The title of this article is stupid. "The Power To Destroy". .
Otherwise, the reported event is a powerful example of the PEOPLE INSTRUCTING ELECTED OFFICIALS. Contrary to the choice of words in the title, this is the POWER OF THE PEOPLE IN ACTION.
It is NOT destructive.
It does NOT destroy.
It builds towards solid government where elected officials are forced not by "forceful means", but by the sheer numbers of people holding their feet to the fire, of their oath to the Constitution, rather than unseen political powers that appear to control governments today at ALL levels, including very local -- township, county, city -- government.
Let us ALL take a lesson from the Tennesseans in this situation. It is true that
SOMEONE IS GOING TO GOVERN. IF IT ISN'T THE PEOPLE INSTRUCTING ELECTED OFFICIALS, BINDING THEM TO THE CHAINS OF THE CONSTITUTION. UNSEEN POLITICAL POWERS WILL BE INSTRUCTING ELECTED OFFICIALS.
According to Phoebe Courtney's book, Beware Metro Government, all State income taxes go to the feds anyway. Kudos to Tennesseans for their successful stand for RIGHTS.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 14 2000
THE POWER TO DESTROY
Tennesseans stage tax revolt
Massive revolt at state Capitol stops new income-tax plan
By Patrick Poole
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Police cars blockaded Tennessee state Capitol entrances and troopers patrolled legislative hallways this week as the state legislature found itself under siege by thousands of angry taxpayers upset at a plan to implement a state income tax.
Tennessee is currently one of only nine states without a state income tax. Opponents of the measure, which would assess a 5 percent tax on any income above $100,000, are skeptical that legislators would maintain that high an exemption threshold for very long.
As protestors began to gather outside the legislative chambers Monday evening, several legislators were taken away by ambulance and hospitalized for blood pressure and heart problems as tensions rose and tempers flared.
By Tuesday morning, tax protestors were brandishing signs reading, "Let's send them all to the ER!"
Trouble began brewing Friday evening as the state income tax proposal emerged from a legislative conference committee considering the state budget after local news shows had already aired.
Legislators supporting the income tax had hoped that a vote would be taken on the proposal Saturday morning to avoid giving anti-tax groups time to mount a repeat of the tax revolt that occurred last November, when an earlier income-tax measure died as taxpayers besieged legislative offices with tens of thousands of calls and e-mails every hour.
But the hopes of income-tax supporters were dashed when two of Nashville's competing talk radio stations, WLAC and WTN, joined forces and served as the catalyst for opposition to the legislative proposal.
Speaking to WorldNetDaily and barely audible above the virtually non-stop horn honking, WLAC's morning show host Steve Gill gestured to the standstill traffic encircling the state Capitol and said,
"Do you hear that? That's the sound of freedom."
Phil Valentine, Gill's afternoon show counterpart, chided legislators on-air for conducting most of the legislative discussion regarding the state budget behind closed doors.
"If this is such good public policy, why are they afraid to do it in public?" Valentine said.
While it appeared Monday that income-tax supporters had enough votes to push the measure through both houses, support crumbled as the tax protests grew.
"These legislators have received a rude awakening in the past few days," said Darryl Ankarlo, morning drive time host for WTN. "They're realizing that taxpayers are tired of politicians picking their pockets at every turn."
Ankarlo and his WTN colleague, Dave Ramsey began broadcasting their respective programs from a remote radio site located at the entrance ofthe legislative plaza, where they could wave to supporters driving by.
They would regularly announce on-air the position of state legislators on the income-tax proposal and provide telephone and e-mail information for constituents to contact their representatives.
The effort to pass a state income tax is being led by Republican Gov. Don Sundquist, who won two gubernatorial races handily in 1994 and 1998 after promising to prevent an income tax from ever being passed.
But less than three months after his 1998 re-election, Sundquist found that a runaway budget, driven by the largest state Medicaid program in the country, threatened to bankrupt the state. TennCare, the state's Medicaid program, now covers one out of every four citizens in the state and consumes one-quarter of the state's annual budget.
Rejecting calls to cut his proposed $18.1 billion budget, Sundquist thas threatened to withhold public works projects in legislators' districts if they failed to go along with his plan.
Sundquist is backed by a coalition of liberal special interest groups, state contractors, road builders and state employee unions, who are pushing for the income tax to finance a 6 percent pay raise for the coming fiscal year.
One group, Tennesseans for Fair Taxation, is praising the current tax proposal as the first step toward imposing a state income tax on the whole population, not just those earning more than $100,000.
"We will continue to push forward until we achieve comprehensive tax reform," said Nan Lloyd, a Tennesseans for Fair Taxation spokesperson. The organization has even posted an online tax calculator to tell families how much more they would end up paying under various state income-tax schemes.
One national taxpayer group has jumped into the Tennessee tax fight. Chad Cowan, director of communications for the Washington, D.C.- based Americans for Tax Reform told WorldNetDaily that election promises made by Tennessee legislators who vowed at election time that they would oppose the state income tax need to be kept.
"The people of Tennessee have spoken, and they have said loudly and clearly that they do not want a state income tax. The governor and legislature would be wise to listen to them," Cowan said. Americans for Tax Reform named Sundquist "Taxpayer Villain of the Month" last November in response to his recommended state income-tax plan and corresponding $400 million state spending increase.
Sundquist's income-tax effort was also panned recently by Steve Moore, a columnist for "National Review," who wrote that he is "easily the worst governor in America."
As a result of the daily tax protests, the income-tax proposal appeared dead Tuesday night after the tax measure's chief legislative supporter announced he was throwing in the towel. Both houses subsequently referred the budget back to the conference committee responsible for crafting a compromise. Committee members were given explicit instructions to return yesterday with a bill that would meet legislative (and voter) approval.
Legislators are working on a June 30 deadline, when the new fiscal year will begin. Sundquist has threatened to veto any budget that does not include an income tax, but only a simple majority vote in both houses is needed to override the governor's veto. Most of the members in both the House and Senate face re-election in November.
As word of the income tax's demise spread among the crowd gathered at the state Capitol Tuesday night, car horns continued to blare and traffic remained at a standstill.
One anonymous protestor at Tuesday's rally, who said that he had taken the day off work and had driven three hours to come to Nashville, spoke to WorldNetDaily as the crowd thinned and the sun began to set over the Nashville skyline.
"This is a great victory for all Tennesseans," he said. "The people spoke, and we forced our elected representatives to listen. Could anything be more American?"
IT TOOK A REVOLT TO STOP IT
FRIDAY JUNE 30 2000
Anti-tax Tennesseans prevail
Legislature backs down on unpopular proposal, adjourns for year
By Patrick Poole -- WorldNetDaily.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Ending one of the longest legislative sessions in state history, the Tennessee legislature temporarily sealed the fate of hard-fought efforts to implement a state income tax after weeks of vocal anti-tax protests by thousands of Tennesseans.
Before adjourning the session Wednesday, the legislature overrode Gov. Don Sundquist's veto of the state budget, just 60 hours before a possible state government shutdown. The $18.3 billion budget surpasses the current fiscal year's budget by $1.6 billion and includes $445 million in state spending increases, including:
$210 million to actuarially fund TennCare, the state's troubled Medicaid program * $110.6 million for 3.5 percent pay raises for all state employees and teachers. * $90 million to fund the K-12 education funding formula * $84 million for higher education * $16 million for long-term care for the elderly * $14 million to adjust some state salaries toward private-market levels.
Tennessee's successful tax revolt.
WorldNetDaily reported two weeks ago that daily tax protests, prompted by the legislature's attempt to sneak an income tax proposal through in a rare Saturday morning session, caused support for the proposal to wither. Tennessee is one of nine states without a state income tax.
The protests included processions of horn-honking cars circling the state Capitol and citizens gathering outside legislative chambers to jeer legislators as they entered.
The success of the two-week tax revolt demonstrated the power of talk radio to mobilize opposition to the income tax. Two of Nashville's competing talk-radio stations, WTN and WLAC, joined forces and served as a catalyst for opposition to the tax proposal.
"I have worked in some competitive radio markets before, and I have never seen two competing stations work so closely to identify and speak out against a common political threat," Darrell Ankarlo, WTN's morning show host, told WorldNetDaily.
Phil Valentine, WLAC's afternoon host, said that WorldNetDaily's coverage of the Tennessee tax battle has prompted inquiries and radio interviews from stations across the country.
"I just did an interview with a Seattle radio station last night, and they wanted to know how we were able to work together, because legislators in Washington state want to implement a state income tax as well," Valentine told WorldNetDaily. "WorldNetDaily has made Tennessee's tax battle a national issue, because taxpayers in other states know that if Tennessee falls, all the rest will follow like dominos. But what is so amazing about what the citizens have done here is to show that taxpayers can fight back and win."
In retaliation for rallying opposition to the income tax, legislators proposed a "talk-radio tax" that would have slapped broadcast companies with a 6 percent gross receipts tax, costing Tennessee radio stations $39.1 million next year alone. But after tax protestors rallied to their cause and the issue received attention from talk-radio giant Rush Limbaugh and the Wall Street Journal, legislators dropped the idea.
WorldNetDaily reported last week that one tax protestor, Mark Cooper, was fired from his job at Home Depot after driving his delivery truck around the state Capitol twice on a lunch break to protest the tax proposal. State employees, upset at having their pay raises reduced from 6 percent to 3.5 percent due to cuts in the governor's budget, began writing down protestors' license numbers and reported Cooper's activity to his supervisor. After his plight was aired, Cooper has since received more than 25 job offers, most of which are higher-paying positions.
WorldNetDaily also reported earlier this week, that the ongoing tax protests have prompted several pro-income tax legislators to lash out at constituents.
Sundquist's veto of the state budget was the first by a governor in Tennessee's history, but the House overrode the veto by a vote of 78-19 and the Senate by 20-9. According to the state constitution, only a simple majority is required in both houses to override a governor's veto.
Subsequent to his veto defeat, Sundquist threatened to bring the measure up again later this year in a special session or in next year's budget negotiations.
"I've just begun to fight," he told reporters shortly after the legislature adjourned. Sundquist has been handed defeat in his efforts to implement a state income tax in two regular sessions and two special legislative sessions over the past 15 months.
Ironically, he campaigned in both 1994 and 1998 on a platform opposing the income tax, and had warned legislators in his 1999 State of the State address to avoid burdening Tennessee families with an income tax.
"All an income tax does is raise the tax burden on Tennesseans and create a way to finance the easy and endless expansion of government. Tennessee does not need a state income tax," he said in his 1999 address. Sundquist changed his position less than a month later upon learning that the state's mammoth Medicaid program, TennCare, was going to need an additional $192 million to remain actuarially sound.
The state's major newspapers have joined Sundquist in editorializing against the no-new-taxes state budget, calling it "shameless," "irresponsible," and "a pretend budget."
Taxpayer advocates and anti-income tax legislators, however, are claiming victory, saying Sundquist's efforts to drag the session out in order to woo the handful of votes he needed backfired.
"Even the pro-income tax legislators just wanted to get out of here," Rep. Mae Beavers told WorldNetDaily. "Most of the members heard the voice of their constituents, who were telling them that they wanted a budget without tax increases. I think that's why we saw such large margins to override the veto."
Legislators complained of the heavy-handed efforts by Sundquist and legislative leaders to garner votes for the income tax. Sen. David Fowler, one of the leading anti-tax legislators, took to the Senate floor Wednesday to denounce Sundquist's strategy of attrition.
"I'm tired of the politics of intimidation and coercion and brow-beating and trying to buy people off," he said. "Leadership is not trying to beat people up. That's what tyrants do; it's what dictators do."
Despite the apparent victory, few are ready to let their guard down. Michael Gilstrap, president of the Tennessee Institute for Public Policy, told WorldNetDaily that the battle to cut state spending has just begun.
"Even though they passed a budget without tax increases, this is still a beached whale of a budget," he said. "Both Gov. Sundquist and the legislature took a pass this year on serious TennCare reform and our out-of-control spending problems. Things are getting so bad that if we don't fix them in the next year, not even a state income tax can bail us out."
Any future effort by Sundquist to push through an income tax will be without many key players who were involved in his recent attempts. John Ferguson, Sundquist's commissioner of finance and administration and one of the income tax's chief salesman, announced his resignation earlier this week, effective today.
Several pro-income tax legislators, fearful of voter backlash, have chosen not to run for re-election, including Rep. Bill McAfee, a House Republican sponsor of Sundquist's income tax proposal last November, and Sen. Andy Womack, the powerful chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Many other pro-income tax legislators, both Democratic and Republican, have drawn strong opposition in their primary and general election races later this year.
The recent tax protests also prompted several Democratic House leaders to come out in opposition to the income tax for fear of losing their seats. Rep. Jere Hargrove, the House majority leader, Rep. Matt Kisber, chairman of the House Finance Committee, Rep. Gene Davidson, chairman of the House Education Committee, and Rep. Mike Williams, the House majority floor leader have all spoken publicly in favor of the income tax, but vowed in recent weeks not to vote for it, bowing to constituent demands and tough reelection campaigns.
In his comments to reporters Wednesday, Sundquist credited this abandonment of the income tax by House Democratic leadership as the turning point in the demise of the tax proposal: "The members said, 'Why should I support this if the chairman of the Finance Ways and Means Committee is not going to do it? Why should I support this if the majority leader is not willing to stick his neck out?'"
A fight for another day
With primary elections approaching in August and all House and half of the Senate seats up for grabs in November, the state income tax issue will remain a hot-button topic. With escalating state budget demands, state leaders are confident that Tennessee's tax battles are far from over.
But with overwhelming popular support against the state income tax and a vigilant talk-radio community, many Tennessee taxpayers are confident that they will have the final say.
"Tennesseans love their low tax, limited-government state," Gilstrap said. "Regardless of all the political posturing and threats of gloom and doom, they're not going to slink quietly back into the night." -- End --
States Rights Main | Issues Index | CDR Home