In a word, maybe. There are many challenges ahead - nationally we need to get the war in Iraq right and that will be tough.
As for priorities - the nomination and confirmation of conservative non-legislating judges is also important. Activist courts are one of the few legs the left wing still stands on. Next, making President Bush's tax cuts permanent should not be put off a year, but done now and while we are at it, let's get control of runaway federal spending. Immigration reform is important because we must have real laws that are actually enforced. Our borders today remain an open invitation to terrorists to come and do their damage to us. We must not reward law violators ever, which is what amnesty does.
Social Security Reform?
The Bush idea for reforming Social Security and introducing private accounts is a great idea that should have been done in 1980. Lets review its history briefly - in 1930 when we created the idea of Social Security it was to be in addition to one's retirement savings! In the 1930's, there were 41 workers for every retiree and the tax cost 2% of the first $3,000 in earnings. Today, there are just 3 workers for every retiree and the taxes are 12.6% up to $90,000 in earnings. Today, there is some talk with reform that there will be an increase in the social security wage cap, which is a big tax increase, it also means that the relationship between taxes paid and benefits becomes more tenuous.
What kind of return does one get with Social Security? For example, in 2000 it took 24 years for a retiree with lifetime earnings at or above the Social Security wage cap to get all of their and their employer contributions. And the news gets worse - for a worker retiring in 2003 - it will take 55 years worth of benefits to get back their contributions.
So what is going to happen? The Social Security retirement age is going up, or we will receive less in payments, and/or taxes will go up. The more we do to encourage private savings, the better.
Beginning Our Fourth Year
It seems like yesterday when TCR was started in response to many who read the Chairman's Report (that I wrote for six years as Chairman of the Harris County Republican Party) and missed it after my term ended.
Since TCR started, our readers have grown significantly to over 5000 subscribers. We were able, due to our generous readers, to mail a special edition to delegates and alternates to the 2004 State Republican Convention, which outlined a vision for the future for the GOP in Texas.
As for the future, we will continue to call it as we see it. TCR is very interested in what its readers would like to see with the newsletter and the website - email us.
TCR will continue to advance the cause of economic and social conservatism. That is what politics for many of us is all about.
It's The Economy Stupid
The debts of the U.S., both private and public, continue to explode. The U.S. Government pays out - are you ready? - $320 billion a year in interest on the Federal debt! The total U.S. debt without unfunded liabilities is over $37 trillion. Unfunded liabilities (Social Security and Medicare) are estimated to be $50 trillion plus. Our current account deficit (which is the difference between our savings and expenditures) is now $650 billion.
At the rate we are going, 80% of the savings in the world are being now used here!
Essentially what is going on is we send our paper money overseas and we buy goods in return. The foreign countries in Asia, China, Japan and others, buy U.S. treasury notes or U.S. assets (IBM personal computer line, Unocal), maybe at some point this merry-go-round will end, at the cost of a significant reduction in our standard of living.
As many of you should know, our money is not backed by anything - having dumped the gold standard years ago. But you say the dollar is a reserve currency - true, and that has been our saving grace, but if we don't get our house in order, the currency will just slowly fade away.
James Grant of the authoritative Grant's Interest Rates Observer stated recently, "Americans save just about zero…the U.S. imports merchandise and exports dollars…the Asian bankers buy U.S. government securities… They buy (for their nation), export growth and employment growth."
Of course all paper money is just paper - that's why real money, gold, has risen the last three years. Economically, we have major challenges, we need to work harder, we need to save and we need a currency backed by something more that paper or we will be prosperous only as long as those foreign nations subsidize us. In other words, we are at their mercy with implications to our freedom of actions around the world.
Is Rep. Fred Hill The Messenger -
Forget a Lowered Property Tax Cap?
Rep Fred Hill (R)-Richardson, Chair of the Local Government Ways and Means Committee is now opposing the lowering of the property tax cap!
He states opposition is building to not lower tax caps. Well, if this is true, we will continue to have local tax increases on autopilot.
Conservatives must stand up for our beliefs and ensure our elected officials stand with us or be replaced. This legislative session will tell us where conservatives really stand.
Harris County Tax Assessor, Paul Bettencourt said prophetically, "If we can't pass property tax relief in President Bush's home state, then what signal does that send about the state of the conservative movement in Texas and what that would mean to the rest of the country."
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 ninth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last three years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant and can be reached at (713) 621-6335.
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