Republican gubernatorial candidates take aim at Georgia’s income tax

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Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

An early dividing line in the governor’s race was drawn at Cagle’s Farm last week, when three of the four leading GOP candidates for the job differed sharply over tax policy.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, after joking he had no part in the choice of venue, noted both Tennessee and Florida had no income tax and said he is “very supportive of a strategy to get us off a state income tax and more to a consumption-based tax.”

Next up was state Sen. Hunter Hill, who said eliminating the state income tax was his top fiscal policy. State Sen. Michael Wlliams echoed Hill – and took a shot at Cagle, blaming the lieutenant governor for failing to slash taxes deeper.

“We have the money to eliminate the state income tax. We just don’t have the political willpower to do it.”

(It’s worth noting that legislative leaders were at odds with Gov. Nathan Deal earlier this year over more substantive changes to the tax code, including an effort to cut the state’s top income tax rate by 10 percent. Deal warned that “bad decisions” in flush economic times could hamstring the state, and the measure failed to reach his desk after some wrangling.)

Watch for yourself here:

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If you watched the Sunday news shows, you know that the White House stepped up demands for revived congressional efforts on health care, and suggested senators cancel their entire summer break, if needed, to pass legislation after last week’s collapse. From the Associated Press:

Aides said President Donald Trump is prepared in the coming days to end required payments to insurers under the Affordable Care Act as part of a bid to let “Obamacare implode” and force the Senate to act.

Elsewhere, Tom Price, the former Georgia congressman who is now secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, tried to make as little news as possible on Sunday morning. Again, from the Associated Press:

On Saturday Trump tweeted that if “a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!”

 

Trump has only guaranteed required payments to insurance companies through July. The payments reduce deductibles and co-payments for consumers with modest incomes. Analysts have said that without the payments, more insurers might drop out of the system, limiting options for consumers and clearing the way for the insurers who stay to charge more for coverage.

 

Asked about the payments going forward, Health Secretary Tom Price said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that no decision has been made. He declined further comment, citing a lawsuit brought by House Republicans over whether the Affordable Care Act specifically included a congressional appropriation for the money, as required under the Constitution.

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Speaking of the Republican health care overhaul, you could say the Senate schedule is now a bit in flux after the effort’s collapse.

While Majority Leader Mitch McConnell picks up the pieces, he’s scheduled a vote to begin debate on a judicial nominee for the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit court, the federal court of appeals that has jurisdiction over Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

President Donald Trump tapped Birmingham, Ala.-based lawyer Kevin Newsom for the position back in May.

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As for Georgia U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, he thinks now’s the time for the two parties to work together to “deal with the issues that are making (health) insurance so expensive,” the Republican told The Marietta Daily Journal over the weekend.

Isakson backed all three of the major Obamacare repeal proposals that came across the Senate floor last week. So did his colleague David Perdue.

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As the weekend broke, Sally Yates, the Atlanta lawyer dismissed as acting U.S. attorney general in January, continued to step gingerly on the public square with an op-ed in the New York Times. In part:

The president is attempting to dismantle the rule of law, destroy the time-honored independence of the Justice Department, and undermine the career men and women who are devoted to seeking justice day in and day out, regardless of which political party is in power.

 

If we are not careful, when we wake up from the Trump presidency, our justice system may be broken beyond recognition.

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State Sen. David Shafer’s campaign for lieutenant governor picked up support over the weekend from former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr.

The onetime Libertarian presidential candidate said Shafer has a “proven track record of advancing conservative ideals,” citing the president pro tem’s zero-based budgeting law, support for gun rights and constitutional amendment capping the state income tax.

“I judge politicians based on their accomplishments, not their promises,” Barr said.

Barr’s endorsement comes a week after Texas U.S. senator and former GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz backed Shafer’s campaign. Barr was a vocal proponent of Cruz’s and traveled across the country on his behalf.

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Our condolences to former U.S. Rep. John Linder, whose wife Lynne died over the weekend.

The two were married for 54 years – she was his campaign manager for 18 of his races – and he wrote in a touching tribute that she was a “vital ingredient” in everything he did in Washington and Georgia.

“Over 40 years in politics I made thousands of friends and many enemies,” wrote Linder. “She made only friends.”

Please read his tribute, which ends with these words:

John Steinbeck wrote: “It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”

 

Lynne’s brilliant light shone mostly to illuminate the good in every life she touched. The night is now dark. The stars and moon are gone. It will never be the same.

 

The very first prayer I ever said is now my last. “Now I lay her down to sleep. I pray thy Lord her soul to keep.”

 


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