Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● Poor Haiti. An earthquake. Cholera. And now the plague of Baby Doc.
● The GOP majority in the Legislature should learn from the mistakes of the Democrats who ran Georgia. One lesson is never create dedicated taxes or fees and enshrine them in the state constitution. The other is not to levy “fees,” aka taxes, and promise, or appear to promise, the proceeds to a specific use. The result is that special interests consider them “mine” and demand “their” money, no matter the fiscal condition of the state. At issue now are taxes collected as fees on waste disposal of new tires that eventually will get into the waste-disposal stream. As former House Appropriations Committee Chairman Ben Harbin, R-Evans, told the AJC all revenues that come into the general fund are spent for higher priorities — “education and health care and things like that.” The option for legislators is to shuffle available money — or to cut higher-priority programs. The third lesson here is that taxes as fees are a trust-in-government issue. The appearance of bait-and-switch levies always comes back to haunt elected officials.
● Republicans in the General Assembly should be planning for the long term, which means that they start defining their values and ethics for all those Georgians who were driven into their arms — perhaps temporarily — by the recurring Pelosi-Reid-Obama nightmare. Senate Republicans, therefore, can’t have a Banking Committee chairman who’s being sued by the FDIC for his alleged role in the collapse of Integrity Bank in Alpharetta. That chairman, Sen. Jack S. Murphy of Cumming, served on the bank board from 2000 to 2008 and is among the former directors and bank executives from whom the FDIC is seeking $70 million. Murphy should step down voluntarily; if not, fellow Republicans should give him another assignment.
● Frightened members of Congress who insist that they now need special protection to mix with the unwashed masses are in the wrong business. They should find some other work.
● Headline: “Obama orders review of regulations.” This is a joke, right? Where’s the punch line: “He thinks there are too few.” Financial industry “reform” will bring hundreds more and the health care cram down grants 1,968 new powers to federal appointees, primarily Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, according to Newt Gingrich’s Center for Health Transformation. Unsurprisingly, another AJC headline: “Government needs to add 193,000 hires” for “mission critical” jobs in government in the next two years.
● Pundits never tire of declaring the congressional Republicans’ efforts to repeal Obamacare as doomed. It’s to elected officials’ credit that they try — even if takes years. (Man, those frightened said-to-be “Blue Dog” Democrats got back on the party reservation quickly. Neither John Barrow nor Sanford Bishop voted for repeal.)
● Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves spoke the PolitiFacted truth in observing something he’d have no reason to lie about. His verified statement was that the kind of snow storm that shut down Atlanta comes every 10 or 15 years. With that time frame, public officials should not consider trying to buy big stores of snow-removal equipment. Better heed the advice of former DOT Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl: “You cannot buy enough equipment to cover something like this. … It may sit on the yard 365 days a year for, say, three years.” Some of the better ideas come from transplants writing letters and op-eds for the AJC — including one suggestion that all publicly owned removal equipment go to the interstate and major roads and that subdivisions organize, in advance, their own road-clearing efforts.