A Differing View

For instance, my colleagues P. Kenneth Burns and Brian Griffiths take the view that the Republican caucus in the state senate uniting to vote against slots in any special session is a risk.

I disagree.

I think it is a political no-brainer.

To me, the argument of this having the potential for blowback fails on a number of levels.

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The reason this statement was noticed by O’Malley is because the Democrat caucus doesn’t have enough votes to pass slots with Republican votes. The reason they don’t have the votes is not because of the size and power of the Republican caucus but because a substantial plurality, if not an outright majority, of Democrats will vote against slots. Without the small number of Republican votes, the bill cannot pass.

With this statement we can be assured that slots will not be on the agenda in a special session. So the Republicans will never have to act on their statement. We can be sure slots will be on the table during the regular session and the statement from earlier this week specifically does not cover a vote on slots during the regular session.

For the sake of argument, if we assume O’Malley does push the slots issue during a special session it takes a real three cushion bank shot to see how he can gain political mileage against Republicans (who, by and large, are in very safe districts) while being allowed to ignore that he couldn’t bring his own party along on the idea.

To the contrary, the Republican statement guarantees that any special session will have to be exclusively about raising taxes. With no budget to consider, the legislature can’t cut spending. With no slots debate to divert attention, every penny of every tax increase will get the scrutiny it deserves. It is hard to see how a governor and legislature pushing a program of tax increases is a political winner outside of small enclaves in Montgomery County.

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