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Primary Mud-Slinging Not Repeated in Debate Between Favola, Merrick

by ARLnow.com — September 7, 2011 at 4:02 pm 2,470 90 Comments

If you were hoping for fireworks in the closely-watched state Senate race between Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola (D) and McLean businesswoman Caren Merrick (R), you would have been sorely disappointed by last night’s Arlington County Civic Federation debate.

The unofficial kickoff to the general election campaign season lacked the audacious, back-and-forth recriminations of the 31st District Democratic primary. It did, however, set the stage for a clear battle of ideas in a race that could have significant repercussions in Richmond.

Smiling and effervescent, Merrick’s big debut to Arlington voters started out with her politely applauding Favola’s opening statement, then taking the podium, acknowledging her husband and sons, and describing herself as “the daughter of a Marine.” She recounted how she and her husband “started a software company in our basement” (it was sold to a German company in 2007 for $546 million) and touted her non-profit work with low-income families and “urban youth.”

Repeatedly, Merrick cited her business experience and argued that she was the stronger candidate on jobs and the economy.

“I believe that I have the experience that these challenging times call for,” Merrick said, adding that she would also focus on education and “bipartisan solutions for transportation.”

“I will not be part of the partisan gridlock,” said Merrick. “Above all, I promise that I will listen to you.”

Merrick stayed clear of hot-button topics like abortion and gay marriage in her opening and closing statements, but Civic Federation questioners pressed the issue.

“There are millions of good people on both sides of this issue,” she said when asked about abortion. “I’m pro-life. But I have a record of helping women who are homeless, who have been abused, who have had to rebuild their lives. The company that my husband and I co-founded… over half of the management team were women. So I’m pro-women.”

“In terms of discrimination, I believe discrimination is wrong,” she said, referring to a question about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. “I’ve hired people from all walks of life.”

Favola, meanwhile, was unequivocal.

“I’m a strong supporter of pro-equality,” she said. “I’m 100% pro-choice as well.”

Favola and Merrick both said they supported increasing transportation funding, but differed in terms of how to pay for it.

“You have to remember that Virginia has one of the lowest gas taxes in the entire country,” Favola said in support of raising the state’s gasoline tax. “The bottom line here is: We have a problem, we have to fix it.”

“I don’t believe a gas tax is sustainable,” Merrick argued. “I agree with our Democratic Senators Warner and Webb, who are proposing that we sell off-shore [oil drilling] leases. I also support a myriad of other forms of revenue for transportation. I do not support the gas tax.”

Favola further differentiated herself from Merrick by talking about the role of government.

“I think government should use its power to provide opportunities for people, and to ensure that power and influence are not just reserved for corporate America,” she said. “Regulation is not a bad word… I’m the only candidate here who’s willing to use the clout of government to protect our environment.”

Favola warned that a win by Merrick in the Democratic-leaning 31st District could jeopardize Democrats’ slim majority in the state Senate.

“It is critical that voters consider the differences between Ms. Merrick and myself, and what it would mean for Virginia if Democrats were to lose control of the Senate,” Favola said. “In the last session, House Republicans reduced spending on K-12 education by $600 million, and Democrats in the Senate restored most of it… Twenty four anti-immigrant bills passed the House of Delegates, and the Senate defeated them. They were divisive, and were not in keeping with our values.”

Last night’s debate also featured 30th state Senate District candidates Del. Adam Ebbin (D) and Tim McGhee (R) and 32nd District candidates Janet Howell (D) and Patrick Forrest (R). While Ebbin and McGhee stuck closely to the issues and barely engaged one another, Forrest came out swinging against the incumbent Howell, saying that she has “not shown leadership” on issues like Metrorail to Dulles and rising tolls on the Dulles Toll Road.

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  • JimPB

    Mud belongs on the ground, not being slung through the air.

    Sounds like political discourse as it should be: respectful of persons, tough on issues.

  • Brandon

    “I think government should use its power to provide opportunities for people.”

    By using violence and the threat of violence to take my property and give it to others? Is that what you mean by using government power to “provide opportunities” for people? Just making sure.

    “Government power” is the cause of more human misery than all the corporations in the world put together. If only Barbara Favola and the enlightened citizens of Arlington and the world would realize it.

    • drax

      So you don’t support any taxation, huh, Brendan?

    • BB

      She is running for state Senate, not Secretary General of the UN.

      PS – The reason we are where we are now is because of toothless regulatory regime in DC that allowed the corporations to run amok.

  • Chico

    Which government are your talking about Brandon?

    My governments put a man on the moon (12 actually), won two world wars, built the Hoover Dam, put people to work during the Great Depression, teaches my kids, paves my roads and cleans them, arrests, prosecutes and jails criminals…

    So tired of the Mini McVeighs who latched on to the Reagan sales line that government is always a problem. Always a problem until their house floods or they need a farm subsidy…

    • Cubano

      +10

    • ClizzleDizzle

      Upvoted!

    • ClizzleDizzle

      Although Chico, Brandon may me a Native American.

    • ZoningVictim

      They put a man on the moon, well that surely means they can’t be a problem. They teach your kids to rank in the bottom half of all industrialized nations in math and science despite spending more per student than any country on the planet, they lengthened the Great Depression and setup social programs that they knew were doomed to fail, have jailed more people than any other nation in the world, have purposely dumped radioactive waste in one of our small towns just to see what would happen, are holding a lot of people in jail and have been for years without charging them with anything or giving them a fair trial, have endorsed and performed torture, have taken property from private citizens and given it to corporations under eminent domain, puts people to death on a regular basis, have heaped so many regulations on the good citizens of this country that our manufacturing sector has run for the border, have caused economic crisis after economic crisis, have racked up a debt that equals 100% of our GDP, have continued to enter wars where America has no vested interest in the outcomes; the list of bad stuff your government has done goes on and on.

      So tired of the mini socialists who always think the government is the answer to every problem.

      • drax

        You know what I’m tired of? I’m tired of posters who say that anyone who says the government is capable of doing ANYTHING thinks the government is the solution for EVERYTHING and is a “mini-socialist.” Nobody said that.

        Brandon appears to be a “mini-anarchist” who thinks any and all taxation is evil. Saying otherwise doesn’t make you a “mini-socialist.” That’s a goofy false choice.

        • Patrick

          Drax you are doing the exact same thing to brendan that you are accusing ZoningVictim of doing. I dont see where in brendan’s statement h esays that “any and all taxation is evil”. Pot meet Kettle.

          • drax

            Wrong.

            “By using violence and the threat of violence to take my property and give it to others?”

            That describes ALL taxation. Either Brandon opposes all taxes, or he’s a blowhard who doesn’t actually think about what he’s saying. He hasn’t come back to say which though.

          • ZoningVictim

            You actually have no idea what he’s talking about and are simply making an assumption that supports your own views. Just because someone is against the redistribution of income doesn’t mean that they’re against all taxation. Any blowhard should know that.

          • drax

            He didn’t just say “redistribution of income” though. He said what he said. I quoted it. Read it again.

          • ZoningVictim

            Okay, I’ve read it again and it still just says “[...] take my property and give it to others?” Redistribution of property, redistribution of income; tomato, tomato

            Do you really fail to see the chasm between that statement and someone being against all taxation? I seriously doubt it.

          • drax

            He said, to quote exactly again:

            “By using violence and the threat of violence to take my property and give it to others?”

            The violence and thread of violence means taxation. He is talking about all taxation – otherwise, if he only opposed using violence to tax and redistribute income, he would be perfectly fine with violence for other taxation. He’s making a wild connection between taxation and redistribution of income, in other words, saying it’s wrong because it requires people to be taxed.

            Of course, all I did was ask. He never came back to clarify.

          • ZoningVictim

            Haha, you’re worse than most politicians when it comes to slicing and dicing sentences to mean what you want them to mean. Suddenly, I feel like I’m arguing with a lunatic.

          • drax

            No, I’m being very specific and focused on what his words actually were, while you’re slinging insults. Which makes you more like the politician.

          • ooranyd

            Mehoo – Maybe I’m having reading comprehension problems, but where exactly is the word “taxes” in the phrase you quoted:
            “By using violence and the threat of violence to take my property and give it to others?”

      • Josh S

        Many possible ways to go here, Victim. Your unhappiness seems to run in every direction. For some reason, you seem to blame government for all of this long list of things each of which is very complex and with many layers of causation. It’s a very simplistic and almost Tea Party sort of view of the world. Aren’t you curious as to exactly why things happen rather than simply choosing a boogie man and running with it?You end by saying “your government.” Have you never voted? Are you not a US citizen?
        Just to pick one thing – regulation caused industry to move overseas. Let’s somehow imagine a world in which there were no differences in regulation between countries. But in country A, manufacturers pay their employees, let’s say $20/hour. In country B, manufacturers pay $2/hour. Might that make a difference in where the manufacturer would choose to set up operations? I’m not going to deny that as we move back to the real world, manufacturers will add the costs of regulations into their overall calculations. And I’m also not going to deny that the United States has stricter environmental regulations, for example, than many of the countries where wages are so low. But on the margin, which is where many companies make their decisions, regulations make a far smaller impact than things like wages. The hue and the cry about “we need to cut government regulation” in order to free up business and create jobs makes about as much sense as the perrenial cry to cut waste and inefficiency in government and that will cut the deficit. These things are extremely easy targets but in terms of actually making a difference in the real world, their impact is much smaller than you might think.

        • ZoningVictim

          “Your unhappiness seems to run in every direction.” – That would be because I’m not a party sell-out like many of the people on here who think everything their party does is great and the other party is evil. I’m pointing out that the US government has done all kinds of horrible stuff, and the “your government” was in response to Chico’s “My governments [sic]” comment. It helps to read posts in the context of what they are responding to.

          With regards to being curious about to why things happen, in a lot of cases I don’t really care why they happened. Was there a justifiable reason in some madman’s mind for dumping radioactive waste on a town in America to study the effects? Sure, but that doesn’t mean anything to me insofar as justifying doing it. I feel the same way about most of the stuff I mentioned. Sticking your head in the sand and ignoring all of the bad things our government has done (and all of the things it’s failed at and continues to do, anyway) is less simplistic than identifying it and demanding a fix? If so, color me simple.

          As for your statements about regulation, if two countries had equal regulations, there wouldn’t be any way one could pay $2/hr. while the other was paying $20/hr. For starters, the minimum wage is part of those regulations. Additionally, your scenario is a little off. Most of the countries who are kicking our butts with regards to manufacturing don’t even possess the natural resources in the first place, so the ship in raw materials and equipment, then produce something, then crate them, then put them on a ship to send over here where they have to pay duties, etc. So yes, I think if we had equal regulations or a tariff to offset the difference in regulations, we’d be competitive enough to bring manufacturing back to the US.

          As for this: “The hue and the cry about “we need to cut government regulation” in order to free up business and create jobs makes about as much sense as the perrenial cry to cut waste and inefficiency in government and that will cut the deficit. These things are extremely easy targets but in terms of actually making a difference in the real world, their impact is much smaller than you might think.”

          Your senator, a Democrat, disagrees with you. Regulatory compliance costs in this country are estimated by the SBA to be $1.75 trillion. How’s that for a small impact? That’s even more than the massive Obama deficits. http://warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=regulatory-paygo

          • drax

            I like how conservatives have starved government for 30 years and then blame government for not getting things done and running up debt.

          • ZoningVictim

            Our government is starved? What a joke. How much extra money do you send the IRS every year?

          • drax

            The tax burden is the lowest it has been since 1958.

          • ZoningVictim

            That’s what tends to happen when you exempt almost half of the workforce from paying any income taxes. Miraculously, the country was able to operate in those years where taxation was as low as it is now on what they got. What is that statement based on, anyway (percent GDP, percentage of income tax on the top tax bracket, etc.)? What percentage of GDP do you think is a fair amount for the federal government to take?

          • drax

            So you want more people to pay taxes? That’s a start.

            Funny how the government, and economy and people, were able to operate at higher levels than 1958 too, huh?

            (It’s based on percent of income of everyone. http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/taxes/2011-05-05-tax-cut-record-low_n.htm)

          • ZoningVictim

            Yes, we need to broaden the tax base, and we need to scrap the tax code and start again.

            Our government is better now than it was in 1958? I don’t think so. The following number are in % of GDP (except for unemployment, of course):
            In 1958, total revenues: 17.3%, deficit: 0.01%, unemployment: 6.2%
            In 2007, total revenues: 18.5%, deficit: 4.6%, unemployment: 5%
            In 2010 total revenues: 14.9%, deficit: 8.92%, unemployment: 9.4%
            In 2011 total revenues: 14.4%, deficit: 10.91%, unemployment: 9.1%

            It’s only been over 20 one time and that was Y2K @ 20.6% and the deficit was -2.37%. That is not the mark of a well-run government. Then some idiot cut taxes across the board and increased spending. Then eight years later, another idiot did that same thing in spades. That’s the mark of a government that will spend any amount of money it gets and still find a way to run in the red. If anyone wants to propose to hit a giant effing reset button on the last 11 years for both spending and taxation, I’m behind them all the way. If you just want to tax us more and still spend like wildfire, I’ve got nothing for you.

          • drax

            You’re making a circular argument. The purpose of government is to do what government does, not just keep deficits low doing it. Government agencies don’t control what they can spend or what they get. If government doesn’t have enough to get the job done, I lay that at the feet of those who cut taxes to the bone.

  • Juanita de Talmas

    “I don’t believe a gas tax is sustainable,” Merrick argued.

    So by this does she mean she believes electric cars will soon take over the roads and the sale of gasoline will fall off a cliff? What else would make such a tax unsustainable?

    • drax

      Yeah, she seems to think that every other state with higher gas taxes has failed miserably.

    • http://www.arlnow.com ARLnow.com

      Teleworking and hybrid vehicles help to make it unsustainable as a dedicated revenue source, she said.

      • drax

        That’s silly, since reducing gas tax receipts through telework, etc. also reduces the demand for those receipts.

        • Steve99

          That’s why it is unsustainable. She gets it, you do not.

          • Thes

            That’s why it doesn’t *need* to be sustainable — past the point where we are dependent on gas-powered vehicles for our economy. Which will be quite some time from now. Drax gets it, you do not.

          • Steve99

            You are really saying the same thing she is. You actually get it just like her. Congratulations.

          • ZoningVictim

            So you’re telling me electric/hybrid/hydrogen fuel cell/CNG vehicles do not need roads? I don’t see a near future where we are not driving on roads, but I do see one (fingers crossed for luck) where we aren’t dependent on gasoline for travel anymore. That makes a gasoline tax to solve transportation “problems” unsustainable.

          • Steve99

            See, someone else gets it.

          • drax

            So you’re telling us that non-gasoline vehicles are going to be a significant part of our fleet of vehicles soon?

            I hope it’s true. If it is, she’s right. Is she going to do something to help that happen?

            Gas taxes are a smaller and smaller part of transportation funding these days anyway, simply because they are too low. They only pay for 50-70%. So yeah, if we need other sources, fine. What’s she propose to replace the gas tax?

          • drax

            Do you know what “sustainable” means, Steve?

      • Josh S

        Well, I guess it is unsustainable in the long run, given that the oil will run out at some point and switches to hybrids, electric cars, and teleworking (hmmm, she started a software company in her basement) will also theoretically reduce demand for gas. But these are really long term arguments. I dont’ know the context but I certainly hope she wasn’t suggesting that we should do away with the gas tax now because we can’t rely on the revenue it generates. That’s an absurd argument. If you don’t like the gas tax, argue against it, but don’t claim it won’t generate decent revenue for many years to come.

        • Patrick

          Her point is that all those new vehicles will still need roads to drive on. Seeing as how the gas tax is the main source of revenue for road construction as the income from the gas tax decreases there will be less money for road upkeep. Hence the gas tax is unsustainable unless these new vehicles aren’t going to be driving on roads.

          • Josh S

            Again, where is the evidence that shows that revenue from the gas tax in Virginia and at the federal level won’t continue to be substantial for many years to come?

          • ZoningVictim

            Who cares if it’s substantial if it’s inadequate? It’s pretty obvious that we’re headed for a future where gasoline will play a decreasing role in propelling our vehicles. It’s also obvious that the people who can afford to be first adopters of the technology that will drive down gasoline usage are high income earners that can afford to pay for new vehicles in the $30K and above range. Therefore, not only is the gasoline tax unsustainable, but it taxes less fortunate people at a higher rate than well to do people. So, I’m for getting rid of the gasoline tax and going with something more fair to everyone and right now the only thing that seems to foot that bill is usage fees (tolls).

          • speonjosh

            OK, we can go with inadequate then. Where is the evidence that gas tax revenue won’t continue to be adequate for many years to come? Of course, by switching to the term “adequate” we now have a couple of problems. First, how do you define “adequate?” Adequate for what? Maintaining existing roads? Building new ones? How many new ones? Etc.

            In any case, back to the candidate’s point. She seemed to be saying that she was opposed to the gas tax because it would be inadequate in years to come because of increased use of hybrids, electric vehicles and telecommuting. My question remains – where is the evidence for this line of reasoning? And mind you, you can’t just show that gas tax revenue has been decreasing. You have to show it has been decreasing BECAUSE of hybrids, electric vehicles and telecommuting. I have a hard time believing that those things, by themselves, have yet to make a noticeable difference in the gas tax revenue. So to argue that we should throw out the gas tax and pin it on those things is absurd. Like I said before – if you are opposed to the gas tax – fine argue that, but at least come up with some plausible reasons to support your argument.

            It’s regressive. Well, that’s true.All sales taxes are. But it’s hard to replace that revenue. Unless your real goal is not to come up with fair ways of supporting government, but to actually drown it in the bathtub and we’re back to Grover Norquist again, aren’t we?

            Besides, let’s say we eliminate the gas tax and go with tolls on more roads. Don’t you think sales of hybrids plummet?

            It sounds all very reactionary to me. Dressed up in pseudo-populist clothing….

          • ZoningVictim

            True, for instance, I think the roads are already adequate and we should adjust our behaviors to make them stay that way. I don’t really care if it takes people in Woodbridge hours to drive into DC and I don’t want to pay for more roads so more people will move out there. If we took all of the information workers off the roads, the problem would be solved. I’ve lived almost all of my driving life in this area, and no matter what we can’t build enough roads for the amount of people who want to drive on them given the current paradigm of making everyone within a 100+ mile radius drive in to one rather small city to work.

            How is someone supposed to prove that the move toward fuel efficient vehicles and alternative fuels will result in less gasoline taxes? Isn’t just knowing that hybrids use less gas, cars are getting more fuel efficient and we are trying (or should be trying) to move away from gas powered vehicles enough to tell you that you are going to be selling less and less gas?

            Sales taxes may always be regressive, but that has very little impact when you stop charging sales tax on necessities. Fair ways of supporting a reasonable amount of government are fine, but charging a regressive tax on necessities doesn’t fit that bill if you ask me.

            I think people buy hybrids because they like using less gasoline, and it’s not like getting rid of the gasoline tax will make gasoline cheap.

            You should really give up on this line that conservatives are out to destroy the government by defunding it. It’s really silly. I haven’t advocated removing any revenue. The roads we have must be maintained and that’s going to take money. I’ve simply offered what I think is a better way to collect the necessary funds.

          • speonjosh

            I, too, believe that we should be moving away from reliance on gas-powered vehicles. However, I think that abandoning the gas tax would have the opposite effect. The gas tax, like all taxes, influences the market. If you remove it, people will, on the margins, be more comfortable with a lower MPG car.

            But what does the candidate want? She says the gas tax is “unsustainable.” OK, so what? Is she simply concerned with roads being built or maintained? She’s worried that because she sees more hybrids on the roads that in the future we won’t be able to maintain our roads? Does she think that this is already happening?

            You have said we should do away with the gas tax. To my knowledge, she hasn’t made it clear what her proposed solution to her phantom problem is (no, it’s not enough to simply recognize that more hyrbids are being sold since there are so many other factors – miles driven, total cars on the road, overall economic conditions, etc that impact gas tax collections). But taking her statements at face value, perhaps she is advocating that the gas tax be eliminated.

            But to 1) move us towards less gasoline use and 2) help increase revenues for building / maintaining roads wouldn’t the opposite solution also work – RAISE the gas tax? More people are encouraged to find alternatives to gas guzzling automobiles and at the same time our gas tax revenues increase or stay the same to combat perceived loss of revenue from the mighty hybridization of America’s auto fleet.

            You’re right, I don’t know that you are out to destroy government by defunding it. However, Norquist is and he has a lot of followers including most of the Bush administration and the Tea Party. The argument that hybrids are resulting in lower gas tax revenue and so therefore we should do away with the gas tax is so absurd that I just have to search for an ulterior motive – shrinking tax revenue seems like a likely one.

  • http://www.bluevirginia.us Blue Virginia

    Clearly, none of the Republicans at the forum are pro-choice or pro-LGBT equality. Nor do they support a dedicated revenue stream to improve transportation. See http://www.bluevirginia.us/diary/4818/video-two-more-nova-republican-senate-candidates-are-not-moderates-on-social-issues and http://www.bluevirginia.us/diary/4817/video-merrick-proves-herself-a-standardissue-right-winger-at-arlington-candidates-forum for video.

    • ZoningVictim

      Since I consider the economy, keeping taxation low and keeping the government out of my personal life more important than two issues that should be decided by the courts and one non-issue; I’m really not worried about those three things.

      • drax

        You don’t see a connection between abortion, lesbian and gay rights, and keeping the government out of personal lives?

        We already know you prefer low taxes to good transportation. How was your commute today?

        • ZoningVictim

          Yes, RVW has already taken care of one issue; hopefully, the courts will get off of their butts and take care of the other.

          My commute was great (not kidding). I choose to live close to where I work instead of moving 25 miles away and complaining about my commute.

          • drax

            No, these are all active political issues, not just court issues. Even abortion – notice the new rules on abortion clinics?

            Glad to hear about your commute. Too bad those truck drivers etc. you care about don’t have the same choice.

  • Brandon

    “Which government are your talking about Brandon?”

    All of them. The United States government. The government of Virginia. The government of Arlington county. Any government that uses violence and the threat of violence to coerece people into handing over their property and obeying unjust laws.

  • HarryB

    I was there last night. Merrick completely skirted the LGBT question. “I believe discrimination is wrong.”? What about when it comes to the rights of same-sex couples to adopt and marry?

    In my mind, the increased public focus on Merrick can only be good for democrats in this race; Caren Merrick has some very hard line conservative views that go against when that people of the 31st believe.

    • Patrick

      HarryB what exactly makes you qualified to determine what “people of the 31st believe”. There are wide swaths of the 31st that aren’t part of the People’s Republic of Arlington. Furthermore there are many of us in arlington that don’t believe any of our current elected leaders represent our views. Try not to paint with such a broad brush.

    • CW

      Favola should force Merrick’s hand here then. Favola should go around saying that since Merrick “believe[s] discrimination is wrong”, then she must be in favor of marriage equality and other equality. Then Merrick must either agree with this assertion, heading away from the support of her party base, or refute it, losing her any possible crossover progressives and independents. Either way, Favola should use this statement to try and force Merrick to draw a line in the sand.

  • KalashniKEV

    I’m not reading the whole article, but there’s no way Babs can go up against that…

    • Jezebel

      Nice to see you have such high regard for women, KEV.

      The “that” in your sentence refers to a woman, right? Were you thinking, “up against her” by chance? Or were you thinking of Merrick solely as an object?

      • KalashniKEV

        “that” candidate… of course!

        ;)

        • drax

          Sure, Kev.

  • bob

    How the hell can Babs beat this blonde? Jaime, we miss you.

    • AllenB

      Just watch… she will.

  • http://thegreenmiles.blogspot.com TheGreenMiles

    Merrick said “I do not support the gas tax”? Does that mean she doesn’t want to increase it, or wants to repeal it?

    • drax

      She probably has no idea. But it would be fun to ask her.

  • dave schutz

    I go to gas up in Arlington, and there are a LOT of DC and Maryland plates at the station. We are making money from motorists from other jurisdictions filling up by preference here before they go home. So it’s not clear that we would get anything like (current gallons sold) times (tax increase) in new revenue if we raised the tax.

    Tolling the roads – all of them – is a much better match to consumption of road services than the gas tax, and would do more to encourage carpooling, taking trips at non – rush hours, etc.

    Merrick’s also not wrong that we have increasing problems as the level of electric cars, hybrids, etc., goes up – people getting 54 miles a gallon are taking up just as much lane as people getting 14 mpg, and they are not paying their share for road-building.

    • ZoningVictim

      Exactly; in fact, one could easily make the argument that the gasoline tax is regressive since a large number of working class people simply can’t use fuel efficient vehicles. I’m talking about plumbers, carpenters, truck drivers, delivery men, and anyone else working in a trade that has to carry a lot of stuff around in a truck or van. There simply isn’t anything that can carry around or tow a lot of heavy equipment that gets much better than 14 MPG. Usage fees (tolls in this case) are definitely the way to go.

      • drax

        One could easily make the argument that tolls are regressive too.

        The gas tax isn’t a big burden on anyone. It’s like the cost of gas itself – just part of doing business if you drive a truck.

        • ZoningVictim

          The fact that gas becomes part of the cost of doing business makes it a burden on everyone, but more so on people who must drive bigger vehicles. I can see why liberals always want to raise taxes; they seem to think the money comes out of thin air and has no impact on anyone. How about the guy who is working his butt off trying to make a living and provide for his family and barely has enough money left at the end of the month to save anything for his retirement, will more taxes affect him?

          Tolls are not regressive and I don’t see any viable argument that they are. They are, however, flat usage fees.

          • speonjosh

            They are regressive because they impact your “guy who is working his butt off trying to make a living and provide for his family and barely has enough money left at the end of the month to save anything for his retirement” more than they do a weathy businesswoman who just sold her company for $550 million. For example.
            It’s not really a “viable argument” as to whether a toll is a regressive tax. It’s just the definition of a regressive tax.

          • drax

            Of course tolls are regressive. They take a greater share of a poor person’s wealth than a rich person’s. You sound like a liberal, trying to hide a regressive tax by calling it a “usage fee!”

            You are the one who suggested replacing a regressive tax with another regressive tax, dude. Don’t whine about “liberals.”

            I want to make sure the guy who depends on driving for his livelihood has adequate roads to get around on. You?

    • drax

      Sure, in Arlington there are people from out of state filling up, but not in most of Virginia, which isn’t next to a major urban area in another state.

      As for tolls – really, toll all roads? A toll booth at every corner?

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Toll all roads? A toll booth at every corner? That would be a hot mess. Imagine tolls on I-66 and I-395 with the traffic those roads already have. I’m not much for taxes, but I’ll stomach a gasoline tax before tolling all road.

        • ZoningVictim

          We have the technology to toll people without toll booths. I sure wish they’d use it at the Bay Bridge.

          • drax

            We could just tax the miles people drive.

    • CW

      Every time I check, gas is cheaper in Fairfax…am I missing something?

  • Bluemontsince1961

    No mud slinging…..yet. Give it some time; I’ll be surprised if this one doesn’t turn into mud slinging. Politics anymore in this country seems more about who can be the ugliest – and that goes for BOTH political parties, in my opinion.

  • Homeowner

    Issues aside, Babs is sigh a light-weight in comparison.

    • AllenB

      Right, Favola has ran and won terms on the County Board several times and beat back a mudslinging challenger… but she’s the lightweight compared to someone who has never run for and won any elected position in her life? Nice try….

      • Homeowner

        I’ve met her and talked to her. She’s an empty suit. A couple of things to ask yourself:

        1. Other than the recent primary (in which she slung plenty of mud herself), when was the last time she even ran opposed against a serious candidate? Being a Democrat and winning elections in Arlington isn’t exactly something to brag about.
        2. In her entire tenure on the County Board, has she ever voted against the majority? When exactly has she ever had to “compromise”? When has she ever opposed a tax increase or made a difficult choice to cut spending?

        • AllenB

          Really, serving on the County board of one of the most financially secure counties in the country for several years is nothing to brag about? I guess if you’re a republican, no, but to the majority of Arlingtonians that is an accomplishment.

          As for her votes, I’m not doing that kind of research. No time. But your out of hand dismissal of someone who has served here for many years is laughable.

          But yes, we should trust someone who has zero experience in government and politics to represent our views in Richmond. Most of us are pro choice and pro equality. I do applaud Ms Merrick for being honest about her pro-life views but she clearly danced around the marriage equality issue. Which really means, hell no, she’s not for marriage equality or equal rights for GLBT folks. To the majority of Arlingtonians, those views are non-starters.

          But gosh darnit, Ms Merrick is the daughter of a marine and built and sold a software company, so she clearly has the experience to legislate in Richmond.

          Favola will clean her clock.

          • Homeowner

            With regards to reseraching the votes, I’ll save you the effort. Never.

  • Josh S

    She’s a daughter of a marine.
    She started a business in her basement which she later sold for a whole lot of money.

    Why are these qualifications for being a politician? So she’s a successful businesswoman – why does this mean she can successfully negotiate with other politicians with different beliefs in order to create laws that benefit the people of Virginia? The needs of the people of Virginia are quite a bit different and WAY more complex than the needs of any employees, partners, investors in her business.

    In order to be a politician, you really should BELIEVE in government. Does she? Is she going to Richmond with a purpose – does she have an idea of how the people of Virginia need help, what our problems are, how she can make the state better? What wrongs can the state government make right?

    • ZoningVictim

      If you own a business in VA, then aren’t the needs of your employees, partners, investors also the needs of at least some of the people of VA? If being a successful business person doesn’t make you a good representative of the people, then what previous experience does? Don’t tell me it’s being a lifelong politician. What on earth do they understand about the issues of common people who actually have to work in jobs that create money or the businesses that employ them?

      When you say “BELIEVE in government,” what does that really mean? I believe in government. I also believe that its role should be limited to things like defense, justice, the courts and basic infrastructure, and I hope she does, too. Some people seem to believe that the government is here to solve everyone’s problems for them. That doesn’t mean those who believe in limited government don’t believe in any government.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        “Don’t tell me it’s being a lifelong politician. What on earth do they understand about the issues of common people who actually have to work in jobs…”

        I’ll agree with that. If the current Congress is an example, they are out of touch with the average American big time. Many of them have been in office for years and years. A few years ago, Congress got lower ratings in the polls than even Bush. These days, Congress gets lower polls ratings that Obama.

      • speonjosh

        Well obviously no one person can be representative of “the people.” And yes, of course the needs of her employees, partners, investors are the needs of some of the people of VA. The point is that businesspeople are trained to serve the bottom line. Running a government is very different than serving the bottom line. For starters, there is no bottom line. This may be disconcerting to some.
        There is a reason that government employees are sometimes called civil servants. The job (and I would say it includes elected officials) involves public service. You serve the public. We are ALL the public. And what we need is varied and complex. Much more complex than what can be measured in a balance sheet, at least as typically derived.
        There probably is no magic background that qualifies you for office. But she gets up and one of the first things she wants to do is point out that she is a successful businesswoman as if this qualifies her for office. Hey, congratulations on being a successfull businesswoman. That’s great. It doesn’t prove anything though. So enough already. What do you believe? What will you do? What are your goals? What will be your purpose in office? That’s what is important.

        • Lou

          You could always head over to her website and answer a few of those questions yourself.

          • speonjosh

            Lou, you are absolutely right. I guess this line of discussion is over.

  • http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/ Jesse

    Better accept your corporate masters, or the socialists will take your money and give it to the weak, the immigrant, the unworthy. Such simplistic arguments rarely fail to sway the unthinking and the fearful.

    The plight of US corporations, which are enjoying the lowest effective tax rates and fattest profits in years, and who are still digesting the gains of fraud from deregulation and pocket politicians, will be trotted out en masse like a Memorial Day Telethon for Pig-itis.

    Cut corporate taxes, deregulate, free the market from the burdens of government, and the riches will trickle down to the middle class. That is what we will hear, with little to the contrary.

    One would think that CEOs are standing in breadlines, the banksters are going to Coney Island instead of frolicking in the Hamptons, and their wives are driving Fords instead of Ferraris.

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