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PLEASE MOVE TO THE END OF THE LINE(CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

On the eve of Bobby Jindal’s anticipated earth shaking announcement that he is squeezing himself into the clown car of candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, I thought we should let our readers know that I am still on the job, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding.

As we wait with collective bated breath for word that Bobby is not only available but more than willing to do for the nation what he has done for Louisiana (God help us all, Tiny Tim), I remain cloistered in my cluttered home office, working diligently on my book, as yet untitled, in which I intend to fully document precisely what he has done for to Louisiana.

Among the topics to be covered are public education, higher education, health care, the state budget, campaign contributions, political appointments, ethics, privatization, his ALEC connections, the explosion in corporate tax breaks during his two terms, the lack of progress as reflected in myriad state rankings and surveys throughout his eight years as our largely absentee governor, the lack of transparency, his thinly veiled use of foundations and non-profit organizations to advance his political career, his intolerance for dissent (teaguing), his actual performance as compared to campaign promises as candidate Bobby, and his general incompetence.

I was asked on a local radio show if I could be fair to Jindal, given my personal feelings about his abilities as reflected in more than a thousand posts on this site. The short answer is: probably not. The long answer is I can—and will—be as fair to him as he has been to the state I love and call home. Because I do not claim to be objective (as opposed to the paid media who cling to that word as if it were some kind of Holy Grail), I am not bound by any rules that place limits on the expression of my opinions. I see what he has done, I understand the adverse effect his actions have had on this state, and I will offer my take on them for the reader to either accept or reject. If that is not fair, then so be it.

I have written about 60,000 words of an anticipated 100,000-word manuscript thus far. A couple of other writers have volunteered to contribute chapters, which should add another 20,000 words. I have a self-imposed deadline of July 1—give or take a few days—in which to have the rough draft completed. I also have several very capable editors poring over the chapters as they are completed. Their corrections, deletions, additions and suggestions will be incorporated into the final manuscript which is to be submitted to the publisher by late August.

The publisher originally gave me a publication target date of next Spring but recently moved the anticipated publication date up to January, with an e-book to be released possibly as early as this Fall.

That would coincide nicely with Jindal’s second ghost-written book, scheduled out in September.

There will be one major difference in our books: Mine will be based on his record while the source of his claims of balanced budgets and other wild, unsubstantiated assertions are certain to remain a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma (with apologies to Winston Churchill).

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“When I ran for Governor of Louisiana, I made a promise to the people of this state that I would not raise taxes. I kept my promise. I’ve taken a lot of heat from politicians and special interests, including some in my own party, for my refusal to raise taxes. To some politicians, principles are meant to be compromised on and promises are meant to be broken. When I said I wouldn’t raise taxes, I meant it.”

Bobby Jindal, in his best Joseph Goebbelesque claim that he balanced the 2015-16 budget without raising taxes despite $750 million in tax increases approved by the legislature.

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Bobby Jindal calls it leadership.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate State Rep. John Bel Edwards was somewhat blunter. He said it was more like the Wizard of Oz: “No brains, no courage, no spine.”

Timmy Teepell is just beside himself and wanted everyone to be sure to see what Bobby said about it, so he sent it around to the same email recipient list and LouisianaVoice is lucky enough to be on that exclusive list.

We are, of course, talking about the ludicrous SAVE bill that saves nothing and which creates phony money in the form of tax credits to cover a phantom increase in college tuition that won’t generate any revenue for the state while not really saving higher education.

Got it? Great. Neither did we. FISCAL NOTES TO SB 93

Incredibly, after all the political posturing, the letter to Grover Norquist (who apparently holds the reins that control the Louisiana Legislature, though he is neither a Louisiana resident nor a voter and has never held elective office), 30 senators and 59 House members voted in favor of this bill built on nothing more than a whimsical scheme concocted by a governor with presidential aspirations that are, if possible, even more elusive now.

The House and Senate votes on the SAVE bill are presented here, not so much as a means by which readers may keep tabs on their legislators (though that is certainly a consideration) but to keep watch on a vindictive Bobby Jindal who has shown a propensity over his first seven legislative sessions to veto Capital Outlay projects for legislators who dare show a streak of independence by defying Jindal on any matter, no matter have trivial. SENATE VOTE ON SB 93  HOUSE VOTE ON SB 93

And because the make-believe increase in tuition is a fee increase, and not a tax, a simple 53 majority House vote was necessary for passage instead of the two-thirds vote.

But wait! The SAVE bill passage was deemed necessary before Jindal would sign off on the $750 million in tax increases passed to try and patch the $1.6 billion revenue shortfall. So, if it was part and parcel to the entire budget bill, why would it not require the two-thirds vote?

Well, because Kleckley says so, that’s why. And Kleckley takes his marching orders directly from Jindal who takes his directly from Norquist. So the bottom line is the Speaker of the House chose to split hairs in deeming that a tuition increase, even a fake one, was not a tax just as that $50 increase in vehicle registration is not a tax, but a fee.

Boy! You gotta hand it to Kleckley and Jindal and Norquist and Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego. When it comes to making up rules on the fly, there’s no one better.

Unless it’s Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels Timmy Teepell the guy who said, or who at least must believe “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” When it comes to pure chutzpah, Teepell and the rest of Team Jindal have it. Some have it, some done; they’re full of it.

We at LouisianaVoice somehow got onto the mailing list of Friends of Bobby Jindal which apparently has more recently morphed into the Bobby Jindal Exploratory Committee. We’re not exactly sure how we got on that list but we’re surely glad we did. It makes for excellent fantasy reading.

Not only did the Jindal Exploratory Committee send me its email Friday night, but Teepell, to make certain we got it, re-sent it on Sunday.

Of course both cheese emails end with a plea for money. “If you agree, donate $50, $25 or even $10 so I know you stand with me,” Bobby says in his little message. Then he adds a p.s.:

“I will be announcing my plans for 2016 on June 24, less than two weeks away. I hope you’ll stand with me then too. Let me know you’ve got my back by making a special donation of $6.24 today so I know you’ll be with me.” Get it? June 24 announcement, chip in $6.24 for 6-24. Clever!

But that’s not the gist of the email, not by a long shot. Here’s what he said:

“Yesterday (last Thursday) in Louisiana, we came together to pass a balanced budget (did he mention the $400 million in one-time money to meet recurring expenses—again?) that protects higher education and health care. And we did it without a tax increase (bold his).

“When I ran for Governor of Louisiana, I made a promise to the people of this state that I would not raise taxes. I kept my promise (bold his again).

“I’ve taken a lot of heat from politicians and special interests, including some in my own party, for my refusal to raise taxes. To some politicians, principles are meant to be compromised on and promises are meant to be broken. When I said I wouldn’t raise taxes, I meant it (you guess it; bold his again).

“It’s long past time we had leaders in Washington who mean what they say, who don’t compromise their principles when the special interests start calling, and who keep the promises they made to the people who elected them.”

Yep. Tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, and just maybe it’ll stick to something.

But it’s still a lie. The Louisiana Legislature, the same one he was boasting about “coming together,” just passed $750 million in tax increases and if you don’t believe they are tax increases, consult with the business leaders who screamed the loudest that they will pay most of those higher taxes. Not that we have any sympathy for the larger corporations that have been the recipients of billions of dollars in tax breaks during the Jindal Wonder Years; it’s long past time that they pay their fair share and stop putting the burden on the middle class and lower income segments of the population—all in return for economic gains that are questionable at best and practically non-existent at worst.

And you may wish to consult with smokers on that no-tax B.S. Jindal, or his exploratory committee are spouting. They will be paying 50 cents more per pack of smokes as the result of the cigarette tax increase from 36 cents per pack to 86 cents, a tax increase which Jindal insists never happened.

Tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it… “I’m leaving Louisiana in better shape than I found it,” he told the Monroe News-Star recently.

Tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it. LSU’s tuition is “certainly well under $10,000, when you look at fees and housing,” he told MSNBC’s Morning Joe in February. “It’s cheaper than other schools in the south, in the SEC.”

A check with LSU determined that LSU in-state tuition, housing, fees and books runs about $20,564 per year, up from about $5,000 per year when Jindal took office.

Tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it and soon you’re just a lonely boy crying wolf, Chicken Little screaming that the sky is falling. Back in January, it was his claim of the existence of “no-go” zones in Europe, apparently echoing a claim by Fox News that had already been recanted by the network.

“Bobby did what he’s always done,” said Goebbels Teepell in his email blast. “He took a problem that people said was unsolvable, and found a solution.

“Governors don’t have the luxury of just saying no to problems. They have to solve problems, even problems that everyone else says are impossible (why, yes…emphasis his).

As the Governor of Louisiana, Bobby balanced the budget all eight years without raising taxes. In fact, he actually balanced the budget while cutting taxes for Louisiana families and job creators.” (Emphasis Timmy’s)

Tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it…

 

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Twenty-four hours of reflection and some well-chosen observations from retired State Budget Director Stephen Winham have us now considering the possibility that the letter from those 11 Republican Louisiana House members seeking advice on the controversial SAVE bill may not have been so much a capitulation to Grover Norquist as it was a set up that left Bobby Jindal looking like the fool he is on the eve of his formal entry into the GOP presidential sweepstakes.

And that classic no-response response by Norquist only adds to the speculation that the whole thing was a devilishly clever trap designed to ensnare Jindal in his own web of deceit and rigid demagoguery.

If that indeed was the purpose of the letter, we at LouisianaVoice have more than a little egg on our faces and an apology to the 11 legislators on our lips because, quite frankly (and there is no spin we can put on this) we were taken in as were most of us who read the letter for the first time.

Unlike traditional media, we do not bury our “clarifications” in some obscure part of our publication with a two- or three-sentence acknowledgement of the error; we put it out there for all to see.

We’re still not certain that the letter was written with the intent of putting Jindal in a box from which there was no graceful exit as opposed to the first blush appearance of pathetic groveling, but it’s sure beginning to look that way. And if that is what it was, we can only add, Touché.

The only thing that gives us pause is the fact that four members of the Ways and Means Committee who signed the letter—Cameron Henry of Metairie, Kirk Talbot of River Ridge, Joe Harrison of Gray, and John Schroder of Covington—also signed Norquist’s “no tax” pledge.

Moreover, five of the 11 (Brett Geymann of Lake Charles, Harrison, Henry, Schroder and Talbot are either current or former members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the national non-profit organization funded by some of America’s largest corporations, including Wal-Mart, major oil, pharmaceutical, and insurance companies and Koch Industries.

But perhaps the biggest indication that the letter was an elaborate ruse, and one we did not initially consider, is simply this: Why would the committee release the letter—and Norquist’s response—to the media unless it was just that: a scheme to back Jindal into a corner? It would be too convenient to say the letter was simply leaked; it’s more likely now, considering the meek response by Norquist, that it was spoon-fed to the media with the express purpose of embarrassing Jindal.

“I have read and re-read the letter,” said Winham in an email to LouisianaVoice, “and I still see it as a direct hit on Norquist and Jindal and that it serves as an official record of opposition  to SAVE and to Grover Norquist and to Bobby Jindal.

“I also agree that, in addition to its (SAVE’s) utter stupidity, it would establish a horrible precedent that (says) pure gimmicks suffice to do anything with taxes,” he said. “I am not anti-tax and (I) believe anybody ought to have sense enough to know which services we need and that they have to be paid for. I am not for using totally idiotic loopholes as a means to pass taxes and then pretend you didn’t.”

Winham said that had he been a legislator, “I would have signed that sucker” with the view of telling Grover where he could stick it and with the admonition to “leave us alone.”

Winham is not alone in concocting his theory, not by a long shot. Sharing his views were superb Baton Rouge Advocate political columnist Stephanie Grace who has recently been taking Jindal to task on his budget proposals and his silly presidential run.

In her Tuesday column, she said the letter makes a lot of sense on a number of levels—mostly because it puts the ball squarely in Norquist’s and Jindal’s corner.

http://theadvocate.com/columnists/12585102-123/stephanie-grace-saving-save-a#comments

Another is a blogger known only as Skydancer. In her most recent post, she pours the metaphorical gasoline on the fire that is quickly bringing to a boil the hot water that Jindal finds himself in only days before his (yawn) announcement that he is a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

Skydancer notes that Rep. Joel Robideaux (R-Lafayette), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in the letter that the bill, if enacted, “would successfully and irreparably establish the precedent that future legislatures and governors can raise taxes on a nearly unlimited basis and then claim revenue neutrality solely based on the creation of a purely fictional, procedural phantom paper tax credit.” http://skydancingblog.com/2015/06/08/monday-reads-take-our-governor-please/

But the most important endorsement of Winham’s theory comes from none other than Norquist himself. The leader of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), Norquist initiated the infamous “no tax” pledge that a couple of dozen Louisiana lawmakers signed off on, including those four Ways and Means Committee members.

So, what was the response to the letter by Norquist? He punted. “ATR is agnostic as to whether a credit or deduction is good policy. We merely call balls and strikes regarding whether a change in tax law results in a net tax increase,” he wrote back. “ATR does not support or oppose the SAVE Act. While the SAVE Act does include a credit that can be used to offset other tax increases, there are other ways to achieve revenue neutrality, such as by repealing the corporate franchise tax and/or cutting the state income tax. If you don’t like the SAVE Act, why not find other offsetting tax cuts that are more to your liking?” he added.

Obviously, that response is significant.

First, it gives the Ways and Means Committee all the ammunition it needs to kill the SAVE bill and for the Legislature to move forward in the final week of the 2015 session in passing a budget that will almost certainly be vetoed by Jindal.

Second, it sets up a confrontation that could result in just the third override of a governor’s veto in Louisiana history.

That will look great on Jindal’s resumé when he makes his official announcement in New Orleans on June 24.

 

[TA1]

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“I am writing as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, along with several of my fellow House Members, to personally ask for your timely assistance in a very important matter.

“…It is our profound hope that you will be able to take a few minutes from your busy schedule to review this matter and contact us at your earliest possible convenience. The taxpayers of Louisiana anxiously await your timely reply.”

The first and last paragraphs of one of the most pathetic letters ever from 11 Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee seeking, of all things, guidance from Grover Norquist on Louisiana legislative matters.

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