|Ben Hedrick (L) and Hayden Phillips (R) at a debate last year.|
Republicans as "teabaggers" who only watch FOX news and do nothing unless they have orders from Rush Limbaugh. This is a distortion. To be sure, there are intolerant and unthinking ideologues on both sides of the political spectrum. But I thought I'd focus a bit on one of the tea party types who are regularly maligned. His name is Ben Hedrick.
He is an old fart and white. He has a beard, too, and is often featured in the Republican Action Team. That's the right wing of the right wing of Lehigh Valley Republicans. I'm pretty sure I've seen him at a few tea party meetings.
On October 2, at a Council meeting attended by close to 300 County workers who are rightfully upset about major reductions in their health coverage, Hedrick spoke up and asked them to to think about fixed income senior citizens like himself. But before you stereotype him, let me tell you I see him at nearly every County Council meeting, along with nearly every meeting of the Bethlehem township Board of Commissioners. I even see him, usually with Hayden Phillips, at local debates. He cares about his government.
He also thinks.
At a sparsely attended budget hearing last night, this conservative Republican delivered an eloquent address, calling for a tax hike. Here's what he said.
Good evening, guardians of the county fisc. I recently cam before you and, in my own awkward way, asked you to show restraint in the budgeting process so as not to balance the budget on the backs of fixed income senior citizens. The corollary to that is that I doubt anyone here dislikes taxes more than I do.
But reality intrudes.
It's becoming increasingly obvious to me that something must be done to help this new administration dig out of the inherited budgetary hole in which they find themselves.
Mr. Brown has proposed a plan of budgetary constraint, with no tax increase, that he says will solve the problem. Maybe so. Others have called for a large tax increase as a way out of the mess. Maybe so. I'm here to ask you to consider a compromise approach that involves moderation and control.
I believe we should give credence to Mr. Brown's plan to address the problem, but I also think we should put something in place to augment that plan. Bite the bullet, if you will. A half mill seems too small, but two mills seems too much if Mr. Brown's plan works in tandem with the increase. You folks have access to the numbers, but in my opinion, moderation calls for a one mill tax increase.
The second part involves control. We need to make sure that any funds raised are used for their intended purpose.
As a reformed, three pack a day cigarette smoker, having given it up primarily to the onerous taxes that I dislike intensely, I was appalled to see that the tax settlement monies go everywhere but where they were intended. To avoid this, and the possibility of these new funds being used to bail out under water and unsaleable golf courses, we should make sure that the money is only used for emergencies and to replenish the savings, with any expenditures being under your absolute control.
Moderation and control.
I am covering him, word for word, because what he said made more sense than anything uttered by the people we elected.