published Friday, November 30th, 2012

Drew's views

HEADLINE: Kevin Brooks eyes 2014 GOP primary bid against Scott DesJarlais

THE RECAP: State House Assistant Majority Leader Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, said Tuesday he is eyeing a possible bid against embattled U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., in the 2014 GOP primary.

DREW'S VIEW: Join the club, Rep. Brooks. The list of would-be challengers to the mistress-having, abortion-coercing, drug-using, patient-cavorting Dr. DesJarlais is growing faster than my waistline after devouring my dad's deep-fried Thanksgiving turkey.

Those reportedly considering a run for the 4th District Congressional seat include: Former 3rd Congressional District candidate Weston Wamp, State Rep. Joe Carr (R-Murfreesboro), retired Cracker Barrel executive Forrest Shoaf, State Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville), Rutherford County pharmacy company executive Shane Reeves and a partridge in a pear tree.

Anyone with any values, morals or common sense wants to see DesJarlais out of Congress and replaced with someone who isn't a hypocrite and a fraud about the issues he or she claims to care about most. As a result, if one quality candidate runs against DesJarlais in the 2014 Republican, DesJarlais stands almost no chance.

On the other hand, if more than one legitimate challenger enters the race to run against DesJarlais for the Republican nomination in 2014, they would likely split the anti-DesJarlais vote and allow DesJarlais to return to Congress.

Fortunately, there are two simple solutions to this problem. Unfortunately, both require the state Republican Party to grow a backbone and take the lead -- something they've been unwilling to do when it comes to DesJarlais. After all, a strong state party that was committed its principles and cared about protecting other GOP officials would have demanded DesJarlais' resignation weeks ago. Instead, the Tennessee Republican Party has tried to toe the line between feigning outrage at DesJarlais' past misdeeds and working to keep him in office. As a result, the state party has come across as dithering and cowardly.

The Tennessee Republican Party's first option is to disqualify DesJarlais from running as a Republican and force him to run as an independent in 2014. That would allow a large field of candidates to battle for the GOP nomination in the primary and have an easy shot at victory in the general election against an independent DesJarlais and a token Democratic opponent.

Second, the GOP can hold a closed door meeting between the possible candidates, county party leaders and other 4th District Republican power players and agree upon the best candidate to run against DesJarlais in the primary and prevent anyone else from running as a Republican candidate.

Both ways benefit the Tennessee Republican Party by allowing them to look responsive and decisive, while ensuring that DesJarlais is out of office and replaced with a quality Republican to represent the 4th District in Congress.


HEADLINE: Airport takes off with two expansions

THE RECAP: The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority recently broke ground on a new building on the west side of the airport's campus that will include a 20,000-square-foot hangar and 13,200-square-foot office. In addition to the expansions, the Airport Authority has also begun the process of installing a second solar farm to the airport campus's west side.

DREW'S VIEW: Sounds great, right? But there's a catch. These projects aren't being built with revenue generated by the airport, they're being funded by tax dollars.

The goofy solar farm cost taxpayer $3 million. The hangar and office building is part of a larger $10-plus million taxpayer-funded project that allowed the government to get into the private plane service and storage business -- and compete against a private company, TAC Air, that has served the Chattanooga airport for years.

The Airport Authority gave an outfit called Wilson Air a no-risk contract to run the government-owned, taxpayer-funded private plane service and storage facility. Wilson Air gets $200,000 per year, whether the facility turns a profit or not. If Wilson Air operates in the red, taxpayers have to bail out this boondoggle. The Airport Authority estimates that, by the end of the year, taxpayers will have paid more than $1.1 million to subsidize the facility. If Wilson Air does earn a profit, they get to keep as much as 10 percent of everything they make.

To make matters worse, the Airport Authority justified the service center by claiming that the number of Volkswagen officials flying by private plane into Lovell Field would increase the need for new private plane facilities. It turns out that VW officials more commonly fly into Atlanta and are then shuttled to Chattanooga using an upscale car service. Oops.

HEADLINE: Tennessee Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey targets cuts in Hall income tax

THE RECAP: Tennessee Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, says his focus in January will be on cutting the state's Hall income tax on investments and not reducing sales taxes on food beyond an earlier agreement. The agreement would cut taxes on groceries from 5.25 percent to 5 percent in the budget that takes effect next July.

The Hall tax levies 6 percent rate on interest from bonds, notes and stock dividends.

DREW'S VIEW: Ramsey and the rest of the leadership in the Tennessee General Assembly need to recognize that both taxes -- the Hall tax and the sales tax on groceries -- are unpopular, unfair and, most importantly, unneeded.

The Hall income tax acts as a state capital gains tax, raiding the interest and dividends Tennesseans collect from stocks and bonds. Since other income tax-free states, such as Texas and Florida, don't have such an outrageously arbitrary and punitive tax on retirees and the wealthy, the Hall tax creates incentives for the rich and the retired to leave Tennessee for greener pastures. Rather than pushing those people away, the state should work to keep Tennesseans who earn interest and dividends here, since those are the people who contribute the most to our state in terms of job creation and tax revenues.

Tennessee's grocery tax is the most regressive and least fair tax imposed by the state. Since all people have to eat, Tennesseans with low or fixed incomes are forced to spend a higher portion of their income on food than wealthier Volunteer State residents. Most other states understand the unjust nature of the grocery tax. Only seven states in America impose a sales tax on groceries and Tennessee's is, by far, the highest -- more than doubling the tax rate of the next closest state.

The Hall income tax is expected to snatch $215 million from Tennesseans this year. The state's grocery tax is responsible for picking about $460 million from taxpayers' pockets annually. That means the two taxes generate $675 million -- or a measly 2.2 percent -- of the state's $31 billion budget.

Rather than dancing around the issue by making small reductions to grocery tax rates, or placing minimum income limits on the Hall income tax, state lawmakers should put on their big boy britches and eliminate both taxes.

Ramsey, House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, and Governor Bill Haslam can show Tennesseans that they are committed to making our state a welcoming place for the wealthy and the retired, and a fair place for even the poorest among us by simply limiting the growth of state spending

Getting rid of the Hall tax and the grocery tax won't require cutting programs or firing state employees. It simply requires the state to spend less than in brings in for a year or two. Surely our elected officials in Nashville can show the common sense and restraint necessary to do that. If they do, the people responsible will be considered heroes to taxpayers for years to come.

"Drew's views" is a weekly roundup of Free Press opinions about topics that appeared in the Times Free Press over the past week. Follow Drew on Twitter: @Drews_Views.

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
conservative said...

"Tennessee's grocery tax is the most regressive and least fair tax imposed by the state."

I am so tired of the "regressive" argument.

That grocery tax insures that everyone pays some taxes to fund government services. Furthermore, that tax may well keep many from coming to this state who would avail themselves of welfare programs that the state of Tennessee provides and the welfare programs the feds provide with aid from Tennessee taxpayers also, costing Tennessee taxpayers even more in the long run.

November 30, 2012 at 10:16 a.m.

We get it, you hate Solar power. Because it actually works, and doesn't serve massive corporate interests, but does take some government investment to get started, well, that's terrible.

No surprise that the erstwhile right-wingers would prefer to tax people for a necessity of life just to make sure they contribute, regardless of the actual reality of it.

Anything to keep the rich from paying a penny more.

November 30, 2012 at 10:22 a.m.
conservative said...

Bulbs, you are so right. Solar power does work! Larry Hagman proved that when he spent $750,000 for solar power at his ranch.

What a bargain!

November 30, 2012 at 10:38 a.m.

And? You expect citing a cost without saying the results to do anything but demonstrate how you'd rather avoid the subject?

Please tell us how much power will be generated by that installation. And when it was done.

Give us a full analysis, not just throw out a singular number and expect us to come to a conclusion.

November 30, 2012 at 10:47 a.m.
conservative said...

Bulbs, my conclusion about solar power is the same as yours and virtually everyone else in America. That conclusion is that solar power is NOT cost effecient. Stated another way solar power is expensive.

Furthermore, solar, like windmills are eysesores and take up a lot of room.

If solar was feasible and economical, many instead of few would have it.

The matter is not complicated.

November 30, 2012 at 11:59 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Whoever gets the republican nomination for the 4th District in 2014, I hope it's NOT Weston Wamp, Daddy-Zack's little Mini-me.

November 30, 2012 at 12:29 p.m.
tipper said...

The term "conservative" by its very nature with today's labels means "status quo." Apparently, the Industrial Revolution of the early 20th Century excepting the information revolution will be the last time we will see significant and major advances in science and technology, especially on the future of energy. The status quo works well with the fossil fuel industry in that it stalls progress and earns fortunes for those who control energy production in this country. As for "eyesores," I find that windmills and solor panels are more pleasing to the eye than strip mines, mountain top decapitation, oil spills and oil-soaked wildlife along the Gulf of Mexico shores. The costs for those by-products is also extreme. So, let's not look forward to cleaner energy production. Let's wait until we have catastrophic environmental disasters and continued health risks. Let's allow the money and political influence of oil, coal, petroleum, and natural gas executives decide how we live in the next 30-50 years.

November 30, 2012 at 3:01 p.m.
charivara said...

Who cares about Drew's views? He's still beating the dead horse of conservative policies that over the last 30 years have given us a very small, very wealthy plutocracy, run the middle class into the ground and waged two unnecessary wars. All the time running up huge budget deficits and increasing the national debt by lowering taxes so "job creators" can do their magic. So where are the jobs? Where is the prosperous middle class? Lowering taxes hasn't done anyone, except a very few, any good. So lowering them more is really going to work this time? The views of anyone who keeps his eyes (and mind) closed isn't worth a bucket of warm spit. Give it a rest, Drew. Get a socially useful job, inciting the ignorant and the deluded really doesn't help.

November 30, 2012 at 3:32 p.m.
jesse said...

O.K. ladies Why did all the move overseas??

Labor costs,thats why!

So now we gonna raise taxes out the ying yang and what good we got left are gonna get outta dodge too!

Say we tax profits at a rate of 50% on Chrysler corp! Fiat just gonna up and move Chrysler production to china or s.korea or Mexico! Now how did that help ANYBODY!

November 30, 2012 at 3:46 p.m.
AndrewLohr said...

Not just for DeJarlais, Tennessee could change its election laws. I suggest an instant runoff: (1) If one candidate gets a majority, s/he wins. (2) If no candidate gets a majority, the runoff works this way. Each candidate can cast as many votes as s/he got. Say Brooks, Wamp, Carr, Tracy, Reeves and DeJarlais each get 16% of the vote. If four of them vote for one candidate--say Brooks, Carr, Tracy, and Wamp all vote for Wamp--then that candidate has a majority (64%) and wins. (3) After a couple ballots, if no winner yet, the candidate who got the fewest votes in the election must vote for someone else, or lose his/her votes; and on each succeeding ballot, the candidate with the fewest votes is likewise dropped, until a winner emerges. (4) In a VERY close race, write-in votes might matter. Drop

November 30, 2012 at 3:58 p.m.

conservative, you keep pretending you have support that you don't have, but the real facts of solar installation show that...they're up.

Way up. Almost 5,000 MW of Utility-scale solar power generation is under construction. Over 20,000 MW of generation are in development. That's utility-scale, so it's not counting small-sites either.

Same with windmills. Wind power generation? Up to almost 50,000 Megawatts now. Almost 10,000 is under construction.

Sorry conservative, but the facts don't agree with you, you can pretend all you like that nobody is developing solar or wind, or try to scare-monger us with fears about how terrible it looks, but you're not actually succeeding.

Fortunately. I'd hate for us to be more dependent on fossil fuels, and you know what's really ugly? Mountain-top removal and the field of graves caused by the middle-east.

jesse, yet another reason to require multi-lateral trade agreements.

November 30, 2012 at 4:59 p.m.
conservative said...

"you keep pretending you have support that you don't have"

"you can pretend all you like that nobody is developing solar or wind"

You can "pretend" that I wrote this, but your "pretend is" not reality.

State and federal governments are subsidizing the cost of solar and wind power with taxpayer dollars and that is the largest reason many are being built at all.

Again, they are not cost efficient and are an OBVIOUS eyesore. You don't have either because?

November 30, 2012 at 5:53 p.m.

Whine whine whine, you hate that people really are investing in the future, including the government, don't you?

It works, and it will continue to work. They are cost-effective, and you know what? If the government weren't protecting the fossil fuel companies from lawsuits (and military force in the Mid-East), they'd never survive.

Have you seen the damage caused by burning coal? Have you looked at the price of military operations in the Persian Gulf?

I'll take wind and solar any day of the week.

November 30, 2012 at 9:19 p.m.
conservative said...

and you don't have either this "day of the week" because?

December 1, 2012 at 7:53 a.m.

Who said I didn't?


That's right, it's purely your own unsubstantiated claims about me.

You have no information or knowledge about me, yet you try to make accusations about me.

What does that tell everybody else about you?

December 1, 2012 at 9:32 a.m.
conservative said...

I say you don't have either. You don't have either because?

December 1, 2012 at 5:14 p.m.

In your stubbornness, you decided that you could say whatever you want despite it lacking any factual basis, and make an attack on me, no matter whether or not it was true.

Thanks again, your ability to make such a claim discredits you.

Your conduct reminds me of Orly Taitz.

December 1, 2012 at 9:28 p.m.
conservative said...

You don't have either because?

December 2, 2012 at 8:52 a.m.

You keep asking that question, but why? The only answer is that you have deluded yourself into thinking that if you claim I don't, then despite no factual basis to it, then it'll somehow mean something.

Well, it does.

It means you are somebody who doesn't care about the truth of their words, but just thinks they can claim something is true of another person when it's not.

Why do you keep discrediting yourself?

December 2, 2012 at 7:11 p.m.
conservative said...

You don't have either because?

December 2, 2012 at 8:45 p.m.

Every time you ask this question based on a false premise, you discredit yourself.

Why? What makes you think you can say anything about me regardless of the lack of facts to it?

Did you go to the Orly Taitz School of Self-Delusion?

December 2, 2012 at 10:01 p.m.
conservative said...

You don't have either because?

December 3, 2012 at 7:32 a.m.
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