretch Article 19 of the Nevada Constitution to justify continued pursuit of "The Mod Squad Mining Tax".

Yet while Senator Roberson and his allies find new legal arguments for their mining tax alternative, they haven't been able to find any new votes. And while he keeps trying to blame Democrats for this, the fact remains that he can't even get the rest of his Republican Party to back his initiative. He may be a titular Republican leader, but the heart of the party still very much looks to be with Sharron Angle. Nevada's own "Tea Party Queen" appeared in Elko earlier this week to promote her new book, but she also didn't hesitate to talk about her new plan to grow more "tea party" candidates for higher office.

Sharron Angle clearly refuses to go away. And really, why should she? The G-O-TEA base still sides with her on the issues. And on top of that, she may soon find new and previously unlikely allies, as the mining industry has been preparing to declare political war on "The Mod Squad". Oh, and as mentioned earlier, Governor Sandoval has no interest in backing up Senator Roberson on his mining tax alternative.

Perhaps this is why Senator Roberson prefers to deflect blame onto Democrats. It's easier for him to blame Democrats than to admit that the law and the bulk of his party don't seem to agree with him.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying all Democrats have been angels when it comes to preparing a proper state budget. Far from it, I have not hesitated to criticize Democrats when they were wrong. But come on, one can't blame Democratic leaders for keeping their distance from a tax initiative that's legally questionable at best and creating even more chaos within Republican ranks.

So just keep this in mind next time some media pundit for Republican Senator tries to deflect blame for the failure of the tax initiative that was never to be.

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