Opinion Columns & Blogs

Why is Ga. GOP acting like babies? Because they’re afraid of new success by Democrats

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, right, addresses the 2019 Season Joint Budget hearings Jan. 23 in Atlanta.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, right, addresses the 2019 Season Joint Budget hearings Jan. 23 in Atlanta. AP

In the Georgia Senate, Republicans have been considering the Equal Rights Amendment, which was first proposed in the 1970s. Georgia’s Republicans wanted to pass it as the final state needed for ratification. There are, of course, legal issues along the way.

For one thing, the congressional resolution for ratification required its passage by 1982. For another, five states have rescinded their authorizations. Undeterred, in the name of winning back the suburbs, the Senate Republicans moved the legislation to committee.

In the late 1970s, then-lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg was one of the chief advocates for ratification. She wrote multiple law review articles about how the ERA would require states to pay for abortions, prohibit elevating adoption above abortion as a policy preference and require various other large scale public expenditures in the name of equality. All the states that have passed state level equivalents have seen their state supreme courts use state ERAs to mandate taxpayer funded abortion.

Thankfully, the Senate GOP appears to have abandoned their plans. Just as foolishly, the House Republicans are considering a plan to tax digital content providers. Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Prime, HBO Now and even Amazon Kindle purchases would be taxed to fund rural broadband development.

The proposal came from cable television and cellphone provider lobbyists. These companies do not want to raise their own rates to pay for further infrastructure, so they would have the state legislature do it as a tax then take that tax for themselves. Jay Powell, the Chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, favors this approach and Speaker David Ralston is letting it proceed.

The Republicans seem to be flailing about and it has everything to do with November. They are scared that 2020 will cost them control of the state legislature and they have hit the ground running without a plan. They have, like so many, misread the results of the election.

In fact, the election had way more to do with President Trump’s unpopularity than anything Republicans in Georgia have or have not done. But with Republican losses in the Atlanta suburbs, their strategy is to make the suburbs love them at the expense of rural Georgians. That is why the ERA is being considered and why the “Netflix tax” will probably not make it through.

Democrats showed up in Atlanta for the General Assembly with a coordinated plan of action to make noise, stay on message, and put the Republicans on defense. It is working. The Republicans promised religious liberty legislation and have run from it. They promised further pro-Second Amendment measures and are running from those as well. They are far more worried about being disliked than governing. Their legislative leadership is providing no leadership and the Republicans are being regularly outmaneuvered.

Part of this is because the Republicans have gotten complacent with their majorities. November left them shell shocked. Part of it is, as well, that there is a new governor who is just getting down to business. After eight years of Nathan Deal, one cannot help but realize many of the legislative leaders were not expecting Brian Kemp to be their governor.

Regardless, Republicans need to do a better job of operating on offense instead of defense. Most of what is happening right now is not going to be remembered in a year. But a Republican Party that hides from its shadow and lets Democrats run circles around them will make all voters wonder why we should keep the GOP in charge.

Erick Erickson is host of Atlanta’s Evening News on WSB Radio.