By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
The “Jobs Package” has been the premiere objective of the first two weeks of the 2012 Legislative session. Lawmakers have worked tirelessly to pass bills that will get businesses to come to Alabama or grow business in Alabama all toward the end of creating jobs for Alabama’s workers. Woman and men all across the state are either without work or underemployed. Faith and family are for many the foundation of their lives, right behind these comes a job. Without a means of gainful employment a person can’t provide for themselves even the basics of life, food and shelter.
Money worries destroy more families than drugs or alcohol, work is fundamental to life and happiness.
HB159 and HB160 are companion bills that allow the Governor and the state’s economic development arm, to attract business and retain business by offering tax and other financial incentives.
Over the last two weeks Democrats have waged an endless war of words against HB159 and HB160. In the process, amendments have been made to HB160 and by most accounts it is now a better bill than when the process began. HB160 lays out the means and method that state income tax withholding incentives are offered, HB159 authorize a constitutional amendment that enables HB160 to be put into action. This constitutional amendment would be placed on the ballot for the people of Alabama to make the final decision on whether the bill should become law.
Democrats and a few Republicans have fought this bill because they say it takes money away from education.
Let me remind our friends that if mommy and daddy do not have a job then they cannot provide food, clothing or a home for their children. A homeless, hungry child can live in a state with the finest educational system in the country and still not learn. If parents can’t provide for their families the state can throw piles of money at education and still child in a home without the basics of life will to lost.
As always the lumbering giant the AEA is behind the opposition to HB159 and HB160. If the Dems were resisting on principle that would be one thing but they are not. The “Sword of Damocles” hangs over the head of any Dem that doesn’t do the AEA bidding.
So, imagine my surprise when 13 democrats cast a “Yay” vote for HB160. While no Hallelujah Choirs sang, it was a significant shift.
What could have made Democrats such as Minority Leader Craig Ford cast a vote that the AEA had fought so hard against?
Then it hit me, rope-a-dope!
According to Wikipedia, “Rope-a-dope is a boxing fighting style commonly associated with Muhammad Ali in his 1974 Rumble in the Jungle match against George Foreman.”
In competitive situations other than boxing, rope-a-dope is used to describe strategies in which one party purposely puts itself in what appears to be a losing position, attempting thereby to become the eventual victor.”
At least 12 of these Democrats who cast a vote for HB160 the bill that gives the business incentives also plans to vote against HB159 which is the only mechanisms by which its companion bill can be executed. Mr. Ford who represent Gadsden where Goodyear has a tire manufacturing operation, does not want to be seen as voting against a bill that would keep and hopefully expand those good paying jobs in his district, so, Rope-a-dope.
With the vote for HB160 these legislators can go back home and say, “I voted for jobs creation.”
But in reality, many of these Dems will turn around and vote against HB159 thereby killing the ”Jobs Package.”
They think this will give them cover, but will it? Is this Ali-style rope-a-dope or John-Kerry-stye flip-flop?
When these men and women go back to their districts and say I voted for jobs, someone is going to loudly point out that they voted for the jobs package before they voted against it.
That is not a good sound bite, “I voted for jobs before I voted against them.”
This is a plan that will keep these Dems running around the ring until the common sense of the voters okays them.
It is not clear what strategist came up with this plan but I suggest that the next time they try a rope-a-dope they consult someone who knows how to fight.
Flip-flopping is not a plan for success it is the path to defeat.