Count on Pat Bauer to continue pandering to voters' most self-centered instincts between now and the election on Nov. 7.
Twice in the past week, the House minority leader has spouted off about high gasoline prices. He first called for an attorney general investigation of potential price-fixing. Now, he's proposing that the state suspend and eventually abolish its sales tax on gas.
What's next, Pat? Free beer tomorrow?
Gov. Mitch Daniels, in a meeting with The Star's Editorial Board on Thursday, was skeptical about Bauer's plan. "Pat's notion that there is some big windfall isn't true,'' Daniels said. "The state did not experience a huge surge in sales tax revenue.''
Bauer, a former Ways and Means chairman, knows well that wiping out a $300 million source of revenue to give a driver a price break of about $4 a week would be shortsighted. Especially when the state is not fully recovered from the fiscal crisis of the recent past.
Unless Bauer is willing to propose an offsetting tax increase (and he hasn't so far), the loss of revenue also would eliminate any chance of the General Assembly finally approving full-day kindergarten next year.
Bauer understands all of this, of course. He's desperate, however, to regain power as House Speaker, a post he lost two years ago. So he's willing to toss out any populist thought that enters his mind -- no matter how lame -- if he thinks it will attract a few votes.
But Hoosiers are smarter than that, Pat. They'll see through your plan, recognizing that it's not meant to be in their best interests, but your own.
I like the part where it asks, "What's next Pat? Free Beer tommorow?" Bauer for many year owned a bar in South Bend that was popular with Notre Dame students because of its willingness to serve underage drinkers. Bauer unloaded the bar after excise police turned up the heat on the establishment.