May 4, 2019

The Update Desk: Rep. Chris Collins

It's been a while since we've heard much about Rep. Chris Collins (R- Ethically Challenged Erie County). You remember him, right? Insider trading allegations, making a call to his son (but not his daughter!) from the Rose Garden advising him to sell some stock, trying to not run for re-election but not being able to find a way off the ballot, and he ends up winning? Yeah, that guy.

Collins is in the news again, for a couple of reasons. First, the House is going to reopen their ethics investigation into his case, which was suspended back when he was indicted on federal charges. But not to worry -- the House has promised the Department of Justice that they'll not interfere with the criminal case against him.

But the more interesting news about Collins has to do with infrastructure, and taxes. That's right, two things Republicans like to talk about, for different reasons. Infrastructure is good, particularly if it's public/private partnership, which helps their donors, or if it's block grants to states, which the Rs love. And taxes? That's another good topic to talk about too, of course, particularly when they're going down, not up - or not being introduced at all. You know what happens to Rs who get that part wrong. I mean, who can forget "Read my lips - no new taxes!"

Collins, though -- who was the first Congressman to publicly throw his support to Trump, you remember - has different ideas on taxes than most folks in his party. This article, published on HotAir.com, explains his idea on how to fund our much-needed infrastructure updates.
Rep. Chris Collins is urging Congress to double the 18.4-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax, which has not been raised in more than a quarter century. He also wants to double the existing fee that the airline passengers pay per flight. 
Is your head spinning yet?  Doubling the gas tax and the per-flight fee?  A Republican? Here's what Collins said in an interview with The Hill, according to the article.
I not only support increasing the gas tax; I support doubling it. I support doubling the airline passenger fee from $4.50 to $8 or $9. Those are user fees. I won't even call it a tax.
I love when these folks call taxes user fees, don't you? The Democrats do it really well, and the Republicans aren't immune to the name change, either.  They're all so cute.

Needless to say, the idea did not get a huge welcome.  Again, from the article,
It's bad enough that spending has been out of control under this administration every bit as much as during Obama's tenure, if not more. The fact that we didn't manage to work some serious spending cuts into the package when the tax cuts went through remains a burr under the conservative saddle. But if we're going to keep spending like a sailor during Fleet Week and your only idea as to how to pay for it is to raise taxes, precisely how is the GOP different from the Democrats at that point? A tax and spend policy smells just as odious by any other name.
Ouch! 

And not only that, but is Collins forgetting who voted for Trump? That was blue collar workers, right? The ones who drive every day to their jobs, and who would definitely feel the sting of the doubled user fee.   And of course, once a tax goes in, it's impossible to get rid of it - sort of like Thruway tolls in New York, an example that should be very familiar to Collins.

So, what are the Republicans to do about this mess? Here's an idea.
This is just one more sign that we ought to be thinking about a primary opponent for Collins. If he's not going to resign and trigger a special election for a less damaged candidate, his trial may drag on for so long that we're once again at risk of losing a safe GOP seat in New York. If he's going to spend his days proposing tax increases, that should make the need for such actions even more urgent.
Ouch, again.

Perhaps this will be an easy idea for Collins to get behind. Back when he was charged, he vowed to stay in office and fight the charges, only to change his mind and say he'd not run for re-election and would fight the charges with his full attention. That's probably his best bet.

After all, a report out last month noted he'd raised only $5000 in the first three months of this year, and not one red cent of it came from a human being.

Ouch, for the third time.

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