Recently, Robert Eckels, long time conservative county judge resigned and the vacancy was filled by former state representative Ed Emmett (last served 20 years ago.)
Some GOP activists want to reject Emmett without giving him a chance. Come on conservatives, the primary is around a year away, endorsing some other candidate at this point makes little sense.
New County Judge Emmett has plenty of time and opportunity to earn GOP votes by providing conservative leadership and advancing our common sense agenda. If he performs, he has earned our support, if not, our opposition.
With the right conservative leadership, Harris County can prove that conservative GOP government provides the required services in a fiscally responsible and tax friendly way.
CHIP, Should It Be Expanded Or Repealed?
First, a little history. The state Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was enacted in 1997. This program as passed by Congress was to complement Medicaid by expanding health coverage for children in families with incomes up to twice the poverty level.
Today, with spending over $40 billion, the program is essentially not recognizable. The program, with generous matching funds provisions have encouraged big spending states to ramp up the program and expand eligibility.
Today in some states, families can make as much as $60,000 a year and still get benefits. Now, New Jersey and Maryland are looking at $72,000 and $82,000 respectfully.
This is the expansion of a program that some big spenders want to bring to Texas. The reform of 2003 actually worked and reduced fraud, waste and abuse. The expanders want to go back to the old, easy signup that will cost the state big money. Nowhere in their efforts do you see an effort to get the state out of the insurance business, of what the benefits should be (often better than most taxpayers get on their own or via their companies insurance plan), and without looking at the advisability of vouchers for an insurance purchase and other reforms.
Whatever is decided, there is another development that is also troubling. The same people that are considered poor enough for CHIP in some states are at the same time considered rich enough to be eligible for the federal Alternative Minimum Tax. What a country!
Democratic Bigger Spenders
Charge Of Congress Now
TCR has been in the forefront of seeking fiscal sanity in D.C. and has been critical of Republican overspending. The Democrats however, make the GOP look like fiscal hawks.
Just recently the Senate Democrats released their budget plan, which calls for $400 billion in new revenue over the next five years. One thing they don't tell us, where does it come from?
One unmentioned idea is to let the wonderful Bush tax cuts expire, which TCR has demonstrated previously, actually increased government revenue.
Our adversaries in D.C. are helping us once again to start reestablishing the differences between the two parties, which is the key to future conservative success.
Residential Property Appraisal Caps:
Are They Dead?
Two years ago Governor Perry, after falling short of lowering the appraisal caps, said he would campaign for reelection on this important reform and push it in 2007.
So here we are in 2007 and it looks like once again the legislature will fail to control runaway property taxes. With three Texas counties in the top ten of high property tax counties in the U.S., it's clear we are no longer a low tax state.
So the big question is, will the legislature do anything? At a minimum, they ought to pass a local option plan so voters in each county can vote to lower their residential property tax cap if they choose too.
The U.S. Attorney Firing Scandal:
What Happened, What To Do Now?
It's really pathetic, the GOP is in trouble over terminating eight of the U.S. attorneys, which by the way is kosher. They serve at the pleasure of the President.
This is a scandal that shouldn't have happened. Instead of being defensive, we should have told it like it is and not apologize; not resign nor say mistakes were made nor make up facts.
Now things are out of control, the Bush Administration is being ripped. The Attorney General (who is a good man) looks like a deer in the headlights.
So to right the ship, go on the offensive, quit apologizing and find a new Attorney General that knows what his key aides are up to.
Kentucky GOP Governor's Implosion:
Is It Texas' Future?
Last year, the Texas GOP legislature passed a gross receipts tax for business. This new tax upset conservatives on many levels, but the tax doesn't go into effect until this year so the real pain hasn't been felt yet.
Kentucky is ahead of us. GOP Governor Ernie Fletcher pushed a tax modernization plan that created an alternative minimum tax for business, based on GROSS REVENUES (which raises revenue on all business including low margin small businesses, even those that make no profit.)
Sound familiar? Like Texas did? Governor Fletcher is up for reelection in 2007 and is now in deep trouble and probably will be defeated.
TCR says the time to re-look at the Texas gross receipts tax is NOW.
Democrats Electoral "Assault" Plan
On Harris County Judiciary
Hot on the heels of a victory in November in Dallas County, the Democratic Party is looking to duplicate its success in Harris County (Houston) in 2008.
In 2008, there are 23 courts up for election and they are actively recruiting "superbly qualified men and women, who collectively reflect the diversity of our community." (www.hcdp.org)
If they are successful in finding candidates as described above, it will be the best judicial slate for them in a decade.
The GOP better get busy.
COMING (Friday, March 30, 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 special guest Harris County Judge Ed Emmett in his first extensive interview since taking office. Coming in April: Earl Black and Merle Black.
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.