I want to wish all who read TCR a happy and healthy new year. 2002 has been a year of hope and challenges. 2003 figures to be the same. For Republicans the presence of GOP control in Austin and Washington gives us an opportunity to show the majority of Texans and Americans that we can govern as common sense conservatives while providing security and improvement in our economy. Our challenge is to perform. We control the political destiny of our state and nation-now we must deliver. It won't be easy. There will be frustrations. At the end of the day, we will be judged on how we answer the promise and challenges we face.
As for TCR, your editor will continue to do what he's done for the last seven years of writing -speak the truth and the truth will keep us free. God bless all of you and God bless America.
Lott is Out - Good Riddance
You may think that the left-wing race mongers have won, obtaining Trent Lott's resignation as majority leader for those stupid comments he has made this year and in years past.
In fact, they did us a favor! Why so? I, for one, for years have felt Senator Lott was part of the Senate get along of any gang not only did he not advance the conservative agenda but actually at times obstructed it. A brief review of the lowlights is in order:
1. President Clinton played him like a fiddle on issue-after-issue. The highlights: two left-wing members of the Supreme Court confirmed.
2. The Clinton impeachment Senate trial put the screws to the House impeachment managers - remember all the restrictions dooming it to failure?
3. The 2000 election loss of five Republican Senate incumbents - he should've resigned then.
4. He did stop the unconstitutional "so-called" campaign finance reform bill
5. He entered into a power-sharing deal with Tom Daschle in 2001, we got the short end.
6. He was a big spender per the National Taxpayer Union ratings.
And finally in his rush to "save" his job, he completey capitulated to the left wing, coming out for affirmative action and against race neutral university admissions and hirings. If we had let him hang around long enough he probably would have sponsored slavery reparations.
You know we're on the right track dumping Lott when Democrats say he should stay. (I'll bet so they can kick him around the next two years and deep-six the President's agenda.)
Increased Spending Equals Increases in Taxes
The Austin lobby that supports bigger and bigger state spending has recently been telling us that the state spends too little on education, health, transportation and state employee salaries. They claim critical services will not be met.
If we follow their ideas you could start singing California here we come. Yes, California is the model that most resembles the model the big spenders are pushing.
So what do we have to look forward to if we take the road they want? An income tax of 9.3% that begins at $38,291 per person! State sales tax of 8.25% (the same as our rate-- 8.25%), property taxes not much different from ours. Oh, one other thing, a deficit of $34.58 billion (from a budget of $80 billion). Their answer in California by the way - is raise taxes in 2003.
I think the Texas model is much better than California's. Yes, our tax system needs work to control runaway property taxes but we also need to set our spending priorities pronto.
Suggested Reading for Committed Conservatives
This week's reading corner feature: Islam Unveiled, by Robert Spencer - Encounter Books -$24.95 (Discounts available at usual internet sources). With the ongoing issues with radical Islam you need to be well-informed about the world's fastest growing faith. In this book you will learn what Islam stands for, the Islamic attitudes about human rights, women, how Islam fits with democracy and about religious pluralism and Islam. Read this book and you will begin to get informed and be able to have your own concept of where we are headed. Find out if Islam is a peaceful religion, whether Islamic immigrants can join the American melting pot or are a potential internal threat to American security.
The Future of the Democratic Party
An Exclusive Interview with Gerry Birnberg
Introduction - The interview was conducted in December with one of Texas' leading and intelligent Democrats: Gerry Birnberg. Gerry is a long-time Democratic activist and advisor who is running presently for Harris County Democratic chair.
If we Republicans want to continue our recent success, we need to know what our friends in the other party are up to. One thing is clear, they aren't going away. Witness that at least three are running for Chairman. Our challenge is to deliver progress on our common sense conservative agenda while providing good government to Texas.
TCR: In light of the sweeping defeat for Democrats in Texas - where do you go from here?
GB: Back to the base. What I hear in the community is that Democrats lost in 2002 because our message was too "Republican light." Our candidate for governor had never voted in a Democratic primary, but he was third largest contributor to George W. Bush in the nation. Ron Kirk stressed his support for George Bush's policies, and promised to continue to do so if elected to the Senate. David Dewhurst's TV ads to the contrary notwithstanding, John Sharp has always been a centrist moderate. The "Dream Team" gave core Democrats nothing to excite or motivate them, so they just failed to show up. The lesson for Democrats from the 2002 elections is that we have to show folks far more clearly how we are different from Republicans - on education and health care, and economic issues (jobs creation) and choice and the environment and insurance reform. If we can get out the message that those are the things that are important to Democrats and that Democrats stand for, we will both re-energize our base and attract more uncommitted voters, many of whom, I believe share those values and concerns.
TCR: Can the Democratic party be relevant to the 21st Century and if so, how?
GB: The Democratic party is relevant because it embraces the view that People Matter. Unlike the Republican Party, the Democratic Party's focus is not primarily on business interests and corporate expansion, but on issues which affect quality of life for average Americans. The lexicon of Democrats includes "civil rights" and "living wage" and "health care and "consumerism", the Republicans emphasize "tax cuts" and "deficits" and attracting corporations" and "business friendly conditions." While Republicans become increasingly majoritarian and demand that the right of each of the majority be imposed upon everyone, Democrats are more likely to insist upon Democrats' demand for a just society addressing the needs of all members of our society, make our party not just "relevant to the 21st Century," but in my opinion, more reflective of the way a majority of Americans think and want their government to behave.
TCR: The Dream Team assumption collapsed in reality with significant Anglo Democrat vote drop off- what was it about this campaign that drove the "yellow dog" Democrats out of the party? How do you get them back?
GB: Yellow dog Democrats didn't abandon the party; had they done so, Chet Edwards would never have won in Waco, nor Charlie Stenholm in Abilene and Nick Lampson and Chris Bell would not have won at all, or at least, not nearly so handily. It is true that the Republican ticket attracted considerable Anglo support, but a large portion of the increase in the Anglo vote for Republicans probably came from conservative Republicans (not "yellow dog Democrats") who might not have gone to the polls otherwise, but were motivated to do so in this election by a Lottesque fear that an Hispanic and an African-American might otherwise be elected to a high leadership position in this state; they were not traditional Democrats, attracted by some new Republican message which appealed to them, not antagonized by a "liberal" Democratic agenda (indeed, in this election, there was nothing in the Democratic message which could scare off conservative Democrats). Rather they were (in my opinion) the Republicans who couldn't be motivated to get to the polls until racial concerns entered the mix. At all events, the "yellow dog Democrats" are still out there and can be recaptured for the Democratic Party by a message which stresses the success of Democrats in creating jobs and a good economy compared to the deficits, job losses and hard times which have occurred during the Republicans' watch and under their policies (as well as the devastating consequences for average Americans and their retirement dreams for the ethical and criminal shenanigans of corporations largely headed by Republican big shots).
TCR: Nationally, it seemed the Democrats had no real positive message - what do you think the Democrats' core message ought to be?
GB: The Democratic core message should be People Matter. It's about women, and children and older Americans and minorities, and jobs, and education and health care (including a prescription drug benefit) and restoring integrity to the business world, and the environment, and civil rights.
TCR: What is the Democrats' take on the five most significant issues facing Texas -education funding, transportation and mobility, runaway medical costs, the insurance crisis and rapidly rising property taxes?
GB: The Republicans now have control of both legislative houses, the statehouse and the courthouse. They have also succeeded in creating a budget shortfall of at least $5 billion by their huge tax cuts for businesses last session, which were promised to produce an economic boon, but haven't. Obviously, there is no money in the budget to provide adequate funds for public education, transportation and mobility, or CHIP and other health and health insurance services. Having depleted the surplus with business tax cuts, the Republicans are going to have to propose ways to address these serious social issues within the budgetary constraints they have created. Democrats will seek to work cooperative with Republicans to address these problems, but it will be up to Republicans in the first instance to propose solutions, especially since their agenda and priorities have created the financial mess which makes solving the problems so daunting a task. We can say some things however; there clearly is no money in the budget to fund a voucher system any time in the foreseeable future and it would be a waste of limited resources under the circumstances to fund a "pilot" or experimental program which we could not afford to implement fully even if the pilot proved to be successful. We must find a way to provide meaningful tuition assistance to Texans wanting to go to college (especially minorities) or else among other problems, businesses will not relocate here, for want of a suitably educated work force. Republicans need to persuade Texas' Republican federal legislators to get Texas its fair share of federal funds for transportation and mobility, and until mobility problems can be solved, projects like Bayport must be delayed, so the transportation crisis is not worsened. Medical costs are so high because we focus exclusively on crises intervention (treatment after a condition has deteriorated to major proportions) rather than intervening at earlier stages and opportunities (prevention); this is the result of so many Texans not having health care coverage. The home insurance crisis requires regulations prohibiting credit qualification for coverage, an elected commissioner of insurance, anti-cherry-picking legislation, longer notice times before insurance can be non-renewed en masse, limits on annual premium increases (like on ad valorem taxes) and other regulatory adjustments. The property tax problem can only be solved by closing the loopholes which allow partnerships and "offshore" corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes in this state, if they are really doing business here and using resources here.
TCR: Looking toward 2004, who should the Democrats look to lead them in Texas and nationally?
GB: Since there are no major state-wide races in Texas in 2002, state "leadership" should devolve mainly on grass roots leaders and party organizers who can effect voter registration and grass roots organizing, as opposed to charismatic candidates who can motivate and inspire Democrats voters. We Democrats should be looking toward 2006 and the Senate race and other statewide races to be on the ballot then. (My personal choice would be to see Henry Cisneros return to the scene, either as a senatorial candidate or as a candidate for governor). Nationally the blue states, especially California, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon and the New England states) all seem to be in play for the Democrats, as so Pennsylvania, New Mexico, West Virginia, Washington and possibly North Carolina and Louisiana. If the economy fails to rebound, Michigan and Ohio could be real trouble spots for the Republicans. It could be a very competitive race, even with a popular Republican incumbent, especially if the Republicans cannot shake the tainted image the Lott affair has created. (It takes a long time to overcome embedded impressions, even when they are no longer valid, as Democrats learning from being branded "soft on crime" and "tax and spend liberals" long after those appellations were no longer fairly descriptive of Democratic platforms). I would hope the Democrats could find a fresh face to take on an incumbent president, as they did when Clinton challenged George Bush, or as the Republicans did when Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush defeated the incumbent vice-president (sorta). That means a Howard Dean or a John Edwards would be on my short list before a Tom Daschle or Joe Lieberman or Richard Gephardt. And here's one to make your readers shudder: I think the Democrats could really turn the 2004 race on its head if we could convince John McCain to run as a Democrat.
TCR: Thank you for your insight on the Democratic party and its future.
is a long time Republican spokesman, fund-raiser and leader who
recently completed three terms as the Harris County Republican
Chair. During his time as Chairman, Gary was described as the
most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events.
For six years, Gary put out a bi-weekly newsletter which he has
continued due to requests from many Republican activists.
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