Friday, August 12, 2011

Exploring the Amazon

The issue with the Governor changing his mind on the matter of Amazon collecting sales taxes from Tennessee residents is less about the question at hand, and more about the fact that it seems like a cheap political maneuver, not a genuine change of mind based on underlying principles:

Governor Bill Haslam has repeatedly said that he wants to respect the agreement made with Amazon, since the State should not renege on its commitments, to say nothing of the issues of "taxing e-commerce" that the notion of collecting sales taxes brings to the table. The rules which many in the General Assembly-and in the lobbying community-want to apply to Amazon are at least 20 years old and pre-date the large-scale internet revolution. Now, the Governor has changed course and says he wants Amazon to collect sales taxes from Tennessee residents, saying that he hopes to "work out some arrangement for them to stay and grow in Tennessee and yet for us to collect the sales tax that we need." Governor Haslam's seal should be a giant waffle iron, because his change of opinion has the blatant appearance of being less a change of mind and more of a political maneuver.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Revenue Is Up

As surprising as it may seem, Tennessee State tax revenue collections increased in July:

As Tennesseans know, our fair State doesn't have an income tax, so we are dependent on consumption taxes for the vast majority of our revenues, and especially on the sales tax. The fact that the State general fund has over-collected by $226 million (that means that $226 million more has been collected in tax than was originally estimated) is a sign that as bad as the economic situation is in Tennessee and elsewhere, it could be worse. Overall, the revenue growth is meager, but it is nonetheless a present reality. The second-and far more important-thing that the revenue numbers tell us is that while Standard and Poor's is threatening to downgrade Tennessee's bond rating, just as it has the federal government, Tennessee is in far better fiscal health than is Washington, and that should be considered when determining what our State's bond rating will be.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It Wasn't Quite A Secret

Apparently, the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury knew something was up with former Governor Phil Bredesen and a potential incentive deal with Amazon:

It has now emerged, however, that one of the people who knew more about the specifics of the incentives that were given to Amazon was the Comptroller of the Treasury, Justin P. Wilson, according to an Associated Press report filed yesterday.

Wilson has performed his duties in an admirable way thus far, keeping an iron hand on State books, which may be one reason why many legislators feel so taken aback at being kept out of the loop. Officially, the Lieutenant Governor's office is saying that Comptroller Wilson "acted exactly as he should have" because of concerns over taxpayer confidentiality issues, but Ramsey has been critical of the fact that the outgoing Bredesen Administration made deals that included major incentive packages with potential investors in the State before leaving office without consulting House and Senate leaders-especially since the Senate Speaker also says that he feels the need to honor incentive packages that were made on Tennessee's good name, even though he may bristle at the details.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

In the Crapper

The real reason the Obama Administration is trying to say that Standard and Poor's is somehow wrong is because S&P essentially says we are in the crapper:

In other words, Standard and Poor's essentially believes that the situation in this country is (for lack of any better words to describe it) in the crapper, and that barring a miracle, our debt situation-which is already untenable-is likely to go from the crapper to the sewer line in very short order. Once we move into the economic and fiscal sewer there is no turning back, and without drastic reform of our entitlements system in this country-something S&P says in their report that they doubt we have the political will to accomplish-we have a one-way ticket to an economic version of the world of Mad Max. S&P essentially tells its investors in the that the United States either must drastically cut entitlements, including Social Security and Medicare, or we must very drastically raise taxes, and that the latter would be no cure-all if it induced anymore spending at all.

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Monday, August 08, 2011

Censored Mints

Joe Armstrong used his strong arm to censor novelties criticizing the Great Leader last week:

Where on earth would Joe Armstrong get the idea that the free exercise of speech is limited to educational material, or that somehow the right to political expression and association does not exist at the University of Tennessee bookstore, or that the removal of a printed product expressing a legitimate political point of view does not also violate the freedom of the press? Oh, we understand now. Armstrong believes that everyone has the right to free speech, free association, and freedom of the press, except when those tools are used in a way critical of the Great Leader, Comrade Obama. This is especially true on a State college campus, which is suppose to be a place for the marketplace of ideas to flourish-except when some of those ideas clash with the Great Leader and the Party faithful.

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