Archive for April, 2011

Uncle Sam eyes tax on every mile you drive

My Dad, a West Point grad and never one to shy away from a fight, knew when to back off; “never kick a man when he’s down,” he admonished me.  This is not, however, an adage known to our deal old Uncle Sam.  In fact, when it comes to taxes, Washington’s rule of thumb is, kick the hell out of the taxpayers, especially while they’re down.

Even now, in the face of a continuing bad economy, and with gasoline prices at the pump at all-time highs, the federal government is considering hitting the driving public with a whopping new tax – a per-mile tax on every mile you drive!  This idea actually had been floated back in 2009 by none other than our Nanny-in-Chief, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; but in Washington’s renewed search for ways to boost tax revenues, it appears to have grown new legs.

At the request of North Dakota Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a non-partisan arm of the …

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A new boss at the “People’s Law Firm”

In case you hadn’t noticed, Georgia has a new Attorney General.  Republican Sam Olens, a fixture in Cobb County politics for many years as Chairman of the County Commission, took the reins of this powerful but often little-known office in January.

The person who occupies this constitutional office has wide-ranging responsibilities that affect virtually every citizen in the state.  If the hand-off from one attorney general to the next is rocky, the ripples can reverberate through the courts and state government for years to come.  Thankfully, this most recent transition was a smooth one; in the words of Sam Olens, a “gentlemanly” transfer of power from his predecessor, Thurbert Baker.

The décor in this small but strategically-placed office in the judicial building directly across the street from the State Capitol is vintage 1960s – with faux grass-cloth wall paper, and carpeting sporting coffee stains probably going back to the Talmadge era – Gene Talmadge, that …

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Texas legislator wants to outlaw multi-tasking

When it comes to absurd regulations restricting perceived distractions, federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood may garner the most attention; but he certainly cannot claim a monopoly on really bad proposals.

Texas State Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) is sponsoring a bill that would prevent legislators from sending text messages, e-mails or any other form of electronic communication during a public meeting.

According to the Austin American Statesman, Hunter has concluded, “[I]t’s discourteous if you’re conducting business on a cellular phone or BlackBerry when somebody’s coming in to testify. You need to be focused on those people.” Hunter believes lawmakers should not be “communicating in a public setting with private interests, telling you how to vote, telling you how to think, telling you how to speak without that being open access to the public.”

There may well be abuse of electronic devices by elected officials during public meetings or in private; but it …

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