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YARBROUGH: Frazier a great tax reform ally for Georgians

Dick Yarbrough

Dick Yarbrough

I had considered the recently-constituted Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians just so much political hooey until I saw who was elected chairman of the council: Adolphus Drewry Frazier Jr.

If tax reform is an immovable object, it is about to meet an irresistible force in A.D. Frazier.

The 10-member body — which includes Gov. Sonny Perdue — is a blue-ribbon group of businesspeople and economists, and I commend the governor for pushing through legislation to create the council.

The council is charged with studying the state’s current revenue structure and making recommendations for appropriate legislation to the speaker of the house and lieutenant governor.

If all goes as planned, a special joint committee will then write a bill which will be voted on by the General Assembly without amendments.

The political reality, of course, is that we will have a new governor and at least one-third of the General Assembly will be new by the time the matter gets to legislation.

However, tax lobbyists are forever, and they will be on this effort like white on rice, trying to cast any tax reform in the image that fits their own narrow special interest.

Good luck, lobbyists. Get in his way and A.D. Frazier will roll you like a cheap cigar. The man gets from point A to point B in a hurry and damn anything in his way. Look for “outspoken” in the dictionary and you are likely to find his photo.

A.D. was the chief operating officer for the 1996 Centennial Olympics, and I was managing director for public affairs and communications. My job was to secure federal funding for the games, deal with the worldwide media and keep A.D. Frazier from saying outrageously quotable things or offending high government poobahs with his caustic comments. The miracle is that we didn’t kill each other before the Olympic torch was ever lit.

Often, I would march into his office in high dudgeon intending to throw him and his potty-mouth out the window, only to end up laughing at his latest outrageous antic. It is hard not to like the man. Needless to say, we have been and remain good friends.

Frazier is a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. How dyed? He managed the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter, which I liken to christening the Titanic. He also led the team to reorganize the White House under President Peanut, which makes me wonder how bad things would have been if he hadn’t been around.

But I digress. His job now is to look at tax reform in Georgia.

Frazier said he plans to hold meetings across the state, likely in late August or early September, to hear what changes you think should be made regarding tax reform. This will be a great opportunity for you to get your two cents’ worth in.

The disappointment is that how our legislators spend our tax money isn’t on the table.

According to Morris News Service, Frazier said, “I expect to see our actions as a manifestation of economic development, as a manifestation of job creation, good business judgment, not so much an effort to fund existing expenditures.”

I’m not sure when my man started using big words like “manifestation,” but I hope he understands that there will be little economic development and job creation if we don’t make some tax expenditures a priority, like public education. Who is going to come to a state with a poorly educated work force?

Also casting a dark cloud over the good intentions of the council is the fact we are being bled dry by a federal government with all the discipline of a 2-year-old on a sugar rush. The last time I looked, our national debt is $13 trillion and rising. No matter how well we handle tax reform in Georgia, American taxpayers — that’s us — are facing a financial catastrophe nationally.

When he is finished in Georgia, I wish President Barack Obama would give Adolphus Drewry Frazier Jr. a shot at changing Washington’s wicked ways. He might not succeed but it would be great fun watching him try.

I’m just glad we didn’t kill each other.

E-mail columnist Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@bellsouth.net.