If you subscribe to Conduit for Action, you will remember a recent article which began:
When Governor Asa Hutchinson has to use liberal columnist John Brummett to vouch for the Governor being “plenty Republican enough — plenty conservative enough” that is just embarrassing.
John Brummett is entertaining to read, but he also happens to be left of even most Democrats in the state. This is who Governor Hutchinson chose to repeat his talking points. That speaks volumes about the Governor.
In his internet column, Brummett used the Governor’s talking points to label Conduit for Action as a “right wing organization.”[i] What they overlook is: Although CFA is not a Republican organization, it uses the Republican Principles and Platform as its playbook for its positions on smaller government, taxes and economic freedom. The Governor must think the Republican Principles and Platform are “right-wing” documents.
The article didn’t address the fact the Governor’s talking points against Conduit for Action were DECEPTIONS. We will remedy that here.
TAX AND SPEND POLITICIAN
Brummett repeated the Governor’s claim that CFA unfairly labels the Governor as a “tax-raiser” because to balance the budget and give military retirees an income tax break, the Governor included “revenue generation measures” to “offset” the cost of giving the tax break. WRONG!
Governor Hutchinson is a tax and spend big government politician not because of one bill, but because Governor Hutchinson spent the legislative session supporting multiple tax increases.
- With the Governor’s blessing his Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality proposed and got passed a new tax on mounting new and used tires and the tax money is going to be used by DEQ for an new program to monitor tires through every stage of use, transportation, and disposal and to impose many new regulations on those who handle used tires tires.
- The internet tax was defeated, but the Governor vowed to continue fighting for it.
- The legislature stopped the tax on gasoline and diesel, but the Governor vowed to continue to fight for that too.
- And, then there are the taxes in the military retiree bill. Brummett and the Governor avoided using the word “taxes,” instead they used a term from the liberal playbook and called them “revenue generating measures.” The “revenue generating measures” are : (A) an INCOME TAX on unemployment pay, (B) a SALES TAX on internet downloads, and (C) a SALES TAX on soft drinks and candy. The taxes in the military retirement bill didn’t just “offset” the cost of giving a tax break. According to the nonpartisan Bureau of Legislative Research the new law will raise an additional $5.9 million more in taxes than it gave away and that includes both the military retirement benefit AND a tax benefit to soft drink manufacturers. GUESS WHAT – the new law includes a section sending $5.9 to Medicaid in 2018 and $2.9 million this fiscal year. COINCIDENCE? Of course not. The Governor and his legislators used military retirees as an excuse to raise taxes to prop up his OBAMACARE MEDICAID EXPANSION. CFA supported a tax break for military retirees, but not at the expense of other taxpayers (such as our veterans who do not have military retirement). Even if the bill had been just an offset – when you rob Peter to pay Paul that is not tax relief.
Arkansas is a high tax state and the cost of Arkansas government is high calculated on a per capita basis. Yet Governor Hutchinson ignores that, and says we do not have a spending problem – we have a revenue problem.
BOTTOM LINE ON TAX AND SPEND GOVERNOR: The question is not whether Governor Asa Hutchinson is a tax and spend politician. The question is: Did he see any new tax increase proposal he did not like?
LIBERAL TAX CONSULTANT
Brummett repeated the Governor’s talking point claiming CFA says the consultant hired by the Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force can’t give an honest assessment because the consultant made some pro-Obama, anti-Trump statement on social media. WRONG!
Conduit for Action is critical of the task force hiring a consultant who has a clear liberal bias. But what sparked CFA’s criticism was not tweets about Obama and Trump. It was the consultant’s liberal big government presentation to the tax task force. In his presentation to the task force the consultant:
(A) Made a presentation on trying to implement an internet tax. Not only was the tax rejected in Arkansas just a few months ago, an internet tax violates the Republican Platform. So, he makes this presentation to a Republican legislature.
(B) Pushed for support of more corporate welfare programs. Instead of lowering taxes on Arkansas businesses this would keep their taxes high to support the giveaways used to pick winners and losers.
(C) Floated the idea of the adoption of a state Earned Income Tax Credit which is denounced by conservatives as a welfare program and supported by liberal groups.
With the consultant beginning his very first Arkansas meeting with these liberal big government ideas, we wanted to know if we should expect more of this liberal view point. We looked at his social media accounts.
His liberal bias is not confined to the presentation he made in Arkansas. Yes, some of his social media posts were pro-Obama and anti-Trump, but the Governor and his buddy Brummett fail to mention the consultant’s donations to Democrats, and other social media posts that retweets from left wing policy groups, pro Obamacare Medicaid Expansion, anti-Second Amendment, and most importantly, his tax philosophy that “Tax cuts are not the same as tax reform.” In Arkansas, where we have higher taxes than bordering states, that is disappointing.
BOTTOM LINE ON LIBERAL CONSULTANT: It was the consultant’s liberal big government presentation to the task force that demonstrated his liberal bias on taxes . His social media posts and political donations are just further evidence of the bias he showed at the meeting. His bias is especially concerning because the focus of the task force is on tax shifting among taxpayers instead of on reducing Arkansas’ high tax burden.
ANOTHER TALKING POINT REFUTED
One of talking points the Governor has used on Republican County Committee leaders (but wasn’t included in Brummett’s internet column because it is contrary to Brummett’s agenda) is: CFA doesn’t give me credit for the conservative things I do, like my actions regarding planned parenthood. CROCODILE TEARS!
Governor Hutchinson is very well aware CFA’s mission is not focused on social issues. It is focused on economic issues, our freedoms, and ethics. Why aren’t social issues a primary focus of CFA? There are already well qualified Arkansas organizations focused on social issues, and fiscally conservative ideas are underrepresented in Arkansas politics and needs our attention. (Oh, by the way, organizations focused on social issues might want to take note of what John Brummett wrote about Asa’s “pragmatism” on social issues.)