Making the taxing pointThere have been some critics of today's Republican promotional plan to give out grocery gift cards on Charlotte Avenue outside the State Capitol nothing more than grandstanding. The same people who call this grandstanding say that about any effort done to raise real awareness about any issue "grandstanding" or a "stunt." In this case, the Republican Leadership in the State House has come up with a winning way to show Tennesseans just what a little tax relief could mean to their budget.
Since the Democrats refuse to give Tennesseans any tax relief, the House Republican Caucus did it on their own today. From 7 to 9 am Central time, if you went to Charlotte Avenue outside the Capitol and brought a grocery receipt worth $100 or less, Leader Mumpower and Chairman Casada presented you with a grocery gift card for the amount of tax you paid on that bill. Even if only one person might participate in this promotion, I think this was a great way to drive home just how much working Tennesseans-especially the middle class and the working poor-spend on the grocery tax.
The Tennessean pointed out this morning that in this year of record surplus (the number in the article is misleading-it says the budget surplus is $350 million, but the total surplus counting past years is now between $1.2 and 1.5 billion dollars) taxes and fees imposed by the State of Tennessee are still going to rise. The increase will be felt not only by tobacco users, but by anyone getting a prepaid burial contract, changing their tires, or getting an auctioneer's license-and those are just a few examples of the tax increases that will take effect on July 1st in the year of the record high surplus.
On the face of it, the latest Republican proposal to decrease the grocery tax by a mere 0.5% seems like an insult, for such a total will decrease the average Tennessean's grocery bill by only a few cents when it is now well-established that the State can well afford to seriously cut the grocery tax without drastically affecting the bottom line. What is really telling is the reality that the Republicans have been backed into a corner because until now the party opposite has refused to budge on any lowering of the grocery tax. The so-called party of the working man and the poor and the indigent refuses to make a significant permanent cut in the tax that most impacts the working family, the poor, and the indigent. A few of them even go so far as to mock our concern for working Tennesseans, pretend that they will do something but they do not.
At least the House Republican Caucus tried to do something today. As for the half-percent: Yes it is insulting because we could do so much more. That is exactly why we need a Republican majority.
Labels: Tennessee politics