By Bill McEwen
Here’s an assignment for Rep. Devin Nunes, if he isn’t too busy issuing subpoenas and investigating “unmaskings” by the Obama administration, that is.
I am tasking Nunes with explaining to President Donald Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that the administration’s proposal to double entrance fees at Yosemite, Sequoia-Kings Canyon and other national parks during peak season is a dumb idea.
Nunes gets the assignment for two reasons: He has Trump’s ear, and businesses in his 22nd Congressional District benefit from the tourism dollars generated by Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon.
If Rep. Tom McClintock, whose 4th district includes Yosemite and businesses that profit from tourism, wants to help, that would be great.
The fact is, many of their constituents are poor. If families want to see Yosemite’s scenic wonders during summer — when school is out — they’ll have to fork out $70 a carload under Zinke’s plan.
That’s way too much, especially when you remember that our national parks belong to us. That’s us, as in We the People.
As you might detect, I’m am channeling some of Nunes’ and McClintock’s fire-breathing, take-no-prisoners attitude right now. I won’t complain if their press secretaries take notes.
You want to charge us 70 bucks to enjoy the parks we own? Where did you get this idea? Tax-and-spend Democrats? Barack Obama? Today, it’s our parks. Next, you’ll be coming after our water. And our guns.
Zinke says that these “targeted fee increases” are needed because “the infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration.”
There’s no disputing that. Congress and the White House have been ignoring our national parks for years. According to a statement from the National Parks Service, if these jacked-up fees go into effect, revenue would increase $70 million annually.
I am not impressed by that figure, and you shouldn’t be, either. That’s the equivalent of dryer lint in Trump’s proposed $4.1 trillion “skinny budget” for 2018. It’s also less than the cost of one F-35A jet. It might even be less than what Trump himself spends on 24-karat gold-plated bathroom fixtures, golf and fast food in a year.
Call This What It Is: A New Tax
Enough with the cheap shots. Here’s where I get serious. Let’s call a spade a spade. Zinke is intentionally misleading American citizens about the true nature of his plan. Folks, these aren’t fee increases. They are NEW TAXES!
If I recall correctly, Candidate Trump and President Trump promised to roll back taxes and fees — not raise them. I hope anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist is watching closely because this sure looks like a broken “no new taxes” pledge to me.
As every Republican knows, lowering taxes and fees puts more money in the pockets of hard-working Americans. These hard-working Americans then turn around and spend some of that extra money, which stimulates the economy. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Bottom line, as stolen from GOP economic orthodoxy: If Trump and Zinke want to increase revenue for the national parks, they should be lowering entrance fees.
Do that, and the national parks will be rolling in green. In fact, the park superintendents will be so flush, they might propose naming a giant Sequoia “The National Trickle Down Economy Tree.”
Now, if you’re mad as hell about these proposed new taxes, or even if you love the idea, you can comment at this link. Hurry, because the comment period ends Nov. 23.
If you still use snail mail, send your comments to National Parks Service, 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, DC 20240. Remember to throw in a Ronald Reagan quote or two.