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What would Winthrop Rockefeller do?


WINTHROP ROCKEFELLER: Ernest Dumas thinks he'd have been an Obama supporter like Linwood Holton, another Southern moderate Republican governor. As promised, Ernest Dumas, who was an eyewitness, has joined the discussion on the Arkansas Republican Party's recent efforts to cloak itself in the good done by Winthrop Rockefeller when his wealth enabled him to upend the Arkansas political system and ...


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Login jQuery(".tp-login-link").on('click', function(e){ if (Foundation && typeof Foundation.Page != "undefined" && typeof Foundation.Page.TP != "undefined"){ var new_window = window.open('/arkansas/DigitalMembershipLogin/Page','targetWindow','width=700,height=500'); new_window.onbeforeunload = function(){ Foundation.Page.TP.checkMeter(); } jQuery(window).on('focus', function(){ Foundation.Page.TP.checkMeter(); jQuery(window).off('focus'); }); return false; } }); Thanks for being a Digital Member! window._tpm = window._tpm || []; window._tpm['paywallID'] = '5301939354774255019'; window._tpm['trackPageview'] = true; Foundation = Foundation || {}; Foundation.Page = Foundation.Page || {}; Foundation.Page.checkForVar2 = function(){ if ( typeof window.getTPMeter != "undefined" ){ Foundation.Page.TP = Foundation.Page.TPLogin || getTPMeter(); jQuery('#DigitalMemberCallToAction .paywall').on('click', function(e){ if ( typeof Foundation.Page.TP.showOffer != "undefined"){ Foundation.Page.TP.showOffer(null, {scb:true}); e.preventDefault(); } }); Foundation.Page.TP.bind('onMeterActive',function(data){ jQuery('#DigitalMemberCallToAction').fadeIn(); }); Foundation.Page.TP.bind('onAccessGranted',function(data){ jQuery('#DigitalMemberCallToAction').hide(); jQuery('#DigitalMemberCallToActionThanks').show(); jQuery('#LoginStatus .tp-not-logged-in').hide(); jQuery('#LoginStatus .tp-logged-in').show(); }); Foundation.Page.TP.bind('onExpired',function(data){ jQuery('#DigitalMemberCallToAction').fadeIn(); }); Foundation.Page.TP.bind('onCheckoutCompleted',function(data){ jQuery('#DigitalMemberCallToAction').hide(); jQuery('#DigitalMemberCallToActionThanks').show(); }); } else{ window.setTimeout(Foundation.Page.checkForVar2,100); } } Foundation.Page.checkForVar2(); Arkansas Blog Archives | RSS « Yarnell's rolls out new container  |  DrCalvin Johnson to lead UAPB in… » div.jp-audio, div.jp-video { /* Edit the font-size to counteract inherited font sizing. * Eg1.25em = 1 / 0.8em */ font-size:1.25em; } div.postBody div.inlineAudio, div#AudioPlayer div.inlineAudio { width: 400px; margin: auto; clear:both; } Tuesday, April 17, 2012 Arkansas history What would Winthrop Rockefeller do? Posted By Max Brantley on Tue, Apr 17, 2012 at 10:03 AM WINTHROP ROCKEFELLER: Ernest Dumas thinks he'd have been an Obama supporter like Linwood Holton, another Southern moderate Republican governor.As promised, Ernest Dumas, who was an eyewitness, has joined the discussion on the Arkansas Republican Party's recent efforts to cloak itself in the good done by Winthrop Rockefeller when his wealth enabled him to upend the Arkansas political system and get elected governor. Commentary by the likes of former Congressman Ed Bethune have been along the lines of: "WR was good; WR was a Republican; Republicans today are better than crooked Democrats." Lacking has been much examination of the fine and progressive things Rockefeller stood for against some diametrically opposite leanings in the modern day Republican Party. Read on for details — a tax increase proposal worth $3 billion today to dramatically increase government spending, particularly on social programsHelp for organized laborStern opposition to the death penalty as evidenced by his Death Row commutations, about which a pertinent note on Ed Bethune, who's been moaning about Democrats' commentary: The harshest attack on him came from Ed Bethune, whom Rockefeller had appointed as a prosecuting attorneyBethune asked the attorney general, Democrat Joe Purcell, to declare Rockefeller’s commutations illegal, but Purcell said the governor had that constitutional power. If a Republican officeholder in Arkansas, or anywhere, supports even one of all those initiatives, let him or her speak up. Crickets. By ERNEST DUMAS Should we try to settle the question “What would Winthrop Rockefeller do?” Would the liberal Republican have mutated into a tea-party Republican if he had lived another 40 years to see the revolution in the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Javits and Rockefellers? The celebrations of the centennial of Winthrop Rockefeller’s birth raise those questions as Republicans embrace the former governor, whose four races and two elections transformed Arkansas politics, almost as if he were the father of contemporary Republicanism. LtGovMark Darr, who never met him, eulogized Rockefeller and DrMartin Luther King on the Capitol steps, where Rockefeller stood in 1968 and held hands with black leaders in that great symbolic gesture after the assassination of King at Memphis, where he had gone to support striking garbage workers. Then former U.SRepEd Bethune wrote an op-ed Saturday for the Arkansas Democrat Gazette in which he rebuked Democrats — by name former GovJim Guy Tucker, state party chairman Will Bond and Hendrix College political science professor Jay Barth — for implying that Rockefeller would not be a tea-party Republican todayHe called it a dirty trick, “a ghoulish attempt to rewrite history for political purposes.” Who can say? Make your own educated guess. In 1969, Rockefeller laid out the most ambitious program in Arkansas historyIt was, he said, what he entered politics to do. Arkansas had the lowest level of state and local taxes in the country, the toughest anti-union laws and one of the lowest degrees of unionization in the country—a model business climate, in other wordsBy current Republican theology, Arkansas should have been a paradise of prosperity. Instead, Arkansas and Mississippi were dead last in per-capita income, average wages and (with West Virginia) the level of poverty; in education spending, teacher pay and the percentage of adults with college educations (we’re still last there); in infant deaths, low-birthweight babies and the general index of child and maternal health; and in so many other measures of well-beingRockefeller said he intended to change that with a massive investment in education and public health, the latter by starting to match the available Medicaid money for health and social services bequeathed by Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. So Rockefeller proposed a package of tax increases, easily the largest ever in Arkansas—bigger even than the cumulative tax increases of Mike HuckabeeIt would have boosted revenues by 50 percent, equivalent to a taxincrease of nearly $3 billion today. The key was an overhaul of personal income tax rates, raising the top marginal rate from 5 to 12 percent, on incomes above $100,000, and eliminating taxes on the very poorest taxpayersIs there a Republicanlawmaker anywhere in the land who would support that today? In the Arkansas Senate, his bill went down 3 to 31The sponsor, Jim Caldwell, the only Republican in the Senate, voted for it, along with two DemocratsThe only four Republicans in the House and seven Democrats voted for the billIt failed there 11 to 73. The same or worse fate awaited the rest of his program: an increase in the corporate income tax from a graduated rate of 5 percent to a flat rate of 7 percent; an increase in the sales tax from 3 to 4 percent; expansion of the sales tax to cover services like accountants, lawyers, doctors, dentists and architects and to cover purchases by utilities, transportation companies and communications companies; a 5-cents-a-pack increase in the cigarette tax; a new tax on cigars and tobacco; an increase in beer and liquor taxes and on mixed drinks; and an increase in the tax on real-estate transfers. Here’s what he told the lawmakers, after observing that, yes, he had money but that he also had inherited his mother’s compassion and sense of obligation: “So long as thousands of our people go to bed hungry, or in pain, or in hopelessness, every night, nobody in Arkansas, myself included, has the right to be callous or indifferent.” Does that sound like Paul Ryan or Tim Griffin? When the legislature crushed the whole program, Rockefeller called it back into a special session and demanded again that it do its duty to the peopleThe legislature defeated the taxes again, so he broke his pledge to serve only two terms and ran again to finish his programHe refused to sign major appropriation bills because he considered them inadequate to meet the state’s needsThey became law without his signature. What about unions and teacher organizations, the bane of the current GOP? He called the legislature into special session in 1968 to enact the first minimum-wage lawThe next year, he demanded that the legislature enact a law giving public school teachers tenure, protection from casual dismissalIt refusedThey were not political payoffs eitherNeither the AFL-CIO nor the Arkansas Education Association had endorsed him, and they wouldn’t in the next election either. There were lots moreHe toughened business regulation, chasing hundreds of insurance companies and securities dealers out of the stateOne of his last acts was to commute the death sentences of all 15 men on death row to life, the first governor in America to do soHe had announced when he first ran for governor in 1964 that he opposed capital punishment, and he said on the day he commuted the sentences that his conscience did not permit him to let the condemned men die knowing that he had the power to stop it The harshest attack on him came from Ed Bethune, whom Rockefeller had appointed as a prosecuting attorneyBethune asked the attorney general, Democrat Joe Purcell, to declare Rockefeller’s commutations illegal, but Purcell said the governor had that constitutional power. If a Republican officeholder in Arkansas, or anywhere, supports even one of all those initiatives, let him or her speak up. Linwood Holton of Virginia, who like his friend Rockefeller in the late 1960s stood against the rising GOP tide in the South represented by Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms and Claude Roy Kirk, and who was elected governor anyway, surprised his old party in 2008 by supporting Barack Obama. Would Winthrop Rockefeller do likewise? It’s anybody’s guess, but I think so. Tags: Winthrop Rockefeller, Ed Bethune, Arkansas history div.l0.last div:first-child {float:right;} d

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