Your morning jolt: David Ralston criticizes Democratic stones thrown at tax overhaul

In an interview posted Tuesday evening by Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM), House Speaker David Ralston hinted strongly that he would prefer to keep pushing on a tax overhaul – and take up when lawmakers reassemble to draw new political boundaries in August or September.

Said Ralston:

”I’m not going to put odds on whether it’s going to be in the summer or next January. Obviously we have an opportunity to – while we’re here in the summer – to deal with it. And I think it’s important enough that it would be something Georgians would expect us to deal with.”

Ralston repeated his dissatisfaction with GSU numbers, but also took a crack at Democrats, who have gleefully taken credit for tossing out the data that brought the effort to a halt:

”With all due respect, I’m not sure my friends in the Democratic party have ever seen a tax cut they’re going to be pleased with. We just have a basic disagreement with them. They believe we need to keep more money in the government coffers, because government makes better decisions than taxpayers do in how to spend it…

“I thought the interesting thing in the whole process was that members in the minority party were quick to throw stones, and I don’t ever remember them coming up with any kind of a plan that cut taxes or did anything to create jobs in this state.”

Responded House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams, also to O’Hayer:

”I wouldn’t say it’s throwing stones. I think what we’re doing is analyzing it and proving the holes in it. The responsibility of the majority party is to develop the government structure. They are the ones who set the structure. Democrats tried to be involved, and we were kept out of the process. Certainly if he would like to see a Democratic bill, we would be happy to offer one….

“The idea that you can shift from income taxes to consumption taxes assumes that consumers have choices. Often, in our state, we don’t have those choices. You have rural communities and urban communities bound by market forces that the Republicans refuse to deal with.

“What real tax reform does is expand the services that we tax. It recognizes that our income tax structure has to continue to be progressive. And it recognizes the neutrality of our property taxes. Smart tax policy looks at all three.

“What they want is government that doesn’t cost anything. That’s not good for government. It’s not good for the citizens.”

Abrams said she would postpone any reconsideration of tax overhaul until next January.

***
So far as we know, the Warner Robins Patriot has the first direct quote from state Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon, whose computer has been linked to a series of angry e-mails, allegedly sent by a GOP volunteer named Beth Merkleson, aimed at Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and his allies:

Staton, commented, “This is perhaps one of the craziest and silliest things I have experienced in my tenure in the Senate. I am remaining focused on representing my district and not being distracted by those who are more interested in power than what really matters to Georgians.”

It’s worth noting that Staton is owner of the Patriot, along with a cable TV and radio station in Warner Robins. On Tuesday, Staton yielded his duties as majority whip for the remainder of the session.

Meanwhile, Staton’s hometown newspaper, the Macon Telegraph, this morning includes reaction from state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, who was the target of some of Merkleson’s barbs:

“I find it egregious to be called a turncoat,” Unterman commented Wednesday afternoon at the Capitol. She noted she’s been a Republican for her entire political career, more than two decades.

“The GOP caucus needs to identify who those (e-mails) came from,” she said, and apply some kind of sanctions if it’s an insider.

On the Adams report, she said she’s waiting for a forensic IT audit.

“Innocent until proven guilty,” she said.

We reported earlier that Merkleson doesn’t show up on Georgia voter rolls – an oddity for someone claiming to be a GOP volunteer. The Telegraph went a step further:

As for Merkleson, the Georgia Department of Driver Services finds no drivers license on record under the name Beth Merkleson or Elizabeth Merkleson.

The Merkleson e-mails have been coming from gasenateinformer@gmail.com for the past few days. They appear to be written by someone with public, but unusually detailed, knowledge of business under the gold dome, such as joint committee appointments, Cagle’s position on a hospital tax bill from last year, and the legal boilerplate it takes to file a Senate resolution.

The Merkleson author claims to be from a place “not far” from the state Capitol and to have volunteered for both her senator and her representative this year.

***
Walter Jones of the Morris News Service took note of evidence that the leadership dispute in the Senate has perhaps made the other chamber more aggressive:

The House killed a Senate bill Tuesday that would have allowed the harvesting of logs that have been submerged for decades in four Georgia rivers.

Most of the logs, called deadheads, were originally cut down a century or so ago and floated downstream to mills in times before railroads and trucks.

Senate Bill 218 by Sen. Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, would have instructed the Department of Natural Resources to bid out sections of the Oconee, Flint, Altamaha and Ocmulgee rivers to speculators who wanted to take their chances digging the logs from the sediment on the bottom and trying to sell them.

There was only one vote against it on March 16 when it was considered by the Senate where Williams is the highest-ranking member.

***
A note from Republican Mike Huckabee sent to supporters indicates the ’08 presidential candidate has been taking some heat for his opposition to a shutdown of the federal government – and perhaps cares about the criticism more than someone who’s not running in ‘12 ought to:

My website, Facebook page, and blogs lit up with angry people who said I supported a retreat. That’s not true. I just supported taking “yes” for an answer. The Democrats originally wanted NO cuts and then finally put $6 billion on the table as their final offer.

The Speaker first put up $32 billion, later moved that up to $61 billion, but ended up with $38.5 billion. To get more than you first asked for, and over six times more than your opponent’s final offer – sorry, but that seems a victory to me. But not to those who wanted all or nothing.

Here’s a dose of reality: The Democrats control 2 of the 3 moving parts of this deal—the Senate and the White House; the Republicans only control the House. They were never going to get everything they wanted, and this temporary funding bill wasn’t really about issues like Planned Parenthood. Cutting $38.5 billion is a victory for the Republicans.

***
AJC’s Politifact today looks at U.S. Rep. Paul Broun’s statement that the federal government is borrowing “almost $60 billion per week.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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65 comments Add your comment

Aquagirl

April 13th, 2011
11:24 am

Ah, Republicans. The party of personal responsibility. And Mr. Ralston’s responsibility is finding someone else to blame.

insider

April 13th, 2011
11:25 am

The Republicans did everything they could to make the Democratic members look good.

The Majority House Leaders were outsmarted by the Minority Leader on major bills and amendments while keeping the Republicans on the defensive all year.

The Majority Senate Leaders belong in pre-K until they can start acting like adults.

double

April 13th, 2011
11:28 am

Where was the tax cut?Shifted would be better description.To the ones least afford.Typical for rich and corp.

xdog

April 13th, 2011
11:32 am

I’m convinced that Stacey Abrams is 5 times smarter than David Ralston. That’s up from 3 times smarter since last week.

yuzeyurbrane

April 13th, 2011
11:36 am

Ralston in general is a thoughtful legislator and certainly a vast improvement over his predecessor. So his remarks about Democratic criticism and GSU statisticians, who the Republicans hired, seem petty. I think he would have been better off if he just said the tax bill is complicated and some important questions have arisen which behoove us to slow it down a bit and look more closely.

Centrist

April 13th, 2011
11:41 am

While it is true Democrats don’t like consumption taxes because a large part of their constituencies don’t pay income tax, it was the hodgepodge of additional service taxes (some taken away during the session) and the reversal of phasing out pension taxes undid the Republican’s poorly organized tax plan. It became obvious that campaign contributor and lobbyist groups were getting special consideration even after bills were introduced.

Old Hippie

April 13th, 2011
11:46 am

Appropo of nothing on these topics:

“So how did we get from a budget surplus at the beginning of George W. Bush’s presidency to deficits and debt as far as the eye can see? Here’s a quick timeline: the Bush tax cuts (2001), 9/11 and the Afghanistan war (2001), the Iraq war (2003), more tax cuts, the unpaid-for Medicare prescription-drug benefit (2003), the financial collapse and economic downturn (2008), the Obama stimulus (2009), and the two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts (2010). Then you add the aging Baby Boomers to the whole mix. Back in 2009, the New York Times calculated that 37% of the deficits were due the economic downturn, 33% were due to Bush’s policies, 20% were due to Obama’s extensions of Bush’s policies, and another 10% were due to Obama’s policies like the stimulus.”

Republican policies have never been good for the economy. The Ga GOP should take note of this.

Aquagirl

April 13th, 2011
11:52 am

yuze, maybe if they quit wasting time on light bulbs and birther nonsense they could get around to tax reform.

Bill Knowles

April 13th, 2011
12:13 pm

Senator Staton has denied any wrong doing in a statement made to http://www.wearepolitics.com . Further, he has NOT stepped down as Majority Whip.

Centrist

April 13th, 2011
12:33 pm

Corporations and government entities report income, but there is a HUGE underground economy where cash/check income is not reported or taxed. Here are just a few off the top of my head: small businesses like restaurants and bars, tips, rents, drug dealers, fenced stolen property, home/boat/auto repair, lawn services, and illegal alien income. Not just cash, but checks made out to individuals are not reported either.

Capturing consumption taxes from these (and many other) income tax cheats would be fair and profitable to the government with a lot less enforcement cost, but they mostly vote Democrat and are protected in exchange. Too bad the Republicans in control in Georgia had to try to over-reach and help their preferred constituents with the tax bill proposal – but such is politics. A national “Fair Tax” won’t ever replace the income tax for similar reasons.

Beth Merkleman

April 13th, 2011
12:40 pm

Most taxpayers want government services to provide what they can’t on their own. A few taxpayers have enough money that they figure they’d be better off if everyone had to fend for themselves — pay for your own school, your own police, your own fire service, your own healthcare, your own food inspection, your own clean air, your own parkland, and your own roads, and leave me alone. These people own our politicians. What to do, what to do.

Capitol Idea

April 13th, 2011
12:57 pm

Odd words coming from Ralston’s lips given that his party has yet to deliver on any positive ethics reform or more transparency in government or tax cuts for the middle or lower class or banks that do not cost the tax payers a fortune in bailouts or increased employment or reduced foreclosures, etc. They cannot even figure out how to fix our roads and even South Carolina and Alabama know how to do that much. How long will idiots like Ralston try to blame their worthlessness on Democrats and how long will their constituency buy into their fairy tales.

Toby

April 13th, 2011
12:59 pm

It’s not that government “knows better how to spend funds than the people” but that government can, & should, do things that private businesses can not do. We can not have a viable, thriving nation with high rates of wellbeing if the roads, schools, military and other services are private… if they are private, then an economic Darwinism (hardcore capitalism) kicks in & the poor become more like the poor of China… without tax funded services, we become more oligarchical & ruled by capitalist interests. Wellbeing matters, & thus government services do!
-the money is here… the richest 1-2% have been getting richer via their control of elected officials (lobby power)… the public knows too!

joe

April 13th, 2011
1:00 pm

I’ve never seen a Dem proposal that actually cuts spending that was actual spending, not projected spending. Post again when that actually happens, but don’t hold your stinky breath. Also, those of us who take pride in personal responsibility and not taking govt handouts of any kind vote GOP. Those who are takers and are ruining this country vote Dem…remember, spread the wealth around?

td

April 13th, 2011
1:06 pm

Aquagirl

April 13th, 2011
11:52 am
yuze, maybe if they quit wasting time on light bulbs and birther nonsense they could get around to tax reform.

You would not like any tax reform a republican attempted to put on the table.

td

April 13th, 2011
1:09 pm

Toby

April 13th, 2011
12:59 pm

Why are people poor in this country? Can you give us some examples of characteristics that make people poor?

DW (the real one)

April 13th, 2011
1:12 pm

@TOTAL D0UCHE

She might if it didnt involve sticking the burden on the poor and middle class like republicans ALWAYS tend to do.

Darwin

April 13th, 2011
1:12 pm

“”With all due respect, I’m not sure my friends in the Democratic party have ever seen a tax cut they’re going to be pleased with. We just have a basic disagreement with them. They believe we need to keep more money in the government coffers, because government makes better decisions than taxpayers do in how to spend it…” Republicans have always been better at rhetoric than governing.

Bobby

April 13th, 2011
1:12 pm

Ralston is so stupid he does not understand what him and his Republican fiends (I did not misspell that) are offering is not a tax cut to most Georgians. Under his plan our auto insurance would go up to cover the increased taxes on car repairs. That is a tax increase for Georgia residents not a cut. He wants to increase the tax on Georgia’s middle class rather than share the burden across the board with the wealthier residents. Ralston is full of nonsense.

Last Man Standing

April 13th, 2011
1:15 pm

Consumption taxation is preferable to income taxation because it taxes equally and has the added benefit of taxing illegal monies gained from drug manufacturing, distribution and sales. In fact, any money earned from illegal endeavors would be taxed.

I would prefer to see both the state and nation embrace and use the Fair Tax.

DW (the real one)

April 13th, 2011
1:19 pm

@last man

Again, that is just shifting the tax burden on the poor and middle class.

Last Man Standing

April 13th, 2011
1:20 pm

td:

“Why are people poor in this country? Can you give us some examples of characteristics that make people poor?”

Good luck on getting an answer! I think you and I already know the answer.

Last Man Standing

April 13th, 2011
1:22 pm

DW (the real one) :

Please explain to me how that shifts the tax burden to the poor and middle class?

DW (the real one)

April 13th, 2011
1:23 pm

okay… well a person that makes $1000 /month buys $300 in groceries. A person making 100,000 / month DOES NOT buy $30,000 in groceries do they?

DW (the real one)

April 13th, 2011
1:24 pm

so when do they pay THEIR share of taxes?

Aquagirl

April 13th, 2011
1:26 pm

“Why are people poor in this country? Can you give us some examples of characteristics that make people poor?”

Yes. Being sick. How inconsiderate of those people, they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps after that heart attack and get back to work by lunchtime.

td

April 13th, 2011
1:28 pm

DW (the real one)

April 13th, 2011
1:19 pm
@last man

Again, that is just shifting the tax burden on the poor and middle class.

The poor do not pay any taxes now, so of coarse they should pay their “fair share” as well. A consumption tax would also get tax revenue from the people working under the table and the drug dealers. This would increase the revenue stream a great deal more than taxing the rich so they can lay off more people.

DW (the real one)

April 13th, 2011
1:28 pm

Lol is there a MR. Aquagirl? I love this girl..

Bill Knowles

April 13th, 2011
1:29 pm

Senator Staton has denied any wrong doing in a statement made to http://www.wearepolitics.com . Further, he has NOT stepped down as Majority Whip.

Centrist

April 13th, 2011
1:30 pm

So simply make BASIC necessities like groceries, nominal electricity, and nominal water exempt from taxes. The “Fair Tax” actually has rebates based on low income (but as seen above – reported income is often quite different than actual).

DW (the real one)

April 13th, 2011
1:30 pm

td,

so youd rather take what little money they have VS. take a small pecentage more from millioinaires and billionaires just so you can catch a few dollars of “drug money”? Seriously? Youre an idiot

Last Man Standing

April 13th, 2011
1:33 pm

DW (the real one:

“okay… well a person that makes $1000 /month buys $300 in groceries. A person making 100,000 / month DOES NOT buy $30,000 in groceries do they?”

Your response indicates to me that you know little or nothing about the Fair Tax. There is a pre-bate on the amount of “living” expenses not subject to the Fair Tax. Do yourself a favor: go to a library and check out the book on the Fair Tax. After you’ve read it, get back to me.

td

April 13th, 2011
1:33 pm

DW (the real one)

April 13th, 2011
1:24 pm
so when do they pay THEIR share of taxes?

When they buy that $2 million dollar house they will pay $400,000 in taxes. When they buy the $100,000 beat then they will pay $20,000 in taxes. When they buy the $100,000 necklace for their wife they will pay $20,000 in taxes. These three items alone will be more taxes then your poor person will ever pay.

Aquagirl

April 13th, 2011
1:34 pm

Yo, Bill, can Beth…excuse me, the good Senator just drop Jim a line? Really, you’d think he’d want to contact Jim and set the record straight. I guess he’s too busy trying to get hold of Ms. Merkleson.

How strange he trickles this info out to a blog and the paper he just happens to own.

DW (the real one)

April 13th, 2011
1:34 pm

okay last man,

If the fair tax results in YOU PERSONALLY paying MORE taxes would you still support it?

DW (the real one)

April 13th, 2011
1:35 pm

td,

STILL NOT THEIR FAIR SHARE. What percentage of their income is that vs. what percentage of the poor persons? Yeah….

td

April 13th, 2011
1:37 pm

Aquagirl

April 13th, 2011
1:26 pm
“Why are people poor in this country? Can you give us some examples of characteristics that make people poor?”

Yes. Being sick. How inconsiderate of those people, they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps after that heart attack and get back to work by lunchtime.

I know a great deal of people that have had heart attacks and are not poor now. Nice try but you can do better. Let me give you a hint, it might have something to do with the decisions someone makes?

DW (the real one)

April 13th, 2011
1:37 pm

like being born black or a minority?

td

April 13th, 2011
1:40 pm

DW (the real one)

April 13th, 2011
1:35 pm
td,

STILL NOT THEIR FAIR SHARE. What percentage of their income is that vs. what percentage of the poor persons? Yeah….

It is 20% of both of their incomes. BTW: The real poor will not pay that share because Food Stamps will be tax exempt like they are today.

Let me ask you a question. How much of ones income is enough to pay in taxes?

Aquagirl

April 13th, 2011
1:42 pm

Well, td, your personal experience must be the standard. Because the entire universe revolves around you.

Last Man Standing

April 13th, 2011
1:42 pm

DW (the real one):

“f the fair tax results in YOU PERSONALLY paying MORE taxes would you still support it?”

Yes, I would. I would support it because it is truly a “Fair Tax”. Read the book and I think even you would support it.

td

April 13th, 2011
1:43 pm

DW (the real one)

April 13th, 2011
1:37 pm
like being born black or a minority?

Blacks are poor because they were born? Really? Is Obama Poor? How about Herman Cain?, Bill Cosby? Was MLK poor? I wonder what all these balcks have in common vs the other poor blacks?

td

April 13th, 2011
1:46 pm

Aquagirl

April 13th, 2011
1:42 pm
Well, td, your personal experience must be the standard. Because the entire universe revolves around you.

Sorry but you do not have the intellectual honesty to really answer my questions because you are afraid it does not fit into your liberal narrative of the world.

Aquagirl

April 13th, 2011
1:47 pm

td, just because those are the only black people you know doesn’t mean they represent the economic status of all African-Americans.

JP

April 13th, 2011
1:47 pm

But don’t the R’s have clear-cut majorities in both houses? Why do they need the D’s at all?

td

April 13th, 2011
1:55 pm

Aquagirl

April 13th, 2011
1:47 pm
td, just because those are the only black people you know doesn’t mean they represent the economic status of all African-Americans.

Sorry you are wrong again. I only mentioned a few black people to make a point (did not want to even mention all the athlete’s, singers and entertainers out there). How about all the government workers that are black, all the teachers? Do you call all of them poor? What characteristics make them not poor? What did they do right that the poor did not do?

There are more white people that are receiving government benefits than black people. I can tell you that they share the same characteristics as blacks for their circumstances.

td

April 13th, 2011
1:58 pm

Aquagirl

April 13th, 2011
1:47 pm

Like I said before you and all other liberals do not have the intellectual honesty to really answer the question. It does not fit the mantra of reasoning to let you to continue to justify redistribution of wealth and government control over the economy and peoples lives.

Monroe Burbank

April 13th, 2011
2:09 pm

You gotta love Republicans. Ignorant, and proud of it.

Aquagirl

April 13th, 2011
2:09 pm

td, I did answer the question. You just didn’t like the answer. Like Ralston with his boogeyman Democrats, you MUST have an evil group to blame for everything.

Gosh, I’m so glad you added teachers to your list of black folk, after running through athletes, entertainers, and government workers. I thought you were going to list mammies and lawn jockeys next.

JP

April 13th, 2011
2:16 pm

If the R’s control both houses by wide margins, the governor’s mansion, and just about every state-wide office, why are they complaining about the Dems when they can’t pass tax reform?