Common Sense Caucus Needs To Step It Up September 25, 2007Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.
IF A TREE FALLS IN THE WOODS, DOES ANYBODY HEAR IT?
FITSNews – September 25, 2007 – South Carolina’s emerging “Common Sense Caucus” faces a year of decision in 2008. As a pitched battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party wages in dozens of competitive districts outside the State House, the twenty or so fiscal conservatives working within its walls must be much more aggressive in calling out their Republican peers for the wasteful spending, non-competitive tax rate and inefficient government structure that continues to keep South Carolina at the economic and educational level of a third world country.
Many members of the Caucus have complained privately to FITSNews that they are simply outmanned within the Republican Party, that a group of fifteen or so GOP turncoats consistently vote with House Democrats, effectively making the minority the majority under the State House dome. They also argue that the emergence of a small (but growing) band of fiscal conservatives in the House has not been mirrored by a similar movement in the State Senate, whose so-called “GOP” majority includes only two or three true fiscal conservatives.
Obviously all of the above is true, and while Common Sense Caucus members are reluctant to admit it, their efforts are also routinely thwarted by big government backers in the GOP leadership such as House Ways & Means Chairman Dan Cooper, Majority Whip Annette Young and House Labor, Commerce and Industry Chairman Harry Cato.
Having said all of that, the last time we checked each member of the Caucus still had a set of vocal chords.
Unfortunately, like Gov. Mark Sanford, many Caucus members appear to be unwilling to single out members of their own party on matters of fiscal policy. Given their superminority status, they argue that the outcome of tax and spending reform bills is unlikely to be affected by their protests and that angering GOP leadership (and appearing to side with the governor) is a one-way ticket to what one Caucus member called “permanent irrelevance.”
Again, we can’t argue with the logic, but at the end of the day the Caucus’ relative silence on fiscal policy amounts to a tacit endorsement of a growing taxpayer disaster. Additionally, the faillure of the Caucus to consistently and publicly articulate its position on taxes and spending perpetuates the myth that government in Columbia is all about a soap opera feud between our maverick governor and a recalcitrant, status quo legislature, which it isn’t.
Furthermore, if the Caucus continues to sit on the sidelines in the upcoming 2008 legislative session, it could have disastrous consequences for dozens of credible candidates lining up to challenge big government Republican incumbents next summer.
Simply put, a line needs to be drawn in the sand in South Carolina between what’s Republican and what isn’t, and the Common Sense Caucus is the only group that can draw that line clearly and credibly.
With House Speaker Bobby Harrell likely to be forced to the right on many fiscal conservative issues in 2008, the Caucus has a narrow window through which it can step up its profile and substantively engage the public debate on tax and spending issues.
South Carolina can’t afford to have its most viable vehicle for change remain a “tree falling in the woods.”