The recent move by Rep. Kirk England (
R D-Grand Prairie) has left the GOP leadership surprised & disappointed. This party switch brings the Democrats to within five votes of taking over the Texas House. Although some experts believe the District was trending Democratic, the GOP could have held it, now it looks doubtful and 2008 will be an even more challenging election cycle.
It's clear the Democrats have learned that to be a majority you have to get party switchers, and now they are.
Why is the GOP losing ground? Many reasons: failures on property tax reform, a new business tax on phantom income (the gross receipts tax), hypocrisy on illegal immigration, neglect of infrastructure, the Trans-Texas Corridor, failure to control state spending, (hostility to the CLOUT lawsuit)
and too many broken campaign promises. Of course, the major problem has been that in a generally conservative state, GOP control in the House and Senate has not meant conservative control. Too many RINO's have slipped into office subverting our common sense conservative agenda.
The GOP officeholders must return to our core values or they will suffer the wrath of the GOP base.
Continuing Bad News On Health Care Costs Indicate Conservative Solutions Needed Now
If the GOP doesn't get its act together on health care soon, the Democrats will run away and hide with the issue.
The problem is just not for the poor, it affects all of us. Since 2001, the insurance premium increase for family coverage is up 78%, while U.S. wages in the same period are up 19%. The out-of-pocket family share of medical premiums is up $1,500 over the last six years. These numbers are double the rate of inflation and exceed wage increases.
So far, the rapidly developing health care debate seems dominated by the Democrats and their allies. This is despite the interesting proposals the Bush Administration had put forth that promptly went nowhere. This really is too bad, because if it had been raised when the GOP had a majority in both houses it might have gone someplace.
What does a conservative vision on health care contain?
- Individual, and not company ownership of policies, thus portability is ensured.
- To assist those who need help, a tax credit to help families pay for private health insurance.
- For those too poor: vouchers to purchase comparable insurance could be offered or possibly paid for by redirecting state funds used for charity care to help low income people to buy private health insurance.
- States need to minimize mandates for coverage, as they drive health insurance costs skyward (like states who require in vitro fertilization coverage!)
- A reality check, no nation can, as Ramesh Ponnuru in the National Review said, "insulate its citizens from the cost of health care, keep those costs down and let its citizens have access to high quality medicine. Trade-offs are unavoidable."
- Healthcare needs to not be government or employer directed, but consumer directed. In order for this to be effective, we need better price & quality information. Remember, hospitals generally use artificial price lists no one pays except the uninsured middle class.
- Allow insurance companies to compete across state lines to allow more competition.
These are just a few conservative ideas that make sense that could go a long way to helping alleviate the health care crisis in America. What are your thoughts?
Texas School Bonds Issue 2008:
Do These Multi-Billion Dollar Requests
Make Sense In the Long Term?
Conservatives traditionally feel government should live within its means to effectively spend the people's money.
Bond issues can fit into this philosophy, if and only if, the spending fits within the budget and fits within the priorities of the citizens.
Since balanced budgets are required in Texas, a bond issue for $1 billion may end up costing $1.5 billion with interest. The interest cost swallows tax revenue that could be spent elsewhere.
In Texas, where some property tax relief was passed recently, that tax cut is endangered according to the Houston Chronicle, "... if voters pass a slew of costly (school) bond packages on the November 6, 2007 ballot." Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt says, "The tax relief from school finance reform never amounted to the $2,000 per homeowner that the governor talked about ... and with bond packages and increases in property values, all the relief will be gone in two years."
Local school districts are using some bond money to pay for repairs at schools that is in essence just deferred maintenance that should have come out of the operating budget. Local districts property taxes are up over 150% in the past nine years with no end in sight. The automatic appraisal increase escalator of 10% per year means more of the same. The bond issues will increase taxes, although HISD nows says that due to property tax increases, they won't need an increase. TCR is skeptical. Spring Branch will raise taxes, as well as other districts.
Some of these bond issues are in districts that have a shrinking student population and have dropout rates of between 20-45%. The statewide education system now produces only an 18% readiness for college in English, math, reading & science, according to Cynthia Schmeiser of ACT.
A better idea is to scale back from "wants to necessities." If the school districts did that, maybe they could lower the tax rate as Houston & Bellaire and other cities have done. They also need to radically improve performance.
COMING (Friday, October 12, 2007 at 8 pm) on Channel 8 PBS in Houston, Texas - The Connection - Red, White & Blue, featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland and liberal commentator David Jones with surprise guest and coming on October 26, 2007, former Mexican President Vicente Fox in an extraordinary interview.
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who recently completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his tenth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last six years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.