Rep. Hubbard, Your Village Is On Line 2. They Miss You.

You know that old saw about how “it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt”?

Representative Jon Hubbard (R-Jonesboro) doesn’t buy into that idea one bit.

Today, during the discussions on the House floor regarding Rep. Ed Garner’s transparent pandering to Warren Stephens proposal to repeal Arkansas’s preferential capital gains rate, several lawmakers took the opportunity to speak in favor of or in opposition to the flawed bill.  Near the end of the protracted debate, Rep. Hubbard sauntered down into the well (starts at the 1:31:10 mark of this video).

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Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  This is my first time up here, and I just wanna make one quick comment. Like everybody said, all of us aren’t experts at numbers or anything like that.  We just think back just a few years ago, when the opportunity for — I believe it was Nissan — was gonna bring a plant to — I think it was Osceola, Arkansas, if I’m not mistaken — and we pretty well thought we had that plant comin’ to Arkansas.  And all of the sudden, at the last minute, an announcement comes in that it was goin’ to Mississippi.  And it wasn’t anything about Mississippi being a lot better place to take a Nissan plant, but Mississippi did some things — I am guessin’ probably capital gains was one of those things that Mississippi did to make it more attractive for Nissan to bring that plant into their state.  Just keep that in mind.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Indeed, I will keep that in mind, Rep. Hubbard.  A few observations, however:

  1. That never happened, at least not the way Rep. Hubbard describes it.  The plant Arkansas lost in the eleventh hour to Mississippi “a few years ago” (2007) was a Toyota plant (not Nissan), and the Arkansas city that lost it was Marion (not Osceola).
  2. The Toyota plant lost to Tupelo, MS, was lost because, according to Toyota spokespeople, Tupelo had “people who are educated, ethical and friendly with a strong work ethic.”
  3. Additionally, despite what Rep. Hubbard is “guessin’,” the incentives had nothing to do with capital gains; MS provided a $298M bond package that included $145.8M for public infrastructure, $84M to train Toyota workers, $30M to train suppliers’ workers, and a sales tax rebate on equipment.
  4. Mississippi also won, according to some sources, because they have a Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems at Mississippi State University and because their Congressional delegation was considered to have more clout than AR’s.
  5. Toyota also claimed that heavy pollution from the I-40/I-55 interchange made MS more attractive, which is the same thing they said when Marion lost a plant to Toronto in 2005.

That’s right: Rep. Hubbard used his first time down in the well to, basically, talk out of his rear-end about something that was in no way correct or germane to the discussion.  He did not take the time to verify any of it, preferring instead to just be “guessin'” about this stuff, and he was allowed to present these idiotic guesses in the midst of a contentious debate as if he were making an intelligent argument that added to the discussion.  He could have talked about how anyone who opposed the bill was risking having their children stolen by pterodactyls and he would have made no less intelligent of an argument.

Also, if I am not mistaken, it sure reads to me as if a whole lot of the reasons surrounding the loss of that plant had to do with education, and not with taxes (especially not with capital gains taxes). Which goes along with what I was saying yesterday, of course.

The most frustrating part, I suppose, is that a motion was made to have a vote on the bill immediately after Rep. Hubbard’s moments of ignorance, so there was no opportunity for anyone to set the record straight.  I understand that this is how parliamentary procedure goes at times, and I even kind of doubt that anyone would have corrected him, but that doesn’t make it any less irritating to see a terrible bill slide through with Rep. Hubbard’s statements acting as the closer in the debate.

FYI for Rep. Hubbard: Marion also lost a Toyota plant to San Antonio in 2003.  It’s really kind of inexplicable that you got the company and town incorrect.

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Other thoughts:

  • Rep. Davy Carter noted how “Ed Garner has worn me out for years about this bill.”  Hey, there’s a GREAT reason to support a law!  FINE, I’ll support it if you will just stop talking about it!
  • Rep. David Sanders — fresh of the defeat by voice vote of his effort to add “The Land of Opportunity” as a state nickname — used his time to mention an “environment of opportunity” and to reference a capital gains cut (federal) under President Clinton.  Not surprisingly, he left out the effects of the cuts in 1978 and 1981 and of the rate increases in 1976 and 1986.
  • Rep. Garner teared up when he started discussing the bill.  I don’t care HOW long you’ve been pushing for a specific tax cut, there is never an excuse to cry over it.  Tears when discussing a bill are reserved for things like extending benefits to cripples and orphans.  At the very least, they are limited to bills that are sure to help your state in some tangible way.
  • No, seriously…he started to cry.  About a tax cut.  Think about that.
  • By my count, at least four Reps started their comments by mentioning that they were not economists or experts.  Probably not the greatest way to get people to believe you.  Thankfully, among those Reps, only Hubbard went on to demonstrate just how incredibly truthful he was being with his caveat.
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