Kane Challenges Tennessee State Official to Debate over Internet Sales Tax

Bill Atkinson@@BAtkinson1963Analyst IApril 4, 2017

Kane may not be running for political office in Tennessee—yet—but he is making his presence known in that state’s political circles.

Kane, whose real name is Glenn Jacobs, tells Knoxville TV station WATE that he is challenging Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey to a debate over the proposal to place a sales tax on out-of-state Internet purchases. Jacobs opposes the tax, while Ramsey supports it.

Jacobs appears in an interview on the TV station in a coat and tie, not showing any inkling of anger-management issues his wrestling alter ego does. His once-bald head now sports some slicked-back hair, and his eyes are the same color, not different like Kane’s.

In the video, which is on the ABC affiliate’s website, he is very engaging with the reporter, speaking intelligently about the issue and—gasp!—smiling frequently.

Jacobs tells the reporter that, should the Internet sales tax go through, that means a Tennessee resident who makes a $100 purchase online would wind up paying $10 more. The sales tax in Tennessee is 9.44 percent, he points out.

Ramsey and other tax supporters claim that the money generated by the Internet sales tax would allow the state to cut other consumer taxes. They also claim it is not a new tax because customers are supposed to—but do not often—file a sales tax on online purchases.

But Jacobs, who has supported Libertarian causes in the past, tells WATE that he does not buy that argument.

“The bottom line is whether technically or legally if you want to say this is not a new tax, if it's not being enforced, then the economic impact is that it is a new tax,” Jacobs tells the station.

Jacobs has been making the mainstream media news lately amid rumors that he may run against incumbent U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in next year’s GOP primary. Earlier this week, he announced he would not seek that political office—a point he reiterates during the WATE interview.

So far, according to WATE, the lieutenant governor has not accepted Jacobs’ invitation. But Jacobs tells the station that the politician will have nothing to fear.

“No there will be no physicality in the debate. It'll be purely intellectual,” Jacobs says in the interview.

Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.