Monthly Archives: January 2012

Who will governor serve?

Will Gov. Robert Bentley serve all the people or just Grover Norquist?

During the highly contested gubernatorial campaign of 2010, Bentley was one of three candidates who signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. In the pledge, Bentley promised “to oppose and vote against tax increases.”

Norquist — who has received funding from cigarette maker Philip Morris USA, Pfizer, Microsoft and the Koch brothers — is the most valuable ally of corporate America.

Alabama’s General Fund is expected to come up short by at least $400 million when fiscal 2013 begins Oct. 1. The problem is desperate, so much so that Bentley proposed raiding the Education Trust Fund to ease the shortfall.

Several legislators have proposed an increase in the tobacco tax.

Clearly, the state needs more revenue. It has, by most measures, the lowest taxes in the nation. By almost all measures, the state has the least equitable tax structure, letting timber companies and large corporations escape much of the burden of financing the state’s operations.

We charge sales taxes on groceries for the poorest Alabamians and collect income taxes from families below poverty level, all while keeping tax rates at national lows on corporate landowners and the ultra-wealthy.

An increase in the tobacco tax would not get at the major problems, but it would at least help meet the $400 million shortfall. It would also help avoid the disastrous proposal of maintaining our regressive tax structure by reducing the quality of our education.

But Bentley has a major decision ahead of him. He signed a pledge to oppose and, if necessary, veto any tax increase.

It was a desperate ploy he signed at a time when he was not expected to win the primary.

And whatever Norquist may say, it was not a pledge to the Alabama people. It was a pledge to Norquist and his corporate allies — including tobacco companies — who have no stake in Alabama excellence.

Bentley needs to renounce the pledge and call it what it is, a betrayal of Alabamians who are weary of a state that cannot meet the expectations of its citizens.


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‘I could do his job better’

Candidates go to lots of trouble to get elected, but they never seem to want the posts they get.
U.S. Reps. Mo Brooks and Robert Aderholt, Republicans of Huntsville and Haleyville, are joining the state’s First Lady for a rally against abortion. Their positions against abortion are reasonable, but neither Brooks nor Aderholt have anything to do with the issue. They are not Supreme Court justices, who determine the constitutionality of laws intended to restrict abortion. They are not the president, who appoints such justices. They are not even senators, who must confirm the president’s nominations.
They’re messing with an issue that is totally outside their job descriptions at a time when Congress has the lowest ratings in history because it can’t get anything done.
This sort of excursion is commonplace these days.
Alabama’s House Majority Leader, Micky Hammon of Decatur, sponsored an immigration law. He did so despite a U.S. Constitution that leaves immigration issues to the federal government. If he wanted to be in Congress, why did he run for the state House?
Brooks, who did run for Congress, spent much of his rhetoric supporting a state law on immigration.
Gov. Robert Bentley — who ran for governor, as would seem obvious — spends much of his time weighing in on federal healthcare issues, federal immigration issues and abortion. He can’t repeal the Affordable Care Act from the governor’s mansion. If that was his goal, why didn’t he run for Congress?
Today I heard an ad for Twinkle Cavanaugh slamming all things Obama, including the Affordable Care Act and environmental regulations. Is she running for Congress? For the presidency? No, she’s running for reelection as a member of the state agency that regulates utilities.
The strategy appears to be one of political misdirection. Either real obstacles (the economy) or artificial ones (low tax revenue) are preventing the various officials from succeeding in the positions to which they were elected. They figure the next best thing is to loudly debate an issue over which they have no authority. Sadly, the strategy appears to work.

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Filed under Alabama politics, Election 2012, immigration, Mo Brooks, obama, Uncategorized

Obama views not extreme

Congratulations to Mitt Romney for a hard-fought caucus win in Iowa. For Republicans, Romney’s victory should — but probably won’t — squelch claims that President Barack Obama is an extremist.

Cries that Obama is a wild-eyed socialist Muslim from Kenya tend, when challenged, to focus on a few Obama policies.

Chief among them, of course, is his support of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The mandate that most Americans who can afford to do so either purchase private health insurance or pay a penalty is viewed from the right as a symbol of socialist extremism.

Whether or not the Affordable Care Act ends up delivering on its promises, Romney’s success Tuesday suggests it is not an example of extremist thought. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney supported and signed legislation that created a nearly identical plan, complete with the mandate. Last month he described mandatory insurance as “fundamentally a conservative principle to insist that people take personal responsibility as opposed to turning to government for giving out free care.”

Newt Gingrich, who finished fourth in the caucus, also supported mandates until politics changed his mind.

Another frequently cited example of Obama extremism is his acknowledgement that human activities contribute to climate change. Until Romney realized it turned off his conservative base, he also accepted the scientific evidence on climate change. GOP candidate Jon Huntsman has paid the price of delaying his decision to reject science until after the primary race began.

Another indication of Obama’s extremism, according to many conservatives, was his support of bank bailouts during the credit crisis, at the onset of the recession. Former President George W. Bush, a Republican — faced with the same economic challenge — also supported the bailout, but conservatives increasingly have distanced themselves from the former president.

Yet Romney, too, supported the bailout. “We were on the precipice, and we could have had a complete meltdown of our entire financial system,” the candidate explained in October. “So action had to be taken.” Gingrich also supported the bailouts.

Only time will tell whether Obama’s support of health-care reform and bank bailouts was wise, or whether his assessment of climate change is accurate. Using any of these factors as evidence that he is extreme in his policies, however, is absurd when the front-running GOP candidate has agreed with him on all three.,89769

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Filed under Conservatism, Election 2012, Health care, obama, Socialism, stimulus, Uncategorized