As the federal government continuously churns out ideas and policies that drive our nation deeper and deeper in debt, citizens and taxpayers are right to be worried. From federal “stimulus” bills that force state governments to change laws, raise taxes and increase spending, to cap and trade proposals that will run our energy industry into the ground, to emerging plans for an unprecedented and unsustainable expansion of government health care, it is clear that the swollen river of our federal government has overflowed its banks.
Washington is increasingly out of step with folks out here in flyover country who do not share the inside-the-Beltway belief that a benevolent, all-knowing government can expand and encroach without limit, because individual Americans simply cannot be trusted to make right choices.
This mindset has driven the explosive growth of the size, spending and intrusiveness of the federal government. Our founding fathers would be appalled at the way their successors are ignoring individual liberties, contemplating more tax increases and interfering further into private enterprise.
Washington bureaucrats must be reminded that America is not some windowless laboratory where they can tinker with theories with no regard to consequences. Real harm is resulting from policies that are disastrous for America’s future, bankrupting our country, and mortgaging our children’s future. Fear of this emerging future and frustration with an administration run amok are fueling the resurgent interest in the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. “We the people” are standing up and demanding an audience.
It drives the talking heads crazy, but I’m proud of those level-headed Americans who are pushing back through the growing TEA Party movement. This groundswell of classic American activism is giving citizens a conduit for their beliefs and sending a clear message they will not stand idly by as Washington’s spends their tax dollars and limits their freedoms with increasing arrogance. I predict that our increasingly frustrated national electorate will look to the states for answers, starting with Texas.
The success of the Lone Star State has proven that the journey to a desirable future begins with fostering individual liberty and encouraging personal responsibility while celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit. Our relative economic strength is proof that people thrive when given the opportunity to strive with minimal government interference.
In 2003, our Legislature’s first order of business was tackling a $10 billion deficit. Fortunately, conservative leadership principles prevailed and we cut spending to right our listing ship of state. Six years later, Texas has a balanced budget with money set aside to cover contingencies and leads the nation in exports, Fortune 500 companies and economic vitality. At last check, our unemployment rate was nearly two points below the national average.
Because Texas leaders not only cut spending but also pushed through tort reform and began sensible investments in job creation, our state is in much better shape than just about any other. Our reformed legal system has not only protected employers from frivolous lawsuits, it has also increased access to healthcare for our citizens while lowering their overall costs.
This continued application of proven, conservative fiscal principles and unapologetic embrace of individual liberty has created a magnetic pull on business owners and citizens looking for a fresh start. We haven’t been adding roughly one thousand people to our population every day solely because of our great live music and barbeque. That certainly doesn’t hurt, but folks are more attracted to a climate where people know they can not only risk their capital with a chance for a good return, they can also enjoy a quality of life that is unreachable in most other states. People come to Texas for the modern version of the classic American dream.
Our success notwithstanding, you won’t catch Texas resting on its laurels or abandoning its principles. During our recent legislative session, we turned a few heads when we refused federal unemployment funds that would have mandated increased taxes over the long term and more government expansion. We also cut taxes for 40,000 small businesses, knocked out legislation that would have opened the door to frivolous lawsuits, and passed bills that will improve education by bolstering our universities and increasing accountability in our public schools.
I’m pleased that a number of other states are taking a similar tack by drawing clear lines and standing on proven conservative principles. Fortunately for their citizens, leaders like Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Haley Barbour of Mississippi are also standing tall in the face of a metastatic federal bureaucracy. We can only hope that more states will follow suit and pursue reforms that actually work.
Barring the unforeseen and unlikely event that the powers-that-be in Washington wake up and change their approach, people will continue to press for limited government, endure in their belief in the power of the individual, and cast their lot with the protections of the Tenth Amendment. Hopefully, exercising our speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment will finally rouse Washington from its slumber and bring our nation out of this recession, strengthen our Union, and chart a course to long term prosperity and opportunity for all.