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He's a confounding man, this governor of ours. One moment he's handing out millions in welfare to relocating businesses; the next he's drawing the line at kicking an extra 25 bucks
to the unemployed. He'll behave like George Bush Part II when it comes to the environment
, but he'll also pick a fight with wealthy developers to close tax loopholes
And now he's getting cool again.
Earlier this week, Phil Bredesen announced that he would attempt to raise the business tax
for unemployment insurance. The state fund is going broke, you see. And somebody's got to pick up the tab. But in Tennessee, this is practically a Lech Walesa moment
Within our Patented System of Plantation Economics (TM), rare is the pol who asks business to contribute. Bredesen's own party won't back his push to close the family real estate loophole. And even the city, usually an oasis of sanity, recently dumped stormwater costs on the peasants
. If you're a Tennessee politician, the constitution dictates that you always pick a fight with the littlest guy in the room...
Bredesen knows this. So he rounded up business support before he brought his idea to the legislature, with the hope it's bullet-proof enough to withstand the circus. He also refuses to use stimulus money for a temporary fix. Bredesen knows Democrats are perpetually trying out for the Cowardly Lion role
in the Wizard of Oz. He's knows Republicans are bat-shit crazy
. Reason is to the legislature is what a Bic is to a pile of gas soaked rags. You can never be too careful.
Yet it's damn near stunning to see a politician take a stand for the long-term health of Tennessee. No one wants to put new taxes on business, but we already pay some of the cheapest unemployment benefits in the country -- and we're still going broke. Bredesen seems to be the only one acknowledging the obvious: If we continue to go on the cheap, we're going to be the sequel to Haiti, only with better college football teams.