Your morning jolt: Grover Norquist, hospitals battle over bed tax extension

Three months out from the January session of the Legislature, some very specific lines in the sand are already being drawn.

Last week, to little fanfare, anti-tax guru Grover Norquist, president of the Washington-based Americans for Tax Reform, sent a letter to Republican state lawmakers requiring them to oppose any extension of a hospital bed tax that was passed in 2010 and is set to expire next June.

The tax was used to plug a multi-million dollar hole in the state’s Medicaid budget.

Read Norquist’s letter in its entirety here.

Voting to extend the bed tax, Norquist declared, would violate the anti-tax pledge that many of those state lawmakers have signed. Norquist tied the bed tax to this summer’s transportation sales tax vote:

Voters made known their opposition to tax increases just six weeks ago when they soundly defeated the T-SPLOST at the polls. This is an affirmation of the public’s general distaste for higher taxes, and rightly so: Georgia’s tax code is currently uncompetitive with its neighbors…

Norquist also tied the tax to the national debate over the federal deficit:

The reason it is so enticing to state lawmakers is that it allows state government to take advantage of the federal matching program for Medicaid. While hospitals in the state will be forced to cough up $216 million because of the tax increase, the heavily-indebted federal government will be on the hook for at least $200 million more. Fiscal conservatives should not be looking to Washington for more federal aid, especially when the national debt climbed above $16 trillion for the first time last week.

On Tuesday, four major health care systems in Georgia – Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Grady Memorial Hospital, Hometown Health and Memorial University Medical Center – produced their own, counter-epistle.

You can read all of it here. A taste:

The provider fee generates more than $200 million a year in state revenues. When matched .., Georgia receives about $400 million in additional funds to support the state Medicaid budget. Approximately two-thirds of these dollars cover expenses for the Medicaid program. The remaining one-third is used to help fund Medicaid hospital reimbursements. It is important to note that the amount raised from hospitals is returned to the hospital industry via these payments. …

If we left the federal match on the table as recommended by Mr. Norquist, the burden of funding Medicaid and caring for the most vulnerable Georgians would fall entirely on the backs of state and local taxpayers. This does not make sense when federal funds are made up of tax dollars that Georgia residents and businesses pay to the federal government. We should accept our own tax dollars back and use them for the benefit of our residents and their health.

***
The language is getting pretty rough out there. Rob Redding sends word that during a session with V-103 on Tuesday, comedian Paul Mooney referred to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney as a “serial killer.” To wit:

“There is something wrong with that man you can look and see, at his body language,” Mooney told urban power house WVEE-FM. “I mean something serious very scary, serial killer scary. There is something really wrong with him … His future is serial killer. It is in his future, you’ll see.”

***
Another player has surfaced in the charter school campaign. A group calling itself the Committee for Educational Freedom reported raising $13,150. Most of the cash — $10,000 – came from Americans For Prosperity, a favorite of the conservative Koch brothers.

***
This will be news for those of you on the Georgia coast. From the Associated Press:

Gov. Nathan Deal would deny a tax break for tourist attractions to a planned convention hotel on Jekyll Island because it would be unfair to competing hotels in the area, the governor’s spokesman said Tuesday.

Deal has already given plenty of support to boosting tourism and conventions on Jekyll Island, where Georgia taxpayers have invested $50 million in a new convention center and beachfront park, spokesman Brian Robinson said. But developers of a planned 200-room Westin hotel on the island state park should never have assumed they would get a tax subsidy from the state, he said.

“A hotel will be very successful there on Jekyll Island,” Robinson said. “But that investment needs to be made on a level playing field with other competing hospitality businesses on the island and in the area. The governor has said we’re not going to use this sales tax rebate in instances where the new entity competes with existing Georgia job providers.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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60 comments Add your comment

ScottNATL

October 3rd, 2012
11:14 am

Can someone give Grover the memo that we in Georgia are smart enough to handle our affairs with without his butting in. Worry about your own state Grover, and we will worry about ours. Your meddling is not appreciated here

GaBlue

October 3rd, 2012
11:18 am

Do the Koch brothers live in Georgia? Do any of their children or grandchildren attend public schools here? Does Grover Norquist live in Georgia? Does he fly down here to stay in one of our hospitals when he’s sick?

PEOPLE OF GEORGIA: Ask yourself what these people want. They’re not interfering here out of the goodness of their hearts. They expect to get something for their trouble. Are you going to stand for that?

Carol

October 3rd, 2012
11:27 am

My reply to Norquist would be–take a long walk off of a short pier.

East Cobb RINO, Inc. (LLC)

October 3rd, 2012
11:30 am

Who elected Grover Norquist? And to what public office?

Carol

October 3rd, 2012
11:30 am

GABlue – They have already gotten at least a couple of laws passed including the Voter ID law.

East Cobb RINO, Inc. (LLC)

October 3rd, 2012
11:39 am

How about all Georgia elected officials sign a pledge to represent the State of Georgia?

Look before I leap...

October 3rd, 2012
11:40 am

Who is Grover Norquist and why is he dictating financial policy to GA?

Does anyone think the state can absorb a $416M hit and NOT cut medical care for its citizens?

HRPufnstuf

October 3rd, 2012
11:44 am

I’d tell Grover what Clint Eastwood told the chair. Go F**k yourself.

Scott Fresno

October 3rd, 2012
11:45 am

Grover says “Georgia’s tax code is currently uncompetitive with its neighbors”

Does he seriously think that patients will be traveling to out of state hospitals just to avoid the tax?

Duane

October 3rd, 2012
11:46 am

First and for most, Norquist and Obama have the same problem. Each believes he is some sort of god. So much so, that when one or the other speaks, the world must listen and then comply. Stay out of Georgia Norquist.

J Throckmorton Malcontent

October 3rd, 2012
11:47 am

Because we all know tax monies disappear into the hole that leads into the hollow center of the Earth and are never heard of again.
Grover’s like that barking dog that’s compelled to woof at everything and whose tail will never wag again until he’s freed the Earth from the scourge of vacuum cleaners.

Retired Soldier

October 3rd, 2012
12:01 pm

As a conservative I have to agree one time with my liberal brothers, Norquist is a cottage industry designed primarily to make a living for himself with no heavy lifting involved. He should be ignored, even when he is correct.

Interesting there are no comments about the vile words of Paul Mooney. I wonder what the response would be if a conservative said that about Obama?

Marlboro Man

October 3rd, 2012
12:09 pm

Republicans want everything for nothing.

GaBlue

October 3rd, 2012
12:19 pm

Retired Soldier,

You are free to offer your opinion on Mr. Mooney’s comment, or ignore it, just as we are. Not all of us care what someone else yammers on the radio.

Marlboro Man

October 3rd, 2012
12:25 pm

Anyone with 100 mil in the Caymans is a non starter, red,yellow,white,black,male,female,jew,christian,hindu,muslim,democrat,repulican,old,young,pretty,ugly,active,passive…and he’s the choice ?

DJ Sniper

October 3rd, 2012
12:41 pm

First off, Grover Norquist needs to go have a seat in the corner somewhere. He does NOT represent the majority, and our elected officials are supposed to serve all of us, no just him.

Retired, shall we run down the list of things that conservatives and other such people have said about Obama? I don’t agree with the “serial killer” comment, but I’ve heard much much worse regarding our president.

Debbie Dooley

October 3rd, 2012
12:43 pm

I assure you that every money-loving GOPer in this State will fall in line with Grover. That are mushy, spineless politicians!

Retired Soldier

October 3rd, 2012
1:00 pm

Worse than a serial killer? Maybe DJ, my point is if a conservative had said that the comments would cover the blog like the dew on a cool fall evening.

Baron DeKalb

October 3rd, 2012
1:01 pm

The uniformly negative reaction to Grover Norquist here is making me proud to be a Georgian…. I wish he would come down here so we could all get together and run him out of town on a rail, would probably be a good bipartisan bonding moment.

I remember when I used to listen to talk radio in the 1990s, he would do commercials for his organization, and his nasal, whiny voice made me want to throw up long before I realized how obnoxious and antisocial his whole program was. The TSPLOST debacle is a perfect example of how his simpleminded ideas have retarded our progress as a society.

Logical Dude

October 3rd, 2012
1:02 pm

Quoting: Voting to extend the bed tax, Norquist declared, would violate the anti-tax pledge that many of those state lawmakers have signed

Well, these lawmakers also swore an oath of office. I would hold the oath of office well above a pledge given to Grover.
And I hold my lawmakers responsible for upholding their oath of office above the anti-tax pledge. I would also expect EVERYONE to want to have the lawmaker uphold the oath of office above ANY pledge given to any group.

Jon

October 3rd, 2012
1:03 pm

Paul Mooney is a comedian. He’s paid to be offensive.

You should hear the stuff he says that can’t be broadcast on the radio.

Retired Soldier

October 3rd, 2012
1:05 pm

MM-

Does that mean you didn’t vote for Kerry or wouldn’t have voted for Kennedy or FDR? Or is it just rich republicans that are the problem? I thought the American dream was becoming successful or is the dream now to be supported by government?

Bob Loblaw

October 3rd, 2012
1:05 pm

Debbie,

You remind me of Steve Carrell’s weatherman character in Anchorman when it was time to have the fight with the opposing news teams and he lined up on the wrong side.

You want to increase taxes on Georgia’s hospitals? You’ve never been for any tax increase.

I think you’re confused. You’ll fall in line with Grover because you don’t care if the State government doesn’t have enough money for Medicaid. You probably buy his line that we have to look out for some reason for the federal government’s budget by not drawing down available funds.

When you come to, let us know what side you’re really on: the tax raising side or the Grover Norquist, no-tax-increase side.

Mid Ga Retiree

October 3rd, 2012
1:07 pm

I certainly hope that my newly elected state representative has not signed Grover’s “no new taxes” pledge. If he has he won’t be getting my vote any more. I am reasonably sure that my state senator has signed the pledge, which is why I didn’t vote for him! We don’t need Grover dictating tax policy to our state.

Baron DeKalb

October 3rd, 2012
1:10 pm

Retired Soldier: the outrageous and slanderous things that right wingers say about Obama are so constant that the media doesn’t even bother to cover them anymore. He has endured attacks on his sexuality, nationality, religion, character, commitment to American values, etc. Let’s see, one person called Romney a “serial killer,” meanwhile droves of right-wingers are posting stuff on Sandra Fluke’s Facebook page that would make Andrew Dice Clay blush, calling the sitting president a “dog eater” and “the Kenyan,” comparing Obama to OJ Simpson, etc. If you don’t like nasty, mean, personal politics, the best place to start is in your own back yard.

honested

October 3rd, 2012
1:13 pm

Are the republicans dumb enough to sign anything with grover norquist actually so cowardly as to concern themselves with anything the man has to say?

HE HAS NEVER BEEN SELECTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTRY TO REPRESENT ANYBODY IN ANY WAY. WHY ARE YOU AFRAID OF HIM?

Retired Soldier

October 3rd, 2012
1:17 pm

BD-

My backyard in pure and pristine, though the grass needs mowing with the rain. You can vilify the right but still can’t condemn the left. Thank you for making my point better than I did.

GaBlue

October 3rd, 2012
1:17 pm

Retired Soldier,

You are responsible for expressing your own outrage. Stop being so lazy, expecting Democrats to do it for you! Take some personal responsibility for once, and BE the change you want to see in the world. You’re welcome.

Retired Soldier

October 3rd, 2012
1:19 pm

GaBlue-

Ya’ll are the gift that keeps on giving, You’re welcome.

Baron DeKalb

October 3rd, 2012
1:23 pm

RS: I am more than happy to acknowledge the failings of the Left and of Democrats. However, in the arena of mean, below-the-belt, slanderous accusations, the Republicans–especially the talk radio and Tea Party crowd–have left us in the dust. As long as Republicans are doing things like “lynching” a folding chair, you better watch out for poisonous snakes in that backyard of yours.

honested

October 3rd, 2012
1:23 pm

retired,

What has the ‘left’ been in charge of in this State in the last decade for which any apology is required?

It appears to have been all wrong wing nuts, all the time holding the boot to the throat of Georgia Citizens.

jd

October 3rd, 2012
1:24 pm

Grover is just another carpetbagger hoping to drive Georgia’s economy into the ground and pick up the remains for song…

Retired Soldier

October 3rd, 2012
1:29 pm

honested-

Catch up, this is a discussion at the national level, not state. Now, you were saying?

HRPufnstuf

October 3rd, 2012
1:35 pm

I would assume we are talking to Retired Officer rather than Retired (enlisted) Soldier. You rank up there with Allen West.

Retired Soldier

October 3rd, 2012
1:39 pm

HR-

Now what makes you make that assumption and what difference would it make?

sheepdawg

October 3rd, 2012
1:41 pm

Grover should move to the moon with his buddy Noot. The earth will be a much better place without them.

honested

October 3rd, 2012
1:51 pm

retired,

OK, who was in charge from 2001-2008 when all of the disaster we have been reaping for the last few years was sown?

Again, the parents of the failure are the extreme right (or as in all cases, the extreme wrong).

DJ Sniper

October 3rd, 2012
1:59 pm

Let’s not forget the fact that some people have flat out referred to Obama as a n****r. Exhibit A: That bar owner out in some redneck part of the metro area who had the sign outside his bar saying something to the effect of “I do not support a n****r as president.” Those weren’t the exact words, but I’m sure you all remember the story.

And how many times has the right referred to Obama as Hitler?

Retired Soldier

October 3rd, 2012
2:00 pm

The answer is we had a republican president, part of the time a democratic senate, part of the time a republican congress and part of the time a democratic congress. Your point is not correct.

Retired Soldier

October 3rd, 2012
2:02 pm

I don’t remember the story, but I take your word that it occured. I would condemn that. Comparing Obama to Hitler is as wrong as comparing Bush to Hitler, agree?

Baron DeKalb

October 3rd, 2012
2:08 pm

I agree; and calling Obama a socialist or communist is as wrong as calling Bush a fascist or religious fanatic–agree?

HRPufnstuf

October 3rd, 2012
2:09 pm

Oh it’s just a hunch.
RS said, “I thought the American dream was becoming successful or is the dream now to be supported by government?” (Straight from Fox News!^^)
Well if that’s the case, your American dream must have been to be supported by government, because you are now. You have been supported by the government with your income and healthcare, still are now, and will be until you die. You are part of the problem according to Romney. In Romney’s world, YOU are no different than welfare queens because you all are sucking $$ from the government. So in other words, ROMNEY IS NOT ON YOUR SIDE!

NoMoreRawDeal

October 3rd, 2012
2:17 pm

Westin Hotels must not have donated enough to the RawDeal Re-election Fund yet. I’m sure they’ll have that sorted by the time the next General Assembly convenes, so they can get a one-off bill passed to get their tax break. Don’t they understand money talks when you’re dealing with Georgia politicians?

Retired Soldier

October 3rd, 2012
2:18 pm

BR-

Socialist, not so sure, communist yes. I don’t thinkObama is a socialist in the text book definition, but programs like Obamacare are socialistic in nature.

Retired Soldier

October 3rd, 2012
2:22 pm

HR-

That was straight from me. Let me be the judge of what side Romney is on with me. I’ll let you judge for yourself.

crankee-yankee

October 3rd, 2012
3:06 pm

Who the H*ll does Norquist think he is that he thinks he can tell Georgians what to do?
He doesn’t live here, he doesn’t vote here.
Yet he is trying to vote here via a bully proxy some “legislators” had made the poor decision to sign.
You know what?
I would be most impressed with a candidate who tells Norquist “Enough is enough, I’m not signing your ‘pledge’ again, stay out of my state politics. Say what you will, it’s a free country, but do not try to strong-arm me.”

Kris

October 3rd, 2012
3:11 pm

@ East Cobb RINO, “How about all Georgia elected officials sign a pledge to represent the State of Georgia?”

I agree, Stop taking payola..Fix the EDUCATION system rather than building another one.

We do need Principal RAWDEAL and his family running our school system as they would favor only the well to kids

God Bless President OBAMA in tonight’s debate with charlatan from the planet Kolob..

God Bless America Re-elect President OBAMA

honested

October 3rd, 2012
3:19 pm

RS,
‘Socialist in nature’, like the way we fund our military?

Road Scholar

October 3rd, 2012
3:30 pm

Let’s get rid of all taxes so we can have anarchy! C’mon folks, you have to pay for the services desired by the majority, or show why they are not needed. I hope Norquist spends some time in Georgia…in one of our hospitals!

Retired Soldier

October 3rd, 2012
3:35 pm

honestead-

If funding the military is socialism, then all federal spending is socialism, which it isn’t. The difference is national defense id reserved to the federal government in the Constitution. I haven’t found healthcare to be reserved to the federal government. Maybe you can help me find healthcare in the Constitution.