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Summer Sales Tax Dies; Rhoden Says Republicans Should Ignore Popular Will

Last updated on 2011.02.22

Principle? What principle?

Senate State Affairs killed SB 174, the temporary extra-penny sales tax, at its Tuesday hearing. The best argument opposing senators could muster was the idea that we shouldn't resort to temporary solutions. Prime sponsor Senator Stanford Adelstein responded that the tax hike addresses a temporary problem, the temporary drop in state revenue, so why not?

That question went unanswered, as did concerns about the much greater job losses we'll incur from budget cuts than from tax increases. Senator Russell Olson burped up some pablum he heard from Glenn Beck about the country being broke and China owning us. Olson then made up some fantasy that everybody in the country is looking at South Dakota for leadership in good governance. (Um... doubtful. See also here and here.)

Senator Larry Rhoden (R-29/Union Center)
Senator Larry Rhoden (R-29/Union Center), Defender of the Republic... when it's convenient.

But the prize for bad political reasoning goes to State Affairs chairman Senator Larry Rhoden. Senator Rhoden addressed the polls that show overwhelming popular support for a tax increase to mitigate state budget cuts. Senator Rhoden didn't challenge the existence of that popular support; he challenged the political legitimacy of it. Latching on to a mostly meaningless political trope, Senator Rhoden said that we are a republic for a reason and that we shouldn't govern by polls.

Translation: what the people want doesn't matter... especially when it contradicts our political slogans.

Senator Rhoden's closing statement is a funny shift from the line Senator Olson was peddling previously. Last month, Olson was telling us he didn't want to cut aid to education but was being forced by a mandate from the voters not to raise taxes.

Again, the translation: when Republicans think the public backs them, we're a democracy. But when multiple sources present evidence the public doesn't back them, we're a republic. Clever. It's not just elitism; it's situational elitism!

We can all look forward to crackerbarrels this weekend where Senators Rhoden, Olson, et al. can explain their situational elitism to voters... whose opinion doesn't really matter in our great Republic.

One Comment

  1. Eve Fisher 2011.02.23

    Cory, congratulations on coming up with the perfect definition of our South Dakota legislature: situational elitism. And it's so useful, too: can be used to allow legislators to do what they damn well please regarding economics (more money for TransCanada! no penny sales tax! a huge raise for the lieutenant gov! 10% cuts for education!), women's reproductive rights (what rights?), and other issues that they know they know best about. Stinks to high heaven, doesn't it?

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