Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Mumpower Doctrine

New Tennessee House Minority Leader Jason Mumpower certainly is talking tough in the days since he was elected Republican Leader. In yesterday's Tennessean he outlined what he says are his priorities for the new General Assembly, and what is undoubtedly a platform meant to bring the GOP to power in Nashville in 2008.

Mumpower says that tax cut proposals are on the agenda. I am going to assume that this means that Mumpower-lead Republicans will push for a reasonable cut in the State sales tax that will especially help those who live in counties with a booming tourist trade. Most of those counties already have high county sales taxes, so a cut in the State sales duty will be a real help for many of Tennessee's working families. I am also going to go out on a limb to make the presumption that Representative Mumpower will strike no deals with Democrats that will raise taxes in any way, shape, fashion, or form, and that he will in no way tolerate any moves toward an income tax (and would lead the Republican Caucus in doing everything in their power to stop such a measure). Do I have that right, Jason?

Mumpower says he wants to pass the education budget apart from the rest of Tennessee's budget so that education gets first priority in our State. I agree with this approach, and I further agree with his statement that the $320 million in excess lottery funds that is just sitting in the State treasury should go to fund improvements for local schools. Our State lottery was intended to help improve education, and that is a huge amount in excess lottery money for any State-it ought to go for what it was intended. I also agree that money from the lottery should be used before there is ever any discussion of implementing a Statewide property tax. Mumpower is right that a State property tax should be a non-starter for any Republican Caucus. Not only would such a tax severely weaken Tennessee's agricultural tradition, but it would especially hurt small property owners, particularly the lower middle class. Democrats who insist on floating such a tyrannical proposal fly in the face of the notion that their party is a party of working people.

Jason Mumpower makes immigration perhaps the Caucus' biggest priority in the new General Assembly:

Meanwhile, we cannot sit back and claim that immigration is solely a national problem. It is reasonable to expect proof of citizenship before voting, before obtaining a driver's license, or before receiving public benefits. Tennesseans know our social services, schools and budgets are straining as a result of Democratic opposition to proof of citizenship requirements.

We also need a division of the Tennessee Highway Patrol that works with federal agencies to detain illegal aliens, and a driver's license test in English so we know drivers can read our road signs.

I find myself in agreement with Kleinheider and others that the States are going to have to take the lead in implementing responsible immigration reform. The federal government has abrogated its responsibilities under the Constitution to protect the several States from foreign invasion. Since the federal government refuses to protect us, we must protect ourselves. In the past, Republicans at both the State and federal levels have introduced immigration reform legislation only to see it fall by the wayside. If we truly find this to be an important issue for our future as a State and a union, we must fight the battle constantly and never let up.

I assume Jason Mumpower is going to lead the GOP in fighting those fights that need to be fought. Am I right? For our sake and for our future, I hope and pray that my trust is not misplaced.



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