The reign of Speaker Craddick ended in Austin last week with a whimper. Clearly in trouble since the GOP margin in the Texas House has declined since 2002 to 76-74 in 2009, it was clear it would be very hard to stay. Despite that, for six weeks since the election Craddick tried but was unable to lock up a majority.
Then the final chess move began, the Democrats already had 64 votes committed to ABC (anyone but Craddick) and the gang of 11 GOPers who saw the need for new leadership met over a week ago (1/2/09) and united behind Joe Straus of San Antonio. Then and only then, when it was clear Craddick was totally cooked did a true viable and electable GOPer emerge, John Smithee of Amarillo, who threw his belated hat into the ring, but it turns out to be a week too late. He and his allies were outmaneuvered by the Democrats and the GOP Gang of 11.
So what to expect from Speaker Straus? A less partisan House, and not the kind of Speaker strong-arming that happened over the last few sessions.
Peggy Venable of Americans for Prosperity said about him, "the important point is Straus rated an "A" on the AFP-Texas taxpayer report card, making him a Defender of the American Dream."
Maybe a new speaker can give voice to common sense conservative solutions to improving state problems in management, reducing spending and cutting or controlling runaway property taxes.
The State Republican party leadership involvement in the last minute attacks on Straus had little impact and certainly alienated the Speaker-to-be and his Bush Republican backers. Despite the attacks, Joe Straus says he is pro-life with some exceptions, believes in voter approval of expanded gaming and gambling, lower taxes, and economic growth. He also wants to lower the level of angry partisanship.
Given the recent failures in the legislature on spending and taxes, he probably can't be much worse, can he?
Israel's Defensive Action The Right Thing To Do, Let's Let Them Finish
If you live in South Texas near the Mexican border and for the past four years terrorists fired 10,000+ rockets at you, what would you have the U.S. do? TCR suggests the U.S. would invade and eliminate the terrorists and their rocket supplies. If the terrorists hid in hospitals, churches, schools or in civilian areas it would not matter. The U.S. would not stop until the job was done and the "world" calls for restraint, or a cease-fire would be ignored.
The same should be true for Israel, finish what you started, eliminate the Hamas-Iranian supplied and funded terror threats of rockets into Israel, cut off the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, return kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit (held by Hamas for years). We also have prior experience with the UN (useless nonentity) cease-fire efforts and promises. Remember, after the Lebanon War with Hezbollah (Iran) in Lebanon we were told the UN would ensure no rearmament by Hezbollah, which was promptly ignored and they now threaten Israel with more rockets than ever.
So the fact is, international pressure does not matter. As former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens recently said, "Our job now is to keep our eye on the ball ... The IDF must continue to pursue the mission it has been assigned and put an end to the firing of rockets from the Gaza strip."
TCR Comment: The following link is a short clip I encourage everyone to watch in order to experience life in Israel with the threat of Hamas rockets. http://www.aish.com/movies/15Seconds.asp
An Idea Whose Time May Have Come,
Net Zero Gas Tax
This week, The Weekly Standard's Charles Krauthammer proposes an idea worthy of consideration. From a conservative standpoint his net zero gas tax proposal will "weaken OPEC, abolish absurd regulations, improve our trade balance, gain significant energy independence, spur conservation and humble Russia, Venezuela and Iran." WOW.
The plan works this way:
"The simultaneous enactment of two measures: a $1 increase in the federal gasoline tax - together with an immediate $14 a week reduction of the FICA tax.
"The math is simple. The average American buys roughly 14 gallons of gasoline a week. The $1 gas takes $14 out of his pocket. The reduction in payroll tax puts it right back. The average driver comes out even, and the government makes nothing on the transaction.
"Revenue neutrality is essential. No money is taken out of the economy. Washington doesn't get fatter. Nor does it get leaner. It is simply a transfer agent moving money from one activity (gasoline purchasing) to another (employment) with zero net revenue for the government."
The result is we encourage behavior that is a win-win for the U.S. and its economy and do all the things listed in the first paragraph. This idea screams as a common sense solution. TCR says, why not? The government track record on energy policy since the 1960's has been weak, counterproductive and not helpful.
Failure Of The Two Party Political Systems
In The U.S., Is It Time For A New Party?
By Brian Ettinger
2. The economy.
Our economy is based on a free market capital system and their needs to be less infringement by the Federal Government on this principal. There are programs that the government has instituted and can instituted such as Federal insurance deposit on bank accounts up to $250,000.00, but for the government to bail out financial institutions, investment brokerage firms, insurance companies and automobile companies goes against all our free market enterprises. If the government wants to set aside funds as an investment in these industries as a passive investor like any individual can do when the acquire equities or bonds, then the government shall have this freedom to make these investments and these separate funds could go to these industries and companies for their benefit. Any firm that takes government assistance under this program would need to understand that their top executives, unless the company makes a profit and the government gets the funds back plus a rate of return, then these executive will not be entitled to any severance compensation. WHEN A COMPANY IS FAILING, THEY DO NOT REWARD THE INDIVIDUALS RUNNING THE COMPANY. Severance pay is not a right, it's a privilege. Until these private companies make a real commitment to reform and be accountable, there should be no bailouts by the Government. The automobile industry, including the unions, need to be held accountable.
We need to revise the progressive Tax Code and make it a flat tax as follows.
$150,000.00 gross income would pay a flat tax of 7.5% with an additional percentage for Social Security and Medicare withholding of no more than 5%.
Anything above $150,000 to $300,000.00 would pay 10% flat tax.
Anything above $300,000.00 to $500,000.00 would pay 12.5% flat tax.
Anything above $500,000.00 to $1 million would pay 15% flat tax.
Anything above $1 million would pay a flat 17% tax.
$75,000 gross income would pay a flat tax of 7.5% with an additional percentage for Social Security and Medicare withholding of no more than 5%.
Anything above $75,000 to $200,000.00 would pay 10% flat tax.
Anything above $200,000.00 to $500,000.00 would pay 12.5% flat tax.
Anything above $500,000.00 to $1 million would pay 15% flat tax.
Anything above $1 million would pay a flat 17% tax
Under the flat tax system, married and individuals will be allowed to deduct from their gross income, their mortgage payment interest on their primary residence and property taxes associated with this property, State income tax or municipal wage taxes which will lower their gross income. These will be the only deductions allowed.
The special interest group that would object to this is the accounting industry and the I.R.S employees, as you can do a reduction in the I.R.S staff since you have simplified the tax code. Taking into account the funding that the Federal Government would receive under this plan as opposed to the current plan would generate substantially more funds and you could designate 20% of these funds the government takes in to go directly to pay down the Federal deficit.
The capital gains tax rate paid would be set at 15% flat tax. In addition, there would not be a federal inheritance tax until an estate reached $2 million Individual, $4 million Married. The maximum tax rate would kick in to be no more than a 25% rate for estates valued over $10 million dollars. This will address individuals inheriting property such as family farms that were taken away from these individuals because of the old federal inheritance tax rates.
The current corporate tax rates that corporations pay would not exceed 25% of their profit, which is lower than the corporate tax rates.
To be continued.
Brian Ettinger is a practicing attorney and contributing editor to TCR. He is a strong conservative who is concerned about America's future.
TCR Comment: This is part two of three submitted by Brian Ettinger.
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About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who 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 twelfth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last seven years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.