By Bill Maher
Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers and their goons are waging a pitched battle against the overly-liberal, tax-and-spend government...of Tennessee.
The problem for Norquist and the Kochs isn't Democrats - it's Republicans. Republican Governor Bill Haslam and his fellow Republicans in the legislature would love taxes to be even lower. But he's not an idiot. In response to these ramped-up attacks and threats of being primaried, Haslam said at a press conference, "Philosophically, I would love to do it; realistically, you all know our revenue is down this year."
Tennessee is one of the six lowest-taxed states in the nation. They are one of seven states that don't have an income tax. And unlike Alaska and Nevada, they don't have an obvious alternative source of funding, like vast oil reserves or gambling. Unlike a lot of states, they're not awash in recovery cash - they have a $260 million budget shortfall this year. Their small revenue stream comes in part from modest taxes on dividends and interest. And it is modest - the tax on investment income that Grover and the Kochs want eliminated is six percent.
Yup, six. This is what right-wing fanatics have come to - a virtually tax-free state is now besieged by anti-tax fanatics hell-bent on freeing the rich from the shackles of a six percent tax. Look - who has investment income in Tennessee? Exactly nobody who is not well-off. And the very idea that they would have to cough up six cents on every dollar that they - by definition - didn't have to work for... well, clearly this will not stand!
Tennessee currently ranks 44th in education. The elimination of that six percent tax will likely make that number worse. It's appropriate that they're the Volunteer State, because they're going to need a hell of a lot of volunteers