Ramsey makes Bredesen mindBoth The Tennessean and the Knoxville News-Sentinel ran a story this morning declaring that Governor Phil Bredesen is ready to compromise on the issue of a tax swap-at least of sorts. It would appear that Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey has forced Bredesen's hand, letting him know that unless he provides some relief in the food tax, the Senate is ready to kill his tobacco tax hike. Considering the split in Senate numbers since Mike Williams' sellout (16-16-1), this leads me to believe that Ramsey has a few Democratic votes to hold over the Governor's head.
Although I would rather that the food tax be completely eliminated, an arrangement for a food tax reduction of any kind in exchange for this tobacco tax is a welcome first step. Perhaps the Governor has finally figured out that-lo and behold-the grocery tax effects real working Tennesseans with families and lives. I have long suspected that this was a concept that Bredesen did not understand because not only is he wealthy, he "comes from money" so a tax like the grocery tax not only wouldn't have much effect on him, it never has.
I am also certain that remarks made before the House Agriculture Committee by a certain Representative on Tuesday morning didn't hurt either. This notion that the Governor has that the Ag Committee is in the tobacco lobby's pocket is not only rediculous when you consider that so many members of the General Assembly take tobacco money, the stupidity of such a claim is compounded by the reality that many of the members of the Ag Committee come from districts that are chalked full of farmers-many of whom grow tobacco. If this is the tobacco lobby that the Governor thinks the Ag Committee is in the pocket of, he just might be on to something. It is a very powerful lobby indeed-it can remove these men from office in the next election.
Tennessee's surplus is so large that we do not need a tax increase of any kind. The Governor says he wants it for the sake of education, but he is unwilling to use any of the surplus money first. Good for Ron Ramsey for holding the prospect of the Senate killing his precious tobacco tax hike over his head and forcing him to compromise. I think people are also beginning to see through Bredesen's income tax boogeyman. The very idea that Republicans in the Senate or the House would even consider an income tax is the most ignorant thing I have heard come out of the Governor's mouth. He knows this, and we know that his bringing it up was a despiration tactic. We aren't buying it, and since the Governor doesn't want to become the Democratic version of Don Sundquist, he's going to do a deal so that the sheeple will continue to believe that he is the Anointed One.
The more I see how Ron Ramsey operates, the more I think he is the best thing that ever happened to Nashville since the Grand Ole Opry.
Labels: Tennessee politics