Dan Morain: California congressional Republicans seek gas tax repeal

Should-Read: This seems likely to be profoundly counterproductive: the people who would be triggered to go to the polls to vote to repeal the state gasoline tax hike are also people who would like more of their SALT deduction back. They would seem eager to punish McCarthy and company for taking that away. Does the California Republican House delegation have any polling indicating otherwise?: Dan Morain: California congressional Republicans seek gas tax repeal: “Now that most of California’s House Republicans have voted for a tax overhaul that will raise taxes for many of their constituents, you have to wonder what more good cheer they’ll bring…. I’m thinking roads and other infrastructure…

…November 2018 ballot… repeal the 12-cent per gallon gasoline tax increase… to pay for road repairs, bridge maintenance and some public transit…. Potholes don’t fill themselves. That’s not stopping House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, and most of California’s Republican congressional delegation from backing that repeal–with a notable exception, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock. McCarthy, a guy who knows politics, dumped $100,000 into the initiative to repeal the gas tax. Rep. Mimi Walters, an Orange County Republican, and Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, chipped in $50,000 each, recent campaign finance reports show. “This is politics at its worst,” California Transportation Secretary Brian Kelly told me. “They’re trying to make sure Republicans get to the polls in California. It’s not much other than that, in a year that looks pretty shaky for them.”

California Republicans will be facing a bleak reality in 2018…. 66 percent of us disapprove of the Republican Party’s leader, President Donald Trump, and 57 percent strongly disapprove…. Any Republican politician who thinks he or she has a future in the Golden State ought to be especially alarmed by… 77 percent of people between ages 18 and 39 disapprove of Trump. An entire generation in the nation’s largest state has turned against the GOP’s standard bearer, roughly the reverse of numbers recorded at the end of Barack Obama’s first year in office. “I’ve never seen the depth of disapproval so strongly held,” said pollster Mark DiCa…

And:

Dan Morain: California congressional Republicans seek gas tax repeal: “Building trade unions, major road builders, engineering firms and Los Angeles, Orange County and Bay Area business groups–many of them Republican donors – sent letters urging California’s congressional Republicans to stand down and not push to repeal the gas tax hike…

…We appreciate that your primary goal is to protect all incumbent Republicans and increase the number of Republicans in the House as well as other elected bodies. However, a strategy to use an initiative to repeal SB 1 to reach your goal may be counterproductive to your objectives. Fundamentally, any attack on SB 1 amounts to an attack on improving our badly deficient transportation system, endangering our economic growth and competitiveness, and increasing unemployment…

[Representative] McCarthy pointedly pushed back:

If Democrats in Sacramento are rewarded with a gas tax bailout now, what is to stop them from looking at the industries represented in your coalition to pay for the next fiscal crisis? These are principles we should stand shoulder-to-shoulder to defend…

McCarthy and 10 other House Republicans from California signed the letter. Denham was among the absentees. His office offered no explanation for his failure to stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” with fellow Republicans. But… the Central Valley Republican would be in line to become chairman of the committee that oversees transportation and infrastructure. Denham would be dealing with construction companies, engineering firms and unions that represent the building trades, the very same ones who will be spending millions to defeat the initiative that McCarthy is funding. Politics aside, they understand the hard reality that decent roads come at a cost. And, evidently, so does Denham…

And Josh Marshall comments:

Josh Marshall: Saving the California GOP House Delegation: “California is one of the states hardest hit by the end of most deductions for SALT taxes…

…Altogether it could crush what remains of the still sizable Republican House delegation from California (39-D, 14-R). How to survive? Led by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, they plan to hitch their fates to a proposition to repeal a new gas tax dedicated to roads and infrastructure spending. The aim seems less to change minds as simply to make certain Republicans turnout. They need every angle they can get. Not surprisingly, the new tax is not terribly popular, certainly not among Republicans. But it actually has a fair degree of support among business groups who are major GOP donors but yet realize that a decrepit infrastructure is bad for business…

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Brad DeLong
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