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Republicans tarnished their brand

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By John Barnhart

There's a story that explains why Virginia's state elections don't fall on the same year as federal elections.

According to this story, Harry Byrd, a former governor who also once ran the Democratic Party machine that, in turn ran Virginia, was not happy with the national Democratic Party. In order to avoid having his Democrats associated with national Democrats, he arranged for Virginia's state elections to fall on odd numbered years. He was afraid that an association with the national party would cost his party votes in state elections.

I don't know if this is true but last week's elections show that a party's behavior on the national level can have fallout that affects that party on the state level. As you know, unless you have been living in a bat cave, the Republicans lost control of the Senate, although they retained control of the House of Delegates.

Republicans in Congress badly tarnished the Republican brand during the six years they controlled the House of Representatives and the United States Senate as well as having one of their boys in the White House.

One feature of the Republican brand was that they stood for small government and fiscal restraint. What they did was go on a six-year spending spree. President Bush presided over the biggest per-capita increase in government spending since Lyndon Johnson. Rather than pruning the federal government, they made it bigger. They acted just like "Democrats."

Another feature of the Republican brand was fiscal responsibility. Instead, Republicans combined tax cuts with spending increases. Tax cuts are a good idea. Federal tax revenue, now, is actually much higher than it was before the Bush tax cuts. They should be accompanied by reduced spending. Unfortunately, Congressional Republicans chose to spend more money, not less. They spent money like an 18-year-old sailor on his first foreign port liberty call and President Bush never vetoed any spending bills. The result was massive federal deficits every year. The deficits are dropping due to increased tax revenue from the lower tax rates, but these massive deficits could have been avoided if Republicans had behaved like Republicans.

The Republican brand supported traditional moral values. Instead they generated bribery scandals. Then, there were the Foley Follies last year. Mark Foley is the Florida Republican Congressman who got caught sending sexually explicit instant messages to teenage boys who had served as House pages. Evidence following this news indicates that Foley had been doing this for years.

It's going to take a long time for Republicans to rehabilitate the Republican brand and I'm not sure they are putting forth sufficient effort. President Bush finally found his veto pen and shot down the SCHIP expansion bill which amounted to welfare for the well heeled. They would have been much better off if President Bush had been more vigorous with his veto pen in previous years and there are still a number of RINOS (Republicans In Name Only) who are eager to help the "Democrats" spend more.

Then there is Senator Larry Craig, of Idaho. He's the fellow who pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after being arrested for soliciting sex in an airport toilet stall. He later tried, unsuccessfully, to retract the guilty plea and now says that he won't run for reelection next year. However, he said, in late August, that he would resign his seat, effective Sept. 30, but he didn't do that and is still in the Senate.

Virginia Republicans also did their bit to tarnish the Republican brand. A couple of years ago Senate Republicans rammed a big tax hike down our throats, forcing the House of Delegates to back down. They tried it again last year, but the House held its ground and we were spared. It's interesting, in light of this, to note which house of the General Assembly the Republicans lost control