Straus removes conservative mask, tips hand

By Weston Hicks | 3 years ago

In a speech in El Paso last week, Joe Straus said, “you can’t cut your way to prosperity.” The quote was basically lifted from President Obama, who said earlier this year in a radio address, “Of course, there’s been a real debate about where to invest and where to cut… but we can’t simply cut our way to prosperity.”

Ronald Reagan, by contrast, believed so deeply in the power of tax cuts that he lowered the top income tax rate from 70% when he entered office to 28% when he left office. Revenues to the government doubled during his administration.

What’s worse, in an interview with Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Aman Batheja, Straus explained his El Paso comments by saying wryly, “I made a terrible mistake. I was being candid and realistic.”

This is uncommon honesty from an establishment Republican. They normally campaign as fiscal conservatives then work during the session to undermine fiscally conservative goals.

Here, Straus the campaigner tells us that his fiscally liberal comments were “candid and realistic”, but also that it was a “terrible mistake” to make them.

At least now we know that any forthcoming fiscally conservative campaign comments from Straus are political-only in nature. Our guess is that he is probably done making the “terrible mistake” of being “candid” on tax policy.

In the same interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Straus lauded our state’s lack of an income tax as the biggest reason businesses have relocated here.

This is an interesting comment, because it is likely Straus, if he is still Speaker, will push for an income tax in the 83rd legislature, either from behind the scenes or in broad daylight, then offer expanded gambling as the only way to keep away the income tax. Straus is from an old Texas gambling family, and Texas gambling can only be expanded through amendments to the Texas Constitution. Hence, the speaker gig.

His comments reminding Texans how valuable our lack of income tax are consistent with such a political play.

AgendaWise contacted Aman Batheja to try to obtain the Straus interview, either privately or publicly.

—El Paso Times article with Straus’s Obama-like tax comment

—Fort Worth Star-Telegram piece from post-El Paso interview by FWST reporter Aman Batheja

—Straus’s FWST interviewer sharing Straus’s comment about his Obama-like tax policy comment