by Max Brantley
Carter is a political operator, no doubt about that. He snookered Democrats into supporting his rump run for speaker then presided over a legislative session in which Republicans got everything they wanted, including Obamacare Medicaid expansion in a deal that gave Republicans the credit and the spin that they'd fixed something President Obama had broken, (as opposed to having passed over huge obstacles and providing enormous financial benefit to Arkansas.)
I can't claim credit for noting this, but it's a good observation. Carter also has been hailed as a tax cutter. I've said all along he hasn't gotten nearly the (dis)credit he deserves for tax cuts overwhelmingly weighted to the ultrarich and done without regard to state needs (particularly in the future) or anything like the zero-based budgeting that you might engage in before a whopping tax cut. Don't believe me. Read on for Carter's own account of how he personally saved the day:
“I thought we were in a bad place within the House amongst the members, in the public, with the media, I had to do something to change the dynamics,” Carter said. “I had a pity party that Friday night, worked my way out of that over the weekend, and thought I’d come back and shake it up a bit.
The following Tuesday Carter gave his famous “half-time speech,” where he quickly made rounds in three committees — Judiciary, Public Health, and Revenue & Tax. He implored all three panels to get off the social issues and get to the fiscal side of the session’s business.
“In hindsight, I think it worked. We weren’t talking about all of those things. We were talking about how crazy Davy Carter was for calling for $150 million in tax cuts,” Carter recalled. He also admits that walking down the capitol steps from the House that morning, he was planning on asking for $100 million in tax cuts, but $150 million rolled off his tongue at the Revenue and Tax Committee table.
Got that? Crazy Davy pulled that tax cut figure right out of the place where the sun doesn't shine. Based on nothing. Just a nice big, semi-round, easy-to-demagogue number.
If this is the best we've got, we truly are screwed. Please note, too, that his call to turn attention away from all those "social issues" came after all the nutty stuff was well on its way to passage, WITH Crazy Davy's votes.
The rest of the Top 10: Lamoureux, Burris, Collins, Dismang, Elliott, Key, Leding, Sabin, Sanders.