“The only reason government exists at all is to buy things for the people that they can’t buy for themselves,” Gov. Haslam told the Smith County Rotary Club on Friday as he continued to promote his proposal to increase the gas tax by 7 cents per gallon.
You can hear the governor say this at the 16:50 mark of this video, made available courtesy of The Smith County Insider.
Social media across Tennessee lit up Friday and Saturday criticizing Haslam’s articulation of the classic Democrat view of the role of government. It was a statement of the sort Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Hubert Humphrey would have been delighted to claim as their own.
Former State Rep. Joe Carr captured the reaction of many opponents to this surprising Haslam statement on his Facebook page.
“Wrong! The reason government exists is to ‘secure our unalienable Rights granted to us by God'”, the former State Rep. posted.
“I am sure Governor Haslam actually believes this statement along with 90% of the Tennessee General Assembly,” Carr added.
Gov. Haslam may not be aware of just how tone-deaf this statement sounds.
It is a lightning rod to those who see his proposed gas tax increase as yet another effort by politicians to expand the role of government by taking more money away from the people and giving it to the state government.
The people want to spend their money on things they want to buy. The state government wants to spend the people’s money on things the bureaucrats, the politicians, and lobbyists want to buy, they argue.
What appear as small mistakes made at the wrong time can often have extraordinary consequences in the world of politics.
With the legislature currently divided between the governor’s gas tax proposal and the alternative Hawk Plan, which funds road construction by simply reallocating a small portion of the current sales tax, the timing of this mistake could not be worse for the governor or his proposal.