Taxpayers road kill as lawmakers fail to cut 24-cent gas tax

The good news is, the Republicans in the Legislature at least made the (futile) gesture Wednesday of trying to suspend the state’s 24-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax.

The good news is, the Republicans in the Legislature at least made the (futile) gesture Wednesday of trying to suspend the state’s 24-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax.

The bad news is, the hapless GOP “forgot” to ask for a roll-call vote, so now all the tax-crazed Democrats running for re-election can falsely claim that they voted to bail out their destitute constituents, but lost on the “voice vote.”

What could possibly be a better issue to campaign on this year than fuel prices? And yet the in-the-satchel Republicans on Beacon Hill couldn’t even be bothered putting these insane Democrats on the record as opposing tax relief for every motorist in Massachusetts.

Casey Stengel once said of the 1962 New York Mets: “Can’t anyone here play this game?”

The problem here is, the Republicans at the State House are playing the game. And the game is, they really don’t care about relief for motorists any more than the Democrats do. The Republicans are in on the gag. They’re just going through the motions.

Sad, as Donald Trump would say. Very sad.

Bottom line: the Republicans threw the Democrats a life line. Now everyone can say they’re on the side of the taxpayers. Wink wink nudge nudge.

You don’t have to be a master parliamentarian to understand how this works. When you’re a legislator, and you file an amendment to some pending legislation, if you’re serious about it, you preface or end your remarks with something like:

“Mr. Speaker, when there is a vote on this amendment, I would ask that there be a call of the ayes and nays.”

In other words, a roll call vote. Because if you don’t get everybody on the record, what the hell is the point? It’s just a charade.

I called up Rep. Marc Lombardo, R-Billerica, and asked him why there was no roll-call vote. Taking part in the session via Zoom, Lombardo said he’d asked himself the same question. He said he texted House minority leader Brad Jones and asked why the GOP members in the chamber hadn’t demanded a roll-call vote.

Lombardo said Jones replied: “Too open-ended and ill-defined.”

Ill defined? Cutting the price at the pump, however temporarily, by 24 cents a gallon — how is that ill-defined?

The amendment was introduced by Rep. Peter Durant, R-Spencer, a loyal follower of Jones and lame duck Gov. Charlie Baker, a pair of RINOs.

Baker, of course, has checked out. He’s been in Utah all week, spring skiing, after throwing that big $40,000 open-bar no-masks Christmas party. Until very recently, Baker was trying to increase the state gas tax up to perhaps as high as 62 cents a gallon, without any votes by the people or the legislature, because … climate change.

Baker even had a $130,000 hack on his payroll gleefully cheerleading for confiscatory fuel taxes on the working classes to “break their will” and “turn the screws.” That was official Baker administration policy, until they were busted on videotape.

Durant’s amendment said that when the average price of a gallon of gas goes over $4 a gallon, the tax is suspended. When the price goes back down to $3.70, the tax kicks back in.

“It is a fair proposal,” he said, “that would show our residents that we are giving them some relief.”

Hey, Rep. Durant, as the old country song goes, here’s a quarter — call someone who cares.

The Democrats were aghast that someone would even consider … helping out taxpayers.

The wrinkly 74-year-old speaker, Ron Mariano, called it a “stunt.” Rep. Mark Cusack, D-South Shore Pub, described tax relief for his blue-collar constituents as a “gimmick.” I’m sure his dear friend Sen. Diana DiZoglio would agree.

The issue, of course, was the state’s bond rating. In matters like tax cuts, bonds are always the last refuge of a scoundrel.

The claim is, when the state sells bonds to raise cash to pay for necessities — think of all the pensions for hacks judges and UMass administrators — it has to pledge a “revenue stream” to keep paying Billy Bulger’s $272,000-a-year kiss in the mail.

Of course, right now the Commonwealth is awash in funny money from the feds — billions upon billions of dollars, as much as $6 billion in surplus by some accounts. Durant’s amendment to suspend the gas tax would have been attached to a $1.6-billion supplemental budget, which in the old days, say 2020, would have been considered real money.

To get a roll call vote, all a rep needs is 16 members — one-tenth of the body — to stand up. The Republicans could have gotten that — even a few Democrats would have joined them. But the GOP leadership didn’t want a vote, even a vote they were absolutely guaranteed to lose.

The reason they didn’t want a vote is because the Republican leadership wants to keep robbing motorists as much as the Democrats do. The only difference is, the Democrat bosses don’t want their sheeple to have to go on the record as supporting the hacks’ insatiable greed.

Of course you expect this sort of behavior from Democrats. They can’t help themselves. They represent the non-working classes. Illegal aliens would never forgive them for suspending the gas tax or any other tax that keeping their handouts coming.

But what about the Republicans? This was a cynical stab in the back to their voters, people who work for a living. When the GOP does something like this, you realize that they aren’t part of the solution, that they too are part of the problem.

The fish rots from the head. The head of the Republican fish is Charlie Baker, but the rot goes so much deeper.

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