ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
44°
Mostly Sunny
H 49° L 44°
  • cloudy-day
    44°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Sunny. H 49° L 44°
  • clear-day
    63°
    Afternoon
    Mostly Sunny. H 49° L 44°
  • clear-night
    53°
    Evening
    Clear. H 63° L 36°
National Govt & Politics
With health care bill in limbo, GOP shifts into push for major tax reform
Close

With health care bill in limbo, GOP shifts into push for major tax reform

With health care bill in limbo, GOP shifts into push for major tax reform
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

With health care bill in limbo, GOP shifts into push for major tax reform

As a GOP plan to overhaul the Obama health law foundered in the U.S. Senate earlier this month, Republicans in Congress quickly shifted their focus in recent days to a new goal, getting a major tax reform bill to the President's desk, though many on Capitol Hill believe the undertaking could be more complicated - and includes even more political pitfalls - than the derailed debate on a plan to get rid of Obamacare.

"We want a tax code that is more simple, affordable, and competitive," said Speaker Paul Ryan. "And we want to get this done in 2017."

What are the chances of that happening, and when will we see the details on the GOP plan?

1. GOP still figuring out the details of tax reform. While you will hear a lot in coming weeks about how Republicans are focused on tax reform, there is still no actual bill to look at. There are trial balloons being floated. There have been bullet points issued. But there is no bill that you can look at right now, and it's not exactly clear when we will see something introduced. Lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Committee - which is in charge of tax issues - are at work on the plans, but Republicans have said they want to pre-clear a plan that the House, Senate and White House will be on board with. But the advertisements for it from the GOP are not about tax cuts, but about fundamental tax reform - no more 1040A, with all the complicated schedules. Just do it on a postcard.

2. Will tax reform go through budget reconciliation? This was the original plan, for the GOP to bring forward a bill that would be dealt with under reconciliation, in order to avoid the possibility of a Senate filibuster. That would mean you only need a bare majority to pass major changes to the tax code. But there have been conflicting signals in recent weeks from GOP lawmakers on this. The last time there was major tax reform legislation in 1986, the House approved it with 292 votes, the Senate with 74 - both were veto proof margins. That process was not done through reconciliation, so it had to be bipartisan to work. The budget resolution in the House - which has yet to be voted on by the full House - calls for budget reconciliation. But some key Senators have been making noise about a regular tax bill. We'll see.

3. One of the trial balloons - limit the mortgage interest deduction. One idea that was floated last week was not eliminating the mortgage interest deduction - frankly, that seems impossible - but limiting it, maybe to no more than $500,000 loans. Under current law, taxpayers can write off the interest they pay on mortgage loans of up to $1 million - that would include first and second mortgages. That has drawn the expected reaction from the National Association of Realtors: "Proposals that repeal or weaken tax incentives to encourage homeownership must be rejected," the group said in their 'August Recess Talking Points.' "We need tax reform, but it must first do no harm."

4. Also maybe on the chopping block - state and local tax deduction. This is an issue that doesn't really hit much of Red State America, because high state and local taxes are more often linked to states on the East Coast, along with California. The problem for Republicans though is that there are a decent chunk of GOP lawmakers - maybe around 20 to 30 - who could feel the heat from voters about any major changes on that front. Like the mortgage interest deduction, this is one that might not be abolished, but maybe there would be limits placed on how much you can write off on your federal return. The top ten spots to be hit by any changes - New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, California, DC, Massachusetts, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota and Rhode Island. There are 34 GOP lawmakers in those ten states.

5. The work of 1986 has not been replicated in 2017. I keep reading all these optimistic forecasts about getting tax reform done this year. But all I keep thinking is that the groundwork has not been laid like it was in the Reagan Administration. As for the Congress, when you look back on that legislative endeavor, there were some heavy hitters involved in this legislation, as the lineup was notable at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Dan Rostenkowski, Bob Packwood, Tip O'Neill, Bob Dole, and James Baker. Nothing against those in charge now, but as a group, Kevin Brady, Orrin Hatch, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and Steven Mnuchin, probably don't have the edge on their 1986 counterparts. Mnuchin said earlier this year that tax reform would be done by August. Reporters laughed at that prediction. Click here to read more about the work that went on for the 1986 Act.

6. Gucci Gulch isn't even in high gear yet. Gucci Gulch is the name that was given to the area outside the House Ways and Means Committee, where well-heeled lobbyists roamed the halls, waiting for news about the 1986 Tax Reform Act. If you think there was lobbying involved in the health reform effort by Republicans, that will be dwarfed by what goes on around any tax bill. All sorts of businesses would be impacted by major changes. That was a giant legislative undertaking. It wasn't done in a few months, but rather over a period of several years. And many believe it has little chance of getting done in 2017, no matter the optimistic statements of supporters. There aren't many people in Congress who were actually around for the 1986 tax bill. It's difficult to describe to my colleagues just how big of a deal that bill was - and still is. I feel like the old curmudgeon in the press gallery talking about the glory days of old, when it comes to tax reform.

Have you read anything about the Tax Reform Act of 1986? Most people haven't, so amaze your friends and family by leafing through the 902 page Joint Committee on Taxation report from 1987 about the law.

That's right - a 902 page explanation of the 1986 Tax Reform Act. Just think of how long that document will have to be this time around if you make major changes to the tax code for both businesses and individuals.

Read More

Local News

  • ABC News correspondent and UGA alumna Deborah Roberts will give the University of Georgia’s spring undergraduate Commencement address May 10 at 7 p.m. in Sanford Stadium. Loch Johnson, Regents Professor of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia, will deliver the spring graduate address on the same day at 9:30 a.m. at Stegeman Coliseum. Tickets are not required for either ceremony. Since graduating from UGA in 1982 with a degree in broadcast news from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Roberts has risen through the ranks of television news, received numerous awards and been a regular reporter and contributor for programs such as “Dateline NBC,” “20/20,” “Nightline,” and “Good Morning America” to name a few. Born in the small town of Perry, Georgia, Roberts was one of nine children. She began her post-college career at WTVM-TV in Columbus, Georgia, and subsequently worked at WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she gained notice for her coverage of the state legislature. Roberts further honed her reporting skills as bureau chief of WFTV-TV, the ABC affiliate in Orlando, from February 1987 to May 1990, where she also served as the station’s field anchor at the Kennedy Space Center and co-anchor of the weekend news. In 1990, Roberts began her network career with NBC News as a general assignment correspondent. She covered stories in the Southeast from the Atlanta and Miami bureaus and was dispatched to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait reporting on the lead up to the Persian Gulf War. Roberts was later named a magazine correspondent for “Dateline NBC” and reported from Barcelona during the 1992 Summer Olympic games, earning an Emmy nomination for this coverage. In 1992, she received a University of Georgia Distinguished Alumnus Award, presented annually to recent graduates who have excelled rapidly in their professions. Roberts joined ABC 20/20 in 1995. Since then her curiosity has taken her around the world, from Bangladesh to report on women’s maternal health to Africa where she has traveled extensively, telling stories about the HIV/AIDS crisis and an Emmy-winning report on a woman who discovered her long lost mother in an African village. Roberts has won numerous awards for her work including a Clarion award for coverage of abuse within the Amish community. In 2006, Roberts delivered UGA’s Holmes-Hunter lecture, and in 2016 she presented an Alumni Seminar. Earlier this year, she participated in a panel discussion entitled “Grady Greats: A Conversation on the Enduring Values and Power of Journalism.” Johnson, who also holds the title of Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor, is an accomplished scholar in political science, with numerous awards for his teaching prowess and research. During his career at UGA, Johnson authored more than 30 books and over 200 articles on intelligence agencies, foreign policy and national security. He served as editor of the journal Intelligence and National Security and as a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Intelligence History, International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence,  Intelligence and National Security and The Oxford Handbook of National Security Intelligence, among many others. His latest book is entitled Spy Watching: Intelligence Accountability in the United States (Oxford, 2018). Johnson was a driving force in the creation of the School of Public and International Affairs in 2001. In 2012, the fourteen universities that comprise the Southeast Conference selected him as the inaugural recipient of its now annual prize: “The SEC Professor of the Year.” After receiving his doctorate in political science from the University of California at Riverside in 1969, he taught at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, California State University (San Francisco) and Ohio University, where he was tenured in 1974. From 1975 on, Johnson also served as a political consultant and congressional staff member, pushing for increased oversight of intelligence agencies. He was Special Assistant to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which investigated the nation’s spy agencies and led to the establishment of oversight committees in the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to monitor intelligence activities. Additionally, Johnson served on the staff of the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations, as staff director of the House Subcommittee on Intelligence Oversight and on the staff of the House Subcommittee on Trade and International Economic Policy. He became a member of the UGA faculty in the Department of Political Science in 1979, becoming a full professor in 1985. He took a year’s leave from the university in 1995 to work on the Aspin-Brown Commission on Intelligence. He has also taught at Yale University and Oxford University as a Distinguished Visiting Professor, and he has presented addresses on national security and foreign policy topics at over 150 colleges and universities in North America, Europe, and New Zealand. During his time at UGA, Johnson has been involved in both local and national politics, including writing Friend of the Court petitions in intelligence-related court cases, serving as a member of the Georgia State Board of Elections and leading the SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) campaign to finance a new Cedar Shoals High School and renovate public schools throughout Athens-Clarke County. Johnson will retire at the end of the spring semester after more than 40 years at UGA.
  • There is a Saturday session for the citizens committee that is looking at the SPLOST project list: the panel meets at 9 tomorrow morning at the Sandy Creek Nature Center. Athens-Clarke County voters decide the fate of the penny-on-the-dollar sales tax referendum in November.  Saturday is a trail work day at the Sandy Creek Nature Center: Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services says volunteers will gather at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning at the Nature Center on Old Commerce Road. Leisure Services says it’s a clean-up day.  The Green Life Expo and Awards ceremony is set for Saturday at the Library on Baxter Street, underway at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning. The Green Life Awards recognize sustainability leaders in schools, businesses, community organizations, and government in Athens. |
  • The University of Georgia was ranked No. 2 by OpenStax on a list of top 10 schools that have saved their students the most money through adoption of OpenStax free college textbooks in the 2017-18 school year. These textbooks helped 42,245 UGA students, according to data from Rice University-based publisher OpenStax. Savings from these textbooks saved students around $3.9 million, according to UGA data. UGA, as well as the University System of Georgia, has made a concerted effort to move toward free online textbooks, especially for large-enrollment courses, to save students money and improve teaching. “At UGA, we are growing a culture of Open Educational Resources thanks to dedicated advocacy for affordable textbook alternatives by our students, faculty, staff and administrators,” said Megan L. Mittelstadt, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning. “The majority of these savings are a result of the adoption of OpenStax texts—the high-quality, peer-reviewed OpenStax books are popular among our faculty seeking to implement open education resources in service of equity and student academic success. These not only lower the cost for students, but data from a small sample of UGA courses using OpenStax books also shows improved end-of-course grades, especially for Pell recipients, part-time students and student populations historically underserved by higher education.” UGA was an early adopter of these free textbooks and pioneered ways large institutions can focus their implementation on a bigger scale and improve learning outcomes. Peggy Brickman, a professor of plant biology, and her colleagues teach general education biology courses taken by nearly 2,000 students a year. When she adopted an OpenStax textbook in 2013, CTL used a grant to fund a graduate assistant who worked with Brickman to redesign her course. It was an opportunity for Brickman to rethink how to best teach the course, and students have been thanking her ever since. “It has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars for students,” Brickman said, “and the course is much better after we redesigned it.”
  • The Hart County Sheriff’s Office is heading up the investigation into the shooting that wounded an Elberton man: the shooting apparently happened at the dam on Lake Hartwell. The victim, who was shot in the leg, tells investigators it happened during a robbery. A White County man begins his life sentence: Frederick Sauder is 30 years old, from Cleveland. He was sentenced after his conviction for his role in the armed robbery and murder of 66 year-old Wayne Alexander, who was killed in August of 2016. A Hall County man is behind bars, charged with a long list of drug and driving charges: the Hall County Sheriff’s Office says 39 year-old was arrested after a traffic stop.    From the Hall Co Sheriff’s Office... On February 20, 2019, Deputies with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office arrested Donald Jason Passmore, 39, of Gainesville (pictured above), at a location in the 3300 block of Baker Road, during the course of an investigation.   Four Superior Court Probation warrants had been previously issued for Mr. Passmore’s arrest in July 2018.    His original charges included: manufacturing methamphetamine near a child, possession of methamphetamine 3cts. DUI, possession of drug related objects, theft by taking and obstruction.   On February 20, 2019, Passmore attempted to break into a storage building located at a residence in the 3700 block of Baker Road by prying the lock with a crow bar.   He also attempted to enter the primary residence but fled the scene in his car when confronted by the homeowner/victim in this case.   Deputies responded.    When deputies attempted to arrest Mr. Passmore, he accelerated his vehicle, driving towards the Deputy, causing the deputy to jump out of the vehicle’s path to avoid being struck.   Passmore was ultimately arrested without further incident and charged with:    1) Aggravated Assault on a Peace Officer 2) Felony Obstruction 3) Failure to Maintain Lane of Travel 4) Suspended License 5) Reckless Driving 6) Fleeing/Eluding 7) Criminal Trespass of Property 8) Possession of Tools of a Crime (of Burglary) 9) Superior Court Probation Warrant (issued 7/13/18) 10) Superior Court Probation Warrant (issued 7/13/18) 11) Superior Court Probation Warrant (issued 7/24/18) 12) Superior Court Probation Warrant (issued 7/24/18)   Passmore was booked in at the Hall County Jail.  
  • The University of Georgia’s Black History Month Awards and Dinner is set for this evening in Athens: it gets underway at 5:30 at the Georgia Museum of Art. From the University of Georgia master calendar… This dinner and awards ceremony features the presentation of the Larry D. and Brenda A Thompson Award. Visit bit.ly/gmoa-bhma19 to sponsor and receive guaranteed tickets. Individual tickets will be available Jan. 4 for members and Feb. 1 for nonmembers. Call 706-542-4199 with additional ticket inquiries. Friday, February 22 at 5:30pm to 9:00pm Georgia Museum of Art 90 Carlton Street, Athens, GA 30602

Bulldog News

  • Georgia and Ole Miss played an exciting, down-to-the-wire SEC basketball game Saturday, but it was what took part before the game that sent a ripple across the nation. Six of the Rebels basketball players kneeled during the national anthem before the game on Saturday in Oxford.   Several Players from @OleMissMBB kneeling for the national anthem. pic.twitter.com/3fLNXoiFm1 — NewsWatch Ole Miss (@NewsWatch_UM) February 23, 2019   The Mississippi Clarion Ledger reported that as the Ole Miss players were preparing for the game, “almost 100 pro-Confederate supporters gathered in town to protest the University of Mississippi’s past actions to remove Confederate emblems and songs, as well as the discontinuation of mascot Colonel Reb.”   The march has begun with a “God Bless Dixie” chant pic.twitter.com/nmu2gq3qv1 — Nick Suss (@nicksuss) February 23, 2019   The Rebels beat the Bulldogs, 72-71, when UGA guard Tyree Crump missed a last-second shot attempt.     The post WATCH: Ole Miss basketball players kneeled during national anthem appeared first on DawgNation.
  • It was another gut-wrenching loss for what’s become a gritty Georgia basketball team on Saturday at Ole Miss, a 72-71 defeat. The Bulldogs (10-17, 1-13) had a chance to win in the final seconds in a game that saw 10 lead changes, but Tyree Crump’s 3-point attempt as time expired was off the mark. The Rebels (19-8, 9-5 SEC) held off a furious UGA rally after leading by as many as 13 points, protecting their NCAA Tournament resume. Ole Miss led 69-62 with 2:53 left when Georgia made its final run, fueled by 7 consecutive Jordan Harris points, including a pair of free throws with 1:36 left that tied the game. Harris scored a career-high 15 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the floor and 5-of-5 from the free-throw line along with five assists. The Rebels answered Harris’ run with a Devontae Shuler 3-pointer to go up 72-69, before a Nicolas Claxton jumper closed the gap to 72-71. Ole Miss star Breein Tyree missed the front end of a one-and-one situation at the free-throw line with 10.9 seconds left, and Georgia had the ball with a chance to win on the final possession. Coach Tom Crean called for a timeout with just under 6 seconds left and designed the inbounds pass to go to Claxton, who in turn dished the ball out to Crump for the ill-fated shot attempt. “They didn’t get a great look, but they got it to the best player, Claxton, and he didn’t panic when he got double teamed, and he found the open player,” SEC Network analyst Dane Bradshaw said. “It looked like it was going in off the glass.” Georgia was down 10 at halftime but opened the second half on an 8-0 run, cutting the Ole Miss lead to 39-37. The Rebels halftime lead came on the strength of a 13-0 run midway through the first half that made it 28-18.. The Rebels pressure created Georgia through the first 20 minutes, leading to 12 first-half UGA turnovers that sparked Ole Miss to 11 points in transition. Georgia returns to action at 9 p.m. on Wednesday at home against Auburn (TV: ESPNU). The post Georgia basketball misses last-second shot at Ole Miss, falls 72-71 appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm doesn’t expect Georgia’s offense to change much under the direction of first-year offensive coordinator James Coley. But the 2019 Heisman Trophy candidate indicated it could evolve. When one considers the returning personnel, it’s not hard to understand why and how. The Bulldogs ranked 18th in the nation in total offense last season and return a veteran offensive line, a 1,000-yard back and a third-year starter in Fromm. RELATED: Kirby Smart makes his pick on offense “There’s just going to be more added to it,” Fromm, who ranked fifth in the nation in passing efficiency last season, told WSB. “We’re super excited in what we have going on.” Receiver Tyler Simmons, who played part of last season limited by a shoulder brace, told WSB-2 he’s expecting a different feeling in the huddles. “A little bit more energetic,” Simmons said. “Coley brings a lot of energy to the offense, we we’re all excited.” Simmons suggested the Georgia pass attack won’t drop off despite the Bulldogs losing four of their top five receivers last season in Riley Ridley, Mecole Hardman, Isaac Nauta and Terry Godwin. “We may have the ball in the air a little more,” Simmons said. “A little bit more passing, a little bit more balance offensively.” That may be true, but it won’t come at the expense of a dominant run game, if Coach Kirby Smart stays true to form. “We’ve got a set of plays, our core belief that we always have which is balance, being powerful, being able to run the ball at our will, not somebody else breaking our will,” Smart said last fall. “That’s always going to be the identity we have.” Further, Smart’s philosophy on building an offense is that the talent will dictate the play calls. “The building of the package is really based on what we have,” Smart said last fall. “What are our strengths? Are we stronger at receiver than running back or are our backs going to be as good and explosive as they were last year?” Georgia is expected to start spring football practice on March 18, with the G-Day spring football game scheduled for April 20. The post Georgia football QB Jake Fromm predicts offensive expansion under James Coley appeared first on DawgNation.
  • UGA stars help celebrate Ric Flair’s 70th birthday You know you’re “big-time” when you get invited with a bunch of A-listers to the surprise 70th birthday party of wrestling legend Ric Flair. The event was Friday night in the Atlanta suburb of Duluth. Who repped UGA at the star-studded event? The first was former Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley, who plays running back for NFL’s Los Angeles Ram. No surprise here, as Gurley is one of the top 10 most recognizable players in pro football. The other UGA attendee? None other the UGA kicker Rodriqo Blankenship. Never underestimate the popularity of Blankenship, who often gets the loudest cheers from the fans when the Bulldogs are introduced before games. The A-listers? Charles Barkley, Dennis Rodman, and Evander Holyfield, along with a host of wrestling stars that include Triple H and Chris Jericho. Maybe “Hot Rod” and Gurley are A-listers, too? What’s the connection between Ric Flair and UGA football? Flair lives in Atlanta, and he’s one of the team’s celebrity fans. He’s attends games, and he even taped a pep talk for the Bulldogs before they played Alabama  in last year’s national championship game. Flair, who evidentially has a daughter-in-law on UGA’s track team, has been known to get on the field to hype up the crowd. The post UGA football stars help celebrate Ric Flair’s 70th birthday appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — The unintended consequences on the Georgia football 2020 schedule have yet to shake out, as it relates to the pending Auburn-Tennessee October-November flip. But the fact Alabama rotates on Bulldogs regular-season schedule in 2020 has some UGA fans losing sleep. Could the Bulldogs play the Tide and Tigers in back-to-back weeks? Extremely unlikely, to the point it would be shocking, and a deeper dive explains why. About the flip On the surface, Georgia’s Auburn-Tennessee schedule flip provides mutual benefits for UGA and the Tigers, to the extent Kirby Smart obviously believes it’s in the best interest of his program. RELATED: Vince Dooley says schedule change benefits Auburn Smart said last May at the SEC Spring Meetings that he was open to changing things up so UGA wasn’t playing road games at Georgia Tech and Auburn in November. WATCH: What Kirby Smart said about Auburn schedule twist But surely, Smart and athletic director Greg McGarity played out the scenario and have some assurances from the SEC office that the Auburn and Alabama games in 2020 won’t occur in back-to-back weeks. “I’d just make the statement that if there are any issues that our staff has, we’d voice that,” UGA athletic director  Greg McGarity told DawgNation. “But I think Kirby will be very comfortable with the schedule that you’ll see in 2020.” Historic trend Still, the relatively limited series history between Georgia and Alabama has led some alarmists to speculate the Bulldogs could be in another scheduling bind. The past two meetings between the Bulldogs and the Tide have been in Atlanta, with the SEC Championship on the line last December, and the national championship at stake in January of 2018. But prior to that, the teams most recent regular season meetings were Oct. 3,   2015 (Athens) and then a 2007-2008 home-and-home in Tuscaloosa (Sept. 27) and Athens (Sept. 27). The good news for Georgia fans is the Bulldogs already have a contracted home game with Louisiana-Monroe for the last Saturday in September, the 26th. More good news is DawgNation sources said earlier this week the 2020 Auburn game will be in October — not September. Circle Sept. 19 The educated guess here is that the 2020 Georgia-Alabama game will be played on Sept. 19 — a week before the contracted non-conference game with Louisiana-Monroe — with the Auburn game played on Oct. 3. It’s worth noting Alabama plays Georgia State on Sept. 12, 2020 and Kent State Sept. 26, 2020 — leaving that Sept. 19 date a prime target for a marquee early-season SEC showdown in Tuscaloosa. But until the schedule comes out, more will speculate and wonder when Georgia will play Alabama in 2020. Regardless of where or when the game is played, the most noteworthy trend that must be reversed is the outcome. The Tide has won five straight against Georgia to snap what had been a three-game Bulldogs win streak in the series dating back to the Bulldogs’ 26-23 overtime win in Tuscaloosa in 2007.     The post Evaluating Georgia football possibility of playing Auburn-Alabama in consecutive 2020 weeks appeared first on DawgNation.