Has state Rep. Lon Burnam grown tired of serving in the Texas Legislature?
The Fort Worth Democrat has filed a bill calling for a state income tax on individuals or families earning more than $100,000 annually.
What? A state income tax? In Texas, where lawmakers once determined that the only way to enact such a thing is to amend the Texas Constitution, which requires a popular vote? His rationale is that the Texas tax system is archaic and doesn’t fund education, public health or transportation adequately. He’s right. Any dramatic reform of the state’s tax system needs to include the income tax — but it likely won’t happen, given Texans’ longheld antipathy toward a personal state income tax. Just as Social Security is the “third rail” (touch it and you die) on Capitol Hill, the state income tax plays a similar role in Austin.
Give the man credit at least for speaking out before he declares his intention to leave office. Maybe the other shoe will drop soon. Then again, maybe not.
Two Democratic lieutenant governors tried in the 1980s and 1990s to move the income tax debate forward. Bill Hobby tried it first, then backed off it, even though he had announced his plans to retire. Then came the usually fearless Bob Bullock. He, too, floated the income tax idea, only to scurry away from it.
Now comes Rep. Burnam, who’s already filed a resolution to impeach the Republican presiding judge of the state Criminal Court of Appeals.
There must be something in the water in Cowtown.
I’ve been called out, so I’ll take the bait.
A reader of this blog said he “gets it,” and that Rush Limbaugh’s commentary makes me “want to puke.” Well, that’s a little over the top. Limbaugh doesn’t make me sick to my stomach. It does, however, sadden me when his fellow Republicans genuflect before a guy who’s only credential is that he is an entertainer with a bucketload of opinions.
The reader says I’ve never been “specific” about my criticism of Limbaugh. He’s right. That’s because Limbaugh doesn’t articulate policy. He is critical of the “other side” on purely partisan grounds. If Democrats are for something, he’s against it. He calls himself a “conservative,” but I don’t know how he defines his conservatism. Is he a “social conservative” in the mold of, say, James Dobson? Is he a “fiscal conservative” like Newt Gingrich? Is he a less-government conservative who follows the doctrine of Barry Goldwater?
He’s a jokester.
The reader wonders if I am afflicted by “professional envy.” Ummm, no. I’m not glib enough. I’m glad for his success. Limbaugh has developed a following of Dittoheads — a term which, if you think about it, is an insult. But those who hang on his every word are happy with the description. More power to ’em.
My real concern lies with the dismal state of the conservative movement. William Buckley, an absolute genius, is now gone, but the world has other first-class conservative thinkers. George Will comes to mind. Gingrich has a wealth of ideas — and he can be a forceful advocate for them. William Kristol is an articulate advocate for the conservative cause. Those are just three. They argue their cause with civility. I don’t believe thoughtful conservatives wish “failure” on the president of the United States.
Limbaugh’s talent? He’s excellent at finding straw men and then beating the stuffing out of them.
But he’s now the voice of the conservative movement in this country. Sen. Goldwater — God bless his soul — is spinning in his grave.
The word today has been that members of Congress were “Twittering” during President Obama’s speech to the nation. It’s like the teenager who “texts” his or her friends during class. It’s disrespectful.
The reports of lawmakers playing with their wireless devices reminds me of an incident that occurred in Amarillo during the 2008 campaign. Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson came to the Panhandle for an interview with the Editorial Board. A young staffer sat with us at the conference table. She was sending and receiving text messages on her BlackBerry while Jefferson was expounding on why he should return to the Supreme Court. He asked the aide to stop texting. She said something about having to deal with an important matter. He told her politely, but firmly, to take it outside the room. The aide put the device away.
Seriously, I wanted to high-five the chief justice.
The multi-taskers sitting in the House chamber need some lessons in good manners and decorum.