Good Lord, here we go again.
This from one of Gov. Bill Haslam’s first post-election policy statements:
Wow, really? Just as hard-pressed Tennessee taxpayers and consumers finally get a modicum of relief from the high Obama gas prices, the first thing that pops into our billionaire governor’s mind is to steal some of those savings back for the state bureaucracy.
Intermission for a Little History Lesson
In 1998, Don Sundquist was re-elected with approx. 70% of the vote. After promising not to support a state income tax during his re-election, Sundquist reversed himself and became the leading advocate of the tax, infuriating not only fellow Republicans, but the general public as well.
A front group called Citizens for Fair Taxation was formed to “educate” the public on the virtues of an income tax. It didn’t work, and the result was a horn-honking taxpayer rebellion that left Sundquist as one of the most reviled governors in history (yes, including Ray Blanton). It seems the citizenry were a mite peeved that the first action of a governor who won re-election as a fiscal conservative was to raise taxes. The fact it was a Republican governor merely rubbed salt in the wound.
Back To Our Story….
So now we have a governor, whose supporters bandy about a “70% approval rating” (compliments of those renowned fiscal and political conservatives at Vanderbilt), like it was some sort of magic elixir that would cause the legislature to tremble and acquiesce. Why, the Vandy poll even suggested that such ratings made Haslam “presidential material” (we are not kidding.)
And so Bill’s first act in his second term is to raise taxes on consumers and small businesses (who will pass along the costs to the consumer as well). Looks like the governor is going to need another front group like the old Citizens for Fair Taxation.
Oh, and who was the founder, major funder and co-chairman of the original Citizens for Fair Taxation? Why, none other than Jim Haslam II – father of the current governor. Big Jim and his fellow board members raised $1.8 million to jam through a state income tax, and failed. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
And don’t even get us started on the obvious conflict between raising the gas tax and the Haslam family business — which happens to be the largest independent retailer of gasoline in the country.even
We here at RTP should have seen this coming. After all, Jimmy Haslam, the governor’s brother, was the college roommate of Sen. Bob Corker. Corker – who was rumored to be interested in running for president — torpedoed his already minimal shot at the White House when earlier this year he publicly advocated raising gas taxes at the federal level.
“Bill and Bob for President – They raised your taxes.” Yeah, that’s the ticket. Worked wonders for President Mondale.
With all this recent history and his familial knowledge of the income tax debacle, one would think that Bill Haslam would know better. One would be wrong.
The governor, and his Greek Chorus at the Knoxville News-Sentinel, say that because gas prices are falling, NOW is a perfect time to raise taxes. That’s like saying when mortgage interest rates fall, it’s the perfect time to raise property taxes. This perverted logic is disgusting, but it is also dangerous to any politician who buys into it (Ron Ramsey, are you listening?).
Bring it on, Bill. Radio talk shows are rooting for you. The Obama Administration is rooting for you. Don Sundquist is rooting for you. You may be able to make Don the second most disliked governor in Tennessee history.