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Tennessee v. talk radio

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In an apparent attempt at retaliation against
local talk show hosts for their major role in beating back a proposed
state income tax earlier this week, Tennessee lawmakers yesterday
considered imposing another new tax — on talk radio.

“They clearly want to punish us for putting a stop to their plans to
shove the income tax down the throats of Tennessee families,” WLAC host
Phil Valentine remarked before the vote yesterday. “The empire is
striking back.”

Under consideration by legislators was a new proposal to target the
radio stations’ parent companies. Under the “talk radio tax” plan,
broadcasters would have been slapped with a 6 percent gross receipts
tax, which would have provided $34.1 million in new tax revenues to help
finance a massive $18.2 billion state budget for the coming fiscal year,
which begins July 1.

However, as angry taxpayers swarmed the state Capitol once again,
this time in opposition to the “talk radio tax,” legislators quickly
cooled to the idea, eventually voting the measure down to defeat last


WorldNetDaily reported earlier,
support for the state income tax withered as two competing Nashville talk radio stations,


joined forces to marshal opposition to the tax proposal. Tennessee is currently only one of nine states without a general state income tax.

The four talk show hosts,

Phil Valentine

Steve Gill
of WLAC, and


of WTN, have spent most of the week broadcasting from the grounds of the state Capitol.

Both stations have preempted regular programming to report on the protests, which featured hundreds of participants every day and virtually non-stop horn honking from cars encircling the Capitol building. At various times throughout the week, legislative phone and e-mail systems went down as tens of thousands of messages were logged every hour — due in part to talk hosts’ regular broadcasts of legislators’ positions, e-mail and phone information.

Grover Norquist, president of

Americans for Tax Reform,
a Washington, D.C.-based taxpayer advocacy group, announced that his organization will be naming the four as “Taxpayer Hero of the Month” for June. In an interview with WorldNetDaily, he praised the talk show hosts for their efforts in stopping the income tax.

“These gentlemen have helped change Tennessee history by focusing all Tennesseans on the threat of higher taxes,” Norquist said. “It’s public service at its best.”

“I’m grateful to be honored, and I’m glad that the whole country is looking at Tennessee this week to see how people are able to take their government back from the politicians,” Gill told WorldNetDaily.

“It’s really the people of Tennessee that ought to be recognized,” Ankarlo said. “The people who took time off work and braved the heat to let their voice be heard are the real heroes.”

Meanwhile, legislators have recessed until Monday, when they will reconsider several other plans to fund the state budget. But legislative leaders are admitting that any effort to revive the income tax as an option would be futile.

Both houses remain at an impasse as no consensus has been reached on how to finance an estimated $364 million tax increase that

Gov. Don
says is needed to pay for spending increases to prop up the state’s massive Medicaid program, TennCare. TennCare currently covers one out of every four citizens in the state, and is the largest such program in the country.

Sundquist, who campaigned in 1994 and 1998 on a platform to prevent a state income tax from ever passing, is now the most vocal advocate for the tax plan, and had been lobbying legislators all week in favor of the income tax plan. Sundquist also had vowed to dismantle the mammoth TennCare system, which was approved in 1994, prior to Sundquist assuming his office.

WTN’s Ramsey, who has termed this week’s tax protests “Tea Party II,” said he and his radio show colleagues will remain vigilant until a state budget is passed and the threat of a state income tax is over.

“They are trying to spend us into a crisis, and the people aren’t buying it,” he said. “These legislators need to come to the realization that people are tired of seeing their hard-earned money wasted on countless government boondoggles. The taxpayers are simply not going to go away.”

Read WND’s exclusive report,

Tennesseans stage tax