As a physician and ex-smoker (four packs a day, clean for 20 years), I'm an advocate of helping smokers quit. I know the terrible health consequences of smoking. However, I am befuddled by your recent decision to poke a stick into the eye of Gov. Barbour with your tobacco/food tax legislation which, as you know, is not revenue neutral.
As you are well aware, the Republican Party took you in when you had no shelter in the storm. It was revealed at that time that you were beholden to Richard Scruggs for an "unpaid loan" (an unpaid gift in politics amounts to what?—a "bribe," a "payoff?") of $500,000. The GOP paid this "loan" off for you because it was so "unseemly."
It appears that the only explanation for your decision to move against Gov. Barbour is that the House members who represent the Northeastern portion of the state and/or your old and continuing association with Mr. Scruggs and Mr. Michael Moore (aren't you still a board member of The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi—or is it The Boys and Girls Clubs of Mississippi?—their Web sites do not list board members), and your association with "folks" from the Northern part of this state have some aspect of your past or future career under their thumb. What is that? Why do they have you under their thumb?—is it political, financial—what is it? What have they promised you?
But more importantly, it is obvious that you have another agenda regarding your own political future, and it obviously doesn't include remaining a member of the Republican Party of Mississippi. With this type of behavior, you will be unable to run for governor of this State, or for the congressional seat in Rep. Pickering's district (should he run for a national Senate seat) as a Republican. We (lowly Republican voters) will not support you if you become or remain Governor Barbour's nemesis. I assume that you think that your future is (somehow) associated with Michael Moore and Richard Scruggs and politicians of northeast Mississippi. Well, good luck with them. They have the money to buy you whatever you want. However, you'll have to return to the Democrat fold. (What! Another change in party affiliation?) I doubt those "yellow dog democrats" will appreciate another "about face."
I beg you to reconsider your position regarding the tobacco/tax. You know this "tax" will only drive tobacco sales to contiguous states, or the Internet, or Native American stores, and decimate small communities' reliance on local sales taxes. The response to this loss in local sales tax (and I'll never believe that decreasing tobacco sales will "make up the difference") will be a rise in other local taxes, especially property taxes (i.e. a "tax shift.")
I suggest that if you remain steadfast on this path Republicans in this state will drop you like a "hot potato." We lowly Republican voters will do all we can to unseat you and all your allies if you continue your adversarial relationship with our beloved Gov. Barbour. You owe, and we demand, an accounting of your recent behavior to Republicans who supported your "slide" to our party. Why have you put Gov. Barbour and the Republicans of this state in such a pickle?
— HD Matthias, Madison
Advice for the day: People who sign petitions against the Estate Tax (which would primarily benefit multi-millionaires, and cost the government $30 billion per year) should not then complain about the purported irresponsibility of supporting arguably revenue-neutral tax cuts that would benefit the poor. I mean, seriously. Do people even pretend to be intellectually honest about this stuff anymore?
- Tom Head