Dear Tennessee Star,
In George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece 1984, the unfortunate character Winston is battling desperately to grasp objective truth. Meanwhile the power mongers ruling the Ministry of Truth tell him, “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” Orwell thought he was writing satire; too bad he couldn’t witness our Tennessee General Assembly, where a tax increase is hawked as a tax cut.
Gone is the IMPROVE Act; now we have the “Tax Cut Act of 2017.” Same steaming cowpie, just an added dash of Haslamian perfume. We must assume our politicians dreamed this up supposing that average Tennesseans are complete imbeciles who salivate at the mere mention of tax cuts. Well, tax cut for whom, you may ask? Good question. Short answer – it ain’t us.
Longer answer – the bulk of the tax cuts are specifically in the Franchise and Excise tax, targeted to save some of Tennessee’s largest corporations about $113 million. Most conservatives might be fine with reasonable corporate tax reductions as the state runs a $2 billion surplus, but not in the same bill that seeks to slam average Tennesseans with a huge increase in fuel taxes. The Governor and his political lackeys try to salve our irritation by talking up the 1 cent cut in sales taxes for food. Well and good, except that the fuel tax increase makes the food tax cut a complete wash for most families. Unmentioned is the economic fact that as transportation costs (i.e. fuel) rise, food prices (and every commodity on a store shelf) increase commensurately. It seems that our Tennessee Ministry of Truth is taunting us … “Ignorance is Strength!”
It’s a mathematical fact that the “Tax Cut Act of 2017” will increase costs for everyday working Tennesseans. The tax cuts predominately go to corporations. Meanwhile, Republican politicians expect their loyal conservative constituents to do backflips in support of their wise and prudent leadership. This unfortunate Republican proposal highlights the tremendous disconnect between the politician’s “truth” and everyone else’s basic understanding of reason, logic, and integrity. I’m a Republican, albeit an extremely disgusted Republican.
Supporters of the fuel tax argue that the proposal will raise more than $100 million for local road programs. We commonsensical Tennesseans like good roads and well-maintained infrastructure. We also, again, ad infinitum, point you back to our $2 billion (and growing) surplus.
Here’s a layman thought: Don’t raise taxes. Don’t cut taxes. And heck, please do put an additional $100 million a year into state infrastructure projects. Just do it with existing revenue. Get out your calculators, sit together in a conference room, and don’t come out until you’ve figured out the basic arithmetic. Typical of politicians, they continuously wring their hands as if they had a revenue problem. The real problem, the brass tacks? Their inherent reluctance to prioritize and make touch decisions. Theirs is a problem of courage, integrity, and backbone, and they need to stop obscuring their gutlessness in new/improved tax bills.
Orwell – what a foresighted genius he was. He also coined the word,“doublethink,” as the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them as true and valid. Doublethink (or Bifurcated Brain Syndrome) is what affects every Tennessee politician who calls a tax increase a tax cut. Stay on your toes folks, because it’s just a matter of time before they’re telling us 2+2=5.