Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● Republicans, with full control over redistricting and the state budget, have power under the Gold Dome to run roughshod over the opposition on issues important to them, even to the extent of passing proposed constitutional amendments. Not to worry, though. Georgia has no conservative majority, no rock-the-boat majority, and no majority that should cause old-line Democrats to fear power sharing. Latest example: A proposed change in education law that would have given school choice to parents who serve in the military, to those with children with mild to moderate disabilities and to those who take in foster children, failed to come up for a vote. It was tabled for the year by Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers.
● Political courage to these alleged right-wingers is to take out the legislative trash left by Democrats. While failing to give parents choice in public education, the state Senate did pass a bill to allow locals to vote on Sunday alcohol sales, something the convenience store lobby had never been able to get from Democrats who ruled Georgia. The vote was 33-22. Brothers and sisters of the Right, being bold ain’t screwing up the courage to stand up to the church crowd. Don’t feel like a hick for respecting the desire of people of faith to preserve a piece of their week from the popular culture’s downward spiral. The boozers are not deprived by the obligation to think a day ahead. For those who can’t, it is possible in life to survive a one-day bout of delayed gratification.
● Fiscal conservatives should take note of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s effort to stave off financial disaster in public pensions. On this issue, he’s the most interesting reform figure in Georgia. His proposal to City Council offers two options. One would shift all employees into a defined contribution plan similar to a 401(k). For state and all local governments, that’s the way to go. It virtually eliminates the tinkering with numbers — almost always unnoticed by the public — that plants the seeds of financial disaster in public defined benefit plans. If the City Council approves and this withstands a certain court challenge, it will be revolutionary. The other option would nudge employees making less than about $40,000 into Social Security. Just over half of the city’s current pension liability is funded; that liability is expected to triple to $4.5 billion over the next decade.
● Hillary Clinton wants to leave after 2012. We should help.
● No question that Tuesday’s 79-vote win by proponents of a four-year extension of a one-cent sales tax is a preview of next year’s proposed one-cent regional sales tax. The vote in Cobb next year will be split along the same lines, with more against than for in 2012. But the tax will be imposed on Cobb anyway because voters in Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton will provide the margins needed to impose the tax across the region. It should be the law that all votes on tax issues should come in a primary or general election. Elections held off-cycle favor those who wish to grow government.
● The tea party has been good for Georgia. Latest example: Because of its pressure, the Legislature has shelved a proposal to create the health insurance exchange, which is to come in one form or another under Obamacare. The state should plan and prepare, but otherwise do nothing that lays the groundwork for Obamacare until after the 2012 election.
● A newsman from outside I-285 once told me, by way of emphasizing that his interest was in local news, that if an A-bomb fell on Atlanta, the story would be the fallout. That’s been America’s reaction to the tragedy in Japan that may have cost 25,000 lives. Nuclear power is our future. The wind farms and solar panels are a drop in the energy bucket.