Rove, continued from page 9 A governor can draw up an agenda and get in line with competing interests. Or he can use his political skills and expend his political capital to get his own legislative package enacted. Bush’s first session, in 1995, won rave reviews from the critics. He charmed legislators by connecting with them individually. And he delivered on his campaign promises of tort reform, more prisons, a more punitive juvenile justice system, and some education reform. “Like a knife through butter,” was how lobbyist Bill Miller described Bush’s run through the Legislature in 1995. After he lost his race for the national committee chair, Tom Pauken returned to Texas and settled into the 1997 legislative process like a tropical depression.The big reform proposal Bush was delicately moving through the Legislature would have replaced the state’s creaky corporate franchise tax with a tax on partnerships. \(The franchise tax functioned like an income tax on corporations, but limited partnerships were exempt, so many businesses have been reduced. And lost revenue would be replaced by taxes on goods and services. It is a cultural imperative that Repub-licans don’t raise taxes, so the governor’s staff and the governor promised that whatever they passed would be “revenue-neutral.” No new money would be raised. To Pauken, increasing any tax or taxing something heretofore untaxed was a tax increaseeven if another tax was lowered. “It’s not a tax cut, it’s a tax hike,” Pauken told reporters at a Capitol press conference. He described Bush’s ambitious proposal as a scheme to “give us something in one hand and then take it back in another.” At times it was impossible to tell whether the hit sheets attacking the Republican governor’s tax plan were faxed from the offices of Democratic Party Chair Bill White or Republican Party Chair Tom Pauken. Pauken urged Republican legislators to vote against the bill. He even bought newspaper ads attacking “Governor Bush’s Tax Increase.” And he succeeded in persuading Republicans to vote against their governor’s tax measure, which only passed in the House because Democrats supported it. The proposal finally died in the Republican-controlled Senate. Bush would have to wait two more years for a campaign sound bite describing him as “the governor who cut property taxes for all Texans.” Pauken didn’t feel as if he had to wait until the current session ended. The tax bill was dead, but Pauken still tried to hang it around Bush’s neck. “It’s like something you would expect from a liberal Democrat,” he told Washington Post reporter Sue Anne Pressley in May 1997. Here was a Post reporter in Austin working a softball page-one story about George W. Bush. Everything was falling into place for Rove. A former LBJ aide was talking Texan, observing that Bush didn’t seem to be doubled over with ambition: “The best politics is an easygoing politics. Some of these fellas overdo it when they try to run for something.” A Republican legislator was cul tivating the log cabin myth. “When George moved back to Midland, he bummed an office, he bummed golf clubs, bummed shoes.” Even the Democratic Party’s press flack was singing Bush’s praises: “Some people thought he was not the brightest porch light on the block, and they were wrong about that.” The lone critical voice in a national daily story that framed Bush as a leading contender for the presidency just happened to be the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. ove and his surrogates couldn’t Rget their hooks into Pauken. But later in 1997, the Texas party chairman made a move that would put him directly in Karl Rove’s gunsights. He announced he would run for the Republication nomination for attorney general. It was the opportunity Rove had been waiting for. He didn’t have a mechanism to move Pauken out of the party chairmanship. But he did know how to win elections. The 1998 attorney general’s election was one of the most peculiar races in a state known for its peculiar politics. And A governor can draw up an agenda and get in line with competing interests. Or he can use his political skills and expend his political capital to get his own legislative package enacted. Bush’s first session, in 1995, won rave reviews from the critics. He charmed legislators by connecting with them individually. And he delivered on his campaign promises of tort reform, more prisons, a more punitive juvenile justice system, and some education reform. “Like a knife through butter,” was how lobbyist Bill Miller described Bush’s run through the Legislature in 1995″ 24 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 1/31/03
You May Also Like
The documentary in Falfurrias is sinister and spiritual.