I read with amusement National Review Online’s recent endorsement of Cranston, Rhode Island Mayor Stephen Laffey as a “conservative” in his GOP challenge to Sen. Lincoln Chafee.
For anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Mr. Laffey’s record, the idea of describing him as you did as a tax cutting, pro-life conservative is just plain ludicrous.
Since he became mayor, Laffey has raised taxes a whopping 20 percent–hiking the average Cranston homeowner’s tax bill by $1,000 three short years ago, while also increasing government spending. In fact under Laffey Cranston taxpayer dollars were spent on among other things; an increase in the number of employees in the Mayor’s office, money to soundproof the walls of his own office, and a new luxury SUV for him to drive.
NRO also overlooked the fact that Laffey has consistently flip-flopped on his views on abortion. Laffey says one thing when he talks with editorial boards in Washington, but when meeting with potential voters he has offered just about everything except a clear answer. Just this fall Laffey said that while he was “pro-life” he considered Roe v. Wade “settled law” so “let it go.” Even more puzzling, when asked whose position on choice he most admired, Laffey stated he believes Hillary Clinton offers a reasonable position!
In contrast, Senator Chafee represents a winning blend of fiscal conservatism, traditional Republican values, and progressive ideals. He has a strong pro-business and pro-economic growth record as reflected by his recent endorsement by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He has also twice been designated the Senate’s “most fiscally responsible” member by the Concord Coalition for his support of a Pay-As-You-Go approach to federal spending and for his efforts to eliminate the deficit. Up here in Rhode Island, those are the kinds of values we associate with Republicans: they are in favor of individual freedoms, they promote economic development, and they never support deficit growth. The only fact that NRO seemed to grasp and that recent polls reflect is that a Laffey win in a primary would likely ensure a Democratic victory in November.
In their zeal to denounce Sen. Chafee, it would appear that the editors of National Review have instead been sold a bill of goods. While Mr. Laffey may be a smooth talker, when criticizing Senator Chafee’s opposition to deficit-creating tax cuts, the Mayor’s own record is one of lust for revenue-generating property tax increases.
It is clear that Laffey is no conservative. But don’t take my word for it, take Laffey’s. In a September 16, 2005 story in the Providence Journal, Laffey himself admitted, that “when you say the word ‘conservative,’ I don’t even know what that means.”
Warwick, Rhode Island