BRACK: Efforts by Congress to pass a tax bills seem close to failure

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher  |  From where we sit in Gwinnett, and without any form of inside information, it appears to us that the efforts by the Congress to pass a tax bill will fail.

Here’s why: the bill keeps getting loaded down with added elements that could endanger passage. Why in the world our leaders in the Senate and House want to add to the tax rework a provision to change the Affordable Care Act is perplexing.

Already two Senators have voiced strong questions about the bill, with one saying that he (Ron Johnson of Wisconsin) would be against it as written. Sen. Susan Collins (and several more Senators) have also questioned the bill.

Then remember that Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is recuperating from an attack by a neighbor……and may not be able to be in Washington for the vote. And Sen. John McCain has been attacked enough by President Trump to consider scuttling any of the president’s pet ideas.

So it’s getting hard to count to 50 Senators who would vote for this loaded-up “tax” bill. That’s the view from here.

AMID THE POLITICAL SHENANIGANS of the tax bill, the vote in Alabama for Senator keeps getting a major spotlight.  Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson told the Atlanta Rotary Club last week that Roy Moore should withdraw from the Senate race.

That’s significant. After all, Senator Isakson is chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. Should Moore win the race, in the face of heavy Senate recommendations that he withdraw, it could have significant consequence. Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate, has a shot at gaining a Senate seat, which would upset the applecart in the Senate. The GOP would then have the Senate majority by one thin vote. And that could mean serious problems for the Republican Party. So the Isakson announcement suggesting Roy Moore withdraw from the race takes on major consequences. However, new revelations about Sen. Al Frankel which could come before the Ethics Committee, might also impact the party count in the Senate.


NOW TO A MORE LOCAL SUBJECT. A decision by the Georgia Ports Authority had a Gwinnett element to it recently. The Authority approved a $128 million mega-rail terminal improvement project. The terminal is named for former Authority Chairman Jimmy Mason of Gwinnett. The late Mr. Mason served for years as a member of the Ports Authority.

The project will reduce travel time from Savannah to an arc of inland markets from Memphis to Chicago by 24 hours.  The project benefits imports and exports, and it will also provide much needed relief for Garden City residents and travelers stopped at railroad crossings throughout the day.


STATE REP. BUZZ BROCKWAY (R-Lawrenceville) is proposing allowing the creation of special tax districts to fund transit expansion. His plan could raise money to expand mass transit, by letting property owners near existing transit stations tax themselves. (That’s not unlike a community improvement district.)  He presented the idea at a meeting of the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding this week.

Brockway says: “If the people in [those areas] wanted to self-tax, they could self-tax, and that [revenue] would be given to a commission who would then dedicate those funds to expanding rail.”

In his bill, three-quarters of property owners located within a quarter-mile of an existing transit station – like a MARTA station – would have to agree to create the special tax district. The revenues collected in the “transit rail improvement districts” would go to expanding rail mass transit.