On Monday, the state director of Americans for Prosperity (AFP) put out a letter outlining the economic problems in New Jersey and opposing any new tax on petroleum products. Of course, AFP is run by David H. Koch, a New York City billionaire ($43.3 billion and counting) who is an owner at Koch Industries and whose core business is the refining and distribution of petroleum.
The letter was signed by six organizations whose principal mission is the advancement of traditional values and conservative social and cultural ideals. They backed-up AFP, but would AFP ever back up them? That's not likely, because the Chairman of AFP -- yes, the same David H. Koch -- is a social liberal. But don't take our word for it. Here is what Wikipedia had to say about him:
Ditto for Frayda Levin, the co-founder of AFP's New Jersey chapter. AFP has been AWOL on every issue from same-sex marriage to illegal immigration.
Ronald Reagan was a social as well as an economic conservative. He believed in an America built on Judeo-Christian values and the Western tradition of free speech and free markets. David Koch is no Reaganite. In fact, he opposed Ronald Reagan in 1980 -- as the Libertarian Party's candidate for Vice President -- running on a platform that included the following planks:
"We therefore call for the elimination of all restriction on immigration, the abolition of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Border Patrol, and a declaration of full amnesty for those people who have entered the country illegally."
" We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children. We further support the repeal of all laws restricting voluntary birth control or the right of the woman to make a personal moral choice regarding the termination of pregnancy."
"We defend the rights of individuals to engage in (or abstain from) any religious activities which do not violate the rights of others. In order to defend religious freedom, we advocate a strict separation of church and state."
"The repeal of all laws regarding consensual sexual relations, including prostitution and solicitation, and the cessation of state oppression and harassment of homosexual men and women, that they, at least, be accorded their full rights as individuals"
"We believe that 'children' are human beings and, as such, have the same rights as any other human beings. Any reference in the Platform to the rights of human beings includes children."
"The repeal of all laws prohibiting the production, sale, possession, or use of drugs, and of all medical prescription requirements for the purchase of vitamins, drugs and similar substances".
"The repeal of all laws interfering with the right to commit suicide as infringements of the ultimate right of an individual to his or her own life".
"We support recognition of the right to political secession. Exercise of this right, like the exercise of all other rights, does not remove legal and moral obligations not to violate the rights of others."
"We call for the withdrawal of all American troops from bases abroad. In particular, we call for the removal of the U.S. Air Force as well as ground troupes from the Korean peninsula."
"We favor immediate independence for all colonial dependencies, such as Samoa, Guam, Micronesia, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico".
"Government interference in transportation is characterized by monopolistic restriction, corruption, and gross inefficiency. We therefore call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation, the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Civil Aeronautics Board, the Federal Maritime Commission, Conrail and Amtrak. We demand the return of America's railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system."
And that, as they say, is how David H. Koch rolls...
AFP's letter takes a stab at the nagging problem of finding the money to keep our roads drivable and our bridges from falling down on our children's heads. Mainly it tells us what not to do -- don't increase the retail cost of a product that billionaire Koch makes money off of. It doesn't give us a pathway forward.
A couple weeks ago, AFP released its own version of the state budget for 2017. It reminded us of an earlier budget, written by the same expert, back in 2011. The current document is less explicit, but you can see where things are heading quite clearly in the earlier one. Under the section "Department of Transportation", there is a discussion about how road projects should be prioritized. There we find this gem:
"Projects with the least cost and greatest benefit to the state should be chosen first, there by encouraging local governments to commit greater resources in order to 'tilt' the cost-benefit ratio towards their projects. AFP believes this method of incentivizing local participation will not only help bridge the funding gap but more importantly provide a model for moving forward with more efficient utilization of taxpayer funds for future projects."
That word -- "resources"-- scares us. Isn't that bureaucrat-speak for "tax money"?
So let's see. Local governments (municipal and county) get their "resources" from property tax revenue. AFP is advocating that local governments increase the "resources" they pledge towards a road project, thereby decreasing the cost to the state. But not to the people who pay property taxes. Their cost will go up because property taxes will go up.
Really? Is this how we are going to "bridge the funding gap"? With higher property taxes? The highest in America... still going higher? Really? Think again.