Tom Davis – the Palmetto State’s most consistent defender of freedom and free markets – took to social media this week to lambaste South Carolina’s top two “Republican” candidates for governor.
Davis slammed incumbent governor Henry McMaster and his top challenger, Catherine Templeton, for their conflicted positions on a massive tax hike passed earlier this year – one that includes annual increases in gasoline taxes and numerous other levies.
All told, the tax hike will drain an estimated $1.8 billion from the economy over the next six years and around $600 million annually each and every year thereafter – unless of course our founding editor Will Folks is successful in overturning it via his recently filed lawsuit.
Or unless the measure gets caught up in another constitutional conundrum …
Opposed assiduously by this news site, this massive tax hike was vetoed by McMaster (below) – although as we’ve previously noted his opposition was more political than actual.
(Click to view)
(Via: S.C. Governor)
McMaster didn’t lift so much as a finger in support of his veto, and in fact appears to have conspired with legislative leaders in an effort to make sure they quickly and easily overrode his “objection.”
“McMaster publicly opposed the gas-tax bill when it was being debated in the General Assembly and he vetoed it when it passed — but that’s not the whole story,” Davis wrote on his Facebook page late Tuesday. “I was disappointed with what I considered to be his ‘drive-by’ veto. Not only did (McMaster) fail to try and build support for his gas-tax veto – I’ve yet to hear of even one instance where he met with a legislator to try and garner support for having it sustained.”
Moreover, Davis accused McMaster of failing to “provide those of us who were willing to fight for taxpayers with the chance to do so in his absence.”
“He simply ‘checked the box’ by vetoing the bill as quickly as possible and returning it to the General Assembly for an equally quick override, even though I and other reform-minded legislators asked him to delay issuing his veto so that we would have a full two weeks to rally support for it being sustained,” Davis wrote.
All of this is why McMaster was effusively praised by fiscally liberal columnist Cindi Ross Scoppe of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper – who noted in the days after the veto charade that the governor “could have made it a lot harder to override his veto.”
Naturally this criticism is music to the ears of Templeton (below), right?
(Click to view)
It might have been …
Davis pulled no punches in his assessment of her, either, accusing her of political doublespeak and rank opportunism in dealing with the gas tax.
Specifically, Davis says Templeton signaled her support for the new levy back in the spring (when he was filibustering it for a third straight year on the Senate floor) only to turn around and brand herself as a principled gas tax opponent on the campaign trail this fall.
From his post …
For her part, Catherine Templeton had this to say about the gas-tax bill on May 3, 2017 — back when the fight against the tax hike was at its fiercest and deals were being cut on the Senate floor to end my filibuster …
“The gas tax,” she said, with a mock gasp. “Everyone wants to know where I am on the gas tax. I’m not going to tell you where I am on the gas tax issue but let me ask you this, if I told you that you could get home faster, it would be safer and your car would not be as banged up as much as it is now, and you can stop paying the $1,000 that you’re paying right now and just pay $50, what would you say?
“But if you say the word ‘tax,’ you can’t get elected,” she continued. “So, it’s all politics… it’s all politics and I’ve had enough of it.”
I’ve had enough of it, too. Because a few days ago on SC upstate radio (WORD, 106.3), Ms. Templeton said this to Tara Servatius: “No, I did not support the gas tax and that upset some business leaders, but let me tell you why. We have enough money in the state budget to pay for the things we should be paying for, the necessary evils of government.”
Ms. Templeton statement to Ms. Servatius a few days ago doesn’t square with what she said on May 3, 2017 — back when the fate of the gas-tax bill still hung in the balance and the opinion of a GOP gubernatorial candidate had some bearing on whether the largest tax increase in South Carolina history would be enacted.
And what she said last May most assuredly did have an effect: her “you can stop paying the $1,000 that you’re paying right now [to fix supposed car damage] and just pay $50 [the supposed annual amount of the gas-tax hike]” was taken straight from the tax-hikers’ playbook, and was passed around on the Senate floor and taken as a signal by the members that she supported the bill.
Davis also called attention to our coverage of Templeton’s original gas tax comments, specifically our reference to them raising “more questions than answers.”
“You warned her back then,” Davis said.
We did …
“Good luck parsing those words,” we wrote of Templeton’s gas tax comments back in May.
According to Davis, the only 2018 candidate who provided “constant, unwavering and effective” opposition to the gas tax was former State Senator and current lieutenant governor Kevin Bryant.
Davis flirted with his own 2018 gubernatorial bid but ultimately decided against it, believing (correctly) in his ability to wield considerably greater influence over state policy from his position in the State Senate.
After bowing out of the governor’s race in September, he has continued to travel the state in support of his limited government reform agenda – seeking to hold the 2018 candidates accountable to citizens and taxpayers alike.
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