Pay attention to this Republican runoff in the 7th District race to replace U.S. Rep. John Linder of Duluth. We’ve got something approaching an actual discussion of issues.
On Monday, Washington-based Americans for Tax Reform declared front-runner Rob Woodall – Linder’s former chief of staff – to be “outside the Republican mainstream” because he refused to sign ATR’s pledge not to increase taxes.
Jody Hice, who finished second on July 20, has signed. So did Linder, who Woodall now seeks to replace, said Grover Norquist, president of ATR.
“Why on earth in these times is Woodall talking about hiking taxes?” baited Norquist. “Instead, he should be taking tax hikes off the table.”
Candidates are usually eager to sign such pledges – especially if they’re running in a Republican primary. Once they’re in office, the promise becomes less attractive. One can’t govern by slogans, Gov. Sonny Perdue famously told his fellow Republicans.
Woodall’s take on the anti-tax pledge is somewhat different.
He portrays Norquist’s rules as part of the Washington tax problem – not the solution. Woodall, the co-author of the John Linder/Neal Boortz book on the Fair Tax, says the ATR approach jeopardizes any major overhaul of the U.S. system of taxation.
Here is Woodall’s response to the ATR attack:
ATR sponsors the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to encourage lawmakers to oppose tax rates increases, but a second element of the Pledge requires lawmakers to oppose the elimination of special interest tax deductions and credits unless a new deduction, credit, or tax reduction is created as a replacement.
“By maintaining a tit-for-tat approach to tax policy, not only is fundamental tax reform and a much-needed overhaul of the tax code hindered but the ability to eliminate destructive and wasteful tax policy is also hindered.”
Woodall provided a lengthy example that focused on a $6,500 golf cart tax credit passed in 2009:
“Anyone who purchased a ‘road ready’ golf cart in 2009 could receive a $6,500 check from the federal government, and thousands took advantage of the offer. This was a dumb tax credit, and America borrowed the dollars from China and Japan to pay for it.
“The ATR pledge, however, would prevent Democrats and Republicans from coming together to agree to kill this bad tax credit unless they also came together to agree on a new way to hand out that $6,500 through tax code manipulation to taxpayers.
“The priority of 7th District voters is to kill that bad tax credit and stop the borrowing from China and Japan. Voters here are tired of everything being thrown into the same giant piece of legislation.
“If we want to eliminate wasteful credits and deductions, we should do that in one bill. If we want to create new credits and deductions, we should do that in a separate bill.”
Over the weekend, the Atlanta Tea Party announced its endorsement of Hice. It had previously picked state Rep. Clay Cox of Lilburn, who finished third.
U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) on Monday announced his entry into the runoff – on the side of Woodall. This is the second time Price has put his prestige on the line in a GOP primary. Earlier this spring, he switched his support in the Republican race for governor from Nathan Deal to fellow north Fulton resident Karen Handel.
The Georgia chapter of the AARP is sending word that the state Public Service Commission today will approve a series of public hearings around the state on Georgia Power’s request for a $1 billion rate hike that would force an average $10 monthly increase for customers. The AARP had been pushing for the hearings.
My AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin says the Republican runoff candidates for governor revealed some differences this morning at a forum hosted by the Metro Atlanta Chamber.
Former congressman Nathan Deal said that, if elected, he would decline the federal “Race to the Top” money for education that Gov. Sonny Perdue has so hotly pursued.
“Race to the Top has standardardized curriculum,” Deal said. “I do not agree with anything that has strings attached.”
“I would say it’s probably not worth the money we’re going to receive,” Deal said. “In the overall scheme of things it’s not that much money. It sounds big but when you distribute it across every level of the education system, it’s not that big.”
But former secretary of state Karen Handel said she would accept the cash, if the state wins it:
“As long as we’re paying taxes to the federal government I think I have a responsibility to make sure Georgia gets its fair share,” she said. “We should not turn our nose up at it.”
She said she would want to be sure “the strings aren’t too much to accept,” but later said the strings she is concerned about involve what happens when the money runs out.