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17.11.11

Fairness asks benefit recipients to pay taxes in support

The leftist Center for the Budget and Policy Priorities, in a study reported by its affiliate the Louisiana Budget Project, identifies Louisiana as one of a minority of states where households whose reported income falls below the poverty line pay state income taxes. Which should elicit a huge collective yawn from citizens and policy-makers considering the report’s incomplete picture and lack of context with larger policy concerns, but should generate concern if then used to justify having fewer people pull the wagon while more jump on it.

The report notes that, while the majority of states create no tax burden on households defined as poor and in some of these, through an earned income tax credit, they actually receive money from the state for not paying state income tax, in Louisiana the cutoff for not owing tax is slightly below that of the poverty level, although slightly above it for earners of the minimum wage (which comprise a very small proportion of all adult earners in the state). The same holds true for families at the 125 percent of poverty level, a small amount of tax due.

The national group generally, and the state group specifically, express concern that the “poor” (who in many cases, in comparative perspective, are anything but) must pay any income tax at all, and worry that a trend may develop where more states extend that taxation to lower income households.

16.11.11

Roemer sees rejection as chance to stroke ego more

While Louisiana has had more than its share of oversized personalities inhabit the world of politics, a run to demonstrate the biggest ego and need for relevance of them is coming from a surprising source whose personality otherwise pales in comparison to those others.

By now, one would have thought that former Gov. Buddy Roemer’s crisis to be someone and to achieve at a level he believes commensurate with his ability in politics would have become satiated, if not permanently altered to a more realistic appraisal of himself and his place in the world, by his quixotic sojourn for the presidency. The Republican running generally on a reform, anti-Washington/big government platform, his main campaign plank touts that too much money goes into elections, and, as such, he accepts no more than $100 donations from individuals and none from political action committee.

Thus, this explains partly why, as of the end of 2011’s third quarter, he had raised only about $233,000 – less than another Republican with no PAC donations Fred Karger’s $356,000 or so, although this candidate has largely self-financed his.

15.11.11

Caldwell suit faces Constitutional, political problems

Maybe Louisiana Atty. Gen. Buddy Caldwell read this space a couple of years back and decided after he got reelected it was time to go for it. But his suit to redo the apportionment of the House of Representatives based upon the 2010 Census not just is a huge long shot on constitutional grounds, it’s impossible practically to achieve a remedy.

The suit asks that Louisiana be restored a seventh congressional district, on the basis that if citizens only were counted in the census, because of relatively low numbers of non-citizens living in the state compared to others, it would have not lost one of those seats in recent reapportionment. Caldwell insists data collected in this census exists to provide this relief.

This is a tough argument to make.

14.11.11

Another gubernatorial try for Jindal likelier than Senate run

So Gov. Bobby Jindal’s former chief of staff Timmy Teepell heads out into the private sector world of political consulting and about the first thing that comes out of his mouth is he thinks Jindal will run again for governor of Louisiana, after sitting out at least a term. Do not write this statement off as mere intrigue or wishful thinking.

Teepell has been with Jindal since the beginning of the latter’s political career and should read the political calculus of his former boss better than anybody. Or maybe he’s just stirring the pot in league with Jindal, to confuse potential future rivals for other offices available within a year either way of the end of this second term as governor. But an understanding of Jindal’s career specifically and of progressive ambition in politicians generally suggests much earnestness in Teepell’s statement.

In figuring out what successful political figures foresee for themselves one must consider the opportunities available for the individual in question and where that will get him.

13.11.11

Rejecting govt empowerment trumps flexibility on change

Especially given the presence of Amendment 1 on the previous statewide ballot, the presence of the upcoming Amendment 1 on the next statewide ballot raises interesting principled questions about how specific should taxes, taxing powers, and spending discretion be rendered in the state’s constitution, with the answers providing a guide to the approaching vote.

This Amendment 1 would prevent a local governing authority from imposing a tax on real estate transfers, grandfathering in the Orleans Parish version as it will be in place prior to Nov. 30. 2011 (and apparently giving Livingston Parish the opportunity to do so under state law if it acts prior to that date). Most states permit them, but Louisiana’s constitution currently makes no mention of them.

It also stands philosophically the opposite from the previous Amendment 1, which wrote into the Constitution a tax of 1/20th a cigarette sold with an affirmative popular vote last month.