Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Perry Gives Legislative Update

Governor Perry embraces new media. He is savvy enough to realize that bloggers can get his message out as well as traditional media outlets, in most instances. Tuesday afternoon he held a conference call with bloggers.

One glitch in the call was the oversight of a blogger to mute his/her phone. The Governor had to stop and ask that it be muted because of all the noise in the background. I kept thinking - Really? Someone didn't hit the mute button? The Governor took it in stride and handled it gracefully. Stuff happens.

He spoke of his accomplishments taken during the session of the state legislature that is now in Special Session. The top of the list was his resolve in not raiding the Rainy Day Fund for fiscal year 2012-2013. He said it is more responsible to save that fund for emergencies like natural disasters and not for recurring expenses. He used the example of the wild fires in the Amarillo area that ignited over the Memorial Day weekend.

Governor Perry is pleased with the stronger eminent domain law in Texas.

He is proud of the sonogram bill he signed into law.

Perry pointed to the bill referred to as the 'loser pays bill' that will further boost the reputation - already high - that Texas is an employer friendly atmosphere. The bill will cut frivolous law suits, much like the medical tort reform did for frivolous medical lawsuits. He said the long term results would include employers being able to spend money on new hires and equipment instead of attorney fees. Texas will remain the most friendly state for new business and family relocation.

Most of the questions the Governor took were from Texas bloggers but one from Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post spoke to his national exposure. She asked about his decision making process for a potential presidential run. He answered that he isn't talking about that during the legislative session, including the Special Session.

On the issue of re-districting, which is not written in his proclamation calling for the Special Session, he said, "stay tuned". He implied it may be added to the call before the legislature is allowed to go home.

Governor Perry stated that he intends to keep a close handle on the agenda for the session. Though everyone has preferences in legislation that were not passed, he said he is grateful for the Founders who put a limit on the amount of time that the legislature is in session.

Perry closed with, "Onward and upward. God Bless America and God Bless Texas."

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tx Legislature Goes Into Special Session

Texans, we have a Special Session. The state legislature, as predicted, failed to finish the peoples' business so they will begin again tomorrow in a Special Session.

Lt. Governor Dewhurst sent a list of bills deemed important and asking that they be included.

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst sent the following letter to Governor Rick Perry regarding the Special Session that is expected to begin tomorrow:

Dear Governor Perry,

Unfortunately, despite the very hard work and determination of the majority of Members of both the House and Senate, the Legislature was unable to pass a number of important bills, including SB 1811 needed to fund the budget, before the deadline of midnight last night.

Still, there is still an outside possibility that SB 1811 could pass the Texas Senate today with the bipartisan support of four-fifths of the Members. However, if this vote should fail − forcing us into Special Session − I believe that it would be in the best interest of all Texans to start tomorrow and ask you to consider including the following bills in your call:

SB 1811 - Relating to certain state fiscal matters and making necessary appropriations; providing penalties;

SB 8 - Relating to improving the quality and efficiency of health care;

SB 23 - Relating to the administration of reforms, efficiency, cost-saving, fraud prevention, and funding measures for certain health and human services and health benefits programs;

HB 5 - Relating to establishing an Interstate Health Care Compact;

HB 12 - Relating to the enforcement of state and federal laws governing immigration by certain governmental entities;

HB 272 - Relating to the operation of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and to the resolution of certain disputes concerning claims made to that association;

SB 12/HB400 - Relating to the flexibility of the Board of Trustees of a school district in the management and operation of public schools in the district and the flexibility for public schools to administer primary and secondary education efficiently;

HB 1937 - Relating to prosecution and punishment for the offense of official oppression by the intrusive touching of persons seeking access to public buildings and transportation; and

HB 900/SB 308 - Relating to the composition of the congressional districts for the State of Texas.

So, that's the latest from Austin.

TPPF Calls for Health Care Compact in Special Session

Monday, at the end of the Texas legislative session (Sine Die) a call for Governor Perry to include the Health Care Compact legislation in the Special Session was issued by Texas Public Policy Foundation in Austin.

Legislation containing the Health Care Compact was approved twice by the Texas House and once by the Texas Senate. However, the final legislation containing the compact died due to tactics by a handful of House members.

Democrats voiced concern in the House, though many voted for it.

Kolkhorst said she was holding hostage SB 8, a key element of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s state health reform plan, to wait for her Health Care Compact bill to come up in the Senate. SB 8 provides a framework for health care collaboratives — the partnerships between hospitals, doctors and other health care providers that supporters say could lead to better medical quality and cost savings.

The House overwhelmingly passed SB 8. But some of those who supported it were still concerned with adding the Health Care Compact portion. Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, is an ardent opponent of the Health Care Compact — and said funding Medicaid with block grants is dangerous, because the money is based on standard inflation, not medical inflation, which grows at a far greater rate.

The compact language was straightforward:

The compact language was added to Senate Bill 8, which would allow doctors and hospitals to form health care collaboratives in hopes of improving efficiency and medical care. The bill next returns to the Senate, which can accept House changes with a simple majority or send it to a conference committee to work out the differences.

“Medicaid in its present form is unsustainable for Texas,” said TPPF Executive Director Arlene Wohlgemuth. “Without the flexibility and cost predictability provided by the Health Care Compact, the federal Medicaid program will further crowd out core state government functions such as education, public safety, and transportation.”

“Texans can decide for ourselves how to take care of our health needs," said House Public Health Chair Lois Kolkhorst. “With medical costs rising faster than inflation, let’s replace big government solutions with local oversight. Texas could create its own health care solutions, save billions of tax dollars, and still deliver better health outcomes. That’s what the Health Care Compact is all about. It’s unfortunate that a handful of House members put their own agenda ahead of Texas.”

The History of Memorial Day

This concise history of the day set aside to honor our fallen heroes was part of an e-mail I received from The Republican Party of Fort Bend County as they provide information of events scheduled for that day.

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to honor the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers. On May 5, 1868, Logan declared in General Order No. 11 that:

The 30th of May 1868 is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

During the first celebration of Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

This 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances of the day in several towns throughout America that had taken place in the three years since the Civil War. In fact, several Northern and Southern cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Columbus, Miss.; Macon, Ga.; Richmond, Va.; Boalsburg, Pa.; and Carbondale, Ill.

In 1966, the federal government, under the direction of President Lyndon Johnson, declared Waterloo, N.Y., the official birthplace of Memorial Day. They chose Waterloo-which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866-because the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

By the late 1800s, many communities across the country had begun to celebrate Memorial Day and, after World War I, observances also began to honor those who had died in all of America's wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. (Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor all veterans, living and dead, is celebrated each year on November 11.)

Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. Also, it is customary for the president or vice-president to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. About 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Obama Speaks at Memorial Service in Joplin

Does President Obama only attend memorial services if the politics are right for him?

Obama is described as "healer in chief" in this news account.

Though times of trouble can erase politics and unite people, a phenomenon Obama has commented on, his task as healer Sunday will be carried out on unfriendly political ground as his re-election campaign approaches. Obama narrowly lost Missouri to Republican John McCain in 2008, but in Jasper County, where Joplin is located, McCain won by a large margin: 66 percent to 33 percent.

Should the writer have said Obama is comforter-in-chief? He is described as "even tempered" and doesn't show tears or emotion. Maybe as his public persona, but we have all see the "bully in chief" on lecterns and at podiums around the country. He vilifies Republicans with carefree abandon. He even refers to Republicans as the enemy without any push back from the media who adore him.

The one opportunity Obama had to be comforter-in-chief was in Arizona during the memorial service for the Tucson shooting victims, including Rep Giffords, a Democrat. Obama included political rhetoric implying today's heating dialogues in politics are the reason for such violence. He not so subtly implied that conservative political rhetoric is the root of all evil. After the speech, liberal chat show hosts had a field day with what they considered a green light from above to go after conservatives, though Obama was supposed to be calling for a "new tone".

Obama is no doubt attending the memorial service Sunday since the tragedy is the worst in recent times for tornado activity. It's understandable to use that as a means of showing compassion.

Why didn't Obama attend the memorial service for the eleven men who lost their lives on the Deepwater Horizon explosion? That was the worst tragedy in the history of oil and gas drilling in our country. Was it because it was in very red Mississippi or that oil and gas drilling isn't politically acceptable for Democrats?

Just a question to ponder.

And, where was First Lady Michelle? Obama did not disappoint those of us a bit cynical of his actions. He did, in fact, slide on into campaign mode dialect and loud voice during his remarks to get the crowd fired up. Then, he reined it back in, as if he realized he was getting carried away again.

One suggestion - next time lose the chewing gum before you go into the service and are video taped for the world to see you chomping down in the audience, Mr. President. Decorum is a good thing.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lech Walesa Skips Obama Visit to Poland

Speaking of his decision to not accept an invitation to join a group of dignitaries in welcoming President Obama to Poland, Lech Walesa said this:

"It’s difficult to tell journalists what you’d like to say to the president of a superpower. This time I won’t tell him, I won’t meet him, it doesn’t suit me."

Ouch. It doesn't suit him?

Small wonder, really. Lech Walesa knows about sacrificing for freedom. He is beloved in his native Poland. While Barack Obama pursues Russia as his best buddy in Europe, the rest of Europe is shoved aside. Unlike George W. Bush who built strong alliances with European nations, Barack Obama is more interested in cutting Poland off at the knees by scrapping the missile defense system and pursuing the new START Treaty with Russia.

Barack Obama stands in sharp contrast with Walesa. Instead of standing up as a freedom fighter, as Walesa did for his country against the former Soviet Union, Obama has to be dragged kicking and screaming into supporting those who rise up against dictators and regimes - as the recent events in the middle east have shown.

Lech Walesa knew what a meeting would be - a photo op for Obama's re-election literature. Mr Walesa, a former president still sought out by international visitors, said he had turned down the Obama invitation because it amounted to little more than a photo opportunity

Truth to power.

And, the Jews in Poland expressed concern towards Obama's mixed messages in support of Israel. President Obama was confronted Friday with a plea from a Polish Jew to support Israel just moments after he landed in the country where Nazis staged the Holocaust.

"It's the only Jewish state we have," Monika Krawczyk told the President on his first visit to Poland.

"I will always be there for Israel," Obama replied.

Obama also planted a kiss on Halina Szpilman, the widow of Holocaust survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman, whose harrowing story was the subject of Roman Polanski's Oscar-winning movie "The Pianist."

I hear busses.

Governor Perry Signs Voter ID Bill

Friday, Governor Perry signed into law the bill known as the Voter Id bill into law.

The law would require voters to present a valid state or federal photo ID. A driver’s license, personal ID card, military ID, passport or concealed handgun permit is acceptable.

Voters without IDs could cast provisional ballots but would have to show identification within six days for their votes to count.

This bill is a bit more restrictive on acceptable identification than other states but mostly only because a student ID is not included.

The bill signed today enacts a voter ID law more stringent than its counterparts in other states. Unlike Indiana's law—which the bill was largely based on—Texas' voter ID law doesn't recognize student IDs as acceptable forms of voter identification

"This simple action, no more complicated then cashing a check down at the HEB or applying for a library card down the street, will appropriately help maintain the integrity and fairness of our electoral system here in the Lone Star State,” Gov. Perry said at the signing.

The standard cry sprang from the Democrats. They claim this will cause voter intimidation and harass the poor. Ridiculous.

Only in the world of a Democrat would showing personal identification be a form of intimidation. What other activity can one pursue without proper identification? To open a bank account, draw government funds, purchase property, drink liquor, buy cigarettes, register for school, etc, all require personal identification.

The vote is too precious to allow fraudulent actions to steal it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Obama Gaffes and Insults Dominate G8 Trip

What are we to make of President Obama and his, shall we say 'glitches' as he vacations in Europe with First Lady Michelle en route to the G8 meeting? Is vacation the correct term? I think it may be since it began with a visit to Ireland and his partially ancestral village.

The money shot from that excursion was the pub stop and the hoisting of a pint of Guiness. Michelle sipped some, too. See, they are really just ordinary folks, those Obama's.

Following the pub photo op - complete with a distant cousin - presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty tweeted: "sorry to interrupt your European pub crawl, but what was your Medicare plan?" I know it rings true because the left immediately went into whine mode. And, as the left calls the tweet 'classless' let's all remind them that Barack enjoys extending the middle finger along the side of his face in a fake rub, shall we?

Then the volcano erupted in Iceland and Team Obama had to leave the festivities in Ireland a day early and headed to the next stop, England. So, Barack and Michelle became one of those couples. You know the ones, they arrive way to early to the party and you have to find something to entertain them as the preparations are completed.

Signing into Buckingham Palace, Barack dated his signature with the year 2008 instead of the current one. Oops. Well, you can understand since 2008 was such a very good year for the man. Why wouldn't he want to live there? Besides Europe was embarrassingly smitten with him and the man does love the adoration of a crowd.

During the formal state dinner hosted by the Queen, Obama rose to do the traditional toast but his wires were crossed. The band broke into God Save the Queen about half way through the toast and Obama powered through. He ended by moving his glass toward the Queen, sitting next to him, and she simply looked at him and turned away. She wasn't abandoning protocol. Not even for Barack Obama. Ouch. He had to re-toast at the end of the anthem.

I won't go into the faux pas of Michelle not wearing a hat as she visited the Queen. It's traditional and a show of respect but Michelle has not shown decorum in the past with wardrobe choices, so why expect it now? She's American so it's not such a big deal. And, as long as the Washington Post continues to write stories that she is the most fashionable First Lady ever, well, that's that.

Obama was extended the invitation to address Parliament. The last American President to do so was George W. Bush in 2003. Columnist Wesley Prudent wrote of Obama's unfortunate habit of showing a distinct lack of knowledge of American history, this time as it relates to the Brits:

First, a quote from the London Daily Telegraph:

“The presidential text,” observed the London Daily Telegraph, “sounded as if it had been worked on so hard and conscientiously by a vast team of helpers that it had lost all savor, and had been reduced to a series of orotund banalities of the sort which can be heard at every tedious Anglo-American conference: ‘Profound challenges stretch out before us . . . the time of our leadership is now . . . Our alliance must remain indispensable.’”

The president’s bromides, meant to warm the occasion, could teach him to be wary of historical allusions when he attempts to match his Harvard education against learning from Oxford, Cambridge and the University of East Anglia. Everything between Britain and the United States has been “smooth sailing,” the president said, “ever since 1812,” when the Redcoats took a burning brand to Dolley Madison’s White House. This assertion invited critics to recall a few occasions of rough sailing since then, such as the British attempt to retain the Suez Canal in 1956 over the obstructions of the Eisenhower administration—when even the French wanted to help.

The history and lore of America and the exploits of American heroes once familiar to every schoolboy have never much interested Mr. Obama, who received his early education, where the longest-lasting cultural impressions are formed, in a Muslim school in Indonesia. He gives the impression of being above it all, an impression he carefully cultivates.

Ok, then.

On to Deauville, France where the actual summit convenes. Obama made great noises about how swimmingly he and Medvedev got on after meeting together. Unfortunately, Medvedev had a different take on the results:

President Obama had just finished touting the “outstanding relationship” he and Dmitry Medvedev have built between themselves and their nations – the American leader even used the “reset” button metaphor again – when the Russian president turned to the thorny issue of Washington’s plan to upgrade its missile defense shield, and uncorked a stunner.

“I have told my counterpart, Barack Obama, that this issue will be finally solved in the future,” Medvedev told reporters in Deauville, France, “like, for example, in the year 2020.”

It wasn’t merely that Medvedev had chosen a date almost comically far into the future to suggest when the two nations might come to terms; the particular date he chose carried special meaning. 2020 is the year when the State Department has estimated the U.S. will deploy the SM-3 Block IIB, a missile still on the drawing board but being designed to intercept medium- and intermediate-range missiles that might be launched from the Middle East.

Since the Russians purport to see the Block IIB as a threat to Moscow’s own ballistic missile arsenal, Medvedev’s reference to the projected date of its deployment, in an otherwise cordial photo-op with the American president on the sidelines of an international summit, sent an unmistakable signal

Plus the added fact that the House of Representatives voted on a defense bill that may delay the START II treaty between Russia and the U.S. that Obama was so very proud of as he signed it.

And, yet another smack up the side of the President's head occurred in the U.S. Senate. The budget proposal released by the White House back in February didn’t win a single vote in the Senate on Wednesday— the final tally was 0-97. Senate Republicans pushed for the vote as a counterpoint to the defeat of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan.

POLITICO’s David Rogers reports: “The vote on the president’s plan turned into a rout, with neither Republicans nor Democrats voting in favor of taking it up. At one level, the 97-0 vote showed how out-of-date the February requests can seem after so much has changed in the spending debate already this year. But for Democrats, it also proved a convenient way to mask their substantial internal differences over how to proceed” on addressing the government’s fiscal problems

This sound defeat of the President's proposed plan (budget) for the way forward was little reported in the media, just glossed over, really. Not surprising since the American press are in re-election campaign mode for their candidate, Barack Obama.

The President's spokesman did announce that Air Force One will touch down in Missouri so that he can survey the damage of the tornado activity that destroyed the city of Joplin. He didn't exactly receive compliments for the timing of events with his pub crawling in Ireland and those photos and video that came out as the people of Joplin were experiencing their devastation.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Clinton Channels His Inner Republican

After former President Clinton sounded a whole lot like a Republican about the upcoming debt limit vote - the one that Treasury Secretary Geithner claims the world will end if the vote isn't taken and passed by the time the actual default occurs - his spokesperson tried to smooth the ruffled feathers of Democrats but ended up saying exactly what Clinton originally said.

"What he meant to say was that if a vote to extend the debt limit failed in advance of a default, that might not be harmful for a couple of days, but that if people thought that we might actually default, that in his words 'we were literally not going to pay our bills anymore,' then they would stop [people from] buying our debt."

Truth is good.

And, then if that wasn't enough, turns out Clinton showed some love for Rep Paul Ryan and his courage in presenting a plan to reform big entitlements, specifically Medicare. In light of the win by a Democrat in an historically Republican New York seat for the House of Representatives - a special election - Clinton cautioned Democrats against scoring short term victories at the expense of working on serious reforms.

Former President Bill Clinton cautioned his party Wednesday against avoiding reforms to Medicare even though the GOP’s unpopular overhaul plan helped Democrats score an upset victory in New York’s 26th district.

“The race was about Medicare,” Clinton said of Democrat Kathy Hochul's win in Tuesday's special election. But, he added, “I am afraid that the Democrats will draw the conclusion … that we shouldn’t do anything. I completely disagree with that.

“The Democrats may have to give up some short-term political gain by whipping up fear, if it’s a reasonable Social Security proposal, if it’s a reasonable Medicare proposal. You cannot have healthcare devour the economy,” he said.

While Clinton doesn't endorse the Ryan plan, he did have a private conversation with Ryan Tuesday, it was reported, (video by ABC News) and welcomed Ryan to call on him for dialogue on the matter as the battle goes on. That ought to send some chills down some Democrat spines, right?

That is why Clinton was successful as President with the majority of Americans and why strict ideologues like Barack Obama are not, in the end. There are times that the bare politics of big policy decisions must be set aside and clear focus on solutions must surface.

It takes a grown up voice.

Republicans lost a seat in the House of Representatives because the wrong candidate ran against a Democrat unafraid to demagogue Medicare reform to win the election. For whatever reason, the Republican was unable to stand and deliver. She wasn't able to state clearly and without hesitation why she supported the Ryan plan and the importance of reform. She allowed the Democrats to scare the senior citizen voter and this won't be the way forward for Republicans.

It is clear that Paul Ryan is needed in the House of Representatives to continue to educate the general public on the reforms. It must be brought home that no one from age 55 and up will be affected by the Ryan plan. Everything remains the same. Those younger than 55 years of age will have adjustments to make, some reforms not beginning for up to twelve years out.

The way forward for the GOP is to stay focused and continue to teach what is in the proposed plan. Let Ryan speak to compromises that can be put into the plan. He is the smartest guy in the room on all of this. The bonus is that he articulates the policy in terms that ordinary people understand - no one need be a policy wonk to review a Ryan speech for information.

Here is the latest video by Ryan. It is worth watching to understand his plan:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Senate GOP Demand Budget from Democrats

It is now more than two years since the Democrats in the U.S. Senate bothered to fulfill their legal obligations and submit a budget for a vote. Monday, all 47 Republican sent a letter demanding action to Majority Leader Reid.

Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) threatened on Monday to derail planned budget resolution votes this week — as well as the Memorial Day recess — to protest Democrats’ lack of a budget plan.

The move could complicate consideration of the House-passed budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), although Democrats still will be able to bring that plan up for a vote.

Sessions is protesting the fact that Senate Democrats have failed to produce a budget alternative to the House GOP resolution. All 47 Republican senators sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday demanding that Democrats produce their own version.

Senator Reid has announced he will call a vote on the Ryan plan Tuesday. Senator Conrad, Chairman of Senate Budget Committee, said he will not provide a budget until the Group of Six finish negotiations and have an agreement on the debt ceiling vote. He is one of the group and has been unable to get the group, along with VP Biden, to finish their work. One of the group, Republican Senator Coburn has taken "a break" from the group out of frustration with the process.

So, once again the minority party in the Senate, the Republicans, are leading with plans and alternatives. The majority party chooses to play politics and not bother with solutions to the matters most important to Americans - our fiscal security and major entitlement reform.

It is time for the GOP to take back the Senate and lead where the Democrats have been unable to do.

Here is the letter from the Senate GOP to Reid:

Dear Majority Leader Reid:

It has now been 754 days since the Senate last passed a budget. We have less than six months remaining until the start of the new fiscal year and the Senate has yet to produce a basic budget plan to substantively address our grave fiscal crisis. With our nation officially reaching the $14.3 trillion debt limit last week, we urge you to take the steps necessary to bring a FY2012 budget forward in committee and on the floor for an open, honest, and serious debate.

The voters in the November 2010 mid-term elections spoke loud and clear: the country can no longer afford the status quo or business as usual in Washington. Our fiscal reality is simply too dire. Each day that passes without a federal budget plan is another day in which out-of-control spending jeopardizes America’s economic future, national security, and jobs.

Last year, Congress failed to pass a budget, failed to pass any of the twelve annual appropriations bills, and failed the nation by recklessly funding the government on a series of short-term spending bills. The Senate cannot make the same mistake again. It’s time for colleagues on both sides of the aisle to demonstrate real leadership and work together to craft a fiscally responsible budget plan. Reducing government spending is not a simple task—it will require strong leadership by individuals who are willing to make difficult decisions. We stand ready to make those tough choices.

All across America, families must find ways to make their family budget work and small businesses must plan within tight budget constraints. With limited resources, they make hard choices to distinguish between wants and needs. The federal government must operate no differently.

This is the most important budget debate in our lifetime. Future generations will judge us based on the actions we take at this pivotal juncture. As we watch countries like Greece, Ireland, and Portugal forced into severe austerity measures and risking default because of unsustainable spending decisions, we believe it is necessary to reduce our spending and deficits to ensure we do not suffer the same fate.

Given the importance of this budget, we hope you will help ensure a transparent and honest budget process. The Budget Committee’s Republican members have asked our Chairman to allow the public to review his proposal no less than 72 hours before the first mark-up and permit ample time for amendments; we would request you support the same transparency throughout the process. We owe the American people an honest budget and an open budget process.

We urge you to work with us to produce a FY2012 budget resolution that makes significant cuts to federal spending and puts our nation on a fiscally responsible path to eliminating our debt altogether.

Very truly yours,

[47 Signatures]

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Study Finds Reallocation of Resources Lowers Tuition In Higher Ed

A new study was released Monday by the D.C.-based Center for College Affordability and Productivity The bottom line is this: by incorporating even modest changes in the teaching work loads of the least productive professors would bring about substantial cost reductions in tuition and state taxpayer money while not tampering with tenure or the world class research being done at the university. UT-Austin, for example, would remain a solid Tier One research university.

Pew Research polls indicate that the value of a college degree is questioned by a growing percentage of Americans. A majority believe that higher education is no longer affordable and that it doesn't deliver a good value.

In the newly released study, Dr. Richard Vedder, along with Christopher Matgouranis and Jonathan Robe, found:

* 20% of UT Austin faculty are teaching 57% of student credit hours. They also generate 18% of the campus's research funding. This suggests that these faculty are not jeopardizing their status as researchers by assuming such a high level of teaching responsibility.

* Conversely, the least productive 20% of faculty teach only 2% of all student credit hours and generate a disproportionately smaller percentage of external research funding than do other faculty segments.

* Research grant funds go almost entirely (99.8%) to a small minority (20%) of the faculty; only 2% of the faculty conduct 57% of funded research.

*Non-tenured tract faculty teach a majority of undergraduate enrollments and a surprising 31% of graduate enrollments.

* The most active researchers teach nearly the average of all faculty; increasing teaching loads of others would trivially impact outside research support.

Keeping in mind that the findings are preliminary, it is evident that there is great promise for containing soaring higher education costs at UT Austin by reallocation of resources. A re emphasis on the importance of undergraduate teaching can be done without reducing outside research funding or productivity. Dr. Vedder says that tuition could be cut in half at UT Austin to about $4,500 per year.

It is noted that UT Austin urges everyone to not analyze the data results, as they are "preliminary".

All of the analysis is based on faculty productivity data requested by University of Texas System Regents in February for its task force on university excellence and productivity. UT Austin released 821 pages of data on faculty statistics.

Across the nation, tuition rises by about 7% each year.

Dr. Vedder said it is necessary to require professors to act like other professionals in other professions. For instance, it is not too much to ask that they work a regular 9 to 5 day. Requiring faculty to teach more students or courses would significantly reduce university costs. The study shows substantial disparities in the work professors actually perform and the compensation they receive for their services. A small portion of faculty carry the majority of the teaching load, teaching a sizable majority of students and maintain their research nearly at the same level as their peers. As the study points out,a significant proportion of the faculty is far less productive by holding small teaching loads and have little external research dollars generating. If teaching responsibilities were increased for that majority of faculty, the impact of external research funding or productivity would have marginal impact while significantly reducing the cost of tuition.

Dr. Vedder said UT Austin is not unique. "The findings at UT Austin are not unique as tuition and fees skyrocket at public universities across the nation, raising the question of who is really working to control costs for parents and taxpayers during the worst economic recession in 70 years."

When asked how he would evaluate Governor Perry's reform efforts, Dr. Vedder said the Governor is "unusually aggressive" in trying to reduce the cost of tuition and more reformist than other Governors. He said Perry's unique call for $10,000 four year degree programs are commendable and "clearly doable". The key is asking professors to act as other professionals in this economy.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Crownover Amendment is State Wide Smoking Ban

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserves neither liberty nor safety” is a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin.

A state wide smoking ban was approved in vote by the Texas House of Representatives last Friday night. This bans smoking in all establishments and businesses in the state. Bars, restaurants, any kind of building fall under this power grab.

Power grab? Yes. The representatives voting in favor of this amendment are taking power away from private businesses and owners across the state. Who are they to tell anyone how to run a business? Who are they to limit choices for customers?

The smoking ban measure was offered as an amendment by Rep. Myra Crownover (R-Lake Dallas). She filed similar legislation for several sessions. The measure passed with a vote of 73-66. It still must make it through the Senate-House final negotiating process on SB 1811.

Did you see that information after the representative's name? Yes. Crownover is a Republican. As a Republican woman, this irks me the most. Democrats want to socially engineer human behavior, not Republicans. Democrats love to boost 'sin' taxes when they need additional revenue, whether it is adding taxes to tobacco or liquor sales or even adding more taxes to gas at the pump so drivers will cut back on driving their cars. Democrats are in the business of behavior modification, not Republicans.

Crownover added the amendment in a fiscal matters bill, SB 1811 (Amendment 53). She claims it will save the state millions of dollars in Medicaid costs.

Whatever the reasoning, it is wrong.

Reps. Gary Elkins (R-Houston) and Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) spoke eloquently Friday night of the principles of individual freedom in this country. Where did common sense go? Where did personal responsibility go? Where did treating adults as grown-ups go? We need less government finger wagging in our faces, not more.

Adults can make their own decisions, thank you very much.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Salazar Deserves to be Fired, Not Given Pay Raise

Did you know that Interior Secretary Salazar draws a lesser salary than the other cabinet members? It is due to the fact that he was a sitting U.S. Senator when he accepted the position.

Thanks to a constitutional quirk, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar makes less than most of his colleagues in President Obama’s Cabinet, and a Republican senator says he’ll keep it that way, blocking a nearly $20,000 raise for the high-level appointee, until the administration approves more deep-water oil drilling.

Mr. Salazar’s salary is set at $180,1000, which is $19,600 less than most other Cabinet secretaries. The Constitution prohibits legislators from taking positions in the executive branch for which they raised the salaries, and since Mr. Salazar voted on pay levels when he was in the Senate, he would have been barred from taking the Interior job unless the salary was reduced back to its earlier rate.

His Senate term would have expired in January, though which means he’s once again eligible for the higher pay rate.

Though he has not requested a raise in salary personally, his buddy Senator Reid tried to get it done for him last week.

Fortunately, GOP Senators are on it. Led by Louisiana Senator Vitter, Reid got nowhere fast. “Every day, Interior’s policies are costing more Gulf energy workers their jobs. But the Interior secretary needs a raise? That’s ridiculous — it’s offensive,” Mr. Vitter said in a statement to The Washington Times. “I’ll do everything I can to block his raise until Gulf energy workers are at least where they were in terms of work and job security pre-BP. I really want to see new deepwater exploratory permits being issued at pre-BP levels over a 3-month period.”

His Senate term would have expired in January, though which means he’s once again eligible for the higher pay rate.

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison entered the conversation by delivering the GOP Weekly Address.

In the weekly Republican radio and Internet address, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, complained the administration's policies remain too restrictive. She says the country "needs a long-term policy that provides energy from our own ample natural resources."

She said it's not enough to just talk with gasoline prices around $4 a gallon.
Hutchison says policies need to be in place to "cut the bureaucratic red tape and put Americans to work doing it."

Secretary Salazar has deliberately destroyed offshore oil and gas drilling in our waters. He continues to work to do more damage. He continues to ignore a federal judge's orders to end the moratorium and its restrictions to new exploration and drilling.

Secretary Salazar needs to be fired, not rewarded with a pay raise.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Netanyahu Responds to Obama's Demands of Israel

Prime Minister Netanyahu made some remarks at his joint photo op with President Obama before the White House reporters and photographers:

"We share your hope and your vision for the spread of democracy in the Middle East. I appreciate the fact that you reaffirmed once again now and in our conversation, and in actual deed, the commitment to Israel's security. We value your efforts to advance the peace process.

This is something that we want to have accomplished. Israel wants peace. I want peace. What we all want is a peace that will be genuine, that will hold, that will endure. And I think that we both agree that a peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle Eastern reality, and that the only peace that will endure is one that is based on reality, on unshakable facts.

I think for there to be peace, the Palestinians will have to accept some basic realities. The first is that while Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines, because these lines are indefensible, because they don't take into account certain changes that have taken place on the ground, demographic changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. Remember that before 1967, Israel was all of 9 miles wide - half the width of the Washington Beltway. And these were not the boundaries of peace; they were the boundaries of repeated wars, because the attack on Israel was so attractive from them.

So we can't go back to those indefensible lines, and we're going to have to have a long-term military presence along the Jordan.

I discussed this with the president. I think that we understand that Israel has certain security requirements that will have to come into place in any deal that we make.

The second echoes something the president just said, and that is that Israel cannot negotiate with a Palestinian government that is backed by Hamas. Hamas, as the president said, is a terrorist organization, committed to Israel's destruction. It's fired thousands of rockets on our cities, on our children. It's recently fired an anti-tank rocket at a yellow school bus, killing a 16-year-old boy.

And Hamas has just attacked you, Mr. President, and the United States for ridding the world of bin Laden. So Israel obviously cannot be asked to negotiate with a government that is backed by the Palestinian version of al-Qaida.

I think President Abbas has a simple choice. He has to decide if he negotiates or keeps his pact with Hamas, or makes peace with Israel. And I can only express what I said to you just now: that I hope he makes the choice, the right choice, of choosing peace with Israel.

But a third reality is that the Palestinian refugee problem will have to be resolved in the context of a Palestinian state but certainly not in the borders of Israel. The Arab attack in 1948 on Israel resulted in two refugee problems, Palestinian refugee problem and Jewish refugees, roughly the same number, who were expelled from Arab lands. Now tiny Israel absorbed the Jewish refugees, but the vast Arab world refused to absorb the Palestinian refugees.

Now, 63 years later, the Palestinians come to us and they say to Israel: accept the grandchildren, really, and the great-grandchildren of these refugees, thereby wiping out Israel's future as a Jewish state. So that's not going to happen. Everybody knows it's not going to happen. And I think it's time to tell the Palestinians forthrightly, it's not going to happen.

The Palestinian refugee problem has to be resolved. It can be resolved. And it will be resolved if the Palestinians choose to do so in Palestinian state. That's a real possibility. But it's not going to be resolved within the Jewish state.

The president and I discussed all of these issues, and I think we may have differences here and there, but I think there is an overall direction that we wish to work together to pursue a real, genuine peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors, a peace that is defensible.

Mr. President, you are the leader of a great people, the American people. And I am the leader of a much smaller people.

It's a great people too. It's the ancient nation of Israel. And you know, we've been around for almost 4,000 years. We have experienced struggle and suffering like no other people. We've gone through expulsions and pogroms and massacres and the murder of millions.

But I can say that even at the nadir of the valley of death, we never lost hope and we never lost our dream of reestablishing a sovereign state in our ancient homeland, the land of Israel. And now it falls on my shoulders as the prime minister of Israel at a time of extraordinary instability and uncertainty in the Middle East to work with you to fashion a peace that will ensure Israel's security and will not jeopardize its survival.

I take this responsibility with pride but with great humility, because, as I told you in our conversation, we don't have a lot of margin for error and because, Mr. President, history will not give the Jewish people another chance."

The fact that liberal websites are opining that BiBi has overplayed his hand - had a "tantrum" -in reaction to President Obama using the 1967 borders as a starting point to peace negotiations, tells me that BiBi probably got it right. Obama deserved to be smacked for his petty minded speech on the Arab Spring narrative and for dragging Israel into the mix.

This piece speaks to the tempered response from Netanyahu to Obama while being strong and legit.

It was very nervy of Bibi, and certainly opens him up to the charge of being chutzpahdik with Israel’s greatest ally. But what exactly did he have to lose? He faces a hostile president, but one who governs a country overwhelmingly supportive of Israel. Could things get worse with Obama than they were last year? And could things get better for Netanyahu if Obama finds he is paying a price for being at odds with the American people on one of the few foreign policy issues they care about?

It is well documented that Obama got off to a very rocky start with Israel. Obama was determined to publicly support Palestine and made no bones about it. He pointedly blamed Israel from having its national security at the forefront of its peace negotiations. Now Obama wants to impose his prejudice against the Jews on a renewed desire to enter the peace process after ignoring it for the first two years of his administration. It's re-election time and Obama has to appear interested in a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine.

So, what did Obama do? Overreached, as usual. He started with using the 1967 borders as the starting point in negotiations, not as a guideline to negotiate land acquisition. Plus, he put Jerusalem into play after promising in the 2008 campaign to not do so. Another campaign promise unmet. The 2004 agreement with Israel and the U.S. made clear that the 1967 borders were not in play. That was a country to country agreement, not an agreement made with one president. Now, this president wants to toss it aside as though it didn't happen.

And, from Senator Joe Lieberman: Sen. Joseph Lieberman, among the highest-profile Jewish officeholders in American government, blasted President Barack Obama’s speech on the Middle East Friday, calling portions of it “profoundly ill-advised.”

“As in the case of the President’s counterproductive demand for a settlement freeze two years ago, unilateral statements of this sort do nothing to bring the two parties back to the negotiating table and in fact make it harder for them to do so. They also damage the relationship of trust that is critical to peacemaking.”

Mr. Lieberman’s comments could have political ramifications. The Jewish community tends to vote mostly Democratic, and Mr. Obama won the Jewish vote 78%-22%. But during the campaign, some Jewish voters expressed concern that Mr. Obama would be an insufficiently reliable ally for Israel.

The comments of Mr. Lieberman, the only Orthodox Jew in the Senate, could resonate in the Jewish community. Mr. Lieberman said he hopes Mr. Obama makes clear in coming days that “the 1967 borders themselves are no longer an acceptable endpoint for negotiations because they do not allow Israel to defend itself, and that any peace agreement must reflect new realities on the ground, including the major new Israeli communities that have grown up since 1967.”

President Obama goes to AIPAC Sunday to deliver a speech, as does Netanyahu. Netanyahu will also address a joint session of Congress next week.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Texas, We Have A Budget

Texas, we have a budget.

This statement is from Texas Public Policy Foundation:

Statement by The Honorable Talmadge Heflin, Director of TPPF’s Center for Fiscal Policy:

“This state budget deal is a victory for all Texans – and especially for the Texans who worked hard over the past several months to remind our legislators that they wanted a fiscally conservative state budget. The announced budget deal is a win for Texas on three specific points:

· It does not use a single penny of the rainy day fund for the next biennium.
· It does not raise taxes.
· It does represent the first all-funds reduction to a biennial state budget in the past half-century.

“What happened in the Texas Legislature this session is more than just a victory for Texans. It's a victory for America. Texas already leads the way in job creation, economic vitality, and economic liberty. Now Texas is leading the way in the most important cause facing our country: the need to live within our means.

“Today, in Austin, Texas, the men and women of our legislature showed it can be done. That's a tremendous accomplishment for Texas – and it's a shining beacon of hope for America.”

This is indeed a victory for fiscal conservatives in Texas. Texas will continue to be a shining city on the hill for the rest of the country.

Texas Lege Grapples With Passing State Budget

The push is on. Rep Jim Murphy (Dist 133) wrote in an op-ed recently about the deadlines established in the state legislature that keep order in the process of moving bills through for passage.

"The Memorial Day (May 30) end of session is well known. However, the deadlines leading up to it triage bills, establish hierarchies, and prevent a last minute flood of legislation.

We have already passed the May 9 deadline for committees to report (pass) house bills. Any bill still in committee is dead, unless it has a Senate companion. May 12 was a very major deadline, the last day to pass House bills. Again, if you have a Senator carrying a companion, that bill can still pass.

Our calendar on May 12 had more than 100 bills eligible. We can consider Senate bills until May 25 for second reading and for final passage."

An interesting development was announced as an end of session surprise - Comptroller Susan Combs declared an additional $1.2 billion in revenue and now the mad scramble is on to pass a state budget.

Governor Perry said of the additional money reported by Comptroller Combs:

"The revised revenue estimate shows the strength of Texas job creation and economic growth, but it does not mean lawmakers can abandon necessary budget reductions. Just as Texas families and employers have had to tighten their belts during the national recession, so must state government.

"Because of our nation's economic uncertainty, looming federal mandates and possible natural disasters, we must protect the remaining balance of the state's Rainy Day Fund. A budget that drains the Rainy Day Fund, depends on accounting gimmicks or spends more than available revenues is harmful and unsustainable for taxpayers, employers and state lawmakers alike.

"I will not sign a partial state budget or allow it to become law. However, I remain confident we can pass a fiscally-conservative balanced budget in regular session, and will continue to work with the Senate and House to responsibly live within available state revenues."

Speaker of the House Straus spoke to the fact that the House remains committed to no new taxes and keeping hands out of the Rainy Day Fund. He said the House has made compromises, as in any negotiations, and now it is time for the Senate to step up and do the same:

"Earlier this week, Comptroller Combs updated her projections of state revenue and House conferees on the budget promptly agreed to put those dollars toward our first priority, our public schools. The additional revenue from the Comptroller and the improving economy have allowed House budget negotiators to find an additional $2 billion to fund public schools and another $1 billion for border security, nursing homes, transportation, and higher education, for a total of $3 billion. We are prepared to enact legislation that will allow us to pay for these priorities within a balanced budget and without raising taxes or further using the Rainy Day Fund."

Rep Linda Harper Brown, House Dist 105, announced a bill she authored to save some money for the state by eliminating 150 printed reports deemed unnecessary and unhelpful .

"I have authored a bill that will eliminate more than 150 unnecessary government reports. These are reports that have been previously compiled by agencies, but were deemed useless by the recipients of the reports. The purpose of HB 2870 and its Senate companion bill, SB 1179, is to increase government efficiency by eliminating unnecessary and outdated state agency reports that serve no purpose and take up staff time, printing costs, and storage space. As a result of these savings, this legislation will have a positive fiscal impact to the state."

Maybe it's not a monumental amount of savings, but every action helps. Common sense is so important in governing and yet so often missing for the equation.

If a state budget is not passed before the end of session deadline, a special session will be called by Governor Perry. The last day is May 30th (Sine Die). Eliminating the need for a special session would be a cost-saving measure, too.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Greater Houston Council Polls on U.S. Senate Candidates

On the heels of a big endorsement announcement by Madison Project of U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz,it is apparent that Cruz is a popular candidate with the Republican women in southeast Texas

The Madison Project announcement stated the tough race ahead for the candidates:

This is going to be a long haul for Ted to win this primary-already there are four other high profile candidates in the race with rumors that a fifth will enter within the next few months and the opportunity to elect a solid conservative for the U.S. Senate seat from Texas, vacated by retiring Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Though I do not - DO NOT - agree with this organization's caricature of Senator Hutchison as a "RINO" and do not respect the use of that term by conservatives, I do agree it's a full out competitive race developing. Madison Project describes Cruz as a "comprehensive conservative" and I think that is accurate. He has a record of both fiscal and social conservatism.

The popularity of Cruz with other Republican women is not a surprise to me. I've been to lots of Republican events sponsored by Republican women - particularly in the last three years - and, as a rule, Ted Cruz comes and doesn't just stop by for a few minutes to be introduced as a guest. He stays and shakes hands and answers questions with anyone who comes up to speak with him. He works a room. His wife is a Republican woman and she and Ted are fond of saying they are raising the next generation of Republican women now with their two little daughters.

So, with all this in mind, I was interested to hear the thoughts of other Republican women leaders Tuesday morning as I attended the bi-monthly meeting of Greater Houston Council. Greater Houston Council is an arm of the Texas Federation of Republican Women. It represents Republican women in 40 Republican Women's Clubs in Southeast Texas - in 9 counties: Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Jefferson, Montgomery, Waller, and Walker. Each federated Republican Womens club has two delegates to Greater Houston Council - the club president and another delegate, usually the club vice-president. So, I've been a delegate for three years now. It is a hard working group of women committed to electing Republicans into office in Texas, and at the federal level. Recently, Republican women were credited with being the force behind turning Hardin County into a deeply 'red' county.

The program consisted of taking a poll using a list of characteristics of a candidate. We were asked to score the characteristics from 1 to 12, most important to least, for the U.S. Senate race and then for the candidates for President.

The characteristics were: Tactful/Diplomatic, Communication skills, Persuasive, Understands government, Common sense, Comprehends constituent needs, Ethical, Professional, Sense of humor, Pro family, Moral convictions.

Then we were asked to write down the name of a declared or undeclared Republican candidate for U.S. Senate that we think most embodies these characteristics. The results were:

Ted Cruz 45%
David Dewhurst 36.4%
Elizabeth Ames Jones 9.1%
Michael Williams 3%
Roger Williams 3%
Michael McCaul 3%

The final question had us write down the name of the candidate we think can win against a Democrat. The results were:

David Dewhurst 55.2%
Ted Cruz 27.6%
Michael Williams 13.8%
Tom Leppert 3.4%

Interesting, right?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Senate Wastes Time on Energy Votes

Liberal reporters are stating that it was a failure for the GOP in the Senate that a bill opposed by a Republican senator from Louisiana failed in the trial balloon vote Wednesday. Got that bit of irony? A bill put forward by Republicans in the Senate to counter the unconstitutional money grab by Senate Democrats - yanking the tax 'credits' of the top five oil and gas companies - was opposed by a Republican senator from an oil producing state. Why did Senator Vitter oppose his party's bill? He said it didn't go far enough.

He is right.

So, it's ok that the bill failed. It was meant to get the Republicans on record by Democrats who wish to use votes in campaign ads in 2012. To Democrats, it is bad to be on record voting in support of the energy producing sector. Unless it is "green energy". Then, it is ok to be in favor of throwing good money after bad in energy production that will not bear fruit for decades to come. There is no common sense in Democratic leadership when it comes to energy. They will blindly support a liberal and illogical ideology to the bitter end. They are complacent as we pay big bucks to fill our gas tanks because they view high gas prices as a way of rationing America's driving habits.

Apparently, it is a-ok with Democrats to stop domestic offshore oil and gas drilling in our waters because in their logic, we'll never have enough anyway. What?

Democrats argued that no amount of domestic drilling would satiate the nation’s thirst for energy.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., accused Republicans of wanting “to begin rushing in to drilling with the same reckless practices that led to the spill” in the Gulf last year.

“Not only does the Republican bill not add any new protocols to ensure that increased drilling will be safe, it revokes some of the additional requirements that were instituted following the BP spill,” Durbin said. “They haven’t learned any lessons from what happened in the Gulf of Mexico.”

The Senate voted 42-57 to launch debate on the legislation — falling 18 votes shy of the 60 needed to advance the bill.

The facts are written in plain language in the final reports produced on the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. It was a build up on bad human decisions and failure of a piece of equipment which had nothing to do with additional layers of bureaucratic red tape and more pencil pushers dictating "new protocols" that are neither useful nor helpful. It has nothing to do with safety on a drilling rig. That's the lesson that should be learned, if Senator Durbin were really serious.

For the record, Democratic Senator from Louisiana, Mary Landrieu, also opposed the bill as not strong enough.

Vitter took issue with a provision in the legislation that would require a third-party review of oil companies’ spill response plans.

The legislation “increases the burdens and requirements and hurdles of even the new Obama regulations that have been put in place since the BP disaster,” Vitter said on the floor Tuesday.

In addition, the legislation does not go far enough to expand domestic drilling, Vitter said, noting it does not require dramatic new lease sales in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or off parts of the Pacific coast.

“I’m disappointed that the bill is so modest in terms of the increased access,” he said.

Vitter rightly pointed out that both bills - the one targeting oil companies and the one that was a weak response from the GOP - are a waste of precious time.

“There’s going to be a whole bunch of sound and fury in the end signifying nothing,” Vitter said.

Run, Mitch, Run

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is near announcing a decision about a run for President, if we are to believe recent nuggets in the news. It is evident that the media who are clearly in the re-election camp of President Obama are a bit worried about a potential GOP rival who would give Obama a run for his billion dollar campaign.

A story line developing about the private life of Daniels is both disappointing and completely expected. Though labeled by the press as Daniels' political enemies or rival campaigns, it is easy to think of those descriptions as thoughts from Team Obama. Seems these rivals and enemies are hoping to include personal attacks on the Governor's wife, Cherie, and their marriage as campaign material fodder.

From the Washington Post:

The governor’s political enemies — those who are eager to box out a promising contender with a reputation for fiscal seriousness, establishment backing and intellectual heft — are taking him at his word.

A rival campaign has identified the first lady’s reticence as a pressure point before she steps fully into the limelight. The couple has a complicated personal history. They divorced in 1994, and Cheri Daniels moved to California, where she remarried. The future governor, then a senior executive at the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, raised the couple’s four daughters, who at the time spanned the ages of 8 to 14. Cheri Daniels later returned, and the couple remarried in 1997.

In exchange for anonymity, an official for another GOP prospect provided contact information for the ex-wife of the man Cheri Daniels married, in the years between her divorce and remarriage to Daniels. Other officials at potential rival campaigns to Daniels disagreed about whether the personal history of Cheri Daniels would ever be a vulnerability or even germane to the race. One key adviser to a potential candidate said that the guardedness the first lady had exhibited about her past signaled a lack of enthusiasm that, more than any personal baggage, would handicap her husband’s chances over time. An official at another candidate’s campaign said the marital history wouldn’t and shouldn’t matter.

So, to recap, while Mitch Daniels was running Eli Lilly his wife left, divorced him, went to California and Mitch stayed in Indianapolis with the four daughters. Neither were politicians. They were private citizens. They worked it out, whatever was not right and Cherie and Mitch re-married. All of this was in a three year time span. Daniels now says, "If you like happy endings, you’ll love our story.”

The same conservatives who would have you believe they are all about family values and pro-family will now criticize the Daniels for separating and then coming back together. The daughters remained in their home and maintained their lives in Indianapolis, in their familar environment. Isn't that pro-family? Isn't that family values? Doesn't Mitch Daniels get some extra credit for being a single dad to four daughters, the oldest 14 years old and the youngest 8? Having been a 14 year old girl at one time, I can speak from experience - 14 year old girls are no picnic, especially for their dads.

And, if some of this nonsense is from Team Obama who would be surprised? We were told by liberals and Democrats that the Clinton marriage was none of our business - as long as they were ok with it, we should be. He, at the time, was a sitting President. She did the groundwork for a run for the U.S. Senate in her last years in the White House. Neither of them were private citizens.

That was then, this is now.

Daniels is very popular in Indiana - he won re-election even though Barack Obama carried the state in 2008. He ended the union benefit contracts that were bankrupting the state. He ended state funding to Planned Parenthood - the first Governor in the nation to do so. Indiana is not broke, as most other states are. Daniels expertise is economics. He was critical of former President Bush's big spending and as his budget director,left that administration over it. He was a member of the Reagan administration.

Daniels is unwavering in his convictions, courageous in execution, socially and fiscally conservative, intelligent, experienced in executive leadership and a numbers guy. He's a Republican.

Run, Mitch, run. Get in there and mix it up with the others.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

TPPF Amicus Curiae Accepted By 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

For the first time in the foundation's history, Texas Public Policy Foundation has filed an amicus curiae (friend of court) brief in the in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and it was accepted. The case - Florida et al v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services et al, the lawsuit by 26 states – including Texas – challenging the constitutionality of the last year’s federal health care reform law, is that important.

Twenty-six states have joined together to say no to Obamacare and its mandates to states. A big sticking point is the individual mandate - currently in the news as presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has come out on the wrong side of that issue.

The foundation's brief asks the court to hold that the Medicaid expansion provisions are a commandeering of state governments for federal purposes, which is unconstitutional under the Spending Clause. The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (ACA) included provisions requiring state governments to cover tens of millions of additional low-income individuals through the Medicaid program.

Here is an explanation of an amicus curiae:
Amicus curiae is a Latin term for “friend of the court.” Persons who are not a party to a particular case may submit amicus curiae briefs with information and analysis that may help the court resolve legal issues in that case. Today is the first time in the 22-year history of the Texas Public Policy Foundation that it has authored such a brief. The appeal is scheduled for June 8.


Gingrich Implodes

That didn't take long, did it? Newt Gingrich just ended his very narrow shot at the GOP presidential bid. Only a matter of days after declaring his intention to run for President via social media, Newt was basking in the buzz around Washington, D.C. and made the mistake of doing a Sunday morning interview on an alphabet network show.

When asked about his opinion on the health care proposal delivered by the GOP through Rep Paul Ryan in the House of Representatives, Newt declared that "far right social engineering" is just as dangerous as it is coming from the far left. He said the legislation proposed was too drastic.

Alrighty then.

Rep Ryan responded by saying who needs Democrats with allies like this.

True enough. For a man who pretends to be Reaganesque at every opportunity, Newt sure did fall victim to what many conservatives trip up on - Reagan's number one rule was that of the 11th commandment - do not speak ill of a fellow Republican. In this case, the Ryan plan is wildly popular among the House GOP and all but four of them have signed off on the plan.

Paul Ryan isn't running for President. What in the world was Newt thinking?

Gingrich went on to declare support - in a kinda sorta veiled way - that he agrees with an individual mandate in health care reform.

Check, please.

There was one shining moment for Gingrich during that Sunday morning interview, to be fair. The host asked if opposition to Obama was racist from the GOP. Yes, folks, it is re-election time and the alphabet dinosaur media outlets are just as committed to Obama's re-election as they were in electing him in 2008. Now it's back to the meme that the GOP is racist because we are not behind a big government takeover style of governing. Newt firmly and quickly slapped back at the interviewer with his response that race has nothing to do with opposition to Obama policy.

During a speech given Friday in Georgia, Gingrich said, “President Obama is the most successful food stamp president in American history,” Gingrich said. “I would like to be the most successful paycheck president in American history.”

See, if you are a member of the dinosaur, liberal media, any reference to President Obama and food stamps in the same sentence must be a racist remark. Never mind that Gingrich was referring to the fact that today more Americans are dependent on money from the government to survive than any other time in recent history. And, by the way, fewer Americans pay income tax than ever before. Yeah, something is very wrong.

As has been written before, Newt Gingrich is a smart man without the necessary discipline to think before speaking. His time to lead in elected office has come and gone.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Obama Takes Baby Steps Towards Oil & Gas Production

Following the disaster that was the Senate Finance Committee's hearing with the CEOs of the top five oil and gas companies, with the Democrats looking like utter buffoons, the President of the United States decided to use his weekly radio address to change course and go with the notion that we do, in fact, need an adjustment in his destructive energy non-policy.

The Democrats who were supporting yanking the tax incentives given to the oil companies - though it is the same as what is given to all big businesses in our country - were so thoroughly discredited that there has been nary a peep from them.

Here's the thing - it's full out 2012 campaign season and Barack Obama is struggling. He got a bit of a bounce from killing Osama bin Laden in Pakistan but it is nowhere near what, say, either of the two Bush presidents received after the Kuwait war or capturing Saddam. He'll use it for all it's worth, of course, but there is little hope that it is enough to counter the dismal economic numbers which will no doubt follow him into re-election voting time.

So, Obama being the pol from Chicago that he is and forever being in campaign mode, looked at the polling numbers and noticed that the majority of Americans want to drill for our own oil. Most Americans don't want to be beholden to nations who wish us ill for our oil supply. Most Americans realize that to reap rewards of good energy policy decisions, the groundwork must be done years in advance.

Barack Obama took to the airwaves and video camera to announce a half-assed solution to the challenges we face today. Unable to admit he is wrong in his ideologically driven non-policy and that simply shutting down an entire industry is not the way to go. He should have fired Secretary Salazar and Secretary Chu and brought in common sense, trained experts. That is a long overdue necessity. Instead he made small steps while trying to make them sound like great strides for solely political posturing.

Let the teeth gnashing and arm flailing begin.

A little review from www.mullings.com :

On December 1 CNN reported that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced
"Barack Obama will not be allowing new drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico for at least seven years" and "the exploration of drilling possibilities in sensitive areas of the Arctic will proceed 'with utmost caution.'"

According to the CNN report, that announcement - again five months ago -
"Effectively reverses White House plans announced at the end of March [14 months ago] to open the Gulf region - along with other large swaths of U.S. coastal waters - to oil and natural gas drilling."

President Barack Obama, who has switched to All-Campaign-All-The-Time mode, according to the NY Times' John Broder:
In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president said the administration would begin to hold annual auctions for oil and gas leases in the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve, a 23-million-acre tract on the North Slope of Alaska.

Obama will also
-- Accelerate a review of the environmental impact of drilling off the southern and central Atlantic coast;
-- Extend leases already granted for drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico that had been frozen after last year's BP spill; and, according to the Broder piece;

-- Will provide incentives for oil companies to more quickly exploit leases they already hold.

Barack Obama was for more drilling in our own waters before he was against it and now he's for it again. Re-election converts, anyone?

I agree with what Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee said of Obama's weekly address: “One weekend address announcing minor policy tinkering, while positive, does not erase the Administration’s long job-destroying record of locking-up America’s energy resources,” said Doc Hastings (R-Wash)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Herman Cain Pays Visit to TFRW in Austin

Potential GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain was in Austin to deliver a speech Friday. Upon learning that the Texas Federation of Repubican Women was holding a board meeting nearby, Cain paid an unexpected visit to the women.

From the press release:


Austin- Members of the Texas Federation of Republican Women were just finishing lunch when 2012 Presidential hopeful Herman Cain paid them an unexpected visit on Friday afternoon. In town for a speaking engagement with the Austin Economic Club, Mr. Cain rearranged his flight schedule when he learned the group was meeting nearby.

Mr. Cain spoke to the women about his potential candidacy and outlined some of his proposals for solving America's current financial difficulties. While he has not officially announced his candidacy for president, Cain said he would be speaking at a large "news-worthy" event in his home state later this month; implying that an official announcement would come then.

Cain's statements were well received by the group; when he urged President Obama to "get our oil out of the ground," the 100 women in attendance eagerly joined him in reciting the 'American Oil Independence' slogan, 'Drill here, drill now!"

Among Cain's proposals to stimulate and strengthen the economy were calls to reduce the capital gains tax to "zero," lower corporate taxes, suspend taxes on repatriated profits, and provide a payroll tax holiday for both employers and employees. He emphasized that many federal programs need restructuring.

"We need to move from an entitlement society to an empowerment society."

Mr. Cain also paid tribute to the Republican women's organizations, saying he knew how important they were in his home state of Georgia. He encouraged the women to "stay informed, stay involved, and stay inspired." He mentioned his grandchildren and future American generations saying, "It ain't about us."

During his remarks, made in the Embassy Suites Atrium, other hotel guests lined the balconies to listen. Afterwards, Cain took time to visit with the TFRW women and hotel guests.

"We are absolutely delighted that Herman Cain took time out of his busy schedule to meet with us like this." said Federation President Rebecca Bradford. "He certainly had an impact on our group today."

President Bradford was careful to note that the Federation does not endorse candidates in Primary Elections. Individual members of the Federation are encouraged to endorse and work for the Republican candidate of their choosing.

Founded in 1955, the Texas Federation of Republican Women's long-standing goals of education, training, participation in government, electing Republicans and encouraging Republican women to run for office has helped create a powerful organization that touted 11,000 members with 162 clubs in 2010. For more information on TFRW or to locate a local club, please visit www.tfrw.org.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am President of Memorial West Republican Women in Houston, a member of Texas Federation of Republican Women. In compliance with the by-laws of the Federation, I am not allowed to endorse anyone running in a primary. This is not to be taken as an endorsement.

Senate Finance Committee Puts on Dog & Pony Show

If you didn't have the opportunity to watch the Senate hearing with the oil executives on C-SPAN this week, you missed some real entertainment. Assuming you are a person interested in political process, the Senate hearing that brought together the CEOs of the five largest oil and gas companies was real theatre.

Hello. My name is Karen and I am a C-SPAN junkie.

There were visual aids! No standard pie charts offered, not from Republicans who came to play. Finally, the GOP and the oil executives manned up and handed the Democrats their butts back on a platter. The absolute absurdity of the exercise of this hearing was evident from the start. Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, a Democrat, called the hearing "laughable".

Senator Orrin Hatch, the committee's ranking member, won the day. He started off by having an aide hold up a giant poster depicting a dog riding on the back of a pony. It was to vividly show what a dog and pony show the hearing was. It was also a laugh out loud moment for those of us watching at home. Then, as Senator Hatch went about making his opening statement, Senator Rockefeller, (D-Big Coal) interrupted him by asking him if he was about finished. Not only is Rockefeller not the chair of the committee, he set himself up to be bitch slapped by the soft spoken Utah senator. Hatch responded in no uncertain terms that he was not, in fact, about finished and would be taking as long as he wanted to finish.


For once, the CEOs of oil and gas companies were not kowtowing to the politicians. They are guilty of no crimes, unless you are a Democrat and believe business success is a crime. During the opening statements, for example, Rex Tillerson, the Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil, read from his remarks which included this:

"...it is important to make clear that tax provisions such as the Section 199 Domestic production Activities deduction are not special incentives, preferences or subsidies for oil and gas, but rather standard deductions applied across all businesses in the United States."

Tillerson pointed out that punishing the top five companies would be "misinformed and discriminatory". "By undermining U.S. competitiveness, they would discourage future investment in energy projects in the United States and therefore undercut job creation and economic growth. And, because they would hinder investment in new energy supplies, they do nothing to help reduce prices."

No doubt the Democrats were feeling a bit of pressure since two energy states Democrat Senators have come out strongly against the Senate hearing agenda.

Alaska's newest Senator Mark Begich is a Democrat. Unlike most of them in the Senate, he actually has some common sense with a backbone to boot. He shocked fellow Democrats this week with his position on punishing five of the top oil and gas companies for their success.

"I don't have a problem saying what's on my mind," he added. "If (the bill) hurts Alaska, they're going to hear from me."

Senate Democrats have introduced legislation that they say would eliminate more than $21 billion in subsidies and tax credits over the next 10 years for the five largest, most profitable oil companies in the world. The bill is known as the "Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act."

It puts an end to a number of loopholes that allow oil and gas companies to claim tax credits. It also ends royalty relief for deepwater offshore drilling.

The proceeds from repealing the loopholes would go toward reducing the deficit.

The legislation has the backing of President Barack Obama, who called for an end to the tax breaks in his State of the Union address. It has virtually no chance of passage in the Republican-controlled House, which on Wednesday passed a number of energy bills that expand drilling.

Did you catch that? Even this newspaper article follows the liberal's meme that the tax subsidies afforded to oil and gas producers are "loopholes". No, they are not loopholes. They are subsidies and tax incentives given to every big business in the country. Movie studios, manufacturing plants, foreign energy refineries doing business here, etc. They all receive subsidies.

And, his opinion was not just expressing what is best for his state, but also for the entire country. The article mentions that he is thinking of his constituents instead of playing normal partisan politics. Imagine that. A Senator actually doing his job.

So, good for Senator Begich. And, good for Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. She found her voice, too.

And, Senator Hatch won the day.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

American Energy Initiative Bills Passed in House

By a vote of 243 to 179, the final bill of a three bill initiative to create jobs, promote energy independence and lower energy prices was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday.

This is the statement issued by the House Natural Resources Committee on the success of passing the three bills that comprise the American Energy Initiative:

“The House Republican majority has responded to the American people’s call for lower gasoline prices, more jobs and reduced dependence on unstable foreign energy. Increased supply in American made energy, not higher taxes, will bring prices down. These three bills are the first steps in Republicans' efforts to foster low-cost, reliable American made energy that will help families across the country who are struggling to keep up with rising costs,” said Chairman Hastings. “All three bills earned bipartisan support and it’s now the Senate’s turn to take action and send them to President Obama as soon as possible. However, our work is just beginning. The Natural Resources Committee will act on an array of all-of-the-above energy bills that will focus on expanding all types of American energy.”

Additional American Energy Initiative bills from the Natural Resources Committee will focus on wind, solar, hydropower, critical minerals, coal, and onshore oil and natural gas development in the coming months.

The work in the House received strong bi-partisan support. Now it is time for the Senate to do the same. Energy production and independence is not a partisan issue. It is an American issue.

By passing H.R. 1229, H.R. 1330 and H.R. 1231, Chairman Hastings and the House Natural Resources Committee have provided a path to success.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tx House Passes Sanctuary City Law Reform

The office of Rep Linda Harper-Brown released a statement on the passage of the Sanctuary City bill in the Texas House of Representatives:

Today the House passed HB 12, co-authored by Representative Linda Harper Brown, which ensures that law enforcement officers are not prohibited from upholding the immigration laws of our state and nation.

"As an elected officeholder, it is my responsibility to abide by the oath of office to, 'preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this state.' Prohibiting law enforcement officials to ask the immigration status of individuals has hindered the ability of officers to defend the laws of this state. I am honored to be a co-author of this responsible legislation that gives local authorities the tools needed to keep Texas families and communities safer," Representative Linda Harper Brown said.

Specifically, House Bill 12 includes language that an entity, "may not adopt a rule, order, ordinance, or policy under which the entity prohibits the enforcement of the laws of this state or federal law relating to immigrants or immigration, including the federal Immigration and Nationality Act." This means entities must allow officers to inquire into the immigration status of a person arrested or detained for the investigation of a criminal offense and allow information to be exchanged with another federal, state, or local governmental entity, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The bill will now be sent to the Texas Senate for approval.

While President Obama enjoys mocking the GOP for insisting on border security and real immigration reform, states such as Texas are stepping up and doing the work of protecting their residents. We are a nation of laws and it is not funny, the violence on our border and in our cities by those with no legal right to be living here. It is an economic drain and it does not honor those who came here legally.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

H.R. 1229 Ends Obama Drilling Moratorium

Another step forward for domestic energy production was brought about with the passage of H.R. 1229 in the House of Representatives Wednesday. H.R. 1229 Ends Obama Administration’s De Facto Offshore Drilling Moratorium in Gulf of Mexico

The bill passed on a bi-partisan vote tally of 263 to 163. So, 163 elected representatives are in favor of American job losses and foreign energy dependence? Interesting. Wasn't it the Democrats who were so against jobs going overseas when President Bush was in office? Well, the oil drilling rigs not in use in our own Gulf of Mexico are going overseas to work. That means foreign crews will be hired and few Americans will be offered jobs to follow the rigs in foreign waters.

“This bill will provide relief to the people of the Gulf of Mexico by allowing them to finally return to work following the Obama Administration’s intentional slow-walking of drilling permits,” said Chairman Hastings. “With passage of this bill, House Republicans are sending a strong signal that we will not sit idly by while the Obama Administration sidelines American workers, sends American jobs overseas and continues to lock-up our American energy resources at a time of rising gasoline prices. I applaud the House for passing the Putting the Gulf back to Work Act and hope the Senate follows our lead to ease the economic pain in the Gulf of Mexico and help reduce gasoline prices across the country.”

This week, the House will also vote on Chairman Hastings’ third offshore drilling bill, H.R. 1231, the Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act.

H.R. 1229, the Putting the Gulf Back to Work Act:

•Improves safety by reforming current law to 1) require lease holders to receive an approved permit to drill before drilling an offshore well and 2) require the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a safety review.

•Sets a firm 30 day timeline (with two 15 day extensions) for the Secretary to act on a permit to drill. This simply requires the Secretary to act within the set period of time – it is not a requirement that permits be approved. This firm timeline will make certain that the Obama Administration cannot impose a moratorium through deliberate inaction.

•Provides 30 days, with no extension, for the Secretary to restart Gulf permits that were approved before the Administration’s moratorium was imposed on May 27, 2010. If the Secretary fails to act, the leases will be put into suspension (the clock stops ticking on the time-limited lease) until a decision is made.

•Establishes an expedited judicial review process for resolving lawsuits relating to Gulf permits. This reform ensures that ending the de facto moratorium imposed by the Obama Administration isn’t replaced by paralyzing, frivolous lawsuits that could take years to resolve.

It is common sense legislation to remedy an unacceptable demise in domestic oil and gas drilling.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Does Newt Enter Presidential Race as Leader?

It's official. Newt Gingrich is running for President. I have to admit, it's a bit of a surprise to me that he went ahead and jumped in. Up until a few days ago I thought his presidential exploration exercise was looking a lot like a way to raise money for his pet projects. Then he announced Monday that he would make an announcement Wednesday and, apart from the absurdity of announcing an announcement, he caught my attention.

There was a time I would be jumping for joy at Newt's announcement to run for President. I still think he is usually the smartest guy in the room. I cannot, however, shake the feeling that he missed his time and now he has too much to overcome. The country yearns for fresh faces and fresh ideas. The infatuation with Barack Obama continues to fade and so far most pollsters, when allowed to be perfectly honest, will tell you that this will be a tough and competitive race in 2012 if only the GOP will run a strong candidate against Obama.

Don't get me wrong - I am forever grateful to Newt Gingrich for the victory in 1994 that brought my party into dominance for the first time in my then 30 something years. I was over the moon with the possibilities that a Republican led House and Senate could bring, even with a Democrat in the White House. The day after election night I clearly remember to this day talking to my sister on the telephone and both of us saying what a great day it was to be a Republican.

Newt Gingrich and Republicans were successful for the first time in 40 years in securing a majority in Congress because they offered a real plan for governing. Broken down into 10 clear and precise pledges, Gingrich carried it around in a pocket sized laminated copy and whipped it out at every press conference until all ten points were moved on.

It was glorious.

Because of those ten points and because Gingrich made good on his campaign promises, President Clinton was forced to sign welfare reform into law. Kicking and screaming against it until he could no longer, those welfare reforms were the necessary ones to make in the big entitlement reform agenda. Welfare programs destroyed at least one generation, probably two generations of minority and poor families in our country. The time had come for true and responsible reform.

A balanced budget was demanded by the new Republican majorities and again President Clinton was dragged kicking and screaming into signing that into law. Recent re-writes not withstanding, it was thanks to stubbornly committed Republicans that made that happen. It was never President Clinton's intention to govern within a balanced budget scenario.

Gingrich has been out of elected office for some thirteen years now. Though not a hindrance in the minds of many, it does mean he is now accustomed to being his own boss. He will have to prove that this run for President is more than a ego driven adventure.

I've met Gingrich and he is as impressive in person as he is on television. He has lots of ideas he articulates clearly to his audience. He has an ability to tell the story of our nation's history like no other. Is that enough? Are today's voters younger than me even interested in the history of Republican politics or of the 1994 Republican Revolution? Do today's voters older than me think Newt is not worthy because of excess personal baggage?

I don't know. Getting to that answer will be interesting.

Here is Newt's big announce on youtube:

Passing H.R.1231 Reverses Obama's Offshore Drilling Moratorium

Another step forward for domestic energy production was brought about with the passage of H.R. 1229 in the House of Representatives Wednesday. H.R. 1229 Ends Obama Administration’s De Facto Offshore Drilling Moratorium in Gulf of Mexico

The bill passed on a bi-partisan vote tally of 263 to 163. So, 163 elected representatives are in favor of American job losses and foreign energy dependence? Interesting. Wasn't it the Democrats who were so against jobs going overseas when President Bush was in office? Well, the oil drilling rigs not in use in our own Gulf of Mexico are going overseas to work. That means foreign crews will be hired and few Americans will be offered jobs to follow the rigs in foreign waters.

“This bill will provide relief to the people of the Gulf of Mexico by allowing them to finally return to work following the Obama Administration’s intentional slow-walking of drilling permits,” said Chairman Hastings. “With passage of this bill, House Republicans are sending a strong signal that we will not sit idly by while the Obama Administration sidelines American workers, sends American jobs overseas and continues to lock-up our American energy resources at a time of rising gasoline prices. I applaud the House for passing the Putting the Gulf back to Work Act and hope the Senate follows our lead to ease the economic pain in the Gulf of Mexico and help reduce gasoline prices across the country.”

This week, the House will also vote on Chairman Hastings’ third offshore drilling bill, H.R. 1231, the Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act.

H.R. 1229, the Putting the Gulf Back to Work Act:

•Improves safety by reforming current law to 1) require lease holders to receive an approved permit to drill before drilling an offshore well and 2) require the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a safety review.

•Sets a firm 30 day timeline (with two 15 day extensions) for the Secretary to act on a permit to drill. This simply requires the Secretary to act within the set period of time – it is not a requirement that permits be approved. This firm timeline will make certain that the Obama Administration cannot impose a moratorium through deliberate inaction.

•Provides 30 days, with no extension, for the Secretary to restart Gulf permits that were approved before the Administration’s moratorium was imposed on May 27, 2010. If the Secretary fails to act, the leases will be put into suspension (the clock stops ticking on the time-limited lease) until a decision is made.

•Establishes an expedited judicial review process for resolving lawsuits relating to Gulf permits. This reform ensures that ending the de facto moratorium imposed by the Obama Administration isn’t replaced by paralyzing, frivolous lawsuits that could take years to resolve.

It is common sense legislation to remedy an unacceptable demise in domestic oil and gas drilling. It is wrong for politicians - including President Obama - to continue to make oil and gas production the bad guys of business. It is cheap political point scoring and it is against what our country stands for - free enterprise and national independence.

Former Rep Harold Ford has a piece in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal. In it he makes note that even former President Clinton calls the drilling moratorium "ridiculous". He writes,"...let's stop demonizing Big Oil to score political points. It does nothing to encourage the new talent, new ideas, and new entrepreneurs who are most likely to make breakthroughs in new sources of energy.

The kickoff of the presidential campaign season and the spike in fuel prices offer an opportunity to constructively debate a comprehensive national energy strategy. Effective policies will ensure sufficient domestic production and the healthy operation of U.S. companies abroad, which together will provide the secure, affordable energy supply that Americans need."

The next step is passage of H.R. 1231.