Category Archives: Politics

How technology helps you avoid paying taxes

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve cut your own taxes in recent years by evading them, probably unwittingly, thanks to the internet.

That would apply to you if you are buying products online these days from an out-of-state seller who doesn’t collect sales taxes, even though state law says they’re just as due as if you bought the goods from your local merchant. The local merchants certainly don’t like that, because it means the prices they charge are 8-9 percent higher through no fault of their own.

Execution imagery

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

“Image,” tennis player Andre Agassi said in a commercial in his younger, long-haired days, “is everything.”

That’s not true, of course, and Agassi grew to deeply regret uttering the words. But for any state trying to compete in a global economy, while image isn’t everything, it’s certainly a lot.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has crisscrossed the globe trying to sell Arkansas to potential investors, knows this. That’s why in this past legislative session he played defense against any potential bill that would impose state bathroom standards like North Carolina’s law, which cost the state 400 jobs from Paypal alone and was recently repealed. It also was a motivation for his spending a fistful of political capital moving the state’s commemoration of Gen. Robert E. Lee to a Saturday in October, far from its previous home on the same day as the Martin Luther King Holiday. Now only two former Confederate states, Mississippi and Alabama, celebrate the civil rights leader and the Civil War general on the same day.

Passion beats polling

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Here’s how Arkansas state politics really works: a disconnected majority often matters far less than a passionate few.

Certainly, the majority matters – particularly on Election Day. That’s when 1.1 million out of 3 million Arkansans went to the polls in November and cared deeply about who won the presidential race but not always some of the other races, including state legislative ones.

Once the campaigning ends and governing begins, Arkansas state politics becomes more about very concerned groups – “stakeholders,” they are called – who know those legislators well and lobby them on their particular issues. Hang around the Capitol when the Legislature is in session, and you’ll see 135 legislators and a governor being influenced by a relatively small number of lobbyists attending committee meetings and really paying attention on behalf of their groups – those groups usually being composed of ordinary Arkansans with legitimate concerns, so there’s nothing inherently wrong with this. Their arguments often will carry the day.

Reform instead of repeal and replace

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

After the American Health Care Act failed in the House Friday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said this: “I don’t know what else to say other than Obamacare is the law of the land. It’s going to remain the law of the land until it’s replaced. We did not have quite the votes to replace this law, and so, yeah, we’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”

For seven years, Ryan and other Republicans, including Arkansas’ congressional delegation, have said Obamacare is ruining the health care system – and by extension, the rest of the country. But once they gained control of everything in Washington, they obviously did not have a replacement ready, spent a total of 18 days debating a very bad one, held one vote and then announced their focus will now be on tax reform, though now they’re talking about revisiting health care again.