Barrett: Opponents of income tax amendment make the case for it

Barrett: Opponents of income tax amendment make the case for it

January 29th, 2012 by Steve Barrett in Opinion Columns

The best argument for an amendment making it plain that the Tennessee Constitution forbids an income tax is the all-over-the-board arguments of the amendment's foes.

A general income tax "is clearly banned under the state constitution" already, says House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville. He dismisses as a "political ploy" a constitutional amendment that would make the ban explicit.

Yet some lawmakers who oppose the amendment don't buy the view that an income tax is currently prohibited.

"I think we should leave future governors free to make those proposals," said Rep. Mike Stewart, another Nashville Democrat.

Oh, and don't forget a previous attorney general's claim that an income tax is constitutional -- nor the attempts to impose one despite court rulings against it.

What's gratingly obvious is that at least some Democrats are less upset about the political grandstanding the amendment supposedly represents than about the possibility that it will be approved -- more or less killing off hopes of passing the tax when one day they again control the General Assembly. Add to that a future state Supreme Court with a majority eager to discover some heretofore-invisible authority to levy an income tax, and voila: Sign over that paycheck!

Current legislators dare not rely on the tender mercies of a future General Assembly, nor those of potentially activist justices whose devotion to the constitution may play second tuba to the craving for more revenue.

Tennessee has weathered the worst economic downturn in recent memory -- as well as the glacial pace of improvement that passes for recovery in the Age of Obama -- without resorting to an income tax. It's hard to imagine a set of fiscal circumstances down the road that could somehow make the tax a necessity.

Putting a rusty stake through its heart soon would be a public service.

Dumb

At the risk of accidentally supporting Mitt Romney, I have to say the furor over his tax returns is dumber than a sack of persimmons.

Behind demands that he make a dozen years of returns public is a cynical attempt to turn voters against him because he's successful -- and face it: If the media abandoned efforts to stir up class envy, CNN would be reduced to Jeanne Moos and the weather forecast.

Downplayed in the reporting on Romney's 2010 returns is the fact that besides paying $3 million in taxes on $22 million in income, he contributed $3 million to charity.

Wonder which did more good: the millions he was forced to shovel down the D.C. rat hole to underwrite lobster research and to subsidize electric cars that nobody buys, or the millions he freely gave to charity?

Decisions decisions.

The mob

And at the risk of making hockey seem relevant to life, it's alternately laughable and alarming to hear the condemnations of Boston Bruins goalie and playoff MVP Tim Thomas for declining to attend a photo op with the president.

Though he is a conservative, Thomas spelled out bipartisan reasons for not showing up.

"I believe the federal government has grown out of control, threatening the rights, liberties and property of the people," he stated. "This is being done at the executive, legislative and judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the federal government. Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a free citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country."

It's a tough call: Was Thomas politicizing a neutral event, or was there a risk that the meet and greet would be twisted into an endorsement by a sports star of a president he believes is harming the country? Alas, the famously nuanced left had scant patience for such quibbles.

* Thomas is the "worst person in the world" and a "fool," Keith Olbermann squeaked.

* Propagandist Michael Moore -- like Thomas, a native of Flint, Mich. -- tweeted, "People in Flint LOVE Obama, and desperately need Obama, & DETEST Thomas' actions."

* Dave Hodge, a veteran host of Canada's top sports channel, tweeted, "Don't know if it's fair to point this out, but Tim Thomas has three children named Kiley, Kelsey and Keegan." Was Hodge linking Thomas to the KKK? If not, just why did he drag the goalie's children into a harsh public spotlight -- by name?

* Thomas caused a "firestorm" and ruined his teammates' enjoyment of the visit, a Los Angeles Times sportswriter whined. The ruination was hard to spot in beaming photos of the players with Obama. But the writer observed that Thomas "might be grateful for his mask and protective gear for the next little while."

Yeah, and Obama's thin-skinned shills might act a tad less shocked when best-selling books have subtitles like "How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America."