Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all:
● The real flaw in the tax revision proposal that’s moving much too quickly through the Georgia General Assembly is that it does something small-government conservatives should never allow. It opens the door to a widespread service-by-service sales tax without actually eliminating the income tax. Sure the top rate is reduced from 6 to 4.5 percent on the income tax. But the grow-government crowd to rule Georgia in the next decade or so can do what they do best: agonize about “tough-choices” and “profile-in-courage votes” — and then raise the rates back. Meanwhile, the proposed legislation is salted with the word “services” in opening the door too new sales taxes. Future legislatures will penny-ante us to death on implementing them, one or two services at a time. Today, it’ll be a tax on auto repairs and next year it’ll be the services utilized by “the rich.” On and on. Democrats have wanted this opening for years. And it’s the party of smaller government that will latch on to a buzzword — “consumption” taxes — and deliver that Trojan Horse.
● The task in winnowing down the $24 billion metro Atlanta transportation wish list is to include just those projects that can stand on their own merits — that is, those that live up to honest cost-benefit analysis. The problem with this kind of shopping list is that the empty calories jump on to the shopping cart leaving too little money for essentials.
● President Barack Obama, delivering today’s truth and today’s agenda, vows to reduce oil imports by one-third by 2025. Meanwhile, the Interior Department reports that more than two-thirds of the offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico that may hold 11 billion barrels of oil and 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are idle — not producing and not being actively explored. There is often a truth-a-meter gap between this President’s TelePrompTer and his policies. To Brazil: drill, baby, drill; we’ll buy. To us, drill, baby, drill; just not there. Or there.
● If politicians and the voting public allow this moment of fright to pass without taking action to cap and control public employee pension systems, we will be as irresponsible as those old folks and politicians who virtually destroyed Social Security over the past half century. The AJC’s Russell Grantham has done a superb job laying out the Georgia problem — which is admittedly not as deep and threatening as the California public pension problem. Our attention cannot wane without taking action. The public pension system model is seriously broken. It invites politicians to quiet today’s workers by passing the buck forward. There once may have been a salary-for-benefits trade-off between public and private plans. No more.
● Another reform for the statehouse GOP majority: Get rid of the practice of exempting state legislators who are in the insurance business from the annual continuing education requirements mandated for others. You own the inherited practices — and the culture — you don’t change.
● Good advice from LBJ to a young political science student who asked: “Son, never pass up an opportunity to go to the bathroom.” Good advice that could be given by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, coordinating Senate Democrats’ talking points — proposed cuts are “extreme” and driven by the tea party pushing House Republican leaders too far right, he advised all to say. Good advice for the political moment, perhaps. But Schumer has better advice for young political science students: “Know where the reporters are.” Unbeknownst to Schumer, they were already plugged into his conference call with four Senate Democrats, reports The Washington Examiner.