Monday, March 30, 2009

Ron Ramsey to "compromise" again?

Terry Frank says that Ron Ramsey is about to flip-flop on his previous position with respect to whether Tennessee's judges should be elected by the people as provided in our Constitution or whether they should be appointed by special interest groups and then "retained" by the people. Of course, the judges and lawyers groups want to maintain the status quo. They say it is in our best interest. Now, even the road builders are saying it. Wonder why?

Get to work and call someone. These guys are about to railroad the people once again.

In case any legislator reads this post, here is a link to the Tennessee Constitution. (See Article VI Section 3). It says that "The judges of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state." A retention vote is only an election in the eyes of those who will lose power. The voters of the State of Tennessee voted down a Constitutional amendment that would have allowed the current system. When the pols didn't get their way on the amendment vote, they just did what they wanted to do anyway and ignored the vote of the people.

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Oppose Obama and be Branded a Racist

Who'da thunk it? When liberals cannot compete on substance, they go for identity politics. They want to send a message: If you do not support Mr. Obama, we will attack you personally and label you as a racist and a hater.

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Dog Bites Man - Newspaper Adopts Democrat Talking Points

The Chattanooga Times Free Press comes out in favor repealing the FONCE exemption. They essentially adopt the same language of the Tennessee Department of Revenue by saying "It’s also making Tennessee a tax haven for out-of-state businesses whose owners can reconfigure their enterprises to fit the FONCE criteria." Like the Reagan Farr at the Department of Revenue and Phil Bredesen, they say it like it is a bad thing.

One could only wish that Tennessee would become a tax haven for out-of-state investors. Can you imagine the amount of economic growth that this state would experience at the expense of others. We need more reasons for people to invest their money in Tennessee, not fewer.

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It's good to see someone else vocally opposing the FONCE repeal

Mark Hill speaks out against the FONCE repeal:

Mark Hill, the government affairs committee chair for the group Real Estate Investors of Nashville and vice president of James Talley & Associates, sees it differently and is hoping that legislators block what he perceives as move that would be detrimental to small business.“The current family exemption,” Hill states, “has become a tool for many small businesses to shield themselves from this extremely litigious society without having to pay the enormous costs placed on the corporate entities by the state government. Taking an extra 6.5 percent of the net earnings will drive many small businesses out of business especially during this economic downturn. “The additional one-quarter percent tax on the net worth would just be the twisting of the knife after killing the small business,” he added. “During a time when we should be promoting small businesses and innovation the governor is looking to squash it to temporarily feed the hunger of an already bloated state government.”

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No Duh Story of the Day

Kent Williams vows to run for reelection. Reports are that the liberal rag known as the Johnson City dePressed had several people call in sick to work today upon reading this news. Apparently they are so overjoyed by the news that they are overcome with emotion. Either that or they are just resting up to continue the work on his reelection campaign that they began several months ago.

If you are one of the eleven people who still read the Johnson City dePressed, don't go there expecting to find a word that is critical of Mr. Williams.

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FONCE exemption divorce?

Bill Freeman resigns as treasurer from the Tennessee Democratic Party. Is it too hot in the kitchen?

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Road Builders want to Retain Tennessee's Retention System for Judges

Ask yourself why that is.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Saggy pants law unconstitutional?

On what grounds? Free speech? That's for the birds.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tennessee Legislature Doing its Part to Keep Tennessee in Headlines

I'm sure the national media will have a field day lampooning Tennessee's "pull up your pants" legislation.

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Ron Ramsey continues to signal surrender on FONCE issue

Ron Ramsey knows full well that the repeal of this exemption will hurt struggling businesses. Yet, he continues to signal that he is willing to "compromise" on the issue by going along with the tax-hungry Democrats in Nashville. Ron, we don't need compromise; we need leadership. How can you expect to garner support for a governor's race if you can't be a leader when it comes to fighting tax increases?

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Upper East Tennessee Tea Party

I would love to go to the Tea Party on April 15 in Kingsport. Problem is, some of us have to work to get by on the fifty cents on the dollar that we are able to keep once all the looters get their share.

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Morristown opposes increasing yellow light time

I'm not surprised that Morristown wants to keep its short yellow lights. It's not about safety; it's about revenue. I would prefer to see a complete ban on the cameras. Short of that, all of the money should go to Nashville to be used for statewide safety programs.


Best News of the Day So Far

The Senate is reviewing how college football picks No. 1. That means that they are NOT doing something else to screw over the productive class, at least for a little while.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Texting while driving already illegal in Tennessee

I wish more people knew about this attorney general opinion. Legislators want to fix every little perceived problem when there are plenty of laws on the books that already address the subject. While the left-lane losers on their cellphones are bad enough the texters are simply insane.

Hey Ron, a compromise on a tax increase is still a tax increase

Ron Ramsey expects that there will be a compromise that will not tax income from smaller FONCEs. There should be no compromises when it comes to ceding more power to the government. Unlike Phil Bredesen, Ramsey at least understands that money is fungible.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Johnson City Press Gun Poll

The Johnson City Press has a poll on whether those with carry permits should be allowed to carry in restaurants that serve alcohol. I am absolutely in favor of the proposed legislation that would allow it. Of course, this sorry newspaper calls it a "conceal-carry handgun permit" despite the fact that Tennessee law does not call it a "conceal-carry handgun permit." Permit holders are not required to conceal their personal protection device in Tennessee.

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Kent Williams signals he is ready to follow the Bredesen line

Kent Williams, the disgraced former Republican from Carter County who currently serves as Speaker of the House, signals that he is willing to "compromise" to close the FONCE "loophole." Kent, it isn't a loophole. While Kent was busy serving up lasagna to the locals, the legislature knew full well what it was doing when the FONCE exemption was enacted. It is not a loophole, but I am not surprised to see Mr. Backroom Politics ready to pay tribute to his Democratic overlords.

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Mississippi gets it right

Red-light revenue cameras are banned in Mississippi. Meanwhile, Johnson City, Tennessee and surrounding areas continue to push forward with their quest for these cameras. I sat through one of the education classes last year due to a minor speeding infraction and learned that Johnson City is one of the leading areas for rear-ender accidents in Tennessee. The city has relatively few fatalities. So, what do they do? Try to get revenue cameras which will only increase the number of rear-enders. Typical. Government. Response.


Bredesen ties FONCE repeal to law enforcement

Let's recap Bredesen's strategy: First, create the impression that the FONCE exemption is a loophole (so people will think it is illigetimate and unintended by the legislature). Second, tie the FONCE to wealthy families. Third, create a bogeyman. Fourth, tie the lack of repeal to a loss of law enforcement jobs (because everyone loves law enforcement). It's quite a [;am and is, as I've said before, a textbook example of the Democrat tax increase process. Apparently, Bredesen could not find a way to tie this tax increase to something "for the children" instead of "law enforcement", but he has probably played that card too many times already. Of course, it is not too late for the administration to try that tactic.

They will stop at nothing to try and subject more and more families to an income tax, which is an essential element of the F&E tax.

UPDATE: Earlier, I meant to include the one thing missing from their plan - having Jimmy Neifeh ramrod the bill through the House like he has done so many times in the past over clear objection (everyone should watch the linked video to see how Naifeh ran the House). Looks like Bresesen has his man in the House to cover it for him anyway.

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Bredesen continues class warfare

Phil Bredesen calls the FONCE exemption "a loophole for some of the state's wealthiest families." Sure, there are some rich folks who use the exemption and those same rich folks will find other exemptions if the FONCE exemption is repealed. Bredesen knows the only way to get support for this is to convince the dumb masses that this is an attack on the wealthy. It's a tried and true Democrat strategy and will problably work again! The administration's approach to this tax increase is textbook.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Who will pay this tax?

A 2 percent premium tax on HMO's activities? I wonder who really pays this tax. Could it be.... those who pay the premiums. How about this headline: "Governor proposes 2% hike in insurance rates for Tennessee residents."

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Income Tax Advocates Support FONCE repeal

Tennesseans for Fair Taxation apparently never met a tax they didn't love. Ask yourself what other reasons this group might have for supporting additional taxes.

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"Very Negligible Impact"

Reagan Farr believes that excluding FONCEs with holdings valued at less than $250K from the reposed FONCE tax exemption repeal would have a "very negligible impact". Well, except for the impact on those who still have to pay the tax if the exemption is repealed....

This issue is almost a case study of the "soak the rich" mentality of the Democrats.

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Bredesen spends his money before he gets it

As is typical for tax-and-spend types, Phil Bredesen has decided to spend his money before he gets it. Specifically, in presenting his budget, he is relying on expected proceeds from the repeal of the family owned non-corporate entity franchise & excise tax exemption (FONCE). Bredesen has already earmarked the money he wants to get from raising taxes on family-owned businesses. While I believe that the positive tax impact will be far less than what Bredesen expects, it is telling that he has already spent the money. It is reminiscent of the lottery winner who fantasizes about what he will do with the winnings and then goes out and blows a wad on some frivolity.

Now it sounds like Ron Ramsey and Jason Mumpower are about to cave to this pressure. Here's an idea - cut spending. When you have cut it until it hurts, cut some more. Don't cave in to Bredesen's bullying tactics.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Should we expect a rational government?

Not as long as big money is buying off the crooks. Sean Braisted raises the question of why Phil Bredesen's administration is so bound and determined to repeal the FONCE exemption but refuse to allow customers to buy wine in grocery stores. If we had a news media that sought to investigate, we might know the answer. Instead, they would prefer to tow the party line with unbalanced, bogey-man hit pieces such as this. Here's an idea for a news story - what group has the most to lose by allowing wine sales in grocery stores? Hmmm. Could it be???? No, that's too easy.

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Don't tell Congress

That Wal-Mart is awarding $2 billion in bonuses to its employees. They might try to pass another ex post facto law to strip the bonuses away from them. Of course, the Democrats see a successful company like Wal-Mart and they do everything they can to destroy it while doing everything they can to raid taxpayer coffers to prop up failing businesses like General Motors. Follow the (union) money, people.

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Or maybe not

Kleinheider suggests that the FONCE exemption may be "a loophole that one might want to close during a budget crisis and glocal [sic] economic meltdown." I would suggest that a big part of the problem right now is that people are afraid to invest because they do not know when their competition will be the government. Investors want some level of predictability and the government is not giving us that. Tax increases are not the answer.

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Ron Ramsey and Jason Mumpower are right

The repeal of the FONCE exemption is a tax increase, pure and simple. This is yet another report that quotes Farr's "tax haven" meme and the fact that a wealthy New York strip club owner utilizes the exemption. The Democrats' approach to repealing the exemption appears to be to characterize the exemption as an unfair benefit to the wealthy and to pull in the worst-possible character they can find to personify the issue.

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Those evil rich

The Bredesen-lovers of the world are doing all they can to turn the proposed FONCE repeal into a wealth-envy issue. The repeal of this exemption would affect a lot of working families who own rental real estate to try and build their future. I have just as much evidence of that as Reagan Farr has for his supposition that this is a tax break for the wealthy. I several people who are just small-time real estate investors who take advantage of this exemption. It gives them a greater incentive to invest because of the perception of limited liability. The author of the linked article even goes so far as to call this a "tax loophole for the super wealthy." Hardly.

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A Review of Reagan Farr's Report

Reagan Farr's report on the FONCE exemption can be found here. It continues the wealth-envy game I first noticed in this article that also tries to turn the exemption repeal into a morality play. Farr's report basically tries to frame the issue to address three issues "the wealthy", "fundamental fairness" and "reasonable[ness]." He probably should just say "the evil rich are taking advantage of the tax law to their benefit." Of course all taxpayers do that. There are plenty of people who are not rich who utilize the FONCE exemption. The fact is, Farr has no way of knowing the financial position of the owners of the entities. He merely assumes they are wealthy in order to set up an easier target to attack (because the Democrats have trained us for years that the rich are evil and must be stopped at all costs).

He further assumes that ending the FONCE exemption will result in more people paying the tax. That may be true in the short term, but he believes that those who do not pay the tax will opt to become "exempt obligated member entities." For those of you who don't know, that is another franchise & excise tax exemption where the members of the entity opt out of limited liability protection. They continue to pay the $300 per year to Tennessee to keep their entity in place. Farr is crazy if he thinks they will keep the entity in place using the other exemption. That exemption will work for only those entities who hold non-liability producing investments (such as stocks) or those who have the entity in place for estate planning purposes. That is likely relatively few of the entities that collect "rent" as it is currently defined.

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Rationale for FONCE exemption

Reagan Farr and Phil Bredesen believe the FONCE exemption should end. This is nothing but a tax increase and they are doing everything they can to play the wealth-envy game that Democrats love to play. They have tried to get the exemption repealed in the past and have failed. This year, they are engaging in a full-court press with the help of the media that is all too happy to play along with their wealth-envy game. This article in The Nashville Scene blog goes through a Q&A with Farr. Far states that "It's a loophole that has no underlying rationale. ... You don't create exemptions based on somebody's bloodline. ..." He goes on to inquire "how is it you can justify over 200,000 businesses competing in a commercial marketplace and paying their fair share of franchise and excise taxes when 2,600 people competing in the same marketplace benefiting from all the same services don't pay tax simply because they're wealthy or they can go into business with wealthy family members."

The answers are simple, Mr. Farr. First, there is an underlying rationale for not taxing those entities. Tennessee does not have a state income tax other than the Hall Tax on interest and dividends. If an individual or a family buys a rental property in their own name, they do not pay any Tennessee income tax on the property. If they decide to pay Tennessee $300 per year for an LLC, they can gain more assurance of limited liability, but how much do they truly gain? If they have insurance on the property (which they will likely have regardless of whether an entity is in place), the additional protection afforded by an LLC really only comes in to play if there is a situation where the insurance company fails to pay. That is truly a rare case, but it does happen. Does it happen any more frequently than a plaintiff's lawyer attempting to pierce the entity veil to create personal liability on the part of the members of the LLC? Probably not. Absent the exemption, most people will likely just opt for higher insurance coverage limits. The $300 per year minimum that Tennessee gets from these LLCs will be lost.

Second, the fact that the exemption attracts investment in commercial property from inside or outside of Tennessee is reason enough to have the exemption. Outside investment makes these properties more valuable. It increases the availability of housing and decreases its cost. Farr and Bredesen think that is a bad thing because they would rather run up the cost of housing and decrease investments from out-of-staters so they can use the (temporary) revenue increase they "believe" they will enjoy to create more entitlements.

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Quiz for Reagan Farr and Phil Bredesen

Q: What do Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Cook Islands, Guernsey, St. Kitts, Nevis and the Channel Islands all have in common?

a) Their governments saw the wisdom in turning them in to tax havens to attract outside investment.
b) You likely would have never heard of these places if they weren't tax havens.
c) Prior to gaining their status as tax havens, these places were basically third-world crapholes with few jobs and little industry.
d) After gaining status as tax havens, these places have experienced phenomenal economic growth due to the creation of jobs in the financial industry, the effects of foreign investment and an increase in tourism caused by the fact that these places are simply "nicer" to go to after the investment.
e) All of the above.

Apparently, the Department of Revenue has labeled Tennessee as the next Grand Cayman Island. Reagan Farr's report says that the family owned non-corporate entity (FONCE) tax exemption is "making Tennessee a tax haven for out-of-state, wealthy investors who want to shield their commercial property from taxes." Are they so stupid to realize that a lot of forward-thinking governments become tax havens because they WANT out-of-state investors to come to their jurisdiction to invest?

We need more tax breaks like the FONCE exemption, not fewer.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Et Tu Fox News?

FoxNews, with cooperation of the AP, has the following sub-headline "Machine gun-toting man leaves 12 dead across two Alabama counties — including his own mother and girlfriend — in a bloody rampage". In addition to this sub-headline on their main page, the article itself makes four references to an "automatic weapon." It closes with this gem:

Myers, the grieving sheriff's deputy, made an appeal Wednesday to tighten the country's laws on the ownership of automatic weapons. "As a community, as a family, as a nation, we need to do something about this," he said
Really, we need to do something about this? Something was done about machine guns and automatic weapons many decades ago. You can't own a machine gun without a permit. They are difficult to obtain and are rare. The fact is, this person likely did not use a machine gun. He likely used a semi-automatic weapon that had cosmetic features (i.e., plastic) that made it look "menacing." In actuality, the weapon was likely not functionally different from a typical hunting rifle. USA Today reported the gunman as using an "assualt weapon", which is an accurate portrayal if one considers the "assault weapons ban" to be accurately named.

It's almost like the media had the article written in advance of the event so they could start pushing the revival of the misnamed "assault weapons ban."

No gun control law in the world would have saved these people. The strict gun control laws in Germany saved no one.

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Yeah, I'm back for a while

My period of mourning for this country has officially ended. To borrow a phrase, a country gets the leaders it deserves.

An Arsenal?

Give me a break. The anti-gun Associated Press headlines the article as follows: "Church shooting suspect had an arsenal in bedroom."
The arsenal in accused gunman Terry Sedlacek's room included two 12-gauge shotguns, a rifle and a box of 550 .22-caliber bullets, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

That's it? That's all? That's what AP calls an arsenal? Under that definition, nearly every hunter on planet earth would own several "arsenals." Where do they get these people? The alleged murderer is clearly a nutjob but AP wants to focus on his "arsenal." Perhaps that is part of Pravda's new talking points. Look for anti-arsenal legislation from the Obama camp in the coming days.

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