Opinion: Who brought the 2017 session to its disappointing end?

AJC Photo / Bob Andres

An uninspiring legislative session ended in dispiriting fashion early Friday, with the failure of a few solidly conservative bills. It’s worth getting to the bottom of what went wrong.

There was the usual procedural mess. Legislators crammed the work left from days spent more leisurely into a final scramble that went a full hour past midnight, a “deadline” that keeps losing its deadliness. The procrastination is intentional, designed to help leadership ram through the bills it wants and kill the clock on the ones it doesn’t.

And oh, the ones that came up short this year.

A decade and half of frustration among Republicans at being unable to lower the state’s income-tax rate appeared on the verge of small relief. The House had passed a modest but important structural reform that flattened and simplified the personal income tax. The Senate ordered up a much larger tax cut — which sounds nice, until you know that Gov. Nathan Deal would have vetoed it.

House members tweaked their plan. An economic analysis provided to me showed the plan could lower the top rate to 5.55 percent, eliminate all brackets below that, increase the personal exemption, introduce a “work tax credit,” and still keep low- and middle-income Georgians whole. It was forecast to cut income-tax revenues by less than $180 million a year (about 1.3 percent) which meant there was a chance Deal would sign it. It was the kind of reform that would make it easier for a future governor to gradually lower rates even further.

Yet, the Senate wouldn’t agree to anything less than the larger, but obviously doomed, cut.

It was a stance similar to the poison pill senators placed in a House bill for the state’s tax-credit scholarship. They slashed the money student scholarship organizations could spend on expenses to a mere 3 percent of the donations they collect — low enough to put many of them out of business and deny hundreds of kids financial aid. Or, perhaps, low enough just to kill the bill.

The House changed the bill, but only 12 Senate Republicans voted for the educational freedom they claim to support for Georgia’s students, and which rates as highly popular with Republican voters.

Why?

I spoke with multiple people who worked on each of these solidly conservative bills, in each chamber and on the outside. Those people almost uniformly pointed the finger at Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

I’m told it was Cagle who insisted on the tax bill Deal would certainly veto, and who told GOP senators to oppose the education bill.

Here, let’s acknowledge two things. First, Cagle is all but certain to announce his candidacy for governor within weeks. Second, the people who worked opposite him on these issues are not his biggest fans (though, I’ll add, they don’t currently support anyone else planning to run).

If that were all there was to it, I’d have left it alone. But their complaints echo others that grew louder and louder since this session began in January, and even dating back to 2016. I’ve been here for eight of the 11 sessions Cagle has been lieutenant governor. People haven’t always talked about him as negatively as they do now.

There is a well-cultivated air of inevitability around Cagle as next in line for West Paces Ferry. As a three-time statewide winner, there’s merit to that. But maybe not enough when this rising dissatisfaction with him inside the Capitol spreads beyond it.

 

Reader Comments 0

59 comments
PhyllisJ.Little
PhyllisJ.Little

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www.smart-job5.com

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

With the identification of Rice, and surely Obama, unmasking Trump and company for political purposes it should become clear the Benghazi ruse, IRS targeting, keep your doctor keep your plan, Fast and Furious (am I omitting one?) were all scandals of the Obama administration designed for political gain.

The big disappointment is Republicans have not sent anyone to jail over any of them. 

Starik
Starik

@JohnnyReb It might be hard to get convictions from juries, if they did charge anybody.  Ever hear of the old Southern defense in murder cases, that "he needed killing."

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

And BTW, with over a years worth of intelligence at Rice's and Obama's disposal it's clear if there was any collusion between Trump, his team and Russia it would have come out.

Instead, Obama himself stated months ago there is nothing.

Now we know what he based that statement on.

We can however expect the Dems to continue the accusations as they try to cover up and misdirect the nation from fully seeing a president and his adviser using the most powerful intelligence gathering machine in the world against a political foe.

I can't wait to read all the Liberal pundits and sheepie bloggers excuses for Obama and Rice.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@JohnnyReb  All the Democrats had was the false narrative that Trump and his campaign colluded with the Russians to tip the election. Now that is falling apart and being replaced with the Democrats working with political operatives within the government to undermine the Trump, presidency. This will blow up in the Democrats face as this story further develops and further tarnish the Obama presidency.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@JohnnyReb 

I can't wait for all the G.D. social conservatives to die off so we can get the republican party out of the ditch and make it great again.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Susan Rice has proven again to be a loser of the highest order.

Her stupidity can be traced to the Clinton administration where she endorsed the idea to let OBL go when he was within the cross hairs.

Jump to being the stooge sent by Obama to five Sunday shows to propagate the idea the Benghazi attack was due to a video.

Obama rewarded her for the Sunday show appearances by taking her from State and making her his National Security Adviser.

Now she is the one who unmasked Trump and team caught up in foreign surveillance.

Anyone who thinks Obama himself did not know what she was doing is just stupid, plain stupid.

This is bigger than Watergate and could possibly be a dirty trick where Obama does not slide through.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Bookman is half right, no pun intended, but he's wrong about Gorsuch's qualifications. Gorsuch, is well qualified, however, Bookman is correct on the filibuster. Move forward with the elected president's pick and move on.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@SGTGrit Bookman has a very embarrassing case of Trump derangement syndrome he can't recognize and he has stooped to the level of his anonymous followers using his moderator position to call people who challenge him, such as myself, a liar when the facts clearly show otherwise.

That aside, he is as you write completely wrong on Gorsuch but correct on the filibuster.

It's time for it to go in all things and no time is better than the present with Repubs in charge of both chambers and the WH.

My sincere wish is Ryan and The Turtle have an epiphany and run through so much legislation undoing Dem follies and putting the country back on the right track that LibProgs are actually in the streets throwing up.

That's just how much I dislike their vision for our country.  

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@SGTGrit @JohnnyReb

I completely agree.  They have no balls.  Voters have given them a very clear mandate to do as you write, but I see no signs of them being leaders.

I doubt we will see change until Ryan and McConnell are replaced.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@JohnnyReb @SGTGrit  They're both too establishment. The new traditionalist conservative voters want more and those two don't offer it.

Starik
Starik

@SGTGrit @JohnnyReb What is your vision for a much better USA?  What historical period do you aspire to, or do you want us to go in a different direction altogether?

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@JohnnyReb @SGTGrit  This is the Republicans opportunity to either completely destroy the left or at the very least set their agenda back several years. We can't allow the Republicans to screw this opportunity up like they tend to do too often.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

So let's review, connect the dots for our friends the fascists, little peeping toms that they are.


susan rice is national security ADVISER to whom?


You played with fire and you got burnt, bigly.

lvg
lvg

Guns on campus ; $800 million taxes on hospital beds and tax credits for an unnamed Yacht rebuilder in Savannah; no money for mass transit and no money for rural hospitals. Great session!

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Susan Rice has been unmasked as the senior administration official to order the unmasking of Trump, his family and campaign staff. This surveillance of Trump and his campaign evidently went on for a year before he took office. This goes to the top of Obama's administration and he must have had involvement.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Resist Trump @SGTGrit  Sorry, nothing against Breitbart but don't follow them and that wasn't my source for the update on this investigation. You should broaden your own sources as you're missing quite a bit.

lvg
lvg

@SGTGrit Where's the part about this being connected to BENGHAZI and Rice?

weechie
weechie

At some point Repubs need to read a little history, starting with the Constitutional Convention, and understand in a democracy compromise, (not a dirty word) is the only way to get anything done.

Resist Trump
Resist Trump

@Doom a classical liberal @weechie

Give me a frikkin break. Repubs had no interest in 'compromise.' They didn't even have an interest in discussion. And the proof of that lies in their recent, monumentally epic failure to repeal and replace the law.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

Repubs mantra: We don't need no stinkin healthcare! Tax cuts for the rich! Pull yourself up by your bootstraps! (even if you can't afford boots!) The poor and handicapped need to make better choices!

Doom a classical liberal
Doom a classical liberal

@RoadScholar


Aint no one stopping you from purchasing your own health care, sir. You are free to do so. Tax cuts for the rich? Well, naturally tax cuts go to those who pay the taxes to begin with. Ya couldn't figure that out? 


Bootstraps? Funny thing. Those bootstraps seem to work just fine for many an immigrant who can't even speak our language let alone read and write in their own native language. Yet their bootstraps seem to work just fine. Must be something wrong with American bootstraps. 

lvg
lvg

@RoadScholar Reagancare with no funding source remains the GOP health care choice. Free care at the local ER; its the wait that will kill you. So what?

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

Republicans better hope Sally Yates doesn't run for governor. Because if political quacks like Cagle decide to run. The energy will be on her side.

ATLAquarius
ATLAquarius

15 years in power and I have no idea what Georgia Republicans actually believe in....

Resist Trump
Resist Trump

@ATLAquarius

Georgia Republicans have the same limited agenda as national Republicans. To wit - cut dem takses, cut dem regerlayshins, make all du people Christians.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Casey Cagle would fit right in with the Tea Party caucus in the US House of Representatives.  They are professional obstructionists whose goal is to make sure no legislation ever passes.  They should either do what their elected to do - legislate - or go home and stay there.

Aquagirl
Aquagirl

Oh dear, Cagle killed the school bill. Bet he's off Kyle's Christmas card list.

Cobbian
Cobbian

Is anyone really surprised that the politically ambitious manipulate the political system to their own political advantage, without a care as to how that may affect the people they really are there to serve.


Oh, and do you think when it comes to reforming taxes, we might get rid of little tricky things like that tax break for large yacht owners who have work done at a business in Savannah?  


Or, mightn't we get to adoption reform without confusing all that is needed with one single issue - the so-called "religious freedom" efforts of those ultra conservatives who don't really care about adoption reform, but only care about creating the right for some state supported groups to legally discriminate against a group of citizens?


And, could we really look at what has happened to wealth concentration in this country - and in Georgia - while good paying jobs flowed overseas - and look at what is going to happen with the proposed tax reform?  Reduce taxes on the wealthy and it only means marginal job growth in marginal jobs.  


And could we look at what the state has done in funding to public schools while they play around with tax breaks for those already sending their children to private schools and providing a few some improvement in the ability to choose a private school and a very few "scholarships".  It is another form of the lottery - keep people buying into the idea when there is small chance it will make a difference.


And how about really dealing with the problem of rural health care and not leaving that up to the "lottery" of tax breaks for people who make donations.  We give well-off people a tax break, reducing taxes received by the state, instead of taking in the taxes and allocating the spending needed by rural hospitals.  


There is more.  But that is enough.  We really need to vote out just about all these people before they do any more harm.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

What were the affects to different income groups of the revised bills on income tax? I bet the poor paid more and the rich paid less! SOOOO Christian of them!

Caius
Caius

But maybe not enough when this rising dissatisfaction with him inside the Capitol spreads beyond it."


"when",  not if? I believe I will go with "if".


DeepStateDawg
DeepStateDawg

Kyle, I'm shocked, SHOCKED, to hear you speculate that politics may be entering into this. 


I've always assumed that it was the Demoncrats who engaged in this sort of lowly behavior. 


A guy would think that with majorities in both houses as well as the sitting governor, the GOP would just be whipping out amazing public policy. 

Pub Heaven
Pub Heaven

That would be Super majorities...

DeepStateDawg
DeepStateDawg

@Pub Heaven Dang. Jeez. I guess with regular ol' majorities they'd have some kind of excuse. 


When's all this conservative goodness gonna start paying off Kyle? 


School Choice? I mean, heck, what's easier than that?