Realignment on the Right Against the Right

By Josh Feit July 19, 2011

Two recent news events (one local, one national) are related.

On the national level, last week:

1) Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, warned his party that they had to get behind raising the debt limit.

And today, on the local level:

2) Business leaders came out against tax-slashing crusader Tim Eyman.

The press release that just got emailed around from the new anti-Eyman group, Keep Washington Rolling, is striking. Here's who it quotes: Rob Johnson from Transportation Choices Coalition, a mass transit advocacy group; April Putney from Futurewise, a green land-use planning group; Jeff Johnson from the Washington State Labor Council, the AFL-CIO of Washington State—all joined by Steve Mullin, head of the Washington Roundtable, the lobbying coalition of Washington State's corporate CEOs.[pullquote]Unlike the rich former Tea Party benefactors on Wall Street, Freeman, evidently, is willing to fund his own region's economic demise.[/pullquote]

All these groups are joining together to defeat Eyman's latest initiative, I-1125, which would: Make legislators, rather than a commission, set toll rates; prevent tolling revenue from one road being spent on another road; prevent tolling money from being spent on transit (there goes light rail across I-90); and prohibit variable tolling (different rates at different times of day)—which screws the financing for everything from 520 to the tunnel.

Here's Washington Roundtable leader Mullin's quote:
“That business, labor, environmentalists and community leaders from around the state are standing together to oppose this effort in a nearly unprecedented coalition speaks volumes about just how much harm I-1125 would do to our economy and quality of life in Washington State."

"This initiative isn’t about solving a problem,” he added.

And in the other Washington, here's Sen. Mitch McConnell:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who offered a proposal this week that would allow President Obama to raise the federal debt limit without guaranteed spending cuts, warned that the Republican Party could “destroy” its brand with voters if Congress allows the government to default. “All of a sudden we have co-ownership of a bad economy..."

Why did McConnell—and Republican Sen. John McCain, for that matter—renege on the Tea Party orthodoxy? Because of pleas from traditional Republican allies: Wall Street.

Wall Street—which, ironically, funded the Tea Party—is now calling on the Republican Party's old guard to come to its senses and join the Democrats.

Mullin's partnership with labor and greens and transit advocates against Eyman is the same thing. We're seeing a splintering of the traditional right as it joins the mainstream against a vocal minority.

As Mullin also said in today's press release against I-1125:
“It’s funded by a small handful of people and will undermine our ability to make progress on our state’s pressing transportation challenges."

Indeed, more than $1 million of the $1.2 million Eyman has raised so far comes from one person: anti-light rail Eastside developer Kemper Freeman. Unlike the rich former Tea Party benefactors on Wall Street, Freeman, evidently, is willing to fund his own region's economic demise.
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