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Monday, January 11, 2010

Sen. Tim Jennings Joins 4 Republicans at Cozy Confab to Kiss Up to Tea Party Demands

State Senator Tim Jennings, a Democrat from Roswell, has a reputation for saying outrageous things to attract attention to himself, often at the expense of legislation that supports core Democratic values. He clearly likes to act mavericky -- you know, like the pretentious, loose-canon character that U.S. Senator John McCain plays on the national stage. You could say he'll say or do almost anything to get media attention and mock his fellow Dems -- or to block bills they support in the most ostentatious manner possible.

If you've ever attended or tuned in to a committee hearing where Jennings is a member, you've no doubt experienced his penchant for long, boring, irrelevant, "folksy" anecdotes designed to insult and delay. He can be a one-man obstructionist juggernaut at times, and he clearly revels in that role in a manner we see often among the right wing, just-say-no contingent locally and in Washington. 

His power within the New Mexico Senate comes from his linking up with a handful of other conserva-Dems and a whole slew of Republicans, so it's no surprise that he recently showed up at a "budget town hall" hosted in Ruidoso by the Lincoln County Tea Party -- along with four Republicans.

According to an article in the Ruidoso News, all five lawmakers agreed that they will oppose any state budget that includes tax increases -- no matter what kind they are. Taxes are inherently evil. Government spending is inherently evil. Cutting government to the bone is good. Tim Jennings agrees with some of the most right-wing legislators on these points. There is little room for nuance or shades of gray. All taxes are alike, and almost all government spending is alike. No room for balance or tradeoffs or investments in the future. 

Folks across the political spectrum are against a return to taxing food and raising taxes on the working poor and middle classes during this prolonged economic downturn. Folks across the political spectrum want the government to operate in a fiscally responsible manner, but they know that the global economic challenge we're facing will require much more than cutting spending if we want to continue necessary services and help to create the jobs of the future.

There's strong support among the populace for returning the income tax rates on our wealthiest citizens to what they were in 2003. There's wide-ranging support for raising our incredibly low tax rates on capital gains. And there's a big push for making large corporate businesses like Walmart pay their fair share of taxes like most other states do. Because most people know that if we don't raise taxes on those most able to pay -- those who've been having a free ride for many moons -- we'll have to make deep and unacceptable cuts in education, Medicaid, senior services and many other kinds of programs that provide a life-line to the disabled, the poor and the sick, especially at a time like this. It's that simple.

According to Jennings and his cohorts -- unlike any other state in the nation -- New Mexico's budget problems are primarily due to flagrant spending and have next to nothing to do with the financial debacle caused in key ways by the deregulation, anti-government, anti-tax factions with which Jennings apparently feels a close kinship. Instead of facing the realties of our ongoing financial problems, Jennings appears content to use the pain New Mexicans are experiencing to further his reputation as a Democrat who often sides with right wingers. It's all about protecting tax loopholes and tax cuts for those who can afford to pay more, while the very things that can help us survive and get out of this mess are apparently on the chopping block.

So, while the Tea Partiers gather with guns on their hips and attack President Obama and everything real Democrats stand for, Sen. Jennings apparently believes it's wise to participate in a one-sided budget town hall organized by their Lincoln County chapter. I guess he feels at home hanging out with those who are fighting almost everything the Democratic Party stands for. Isn't that a shame?

January 11, 2010 at 11:46 AM in Democratic Party, Economy, Populism, Local Politics, NM Legislature 2010, Taxes | Permalink


Ha, go get 'em Barb. Even worse, Richardson refuses to consider taxes on the rich either. Maybe he and Tim will now become bosom buddies!

Posted by: Old Dem | Jan 11, 2010 12:12:01 PM

remember the road with our tax dollars which went to his property. I guess he was ok with that spending.

Posted by: mary ellen | Jan 11, 2010 1:53:49 PM

Jennings is a poisonous force in the legislature. I think we should make him change parties so he can hang out with the ones he loves.

Posted by: Rene | Jan 11, 2010 2:18:20 PM

Jennings isn't a Democrat or a Republican, he's in the Me Party like Joe Lieberman!

Posted by: KT | Jan 11, 2010 3:36:38 PM