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Column as I see ’em …
Ben Chandler must have gone to bed the evening of Nov. 6 wondering what in the world went wrong after losing so badly in his effort to remain in Congress.
Fast forward to his Jan. 2 fiscal cliff vote to increase the deficit by $4 trillion and it’s safe to say he still hasn’t figured it out.
Oh, that vote also raised taxes on the middle class due to its failure to retain a so-called payroll tax holiday. And you thought everyone from Obama to Chandler to McConnell meant it when they said they would protect the middle class, didn’t you?
That Chandler supported the so-called fiscal cliff deal is no surprise; that he still apparently doesn’t understand why he lost to Andy Barr is not.
Barr, who nearly captured the seat two years earlier, shattered Chandler’s Blue Dog Democrat image by continuously harping on his support for devastating EPA regulations on coal and his refusal to vote to defund Obama Care.
Using campaign rhetoric that sounded like an amalgam of a Rush Limbaugh monologue and a Fox News appearance by Sarah Palin, Barr was able to connect with a majority of actual Blue Dogs in the 6th Congressional District, the noted exception being the uber-liberal enclaves in Lexington that this time weren’t large enough to keep Chandler in power.
Chandler’s decline started long before he lost to Barr. He lost considerable support in Anderson County — and certainly in other areas outside of liberal Lexington — when he supported Obama over Hillary for president in 2008.
His support for Obama continued, including voting yes for so-called cap and trade legislation that, although never officially enacted, has been particularly hard on big coal and everyone — including you — whose electricity is generated by coal.
In case you were wondering that’s why your electric bills have jumped better than 25 percent in the past several years.
But more than anything the message Chandler apparently never understood from an increasingly displeased electorate is that they don’t accept the notion that the federal government should spend trillions of dollars it doesn’t have.
The electorate delivered that message in 2010 when Chandler edged Barr by a few hundred votes, but apparently Chandler wasn’t listening.
In 2012 he was forced to listen and was sent home to Woodford County, which, like Anderson, supported Barr in fairly convincing fashion.
It’s only fitting that the final act of consequence in Chandler’s congressional career would be to increase taxes and spend trillions of dollars without a single meaningful reduction in spending.
It’s even more fitting that the voters in the 6th District saw fit to make sure that doing so was indeed his final act.
Speaking of taxes … there’s a line of logic being kicked around that taxpayers will save money if the county constructs a new recycling building rather than enact mandatory trash and recycling.
Here’s what’s being said: Mandatory recycling will cost property owners around $2 a month. Multiplied by the number of residences, that comes out to around $250,000 a year, depending on whose math is used.
Conversely, the one-time expense of a recycling building — it was supposed to cost $325,000 but that price has already more than doubled — would prove much cheaper in the long run.
Here’s the problem with that logic.
First, it discounts all other costs aside from the building, including additional labor, equipment purchases and expansion, all of which will go on in perpetuity.
Second, every dollar spent on recycling will take away funds from much more serious infrastructure needs that will still have to be addressed, which at some point is going to require a property tax increase beyond the “compensating rate.”
Third, and here’s the biggie, the $250,000 annual cost for mandatory recycling will be pumped into a private company that hires at least some local workers who pay payroll taxes, property taxes and spend their wages at local businesses. Also, that company pays a hefty chunk of its receipts to the county and city government.
And, best of all, that $250,000 will be kept out of the hands of government, which already takes enough, thank you.