Traditionally, major business organizations ally with conservatives on important issues like taxes, spending, and anti-over regulation. Generally speaking, the big business lobby stays away from social issues, but not anymore.
It seems that groups like the Texas Association of Business (TAB) or the Greater Houston Partnership, though comprised of many free market supporters, have been infiltrated, particularly in the upper staff leadership by social liberal activists!
Take TAB, for example, whose new President Chris Wallace, is an agenda driven leftist. Under Wallace's leadership, the TAB recently released a study claiming "discriminatory legislation" would result in economic losses in Texas ranging from $964 million to $8.5 billion, but the study is widely regarded as totally unreliable.
Chris Wallace has a history of supporting the gay rights political agenda, including the No Nonsense in November PAC (pro-gay marriage) and the Human Rights Campaign PAC, which "supports candidates who have a solid history of support for lesbian and gay equality" according to its website www.hrc.org.
In addition to recent opposition to "discriminatory legislation," Wallace spoke against religious freedom bills during the 2015 legislative session. According to a Texas Observer article, the TAB - under Wallace's leadership - was opposed to House Joint Resolution 55 and Senate Joint Resolution 10, which would have protected religious freedoms. Wallace told the Observer that the legislation would make the state look unwelcoming and cited damage to Arizona's reputation when similar legislation was passed there (Texas Observer, 3/5/2015). Wallace has also contributed to many Democratic candidates and organizations at the state and federal levels. And he has contributed to some Republican candidates on the state and federal level, but while he has supported both Republican and Democrat candidates, further analysis of the contributions show that he chooses liberals over conservatives in competitive races of particular importance, such as supporting Leticia Van de Putte over Dan Patrick, Bill White over Rick Perry, Wendy Davis over Greg Abbott, Obama over McCain, and Al Gore over George Bush.
His support of Democrats in key races and his contributions to liberal organizations raise questions about his potential personal bias on issues in addition to religious freedom and gay rights. For example, his support for Al Gore, who is a leader on climate change, raises the question of what position Wallace would take on climate change legislation in the Texas legislature, such as supporting more restrictions or opposing reduced regulations on Texas businesses.
Chris Wallace's personal bias would explain his outspokenness and leadership in opposition to legislation by conservative state legislators regarding religious freedom and gay rights. His contributions and statements also raise questions about biases he holds for liberal causes and how he may choose to lead TAB on those issues in the future.
Houston We Have A Problem: The Homeless Epidemic, Does The City Care At All?
As your Editor has traveled the Houston area, we saw more homeless on the streets than ever. Some of them even have tents. As you drive through underpasses or or near Minute Maid Park or under street signs downtown, you see more homeless than ever.
So is the homeless problem getting worse? Not according to the Coalition for The Homeless, which reports that since 2011 our homeless population was down from 11,152 to 5,726 in 2016.
If we are making progress, we still have a persistent problem. So, what is a conservative solution? Let's look at best practices around the nation:
In 2005 Utah developed a conservative plan called "Housing First," and it has decreased homelessness in Utah by 90%. What did they do?
According to John Stoehr of The American Conservative in his article The Answer to Homelessness:
"The model for Utah's program took shape years earlier in New York City. Clinical psychologist Sam Tsemberis had grown frustrated with orthodox methods that called for the homeless to overcome addiction, seek treatment for mental illness, and find work before getting housed. Tsemberis realized none of that was possible without housing first. So in 1992 he founded Pathways to Housing, a nonprofit group that has slowly transformed the ways municipalities address homelessness."
"The disengagement between the person wanting a place to live and a system that is offering treatment and sobriety and participation in programing as a condition for housing has failed people like this for years.
"(The) strategy hinges on getting homeless into permanent housing in order to establish ties to a community. The tenant agrees to pay a nominal rent of no more than 30 percent of whatever income he has. And he must abide by lease agreements, just as any other renter would do. Moreover, he is not forced to seek treatment for mental illness or addiction, but he is offered such programs by a full-time case worker who regularly visits to help the tenant negotiate his way through the maze of social services and charitable organizations.
"People are more likely to chart new paths if they have stable housing and meaningful choices from which to start," Utah's Homeless Coordinating Committee said in a plan-of-action report released in 2008. (The) program attracted the attention of Republican governors around the country because it ultimately saved money. Lots of taxpayer money. When Utah officials added up the amount going into medical treatment and law enforcement, the coast to the state per homeless individual was more than $216,300 a year in 2007 dollars, according to Housing Works. The cost of housing, rent assistance, and full-time case management, meanwhile, was just $19,500.
"Eventually, Utahns like Lloyd Pendleton (Director of Utah's Homeless Task Force) came around to seeing the wisdom of providing housing without strings attached. Though it may at first sting a bit to see someone getting something he didn't work for, over time most recipients of free housing take responsibility for their lives, Tsemberis says. Once they have the stability of housing, they can beat addiction, manage mental illness, seek more education, or find employment. Housing, critically, must come first.
No Half Measures, Repeal Obamacare Now
"In that spirit, Tsemberis argues that the "Housing First" model doesn't just help the homeless. It helps the rest of us. 'There's a price that we are paying for homeless,' he said in 2012. 'Not noticing is costing not only the people still homeless on the streets but it's costing us. If we take for granted the feeling of seeing a homeless person walking by, we have to shut down part of ourselves in order to tolerate the pain we're walking past. In that we are together in a shared suffering, that actually can be alleviated."
The Senate Republican leadership is trying to be too smart by half regarding repeal and replace Obamacare. They are proposing repealing the taxes and spending in Obamacare, but not the regulations. They say later we can finish the job and pass a replacement program. They are wrong.
President Trump and the Republican majorities will never be stronger in the next two years than right now. The heart of the problem with Obamacare is the regulations - remember the plans that were canceled, runaway costs of premiums and co-pays and the retreat of insurance companies from the insurance exchanges.
So by repealing Obamacare now, we end the federal government involvement as the major regulation of health insurance. We also restore the fifty states to their traditional role.
To those Republican Senators worried about the Democrats and filibuster, they can be defeated by perseverance and public opinion. If we fail, we will have created a monster issue for the GOP in the 2018 elections. With so many vulnerable Democrats up in red states, it says we will be successful. Get to work.
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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
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 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.