Sex, Lies and Streakers: Taxes Tough Sell
as Trump Affairs and Aggie Own Spotlight
March 30, 2023
GOP Speaker Dade Phelan kicked sand on a competing Texas Senate property tax plan on Wednesday when he ramped up a push for a House package that he said would save the taxpayers $17 billion with the biggest cut in the history of this or any other state.
"There has been some talk at the Texas Legislature about raising the homestead exemption for a second legislative session in a row after we took action on this issue in 2021," Phelan said of the Senate proposal in a Twitter post. "But what would that do for your mom-and-pop shop down the street, or any other small- or medium-sized business?
"It would not do anything," the speaker added. "And for homeowners, any potential savings would be stagnant, with some potentially never even experiencing a lower tax bill, since a fixed-dollar amount cannot keep up with rapidly rising property values."
But Phelan's analysis of the Legislature's paramount priority was no match in the competition for attention with a Texas A&M University student-athlete who mooned the crowd from the infield at a baseball game with Texas the day before in an apparent tribute to Donald Trump.
The speaker's pitch for the House plan in a Houston Chronicle editorial column was destined to go largely ignored and have no shelf life the eve of Trump's indictment on Wednesday evening in New York City in connection with hush money that he paid to porn star Stormy Daniels to hide his infidelities before the first campaign for president in 2016.
Trump became the first former American president to face criminal charges just hours after news broke on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg expanding the investigation to payments that Trump made to cover up an affair with Playboy model and former centerfold Karen McDougal.
The McDougal case is more convoluted with the National Enquirer as a key component after being paid to kill a story in which she exposed a relationship with Trump in 2006 and 2007. But the probe is reviewing reports that Trump spent $150,000 to keep the McDougal under wraps after she had sold it in a set up to quash it.
A verbal sparring match between Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and the speaker would have been hot news in the old days. But appraisal caps and school choice have no sex appeal in a state and a party that's been a showcase for sexual under Trump.
Here are a half-dozen prime examples of stories that have pushed the Texas Republicans to the outer limits of the radar in the past week with eye-glazing debates on property taxation, parent empowerment and woke-related subjects like DEI, ESG and CRT. The news links below are ranked in order of overall buzz value.
1. Trump 2024 Streaker Moons Texas A&M Game
Texas Aggie track star Spencer Werner was released from jail on Wednesday on $2,800 bond after running onto the field during a baseball game with the Longhorns from UT and pulling his pants and exposing his buttocks to 7,000 stunned fans in College Station. Werner - a freshman on the cross country team - has been characterized as a "streaker" in the mainstream and social media alike. That might be a stretch in light of the fact that he was never actually naked throughout the incident - showing nothing more than a pair of cheeks, his face and a chest with Trump 2024 emblazoned across it. Werner burst on to the scene in the 5th inning when Texas had a 3-1 lead. As a UT graduate, Phelan can take some consolation in the fact that Horns went on to win the first game between the two schools in a dozen years by a score of 5-2.
2. Donald Trump Seeks Battle Plans to Attack Mexico
The former president has lieutenants preparing a strategy that could employ unilateral strikes and the deployment of troops inside of America's southern neighbor with the objective of taking out drug cartels in an unprecedented action that would be carried out regardless of whether Mexico approves. Trump was briefed in October on such a move with a policy paper that was composed by a think tank that associates run called the Center for Renewing America. Governor Greg Abbott would have a chance to shine with an invasion if the Texas Military Department agreed to donate 10 tanks that it acquired last year to the war effort if Trump is elected as president again in 2024. Texas has a new state border czar who could be a major player if the U.S. goes to war south of the Rio Grande.
3. GOP Would Lose Entire Generation if TikTok Ban
Texas Democrat Lyndon Johnson predicted that his party would lose control of the South to the GOP as payback for the civil rights laws he pushed through Congress as the president in the 1960s. U.S. Senator Rand Paul - a Kentucky Republican who's father served in Congress from Texas - is warning now that the GOP is digging its own grave now with attempts to ban the TikTok app. Abbott did not get the memo - it appears - as the leader of the TikTok prohibition crusade in Texas. Citing concerns on spying by Chinese communists, the governor ordered state agencies and universities to delete the TikTop app from computers, phones and all other devices with an executive decree late last year. This has been an inconvenience for Texas college students and employees who have to wait until they can use their cell phones or personal laptops before they can access TikTok.
4. GOP Rep Says No Such Thing as Gun Violence
GOP U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins of Lousiana stole the show at the hearing on Wednesday in the wake of a mass shooting at a Nashville Christian school the previous day. "I'd like to address something that seems to be a repeated talking point of my Democrat colleagues now regarding gun violence and gun violence being the number one cause of death of children in America today. You'll hear that a lot. Let me correct both," Higgins said. "There's no such thing as gun violence. There's only human violence. It's intellectually unsound to state otherwise." Higgins - for the record - was the seventh of eight children in a town on the outskirts of New Orleans. He's been been married four times at least. He attended Louisiana State University but did not graduate.
5. Stormy Daniels Implies Cash Trumps Pole Size
There are probably many Republicans who'd never heard of Stormy Daniels before Trump ran for president and no shortage of GOP loyalists who've never treated themselves to any of her movies ever since. But she has higher name recognition now than any living Texan who isn't named Abbott, Bush, Cruz or Willie as the heart of the prosecution's case in Manhattan where Trump has said he will be arrested at some point in a hush money probe as an alleged former lover. But Daniels demonstrated that she's much funnier as well this week with a terse reply to a claim that "President Trump wouldn’t touch you with a 10ft pole" in a Twitter post. "True," she tweeted back. "He used a 3 inch one." Property taxes have no chance when up against material like that.
Phelan sought to stir up interest in the showdown on property tax relief in the Texas Capital City. "It is our job at the Texas Legislature to do what we can to maximize tax savings for Texas taxpayers," the speaker wrote in the op ed in the HC. "And in order to do so, that may include conversations about the homestead exemption or other legislative proposals so that we can be as thorough about tackling this issue as possible."