Alex's Outlook

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Bush continues to push for a bigger tax cut. He is courting two center-right Democrats, Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson, to make up for the Snowe-Voinovich-McCain-Chafee axis of taxes.

As Washington Republicans busy themselves with slashing a tax cut and hiking spending as they have ever since 1995, Republicans have been more successful at the state level insofar as conservative reform is concerned. The biggest fireworks are in Texas, where almost all the Texas House Democrats fled to Oklahoma to deny the Republicans a quorum. (The Texas GOP controls 88 of 150 Texas House seats, but 100 representatives need to be present for anything to get done.) This is because of Tom DeLay's aggressive redistricting plan, which will knock off between five and seven House Democrats and give the GOP a hammerlock on the House of Representatives. If DeLay rams through his proposal (he will) the Democrats won't have a chance at winning the House again until 2011, when the next round of redistricting begins. Anyway, if the Democrats aren't back by June to pass the state budget, GOP Gov. Rick Perry can just declare the Democrat fugitives' seats vacant and call elections to fill them. Even if he doesn't win any more seats, he will have terminated the political careers of 51 Democrats, which would be devastating enough. The Democrats' evacuation also holds up a drastic overhaul of state government, including government payroll cuts and medical-malpractice caps.

Gov. Jeb Bush is somehow dodging responsibility for not executing a ludicrous amendment to Florida's constitution which mandates much smaller class sizes in several years. Bully for him.

The Missouri Legislature has overwhelmingly passed concealed-carry legislation. If Democrat Gov. Bob Holden vetoes it, he will be roadkill in 2004. If he signs it, second amendment forces will have won a major victory and Holden will have alienated a chunk of his base.

Ever since their 2002 landslide, Minnesota Republicans have enacted concealed-carry legislation in their state. They look set to eliminate a large budget shortfall without raising taxes.

Colorado has enacted concealed carry legislation, toughened rules re illegal immigrants, launched the largest school voucher program in the country and has not had much of a budget shortfall problem.

The only discouraging sign is in New York. In the face of a large tax hike overwhelmingly supported by the New York Legislature (one house is mostly Democrat and the other mostly GOP), George Pataki will have no choice but to sign the budget. But Pataki was part of the problem. In order to get large union endorsements, Pataki threw billions at those unions. He overwhelmingly won reelection, but he shouldn't be crying now that he has buried himself in his own fiscal hole. He's trying to burnish his conservative credentials for 2004, but the only person he's fooling is himself.

Despite Republican tax hikes in Ohio and New York, GOP state governments are generally hanging tough on cutting services instead of hiking taxes. It's refreshing to look at GOP state governments for reassurance when Washington Republicans practically revolt against their own platform.

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