The line is open. Closing out:
* THERE THE GOP GOES AGAIN: The Arkansas Republican Party is in all-out assault mode on U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, today pounding him for once saying seven years ago that he supported permanent repeal of the estate tax (dishonestly called a "death tax" by the Republicans) but joining in recent bipartisan approval of what is now a dramatically lower estate tax. Under the bipartisan deal, a spouse can inherit $10.5 million from a spouse without tax and the top rate on amounts above that, if not otherwise protected by the many tools available, has dropped to 40 percent.
Two other laugh-worhty points in the GOP narrative: 1) The invocation of the noble family farm. In addition to fact that a family farmer can pass an unlimited amount to a spouse and between them a married couple can structure $10.5 million (net value after debt offset) in untaxed estate pass-along, farms also enjoy other enormous benefits. Heirs can spread payments over 15 years at a low interest rates. (I've edited the original version to correct an error on the spousal exemption.) By one calculation, of the 1 in 1,000 deaths that result in a taxable estate nationwide, an estimated grand total of 20 are farms. Some threat. 2) Again, too, we must endure GOP Party Chair Doyle Webb as the preachy moralist on Mark Pryor's supposed inconstancy. It would be nice if Doyle Webb PAID his taxes and just debts and didn't try to cheat on old ladies' estates, including his own mother's. He's the last guy the GOP should trot out to talk about estate taxes and broken promises.
* GAME AND FISH LEASES LAKE MAUMELLE: The Game and Fish Commission today approved a $1 million 99-year lease of 9,000-acre Lake Maumelle and 9,861 surrounding acres for use in the Maumelle Wildlife Management Area. It would been working with Central Arkansas Water on the deal for some time. The money is to be paid over three years, with three-fourths of it coming from the federal government.
* SPEAKING OF NONPROFITS, THE IRS AND POLITICIANS: Blue Hog Reports notes that Sen. Jason Rapert is using the same PO Box he uses for his nonprofit Holy Ghost Ministries as the mailing address for his campaign finance report. No payments reported by the campaign for the usage, or an in-kind donation by the nonprofit. 501c3's are supposed to avoid partisan politics, of course. He shares a phone with the ministry, too. Penny ante stuff, yes, but, as BHR says, kind of odd. Rapert says his ministry does mission work in Africa. I've looked at his Form 990s a time or two. He doesn't itemize income or outgo, except to call the outgo of $60,000 or so a year as mission expenses. He got very offended when I asked him some months ago to disclose how he spent the money.
POLITICAL NEWS UPDATE: House Speaker Davy Carter will announce tomorrow whether he is in or out of the race for governor. Conventional wisdom is OUT. Statewide headlines that the GOP should go easier on guns and abortion is not a traditional way for a candidate to jump into a Republican primary.