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The House Mugged Dan Patrick

During fifteen hours of debate, the House rejected the tea party agenda.

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Jonathan Stickland, back to camera, confronts Drew Springer over hog control program.
Photo by Bob Daemmrich

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick had it all. He had a Senate majority of mostly like-minded social conservatives who would give him the votes he wanted on bathroom bills, sanctuary cities, and private school vouchers. Then there is the Senate minority of Democrats suffering a version of legislative Stockholm syndrome, held captive and ineffective by the rules to the point that they started identifying with their captors for a unanimous vote on a state budget that gutted higher education funding important to their constituents.

Patrick had the votes. Patrick had the agenda. Patrick had the power. But somehow, Patrick got rolled by the House on Thursday.

While the so-called bathroom bill received an inordinate amount of media attention, Patrick’s real focus for this session was the passage of a private school voucher plan. Just a little over a week ago, the Senate passed a scaled-down version. But, hey, as Barry Goldwater once said, “If the camel once gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow.”

Going into the session, Patrick knew the sticking point for a voucher bill would be the House, where it would be opposed by a combination of Democrats and rural Republicans. (There just aren’t many private schools in rural Texas.) At a pro-voucher rally in January, Patrick demanded a public vote. “We want a vote up or down in the Senate and in the House this session on school choice. It’s easy to kill a bill when no one gets to vote on it,” Patrick said.

The House gave him his vote Thursday on an amendment to the state budget, blocking any expenditures on any program resembling a voucher program. The vote was 103-44. Although that amendment can be removed in a House/Senate conference committee on the budget, the House sent a pretty clear signal to Patrick as to what he can do with his voucher bill.

The same might be said of Patrick’s bathroom bill, a Senate bill to limit bathroom access in government buildings to the gender assigned to a person on their birth certificate. House Speaker Joe Straus and House State Affairs Committee Chairman Byron Cook have both expressed opposition to the bill. Patrick promised a million Christian voices to press for passage of the bill in the House, but so far only crickets.

Patrick was not the only state leader taken to the woodshed by the House. Governor Greg Abbott, also a voucher supporter, has been notably absent this session. Other than his State of the State address and a chewing out he gave to Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson over inadequate funding of his pre-K education program, there have been few signs that the governor is engaged with lawmakers. This disconnect played out in the House on the governor’s Texas Enterprise Fund, a deal closing fund that helps put state governors on the cover of Site Selection magazine for corporate expansions.

Abbott had requested $108 million for his deal-making fund, but the House Appropriations Committee whittled that down to $43 million. The House floor stripped Abbott of that money and divided it between Child Protective Services and easing cuts to Medicaid reimbursements to therapists.

The state Constitution largely makes a governor powerless during a legislative session, so the governor’s ability to get things done comes from the power of personality. Abbott’s encounter with Nelson showed he was more sour than sweet. Also, a governor can motivate legislators just by hinting potential vetoes of their bills. That’s somewhat negated this time because Straus and his leadership team have pretty well indicated they really only care about passing two bills: the state budget and a school finance reform measure. Without chains to rattle, Abbott’s authority is weakened.

The governor even took a beating from social conservatives who are normally on his team. Under an amendment offered by Representative Matt Shaheen, a Plano Republican, the House zeroed out all money for the Texas Film and Music marketing program. The program has $32 million in the current two-year budget. The amendment took $10 million in funding from the program and gave it to Healthy Texas Women, a state program that was set up several years ago as an alternative to Planned Parenthood. Social conservatives complained that the program had been used to give rebates to films like Mongolian Death Worms, a 2010 SyFy movie filmed in Texas that apparently didn’t impress the lawmakers. The program was funded to the tune of $3.4 million in the Senate version of the budget. A possibility exists that funding will be restored in conference committee, but it seems unlikely to rise above the Senate level.

The cut to the film and music program was a minor victory for the tea party crowd and the Empower Texans influence lobby that supports them. At the start of the session, the tea party lawmakers voted to join the unanimous re-election of Straus as speaker, supposedly so that no one would know who opposed him. If there was any doubt, it was erased in the wee hours of Friday with a final vote on the state budget, which won House approval 131-16.

Along the way, the House stuck it to Representative Jonathan Stickland, a Bedford Republican, the titular leader of the tea party lawmakers. He delivered an angry personal privilege speech after Straus’s team beat him to the punch on pulling the money out of the Enterprise Fund. The tea party folks wanted the money to go to highways. At one point, he declared, “Taxation is theft.” Then, when Stickland tried to defund a feral hog program, the House voted for an amendment to trip $900,000 in state highway funding in his district. Stickland pulled his amendment down, then immediately got into one of those too close for comfort physical encounters with Representative Drew Springer, author of the counter-Stickland amendment.

Perhaps nothing was more painful to watch than the front microphone performance of Briscoe Cain, a freshman Republican from Deer Park—or perhaps in the future known as Deer in the Headlights. There is an old adage that freshmen lawmakers are to be seen, not heard. Cain proved why.

First, Cain offered an amendment promoted by Empower Texans to strip funding from the Palliative Care Council, calling it a “death panel” that makes decisions about whether people live or die. Appropriations chairman John Zerwas, a Republican and medical doctor, then took to the back microphone to demand to know whether Cain knew what palliative care is. (FYI, it is a method of caring for a terminally ill patient to ease their pain and anxiety.) Cain desperately started cutting his eyes back and forth, seeking help that wasn’t coming. He told Zerwas that as a doctor he probably knew the definition better than he, an attorney. In this contest of will, Cain blinked and pulled his amendment down.

Cain later offered an amendment to block any expenditures by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for sex change surgery. “Don’t California my Texas!” Cain declared, even while admitting the surgery is not performed in state prisons. The House adopted Cain’s amendment, but only after Representative Joe Moody, an El Paso Democrat, got it amended to ban expenditures on any elective surgery, not just gender reassignment surgery. In other words, Cain’s amendment was no longer the slap at transgender people desired by Empower Texans and Texas Values.

Up until Thursday, the center of gravity for the Eighty-fifth Legislature was the Senate and the tea party social conservatives. In a fifteen-hour day of debate, stretching from Thursday to the early morning hours of Friday, the House changed the dynamic. Abbott got shelved. Patrick saw his juggernaut run out of gas. And the Senate Democrats suddenly found themselves facing the need to explain why they voted against higher education.

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  • John Bernard Books

    Yes it will be interesting to watch the shifty eyed republicans as they return to Ft Bend.

  • Gunslinger

    This is twice now that Zerwas has become my hero. The first time was when he saved Edmund Kuempel’s life. The second time was last night when he made clear that buffoonery and cheap political points at the expense of serious medical care will not be tolerated.

    • John Bernard Books

      Rainy Day John never met a RDF he didn’t want to rob….

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      • John Johnson

        As opposed to more slight of hand, can kicking accounting tricks over in the Senate? Stinky.

        • John Bernard Books

          are you saying only Windy and dems are allowed to use accounting tricks?

      • Gunslinger

        “Rob”…aren’t you just adorable.

        • John Bernard Books

          yes as in truthful

    • TacoRub

      Be careful with heros and saviors from the state legislature . They ebb and flow with the sound of special interests’ pocket change.

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      • Jeff

        Well said, sir. Very well said.

      • Gunslinger

        I don’t always agree with even my most favorite legislators. They will all let you down at one point or another…much like our own friends and family will. But if one pays some close attention, you can begin to decipher who actually gives a damn about doing good work for the people and who is just showboating. Zerwas, Howard of Travis, Straus, Davis of Harris = give a damn. Tinderholt, Patrick, Dukes, Schaefer, Stickland = less than ideal.

        I hear what you’re saying, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more distrusting and cynical individual than me. But believe me, all the special interest money isn’t going to change Donna Howard’s mind on reproductive rights, or Sarah Davis. I seriously doubt you could make Zerwas misrepresent sound medical treatment due to the financial influence of Empower Texas. Believe it or not, there are some pretty good people serving in elected offices.

    • Publius

      I also like Rep. Zerwas has a family member have their passing helped by palliative care. My dad suffered horribly. I understand Rep. Zerwas. But using one’s seniority, wisdom, and power to crush a hapless Freshman is unbecoming. I know Dr. Zerwas is so much better than that.

      • WestTexan70

        Stupid, hateful, freshmen need to be crushed.

        Repeatedly.

      • Gunslinger

        I can kind of understand your sentiment, but I have to agree with WestTexan70. You can’t let that crap slide. Cain was getting way too cute, even for the Texas House. Cute isn’t even the right word. If you let something like that go unchallenged, who know what kind of nonsense he and his type will try later. Cain’s type of antics get very dangerous very quickly. Zerwas was spot on with his treatment; he was actually very measured, all things considered. Cain’s lucky Charlie Geren didn’t follow up Zerwas. You would’ve really seen a crushing then.

        • Publius

          I feel you. I will respectively submit my disagreement – not on the need to repudiate Rep. Cain’s Bravo Sierra on this issue, no way, but on the delivery method of the repudiation. The greater the outrageous Bravo Sierra quotient, the more the need to be an adult, because the impression of suppression feeds a cause much more than it starves a cause.
          See, I think it ain’t just lefties who’ve read Rules for Radicals.

  • anonyfool

    alternate report on the same event, slightly more details on the Stickland foot in mouth event – http://www.houstonpress.com/news/the-house-debated-its-218-billion-budget-for-15-hours-heres-what-you-need-to-know-9335566

  • anonyfool

    The last link in the article points to a draft article that we non-editors cannot read/view. Please hit the publish/save button so we can read it.

  • SpiritofPearl

    It is an ill wind that blows no one any good.

  • roadgeek

    Good article.

  • WUSRPH

    All this makes the House feel good today….but the important question is what happens in the Conference Committee and what does the final budget look like….Last session most people felt that the Senate “won” the Conference as the House gave in on too many things. Headlines today are one thing….The final budget may be another. Some of the answer may depend on how much the House members want to avoid a special session. Patrick has already said he is ready for one….

    As to the cuts to Abbott and Patrick’s budgets. Based on past experiences with Floor Amendments that cut the governor or other statewide officials’ budgets, I would bet that Abbott (and Paxton) get back most, if not all, of what was cut from their budgets on the Floor. It makes everyone feel good to stick it to the big guys….but since the governor still has a role to fill in the process with his vetoes, the Conferees usually give his money back to keep him as happy as they can before he gets out his veto pen.

    • WUSRPH

      A question for those still working in or around the Capitol and who deal with the documents which I (thankfully for both me and you) do not do anymore, did the LBB drafters and/or the House and Senate committees do anything to the bill pattern of the General Appropriations Ac in response to Paxton’s ill-done AG opinion on the governor’s veto powers?

    • John Bernard Books

      Geeeze WASSUP let the liberals feel good before the bad news sets in…..yes there is more to come. MeNDan are gonna cut cut cut…..

    • TacoRub

      Even RPh’s need read the article. “The state Constitution largely makes a governor powerless during a legislative session, so the governor’s ability to get things done comes from the power of personality. Abbott’s encounter with Nelson showed he was more sour than sweet. Also, a governor can motivate legislators just by hinting potential vetoes of their bills. That’s somewhat negated this time because Straus and his leadership team have pretty well indicated they really only care about passing two bills: the state budget and a school finance reform measure. Without chains to rattle, Abbott’s authority is weakened.”

  • Sassafrass

    Now THIS is the Texas politics I know and love. There might be hope for us yet.

  • Yeah Uh Huh

    Cain is an attorney? Wonder how he managed to pass the Bar exam?

    • Gunslinger

      One can be a passable lawyer and a terrible legislator simultaneously. The latter takes some finesse, an ability to get along with colleagues and honesty in your dealings with others. (ie. Don’t lie to your fellow legislators. They hate that. See then Rep. Brandon Creighton’s floor exchange as a freshmen with the seasoned Rep. Vicki Truitt.) Being a lawyer is…well…different.

  • tamalama

    2018, Lt. Dan! Ya might want to brush up on your radio skills

  • Texas Publius

    God bless the Texas House! Those folks are the only ones protecting Texas from great harm coming from the 31 Danbots in the Senate and the “Where’s Waldo?” governor, who isn’t the first person to be lost as a goose in the legislative process. He’d be more comfortable and effective on Mars.

    • John Bernard Books

      YES!!!!!! Like Hb 132 aka “welfare expansion”……way to go dems

  • Anne Mckinney-page

    This Feral Hog program needs to be STOPPED in it’s tracks… and a new,
    more humane… and more importantly FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE method of
    controlling the hogs, must be set in place. Beyond being
    questionable… using a hazardous product, that can both pollute the
    area… but endanger other animals, and the fact that “Slipped Disc Sid”
    Miller is pushing this horrific warfarin based bait, and suggests a
    special “Single source” device for distribution of the traps… makes
    one think that some ‘funny money’ are being done under the table.
    Hiring “Hog hunter” packs, to hunt down, and control the hogs in an as
    needed area… would both provide jobs for Texans, enables the meat to
    be used to feed the poor… or could be sold to cover the cost of the
    Hunter’s time. It would be a win/win for the Farmers… a win/win for
    the State… and a win/win for those who want to create good paying
    jobs.

    • SpiritofPearl

      There’s a restaurant in my neighborhood that makes delicious sausage and grilled burgers from feral hogs. Tell Sid to keep warfarin out of the food chain!

  • WUSRPH

    Expect a short week at the Capitol….with no Thursday meetings as they take off for Easter. They probably won’t return til Tuesday of next week. The major event of the week will be the Senate’s formal rejection of the House version of SB 1, the General Appropriations Act, sending it to a conference committee to “work out the differences”…..which are substantial this time……ranging from the most basic difference over how to fund the budget to major disputes over how to fund both higher and public education…..As you may have seen, Lt. Gov. Patrick did not immediately react to the House’s changes—-particularly its direct slap by pointedly not funding vouchers—but you can expect a few comments in the Senate about the House’s failures when the vote not to accept the House’s changes.

    • donuthin2

      The change goes all the way back to at least Perry being Lt Gov. I doubt that Patrick even realizes what just happened. With his arrogance, it is hard to be reflective.

      • WUSRPH

        Perry can be blamed for many things, but since he was only lt. gov. for two years and presided over only one session, he could not have done that much damage to the Senate. And things were still okay under Ratliff….so that means the transition began under Dewhurst who toward the end of his terms did occasionally play to the crazies…..but I think the major changes came with the election of Patrick who—unless he is a good actor—actually is one of the crazies.

        • JKC

          LT dan is crazy as they come. When Charles Perry is one of the more sane senators you know there are some loons. Especially huffines and taylor.

    • Gunslinger

      “How much of that is due to Dan Patrick being the Lt. Governor ” – All of it. I’d say all of it. Leadership matters.

      • WestTexan70

        You left out the quotation marks on “leadership” …

  • John Bernard Books

    I will be here repubs when you get back….

  • Publius

    I am just sad about this. I think the Texas House Republicans damaged themselves greatly by indulging in a mob beat down of fellow Republican Rep. Stickland.
    The fact the Establishment went all Thugz Life on Rep. Stickland painted a pretty clear picture for Texans showing how disdainful the Establishment is for those who dare to call Bravo Sierra on their “insider party.” Is that an accurate portrayal? Who cares? With behavior like that, it doesn’t matter.
    Senate has advantage over House in Conference. Any chamber that trashes its own is weakened in Conference.
    I think there will be electoral consequences for the Establishment’s House RINOs. And what’s more, Rep. Stickland will come out of this session smelling like a rose. That is all but assured. The Establishment practically gave Stickland a platform for a statewide office.

    • WestTexan70

      Stickland isn’t worthy of wiping the gum off Zerwas’ shoe — and I can’t stand Zerwas.

      You teepeers have had your time. All you’ve done is gleefully hurt this state and its people.

    • pwt7925

      Stickland has been living the Thugz Live since he joined the legislature. And there are a lot of folks who call “Bravo Sierra” to the Tea Party and Dan Patrick’s agenda.

    • JKC

      BS. Stickland is tool for empower texans and that is all. He is the king of the tin-foil hat club and a total waste of skin. He deserves to be squashed like the roach he is.

  • WUSRPH

    Speaking of the chief mugger: This session Speaker Straus will tie the all-time record for terms as speaker having served five terms. The question is what does he do next? Some folks (JJ for instance) would like him to run for Lt. Governor against Patrick, but, as I have said before, I think the makeup of he GOP primaries makes that an unwinnable race. Others suggest he will try to go to Congress if the incumbent retires next year………(am I right that the last Texas House Speaker to do that was Sam Rayburn who wound up setting the record for the longest time as Speaker of the US House?) Straus is still young enough to be able to have a long career in the US House but I doubt he really wants to get involved in that mess when he’s been number one here for so long. As such, if I was forced to guess, I’d say we can look forward to him breaking the record as Texas House Speaker in 2019. (This will, or course, disappoint a number of hungry for power House members who want to move up…but, I doubt that the discontent will be enough to affect his chances for another term as, unlike Craddick, he has been successful in keeping most members relatively happy with this leadership. ) What of you think?

    • JKC

      Pretty sure Straus is done. All you have to do is look at the committee appointments he made this session and see he is not returning.

      • WUSRPH

        Why do you read the appointments that way? Davis?

        • John Bernard Books

          He overplayed his hand with the plum assignments he gave dems in order to kill the conservative agenda.
          Even Straus supporters cannot deny who he really is now.

    • Gunslinger

      I’ve thought about this too. Where does Straus go? I’d personally love to see him as Lt. Gov or even Gov. But I don’t know those are possible or if he even desires them. I think he’ll stay as long as he can until Patrick moves on to something else. If I were Straus, I’d see myself as the counterbalance to the crazy on the east side of the dome.

      I think if you’re a power hungry member under Straus, the key is to do good honest work on behalf of Texans. Get along and work with other members. Don’t be a dick. The Speaker will notice that and will do everything he can help you move up. That’s not such a crazy idea, is it?

    • José

      I bite. Who else served as Speaker for five terms in the Texas House?

      • WUSRPH

        Two people—Gib Lewis and Pete Laney….Bill Clayton served four terms. The tradition for most of the history of Texas was a one-term speakership and then retirement or seeking another office….but the change to four-year terms for statewide offices made it less practical to move up. But it has now become a multi-term office. Still only 10 speakers out of the 85 sessions have served more than one term. The first two termer was Coke Stevenson in 1933. Since then multi-terms were Ruben Senterfitt 2, Waggoner Carr 2 , Ben Barnes 2, Gus Mutscher 2 (was tying for 3 when he was convicted), Bill Clayton 4, Gib Lewis 5, Pete Laney 5, Tom Craddick 3 and now Straus 5.

    • John Johnson

      No…not Lt. Gov. I want him to run for Gov.

      Let’s see what bills make it to Abbott’s desk and what he does with them. There is going to be rancor no matter what get’s passed and signed.

  • Fidel Briseno

    Much more interested in why the social conservatives are exempting rural Texas from all their right-wing engineering and putting restraints on how cities govern themselves.

    • WUSRPH

      Because the cities and the border are where the Democrats live.

  • BigEnso

    If there was going to be a mugging, it couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.

  • WUSRPH

    Another major difference between the Straus House and the Patrick Senate is the difference way they approach their priorities. The House tends to stick to the serious business first, moving onto the ‘red meat’ and crazy politics later in the session after it has passed the budget. The Senate, on the other hand, pushes thru red meat before the budget. For example, it is only this week, with only 49 days left in the session, that the House Select Committee on State and Federal Responsibility and Power (the “we hate Washington) is getting around to hearing the “serious” anti-federal stuff, including the proposals for a constitutional convention so dear to Gov. Abbott’s heart. The Senate, in contrast, passed the back at the end of February, a full-month before it took up the budget.

  • WUSRPH

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxeOfQQnUr_gUFQtR0VuMGVEcEk/view
    Another blow against the Leg and the GOP”s attempt to suppress voting….the court in Corpus finds that there was a deliberate attempt to discriminate against Hispanics, poor, blacks and other voters who don[t vote “right” in passing the Voter ID law. This is the second “deliberate discrimination” ruling against the State. It could, if upheld, lead to Texas being brought back under the stricter requirements of the Voting Rights Act, including “preclearance” on changes in laws and procedures. That could make a major difference in how the State redistricts in 2021, especially if the Democrats have regained the WH by then.

    • SpiritofPearl

      Meanwhile – in AL, Gov. Bentley resigned for lying about hanky panky with his assistant. His paramour had urged him to close DMV branches in about 50 primarily black counties in order to prevent black folks from getting the IDs needed to vote.

      Voter suppression is alive and well in GOP-controlled states.

  • WUSRPH

    Speaking of the Senate’s priorities….today it passed a bill to require parental approval for a person to join a labor union………puts that kind of behavior right up with having an abortion.

  • WUSRPH

    The Senate has now let two days pass without acting on the House Amendments to SB 1, the General Appropriations Act. With only 48 days left in the session, every day the Senate delays in taking the formal action to reject the House Amendments keeps the bill from being sent to a conference committee “to adjust the differences”. By not acting when they could (as early as yesterday) the Senate could be deliberating using up time in order to increase the pressure on the House to give in on contested provisions by limiting the time available to the conferees. There is still adequate time, but the longer the Senate delays, the longer before the official work on producing a final budget can begin.. For example, if the Senate delays action until Thursday, it could be next Monday before the House could respond and appoint conferees. Of course, behind-the-scenes conversations could also be going on about some of those differences prior to going to conference…..

  • WUSRPH

    A lengthy but worthwhile article on the fact that Trumptarianism is not new…It was there all the time…we just weren’t looking in the right places in the right way by a distinguish political historian of conservatism (favorable to it).

    http://tinyurl.com/lzpjl8v

    • SpiritofPearl

      There are Banker Conservatives and there are Bubba Conservatives. Trump attempts to merge the two.

      FWIW, Indiana is NOT a southern state.

      • WUSRPH

        Culturally and politically, southern Indiana was at least one very southern-like. Quite different from the northern part of the state.

        • SpiritofPearl

          Northern Indiana was settled by New Englanders. Southern Indiana was settled by southerners, but that’s true of a lot of Rust Belt states. Southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, southern Missouri are all “white trash” regions – bastions of Appalachian whites. Ohio and Illinois became more industrialized than Indiana or Missouri.

          • SpiritofPearl

            Indiana remained in the Union, but by a very close vote.

        • SpiritofPearl

          True. My point is that the southern parts of many midwestern states are more “southern” than the northern parts. Folks from there sound more like Texans than like Yankees. Central and southern Missouri is known as “Little Dixie.”

          Didn’t you spend some time in Indiana?

          • WUSRPH

            What most Americans do not know (because of their limited knowledge of the history of their own country) is that Missouri, although supposedly a Northern state in the Civil War, was the location of some of the most bitter neighbor-against-neighbor, brother-against-brother struggles. They have heard of the James Brothers because of the movies but apparently not about their role in the atrocities by both sides that took place there.

            I spent four years up in the northwest corner where I witnessed the early stages of the changing nature of our economy and the loss of industrial jobs long before NAFTA or any of our trade deals…..

          • SpiritofPearl

            Oh, I know about Missouri. I was born and raised there. It was a border state, not in the Union per se. Home of the Missouri Compromise and the Dred Scott Decision. Indiana was definitely in the Union.

  • WUSRPH

    This Friday is a day of notice for two reasons:

    First, it is the day of the federal court trial on Trump’s Sanctuary Cities Executive Order, which many believe will be enjoined by the court for, among other things, violation of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution…(won’t it be fun if the very amendment that Gov. Abbott and other state rightists love so much is the one that kills a program they support so avidly?)

    But, more important because it will be the 152nd commemoration of one of the saddest events in American history. (Do any of you calendar experts have any idea how often Good Friday falls on April 14th…..as it did on that day, too?)

    • BCinBCS

      You should not have given the 152nd anniversary clue – that gave the answer away. Honest Abe, it really did.

  • WUSRPH

    Those of you with a political memory over 40 years old should remember the name “Deep Throat”. It was the pseudonym used by the Washington Post reporters who broke most of the Watergate story for a secret source, known only to a handful and whose identify was only revealed a few years ago. The source helped them in their probe of Nixon’s malfeasance, etc. Looking at all the news stories the Post keeps breaking about the Trump Administration (sic) and campaign–such as today’s news about Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Paige—you have to wonder if there is a new Deep Throat. People spent a couple of decades speculating about who the original was….Does anyone have any thoughts about whether there is a second Deep Throat or, perhaps, there are more than one.

  • WUSRPH

    The man knows fake news when he says it:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-ron-estes-kansas_us_58ee201ae4b0c89f91230328?4ym&

    The Democrats ARE making a real effort in the Georgia race, but that, like the Kansas seat, is a basic GOP seat. Close, of course, only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades….but a 7 point win in one of the most Republican districts in the country is notthing to be that happy about.

  • WUSRPH

    A much watered down Sanctuary Cities bill is out of the House Committee….As an emergency item it could move to the House Floor fairly soon if the leadership wants…..but much of next week is going to be dedicated to public school finance….a subject the Senate is ignoring……..

    • WUSRPH

      More information on the House version:

      http://tinyurl.com/ks4xuo5
      It appears to limit police asking questions about immigration status to those under arrest. No stopping on the street without cause…..Better than the Senate version (but what wouldn’t be?) but still requires local officials to cooperate with federals to hold people in probable violation of their 4th and 5th Amendment rights….It will pass the House, but the question is whether it will pass muster in the courts, especially if the Trump Sanctuary Cities Executive Order is struck down for violating the 10th Amendment just like the holding of persons without a warrant or charge has been held to violate the 4th Amendment.

  • WUSRPH

    The House may have mugged Dan Patrick, but the Texas Senate yesterday mugged the University of Texas by passing a bill that would, in effect, involuntarily transfer (some say steal) without compensation the piece of land in Austin used as a golf course from UT to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. Boy, things have certainly changed from the old days when what UT wanted, UT got and what UT did not want never happened. The legendary Frank Erwin, political master, UT regent, SDEC chairman, confidant of John Connally and a power to always be reckoned with, must be twirling like a top in his grave. UT wants to sell or long-term lease the golf course and other land it owns along the river front to developers to increase its income. The City of Austin and its golfers want to keep the golf course but do not want to pay the $6 million per year UT is demanding for a new lease (the current one runs out next year). The Senate action is unusual in that it constitutes UT-bashing for the benefit of Austin, which is usually the victim of the legislature’s ill will. The course was recently added to the National Register of Historical Places in recognition of the fact that it was one of the first, if not the first, in the US South/Southwest where African-Americans could play golf. That honor recognizes the day a few Black golfers showed up at the Muny Course and despite it being legally segregated, starting playing a round. No one stopped them and the course was effectively desegregated.

  • WUSRPH

    Another one of those promises to do something on his first day in office that Trump will not keep. He kept saying he would label China as a currency manipulator (in keeping the value of his currency below what it should be) and that he would penalize it throughout the campaign and virtually right up his meeting with Xi last week. But suddenly that’s all changed…Not going to do it….I guess he finally listened to one of his briefers who could have told him that months ago (long before anyone though he could win) China changed its policy. Instead of depressing the value of its currency—-to make its goods more competitive—it has been propping it up. Another one of those things that Trump did not understand but has now, perhaps, learned as president. He also seems to have learned something about the strength of the dollar and how that affects trade….. The fact that he apparently can learn is a welcome development since he still has so many other things about this country and the world to learn.

    ..
    http://tinyurl.com/n4km88q

  • WUSRPH

    Speaking of mugging….did you see in the Wall Street Journal that Trump is considering deliberately sabotaging the ACA, in he process perhaps costing millions their coverage, to apply pressure for Democrats to respond to his “repeal and replace” promise? He is talking about cutting off the payments to insurers that finance the supplements that make it possible for millions to purchase insurance. He has often talked about how the ACA would “collapse”…but he did not previously admit that he would insure that by his actions.

    • WUSRPH

      Actually it was a full day of Trump abandoning his campaign promise…..He junked four in one day.

      http://tinyurl.com/lul4dpt

    • BCinBCS

      Comrade Trump/Bannon, the ultimate negotiator, is saying to the Democrats that they must help him with Obamacare or he will end cost sharing subsidies, causing it to collapse. In other words, the Democrats must help ruin Obamacare or the Republicans will ruin it. What a salesman!

  • WUSRPH

    As I noted earlier this week, the Texas Senate seems to be deliberately delaying sending SB 1, the state budget bill, to conference. It went home yesterday without having taken the necessary action that will allow the beginning of the official negotiations (called a conference committee) between the House and the Senate that are necessary to produce a final budget. Since the Senate will take an extra day for Easter, not returning until Tuesday, that means that the conference cannot begin until Wednesday at the earliest….or more likely the end of next week. I have seen no official statement on why the Senate is delaying what normally is an immediate action. It could be to show its disfavor with the House’s version of the budget and a desire to limit the time for consideration in order to encourage the House conferees to accept the Senate’s will. On the other hand, it could be because the Senate is waiting for some word from Attorney General Paxton about whether the accounting trick it used to balance its budget meets constitutional muster….However, if that was the case, it would have seemed that it would have asked Paxton for his opinion sooner than it did. Or perhaps it is a combination of all three reasons. In any case, the delay will only make the process harder.

  • WUSRPH

    P.S.. For those who might be interested in the answer: Friday is the 150th commemoration of the assassination of President Lincoln on April 14, 1865. He died early on the morning of the 15th. Another one of those turning points in history that have given rise to so many “but what if” questions over the years.

    • BCinBCS

      What happened 105 years ago Friday night and ended early Saturday morning?

      • WUSRPH

        I mistyped it is the 152nd commemoration.

  • John Bernard Books

    For those who just don’t get it….Straus and his dem friends mugged the conservative agenda the majority of voters asked for.

  • WUSRPH

    A nation suffers because its “leader” does not know its history…….Those who know history are condemned to watch while those who do not repeat it.

    http://tinyurl.com/lt4k7r3

    • SpiritofPearl

      His followers call folks who DO study history “elitists.”

  • WUSRPH

    Here’s a question: With Trump backing off from so many of his promises, pledges and positions as he “learns” on the job….Is he moving away from his base? How will they react? Will staying with his stands on immigration and a couple of other less important areas be enough to convince them that he is not selling them out?

    P.S. How long before JJ condemns him?

    • José

      Who’s his base? If it’s people who simply like the fact that he’s loudmouthed and unpredictable then he hasn’t moved much. Seriously, how could anyone with a consistent political ideology be a Trumpkin? Those who supported Trump for cynical reasons, hoping to manipulate him for their own political ends, will be deeply disappointed. See: Ryan, Paul.

      • WUSRPH

        There was a base of herrenvolk Republicans plus those who somehow convinced themselves that he was going to bring back the 1950s, put minorities in their place and drain the swamp, whatever that meant. Of course, they—and he—had no idea of how to do that or even how the country got in its current state……but they had hate and hope……My concern is that, if he proves to be unable/unwilling/or never really cared about what he was saying, they will only have hate.

        PS You don’t have to have a coherent political philosophy…..emotion, fear and hate can overwhelm a well-thought-out program anytime.

      • BCinBCS

        In analyses of Comrade Trump/Bannon’s followers, where we see flip-flops, ignorance and confusion on his part, his followers see someone who is “shaking things up” and keeping the establishment off-balance. It goes without a doubt that he “could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose [supporters]”. That’s how deeply his believers are invested in him.

        Simply incredible.

        • SpiritofPearl

          Or are they simply embarrassed to admit they were fooled by a conman?

          • WUSRPH

            The question is how long can he keep this up without producing any real measurable results…..like bringing jobs back or guaranteeing every American health insurance that is “better and cheaper”? He can probably get away with for a year or two while, as JJ would put it, we “give him time” to do all those wondrous things he promised. But, when they don’t see benefits trickling down to them….or they lose their insurance coverage….and he doesn’t build more than a few miles of the Great Wall….you would hope that more rational of them would they begin to ask questions. He, of course, will do all he can to blame it on other folks—Democrats and malcontents in the GOP for example……but you would think that at some point even the true believers are going to want to see RESULTS. On the other hand, a lot of Germans still believed that Hitler would save the day right up to the moment when a very angry Soviet soldier out for revenge kicked-in their front door.

          • SpiritofPearl

            The 2018 midterms will be a wake-up call.

          • St. Anger

            for democrats

            there are going to be a lot of exploding heads after 2 years of protesting when republicans still control everything.

          • SpiritofPearl

            We shall see.

          • St. Anger

            the only results that motivated his voters was racial resentment. he won all categories of whites and no categories of anybody else. it wasn’t about money, or education (he won wealthy whites as well as poor whites, and he won educated whites as well as poorly educated ones, etc). it was about people wanting to demonize minorities, pure and simple.

            https://theintercept.com/2017/04/06/top-democrats-are-wrong-trump-supporters-were-more-motivated-by-racism-than-economic-issues/

            as long as he keeps being racist, that is the only result they need to keep supporting him.

  • WUSRPH

    The Texas House goes into full speed this coming week with Daily Calendars (Floor Action) on bills slated for four days. Major items include 5 “ethics” bills on Tuesday and the big $1.4 billion school finance bill on Wednesday.

  • WUSRPH

    I suppose you saw that State Rep. Cecil Bell is up to it again with his “nullification” of federal laws, rules, court decisions and regulations proposal that would create a state nullification commission made up of legislators to decide what federal measures could be enforced in Texas? (Sen. Creighton has the same bill in the Senate). He had a hearing in the House Select Committee on State & Federal Powers & Responsibility last week. The panel took no action…..Whenever Bell goes off on one of these extreme tangents I am immediately reminded of the only thing he has in common with a much more famous bell—the Liberty Bell—i.e. both are cracked.

    • BCinBCS

      Does Bell not remember the Civil War?

      • WUSRPH

        He obviously thinks the wrong side won………

  • WUSRPH

    It is often said–and believed by some–that the Texas House in recent years has been less conservative and more responsible than the Texas Senate and is less inclined to spend its time on “red meat” issues of primary interest to the minority of Texans that vote in the GOP party primaries……but is this really true? A good way to address this question would be to consider the way the House and Senate are handling two of the more “red meat” issues of this session—-Sanctuary Cities and Lt. Gov. “Dan is watching” Patrick’s “bathroom bill” campaign against transgender people.

    Both passed the Senate with a great deal of fan-fare as the Senate (and particularly the Lt. Governor) went all out to to demonstrate a distaste for aliens and for sexual transgenders. And, both were meet with words from the House leadership that suggested that the House did not believe that passing either was a major public necessity, This led some to think the House might reject the measures despite their popularity with the hardcore primary voters. That, however, appears not be the case….In fact, when you take a look at what is actually happening, you will probably discover that the House is likely to pass bills that do just what the Senate wants……It will just do so without all the demagoguery.

    This is clearly the case with the Sanctuary Cities bill which, after a little tightening up, has been reported from a House Committee with every expectation that it will be passed by the House (and probably accepted by the Senate) before the session ends.

    Similarly, while abandoning the Senate bill itself, a House committee this week will take up and a House bill that without all the hurrah about having to take your birth certificate to go the bathroom, does just what the Senate really wants—i.e.—ban local governments from passing ordinances protecting the rights of transgender individuals to equal treatment. It is clearly more subtle than the Senate bill in that it never even mentions bathrooms, but the result will be the same.

    And, if you look further, you will probably find the House following along on such issues as the proposed new
    constitutional convention (which it passed last session) and even the Doctor’s right to lie bill….

    So, is the House really less conservative and more responsible and less likely to play to prejudices of the far right than the Senate? Or is it just occasionally less vocal about how it does things?

    • John Bernard Books

      Crown jewel for the Tx House was Hb-132…entitlement expansion….

  • WUSRPH

    RG, where are you?

    • SpiritofPearl

      Is the Lege in session over the Easter break? Asking for a friend . . .

      • WUSRPH

        They are not meeting…..but the days they are out of town do count toward the 140 days allowed for the session…The session is limited to 140 CALENDAR DAYS, not days of actual meeting.

  • WUSRPH

    He really does think he is KING EMPEROR doesn’t he:

    “Mr. Trump is immune from suit because he is President of the United States,” his lawyers wrote Friday

    • SpiritofPearl

      We shall see. Roy Cohn taught him never to admit wrongdoing.

      • WUSRPH

        It sounds more like Nixon’s “it isn’t a crime if the president does it” or the concept that the “sovereign can do not wrong”……

        • SpiritofPearl

          Paula used her settlement funds to have a nose job.

        • BCinBCS

          In their zeal to attack Bill Clinton, Republicans forgot that “what comes around goes around”.
          I am intoxicated with schadenfreude.

  • WUSRPH

    The second North Korean missile blowup in a week reminds me of a very old joke from the mid-60s TV comedy-news show “That was the week that was” from before many of you were born….

    David Frost, the host, announced that there was very, very serious news to report this week….that being that the Red Chinese (back when they were the real bad guys) had just exploded their first nuclear bomb, which they dropped from the top of a 200-ft tower…..This, Frost warned us, meant that the Red Chinese now had the power to destroy any city in the world….that is if you let them build a 200-ft tower first.

    Having the bomb and being able to deliver it may be two different things.

  • WUSRPH

    In Texas if we want to change anything in the State Constitution you have to go to the voters and get their permission…..It’s been done more than 400 times to do such things as allow a county to abolish the office of county treasurer….BUT the Texas Legislature is now considering a plan that could make major changes in the US Constitution but are doing it WITHOUT a single citizen being given a vote on the question.

    The proposal—strongly backed by Gov. Abbott—would put Texas on record as calling for a so-called Convention of the States at which delegates from the various states would propose and adopt, subject to later approval by the states, amendments to the US Constitution. In my view most of the things being proposed are bad ideas, but, be that as it may, what really disturbs me is that at NO TIME in the entire process will the people of Texas be asked whether they think it is a good idea or whether they approve the changes.

    The entire process—from calling the convention, to selecting the delegates (who in these proposals MUST be members of the Texas Legislature) to deciding on what issues to propose to adopting them and sending them to the states for their approval INCLUIDING the final approval of the changes is SOLELY AND TOTALLY in the hands of the 181 members of the Texas Legislature. There will be no vote by the people on whether to have a convention or on any thing it produces. In fact all of it can be done by no more than 17 Texas state senators and 76 House members.

    I don’t know about you…but I, for one, would like to be asked before they start a process that could so drastically affect our nation’s most important document—the US Constitution……But our “leaders” in Austin apparently don’t think they need to ask the people.

    The proposal has already passed the Texas Senate but is pending in the House Select Committee on State & Federal Power & Responsibility. That panel—or the Full House—could amend it to require an election by the people but, so far, no one seems to have seven suggested the idea.

  • John Bernard Books

    Dems do luv them some Joe Straus…and here’s why.
    A brief look back at 4 years ago…..Guv Perry introduced his Budget Compact and Joe Straus refused to sign the pledge. How could he after saying, “you cannot cut yourself out of a deficit the only way out is to raise taxes.”
    Somethings never change…..

  • wills94

    “The House mugged Dan Patrick” – couldn’t happen to a more deserving clod!

  • daveys

    Why don’t they proceed with Medicaid expansion, so that they could eliminate the hospital property tax. And cannabis legalization so that people can treat the sick and dying. They are worse than animals.

  • WUSRPH

    For those interested in what is going on at the Legislature, the Texas Tribune has a summary of what is still to be done during the remaining six weeks of the session. As usual, there is a lot to be done in a short time but, somehow, they seem to be able to do it session after session.

    http://tinyurl.com/ktx9fas

  • WUSRPH

    It has been 10 days since we have head from RG or any other TM writer…I am beginning to believe that JJ’s theory that the new management does not care about the BB may be true…..With RG’s experience and knowledge of the legislature I had high hopes for the coverage we would get this session…..When he’s posted it has always been interesting and stirred comments…but there have just been a lot fewer than I had hoped we would see.

    Maybe the new editor meant it when he said he did not think the people of Texas were interested in politics…..It would be a shame if the TM, which in its own way has contributed to the political knowledge of many Texans, abandoned that role. It is hard to believe that a member of the Hobby family—with its record in Texas politics–would feel that way….but who can tell these days.

    Meanwhile I guess the best we can do is hope that some of you will post your view and comments so that we can keep the discussions going……So Roadgeek, JJ and the rest of you guys need to jump in……

    • SpiritofPearl

      Well, there’s always the custody/support hearings of Alex Jones to debate. He says his shows are performance art. His ex-wife says he’s unhinged and shouldn’t be around his children. Breitbart bubbas think he speaks truth.

      Who is right?

      • WUSRPH

        That is one question the court will probably have to decide when it rules on his ex-wife’s request for custody of the kids……Personally, I have always hoped that there was a bit of the character of Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes in the man as I would hate to think that anyone actually believed most of the stuff he spouts.

        • BCinBCS

          I hadn’t thought of that movie in a long time. I can see the parallels.
          And, when it comes to Comrade Trump/Bannon, there’s always the movie Being There.

          • SpiritofPearl

            “I like to watch.”

    • José

      If you’re tired of El Gran Naranja check the thread next door. All this stuff going on around the state and the nation and the world but what do wing nuts want to yack about? Hillary. It’s pathetic. These are the same folks who also keep reminding folks that the election is over. Go figure.
      Clinton Derangement Syndrome is a strong ailment indeed.

    • José

      Regarding the lack of attention paid to BB, you might have seen in TM’s print edition that they lost a key member of their staff recently. Among other duties Andrea Valdez worked behind the scenes on the website. I recall that she was involved in moderating the blogs when we had trouble with a hothead a couple of years ago.
      On an unrelated matter I was pleased to see that two of my comments were printed in the magazine. I think they were both from the Daily Post. That blog has many more articles than BB but fewer comments from informed readers and right wingers alike.

    • Gunslinger

      I think it’s interesting how both of our Three-Tiered systems are getting some attention right now. The auto selling industry and the liquor industry. I understand a lot of their history and reason for existing (antiquated though they may be). But every session I find it amusing the level of mental gymnastics that the conservative members have to go through to keep them in place, all while espousing their commitment to free enterprise unfettered by government regulation. O&G, cars and liquor all are shining examples of how successful businesses operate with the legislature. You get an advantage from the lege, protect it and those who gave it to you at all cost. Get rich. It’s really difficult to go against big monied interests.

      • WUSRPH

        You have just stated the motto of the modern American (conservative) businessman:
        “All I want from government is a fair advantage.”

        • WUSRPH

          My only concern with the auto dealership requirement is a concern about the problem people may have getting service for their new car if the manufacturer does not have to have full scale dealerships. One of the proposed new cars—which will be based on Volvos–says it will try to contract with local Volvo dealerships for service….but I’m not sure that will always work. At least you know there is someone who can fix your car when you buy it from a regular dealer. (P.S. Does anyone have any idea about the relative profitability of the service department vs. the new car sales dept.? Does a dealer make a nice profit from his service or is something has to do to support his sales?)

    • Gunslinger

      I also can’t wait to see what happens in the American Phoenix Foundation/Joe Basel trial. My hope is that he’s jailed.

      • WUSRPH

        He’s shown about as much contempt for the court as you can…….a few days in jail look likely… but he will probably get out in only a few hours on appeal.

        • Gunslinger

          Can a contempt of court jailing be appealed or overturned somehow? I always understood it to be a very special ruling – usually reserved for those who disrupt court proceedings – in which there were no appeals except for begging the judge…What am I missing here?

  • WUSRPH

    I repeat. Will someone please show Mr. Trump the location George Washington personally picked for the location of the Capitol of the United States?

    Trump has spent one out of every five minutes of his presidency in Palm Beach (Washington Post)

    • BCinBCS

      But…but…Obama.

    • SpiritofPearl

      Mar-A-Lago closes at the end of “the season” in FL. Where will the Mad King play president next? He sniffs at Camp David.

  • WUSRPH

    The Texas House is sure to spend most on Wednesday patting itself on the back for the great thing it is doing for public schools. In fact, I guess it deserves a pat or two, but no more, for what it is doing, especially when compared to what the Senate proposes. However, I have some questions that I hope one of you can answer:

    *I assume someone has run the numbers to show just where this bill’s $1.6 billion of “new spending” puts Texas in terms of $ per student spending. What is that number?

    *How does that “new” $ per student, when adjusted for inflation and enrollment increases, compare to where the State was in 2008, for example? Will we finally get back to where we were?

    *Is this really “new” spending BY THE STATE—i.e.–will the actual number of state tax dollars going to public schools increase OR is the “new” money actually coming from the $5.6 billion estimated “Robin Hood” collections? Will it really increase the “state share” when Robin Hood $ are taking out of the equations?

    I would appreciate any answers you may have.

    • WUSRPH

      While I am legitimately interested in the answers to myquestions…if only to show how little the House was actually doing…please do not let my inquiry make you think that I believe this bill has any real chance of being enacted by the legislature. Last session it was all show with the bill being pulled down at the very end of the session. This session the House intends to pass it and let the bad ole Senate kill it.
      The only way that Patrick would even consider such a bill would be if his full-fledged vouchers bill was wrapped into it…The House can always say it has tried and at least moved the issue one step farther this session and that it has hopes of doing better next time….but, as I see it, that’s about it.

      • WUSRPH

        The Senate Education Committee is considering Chairman Taylor’s version of a school finance bill today. On the surface it is not that bad of a bill. It cuts away a lot of the special provisions added to the basic system since 1984 and simplifies the funding formulas….All worthy goals….BUT what it does not do is increase funding which is the other vital need. In fact, the Senate budget actually DECREASES the amount the State pays for public education. It would be nice if they would take Taylor’s simplification and the House’s new money…..that might at least start us on the road to an adequate, equitable school finance system.

        • WUSRPH

          I have received some answers to my three questions about the House bill…..Despite the “new” money it is estimated that the amount per student, when adjusted for inflation and enrollment increases, will actually be $400 per student LESS than it was in 2008. Similarly, again despite what is claimed to be an extra $1.6 billion in spending, the STATE SHARE of the cost of public education will also be LESS than it is now….It was about 50% in 2008 but has been declining ever since. It is estimated to be 41% this year, dropping—again despite the “new” money, to 38.8% by 2019. This means that local tax payers will continue to pay the greater share with the inequitable property tax. Anyone think this is a real improvement?

  • WUSRPH

    According to news reports the proposed House Bill to quietly do what the Senate really wants to do to transgender persons apparently did not satisfy enough crazies. As introduced it simply prohibited any local government from providing any protection to groups or individuals not provided protection by state law. This would have had the same effect of blocking ordinances giving transgenders rights, but apparently the fact that it did not mention bathrooms made it unacceptable.. Maybe they were afraid the people who favor this kind of stuff would not be able to understand a more subtle approach. As such, the media reports that it the author is going to offer a substitute that uses the magic word “bathroom” and limits it to ordinances covering bathrooms. The original draft might have satisfied folks like the NCAA since it would be similar to the “revised” North Carolina law that it has okayed…BUT the new version is probably a No, No and makes it possible that the Speaker will not allow it to pass. You have to give the House author credit for his original more subtle approach. It is too bad he apparently could not take the heat.

    • BCinBCS

      Conservatives in Texas are like little children – you can warn them a hundred time not to touch the hot stove but apparently, like a child, they must find out for themselves. It’s a shame that everyone must also be burned in order that they learn their lesson.

      • WUSRPH

        You may have seen that Abbott says he likes the proposed House substitute…..He’s been reluctant to come out of his stall and say anything before now.

  • WUSRPH

    Some good advice:

    “Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force.

    Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease.

    Against stupidity we at defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplishes anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed–in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical–and when fact are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one.

    Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.”

    Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer Hanged in a German concentration camp on April 9, 1945.

  • SpiritofPearl

    The U.K. prime minister has called for another election in June. Do over! Too bad we can’t have one here . . .

  • WUSRPH

    An interesting article from the Washington Post about a new book that, in effect, explains why the Democrats lost places like Wisconsin……It should be mandatory reading for all those who think they have the answers to America’s problems…..

    http://tinyurl.com/kkukfdp

    It is also a good example of the fallacy of Trump’s “bring the jobs back” mantra which has little relationship to the reality of the situation……What is the answer? We’ve talked about various job retraining etc. and Clinton had a whole series of proposals along that line (which she never was able to articulate)… But one thing we have not seriously addressed is the idea of “income insurance” that President Obama was thinking about toward the end of his term. It is designed to deal with the problem where someone loses a $25 per hour job (plant closure, automation, dying industry, etc.) and can only find a $12 per hour job. Under the proposal, the government would pick up the difference for a period of time to allow the worker to adjust. Sort of like unemployment insurance, but it would go to working people and supplement their incomes. One benefit is that it staves off the sudden drop in spending that can result in at least a local area recession. Consumer spending is, after all, the largest component of our economy. Of course, the idea will be attacked as just another “entitlement”…

    • BCinBCS

      Something else that Congress could consider is paying moving costs so that laid off workers could more easily move to where the jobs are located. That, however, does not solve the problem of selling their home in a depressed job environment before the move.

  • WUSRPH

    So just where was the Vinson Carrier Battle Group when it was supposedly going a sail by North Korea as a show of force? Actually, it didn’t matter that much were she was….Her weapons (and those of her escorts) would not have done any damage to NK’s nuclear forces…..They could have worked over the missile launch testing site and suppressed air defenses and probably capped the NK air force…but they just don’t have the destructive power needed to do anything to the likely deep underground nuclear facilities. That would require, at the minimum the use of the GBU-57 “bunker buster” bomb which is so big at more than 30,000 pounds that virtually none of our aircraft can carry it…..In fact, like the smaller giant bomb–(only 20,000 pounds)– dropped in Afghanistan last week, the best way to launch it is to roll it out the back of a C-130. From published reports we only have about 20 of them. They are designed to penetrate up to 200-feet of earth/rock, etc. before exploding, setting off a small local earthquake that is supposed to collapse any underground tunnels, etc. Of course, if you are going to go after the nukes and the facilities that produce them, you have to be certain you will knock them out………That might work if you were only going after the production facilities—as we might have done in Iran—but it does little good if they already have completed bombs. You can’t leave the guy with 5 to 10 weapons. That is why every president since NK has had the bomb—Bush and Obama—have ruled out trying to bomb them into “good behavior”…..One hopes that Trump will listen to his military advisors if he ever decides to do more than talk tough.

  • WUSRPH

    The Senate finally got around to rejecting the House version of the budget….Patrick appointed as solid of a group as he can….that is virtually guaranteed not to agree on anything the House proposes….Hinojosa is the token Democrat, but don’t expect him to stand up for the unmet needs. He will do whatever is necessary to keep his vice chairmanship of the budget-writing Finance Committee. Any fighting for changes he supported were made during the Committee process. Now he will defend the Senate’s position. The House will probably appoint similarly strong conferees. The question is who will give in at the end. Last session most people thought it was the House. About the only thing that will could move the Senate off its positions is a ruling by the Atty. General that the Senate’s bookkeeping trick is unconstitutional. Presumably he will rule soon.