With Mark White On the way to Seguin White called Austin from his car telephone. “There probably weren’t two hundred votes in the room,” he said into the phone. A banquet room at the Seguin Holiday Inn was filled with local Democrats the county clerk, judges, the county Democratic chairman. Long tables were set with glasses of iced tea and stainless steel lazy susans holding three kinds of salad dressing. Almost everyone in the room was over forty. We ate meatloaf and instant mashed patatoes; then White stood and talked about schools and crime. He said that he wants to “get the criminal justice system back into a structure where we have apprehension that’s certain and punishment that’s certain.” He said that Texas should be “restored to the state that people can walk the streets without fear of crime, live in their homes without fear of burglary.” A woman in her sixties nodded in agreement. On the way to Yoakum, I asked White if he has some favorite books on education. He asked me what I meant, and I said that many books about problems in our schools have been published in the last ten or fifteen years. He said that he does “random reading” about education, especially about “student achievement.” He likes to read history, he said, and he is reading biographies of Andrew Jackson and James Stephen Hogg now. He reads Time, six daily papers, business journals, and two or three economics journals, he said. His major in college was economics; “I’m a great believer in the free enterprise system and the laws of supply and demand,” he told me. As we drove past wild primroses and windmills, White talked about energy: “Personally I’d rather be burning coal than nuclear.” And he talked about nuclear waste: “Texas has a moral responsibility to take care of its own nuclear waste . . . but I don’t think we have to be a dump ground for the rest of the nation.” He looked around him and talked aobut things that we passed: “Look at that brick work on that house. Think you could find anybody to do that today? .. . Boy, they’ve got some good farmers and ranchers out here. They keep these pastures clean and the cattle are fat.” The community room of the Yoakum First State Bank has brick walls, red carpet, a Texas and an American flag, and framed black-and-white photographs of steers on the wall. When we got there about 30 people were talking and laughing; the middleaged men stood, the old men and the women sat on folding chairs. “Who’s that sitting next to Bill Browning right here in the plaid shirt?” an old man asked his companion twice. After the initial round of greetings, for a moment Mark White had no one to talk to. That did not make him awkward. He simply stood near a circle of three men, with his hands clasped, until someone approached him with a question. White stands, moves, and talks with ease. Perhaps this grace was learned in courtrooms before judges. He spoke again about crime, taxes, and schools, but his speech was not canned. The audience was rapt. “Most of those people who are over there in that prison that’s where they belong. We need to put ’em out of action,” White said. “That’s right,” a man whispered loud enough for everyone to hear. The little audience was all white. The man who arranged the meeting, Bob Drake, explained that he votes “more Republican than Democrat,” but that Governor Bill Clements has been a disappointment to him. At four in the afternoon we arrived in Columbus. We were all tired, and only nineteen people had come to Schobel’s Restaurant to meet White. A hand lettered sign on an easel read “Come Meet Mark White, Candidate for Gov ernor.” County Judge Lester Cranek, the organizer of the meeting, told White, `New Federalism’ Empty Sack By Alfred J. Watkins Austin Wandering through the Capitol in Washington, D.C. several weeks ago I discovered quite by accident a Joint Economic Committee hearing on President Reagan’s New Federalism. Three mayors testified that morning. First, the mayor of Charleston, South Carolina, a young, progressive Democrat, spoke. In his closing remarks he bitterly blasted Congress for cutting so many New Deal and Great Society programs. The second witness was Mayor Shaeffer of Baltimore, a middle-aged, middle-of-the-road Democrat whose administration has been praised by Fortune and the Wall Street Journal for its fiscal restraint and pro-business policies. The final witness was Mayor Hudnot of Indianapolis, a conservative Republican and a staunch Reagan ally. Normally, you would not expect these three men to see eye-to-eye on many political issues. But that morning they were unanimous in their condemnation of the New Federalism. All three literally begged Congress to shelve the President’s New Federalism program, claiming that it would have catastrophic financial consequences for their cities and would cause drastic cutbacks in muchneeded services. None of them believed his city would be able to raise taxes sufficiently to offset the proposed cutbacks in federal aid nor did they believe that their state legislatures would be able to provide much assistance. Baltimore and Indianapolis are, of course, depressed older cities located in states not nearly as prosperous as Texas. They don’t have robust, rapidly growing economies. They can’t increase their tax base by annexing affluent suburban sub Al Watkins, an Observer contributing writer, testified on March 5 before Sen. Lloyd Doggett’s subcommittee on consumer affairs. The article is the second of his four-part series on Reaganomics entitled “A Walk on the Supply Side.” The first was in the Feb. 12,1982 issue of the Observer. divisions the way Texas cities can. And certainly, their treasuries don’t have access to oil and gas severance tax revenues which have so faithfully produced large surpluses for Texas. Unfortunately, however, the problems these mayors foresee will not be limited to slow-growing Frostbelt states and cities. Rather, according to most available evidence, Texas is slated for even more severe cutbacks than those scheduled for Frostbelt states. Moreover, despite the large budget surpluses which may start to decline drastically unless another oiland gas-price explosion boosts severance tax revenues Texas may be legally unable to provide much assistance to hard-pressed counties and cities. At this point, it should be stressed that only the bare outlines of President Reagan’s New Federalism program have been released. According to the February 5 Washington Post, the precise details will not be submitted to Congress before April or May at the earliest. But what details are available suggest that the results will be disastrous. 6 APRIL 23, 1982
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