The Arkansas GOP is doing everything but measuring for new carpet in the Arkansas House Speaker’s office. They are anticipating that come November the Republicans will capture a majority in the Arkansas House of Representatives for the first time in 138 years.
Color me eager to watch the shift in the Arkansas House. It’s not that I’m pining for a GOP majority. But, really, after 138 years, another group of folks should get a chance to be in a position of responsibility and accountability.
Personally, I’ve grown weary of Arkansas Republicans badgering these pseudo-Democrats-who’d-be-Republicans-in-Colorado-or-Massachusetts about the state of Arkansas’ a) economy, b) education system, c) medical care, d) roads, e) taxes, f) prisons, g) courts, h) hunting season rules, i) weather, or j) all of the previous.
It’s way past time Arkansas Republicans assumed the tangled reins of Legislative control, in which the goings on often resemble a collection of drunks on roller skates trying to untangle a big ball of yarn in a lobbyist-funded wind tunnel blowing hundred-dollar bills with only a strobe light as illumination.
“Keep Calm. We’re On The Way.” That was the message posted Friday (Aug. 10) by the Arkansas Republican House Caucus. Apparently, there has been some palpable panic among the electorate, and the Arkansas GOP has emerged from the phone booth to move faster than a speeding gavel and jump tall capitol rotundas in a single bound.
“Learn more about the team who will establish a new conservative majority that will fight for hardworking Arkansas taxpayers and sweep away 138 years of one-party rule in our state!”
Yes, let’s learn more.
For some of us idiots who believe what happens in the Arkansas House of Representatives is important, there is less a need for calm as there is a need to satiate curiosity.
Which is to say we’re iffy on whether Republican leadership will put up or we’ll have to ask them to shut up; meaning that some of us pundits have seen hollow rhetoric fly too close to the heat of political reality; meaning that some of us wonder if GOP leaders will know how to drive the car or will be as helpless as the dog that catches the car.
Telling signs have emerged, especially with respect to taxes, health care and pledges about taxes.
On healthcare, we have discovered — through the insightful reporting of Roby Brock with Little Rock-based Talk Business — that some of them Republicans who rant and rave about government healthcare are receiving government healthcare that you and I and other “hardworking Arkansas taxpayers” aren’t able to receive.
Folks like Rep. David Meeks, R-Conway, gets the special plan. He also has been a leader in fighting Arkansas’ acceptance of new rules under Obama’s federal health care law. Meeks, for what it’s worth, is one of those folks who want you to “Keep Calm.” So is Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, R-Rogers. She opposes government healthcare while once on a government plan not available to more than 99% of Arkansans.
Like Meeks and Bledsoe, I believe the new federal health care law is the wrong direction for this country. We need reform in the system, but it’s a false choice to think the federal health care law is our only choice. However, if GOP leaders want me to keep calm, they should avoid the double standards.
The Arkansas GOP is also trying to push a “no taxes” pledge. They want all Republican legislators and candidates to sign a pledge saying they will not raise taxes or participate in any “effort” that could lead to tax increases. The pledge specifically reads: “I, (candidate name), pledge to the taxpayers of the (legislative) District of the state of (Arkansas) and all the people of this state that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”
Problem with this is, several GOP legislators endorsed and support the half-cent sales tax increase to fund road improvements in Arkansas — an increase that Arkansas voters will decide as part of the Nov. 6 election.
GOP legislators supporting or endorsing the ballot item include Rep. Denny Altes, R-Fort Smith; Rep. Jonathan Barnett, R-Siloam Springs; Rep. Gary Deffenbaugh, R-Van Buren; Rep. Jon Eubanks, R-Paris; Rep. Stephanie Malone, R-Fort Smith; Rep. Terry Rice, R-Waldron; Rep. Mary Lou Slinkard, R-Gravette; Rep. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch.
Clearly, sponsoring this legislation or campaigning for its passage is an “effort” toward raising taxes. Again, if you want me to keep calm, don’t throw double standards in my face.
And then there is this pervasive message about Republicans taking control of Arkansas government and stopping them evil tax-and-spend Democrats. However, the biggest tax cutter in Arkansas’ political history is Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe. During Beebe’s five and a half years, the state has seen $1.26 billion in tax cuts and $530 million in tax increases — a $730 million net reduction in taxes.
Former Arkansas Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee never came close to Beebe’s tax-cutting performance. But the “Keep Calm” GOP messengers want me to believe their fiscal pledges instead of the fiscal reality.
Please know I’m truly looking forward to a change in management, so to speak. To be sure, Miss Ada Mills would have loved this election cycle. But GOP leaders need to know that some of us plan to calmly measure The Walk against The Talk.