It's premature to give a final evaluation of the 2013 legislature as the special session will hopefully get a chance to address some critical issues for Texas.
So far, we have addressed our water problem, lowered franchise taxes (gross receipts taxes), and passed a balanced budget.
Left hanging is a long-term transportation solution, finalizing redistricting, and more extensive education reform pioneered by Senator Dan Patrick.
Politics 2014: The Chips Are Starting To Fall
And we're off with hats being thrown into the ring for those giving serious consideration. We could see significant movement in statewide offices and in the state Senate.
So here is what's out there today:
Rick Perry (i)
David Dewhurst (i)
George P. Bush
Normandy, Memorial Day And D-Day,
The Greatest Generation: A Reflection
Your editor had the privilege of recently visiting Normandy, touring Omaha Beach, Pointe Du Hoc, our cemeteries, and other sights.
Our forefathers, who led and bled the invasion of Europe, saved freedom not just for us, but also for the Western world. Over 100,000 made the ultimate sacrifice in the first week of the invasion alone.
The most overwhelming sight was the cemetery near Omaha Beach, St. Laurent, with over 10,000 graves of our heroes with the crosses and Jewish stars lined up symmetrically no matter which way you look.
While visiting we came upon an older couple with a representative of the cemetery, and we overheard them discussing the person buried there who died D-Day + 5, June 11, 1944. His name was David Tenenbaum and he was from Pennsylvania. We talked to the people, and it turned out the man was David's son who was born in August of 1944 and this was the first time to "meet" his father. Needless to say, when we left this encounter our eyes were not dry.
Ray Barnhart RIP
Former Texas, U.S. and Harris County GOP leader, Ray Barnhart, passed away recently. A 1976 leader in Texas for Ronald Reagan, Ray was one of the reasons Reagan crushed President Ford, winning all of Texas' one hundred delegates to the Republican National Convention.
Truly, Ray was a GOP pioneer in Texas and is one of the reasons we nominated and elected Ronald Reagan in 1980 for President, for without his efforts in 1976 & 1980, it may never have happened.
Our Prayers Are With District Attorney
Mike Anderson And His Family
The world recently learned of Mike Anderson contracting cancer. All of our hopes and prayers are with Mike and his family. God willing, he will recover.
From Jim Sinclair's Commentary:
Can Texas Become 1st Tax Free Gold State?
"Texas looks better every day. Who knows, maybe Trader Dan will move back...
"Texas is all set to become the first state to fully expand a tax exemption for gold and silver coins after Texas Senate passed H.B. 78, the bill that eliminates the sales tax on precious metal coins and bullion.
"Texas Governor Rick Perry is expected to approve a bill that eliminates the sales tax on precious metal coins and bullion.
"Analysts said the timing of this bill should be a boost to the already booming market of physical gold and silver purchases that have accelerated since the attack on paper metals in the commodities market.
"Existing Texas statute applies the 6.25% sales tax to purchases of gold and silver under $1,000."
TCR Comment: Once again Texas is a leader this time in the advancing of the opportunity to invest tax free in sound money. Next step make gold and silver legal tender.
The IRS I Know and Love
By Bruce Bialosky, Contributing Editor
The mess the IRS has gotten itself in has been fascinating. Having all these commentators writing about the Service from high above the earth offers great entertainment. I have been working with the Service since 1979. Let me offer you some first-hand perspective.
Let me say, first of all, despite the IRS's horrible reputation there are worse. At least in California, the Franchise Tax Board (income tax) and State Board of Equalization (sales tax) are eons worse in demeanor or concern for the taxpayer. The IRS has vastly improved its attitude in phone conversations over the past ten years, even regarding how they use basic language, such as referring to taxpayers as customers. They are much friendlier in that way. But there still remains an outsized challenge dealing with their revenue agents and higher in their structure.
I could convey hundreds of war stories, but here is one that is typical. I started an audit with a revenue agent in March. It was clear that she had a long way to go. She made a request for additional documents that caused me to speak to her about another appointment at my office. She indicated she was going on vacation and would be back April 16th. I told her I was leaving on vacation the next day. We agreed I would contact her when I got back and we agreed on a date in May. I called her before I left and verified this plan with her.
As soon as I left on my trip she developed another document request and went over to my client's home to deliver the document. My client went nuts and emailed me. I had to call my client from Amsterdam and then the supervisor of the revenue agent. I made clear that I had a Power of Attorney and no direct contact should have been made to the taxpayer. After going round and round the supervisor refused to acknowledge the highly improper behavior, the supervisor put the matter on hold until I got back.
When I got back the client and I had a discussion with the revenue agent. She did not relent. I asked to have her removed from the case and the supervisor did not. We then appealed to the regional office to have her removed for her errant behavior and lying. The regional office turned us down. When I spoke to the Regional Administrator, he would not remove her. I asked what justification would be needed to remove her if breaking the Power of Attorney, lying to the tax professional and creating a total atmosphere of mistrust were not good reason enough. He refused to answer. I asked him what would be justification for removing the agent. He refused to answer. I asked him if axe murdering my client would be justification for removal. He refused to answer. The IRS has a problem saying they are wrong or saying "I am sorry."
After two years and taking the case to appeals, the case landed back with the revenue agent and her supervisor. My client received a bill for an amount in the high six figures prior to the meeting. At the meeting, the supervisor finally came to the realization the revenue agent was a dunce and we came out of the meeting with my client being owed $50,000. The process inflicted a lot of pain and agony because the IRS was errant.
Was this revenue agent the only over-eager IRS employee? Absolutely not. Recently one agent's voice went up an octave every time she thought she found something against my client. I asked if she was there to get revenue or to find a fair result for the taxpayer. You can answer that question yourself.
How does this reflect on the current scandal? There are only two possible situations here. Either there were overly-eager IRS staffers applying unjust requests against certain applicants or there was political direction from the top. There could be a mixture of the two, but nothing else.
We do know that IRS employees can be overly aggressive and anti-taxpayer. It happens all the time. Let us remember they are career government employees who think government is good. For people in the IRS nonprofit department to have hostility against groups that are formed to stifle government growth would not be a stretch.
Yet we know from the Inspector General's report that there was supervision from Washington and intervention from Washington. What we do not know is how or why. We also know that the former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the White House 118 times... correct that 157 times. Other than the Easter egg hunt he alluded to, why in God's name would he be there at all? His predecessor who served for the same length of time was at the White House once. The entire matter stinks of manipulation.
Our President appointed a government bureaucrat (political appointee) to take over as IRS Commissioner and gave him 30 days to do a "top-to-bottom review" of the IRS. Please; that is as silly as when Lois Lerner stated the Tea Party problem was centered in Cincinnati and was not politically motivated. These people really think we are stupid.
Nothing will do here except a Special Counsel who has subpoena power to dig in to communications (the Inspector General did not), interrogate witnesses, threaten criminal action if appropriate and get to the truth. Some people think a special counsel will delay results, but without the threat of criminal prosecution against protected government employees we will not get to the truth.
This is bigger than we know now and every American should be livid. If the IRS gets away with this now, what will be next?
Bruce Bialosky is the founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition of California and a former Presidential appointee.
TCR on the Air
Red, White & Blue featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland, liberal commentator David Jones and moderator Linda Lorelle on Fridays at 7:30 pm on PBS Houston Channel 8.1, replaying Sundays at 12:30 p.m. on Channel 8.1, Mondays at 11:30 pm on Channel 8.2 and on the web at www.houstonpbs.org.
Red, White & Blue returns on June 21, 2013 after current Pledge Drive.
The current show as well as past shows are 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 fifteenth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last twelve years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 10 years, Gary has published election guides for the GOP primary, general elections and city elections, all with the purpose of assisting conservative candidates. Gary is also in his eleventh year of co-hosting Red, White and Blue on PBS Houston. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.