Page 18


Political ntelligence After the Lull, Public Business Resumes The Presidency go Talk that President Johnson won’t carry Texas was jolted by a poll Gov. John Connally bore to Johnson in Washington and Johnson released the day he was nominated. Taken by a Dallas firm, it gave Johnson 62%, Goldwater 28%, with 10% undecided in Texas. It showed Connally beating GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Crichton by 79%, and Yarborough beating Bush for the Senate by a good margin, not precisely specified. V Republican Cong. Ed Foreman of Odessa released a poll of his constituents in July showing Goldwater winning among them, 54-30%. First returns from Cong.-at-large Joe Pool’s poll of his conprove Johnson’s administration, 21% disapprove. The Houston Post polled Texas newspaper editors and found they think Johnson will win Texas handily. V Inverting the Texas custom of “Demo crats for the Republican” in presidential contests, a “Republicans for Johnson” movement has got started. Edward T. Dicker, Dallas oilman and builder, who is 1951 became the first Republican member of the legislature since Reconstruction, but retired after one term, said Goldwater is “arrogant” and “isolationist,” his foreign policy “terrible,” and Dicker’s for LBJ. Paul Vogler, Corpus Christi contractor, is also active in this movement and has been in Houston drumming up support for it. On the other hand, Robert J. Kleberg, Jr., president of the King Ranch, has told the New York Times he is for Goldwater, as have Fausto Yturria, Sr., and son, owners of large ranch holdings along the border. V Sen. Goldwater plans five campaign stops in Texas, and will spend more time in Texas than Nixon did in 1960, according to Sen. John Tower. Both Johnson and Goldwater are scheduled to address the American Legion convention in Dallas this month. V In public Texas Republicans are usual ly feisty about their chances with Goldwater, but not always. For instance, Flo Kampmann, national GOP committeewoman from San Antonio, said after Goldwater’s nomination that he can carry Texas “if we wring out every last vote.” Republican intentions to do precisely that are outlined in painstaking, professional detail in “The Texas Republican Precinct Plan,” a complete reproduction of which a heads-up Democratic strategist has been passing out to Democratic workers to convince them the Texas GOP knows beans from baloney. In a Democrats’ frontispiece to the handbook it is noted that the GOP handbook admits Republicans are a minority in Texas and can win only if the Democrats don’t vote. “Properly used,” the Democrats’ reprint says, “this booklet can be your Democratic precinct plan . . .” V Johnson has designated John Crooker, Jr., Houston lawyer who has long represented him in intra-party feuds, as his campaign coordinator for Texas. Taxing Groceries V With unexpected prematurity, the raw issue of the 1965 legislature has burst into the open : will the business-oriented majority be able to abolish the groceries exemption in the state sales tax? The groceries exemption is, observers generally assume, popular with the voters, and voting to abolish it and tax food would be every bit as dangerous politically as it was voting for the sales tax in the first place. Increasingly it has become apparent that more tax money will be needed in 1965. The 90,000 teachers’ new demand for $45 more a month pay and the tab for whatever fragment of the higher education commission’s program for the colleges the governor decides to seek are sure to dovetail with other pressures for ,state spending into new money requirements of two or three hundred million dollars. Success of the drive to repeal the state property tax, which is paid mostly by business, would compound the need for new money. Thus the tax-box is open for grabs again. One obvious grab would be to raise the rate of the sales tax as now constituted, with its groceries and medicines exemptions left intact. More liberal members of the legislature now contend that with these exemptions, the tax is not as regressive as an across-the-board tax would be and actually is roughly progressive, and proportional to ability-to-pay. Another obvious grab would be a personal income tax, which could be contrived to raise a very large sum. But the issue crystallized around the exemptions as a result of a surprisingly candid statement made by Lt. Gov. Preston Smith, the constitutional impresario of the Senate, in Dallas July 30 in an interview he gave the News. He said an across-theboard sales tax would be the “best source” of new state cash. “I know it will be unpopular with the unions, and they will fight it,” the News quoted the state’s second highest officeholder, “but I think our best bet will be to knock out the exemptions in our sales tax law and have an across-the-board tax.” Thereupon Sen. Don Kennard of Fort Worth, seeing that Smith had flung out a serious challenge, accepted it. “Our present sales tax is a progressive tax based, to a certain extent at least, on the ability to pay,” Kennard said. “But, if weremove the exemptions on groceries and drugs, we will have a regressive tax. “There are still pockets of poverty in Texas. We should not add to the burdens of the impoverished by requiring them to use part of their grocery money for a sales tax. There are better ways to get the money we need. . . . Let us increase the sales tax rate and continue to collect it on the items now covered.” Sen. George Parkhouse, Dallas, has said there is merit in Smith’s suggestion, and Sen. Ralph Hall, Rockwall, has outright endorsed removing the exemptions from the sales tax, including the one on groceries. “It would spread the tax over a broader basp and, at the same time, simplify collection and bookkeeping procedures,” Hall asserts. Oddly enough, Jack Crichton, the GOP candidate for governor, opposes abolishing the exemptionswhich cover farm implements as well as drugs and foodand says he would go along with a higher rate, the exemptions retained, as a last resort. V As though this wasn’t enough of an issue to embitter the next legislature, there will also be the question of doubling September 4 ? 1964 9 Texas Society To Abolish Capital Punishment P.O. Box 8134 Austin, Texas 78712 now publishing Capital Punishment Quarterly Regular Membership $2 Contributing Membership $5 Sustaining Membership $10