If Increased Taxes & Monopoly Power Are The Answer: What's The Question?
Alabama Foundation for Limited Government (AFLG) President John Rice launched another campaign last month in opposition of Speaker Mike Hubbard’s (facing 23 felony indictments) plans to raise taxes on Alabamians and further promote Poarch Creek Indians’ gambling monopoly power. For those who may not know, Mr. Rice is a former State Representative and Senator with a long established record of opposing unnecessary tax increases to support deleterious government expansion.
Many consider Rice the ‘point man’ in the 2003 ground game/retail politics across the State that opposed the $1.2 billion proposed tax increase; recently deceased libertarian Mark Bodenhousen was noted as the key person/strategist on the internet. Looking back a dozen years, the most memorable moment may be the televised Rice v. Riley debate during this 2003 campaign pressing for Amendment One tax increases immediately after barely being determined the next governor in a questionable race.
It was heartening to see someone take up the fight and actually allowed to debate Mr. Big Govt. after Myron Thompson killed voters’ civil rights to allow all parties on the general ballot in gubernatorial debates. I still have folks say, “I should’ve listened when you warned us of Riley’s record.” Big Govt. Bob’s NTU (National Taxpayers Union) rating clearly did not reflect the general population of Alabama; seems our current governor is equally ignorant of Grover Norquist type analysis of stewards of taxpayer dollars. Even with the ‘full court press’ of all the usual coercion and threats of the Riley machine, the anti-tax position won soundly (2 to 1) on a GENERAL election ballot where voters agreed with Rice, et al upon rejecting ‘Billion-dollar Bob’s’ tax increase.
After this political failure, big govt. thugs realized they must engage in more piecemeal, slow ‘divide and hide’ methods to get their way. Most notable was the $3 million wasted on a SPECIAL election just 49 days before a general election where another attempt to hike taxes would fail if ‘We the People’ decided. In a May 11th news conference Rice said, “When the legislature pushed the September 2012 raid on the trust fund, I predicted we would still be in budget chaos after everyone was safely re-elected. I was right. Had they listened to me then, we wouldn’t be in this situation. I’m telling them once again: Fix the problem. Stop kicking the can down the road and do not raise taxes on the hardworking men and women of Alabama.” This special election amended our State Constitution with approval of only 14% of eligible voters - i.e., much easier to get your minions out to vote and carry the day for favorable wealth transfers when most voters thought it something of major concern to be decided in the upcoming GENERAL election in a few weeks.
Readers may recall my column on Rice’s lawsuit against this abomination as the machine touted how they ‘balanced’ the budget with this $437 million theft from our trust fund. So now we suffer the result of having more govt. employees and programs than we can afford and less revenue generated by a depleted fund already hemorrhaging from so greatly distorted interest rates putting more demands on taxpayers and further contracting the economy. Little surprise Gov. Bentley’s press secretary called the Rice lawsuit against the unlawful budget submitted frivolous as the governor currently evokes the usual Reagan rhetoric to garner support from big govt. conservatives. Wasting $3 million in taxpayer money on a special election 49 days before a general election to expand government without support of the people is OK. Recent polling again found Alabamians overwhelmingly reject tax increases and Indian monopoly on gambling - so the rational forecast is this can NOT be put a GENERAL election ballot and win.
The Republican Super Majority led Alabama Legislature continues to fail citizens on several key issues. In 2012 as federal ‘stimulus’ and one-time monies dissipated, the Legislature and Governor manipulated the process to amend our State constitution to steal $437 million dollars over three years from the Alabama Trust Fund with the empty promise of paying it back. A promise still not kept nor addressed. This Super Majority's is no different than other “PIIGS” nation-states like Greece who will do anything to avoid fiscal discipline and destroy the quality of life for their posterity, making the inevitable reckoning all the more painful.
We’re now past the 2014 elections, observing the result of increased influence by big money on Alabama politics (think AEA, BCA, et al alphabet soup) with the $500 cap on corporate campaign contributions removed. Suffering some of the most restrictive ballot access laws in the nation, big money can more easily buy elections here in Alabama. Over 90% of incumbents who ran this cycle were re-elected in the House and 100% in the Senate. I appreciate readers who find these results disturbing yet not surprised by the recent gubernatorial announcement of a $541 million general fund shortfall. So much for paying back the trust fund… think those who hated our forecasting what would happen in 2012 will now call us wise given the correctly predicted result? No doubt the Governor and Legislature knew what they were doing, but they’re simply Elephant pigs addicted to taking from current taxpayers and our posterity just as the modern Donkey pigs before. Does anyone genuinely think feeding these pigs another $541 million will solve the problem instead of proffering more and fatter political animals?
So we observe the Riley machine running this same ‘up the gut’ from their playbook strangling our State without fear of voter discipline. The two options for this iteration according to Speaker Hubbard are raise taxes another $200 million and give Indian Gaming a bigger footprint in the gambling sands with more monopoly power in Alabama. Perhaps they’ve offered more ‘protection’ money than out of state establishments the machine was bilking or perhaps fear of federal charges (think Jack Abramoff scandal) by anyone who wants to connect the dots similar to the serial felony indictments driving the observed corrupt result. I sincerely enjoyed all the kudos from last month’s ‘tongue in cheek’ column - esp. those forecasting (correctly it seems) who would ‘save the day’ for Boulevard’s legal bills -- indeed Indians not the ‘traditional cavalry’ as some jest.
Why did Bentley fail to put this current ‘solution’ (to not addressing spending problems back in 2012) before GENERAL election voters to consider his now proposed $541 million tax increase in the last gubernatorial campaign? Can’t let those who are paying to keep the pigs fed determine their fate. It may cut some fat and get Goat Hill serious about earning some credibility with taxpaying voters to un-earmark (three times more than the national average) and provide a little flexibility to redirect resources to the few things State governments can provide better than private (non-govt. distorted/subsidized) efforts. For those who really want to fill their barf bags, Gov. Bentley is now evoking the patron Saint of big govt. conservatives Ronald Reagan (you remember, the pro-labor union Democrat turned Republican who exploded spending as Gov. California - now there’s example for us to follow) to justify their cowardice and dereliction of fiscal responsibility and duties. Ronald was an accomplished actor; I also have great affection for his words and witticisms. Sadly we’ve had enough Lincolnian politics - great rhetoric to cloak self-interest and advance more corporate welfare will not move us forward out of the morass they’ve ‘progressed’ us into… It is long past due to quit with the easy words and move onto the difficult task of actually balancing budgets and stop feeding the pigs on Goat Hill.
Not to be out corrupted by the “Spender of the House,” Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh championed the other ‘solution’ - broad based govt. run lottery and casino gambling to a few providers who pay well for monopoly power. Sure glad the Republican Super Majority evoking Ronald Reagan is getting us out of this mess. Not that a return to our ‘Barron Daze’ Senate would be any different. When Reagan was done with his brand of conservatism US debt per capita increased three-fold; maybe if he’d had as many years as FDR he could’ve come closer to that twelve-fold increase a few decades prior to ‘save us’ from the Great Depression. Dr. Gov. Bentley has promised to call the legislature back for special sessions this summer until his $541 million tax increases are passed. I forecast more auctioning of future taxpayer theft will be accomplished under a Hubbard/Marsh special session than balancing a budget which will curb deleterious government growth and promote recovery.
If increased taxes and promoting more monopoly power for gambling are the answer - what’s the question? How does the Governor and Legislature come up with anything they can possibly consider to keep feeding the pigs and keep the graftmaster machine churning…
Postscript: to inquirers seeking update on my March 2014 column about Quo Warranto proceedings against Sen. Del Marsh’s illegal attempt to revise the Alabama Constitution. On May 7th our State Supreme Court denied AG Luther Strange’s motion to dismiss. The AG’s text did little to address this proposed usurpation of power. In my specific observations of pro-govt. thug attorney generals when winning our case unanimously in the US Supreme Court in 2005, not addressing the actual issue of wrongdoing is the programmed response. Seven of the nine Justices concurred in denial of the AG’s frivolous text in appeal which has served the purpose of postponing use of this effective tool to curb corrupt actions of this sort enabling Montgomery to usurp even more power from the people. As we learned, winning means nothing if a Supreme Court does not follow-up and simply remands it back to the poor jurists below them. It is indisputable Sen. Marsh did NOT provide his authorization to engage in this wrongdoing in a timely matter - the courts can now correctly bring an end to this debacle - with prejudice! In short, our twelve brave citizens’ Quo Warranto inquiry of Sen. Del Marsh to provide where he’s authorized to revise the Alabama Constitution (without first placing the question of convention or no convention on the ballot) moves forward...