(Ed. note: This column by Cathie Adams, chairwoman of the Republican Party of Texas, ran in last week's issue of Texas Weekly)
Every day it seems we can't pick up a paper or access one online without bleak news confronting us. New York State may face bankruptcy by Christmas. California is sending out IOUs to its creditors to avoid defaulting on its credit lines. The federal government is swimming in trillions of dollars of debt that our children and their children won't be able to pay for.
And yet, at least at the federal level, the Democrats who are in control haven't made the obvious connection: Spend too much, and it eventually catches up with you.
Instead, the Democrats under the leadership of President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, are proposing and passing even more government spending. The health care bill that they passed on a nearly party-line vote late Saturday night will end up costing us trillions of dollars, while it also raises taxes on families and businesses in the middle of a recession. The new debt will cause inflation which, combined with the tax increases in the health care bill and the tax increases in the Democrats' cap and trade bill, will squeeze the American economy like an anaconda. Texas families will suffer for policies that we don't support and had very little say in crafting: Pelosi all but locked Texas out of negotiations over the health care bill last week. And Texas Democrats let her do it.
The Democrats are also criminalizing private health care choices. Buried in their mammoth "reform" bill is a provision to charge massive penalties on those who choose not to buy private health insurance, whether because they cannot afford it or because they would rather pay for health care on their own as they need it. And those who defy the Democrats' fines could face five years in prison. This is reform? No, it is insanity. It is certainly not the Texas way of doing business.
Taken together, these Democratic policies will greatly hurt the state of Texas. The health care bill will cost us at least 15,000 jobs, as doctor-owned hospitals slowly close, while cap and trade may cost us up to tens of thousands more jobs by demolishing the Texas energy sector and then rippling out from there. These are unacceptable policies that most Texans oppose, but the Democrats keep shoving them down our throats.
There is a bit of good news out there, but Texas Democrats don't want to hear it. While they continually run down and badmouth the Lone Star State, the fact is, since Texans opted for Republican leadership a few years ago, our state has become the nation's economic model. We inherited massive debt that the Democrats left for us, and have eliminated it. We now have lower unemployment than the national average, our housing markets are more stable, our cities are resisting the recession better, and our tax burden is lighter than states like California and New York. Our public schools have started to outpace California's too. We spend less, but what we do spend, we spend more efficiently. All of this tells us that the Texas way is working.
At the Republican Party of Texas, we're not resting on success. We're working to make things better. By standing firm on our conservative principles and standing up to the Washington Democrats and their me-too chorus in Austin, we are attracting new voters every day. We're recruiting strong conservatives to expand our majority in the state House in 2010. The Democrats plan to use congressional redistricting to give them power that the voters haven't, and we won't let them. As the Democratic leadership continues to lurch left, conservative Democrats, including at least one State Representative so far, have switched to become Republicans. Many at the local level have already switched, and many more are planning to.
While we grow our party by shrinking the Democrats, we are also engaging with the state's vibrant and growing Hispanic population. Texas' future is as a Hispanic-majority state, and the Republican Party is the natural home of everyone who believes in a family-centered, opportunity-filled life. In the past six months we have brought on three very accomplished spokesmen — George P. Bush, Rey Garza and Adryana Boyne — to take the Republican case to Spanish-speaking media and Hispanic communities and organizations.
It's clear from the examples of California, New York and the federal government that the Democratic way just doesn't work. It strangles economic activity, penalizes innovation and creates unsustainable debt. But that is what the Texas Democrats will bring here if they're given the chance. Next year's elections will be critical to the future of Texas. Texans will have a choice between continuing the Texas way – lower taxes and expanding choices, resulting in one of the nation's strongest economies – or the Democratic way of tax hikes and government coercion, leading to stagnation. We're confident that the Texas way will continue to win here, and we're hopeful that other states will adopt it and begin the process of real reform across the nation.