by Michael Barone at Townhall.com
“Stop messing with Texas!” That was the message Gov. Rick Perry bellowed on election night as he celebrated his victory over Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Republican primary for governor. In his reference to Texas’ anti-littering slogan, Perry was making a point applicable to national as well as Texas politics and addressed to Democratic politicians as well as Republicans.
His point was that the big government policies of the Obama administration and Democratic congressional leaders are resented and fiercely opposed not just because of their dire fiscal effects but also as an intrusion on voters’ independence and ability to make decisions for themselves.
No one would include Perry on a list of serious presidential candidates, including himself, even in the flush of victory. But in his 10 years as governor, the longest in the state’s history, Texas has been teaching some lessons to which the rest of the nation should pay heed.
They are lessons that are particularly vivid when you contrast Texas, the nation’s second most populous state, with the most populous, California. Both were once Mexican territory, secured for the United States in the 1840s. Both have grown prodigiously over the past half-century. Both have populations that today are about one-third Hispanic.
But they differ vividly in public policy and in their economic progress — or lack of it — over the last decade. California has gone in for big government in a big way. Democrats hold large margins in the legislature largely because affluent voters in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area favor their liberal positions on cultural issues.
WASHINGTON, DC – House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Leader Boehner’s liaison to the nation’s governors, today echoed a growing number of state leaders in warning about the devastating fiscal impact the health care bills proposed by Congressional Democrats would have on both states and future generations of Americans.
“Health care reform that wreaks fiscal havoc on states and piles debt on our children and grandchildren is not reform at all,” Boehner said. “President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid need to scrap this costly government takeover of health care and start over on a responsible health care reform plan our nation can afford.”
In recent days, letters sounding the alarm about the congressional bills’ impact on states have been sent to the Capitol Hill by GOP governors such as Haley Barbour (MS), Mitch Daniels (IN), Dave Heineman (NE), and Rick Perry (TX).
“State budgets around the country are feeling the squeeze of tough economic times. Unfortunately, after passing a $1,700 per family national energy tax, Democratic leaders in Washington are now trying to ram through a $1 trillion massive federal expansion into health care that will create yet another unfunded mandate on states by permanently expanding Medicaid,” said Rogers. “This is yet another example of how out of touch Washington has become and why Congress needs to start over on common-sense, affordable, free market health care solutions.”
Boehner, Rogers and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) have launched the GOP State Solutions project, an effort to increase policy coordination among reform-minded Republican state leaders and Members of Congress and highlight the better solutions being offered by Republicans at all levels of government. In July, through the GOP State Solutions project, Boehner and Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) co-authored a report entitled “Capital Malpractice” warning that the health care bills moving through the Democratic-controlled Congress with President Obama’s support would have a devastating impact on states.
An article in the Sept. 27 Wall Street Journal echoes a key point made in the Boehner-Pawlenty report, describing the proposal offered by Senate Democrats as “the mother – and father and crazy uncle – of unfunded mandates” on states. “One reason [the Senate Democrat bill] allegedly ‘pays for itself’ over 10 years is because it would break all 50 state budgets by permanently expanding Medicaid, the joint state-federal program for the poor,” the WSJ notes. “State budgets would explode – by $37 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office – because they would no longer be allowed to set eligibility in line with their own decisions about taxes and spending.”