Posts Tagged ‘Walter Cronkite’

11th August
2009
written by Sean Noble

 It is said that when Walter Cronkite returned from a trip to Vietnam and reported that the war was unwinnable, President Lyndon Johnson said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost America.”

Conservative holdouts in the Arizona Legislature, who oppose the budget deal because of the sales tax referral, may be in the same position.  The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal has for years been the conscience of fiscal conservatism and the leader in reducing taxes.  They have editorialized that the deal is a good one, particularly to retain and attract business to the state by reducing business and personal income tax and property tax reform.  They reason that those are easy trades for referring the sales tax to the ballot.

The operative paragraph reads:

Republicans control both houses of the Arizona legislature, and as we went to press the main obstacle to passing the reform was the Arizona Senate’s antitax conservatives. They oppose the higher sales tax. These Republicans should look to one of the triumphs of the Reagan Presidency, the 1986 tax reform, which broadened the tax base but substantially lowered tax rates and thus sustained the 1980s expansion.

When you’ve lost the WSJ editorial page, you’ve lost your leverage. 

 

Arizona’s Budget Breakthrough

An alternative to California’s tax and spend model.

Perhaps states are starting to learn the right fiscal lessons from the red-ink blowouts in high-tax California and New York. Today, the legislature in Arizona will vote on a tax reform designed to entice more employers and high-income taxpayers to the state. Sponsored by Republican Governor Jan Brewer, the plan would cut state property taxes, the corporate tax and personal income taxes, in exchange for a temporary rise in the sales tax.

Most economic studies agree that states have more jobs and higher income growth when they tax consumption rather than savings, investment and business profits. This explains why most of the nine states with no income tax at all—such as Texas, Florida and Tennessee—have been economic high-flyers in recent decades.

Ms. Brewer’s proposal reflects this economic logic. Effective January 1, 2011, her plan would reduce the state’s corporate income tax rate to 4.86% from 6.97%, which would be one of the largest business tax cuts in the nation in recent years. The proposal also cuts all personal income tax rates by 6.6%, thus lowering the top marginal rate to 4.24% from 4.54%. A hated statewide tax on commercial and residential property would also be abolished.

Arizona has been hit especially hard by the housing slump, and its budget woes were compounded thanks to former Governor Janet Napolitano’s spending spree before she joined the Obama cabinet. On her watch the budget grew by more than 50% in five years—to $10.2 billion from $6.5 billion in 2004. The state now has a $1 billion budget gap, and to close it the legislature will also vote on a one percentage point increase in the sales tax to 6.6% in 2010 and 2011; in the third year the sales tax would fall to 6.1%, and in the fourth year would revert to its current 5.6% rate.

We’d rather see the legislature cut more spending than raise the sales tax, but on the other hand the sales tax would only take effect if it is approved on the November ballot. The political class is giving voters a say in the matter. The sales tax increase also has the advantage of a built-in expiration date, while the tax cuts are permanent.

Democratic opponents are calling this a tax giveaway to big business. But lawmakers needn’t apologize for trying to retain Arizona’s status as a business-friendly state—particularly when jobs are so scarce. Small employers also benefit from the lower property tax rates and the personal income tax reductions. Lower tax payments will enable them to reinvest more in their enterprises.

The opponents should consult a new study of state business taxes by former U.S. Treasury economist Robert Carroll for the Tax Foundation. He examined 50 states and found that states with lower corporate tax rates have higher wage gains and more productivity over time. This tax cut sounds like a high-return investment.

Republicans control both houses of the Arizona legislature, and as we went to press the main obstacle to passing the reform was the Arizona Senate’s antitax conservatives. They oppose the higher sales tax. These Republicans should look to one of the triumphs of the Reagan Presidency, the 1986 tax reform, which broadened the tax base but substantially lowered tax rates and thus sustained the 1980s expansion.

Arizona has the chance to be the anti-California, closing the budget deficit by growing the economy, not by raising taxes. We hope legislators don’t blow it, because the U.S. desperately needs an alternative to the tax, spend and tax again philosophy of Sacramento and Albany.

17th July
2009
written by Sean Noble

Walter Cronkite was an institution.  He was a pioneer in news broadcasting. In fact, he was one of the reasons I was a broadcasting major in college.          

I met Cronkite as a student at ASU.  My first interaction with him was after a speech he gave on campus.  I got up and, knowing his disdain for conservatives and conservative talk radio, asked him whether he thought that it was time to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.  I knew he couldn’t possibly say yes, but I knew he wanted to.  Sure enough, he paused for a few seconds and then paid me the highest compliment I could ask for as a budding journalist: “Son, that is a whale of a question.”

He said all the perfunctory stuff I expected about how bad Rush Limbaugh was and what a negative influence he was on public discourse, etc., etc. But then he said that he didn’t think that reinstating the Fairness Doctrine was the way to go.

About a year later he was back on campus and I had a chance to be in a small meeting of about 20 students with him.  He spoke for a few minutes and then opened up for questions.  I immediately asked a question (I think I asked him what motivated him to be a journalist) and he answered.  Then there was silence – for an uncomfortably long time.  I sat there thinking, we are a group of journalism students, with one of the icons of broadcasting willing to spend some time talking to us, and none of these folks realize the huge deal this is.

As I was thinking that, he said, “Don’t the rest of you have questions?  How do you expect to be journalists if you don’t ask questions.”  That motivated one other student to ask a question and then I asked the next three.  And, sensing that no one else was going to ask anything, he gave long answers.

He was very gracious to me, even though one of my questions had been “how do we stay objective in the business is we don’t share the liberal philosophy of most in the in business like you.”  He was pretty taken aback by that, but he was friendly enough.  Even though we disagreed vigorously on politics, I felt a bit of a connection to him.

He revolutionized broadcasting – and we’ll never have anyone like him again.

“And that’s the way it is.”