Home / Culture and Society / Strama and Keffer – When Bipartisanship Means Selling Out the Taxpayers

Strama and Keffer – When Bipartisanship Means Selling Out the Taxpayers

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It always fascinates me how politicians who are running for office find ways to warp and spin their records to appeal to every audience regardless of what their past positions and actions really were. Ambiguous votes on peculiar bills, supporting legislation they know will get voted down just to get it on their resume, authoring hopeless bills which die in committee to pander to a single-issue constituency, trading endorsements with other candidates which are full of qualifiers which can then be quoted out of context — all of these are fair game when it’s time to hoodwink the voters.

Here in the Austin area, Democrat Mark Strama (Texas House District 50) has been particularly adept at trading favors and distorting his record to try to strengthen his position in a district which is fairly evenly split between Democrat and Republican voters. To win and hold his seat he has had to make deals with Republicans and do everything he can to win Republican votes, but since he doesn’t actually vote much like a Republican that means misrepresenting the substance of his record on key issues. He’s clearly feeling the pressure from insurgent Republican Patrick McGuiness and the resulting mendacity is enlightening.

To win over Republican voters, Strama has made use of supportive quotes from Republican Representative Jim Keffer (Tecas House District 60) to look like a model of bipartisanship. In 2006 Keffer said that Strama “worked with Republicans to cut property taxes and keep our public schools open.” Yet further investigation demonstrates that Strama really didn’t do either of these things.

The truth is that Strama did not work on or support any major education initiatives and actually voted against property tax reductions twice in 2006. I can’t imagine how voting against property tax reductions can possibly be defined as working for them, except maybe by a definition broad enough to classify opposing legislation as an important collaborative role.

What Strama actually did do in 2006 was to support Keffer’s anti-business, job destroying and tax increasing franchise tax bill, one of the most negative pieces of legislation to come out of the Texas legislature this decade. This is a classic example of a corrupt bargain. Keffer needed votes from Strama and other Democrats to pass his tax increase, and as payback he provided Strama with a supportive quote to use in his next campaign to hoodwink fiscally conservative Republicans into voting for a tax and spend leftist.

So not only did Strama not cut property taxes as claimed (though the legislature did it without his support), he helped create a whole new strongly anti-busienss tax structure with the collaboration of big government Republicans. Yes, this was certainly bipartisan, but is being bipartisan a good thing when it sells out the best interests of the voters? Bad legislation doesn’t become good just because unprincipled legislators from both sides of the aisle support it.

Despite Strama’s attempts to draw Republican votes by presenting himself as a tax cutter, what we learn from the facts behind his claims is that he opposed tax cuts and supported tax increases, and what’s more that there are some Republicans like Jim Keffer who maybe ought to be looked at with a skeptical eye. Keffer not only authored the franchise tax, but also opposed the indian gaming bill which would have brought in substantial additional revenue for the state without imposing new taxes on the public. Someone with more authentic Republican principles ought to think about running against Keffer in the GOP primary in 2012.

For voters in Texas House District 50 the maxim “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” ought to apply. Strama may have fooled them through his tit-for-tat with Keffer and by misrepresenting his record in the past, but in this election Republicans and moderate but fiscally sensible Democrats ought to know better and vote for Republican challenger Patrick McGuinness instead.

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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • G. C

    What happened to the funding of schools? Where did the spending take place, it wasn’t in schools. If it wasn’t the current texas politicians fault, how can you come up with the money to put it back in education? I have seen too many cuts in schools since this present administration in comparison to the money which was sent from the federal government to Texas. Schools are now just politics of which is the best state or district to educate. Teachers hands are tied yet blame of failing is on teachers not the current political government.

  • Oh hell, thanks for pointing out the error, Alan.


  • Dave, I think you’re channeling another great politician from the Lone Star State, who in 2002 declared: “There’s an old saying in Tennessee–I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee–that says fool me once, shame on you. Fool me, you can’t get fooled again.”

    Now you write “fool me once shame on me, fool me twice shame on you.” You might want to consult UsingEnglish.com.