The Dems Don’t Need A Candidate

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - September 28, 2005

I am enjoying the speculation party the media and the Democratic Party are throwing about who will be the sacrificial lamb to run against incumbent Gov. Linda Lingle next year. It seems we’re all invited, so let’s join in.

First of all, it is amusing to me that there is such handwringing at all about the Dems being out of the Fifth Floor. I mean, with the vast majority they enjoy in the Legislature, the (wink, wink) non-partisan mayor’s seat and City Council, they sound like a spoiled little girl who wants all the presents at her friend’s birthday party. The Dems are getting pretty much all they want anyway. Regardless of whether the governor vetoes a bill or goes along with the majority, they are ultimately walking away with those presents.

If you take a look at major policy initiatives, the Democrats don’t need the governorship. The following issues are top of mind with us today: the gas cap, the bottle bill and the impending increase of the General Excise Tax. Each of these pieces of legislation was drafted, introduced and passed by Democrats. If you have any concerns with these policies, you can thank the Democrats, and a few Republicans.

Let’s take the big daddy we are all wringing our hands about. The bottom line on the intent of the gas cap was to punish the big, bad oil companies by socialist-loving Democrats. Dating back to the days of Gov. Ben Cayetano, the gas cap was the devil child of the state’s lawsuits against Tesoro and Chevron. The Cayetano administration vehemently accused the oil companies of many grievances against Hawaii consumers. First and foremost was unfair profit-taking. Claims that Chevron’s profit margin in Hawaii was responsible for over a quarter of its net earnings is the stuff of which urban legends are made. Years later, the Democrat-commissioned Stillwater report, ostensibly an independent analysis of the Hawaii fuel market, found these bogeyman claims to be without merit. Hence, the mention of Stillwater in trying to justify this anti-capitalistic legislation. By the way, the mother and father of this dizzyingly offensive legislation, state Sen. Ron Menor and state Rep. Hermina Morita, would still have you believe this is for your own good. Of course, there was never the intention of lowering gas prices at the pump, but you had to be protected from the free market. Well, the next time you pull next to the pump and pay the $3-plus per gallon of gas, remember to thank the Democratic Party for “Menorita.” Incidentally, the gas cap law was passed in 2002 with Gov. Cayetano and was amended and passed last year by the Dems. Lingle vetoed the bill and the Democrat majority overrode her veto. It didn’t matter who was in the governor’s chair. The Dems got what they wanted.

The bottle bill is proving to be exactly what I predicted it to be: a legally sanctioned shakedown of the Hawaii consumer. More than 80 million containers are generated statewide. The state immediately takes a penny per container for “administrative” costs. That’s $8 million a year. The nickel deposit will generate about $40 million a year. We will be lucky to hit about 50 percent compliance at the end of 2005. Assuming we do, the state has sucked about $30 million out of your pocket. Where does that cash go? A special fund. Did I mention the state stands to enjoy about a half-billion-dollar surplus by the end of this fiscal year? Thanks Democrats!

Incidentally, the governor vetoed this legislative abomination and the Democrat majority overrode it. It didn’t matter who was in the governor’s chair. The Dems got what they wanted.

What would you do if you had a guaranteed $130 million-$150 million a year for at least the next decade? Why, build a train, of course. Now, let’s see. You will be charged this money beginning January 2007. But there is no plan, no route, no ridership estimates and there is no way to get people where they need to go even if they do ride this train. With all this uncertainty, there is only one certain thing. Your General Excise Tax, pyramided and all, will begin in about 14 months. I know there are contracts being awarded to do the research, but where does all this money go when construction won’t begin for at least five-10 years? Defying logic and economic reasoning, your Democrat-controlled Legislature, Democrat mayor and Democrat-controlled (save for one GOP and one rational Dem) City Council pushed this money sponging policy all the way through. Thanks Democrats!

Incidentally, the governor did

not veto this legislative train wreck (pun intended) and her supporters will have to decide whether or not this is a deal breaker in 2006. But it didn’t matter who was in the governor’s chair. The Dems got what they wanted.

So, who’s going to run against Linda Lingle in 2006? Why do Democrats care? If the Dems keep their numbers in the Legislature, it won’t make much of a difference.

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