In “Timber, Taxes, and Lost Arguments,” my friend McCain argues points that are, well, pointless, because they do not actually contradict anything I wrote. Let’s take them one by one. First, Bradley Byrne’s campaign has nothing to do with whether I take the time to explain the record of a tax plan that was badly mis-covered by the national media. Byrne’s campaign did not bring up the issue; Stacy did. And I responded to explain the context and the record, to explain why it is absurd to say that the only acceptable conservative position in 2003 was to be against the Riley plan. Tell that to the national Christian Coalition, which endorsed Riley’s plan. My whole point is NOT to re-fight that battle in this campaign, but to explain why that battle is IRRELEVANT to this year’s campaign, specifically because it was an issue on which good conservatives disagreed with each other. Stacy, parachuting in, raised an issue that has nothing to do with this year’s race.
Second, I did not say that cutting the budget to the bone was a bad thing. Of course it wasn’t a bad thing. I CLEARLY was noting the tight budget in order to explain why Riley didn’t have much leeway to make more cuts to balance the budget in the short run. If something is already cut to the bone, you can’t cut much more. Again, that is a good thing, and I never suggested otherwise — but it explains why new revenues were needed.
As for the timberland: Uh, Stacy, a good conservative could ask, why should a rich dude’s unused timberland be untaxed while a first-time home-buyer is paying taxes on his new house? That said, again, you are answering arguments I never made. I was being DESCRIPTIVE of the situation Riley faced, not making an argument either way about the timber tax. I was explaining why the tax base in Alabama was narrow, and why it was by dictionary definition regressive — and therefore, why Riley’s reforms would have had the effect of making the overall impact of state and local taxes a system where taxes were flat.
If you are going to answer my column, please don’t answer straw men of your own making.