With a blizzard of sharply worded e-mails and faxes, the Tennessee Family Institute has led the charge against tax reform, succeeding in putting Gov. Don Sundquist on the defensive. But last week, the conservative institute made a mistake when it sent its chairman, the fat-cat right-winger Joe Rodgers, to testify before the Senate Finance Committee, which now is considering Sundquist’s income-tax legislation.
In response to a question from the crafty Democratic Sen. Bob Rochelle of Lebanon, Rodgers admitted his organization opposes the governor’s tax bill. But later, after one of his minions whispered in his ear, Rodgers blurted to Rochelle, “I misunderstood you. That’s not the position of the Tennessee Family Institute. That’s my position.”
Rodgers’ aide probably needed to whisper only the letters “IRS.” The institute’s tax-exempt status doesn’t permit it to expressly oppose legislation.
During his testimony, Rodgers predicted a state income tax would cause drunkenness, divorce, and wife-beating. And if that’s not bad enough, it would reduce charitable giving, which now provides for the truly needy“old people, street people, and whatnot,” he said.
“It’s going to cut down on philanthropy when you take more money out of people’s pockets,” Rodgers blustered, seeming like a cartoon version of an out-of-touch Republican. “The government’s going to have to do it rather than the Salvation Army.”
Rodgers sounded like the rich yacht buyers featured on a recent TV news magazine segment about federal legislation to exempt such American-built monstrosities from taxation. One rich blonde defending the tax breaks said, “We’re the ones who support the poor people,” or words to that effect.
Before Rodgers concluded his embarrassing appearance, he prompted titters in the hearing room by pronouncing his opinion that the state of Tennessee should “opt out” of Social Security.
The well-financed Citizens for Fair Taxes (CFT), the bipartisan group supporting Sundquist’s efforts, last week issued a list of former state legislators who support passage of tax reform.
“These former legislators are respected members of their community and have a wealth of experience in dealing with the state’s budget and finances,” CFT spokesman Bo Harmon said in a press release. “And now that they are out of office, they can speak their minds about what is best for the state without the political bickering getting in the way.”
Too bad they didn’t speak their minds when it actually mattered what they had to say.
A cold hotline
Sundquist’s telephone tax hotline is more of an insight into government malaisemaybe even wastethan an aid to citizens figuring their tax bills under the governor’s legislation.
The Scene called the hotline, which was established last week, to see just what kind of information state Department of Revenue employees were offering to callers and how they were responding to the inquiries. They weren’t exactly bending over backwards to help. It was like calling someone and getting a secretary who impatiently tells you, “No,” so-and-so “isn’t in” without then offering to take a message. Here’s how the conversation went:
Scene: Yes, I was calling to find out how much my household would pay under the governor’s income tax proposal.
Revenue employee: Okay.
Scene: Are there some questions you need to ask to help determine this? What information do I need to give you?
Revenue employee: What’s your filing status?
Scene: We’re a two-income family...
Revenue employee: You’re married?
Revenue employee: Take the adjusted gross income figure from your federal tax return, subtract $10,000 and that’s what you’d be paying on.
Sorry to have disturbed the nail filing.
To reach Liz, call 244-7989, ext. 406, or e-mail her email@example.com.
@Whiny war hero and Anglrdr: You're both too stupid to realize that she was responding…
Face it Donna, nobody likes you. Guess we are all phonies considering we chafe at…
A brilliantly scripted biography of tragic destiny, patience and fruition. Ms. Hutson is a masterful…
>>Climate change is already ruining everything.<<
You can thank China for anything remotely close…
Just losing the students isn't the only issue. The fact that schools like KIPP do…