With the news this week that metro-Houston's unemployment jumped to 8% (7.5% statewide), it seems the economic slowdown has reached Texas. At the same time, we learned this week that the Texas unemployment insurance trust fund which is run by the executive branch of Texas government (the Governor), is broke and needs a federal bailout loan of at least $643 million which is to be paid back by a TAX INCREASE ON BUSINESS. TCR wonders how we got here.
Last year at Governor Rick Perry's urging, the tax rate on unemployment was cut and this year he turned down $550 million in unemployment stimulus money from the federal government that did come with strings attached. Of course, most federal funds do and that has not stopped Texas from taking billions and billions every year. As for the new strings, some legislators said we could drop the changes when the federal funds ran out and that taking the money now would reduce tax increases this year and for the next few years.
What is interesting is that regardless, we get a large tax increase sooner. Is this smart conservative politics or stupid short-sighted governing?
Is Texas Really The Only Major State
Not Taking Obama's Stimulus?
In a word, no, despite all the media hype for allegedly standing up to the all-intrusive Obama-led federal government, or some Republican politicians telling us that the economy of Texas is different. It's not, we are in the same boat as other states, but unlike California we have to balance the state budget. As for the claim that Texas, through the Governor, balanced the budget without federal assistance, it is bogus. On Red, White, and Blue recently, Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) when asked that question said, "Not if you don't count around $17 billion." Of the total funds offered Texas, did Texas show its independence by only accepting 97% of the money offered?
TCR Comment: Why don't we stop all the bull and just tell it like it is? This last legislative session would have been a train wreck that could have swallowed the entire rainy day fund and required significant budget cuts that were unnecessary (but probably should have been looked at), due to the federal bailout.
Property Tax Protests Soaring
Says Houston Chronicle, Up 300% In Ten Years: Why Are Property Taxes Still Too High?
While reading this week's National Review, your editor came across an article called Why Texas Succeeds. It was an interesting piece and while TCR agrees that California state government is a joke, not all is well here. The article claims we are a low tax state, which brings us to the continuing property tax crisis. TCR has previously reported on the great work in this area by former Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt, showing how property tax increases for years have outstripped inflation as the pressure to bring in more revenue results in higher valuations. This has occurred as the State of Texas sends more costs and responsibility to local schools districts and governments. Since the total GOP takeover in 2002, there has been a lot of talk about property tax reform and limits, but little done. Most recently, according to the conservative Lone Star Report, "(Governor) Perry enthusiastically spoke of the need to rein in property taxes during the State of the State address as the 81st (2009) regular session began... yet the regular session ended with little or no action." Likewise, when the special session was called by Governor Perry, property tax reform was nowhere to be found on the call as a topic.
TCR Comment: How many times are conservatives going to buy the same rug from politicians who propose property tax reform and deliver little or nothing?
Another Foreign Policy Mistake By Obama: Honduras
In an almost weekly occurrence, the Obama administration makes another foreign policy error, this time Honduras. Here's the truth: that nation's Supreme Court acted to protect the constitution and country from an attempt by the Hugo Chavez (Dictator-Venezuela) ally, former term-limited President Zelaya from illegally changing the constitution, and from using illegal stolen referendum ballots printed up by Chavez's people to steal the country for another far-left dictator.
The actions protected the Honduras democracy. The military deposed Zelaya and promptly handed the government to his ruling Liberal party and that's who governs today. As a columnist and talk show host, Dennis Prager (1070-AM Houston 11am - 1pm) said, after a fact finding trip last week, "Let there be no ambiguity here, little Honduras was supposed to be the next country to lose its liberties as it joined the anti-American, pro-Iranian Latin American left. But little Honduras decided to fight back. And this has infuriated Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who will surely attempt to foment violence in Honduras... if you love liberty, you will do whatever you can to help Honduras resist Chavez and his allies, which include the UN and OAS."
TCR Comment: ...and it appears President Obama.
Call or email the White House www.whitehouse.gov/contact or 202-456-1111 or your Congressman and Senators too.
by Judge Rory Olsen (R-Harris Co. Probate Court 3)
I havenít a clue why she resigned, since Gov. Palin and I have never met. But, I think that I can discern some of her motivations for resigning.
First and foremost, I doubt that before Sen. McCain asked her to be his running mate, Gov. Palin ever had given a momentís serious thought to running for either POTUS or VPOTUS. The campaign opened up new vistas for Gov. Palin. It was obvious that she enjoyed public speaking and did an excellent job of it. However, the character assassination leveled at her in the closing days of the campaign as well as the attacks upon her family had to be unpleasant. If Sen. Biden would have been treated as harshly as Gov. Palin, she would have not grounds to complain. But, he was given a pass and she was ridiculed far worse than Dan Quayle was with as little justification. So the experience of running for national office was a mixed bag for her.
Second, when she came back home to Alaska the collegiality that she had enjoyed with the Democrats in the Alaska Legislature was gone. Instead of working together to solve the stateís issues and problems, the mood changed. The Democrats were out to frustrate her and make her pay for attacking President Obama. Further, the slough of frivolous ethics complaints filed against her indicated a dark purposeĖdestroying her as a national political figure.
Three, defending against the ethics complaints became almost a full-time job and the legal fees incurred were her personal responsibility. Time had a piece the other day that suggested that the legal fees incurred were over $500,000. Had she remained in office, the bill might have doubled or tripled. Public service should not mean bankruptcy.
Four, the attacks on her family continued and became more severe. The tacky, nasty attempt at humor by David Letterman about her fourteen year old daughter was disgusting. It must have pained Gov. Palin greatly. Sadly, David Letterman is still employed at CBS.
To use a military analogy, she was stuck holding a position in which the other side could lob of a round every now and then to keep her occupied and keep her from taking the offensive. Staying in a purely defensive position while accomplishing nothing is insane. Gov. Palin did the sensible thing and decided to change the rules of engagement.
My guess is that Gov. Palin is resigning to get out of an untenable position, knowing full well that remaining in office will accomplish nothing for the people of Alaska and would only subject her family to more harm and more expense.
Once she is out of office, the initiative will pass to her. She will be able to pick her times and places to fight.
If she writes a book, it will be a best seller for sure. I suspect that she will have a lot of interesting things to say about the McCain campaign and its operatives, many of whom will be seeking employment with Gov. Romney or other potential candidates.
If she goes on either television or talk radio, she will attract a huge audience and well articulate her positions.
If she goes on a speaking tour to raise money for Republican candidates, she will pack the house wherever she speaks. Gov. Palin already has a Political Action Committee up and running, so raising money will be no problem for her. If I were a Democratic Member of Congress elected in a swing district in 2008, I would not look forward to an appearance by Gov. Palin in my district, particularly if she is going to be there to help raise money for my opponent.
Since she is familiar with Twitter and Facebook, look for her to exploit these instruments of modern communications along with YouTube to their fullest. She will be able to get her message across however she chooses to convey it.
All the blather about her leaving office early will matter not a wit a few years down the road. Since she is in her mid-forties, she will be a player on the national scene for the 2012, 2016, 2020 and 2024 elections if she wants to be. As I said before, the initiative has passed to her. She is now free to fight back, picking her issues and the times and places to strike.
My guess is that in due course, many Democrats will rue the decision to file all of those meaningless, but expensive, ethics complaints up there in Alaska.
TCR Back on the Air
Red, White & Blue, featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland and liberal commentator David Jones. This week we have an informative roundtable on the Obama medical reform plans. Upcoming invited guests: Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Congressmen Ted Poe and Al Green, Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, Attorney General Greg Abbott and Governor Rick Perry. As a new fun feature, visit Red, White & Blue on the Houston PBS website, where you can see commentary about the show and its guests by Gary and David.
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.