Rick Perry vs. the World *
Tracking the 2006 Texas gubernatorial race.
* Now at the new Rick Perry vs World

Thursday, March 24, 2005
It's coming, most likely. Most perceptive observers have realized that there is a fairly high likelihood.

Harvey Kronberg reports for News8 -- though he hasn't reported in on Quorum Report, as far as I can tell -- that Perry, Craddick and Dewhurst have "all quietly signed off on gambling as the solution to the state's financial difficulties."

Kronberg claims that their tactical solution will be to offer Democrats a choice: if they want money for social welfare programs, then they'll have to vote for gambling. That way, Kronberg claims, Democrats will be to blame for gambling, while Republicans can claim a balanced budget. If it's in the form of a constitutional amendment, Perry won't even have to sign a gambling bill.

The troika of Craddick, Dewhurst, and Perry all oppose raising taxes. Cutting spending isn't easy, even for Republicans -- perhaps even more so, as the media is possibly more likely to give Democrats a pass when they propose less spending (see Bill Clinton, welfare reform).

Hutchison's camp claims that this is an abdication of leadership, particularly by Perry. They may be right, but I'm not sure how Hutchison would do it better. KBH is not known as a budget hawk in DC. For example, she's on the Appropriations Committee. So perhaps she'd be able cut spending more effectively than Perry, but cutting spending is pretty hard for politicians. I'm sure she won't offer that she's going to raise taxes, and she's come out against gambling.

Failure to lead will certainly be a theme of KBH's challenge to Perry. Will it stick? It probably depends on how well the school finance and tax bills turn out.

Note: I have a mild suggestion, though I don't generally do policy on this blog: California legalized poker sometime around the late 60's and early 70's. Would can't Texas do the same? Poker is currently undergoing a boom, with lots of folks (that is, pretty much all my friends) playing socially. It seems to me that this is a relatively mild form of gambling, as it is ultimately a game of skill. Moreover, the state could bring in billions over the long-term.

Poker is much better than VLTs -- like Perry originally proposed -- if gambling is to be legalized. Letting folks voluntarily choose to gamble seems better to me than involuntary taxes.

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