Speculation in Austin now centers on Gov. Price Daniel. As a persistent foe of a general sales tax, will he veto the bill if it passes the Senate? His statement just after House passage, though critical, was cautiously non-cornmital. “I am not going to stand idly by and let 90 percent of the tax load be put on the already overloaded family budgets,” he saidbut there was no mention of a veto. Questioned in the past, the governor has never firmly said he would wield the veto on a sales tax. If the bill clears the Senate, Daniel has the choice of either vetoing, signing it, or merely letting it become law without his signature. While the legislature is in session he has ten days to sign or veto, twenty days out of session. Four weeks now remain in the regular session; the gov Houston Crowd Cheers Birch Head The Texas Observer An Independent-Liberal Weekly Newspaper A Window to the South Vol. 53 TEXAS, APRIL 25, 1961 15c per copy No. 3 An Editorial 5he mortal 45 Speculation on Senate, Governor SALES TAX MAKES IT There comes a time, in the reporting of state affairs, when a newspaper of whatever political persuasion concerned with the greater welfare of the average citizen of the domain must tell the people who their real enemies are. It is no pleasant task. We cannot pretend to fathom the complex motivations of individual representatives in an elective democracy. We are all too well aware than one can interpret the decisions of elective officials in the broader idiom of the inherent failures and shortcomings of the democracy itself, of its sad misinformations, its awkward hesitations, its tragic weaknesses in the face of greater strengths and greater powers. We feel, nonetheless, that the average citizen of Texas has a right to know. There were 76 members of the Texas House of Representatives who voted this week for a general retail sales tax. These 76 well knew that the tax they were voting would fall heavily on the low to middling income groups in Texas. Some 21 of them, in their own judgment, had voted for previous taxes taxes which in very small measure would draw upon sources other than the modest and limited spending potential of those families which, in the supposedly lucrative and sometimes bawdy economy of the state of Texas, have not found the going easy. There is another group out of this 76, numbering 45, who have not found the decision so difficult. They have voted at every turn against the people. In the fight over the escheats bill, which merely would have given to the people those funds which rightfully belong to them and for years have lain dormant \(36 other states havvoted for the banks. In the fight over the revised franchise tax, which would have made the burden fall less heavily on the small Texas businessman \(only one other state having they voted with the large interstate corporations. In the fight over the “loophole” bill, when the revised franchise tax again emerged and when the issue of retiring the state’s deficit could not have been more clear, they again voted against the home-based Texas industry and against a partial solution to the state’s financial needs that would not hit the consumer. This list is straightforward. It is undiluted. It does not include conscientious and concerned conservatives Reed Quilliam and Menton Murray, for examplewho have understood the problem and voted with the people in one or two or three instances. A vote against the escheats bill, by itself, might be explained in terms of overweening pressures from local bankers; or against the mild and simple franchise tax revision in terms of overweening pressures from corporations officials in a district ; or against the “loophole” bill in terms of overweening pressures from the Austin lobby to avoid forestalling a sales tax and hence making a tax on the man making $2500 a year with four children and a house mortgage more easy. But a vote against all of these, coupled with a vote for a sales tax, is most indicative. For these, let there be no doubt, are the elected representatives who can stake no claim to Jefferson’s dictum, “The average man of the commonwealth, without the power to expect the aid and sympathy of the gentleman he elects, should nonetheless expect his aid and sympathy, because without his proper representation in the American system he is but a cloud in the wind, or a simple atom in the universe.” The following representatives are those who have voted AGAINST the escheats bill, the revised franchise tax, and the “loophole” bill, and FOR a general retail sales tax : AUSTIN It was a patchwork coalition of hard-core conservatives, a few moderates, and a handful of dissident liberals who this week put the 1961 Texas House of Representatives in the history books as the House that passed the sales tax. Willie Morris The success of the measure, which survived its first and most crucial test by one vote and then cruised home on final passage by 14, caught House anti-sales tax forces totally by surprise. When the two-day debate started Thursday morning, opponents did not give it a chance. Only ten days before, the salestaxers had withdrawn the AllenHarding sales tax from the House calendar because it did not have the votes. A conservative caucus the night before Thursday’s debate, skeptical of Trinity liberal Charles Wilson’s sponsorship of the sales tax, was seriously split on tactics. It was only after the fight had started that conservatives quietly went to work in earnest. Moving from one victory to another, they gradually brought the situation under firm control. The House-passed bill would levy a two percent tax on all retail sales, with exemptions on food, medicine, farm machinery, and several other diverse items. Wilson, who masterfully guided the bill through a host of amendments, estimated its yield at $127 million annually. It goes now to the Senate, where sentiment for such a measure is know to be stronger even than in the House. How, specifically, the conservative upper chamber will deal with it remains problematical, however. With all 31 senators up for re-election next year, a sales tax is considered political dynamite, and a voice vote on final passage would be greatly preferred. But it would be a major surprise if the Senate did not approve the bill in its essentials. * Daniel: The Big Question HOUSTON Three thousand Americanists heard what they wanted to hear Robert Welch say this week, and then some. They pledged allegiance and sang the anthem and cascaded down upon the tomb of Joe McCarthy a thunderous ovation. It was a whing-ding for the right wing. The leader of the John Birch Society told the packed Music Hall that the federal and some state governments are controlled by the communists and their captives. Ronnie Dugger The New Deal was “foreign, phony, and a failure.” The communists engineered the defeat of Robert Taft in the contest for the 1952 Republican nomination for president. The communists wanted to destroy McCarthy because his method was “to expose communists,” Welch said. When he declared, “Basically, and with very minor exceptions, indeed, there was nothing wrong with McCarthy’s methods from the point of view of the patriotic American,” the arched ceiling almost billowed off into the night from the applause. Giggles “I can find you a lot more Harvard accents in communist circles today than you can find me overall,” he quipped to the crowd’s vast delight. Furthermore, 7,000 Protestant clergymen in the United States are “comsymps.” And what is a comsymp? “Either a communist or a sympathizer with communist purposesand,” Welch said with the suggestion of a chuckle, “you don’t have to define just what the relationship is in there.” A woman in the crowd giggled and clapped; a general applause arose. He closed his 95-minute talk with angry denunciations of the communists’ “God of hate” and calls to the fighting banner of the free world’s “God of love.” Tickets to the event were hard to come by. Evidently the Birchers passed them out judiciously to members and friends of tested political vintage. All seats were reserved. When one tried to buy a ticket from a lady selling Birch blue books and lives of Birch in the lobby, she said she had none, but “Some of the chapter leaders may come in from other places with some.” Hume Everett, attorney for the Ohio Oil Co., keynoter of a Freedom in Action convention, onetime speaker on a Christian AntiCommunism Crusade program, but functioning Tuesday evening as president of the Houston chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, opened the evening’s ceremonies by telling the photographers they could photograph Welch while he posed at the microphones, but could not take any pictures during his speech. “So have at itShoot us any way you want it, except dead,” Everett said. The defenders of Welch teet they have been embattled by the U.S. press, particularly Time Magazine. Welch had refused to have a press conference on arriving in Houston, and the day before he had told a Dallas reporter he does not talk to newspapers that are against his Society. Rev. T. Robert Ingram, rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church and an opponent, of the United Nations and the welfare state, delivered the invocation. He asked that the President “use the force of this people only to the punishment of wickedness in other governments” and then led the assembly in the Lord’s Prayer. After the pledge of allegiance, Donald Peters, American Legion and F.I.A. leader who a week before assisted in thwarting a Texas Legion endorsement of the Birchers, led in the singing of the national anthem and the fourth verse of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Everett explained that the group of elderly men on the stage were all officials of the Sons of the American Revolution. Everett said he believed the U.S. government is based on belief in God; that all men are created equal but “are not made so by government”; that the words of the President’s oath of office to uphold the ‘Constitution “need no interpretation . . . they mean exactly what they say”; and that treason as set forth in the Constitution includes giving the nation’s enemies “aid and comfort.” The S.A.R.’s, he said, “do not necessarily endorse” Welch but wanted him to have free speech. Punch Line Welch is a relaxed, sometimes homey man. He reads the same long, somewhat didactic speech everywhere he goes on his current tour. He strings out his sen \(Continued Two others, Ben Lewis of Dallas and Roger Thurmond of Del Rio, voted against escheats and franchise and for the sales tax and recorded themselves “present and not voting” on the “loophole”
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