America Should Worry

“People used to say that the future happens first in California, but these days what happens in Texas is probably a better omen. And what we’re seeing right now is a future that doesn’t work.” Paul Krugman, The Texas Omen – NYTimes.com.

I am a native Texan…Some of my ancestors arrived prior to Texas leaving Mexico. Others arrived before we joined the union of states called the United States of America. Some came just before Texas decided to leave that union. Some came after the turn of the last century when that “unpleasantness” was behind us. But all of them came here looking for a better life than the one they left behind somewhere else.

Sadly, my descendants will have to look for another place to make a home if they dream the American dream. Texas has almost won the race to the bottom… More uninsured, more uneducated, more just poor…And more coming here all the time. And the leaders of this once great state are making it easier on the corporations and harder on the people by the year.

And Prof. Krugman is right, it began in the 1990’s with the takeover of the State Capital and the US Congress. Dick Armey and Tom Delay were there at the  beginning, George Bush carried it from Austin to Washington, cutting taxes (and the budgetary surpluses that they brought) and ultimately programs that helped the state’s and the country’s citizens succeed.

Now twenty years later, both Texas and Washington find themselves in the same hole. No money, no jobs, just problems. And every legislative agenda aims at helping those who need it least while pushing those at the bottom further down the ladder.

The Houston Chronicle this morning had this to say:

When Texas lawmakers convene beneath Austin’s pink-hued capitol dome Tuesday morning, the interior of the venerable building will be fervid red. With two-thirds control of the House, nearly two-thirds control of the Senate, the longest-serving governor in state history and control of every statewide office, Texas Republicans enjoy near-total dominance — dominance not seen since now-anemic Democrats ruled what was essentially a one-party state throughout much of the 20th century.

Other states are GOP-dominated, but Texas is “the iconic red state,” said SMU political scientist Cal Jillson. “Of the consequential states, Texas is certainly the reddest.”

How Republicans govern this iconic red state during the next five months of what promises to be a raucous session will have consequences for the state’s future, of course, but it also is likely to have national implications — for the party and for Gov. Rick Perry.

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, at least 40 states are facing severe budget shortfalls, including such big states as California, New York and Florida, but the Lone Star State is special. Texas, as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote last week, “is where the modern conservative theory of budgeting — the belief that you should never raise taxes under any circumstances, that you can always balance the budget by cutting wasteful spending — has been implemented most completely. If the theory can’t make it there, it can’t make it anywhere.”  All eyes are on the Texas GOP in nation’s ‘reddest’ state | Houston & Texas News | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle.

Late Addition:

AUSTIN – State Comptroller Susan Combs today said lawmakers will have $72.2 billion available to spend in general revenue over the next two years — nearly $15 billion less than they budgeted in the current period.

Combs’ official revenue estimate sets the limit for how much lawmakers can budget for state services.

Her estimate puts the shortfall in the amount needed to continue the current level of services – taking into account such items as population growth – at least at $27 billion, according to figures from the Center for Public Policy Priorities, which focuses on low- and moderate-income Texans. Texas will have $15 billion less to spend than expected | Houston & Texas News | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle.

Amazing the way Republican Lawmakers can turn sound state economies into bankrupt governments so quickly…

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