Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Padgett knocks Alexander's flat tax

Here's what Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mike Padgett had to say about Sen. Lamar Alexander's advocacy of the flat tax in a press release today:

Take the few folks who make more than $350,000 a year. A flat rate would cut their tax bill in half,” Padgett said. “What do the folks in the middle get? A slight change in their taxes and an easier form to fill out.”

Senator Alexander said earlier this week that he liked the idea of an optional 17 percent flat tax on individuals and businesses, and he touted the simplicity of having only a one-page form to fill out.

“If Senator Alexander were serious about lifting some of the load off of the working class, he would not have voted at least a dozen times to block tax cuts that were targeted for middle- and lower-income taxpayers,” Padgett said.

“What about tax cuts that would really make a difference in the working family’s budget – a tuition tax credit equal to 50 percent of college costs, for example, or a first-time homeowner tax credit? How about doubling the tax credit for child-care expenses?

“How do you pay for them? You REDUCE the tax breaks we are giving the biggest earners instead of EXPANDING them, as Senator Alexander’s flat tax would do."

Padgett doesn't mention his Democratic primary opponent Bob Tuke in his release. He's clearly running against Alexander already. This allows him to show contrast without increasing Tuke's name recognition.

On his website, Tuke, says, "I will vote to repeal parts of the Bush tax cuts that favor wealthy Americans, and sponsor legislation that will give tax relief to middle-class Americans. I will remove existing tax incentives that make it too easy for American businesses to ship American jobs overseas." Additionally, Tuke has this piece on Alexander's flat tax proposal at Huffington Post. He pulls no punches with this section:

"Senator Alexander this is your chance to put me in my place. Prove to me this isn't an election year gimmick.

Better yet, let's schedule a public meeting to discuss it. Bring your plan. We will invite the media and have a calm chat about your plan.

I'm calling your bluff. I want to see your hole card."

I didn't find much about the flat tax on Alexander's candidate site. That doesn't mean it's not there. It's just not one of the obvious features of how he's identifying himself on the site. But his press release about the proposal is easily found at his official Senate site.

Tuke's strategy is interesting. Having a piece at Huffington Post will help his name recognition nationally and perhaps in Tennessee's urban areas and may even help national fundraising. But the race is in Tennessee, after all. Padgett's focus on Tennessee media and plain spokenness should be an asset with voters. I have to give Tuke credit, too, for the forcefulness with which he raised questions in his piece. If Padgett's release and Tuke's piece are a preview to what might happen in debates with Alexander, then I think either Democratic candidate will score some points.

Still, either will have to be careful because Alexander is well loved in Tennessee and his pleasant, calm demeanor can be disarming and make an opponent look angry. We've seen the dangers of the word "bitter" in the presidential debate. While it's hazardous to classify voters as bitter, it's a good word to tag your opponent with if it sticks.

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