Archive for March, 2012

Romney has all but wrapped up the GOP nomination

Fifteen days ago, as dawn broke on Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney led the Republican primary race only tenuously. He had won 55 percent of the delegates awarded at that point, but there were more delegates on the line that day than in the first two months of voting combined. Many of them were in precisely the kind of Southern, conservative, evangelical-heavy states that could give a jolt of momentum to Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich.

Romney at that point needed to win 50 percent of the remaining delegates to clinch the nomination but, mathematically speaking, the other candidates didn’t face much more daunting odds: Santorum needed 56 percent of the remaining delegates, while Gingrich and Ron Paul each needed 58 percent of them. If either Santorum or Gingrich could perform well enough (or poorly enough) on Super Tuesday for one of them to drop out of the race immediately, winning between 55 percent and 60 percent of the remaining delegates was a feasible task. The states and …

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No good reason to rush a vote on mediocre tax package

We saw this movie last year: Georgia’s legislative leaders wait until late in the session to try to make changes to the tax code, even as questions remain about elements of the package, their projected impact on the state budget, and the assumptions underlying that projected impact. Only, this year the action is happening later, after less public discussion, with less time to review the projections. The House reportedly will vote on the bill later today, and the Senate before the end of the week.

It was a bad idea last year, and it’s a bad idea this year.

Despite protests to the contrary by legislators, this year’s tax bill — in no way can it be considered a real tax “reform,” much less a “comprehensive” one — does not comprise only changes that have been thoroughly vetted in public. The “E-Fairness” element, a.k.a. the “Amazon tax,” was not part of the mix last year. It’s a tax that, in most of the states in which it’s been passed to date, has succeeding less in “leveling the …

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Unsure of the new tax reform package? Join the club

After attending yesterday’s legislative hearing about the new tax-reform bill, I had to go home and tend to some unexpected family business. (Not to worry, everyone’s OK.) But even if I’d been free all yesterday afternoon to write about the bill, I’m not sure I’d have known exactly what to say. I still don’t.

I will have more to say about the individual components of the package at a later date. For now, I’ll stick to my broad impression of it.

From the yeoman’s work of the members of a special council created two years ago to modernize a state tax code that had been appended and patched up with little more than duct tape over the years, we stand to get what amounts to this:

  • No change in the personal income tax rate, brackets or deductions — just a partial reduction of the “marriage penalty” and a hard cap on the investment income retirees can exclude.
  • No change in the corporate income tax (despite a campaign promise by Gov. Nathan Deal).
  • No flattening or lowering of the tax …

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T-SPLOST faces not just a referendum, but maybe a lawsuit

T-SPLOST: The Campaign began this past week as proponents of the 10-year, $7.2 billion sales tax unveiled advertisements to run on television and radio. Their message: Your commute keeps you away from your family; tax yourself to spend more time at home.

(Officially, the group behind the ads “is engaged in educational activities and will not advocate for or against passage of the sales tax referendum.” But I defy you to find a T-SPLOST opponent among the 50 people it suggests as “educational” speakers about the issue.)

Their theme about family time is smart enough. But the ads cite a curious statistic: Metro Atlantans’ average commute is “over an hour a day,” which might not sound so bad to someone who now drives inside the Perimeter from Acworth or Buford, or from Marietta to Snellville. What’s more, it’s passing strange to campaign on improving a commute of 30 minutes each way when the metric used to evaluate the projects on the T-SPLOST list concerned …

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Big news for charter schools amendment

The General Assembly wasn’t in session yesterday, but there was big news anyway. From the AJC’s Kristina Torres:

The GOP-controlled General Assembly came within reach Thursday of asking voters to revive the state’s ability to sponsor charter schools, when one of the Senate’s most venerable statesmen said he would buck his party and vote yes — as two others suggested they would strongly consider it.

State Sen. George Hooks, D-Americus, said he made his decision to vote for the measure on behalf of local parents stung by accreditation concerns involving the leadership of Sumter County Schools.

Sen. Curt Thompson, D-Tucker, said a yes vote would be consistent with his past support of charter schools. Sen. Hardie Davis, D-Augusta, said he would give the measure “strong consideration.” A vote on the measure is expected Monday in the Senate.

Republicans reportedly believed Davis was one of the Democrats on board with the amendment when they brought it to the floor two weeks ago, …

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Poll Position: Which party’s most pooped about 2012 race?

Some of the Republicans who are weary of — and Democrats who are delighted by — the GOP’s long primary process have taken to pointing to turnout numbers as proof the party faithful are uninspired. In Mississippi’s hard-fought primary this week, for instance, turnout was lower than four years ago when John McCain already had all but wrapped up the nomination. We’ve seen similar results in other states throughout the primary season.

Then, along came Karl Rove with evidence the current president is suffering an enthusiasm problem of his own.

Which party has the least enthusiasm regarding the 2012 presidential race?

  • Republicans (71 Votes)
  • Democrats (29 Votes)

Total Voters: 100

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In his weekly op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Rove noted that Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee had a combined $91.7 million in cash on hand by the end of January. At the end of January 2004, by comparison, Rove pointed out that George W. Bush and the Republican …

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So, we’d get a Super Bowl. So what?

A partial quote from a blog post by my colleague Jim Galloway about Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s push for a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons:

Among the reasons Reed cited for pursuing a new stadium, and why he is emphasizing his support:

“I believe we will be awarded a Super Bowl, and I think we have the best owner in America… .”

And my reaction to these particular rationales of the mayor:

So what?

Having a Super Bowl in town matters to two sets of people: Those who get to go to the game, and those who profit from its being here. The number of Atlantans who actually get to go to the game will be relatively small, and the most attractive estimates of the economic impact of the Super Bowl are almost always exaggerated. Officials in Indianapolis, site of the Super Bowl held last month, didn’t even try to pretend the biggest impact was really about money; rather, it’s about “image,” a kind of profit held in highest esteem by politicians and assorted other local poobahs.

Of …

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Transparency alone is not the ticket for Georgia legislators and ethics

Today is the first full day of action in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. It puts me in the mind of the Georgia Legislature — and not because they call the tournament “March Madness.”

Two years ago, when a $100 limit on lobbyist gifts was proposed, I asked a House committee chairman to explain why he opposed it. He recounted this story:

The last time the Final Four was in Atlanta (2007), by late March he’d worked a lot of late hours away from the family. As he walked toward the exit one night, a lobbyist passing by held out a pair of tickets and suggested he take his son to a game.

As one might expect, they had a grand time. Looking back, he told me, he wouldn’t have wanted to deprive his son of that experience they had together. A $100 gift limit, you see, would have left father and son to watch the game at home or pay their own way.

Remember: This was his defense of $100-plus gifts.

Lest you think this was a one-off scenario, the online records of the agency …

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Obamacare’s costs: The hits just keep on coming

Posted on this blog, March 19, 2010:

To show you how far down the rabbit hole we’ve gone, Democrats were pleased yesterday when the Congressional Budget Office gave the two ObamaCare bills … a combined cost of “only” $940,000,000,000 over 10 years (see page 8). But as you already know if you’ve been paying attention to this blog, there’s more here than the headline number suggests. …

If we begin the 10-year clock for this bill in 2014, and assume the 7.5 percent growth in annual gross costs which the CBO applies in 2018 and 2019 would continue in later years, the cost from 2014-2023 would be $2 trillion. … Even if we are more charitable, and begin counting next year rather than this year with the same assumptions as above, the 10-year cost from 2011-2020 would be $1.2 trillion. (links and emphasis original)

From Philip Klein, writing at the Washington Examiner yesterday:

President Obama’s national health care law will cost $1.76 trillion over a decade, according to a new …

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On Newt Gingrich’s bad night and chances going forward

When I explained my vote for Newt Gingrich in Georgia’s presidential primary, I described him as “the candidate who is clearest and most effective at offering a different direction” than the one in which Barack Obama is leading us. For the past eight days, GOP votes in a number of states expected to be sympathetic to the former Speaker have been proving me wrong about the “most effective” part, at least.

The results last night in Alabama and Mississippi were dreadful for Gingrich. Not only did Rick Santorum beat him in each state, but in each state Gingrich’s vote total put him closer to third-place Mitt Romney than to Santorum. This, following results on last week’s Super Tuesday in which Gingrich finished third in both Oklahoma and Tennessee.

One small sign of Gingrich’s troubles connecting with voters: He came in third in Madison County, Ala., home of NASA’s Huntsville space and rocket campus, despite his repeated (and oft-ridiculed) comments in favor of a robust U.S. space …

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