I was pleased to accept an invitation to blog during the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Ninth Annual Policy Orientation in Austin. The sold-out event brought a stellar list of politicos from around the state.
The first day began with the kickoff breakfast and debate. Rep Jim Murphy, from my own district, led in prayer. Many members of the legislature were present. Then the first debate was ushered in by TPPF's President, Brooke Rollins.
Ted Cruz - former Tx Solicitor General and now a Senior Fellow at TPPF's Center for Tenth Amendment Studies faced off Scott McCown - Exec Dir at Center for Public Policy Priorities. And, by faced off, I mean Cruz soundly defeated McCown. The debate topic was Federalism.
Cruz - *Federalism allows us to value the beliefs of our citizens.
*Obamacare is a move to put health care into the arena of government. Congress doesn't have the power to go outside Bill of Rights. Under the 9th and 10th Amendments, Federal government only has the powers granted specifically to them.
*Anywhere government health care has been implemented, failure has resulted. Great Britain, Canada - results are price controls and rationing.
*If health care mandates for purchasing insurance are in Commerce Clause, then everything is in the Commerce Clause.
McCown - *Under enumerated powers, it is possible to find funds for health care reform.
*10th Amendment doesn't limit Federal power.
*Predicts eventually a majority will demand the public option not in place now. No democracy will tolerate some of its citizens to have health care while others don't.
*The term "Obamacare" is an insult.
*Advocates that "Affordable Care Act" is a Swiss-style insurance market system brought about by conservative opposition to public option.
Cruz - *Obamacare term is a reference to the jamming through of the legislation against the wishes of the majority of the people. Refers to hubris of the President.
*Predicts individual mandate will be overturned by SCOTUS.
*Can't rely solely on SCOTUS to "save" us. Predicts other parts will survive court challenges.
*Real solution is political - people standing up. Opposition can pass real Constitutional amendments limiting federal powers.
*Texas can engage in interstate compact to trump Obamacare. A tool for states to fight back.
*Different parts of government restrain each other. State's job to restrain Federal government.
McCown - *Enumerated powers clause is necessary and proper clause.
*Global world has changed.
*Predicts individual mandate will be Constitutional.
Hands down, Cruz won the debate. It was a respectful debate representing the two very different opinions between conservative and liberal participant.
Next up, Keynote Speaker Governor Rick Perry. To say Perry was warmly welcomed would be an understatement. This was his audience.
Perry opened by remarking that thanks to the huge income tax increase passed by the State of Illinois, Texas is recruiting the businesses of that state to come to Texas to do business. His office is writing letters to states raising taxes welcoming them to come to Texas and offering incentives.
"Don't believe everything you read in the paper", Gov Perry said. In particular, the recent story written about the state's budget crisis. Perry said the press got it wrong.
Best thing never done in Texas was to implement personal income tax. By remaining disciplined with sound policies, Texas is rebounding faster than other states. "I'm pretty fired-up about competing against other states". He noted other Governors have recently noted Texas successes in their speeches. "I do intend to be the most competitive guy in town."
Perry said a predictable regulatory structure needs to be maintained. He vowed to fend off EPA's excessive demands on Texas. He said he would continue to fight against lawsuit abuse and protect tort reform in place. He wants an early dismissal option power to be put in place for judges - Texas is one of the few states without it for frivolous lawsuits. This would improve the legal climate.
Perry wants investment in math, science and technology education to continue to build the economy and encourage new business.
"Nothing halts progress more quickly than raising taxes".
He outlines outlawing sanctuary cities and supporting eminent domain as his top priorities.