Empower Texans Newsletter – January 2, 2014

QUOTING…  The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much.” — Ronald Reagan

Happy new year — we’ve got the establishment guys on the run! One politician is so scared that you’ll look at his records, he’s playing bait-and-switch games on social media to distract voters.

On a less happy note, 2014 is when an unelected state bureaucracy wants to increase Texans electric bills by $4 billion in what amounts to a massive tax hike. And the most liberal Republican in the state senate is letting them get away with it.

I’m feeling great about the opportunity we have in 2014 — and appreciate so much the great response we’ve had over the last week to our end-of-’13 fundraising needs! (Anyone who hasn’t contributed can still do so, of course.)

Now, on about the task of informing citizens about the actions and activities of their elected officials…

Branch’s Duck Bait
After the A&E cable network decicided to suspend “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson over comments in GQ magazine, politicians across Texas went on Facebook to defend him. Most campaigns acted in a straight-forward manner supporting the duck-call patriarch. However the campaign of moderate Dan Branch, who is running for Attorney General, used the story as an opportunity to trick Duck Dynasty supporters into “liking” their candidate’s Facebook page.

Team Branch pretends like they are conducting a poll to allow Facebook users to support Phil Robertson. “Do you support Traditional Values?” asks the ad. Then it instructs supporters of the Duck Dynasty star to “Like 4 YES (click to vote).” (How one would vote “no” in the mythical poll is unclear.) In reality, a “like” for the ad causes the user’s profile to be shown as “liking” Dan Branch’s campaign. This artificially inflates Branch’s footprint on social media, creating the impression of support that isn’t actually there.

Harvesting “likes” through questionable ads isn’t unheard of in the social media age, and certainly isn’t illegal. Yet such deception is highly unseemly for someone seeking to be the state’s top law enforcement officer.

Of course, it’s indicative of how Dan Branch’s campaign is going. Even his moderate and liberal backers have decried Branch’s suddenly convenient move to the right during the A.G. campaign.

Mr. Branch knows that voters won’t like his big-spending record, so he’s trying to re-brand himself (and even engage in silly tricks) for a shot at winning. Hopefully voters will see through the deception.

$4 Billion From Your Pocket
An unelected bureaucracy is about to impose what amounts to a $4 billion annual tax on Texas’ electricity consumers, and State Sen. John Carona is apparently okay with it. Fortunately, other senators aren’t following his let-the-bureaucrats-bilk-Texans lead.

The Public Utility Commission has decided to impose a “capacity market” regulatory scheme on the Lone Star State. Under this radical arrangement, the PUC would force what the Texas Public Policy Foundation says is a “between $3 and $5 billion per year” hike on electric bills “or, put another way, $180 per year for every man, women, and child in Texas.” That money flows from Texans to the pockets of electricity generators with no discernable public benefit. Nice deal for some corporate cronies, but not so good for Texans.

As chairman of the Texas Senate’s Business & Commerce Committee, Carona has some jurisdiction over the PUC. Yet he has been mostly silent on the capacity market issue. When the PUC appeared before his committee earlier this fall, he did nothing to slow them down. Indeed, when commissioners appeared before his committee this fall Mr. Carona lobbed softball questions and falsely defined the issue as somehow helping Texans. (Because, of course, we all know a $4 billion tax hike is great economic policies for working families and small businesses…)

By way of background, this is the same John Carona who has been pushing to raise gasoline taxes. And the same John Carona who a non-partisan study from Rice University found to be the most liberal Republican in the Texas Senate. And the same John Carona who is being challenged in this year’s GOP primary by Dallas businessman Donald Huffines.

Fortunately, the chairman of Senate Committee on Natural Resources – Republican Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bend – isn’t following Carona’s reckless lead. Sen. Fraser recently held hearings on the PUC’s plans and called out their illegal usurpation of power.  In a letter to the PUC chairman, Fraser said the bureaucracy did not “possess the statutory authority to change the fundamental design of the market.”

Statuatory authority doesn’t seem to matter to Mr. Carona, the king of cronyism, in making sure lobbyists and corporate interests get special treatment. And if Texans have to pay $4 billion more in state-mandated electric bills… well, that’s apparently okay with John Carona.

Is it okay with you? If not, you need to make sure your legislators and legislative candidates know it.

1836 in 2014
If more Texans are going to be engaged, they have to informed, which is why we’re waging an information battle for the future of the Lone Star State. Become an 1836 Champion today! We’ll also begin conducting regular conference calls for all of our1836 Champions to brief them on what we’re hearing going on around the state during the Accountability Season.

And Finally…
We’re still conducting candidate interviews for TFR endorsements. You can see who all we have endorsed by visiting our website. If you see a race where we haven’t chimed in, please let us know what you think of the candidates who are running.