Don’t look for Gov. Don Sundquist’s most articulate income tax nemesis, popular WLAC talk-radio host Phil Valentine, to run for public office anytime soon.
“You remember they talked about George W. [Bush] and the picture of him standing on the bar at Yale with a drink naked?” Valentine jestfully recalled to a luncheon group of rabid Republicans this week. “That’s choir boy stuff compared to what they’d find on me.”
He was, it seemed, joking. But Valentine is very serious about his status as the “Paul Revere of the income tax,” and he offers a compelling defense to the critics of talk radiothe governor chief among themwho say broadcast beacons like him simply don’t get it.
Holding up a 1994 campaign brochure from Sundquist’s first run for governor that promises to “veto a state income tax,” Valentine told the First Tuesday Club of local Republicans this week that he’s got a reason to be angry.
“What I think the governor has committed is political adultery,” he said of Sundquist’s turnabout on an income tax. “I feel wronged. I feel like he has done me wrong. And even after being caught with that hussy called the state income tax and shown the pictures in the motel, he continues to lobby for a state income tax.”
While Valentine and his radio colleagues have been malignedeven by the Sceneas knee-jerk conservatives who oversimplify the issues related to a proposed levy on income, Valentine has nevertheless emerged from the statewide controversy as a sort of local hero. And among groups such as the First Tuesday Club (where two hands aren’t enough to count all the elephant neckties), he is regarded as one of the most effective champions of smaller government and limited taxation.
Valentine, whose suggested state budget cuts earned him a place at the table to testify before the state Legislature’s Senate Finance Committee last month, does indeed offer a refreshing commonsense view of state spending. Noting a state budget item allocating $951,000 to renovate author Alex Haley’s boyhood home, Valentine asked the group, “Where the hell did he grow up? Belle Meade?”
He cites growing tax revenues as positive news that state officials have gone out of their way to dismiss. And he notes that the costly Better Education Program absorbs 10 percent more of the budget (43 percent this year) than it did when it started in 1992.
But Valentine sees the income tax debate as the crisis that could bring the Republican Party together in Tennessee.
“This is just the beginning,” he says. “This is the beginning of something great in this state, and that is us paying attention. We’re finally awake, and I’m going to give you some No Doz every afternoon from 3 until 6 to make sure you stay awake because these bastards are coming back in January.”
This is Lamars! small government.
"You do the same thing I do to someone babbling on at the movie theater…
Somebody needs to establish standards of public behavior--and it won't be the airlines. They allow,…
As occasional blog poster, I'd like to say that paragraphs would make the above post…
This is not a government issue. It is incredible the desire some people have to…