Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I'm For Cliff Brown

I got blasted by comments from my last post. For the record, I would support Cliff Brown if I lived in that district. Brown is a solid conservative and an honorable person. I would be proud to have him as my state senator (Dean Kirby is my state senator and he has done a great job.).

I will be the first to tell you I am not familiar with the politics of other counties--including Simpson County. This is why I welcome comments from readers in other counties. I know Perry Lee's district extends outside of Rankin County and Rankin County is just a small portion of that district.

I was not aware of Lee's background and his voting record on all the issues. If he is from the county club wing of the GOP then we don't need him. From what I have read from the comments, he's out of touch with the little guy.

I apologize to all those I offended. I guess I'm not familiar with local politics outside of Rankin County and it showed. I had no idea there was so much disenchantment with Sen. Lee.

For the record, I definitely do NOT want Cliff Brown to lose and the article was not written to convey I wanted him to lose. I was pointing out the difficulty of throwing out an incumbent. I also pointed out the issues where the incumbents are vulnerable. I hope on August 7Th (providing there is no Democratic opponent) I can call Cliff Brown "Senator Brown."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Test on How Incumbents Will Do

In District 35 for the State Senate, incumbent Perry Lee is opposed by Cliff Brown of Florence. As of today, I would say Lee would win by a landslide. But because this is the only race (so far) where an incumbent legislator has primary opposition in Rankin County, it will be interesting to see how much anti-incumbent feeling there is out there. Here are the following storm clouds that should worry incumbents:

1. The beef plant fiasco. If you want to really anger the average voter, just talk about that $55 million dollar boondoggle. I have talked to a lot of voters and they are red-hot angry about it. Will it translate to anti-incumbent voting?

2. Hurricane Katrina. There are a lot of people who are complaining how slow the government is in aiding the victims. Brown lives in south Rankin County and is running in a district that had a lot of hurricane damage. Will that hurt Lee?

3. The grocery tax. Let's face it: The average voter is for raising cigarette taxes to fund a sales tax cut on groceries. While that will not help the rich, it will help the little guy. But Lee's district is not a wealthy district. The tax cut would help them. Would Brown vote for raising the cigarette tax to cut the sales tax on groceries? That is a sleeper issue.

4. Accountability. Does the average taxpayer feel they are getting his money's worth out of state government? A lot of people say "no." Can Brown capitalize on that?

If I were a betting man (and I'm not), I would say Lee will get 75% of the vote. He'll have the pac funding and the name recognition. But if he gets less than 60% of the vote, there is a deep disgust with incumbents and you could find a lot of political corpses come Election Day. And if Brown should win, you could see the makeup of the state legislature heavily change. Brown is the canary in the political coal mine. It'll be interesting to see how that bird will chirp come August 7th.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Blacks and the Mississippi Democratic Party

Back in January 2005, the blacks in the Georgia State House of Representatives screamed how they were being shut out of the legislative process and removed from all the committee chairmanships they held. They called it "racist" and wanted something done.

So what happened? Why the outcry? What was going on in the state of Georgia? It's very simple. For the first time since Reconstruction, the Republicans won the State House. All of the black legislators were Democrats. The Republicans decided that party members would get the committee chairmanships. Hence, no blacks were committee chairmen. The GOP again retained control in the 2006 elections. It will be a while before the Democrats take control of either legislative body in Georgia.

Fast forward to Mississippi. Obviously, committee chairmanships are decided by the Lt. Governor and House Speaker. But that could change. Mississippi has never been known for its party divisions in the State Legislature. But a year or so ago, the GOP decided to elect a minority leader and whip. That does not bode well for bipartisanship in the Legislature. Should the Democrats retain control of the House, the Speaker just might appoint all Democrats to committee chairmanships. And blacks will control a lot of those posts.

Odds are the Democrats will control the House next year. But it is only a matter of time before the GOP takes control. It will be a lot more partisan Legislature than it was under Gov. Musgrove and previous governors. If all the black legislators are Democrats, they just might not get any committee chairmanships. They might object, but why should the GOP appoint them to any committee chairmanships? Most of the GOP legislators are conservative. Most of the black legislators are liberal.

Blacks should re-examine their love affair with the Democratic Party. I can understand why the blacks want to stay in the Democratic Party. After all, a solid majority of Democratic primary voters are black. Blacks wield a lot of power in the Democratic Party. And when the Democratic Party is in control, blacks will have a good chunk of power. But what happens when the Democratic Party loses its power. Blacks are shut out of the power process. There is a lot of truth to the old political cliche': Always dance with the ones who brung you. And most blacks do not want to dance with the GOP.

Take Rankin County, which is solidly GOP. How many blacks have any position of power? How much influence does the black community have on the GOP? The answer is "none." You may get a few blacks appointed to some boards and commissions, but that's about it. There is very little power on those boards and commissions.

The GOP has changed quite a bit in the past thirty years. It certainly isn't as conservative as it was thirty years ago--or even twenty. Admittedly, the late Gov. Kirk Fordice was no friend of the black population. One could make a very strong case that he was racist (I personally think he was.). But his breed is the old time 1960s and 1970s Republicans, which did have a racist tinge with some of those Republicans. The new breed can't stand racism. This is especially true among the Christian Right. The CR is reaching out to blacks in volunteer efforts and on the social issues. One very strong reason the CR is not racist because of its very strong religious beliefs--especially that the Lord Jesus Christ died for ALL people.

And just what has the average black got out of the Democratic Party other than power? Billions have been spent on welfare but there is a strong black (and to some degree, white) underclass. The Democrats promote dependency; The GOP promotes opportunity and hope. Maybe the GOP isn't perfect, but shouldn't blacks give an ear to what the GOP has to offer? Shouldn't the black voter be more discriminating in its vote rather than just voting for an individual just because he has a (D) after his name? And to maintain its power status, shouldn't blacks get involved in the Republican Party and vote Republican so they can get the fruits of power should the GOP be in the driver's seat? Black voters shouldn't put their eggs all in the Democratic Party basket.

Hopefully, blacks will wake up and carefully choose both sides. The last thing this state needs is a lily-white Republican Party and a solidly black Democratic Party.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Coming Republican Party Split

It is highly unlikely Gov. Haley Barbour will have any Republican primary opposition in the governor's race. The Lt. Governor's Republican primary will be more over style than socioeconomic issues that would normally split the GOP. But like the Florida GOP Presidential primary between Ford and Reagan in 1976, a barn burning split will occur. It's part of the growing pains of an upcoming political party (By the way, I was in Florida at that time. I worked for Reagan and it was a VERY bitter primary. I may write on that some other time.).

There are two factions in the GOP: The middle and working class Christian Right versus the country club economic elite. I would identify with the first group. A precursor was the bitter convention the Rankin County Republican Executive Committee had in 1992 when the Fordice economic elite defeated the incumbent Christian Right group. To this very day, there are scars from that fight.

The two groups despise each other. The country clubbers don't give a rat's tush about social issues. The abortion issue doesn't even matter to them. Homosexual marriage to them is a yawner. Their main interest is economic--lower taxes and less government regulation.

On the other hand, the Christian Right (CR) is not that concerned about economic issues. That group would be in favor of raising the minimum wage, increased taxes on the rich and more economic populism. However, the CR is interested in the social issues, such as restricting abortion.

The CR has cold contempt for the country clubbers (CC). They think the CCs don't care about the moral state of the nation and are just money grubbers. The CCs think the CR consists of nothing but a bunch of unwashed yahoos.

In due time, those two groups will clash. A precursor was the Ford-Reagan 1976 clash in this state. Of course, the GOP was very weak. At that time, they had never won a statewide race (other than President). But this is thirty years later. And the GOP is now a powerhouse and except for the State House, is now a majority party.

What candidates will represent the two factions? Right now, it is too early to tell. It'll be interesting to see if the Lt. Governor's race will bring out the latent hostility of those two factions. If not, we'll have to wait and see.

But mark my words: There will be a very bitter Republican primary on the level of the Ford-Reagan clash. It is only a matter of time.

Count on it.

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Republican Party-Splitting Primary

The true test of the strength of a political party is if it wins after a divisive party primary. The Republicans in Mississippi had a nasty gubernatorial primary in 1979, when Gil Carmichael defeated Leon Bramlett by a 17161 to 15153 margin. It was an ideological primary, with Carmichael the moderate (He was STILL in favor of gun control.) and Bramlett the conservative. The primary was so nasty Carmichael couldn't recover. He was badly defeated by William F. Winter in the general election by a 61.5%-38.5% margin. But back then, the GOP was quite weak.

Fast-forward to 2007. Now there is a primary for Lt. Governor--State Senator Charles Ross versus State Auditor Phil Bryant. It is not going to be kuumbaya. Charles Ross is much more conservative than Phil Bryant. Remember: Bryant was an ally of former state attorney general Mike Moore on that Tobacco-Free Partnership. And despite the fact he had a pro-life voting record in his 4 3/4 years in the State House, on the Rankin County Republican Executive Committee he was pro-abortion. Only when he knew a pro-abort could not be elected did he change his views. Ross has been pro-life from the very start.

Ross may be aloof, but he is the genuine article. Bryant would be pro-abortion if he were in Vermont. He changes his views to conform with his constituency. Ross would be just as conservative even if he was in Vermont. I can tolerate Ross and I do respect him. I despise Phil Bryant and I would not vote for him even if he ran against that Commie-lib U.S. Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders.

If Ross is smart, he'll paint Bryant as a liberal and a blow-dried candidate. That will not be that difficult to do. Ross has some bucks in his treasury and he's very intelligent. He is cerebral and has a lot of good ideas for the state. In a debate, Ross may not look as pretty as Bryant but Ross would cut him to ribbons. Bryant would look like a deer blinded by headlights.

But what would happen after the primary? If Bryant wins, he'll be portrayed as a dilettante
and an empty suit (duh). Plus, he'll have the "liberal" tag posted on him. If the nominee is Ronnie Shows or Ronnie Musgrove, Bryant will have an uphill fight. Shows would probably win. I can just imagine Shows saying to rural whites (who will be the deciding factor in the election)
"Look, my opponent is pretty and is a liberal. He lives in a nice home in a rich community. I live in a small town and I have always WORKED for a living. What you see is what you get. I don't get my hair coiffed at Monique's." Would it work? You better believe it would.

If Ross wins, his cold personality would hurt him. A folksy Shows or Musgrove could beat him. Plus, a lot of the Bryant supporters would vote Democratic because of the bitter primary. Also, these voters will be more moderate and would be more inclined to support a Democrat.

Another thing to consider: After a very nasty primary, would there be enough money to run a general election campaign? The Democratic nominee may have an easy primary and have enough cash for the general election.

There are a few other candidates in the mix. State Rep. Jamie Franks is the only declared Democrat running. If Ronnie Shows runs, Franks will lose. Musgrove will probably not run because of the toe-sucking incident a while ago. Once that is brought out, he'll look like a whackjob. A wild card is Barbara Blackmon, who was the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor in 2003. If she runs, she may win. But she will lose no matter who the GOP nominee is.

Finally, there's another potential candidate who could win: Secretary of State Eric Clark. He has a very strong following among the Christian Right. He is a gung-ho pro-lifer and active pro-lifers consider him a hero. I have supported him in all three of his statewide races and I will work hard for him again no matter what post he runs for. Of all the politicians I have ever known, he is one of the most squeaky-clean individuals I have ever known. I once asked a friend who was a private detective if he knew any scandal on Eric Clark. He said Clark was a paragon of virtue. He'd run as a Democrat and would probably win. Clark is low-keyed but he is charming on a one-on-one basis. Plus, he is extremely intelligent. He has a PhD. in history. I don't agree with him on voter ID, but that's about it. Clark hasn't announced his intentions for 2007. He may run for re-election, run for Lt. Governor, or just plain retire.

If I were Phil Bryant, I'd stay on as State Auditor (Knox Ross is not running for the post. It's too bad, since he would do a good job.). If Ross loses, he can go back to his law firm. He won't starve. If Bryant loses, he can go back to being a fire inspector. If Bryant ran for reelection, he would win (I don't care if the Demos put up a child molester against Bryant. I'd vote for him before I'd vote for Bryant.). However, if former state senator Rob Smith ran against him as a Democrat, it would be a horserace. I'd vote for Smith, but I'm not wild about him.

It's still early. We won't know the entire picture until March 1st. But if it's Ross versus Bryant, it'll be a very interesting race. Let the fur fly!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Noxubee County Mess

The Noxubee County voting mess is now on trial. It is the first time under the 1965 Civil Rights Act where whites were the objects of voting discrimination where they were intimidated from voting in the Democratic primaries. While I think Ike Brown is a flaming racist, I do agree with him on letting Republicans voting in Democratic Party primaries. I think they should vote in GOP primaries and stay out of the Democratic primaries.

However, there is just one flaw with that: There is no party registration in Mississippi. I asked an attorney from the Secretary of State's office if a Republican can be barred from voting in the Democratic primary. He said the only way that can happen is if the Republican goes in there and screams he's a Republican and thinks Democrats basically suck. I have voted in Democratic primaries and have had no objections from the Democratic poll workers. I voted in the U.S. Senate Democratic primaries of 2002 and 2006 and the Presidential primary in 2004 (Obviously, the GOP had no corresponding primaries.). I had no problems voting. Unless you raise a partisan stink, a Republican can vote in a Democratic primary.

Ike Brown's lawsuit forbidding open primaries may bear fruit. Do you remember the 2000 Presidential primaries in California? The state legislature said it was okay for independents to vote in the party primaries (pick one party). The results would be reported in two formats: One primary counting just the registered party voters and another showing the registered party voters and the independent voters. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down that format.

I talked to a couple of state senators and they told me the chances of a bill mandating party registration has as good a chance of passing as a snowball lasting ten minutes on a sidewalk in Key West, Fla. But Ike Brown has a point: Republicans ARE voting in Democratic primaries (and vice versa in Rankin County) and may just vote for the weakest Democrat. Why should the Republicans have the right to vote in a Democratic primary. And why can't the Democratic Party disallow Republicans from voting in their primaries (Remember: The reverse question is valid for Rankin County. And I do know of die-hard Democrats voting in the Republican primaries in Rankin County.)?

If party registration does pass, it will not cripple the blacks or the Republicans. It will cripple the white Democrats--especially in the State Legislature. You can bet your sweet bippy if party registration comes to pass, many white Democrats who tend to vote in Democratic primaries will actually register as Republicans. With the exception of a very small minority of blacks, blacks will register Democratic. White Democratic legislators will either be forced to run in a primary where there is a majority black registration---and probably lose---or switch parties. If you look at past voting in statewide Democratic primaries, the MAJORITY of voters in those primaries are black.

The big gainers in all this will be blacks and Republicans (Talk about an unholy alliance.). Blacks will win the vast majority of primaries and will probably see their legislative and local numbers vastly grow. But so will the GOP. Conservative white Democrats will more than likely vote for the Republican than the Democrat. The only area of Mississippi where white Democrats would outnumber black Democrats would be in the northeast corner of the state (That's where House Speaker Billy McCoy is from.). It may be that a white conservative Democrat may be an endangered species in this state.

Watch this Noxubee County case very carefully. If Ike Brown comes out a winner in this case and his lawsuit on party primaries prevail, it will vastly change Mississippi politics. Even if Brown loses his lawsuit, he may press Democratic Party state chairman Wayne Dowdy to start excluding Republicans from the Democratic state and local primaries. And it may bring pressure among black legislators to press for party registration. The funny thing it would probably pass the State Legislature---thanks to Republican support! And Haley Barbour---a Republican partisan if there ever is one---would gladly sign the bill!

Don't you just love politics in this state? There is rarely a dull moment. And shoot, the year has just started.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Party Switchers

It's qualifying time again! It will be interesting to see how many Democratic officeholders switch to the Republican Party. There have been two so far: A State Senator with the last name of Walley and MDAC Commissioner Lester Spell. I'm sure there will be more popping up before March 1st.

Personally, I'd rather have them stay in the Democratic Party for two reasons. First of all, I'd rather see a Republican beat them because it'll show the true strength of the GOP. Secondly, the switcher makes the Democratic Party and the GOP more liberal. Most of the switchers are too conservative for the Democrats and not conservative enough for the GOP grassroots.

Take my state representative (please), Ray Rogers R-61. He was elected in 1983 as a Democrat. He defeated Ron Morgan in the runoff by a narrow margin of 200 votes. No Republican ran against him. In 1987, he again ran as a Democrat. Billy Brunt (his 1983 opponent in the first Democratic primary) switched parties and ran against Rogers in the general election. Brunt was the first Republican ever to run for state representative in that district. Even though he lost, he got 36% of the vote and was going to run against him in 1991. And 1987 was a Democratic year.

In October 1989, he switched parties. Rogers came before our Rankin County Republican Executive Committee (RCREC) and stated he would run as a Republican in 1991. He said he was basically a conservative and you already know the spiel. He was unopposed in 1991.

Was he now a strong conservative? Nope. Back in 1992, the late Gov. Kirk Fordice vetoed a bill raising the sales tax and doing away with deducting the state income tax on your state tax return. I called Rogers and asked him to sustain the veto. He went on and on telling me how important it was for him to vote to override. I told him it would cost me at least ten to twenty dollars a month. I'll never forget his reply, "John, you're a CPA. You can afford to pay it." I was royally pissed off. Some conservative. I never voted for him again.

In 2003, he signed a pledge stating he would not vote for a tax increase. Well, he voted to increase some fees, stating that fees were not taxes. Why don't we call an increase in taxes a "government investment in the people"? I'll bet you dollars to donuts he'd vote for the tax increase.

Let's look at a real loser who is no more a conservative than my kitty cat is: Lester Spell. He's one of the bright lights who gave us that beef plant fiasco (along with that blowhard Rep. Steve Holland and House Speaker Billy McCoy). He can spend those dollars. Right after that beef plant mess he switched to the GOP. His reason was that he was more in tune with the GOP than the Democrats when it came to spending issues. I'll bet the GOP was real happy.

There are rumors State Sen. Perry Lee may run against Spell in the GOP primary. I don't care who runs against Spell. I'll vote for that candidate. And if Spell should win the primary, I'll vote for the Democrat.

State Democratic Party chairman Wayne Dowdy despises party switchers. I agree with him. A candidate runs as a Democrat and gets elected thanks to state party money and volunteers. Right after he's elected he decides to switch to the GOP. Would I be pissed off if I were Dowdy? You bet your sweet bippy I would.

There should be a state law that if you switch parties before the qualifying period, you must resign your political post and run for election under the new party label. That is not going to happen, but it would be fair. No political party should be forced to spend their hard-earned dollars only to have them blown away because of a party switcher.

I wish a lot of die-hard conservatives would stay in the Democratic Party and not switch. The conservative movement needs Democrats as well as Republicans. I have found out most of the party switchers have made the GOP a lot more "moderate." Believe me, if they were die-hard conservatives they would have run as Republicans in the first place. There are some who switched because they really did have philosophical problems with the Democrats and switched to the GOP. But most of them are those who are political whores who would sell out just for their political ambitions.

As for me, I am very conservative. But if I ran for office, I would seriously consider running as a Democrat. The reason is the Democratic Party needs conservatives. I would probably lose in Rankin County, but at least the Democratic Party and the conservative movement would have a voice. One party (the GOP) must not have a monopoly on the conservative movement. Perhaps if we had more conservatives in the Democratic Party, it wouldn't be so liberal. But because of a very bitter enemy who is a die-hard Democrat and was once chairman of the Rankin County Democratic Executive Committee, I'll probably remain a Republican.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gov. Haley Barbour's Precedent

I will comment on local politics as the qualifying candidates for the posts near its end. I'll give you my blunt opinion of the local candidates after that.

I would like to comment on Barbour. As of today, he is a shoo-in for reelection. I believe he'll get between 56%-59% of the vote. I can't see any Democrat defeating him. If the Democrat is weak, Barbour may defer some of his campaign funds to help legislative candidates running under the GOP banner.

In 2003, he did something that has never been done in Mississippi's history: He defeated a conservative Democrat, incumbent Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. Musgrove was very much pro-life and very conservative on other social issues. He was a tightwad on fiscal issues and was the only governor to bring a major manufacturing plant (Nissan) to his (or her) state. My only criticism is that he expanded the Medicaid program to nearly bankrupting the state. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the program expanded from $1.88 billion to $3.476 billion in his four years of office.

Musgrove was criticized for not being aggressive enough. He did have a high-pitched voice and he struck many a person as being a wussy. I met the guy and I can tell you he was a very humble, likeable guy. This was--and is--a sharp contrast to Barbour's cold, aloof manner. I remember when Barbour addressed the Mississippi Tax Institute back on October 27, 2005. He was as aloof as you can get. He didn't talk to you, he talked DOWN to you.

The late Kirk Fordice defeated two liberals when he ran for election and reelection as governor. He defeated incumbent Democrat Ray Mabus in 1991 on the basis of the social issues. The Sunday before Election Day our church had fliers showing how liberal Mabus was on the social issues compared to the conservative stands of Fordice. The pro-life vote sunk Mabus since the pro-lifers were mobilized against Mabus. Remember the bumper stickers that showed a fetus hanging by a thread with the slogan "Save us from Mabus"? Fordice won by a very slim margin against Mabus.

As for 1995, Secretary of State Dick Molpus was perceived to be a liberal. Actually, he was pro-life and was quite conservative on the social issues (I personally asked him where he stood on the abortion issue. He said he was opposed to it other than to save the life of the mother, rape and incest.). But was he arrogant. He even made Fordice look humble (which is no small feat. Fordice was one of the biggest jerks I have ever met. He really WAS mean.). Fordice handily defeated Molpus with 55.9% of the vote.

I was shell-shocked when Barbour was elected. I knew the race was going to be close, but I thought Musgrove would win with 51%-52% of the vote. I thought Barbour was too arrogant and ignorant of Mississippi's problems. After all, he was a high-powered lobbyist in Washington, D.C. He struck me as a fat cat who just wanted to add to his resume' the governorship. Yet he defeated Musgrove by a small but decisive margin. It was not a liberal but a conservative he defeated.

I'll hand it to Barbour. He showed strong leadership and was very decisive during Hurricane Katrina. His connections helped quite a bit. He set a precedent which will hur Democrats in years to come. It's simply this: Even if the Democrat is a staunch conservative, a conservative Republican will probably win.

A little irony here: Fordice and Barbour never switched from the Democratic Party to the GOP. They were Republicans from the start. Every conservative Democrat who switched to the GOP and ran for governor on the GOP ticket lost. Gil Carmichael was always a Republican, but he was moderate to liberal (Remember when he came out for the Equal Rights Amendment and gun control back in 1975 when he ran for governor against Cliff Finch?). Jack Reed was a squishy moderate, but he was a Democrat-turned-Republican.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Changing The Tax System

As you know, there will be big debates as to tax reform. The Democrats want to tax the rich and the Republicans want to help business. You can count on one thing: A real messy tax code. You will hear a lot about tax reform--and that includes tax reform on the state level. Take this CPA's word for it: Ain't gonna happen (with apologies to my English teachers).

I graduated with a degree in accounting from the University of Florida in 1975. Back then, we heard about plans to reform the tax code. The study issued by the Feds was just one volume. Just ten years later, the same study which was a guide for tax reform and simplification was three volumes (I still have them. It's great reading if you have insomnia, but they had some really cool graphs for us number addicts.) . Today, the same study would take six volumes. Believe me, it's the biggest mess you'd ever want to see.

When I was in college, there were no income phase-ins and phase-outs on deductions and credits. Today, there are a lot of those. The reason? The GOP wanted to give away some tax goodies and reductions, but the Democrats wanted to do that only for the poor and middle class. Thirty years ago, the average person could do his own tax return. Today, that same person would be a fool to do it.

I have a CPA friend who told me when he went into public practice in 1961, the Code was a small volume and you could actually memorize it. Now it's three volumes and you have a basic knowledge if that. Do you know there are lawyers that actually spend their entire careers studying just one or two sections of the tax code? I am not joking.

Here's another little thing people don't know. The IRS tax forms issued for this year are missing a lot of things that were changed late in 2006. Congress passed a tax law just two weeks before the end of the year. The new forms DO NOT reflect those changes. If you are doing your tax return, you are going to have fun. Is it complicated? Does the sun rise in the east and set in the west?

So for the next two years, there'll be a lot of blather about tax reform and simplification. The Democrats and Republicans will be debating it until the cows come home. You can rest assured there will be some changes. But simplified? You can forget it. There will be tax cuts for the middle class and the poor, but there will be those income phase-ins and phase-outs.

For the 2008 tax season, there will be a Schedule O to fill out. All the adjustments to income and all the tax credits will be on that form. What fun. That's to make pages 1 and 2 of the 1040 easier. But it won't be for the average taxpayer.

If the tax code was to be simplified, what would you be willing to have eliminated? Mortgage interest? Forget it. State income taxes? The high tax states such as California and New York would screech. Charity? The non-profits and churches would yell. The child tax credit? Young families would whine. Retirement plans? The investment industries would raise cain. College tuition? Parents who send their child(ren) to college would pitch a fit. Whose ox are you going to gore? What goodie are YOU willing to give up?

Remember: If doing tax returns was easy the homeless would be doing them. I predict to you it will be a lot more complicated in the years to come. But if you hear any of this talk about tax simplification, it's all talk and nothing else. No party has the guts to really simplify and reform the code. They can't afford to anger the special interests. The GOP lost Congress in 1954 and the Senate in 1986 when they reformed and simplified the tax code (Yeah, they simplified it beyond all comprehension.).

Besides, we CPAs thrive on this mess. Simplify it. We can use the mass confusion it'll bring.