In a low turnout election, a small percentage of voters voted for all of the $1.495 billion City of Houston bond issues.
TCR has been quite clear about the fiscal irresponsibility of these bonds and the negative impact it will have on the City's future.
So a few predictions; the promises of no increase in taxes will prove to be another unfilled campaign promise. A review of the inability of the City to reduce unnecessary spending means that in order to pay off the bonds, the City and Mayor Turner will seek to bust the spending cap so they can then boost tax rates to pay for the new bonds.
In addition, don't forget when property tax appraisals go up so does the amount you pay in taxes, so that's a tax increase too. Some big spending politicians don't see this as a tax increase.
Now for part two of the prediction, bankruptcy by 2022-2024. Why? Because of the ongoing underfunding of pensions shows no sign of ending. In addition, the newly voted for bonds are to be paid interest-only for five years and then begin the payoff of principle on the loans over a 25 year authorization with a cost of around $80 million a year.
But the big problem here is that the deal doesn't eliminate the $5-6 billion plus in pension debt still facing Houston, and that increases at the rate of $250-500 million a year. There is no answer here except massive tax increases or a partial reduction of the pension debt via bankruptcy like Detroit.
Welcome To The World
Bree Ayla 11/1/2017
TCR salutes Bree Ayla, born in Los Angeles on November 1, 2017, joining her sister, Elle - two beautiful little girls.
Off-Year Elections Message For Texas
Losing the Governorships in deep blue New Jersey and light blue Virginia was not a surprise. However, the loss of at least 15 seats in the House of Delegates in Virginia, many in lean Republican districts, was not expected.
Another change this year is "our favorite Democrat, Hillary Clinton" is not on the ballot and the Democrats "favorite" Republican, Donald Trump is in office. Trump is not popular in key parts of Virginia and New Jersey, especially in the well-educated, suburban areas.
The Democrats, clearly in 2017 had the enthusiasm advantage, but as the Cook Political Report observed, "the Democrats enthusiasm advantage ...is limited to areas and districts that Democrats already hold."
So the messages for Texas Republicans going into 2018 are (1) Don't be cocky, this will be a harder election than you think. (2) Turning out the GOP base at Presidential levels or better is critical for winning. (3) The GOP, especially in swing counties must compare and contrast between the GOP team and the Democratic one. (4) The well-funded statewide candidates need to be prepared to invest heavily in major counties like Harris, Tarrant, Fort Bend and others where the Democrats are working hard. (5) The GOP needs to articulate how GOP officeholders make a positive difference in people's lives.
Simpson Just Offers More Excuses, Again
Paul Simpson, HCRP Chairman and Apologist-in-Chief, was in full-blown CYA mode at Monday night's Harris County Republican Party Executive Committee meeting. On the heels of the HCRP's worst showing in Party history in November 2016, - remember, it was after that loss that Simpson blamed Trump and poor turnout and a number of other factors - Simpson once again showed up with a sack of excuses to explain away the Party's ineffectiveness in electing Republicans, this time in the aftermath of losing the remaining seats on the Houston Independent School District (HISD) to the Democrats. Simpson began his remarks surrounding the HISD and Houston Community College System (HCCS) losses by saying, "The results were disappointing to us." You think?
This time Simpson blamed the labor unions who invested money in electing their candidates. Perhaps Simpson couldn't foresee that the Democrats would rally the unions to help their cause. More surprising was the amount the HCRP spent to push back those forces - a staggering $1500. With that kind of investment in conservative candidates, how could it have all gone so terribly wrong? Yet, Simpson viewed the results, in his words, as disappointing. Perhaps Simpson's dismal showing and paltry investment weren't for a lack of commitment, perhaps it was instead a lack of resources. The HCRP did report a $75,000 net loss for the preceding 4 months and as Simpson would say later, "We can't do anything without fundraising." Well said, Captain Obvious, well said.
But Simpson did promise to rally the troops in support of the lone conservative survivor of the November 2017 Massacre, Gene Pack, in his runoff race for HCCS in December. With the support of Simpson and his sack of excuses, there is little doubt that Gene Pack is already writing his victory speech. Or not.
More likely, Gene Pack, who is a great conservative and a longtime friend, understands that he is on his own and victory will come from his efforts and those of a network of grassroots that he has assembled over decades of service. Like Pack, the 2018 Class of Republican candidates is already viewing the 2018 contest with trepidation. Make no mistake, the Democrats smell the blood flowing in the water. The ineffectiveness of the HCRP gives them something they didn't have before Simpson - hope. Hope that they can turn this once bright red county blue. The only hope that the 2018 Republican Class has to clutch is the hope for change, a change in strategy, messaging and fundraising that I fear will only result from a change in leadership.
Otherwise, we can only look forward to another sack of worn out excuses at the end of 2018.
Truth About the Tax Plan
By Bruce Bialosky, Contributing Editor
As a professional in the tax field who has written about this issue for close to 40 years, it is quite amusing to watch self-appointed experts in the press pontificate about the massive proposal for changes to our tax system that was introduced by Republican leaders in the House of Representatives. Let's take a real look at the proposal.
First, you need to understand most professionals refuse to comment to their clients on the bill because we are so far from the plan being enacted that it could change significantly. People do not want clients badgering them about the seesaw negotiations. Obviously, that means you should not get too invested in what currently exists in the plan.
On the other hand, you can discount some babble from sources trying to cast a negative shadow over the plan. Catherine Rampell, the in-house "supposed" expert at the Washington Post, wrote that "many blue states are in big, big trouble." They may be, but not necessarily over this tax plan. She goes on to say "The new Republican tax plan is, on the whole, a bunch of tax cuts weighted toward the rich." Again an attempt to perpetuate a mantra of the Left. Unfortunately, her own newspaper countered by stating that the middle-class would have a tax cut of over $1,100 per family. Rampell doesn't even see her own inherent contradiction in the two statements where first she says the wealthy in blue states would suffer, but the plan benefits the rich. As I said, quite humorous.
Let's look at what this plan does. As I have written previously I consider it virtually criminal that the kingpin of freedom and free enterprise, the United States of America, has the highest corporate tax rates in the world. That is before you add in our states' corporate taxes. This plan fixes that. We live in a competitive world. We live in the supersonic jet age world where we have to be competitive with other countries to attract and keep job producers. Other countries have been eating our lunch by drawing our multi-national companies to their lands and keeping their own companies from coming to America to hire our workers. This will change that. The new rates move us to the middle of the pack among major industrialized nations.
This is huge. It is necessary. It is proper public policy. Anyone who does not support this is a myopic fool. This is the most essential part of the plan and helps all of us.
If nothing else this tax plan kills the Death Tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). As I have previously written, the Death Tax is despicable even if the level has been raised to where most people will not have to pay it. There is still extensive planning done by many people below the level where they would have to file an estate tax return. If I never had to speak to an estate planning attorney again on behalf of my clients I would be delighted.
All one will need is a will (you have one; correct?) and maybe a trust if you have a ne'er-do-well child. There is so much money wasted in this area with high paid advisors, the Death Tax makes it just a full-employment act for suits.
I have told people for a long time the only person who understands the AMT is a guy in a very large building in D.C. on the fourth floor in a back office.It is far too complicated and has not done what it was intended to do for years. Good riddance.
The single craziest clause of this proposed law is striking the deduction of alimony as a deduction for the payer and as income for the payee. Why they dealt with this issue I have no idea.It would make sense if someone was paying $5,000 a month in alimony and they could just reduce it to say $3,200 to reflect no longer getting the tax deduction and the recipient not having to declare the income.
The problem is to do that everyone paying alimony would have to go back to court to get those reductions even if the former spouse agreed to the reduction. Then they would have to convince the judge (mediator) who in my experience has nearly zero understanding of economics or taxes (as well as the attorneys). They have their own perverted form of accounting.This clause should be ditched because the system is far too complicated to unwind.
For many who are just employees and maybe own their home, this will make life much easier. Because the standard deduction is doubled to $24,000, for most people filing taxes will be simple if this plan were to pass. They will no longer worry about itemized deductions and keeping track of a bunch of expenditures to potentially get a tax benefit.
Make no mistake for the people who run businesses or make a lot of money: this is not tax simplification. Their financial lives are complicated and thus their taxes will remain complicated. Maybe even more so.
Take a deep breath. We have a long way to go before this becomes law.
Bruce Bialosky is the founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition of California and a former Presidential appointee. You can follow Bruce on Twitter @brucebialosky.
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 Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 8, Monday at 11:30 pm on Channel 8.2 and on the web at www.houstonpublicmedia.org.
About Your Editor
11-17-2017: Gun Control and Gun Rights - With Guests: Jacquie Baly (GOP Strategist) and Craig Washington, former member of the US House, TX-18.
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 twenty-first year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last sixteen 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.