As noted earlier on this Forum, on July 28 the good citizens of
held a referendum to see if they good citizens of Atlanta
wanted to raise the sales tax and devote the increased revenues to repairing
the worst traffic system in America. The voters spoke loudly, and
they spoke clearly.
The SPLOST—a delightful acronym for special-purpose local-option sales tax, a funding mechanism used in Georgia to allow communities to tax themselves for a specific purpose—would come up for renewal in ten years; if the required revenue were raised before that, the tax would go away. An oversight board would ensure that the funds were spent only on the designated projects. It was, in short, as politically palatable as a tax increase could be in deeply Republican
. And in
nine of Georgia Georgia’s 12 regions—including
its biggest, richest and most traffic-choked—voters still said no. Atlanta
Both supporters and opponents predicted a close race. Both were wrong: 63% of voters in the metro-Atlanta region said no, despite the strong support of
Democratic mayor, ’s
Republican governor, Nathan Deal, and the region’s powerful business folk, who
fear that the notoriously dreadful traffic is hurting the city’s
competitiveness. Kasim Reed,
Now let’s make sure everyone understands what has happened and what it means. It’s not that the people of
and surrounding regions don’t want a better transportation system, they all
do. What they don’t want is to have to
pay for it. They are just like the huge
majority of Americans, in favor of higher government spending, opposed to
The situation in
was not a
partisan one. Conservative Republican
leaders and conservative business leaders supported the tax increase. The situation was one that is becoming more
and more typical in Atlanta America,
‘hell no, we won’t pay’ attitude towards public services.
Republican are though indirectly responsible for this type of attitude. They have run on the platform that taxes can be cut and that public services do not have to be cut. Presidents Reagan and Bush II all championed tax cuts, and all championed huge increases in government spending. So it is only natural for voters, particularly Republican voters to believe that such a situation can continue indefinitely.
Of course if Mr. Romney is elected and Republicans really do, contrary to their past actions, try to reduce government spending then the conservative voters will find out what reality is. They won’t like it.