Haley Barbour: Time to go to work

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, being term limited to eight years in office, prepares to leave for the private sector on January 10th after what most rate as a highly successful run. For a time he had conducted a very public process of considering running for the presidency, eventually deciding against it. (I’m still rather disappointed about that, as I think the governor would have made a very interesting and viable candidate with a firm grasp on energy policy.) For those who are running, however, he recently supplied a few thoughts about what he’d be doing right now had he decided to toss his hat in the ring.

Before leaving, though, he had some parting words for the legislature in his home state.

Barbour said the federal government should allow states to collect taxes on sales made over the Internet. He said this would not be a tax increase; it was simply being able to collect the money that is already owed.

“Don’t ever forget, government doesn’t have any money. Every dollar you vote to spend comes from the earnings of families and businesses, who often can do a lot more for themselves and their communities if government let them keep a greater portion of what they work for and earned,” Barbour said.

He was getting in a few parting shots regarding his support of the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would empower states to force online retailers such as Amazon and e-Bay to collect sales taxes.

Indeed, good public policy says it is past time that our brick-and-mortar merchants on Main Street and in our shopping centers get a level playing field with Amazon and the Internet — that they get fair treatment for paying our taxes, said Barbour, who served as chairman of the Republican National Committee during the 1990s.

The National Retail Federation, which represents traditional stores, is lobbying hard for the online tax. Amazon also backs the measure, arguing the country needs a single national framework for collecting Internet sales taxes.

But many Web companies, including eBay, are lobbying against the bill. They say it would stifle online commerce and destroy jobs.

So what’s next for Barbour? If he’s not running for president, you might think that a gentleman of his age might be considering retirement and spending more time with the family. Not so much.

Marsha says it’s time for me to make some money.” And with that, Haley Barbour will hitch up his own britches and head back to the nation’s capital, the place from which he cometh.

And where will he make that money? While it may come as a disappointment to some, he’s heading back to the Washington, DC based lobbying firm which he founded. He will also join the speaking engagement circuit and provide consulting services.

I’m going to miss Haley Barbour. He was controversial at times, particularly in his early career, but he struck me as a good man. I interviewed him at CPAC last year, and found him to be an engaging, intelligent man with a tremendous dedication to public service. It’s rather admirable that he’s living up to his own advice for elected officials, finishing his term and going back to work. Best of luck, Governor.