By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Yesterday on AM Radio, Rep. Ed Henry (R-Decatur) recounted how Gov. Robert Bentley threatened him and other Republican House members, who might oppose his new tax plan. These are not delicate flowers who are feigning indignation that Bentley would actually exercise the same power as every Governor before him.
Be assured that this coordinated attack on Bentley is less about taxes and more about who determines the future of the State.
With mounting debt, overcrowded prisons and a general fund budget hole the size of Calcutta, Bentley recently floated the idea of increasing State revenue rather than “kick the can further down the road,”which is what State politicos see as the safe way to legislate.
Last week, while addressing PARCA (a group of policy wonks, politicos and business leaders), Bentley said, “We have to face the problems and we have to do it with boldness. You have to lead with boldness. Somebody has to take the lead and I am going to take the lead.”
It appears that a select clique of Hubbard’s sycophants have been mobilized to discredit Bentley before he can even articulate his agenda.
He also told those gathered for the PARCA conference, “I want to do it with fire. I want to lead with fire. I had rather burn in ashes than not try.”
It now appears that he may very well face that crucible in the form of coordinated attacks mobilized by Hubbard and his PR machine.
While no one but the Governor’s closest advisers know what is contained in his new tax plan, this has not stopped the demagoguery and fear-mongering coming from the echo chamber of right-wing talking-heads and legislators under Hubbard’s command. The usually vocal Hubbard—who tends to believe Speaker is a verb, not a noun—has remained suspiciously quiet, allowing his flunkies to take the lead, even comparing Bentley to former Gov. Don Siegelman and Washington liberals.
To give this specious argument credibility, they have begun mocking Bentley’s current temporary Chief of Staff, former Democrat Speaker of the House Seth Hammett, as a Nancy Pelosi Democrat.
Hammett’s record is one of a Southern Conservative Democrat and a bi-partisan legislative leader. Under Hammett’s tenure as Speaker, he not only encouraged an independent House, he also allowed staunch Republicans to serve as committee chairs.
This faux fight with Bentley is not about taxes, it is about who will set the State’s agenda for the next four years. Hubbard, who is under indictment for 23 felony counts of public corruption, has been emboldened by his reelection as Speaker. But, hopefully, Bentley will continue his fight to do what is right for the State and not what is good for Hubbard and company.