Way to go, Bill Never look a gift horse in the mouth, even if it’s given by a Re publican. The best news out of Austin in this wretched legislative season came from the governor’s mansion on April 16, when Republican Gov. Bill Clements unexpectedly announced that he would veto any legislation to raise mortgage interest rates beyond the state’s 10 percent usury level. On this one, the governor stood taller than we had reason to expect, delivering a straightforward, unapologetic “no” to one of the most special interests marauding the capital this spring: “Certainly, I have heard no cry from the people of Texas for higher interest rates. Savings and loan institutions are reporting record high profits, and it takes a certain amount of audacity on their part to come to the Legislature to ask for more money at a time when the average Texan is fighting to keep his head above water financially.” He wasn’t through. Clements said that the S&Ls better not be moving their deposits into more lucrative outof-state investments, as they have threatened to do: “This is the money of Texans, and there should be a requirement that at least part of it is invested in Texas enterprises,” he declared, adding that the lenders should be required to report semi-annually on how much of their holdings are invested outside of Texas. Needless to say, there was much gnashing of teeth in savings and loan circles, not only because the veto promise kills their bill, but also because they felt betrayed by a governor they considered to be one of them. “I’m surprised that a businessman wouldn’t accept the legislation,” one befuddled lender told the Dallas Morning News. Others, charging that Clements was not consistent in opposing a rate increase for them when he favors an increase in oil prices, complained bitterly that Clements was “for price controls on the cost of mortgage money when he’s not for price controls on oil and gas.” Then there was the low wail of a Dallas businessman who had favored the higher rates: “We could have gotten this kind of decision out of John Hill.” But if Clements miffed one lobby, he pleased thousands of prospective homebuyers, and in the process he painted the state’s leading Democrats into a corner. The lenders’ bill is sponsored by Democrats Bill Meier in the Senate and Nub Donaldson in the House, and it was pushed hard by Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby and Speaker Bill Clayton, two others who claim to be Democrats. With the exception of Sen. Bill Patman, no major Democratic leader went to the public against this bill. As a result, in the public mind, the Republican Party is the one that has stood for the little borrowers in Texas, while the Democratic leadership was carrying water for the mortgage lenders. No one is happier about Clements’ veto threat than most members of the Legislature, since the Meier-Donaldson bill had become hotter than they like to handle. Now they won’t have to take a public stand on the issue. Why is this man crying? Among those denouncing Gov. Bill Clements for his promise to veto any tampering with the usury ceiling was the president of First Texas Savings, which operates 57 S&L branches throughout the state and is now a subsidiary of the giant Beneficial Corporation, headquartered in New Jersey. The FTS chief executive, Roger Keane, complained to the Dallas Morning News that “1 don’t understand [Clements’] rationale of supporting increases in oil prices, which of course are inflationary, Big spender Question: Which Texas con gressman is the most strident critic of government spending? Answer: Ron Paul. Question: Which Texas congressman wastes a pile of government money to send out fancy press releases hawking his views? Answer: Ron Paul. The Lake Jackson Republican puts out a weekly “Washington Report,” a slick, type-set column stating his opinions on the burning issues of the day. Paul mails out several hundred copies each week, with about 30 going to small newspapers and shopping guides in his district. And he thoughtfully provides camera-ready copy, so the papers won’t have to change and not supporting the raising of interest rates.” Perhaps Clements’ thinking was influenced by First Texas’ annual report, issued in March, in which Keane claimed that the giant lender had enjoyed “a banner year” in 1978, with a profit increase of almost 33 percent. And despite doomsday rhetoric in the report about the state’s usury limit, Keane announced that seven new First Texas branches would open this year, “giving us more approved offices than any other association in Texas,” and that the company had applied to open seven more. a thing. What does all this cost the taxpayer? That’s a little hard to figure because it’s releases. But the printing alone runs about $1,800 a year. That’s the least wasteful part, though. Paul sends his little one-sheet gems to the Texas press in oversized 10-by-15-inch envelopes stuffed with a cardboard insert, thus almost tripling the postage cost for each piece. No telling what the giant envelopes and cardboard cost taxpayers. Of course, members of Congress don’t have to pay for their own stamps, but if Paul did have to go out-of-pocket like regular citizens, the charge on his latest weekly mailing would have been 53 cents each, third class. For your information Comptroller Bob Bullock enjoys the give and take of press relations more than any other officeholder today. As daily newspaper readers know, Bullock has been taking a lot from the press this spring, but on April 10, he issued a release that proves he can still give it out with the best of them. Bits and pieces have been published here and there, but for the interest of the reading public, we offer the whole thing, unexpurgated: “Because of the news media’s habitual curiosity about my state of health be advised that I am entering an Austin hospital today for surgery on my hemorrhoids. “The keen scatological interest of most reporters originally prompted me to schedule the operation in the Capitol press room. My doctors, however, advised me to seek more sanitary conditions. “To the disappointment of some reporters, the surgical knife will be wielded by licensed medical practitioners, not amateur back-stabbers. “Please be further advised that unlike other former public officeholders, I do not intend to show the press my surgical scars. “For those inquisitive few, I might add that this medical procedure will not materially change the revenue forecast. “I should be released from the hospital sometime late this week or this weekend, unless I see or hear from some of you and suffer a setback.” APRIL 27, 1979
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