The early voting is on, and in Texas we desperately need you to vote the entire ballot. There are many fine candidates down-ballot who need your support.
Just because there is a challenge at the top of the ticket is no reason to avoid voting for the good people down-ballot.
By Gary L. Bauer
TCR friend Gary Bauer leads an important national conservative group Campaign for Working Families.
"Obamacare is collapsing. These headlines speak for themselves: Covered California Notifies Subscribers of Up to 57 Percent Rate Increases; Nearly 400,000 Michigan Residents Brace for Double-Digit Obamacare Spike; More Than 1 Million to Lose Obamacare Plans as Insurers Quit; Gov. Dayton (D) Declares Affordable Care Act 'No Longer Affordable; Average Premiums For Popular ACA Plans Rising 25 Percent; ObamaCare Hikes Leave Dems Exposed."
"And get this: Two Democrat ex-senators (Russ Feingold in Wisconsin and Evan Bayh in Indiana) who were responsible for Obamacare being rammed down our throats in 2010 now want to come back to the Senate. Really? Their Republican opponents should make Obamacare THE issue in the remaining days of this campaign.
"Let me state the obvious: Obamacare was built on a lie. The notion that the government could cover more people at a lower cost was absurd. Now the same people who lied to you are planning to use the failure of Obamacare as the battering ram to demand that the government run everything.
Immigrants! Don't Vote For What You Fled
"Are you ready for Hillarycare? If not, vote Trump/Pence!"
By Gloria Alvarez
TCR Comment: Why do immigrants come to America? Not to join the welfare state, according to Gloria Alvarez. She, in many ways, points out what conservatives have failed to communicate. We should welcome immigrants who seek the American dream. Once they feel wanted, it's only logical they will vote for the party that gives them the opportunity, not the party of "free stuff." Thanks to Prager University (www.prageru.com) for this insightful article.
"I live in Guatemala, and I work throughout Latin America. And I want to speak to the millions of fortunate Hispanic immigrants living in the United States - legally or not. I have a question for you: why do you support the same policies in the U.S. that caused you to flee your home country?"
"The policies I'm talking about are those that lead to a bigger and bigger central government. You know only too well that the more power the government has, the more corrupt it becomes. My home country, like most other nations in Central and South America, is very poor. Fifty-four percent of the population lives in poverty, and 13 percent lives in extreme poverty. Half of all children under five are chronically malnourished. Crippling government corruption is the norm. Opening a new business can take months, even years, because of a multitude of regulations that are designed to line the pockets of bureaucrats. So, the cost is much too high for the average citizen. Quite simply, unless you're politically connected in Guatemala, you probably want to leave.
"And in the last 20 years, many Guatemalans have left-or, to put it more honestly, they fled. The fortunate ones reach the United States, the freest and wealthiest nation in human history. There are at least 1 million Guatemalans living in the U.S.
"Nearly every Mexican and Central and South American immigrant in the United States, whether they immigrated legally or illegally, moved or fled to the U.S. for the same reasons-economic opportunity and the freedom to shape their own lives.
"In short, you came to the United States to participate in what Americans call the American Dream. But have you ever asked yourself: Why is the United States so free, so much less corrupt, and so much more affluent than any Latin American country?
"The answer lies first and foremost in the unique American belief in limited government. Why? Because the smaller the government, the less the corruption. And the smaller the government, the more individual freedom and personal responsibility. And given those things, along with hard work and talent, you can accomplish your life's goals.
"So back to my question: Why would you support policies that keep expanding the power of the government when they are the very policies that doomed your home countries? Is it because you think that when Democrats offer you free stuff, it means they really care about you? Do you think that when Republicans talk about enforcing immigration laws, it means they are going to send you back?
"Let's be honest. You didn't come here for free stuff. You came for the economic opportunity that allows you to work and earn.
"And of course a nation has an obligation to enforce its borders. Certainly every country in Central and South America does; in fact, much more so than the U.S.
"Perhaps you believe that your home country is poor not because of failed socialism and corrupt big government, but because of issues unrelated to ideology - not enough natural resources, imperialism, and so on. Or, worse, you believe that the U.S. has gotten rich on the backs of poorer nations.
"But these narratives are false. There are many nations blessed with abundant natural resources that are poor - and they are poor overwhelmingly because of corrupt governments and policies that destroy incentives to produce. Look at Venezuela, which has vast oil and mineral reserves, but has shortages of every basic necessity. Why? Because of socialist policies; because of those same deceiving politicians who promised to "fight for the people," and give you free stuff.
"Are you going to fall for these lies again in your adopted country?
"Do you think by electing politicians who will "fight for the people," "fight for social justice," and raise taxes on the "one percent" who are "exploiting" the wealth of the "99 percent" that you will get ahead? In other words, will you support the same policies and vote for the same types of politicians here who made such a mess back home?
"The United States became wealthy because its government stayed out of the way of its citizens. The more power you give to the government; the less power you have to control your own life. Prosperity and opportunity diminish as government grows. So why did you, like so many of my fellow Guatemalans, come to the U.S.?
"Because your society was broken.
"You chose to make a new life in the United States. You could have gone to another Latin American country with a similar culture and the same language as your home country. But you didn't. Because the United States is different.
Jeff Daily RIP
"Please help keep it that way."
Conservative leader, funder, and innovator Jeff Daily lost his long battle with myeloma.
Jeffrey Neil Daily founded Daily Instruments Corporation, a world leading thermometry company that services and provides value to the refining, petrochemical, and aerospace industries.
Mr. Daily gained extensive economic knowledge through his studies but his unique approach, as a true practitioner, was the product of years of debates with college professors and economists. His active participation in international business allowed him to set his theories into practice first hand, and witness the creation of jobs and economic value. Within every tome he found some element to practice and develop, in constant conversation with its author. His quest for innovation and inventing new technologies for refining and other industries was often discussed at lunch with his engineers as the company continued to grow. Currently, over 150 people work for Mr. Daily and he challenged and positively influenced each and every member of his team.
Jeff Daily was a GOP activist as President of the Greater Houston Pachyderm Club, Candidates Committee of Associated Republicans of Texas, Finance Chairman of Harris County Republican Party (under your Editor), Member of C Club of Houston, Board Member of HPRC, and was on the Board of Directors of the Lincoln Club of Southern California.
He was a Houston City Council candidate in 2003, was Co-Chairman for Let the People Vote and was Co-Campaign Manager of the winning Houston Prop 2 amendment, which limits annual city revenue increases to adjustments for inflation and population growth, unless approved by a citizen's ballot, which Mayor Turner wants to eliminate.
Jeff's leadership and vision was critical of our victory for taxpayers and his life should serve as an inspiration to those seeking to engage in future conservative battles.
Turner's Pension Plan Will Require 50%
Of Property Taxes For 30 Years
By Bill King
For the last 40 years, Bill King has practiced law and run businesses in Houston. He has served his community in a variety of ways. In 2012, Bill co-chaired the HISD bond campaign to rebuild its dilapidated high schools throughout the city. The measure won nearly 70 percent voter approval. Prior to that, his efforts to revamp the region's hurricane preparedness plans earned him several gubernatorial appointments and other recognition.
More recently, as a columnist for the Houston Chronicle and as a candidate for Mayor, Bill earned a reputation as an outspoken advocate for balancing the city budget, investment in infrastructure, and common sense solutions to Houston's most challenging problems. Bill King offers this insightful article on Turner's pension plan.
"Yesterday, the City posted more details about the proposed pension plan. The plan commits the City to pension payments in a range of approximately 27-38% of its payroll for the next 30 years. Based on the assumptions being used, the actual payments will almost certainly rise in short order to the upper limit of that range."
"That means that the City will pay $26 billion in pension payments over the next 30 years. The payments will average about $850 million each year. But, of course, those payments are back-end loaded so that the current mayor and council will avoid most of the pain of paying for this plan.
"But here is the real kicker. If you assume that property tax receipts will increase by 3% annually, the payments under this plan will equal about 50% of property taxes collected by the City for the next 30 years.
"50% of property taxes! That is before you hire a police officer, buy a fire truck, fix a pothole or provide any of the services we expect from our City. Obviously, that is not sustainable. So get ready for your property taxes to skyrocket if this deal is enacted and voters remove the property tax cap next year."
Turner's Bum's Rush On $20 Billion Pension Deal
For the last month Sylvester Turner has been negotiating in secret with the same employee groups that donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaign over the future of their pension system. No one else has been at the table, certainly not Houston taxpayers. Other than vague briefings to a few in the business community and think tanks, there has been a lock down on information about the new "plan."
In the last week, the first details have begun to emerge about Turner's proposal. Some of those details are encouraging, but other are equally troubling and there are still vast gaps in the information available.
Here are some of the things we do know and don't know:
There will be no transition, in the long or short term, to defined contribution plans. A transition to defined contribution plans for new employees is favored by 70% of Houstonians. Turner took it off the table because the employees would not agree to it. Exactly why our employees, most of whom do not live in the City, should have a say in what kind of retirement plan we, as taxpayers, offer to our new employees is beyond me.
The plan will commit the City to spend $20-26 billion on pensions over the next 30 years.
The City's assumptions are based on the plans' assets earning a return of 7% for the next 30 years, down from the old assumption of 8.5%. But in 2015, the plans earned less than 3%. They have not released their returns of this year. Rumor has it that they were less than 2015. The firefighters' plan's numbers were so bad this year it did not release the draft of the actuary report that was prepared.
The employee groups' leadership have tentatively agreed to about $2.5 billion of benefit cuts. This is about a 12% reduction. Various actuary groups are grinding away on whether the cuts actually add up to $2.5 billion, but my guess is that will be pretty close. It is less clear whether the rank and file in the employee groups are on board with their leadership's agreement with Turner on these cuts.
In exchange for these benefit cuts, the City will issue $1 billion of pension bonds and give that money directly to the pensions. This will be the largest general obligation bond issuance in the City's history and there will be no voter approval of these bonds.
The target contribution for the City is approximately 32-33% of payroll. That is, of course, a staggering number compared to private industry. But the plan will allow that level to rise to 37-38%, which is supposed to be the maximum the City will ever have to contribute. But the details of how that limitation would work have not been disclosed or apparently even worked out with the employee groups.
The repayment of the pension debt is back-end loaded so that the real fiscal pain is conveniently delayed for about eight years. I am sure that is just a coincidence.
This is the largest financial commitment in the City's history by far and may well be the largest it will ever make. Turner is asking Council to approve this plan after less than a week since he released additional, but far from complete, details about the plan. There are still enormously important questions for which we have little or no information. In fact, as of yesterday at 5:00 pm, Council had not even seen the language of the resolution they are being asked to approve.
What is the rush? Well, apparently Turner is going on his second foreign trip in as many months, this time to South Africa.
I have found in my business career that when anyone was trying to rush me to agree to deal, that was exactly the time I needed to sit down and take my time to make a decision. That is exactly what Council should do now. To vote on a $20 billion financial commitment that will obligate the taxpayers of Houston for the next three decades based on the skimpy information we have now would be irresponsible in the extreme.
TCR Recommends a "YES" Vote
On HISD Proposition 1
On the November 8th General Election ballot, voters in the the Houston Independent School District (HISD) will be asked to vote on Proposition 1, which reads, "Authorizing the board of trustees of Houston Independent School District to purchase attendance credits from the state with local tax revenues." Without getting too technical, this is essentially a question of in what way will HISD be "robbed" under the Robin Hood school finance plan. Notice that it is not a question of IF HISD will be "robbed" only a question of how. Under Robin Hood, HISD is a "wealthy" school district by virtue of its property tax roles when compared to "poor districts" which have a lesser tax base. Since property tax revenues have increased due to escalating values, HISD (like other wealthy districts) is now subject to what is called recapture of excess revenues. Should HISD voters accept Proposition 1 (with a "yes" vote) then HISD will begin making payments on the approximate $162 million it owes in recapture. If voters reject Prop. 1, HISD still owes the money, which will result in the state transferring some properties out of HISD and into other "poor" school districts. The problem with this transfer is that HISD has a relatively low tax rate, which is not true of other districts on whose tax rolls the taxpayers may land. The end result is that those taxpayers unfortunate enough to be moved to a district with a higher rate will end up paying higher property taxes than their neighbors who remain in HISD. The bottom line is that vote for Proposition 1 is a vote for a tax increase, which TCR opposes. Advocates for a "No" vote theorize that it could lead to much-needed reform or elimination of Robin Hood. For our money though, TCR believes that voters are ill advised to roll the dice on possible (but much needed) reform when considering the absolute certainty of a tax increase.
Proposition 1 is not a referendum on Robin Hood, though voters when they are reminded of its patently unfair redistribution of wealth, should be sufficiently outraged to petition the Legislature for reform. TCR's recommendation is a vote of "YES" for Proposition 1and a call to action for all taxpayers to stand up and demand elimination of Robin Hood in the next legislative session that begins early next year.
TCR on the Air
Red, White & Blue featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland and liberal commentator David Jones on Fridays at 7:30 pm on PBS Houston Channel 8, replaying Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 8, Mondays at 11:30 pm on Channel 8.2 and on the web at www.houstonpublicmedia.org.
About Your Editor
Ben Rose, Democratic State Rep. candidate vs. Sarah Davis who declined, and Jared Woodfill, President Conservative Republicans of Texas on the Harris County campaigns in place of invited guests Paul Simpson HCRP Chair and HCDP Chair Lane Lewis who couldn't get off work and the party's communication director called in sick. We live in a strange world.
November 8 Preview and Review and Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Destiny & Power-The American Odyssey of George H. W. Bush.
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 nineteenth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last fifteen years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 13 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 15th year of co-hosting Red, White and Blue on PBS Houston, longest running political talk show in Texas history. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.