TCR has watched with interest the developments in the Texas Speaker's race since the great GOP victory in November. With the GOP majority up to 99 seats it sure will be easier to pass conservative legislation. Soon after the election, some conservative activists and a handful of legislators decided they wanted a new speaker and a speaker's race arose.
We looked into the incumbent Speaker Joe Straus to see if his critics are correct. Straus's record is one as a lifelong Republican, former member of the Reagan administration, and a conservative voting record in the Texas House. As Speaker, in the last cycle he donated around $1.6 million to GOP candidates working closely with such conservative groups as Associated Republicans of Texas, Texans for Lawsuit Reform and the State Republican Party, which makes him a key factor in our great victory this year, picking up 22 House seats in Texas.
As for conservative issues, he joined Attorney General Abbott's amicus briefs in opposition to Obamacare and in support of the Arizona illegal immigration bill, has a proven record as an anti-tax and spend conservative. And for those who say he isn't conservative enough, we say look at his plans with a super-majority in the House as opposed to a nail-biting majority he dealt with last session: a real voter ID bill, balancing the Texas budget without raising taxes, and strengthen border security.
As for the race, it appears all but over. Despite two opponents running for weeks and lots of noise, Speaker Straus has as of today, 120 pledges, down a mere 6 from November 2nd. It takes 76 votes to be Speaker.
The continuing efforts of some to attack Speaker Straus for not being conservative or for his religion are both bogus. The attacks are now needless distractions from our legislators preparing to deal with real issues come January. When we start discarding those we don't think are conservative enough we are heading into a difficult situation where our hold on power would be tenuous at best. This is not a case where we are dealing with a RINO (Republican in name only).
The Texas Conservative Review endorses Joe Straus for Speaker in 2011. We urge all of our friends in the legislature to do the same.
Whatever Happened To Property Tax Relief?
William Lutz in Lone Star Report (www.lonestarreport.org) gave conservatives a friendly reminder - it's time to get control of runaway property taxes.
His research found: "According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, local revenue in Texas rose from $65.5 billion in 2000 to $108.1 billion in 2008 ... a 65 percent increase. The consumer price index for Houston went from 152.8 to 188.8 during the same period, a 23.6 percent increase. ... Texas local government spending increased at nearly THREE TIMES the rate of inflation. The Statistical Abstract of the United States publishes a chart listing the effective property tax rate, as a percentage of a home's value, for the largest city in each state. Our largest city, Houston, was number four."
It's time to lower the appraisal cap to 5% and institute necessary reforms so in Houston we can go from No. 4 to No. 25. 99 Republicans in the Texas House should be enough.
Heritage Foundation Says It's The Spending,
Not The Tax Cuts, That's The Problem
In a fascinating new story, the conservative Heritage Foundation laid out a plan to cut 25% of the 2010 deficit in common sense ways.
Their specialist, Brian Riedl, a budget expert at the Heritage Foundation explains what happens if we don't.
"If Congress does nothing and simply continues existing taxing and spending policies, [annual] federal deficits will grow, reaching a projected $2 trillion deficit in just 10 years - and even that assumes a return to peace and prosperity. Soaring spending drives these dangerous deficits. By 2020, federal spending is set to rise to 26% of the gross domestic product (GDP), after having averaged 20% after World War II... To reduce deficits, Congress must cut spending."
And he tells us where to cut spending:
"In a budget-cutting study released just last week, the Heritage Foundation showed how to cut $343 billion in federal spending, or more than one-fourth of the 2010 deficit, as a down-payment on putting government spending on a downward trajectory. ...turning over certain federal programs, such as job training and highway-funding programs, to state and local governments, consolidating hundreds of duplicative programs, ending corporate welfare and abolishing dozens of outdated, ineffective programs. Among the programs he suggests for elimination:
- Community Development Block Grant Program
- Economic Development Administration
- Overseas Private Investment Corporation
- Trade and Development Agency
- Legal Services Corporation
- Job Corps
- Rural Utilities Service mandates
- Cut the federal employee travel budget in half
- Sell off unused federal properties worth billions
- Freeze and reform federal pay
- Cut House and Senate budgets to 2008 levels
- Privatize Amtrak
- Replace farm subsidies with Farmer Savings Accounts and improved crop insurance
- Rescind remaining stimulus spending
Almost all of the proposed cuts in federal spending will provoke strong objections from constituencies that benefit from having members of Congress give them taxpayer money taken from someone else. … Yet the difficulties caused by each of these cuts should be measured against the status-quo option of doubling the national debt over the next decade, risking an economic crisis, and drowning future generations in taxes."
TCR Comment: If you wondered, can we reduce Federal spending? The answer is yes.
TCR on the Air
Red, White & Blue (now Emmy nominated), featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland and liberal commentator David Jones is on hiatus for PBS pledge drive and will be back in January with new shows focusing on the new legislative session and the new Congress in D.C. We will also introduce you to new elected officials. For a new fun feature go to www.houstonpbs.org and under Red White and Blue, you can see commentary about the show and its guests by Gary and David each week. Past shows are also available on YouTube.
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 thirteenth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last eight years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.