Smaller government! Cut the budget! Privatize everything we can! Bureaucracy stinks! Free markets rule!
You’ll hear or see those slogans at any Republican event you attend because theoretically that is what the Republican Party stands for. But standing for something and actually applying it to policy are two very different things for an elected official. And Texas Republicans are no better in this regard than politicians from any other party or state. You need to look no further than the bills that are being filed in the 82nd Legislative session to see this phenomenon at play because even as they are grappling with reduced revenue to disperse, Republicans are filing bills that go against each of the slogans above. Let’s take a look at one from a guy that some Tea Party groups hail as a conservative hero.
Let’s head up to East Texas and get a look at “super-conservative” Rep. Wayne Christian. Rep. Christian is the president of the Texas Conservative Coalition, which, according to their website, “is widely recognized as one of the largest and most influential caucuses in the Texas Legislature.” Sure they are – because they say they are and the media lets them get away with it. Rep. Christian filed HB 653 “Relating to student loan repayment assistance for speech-language pathologists or audiologists employed by a public school or as faculty members of certain graduate programs at public institutions of higher education.”
What does that mean? Well, it means that Rep. Christian wants the legislature to take money from your pocket and put it in the pocket of someone else:
Sec. 61.9802. REPAYMENT ASSISTANCE AUTHORIZED. The board shall provide, in accordance with this subchapter and board rules, assistance in the repayment of student loans for speech-language pathologists and audiologists who apply and qualify for assistance.
Nice of him to do that, eh? Why do you think he would do that? I mean, it obviously isn’t something that a small government conservative would normally do is it? No, it isn’t. Why then? Why would he demand that YOU pay for someone else to go to school? I’ll tell you why. Stephen F. Austin State University sits in his legislative district and guess what? Um, hmm, they just happen to have…get this…a speech-language pathology program. And you thought he was doing it out of the goodness of his heart. Er, I mean, your pocket. Rep. Christian is also an alumnus of the university, having received his degree from them in 1973.
It’s easy to talk the talk but when you have a state university in your backyard begging for money so that students will attend a program that a free market will not support, it is hard to walk the walk. And every single politician faces the same dilemma because everyone has someone in their backyard with their hands out.
Hopefully, we will find a few Texas Republicans that have a stiffer spine than the one displayed by Rep. Christian. Otherwise, there is no way they are going to be able to make the hard choices necessary to stave off a tax increase this session.