While calculating the cost of the Kerry deception on spending and tax increases a boomlet has arisen coinciding with the release of a new book by Dennis Hastert called interestingly Speaker which details the ending of the income tax and IRS as we know it. TCR also had the opportunity to visit with the Speaker on this issue recently and he is amazed at the positive response he has gotten among voters and the media. The Speaker thinks this is one of the "big ideas" that could galvanize this Fall election in favor of the conservative side. He also said he has been in communication with the White House and is hopeful the President embraces this issue too.
As this fall's election is shaping up some pundits like Charles Cook (non-partisan pollster) feel that "President Bush must have a change in the dynamics and the fundamentals of this race ….to win a second term". "Big-ideas" like ending the IRS, social security reform and conservative individual based reform of our medical care system all could be the change in dynamics we are looking for.
Race of the Week - Texas
Martin Frost vs. Pete Sessions
The race between two prominent incumbents is a clash of titans in Texas District 32. Early estimates say both candidates will spend over $3 million on this race.
And this race is a clear choice between liberal and former House Democratic leader Martin Frost and stalwart conservative Congressman Pete Sessions. This district compresses 52% of Session's old district and he is taking nothing for granted. Added to that is Kerry has largely abandoned contesting Texas in the race for the White House, which probably makes the road Frost has to climb uphill and difficult.
On key issue after key issue, Frost is clearly not in touch with his new constituents with a liberal rating of 95 by the ADA and low conservative ratings by the National Taxpayers Union (13) and American Conservative Union (4). Frost voted against the Bush Tax cuts, for the ban to develop oil in Alaska, against barring gays in the Boy Scouts, against the partial birth abortion ban - need we say more. Contact the campaign at www.petesessions.com
Property Tax Limitation - What's Happening Now
I recently sat down with tax limitation leader Paul Bettencourt, Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector to get an update.
TCR: After the Governor's (Perry) special session call earlier in the summer that included new lower property tax increase caps the issue has seemed to go off the rader screen - what happened and why?
Paul Bettencourt: No concession on a School Finance solution in the Legislature caused the special session to stall out with no others being scheduled.
TCR: What is it going to take to stop runaway unvoted for property tax increases?
Paul Bettencourt: For all Elected Officials to stop hiding behind appraised value increase on homes year after year and letting tax bill's double in seven years just like what's happened in Houston from 1997 - 2004.
TCR: We have a GOP majority in the state House and Senate why is it that we can't get property tax limitation to the Governor's desk?
Paul Bettencourt: The House passed a 5% real-property tax cap 134-0 in 2003 but it died in the Senate. A majority of Senators in Texas need to be convinced to vote for the solution to the problem.
TCR: The debate at least in the media has shifted from the property tax issue to Robin Hood and new money for education - is that where we should be going?
Paul Bettencourt: No, we should treat the $9 billion half of education expenses in Texas as a business.
TCR: What advice can you give conservatives on how to move this critical issue forward?
Paul Bettencourt: Cut, consolidate, and reform non-education portions of ISD budgets around the state and we'll save 100's of millions of dollars for starters.
TCR: Tell us a little bit about the revenue cap proposal in Houston - How does it work and what impact can it have on taxpayers?
Paul Bettencourt: It limits total City revenue increases to a combined factor of inflation and population growth with voter approval.
TCR: What are the prospects for it passing on the November Ballot?
Paul Bettencourt: Good, a recent poll showed nearly a 2-1 lead for Revenue Cap.
TCR: Is this effort in Houston a harbinger of future efforts in Texas to control taxes and spending?
Update and National Convention Preview
Paul Bettencourt: Ronald Reagan often talked of "a shining city on a hill" in his speeches. If the nation's 4th largest city would adopt a revenue cap to control tax spending, I think Houston would become a fiscally conservative city on the hill for all to see.
As we head to New York to give you a front row seat at the Republican National Convention it's important to review where we stand. The way to tell what is in play is look at the polls and look where the campaigns are spending the money.
Still in play - Florida with (27 electoral votes), Iowa (7), Minnesota (10), Missouri (11), Nevada (5), New Hampshire (4), New Mexico (5), Ohio (20), Pennsylvania (21) and Wisconsin (10). Top spending states - if you include the two campaigns and most "independents" or 587's the top ten states with expenditures are $41.5 million has been spent on television in Florida, $30.7 million in Ohio, $24.9 million in Pennsylvania, $18.4 million in Michigan and $18.2 million in Missouri, Wisconsin at $12.2 million, Minnesota with $11.4 million, $10.4 million in Arizona, $10.1 million in Nevada and $9.9 million in Oregon.
Past the top 10, big money is being spent in Washington at $9.1 million - West Virginia's $7.9 million, $7.2 millon in Iowa, $5.3 million in Colorado, $4.1 million in Maine, $3.6 million in New Hampshire, $3.4 million in New Mexico, $2.9 million in Arkansas, $2.7 million in Louisiana, $2.1 million in North Carolina and $1.2 million in Virginia and Delaware with $400,000.
Note - no big money being spent in the top population states: California, Texas, New York and Illinois. The race remains close and fortunately for us or not will depend on events that are probably out of our control.
As for the convention look for the focus to be on our past successes and future vision (the next four years) for America, obviously all is focused on Wednesday and Thursday when V.P. Dick Cheney and President Bush speak. Also, let's hope the story doesn't become "the protesters" like Chicago in 1968 or the terrorists.
If things go our way on the above and Bush articulates a common sense conservative vision a bounce of some sort is in the cards, otherwise not.
If you'd like a special souvenir of the convention, the Harris County Republican Party is putting out a nice commemorative button. You can get it shortly at www.harriscountygop.com for a nominal donation.
Some Numbers of Interest
About Your Editor
- 2004 Budget Deficit - down from projected $521 Billion to $445 Billion due to surge in Federal tax revenues (The Laffer Curve works)
- Kerry proposed to eliminate the Bush tax cuts for Americas earning over $200,000 in income if enacted - reduces the budget deficit by only 10%.
- Kerry spending plans - per the National Taxpayers Union, he will add $2 trillion to the National debt over 10 years. "For every dime he cuts the budget deficit, he borrows another dollar" per Steve Moore, President, Club for Growth. So much for balancing the budget.
- May net purchases by Foreigners $71.8 billion of which $40.5 billion are U.S. Treasury notes. U.S. Trade deficit for June $54.8 billion. TCR Comment - Foreigners are financing our debt and selling us things. We need to bring these numbers more into balance.
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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