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Attorney General Greg Abbott talks guns

January 23, 2013 By: MattSDowling Category: 2nd Amendment, Greg Abbott, Texas Attorney General

 

In my interview with Attorney General Greg Abbott I made sure I got his opinion on the 2nd Amendment, especially since the gun control debate is in full swing here in Texas and nationally. He started off by wanting to make sure that the readers of this blog knew that the 2nd Amendment debate isn’t just about guns, but about all the liberties guaranteed to us under the U.S. Constitution. Abbott stated that, “If the government begins to erode any of our liberties, they can erode all of our liberties.” This statement should ring true for most of us and I’m glad General Abbott understands this fact because most elected officials don’t.

Further on in our conversation about guns, General Abbott also brought up why we are having the gun control debate in the first place and that is because of the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The mood in the room became somber as he spoke about how no parent should even have to consider the horrifying thought of not being able to pick up their child because they were gun downed at school. However, he did go on to say that, “Whenever we are trying to address a tragedy it should be addressed in a way that will solve it. We are talking about guns, but the debate about what the possible solutions are, aren’t really addressing the problem which is violence in our society.”

Abbott went on to say that people often look to limit our 2nd Amendment rights, but when they do that they don’t solve the problem they were looking to solve. He used the City of Chicago as his first example. Abbott noted their mayor, Rahm Emanuel, bragged about having some of the toughest gun bans in the country and touted they have confiscated more guns than any other city in the U.S. However, when you look at the numbers, Chicago remains one of the most violent cities because of gun crime. Conversely, border towns like El Paso, where its citizens are allowed to concealed carry, can be a relatively safe town, despite the fact they border one of the most violent cities, Juarez, Mexico (where once again citizens face strong gun bans).

I saved the last question of the interview to ask General Abbott if he supported open carry. I wanted to get a clear answer, so I just asked for a “Yes” or “No” answer and he responded with a, “Yes.” He later added that he felt an open carry law would have similar success as the Concealed Handgun License Laws have had in Texas.

I would like to extend a special thanks to Americans for Prosperity Foundation – Texas for helping set up this interview at their RightOnline Conference and to Attorney General Greg Abbott for taking the time to sit down for a one-on-one interview.

You can’t spell ‘Fiscal Cliff Deal’ without the letters f-a-i-l

January 02, 2013 By: MattSDowling Category: Deficit, Fiscal Cliff, Obama, Republicans

 

In a last minute fiscal cliff deal, House Republicans agreed to cut $15 billion in spending and increase taxes by $620 billion. That is a 41:1 ratio. Also known as a horrible ratio. Ronald Reagan and George  H.W. Bush agreed to similar deals, but they were more balanced. Reagan agreed to a 1:3 ratio and President H.W. Bush agreed to a 1:2 ratio in tax hikes to spending cuts. These presidents put spending cuts above of tax hikes, where as the deal with President Obama tax hikes are the name of the game.

According to the Tax Policy Center, the deal passed by the Senate raises taxes on 77% of U.S. households, where the average tax increase is $1,635. The Republican leadership couldn’t even come up with a compromise that upheld Obama’s promise to not raise taxes on people making less than $250,000 a year. Instead, this bill raises taxes on 80% of households making between $50,000 and $200,000.

The only consolation prize to this bad deal would be deficit reduction. But the American people don’t even get that. According to the CBO the bill adds $4,000,000,000,000 to the deficit.

This might seem like a bad deal for the American people, but there is an upside. Algae growers will receive a $59,000,000 tax credit, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands will receive $222,000,000 in a return of excise tax on rum produced, and Hollywood will receive $430,000,000 on a special expensing rule.

Zero

December 19, 2012 By: MattSDowling Category: Benghazi report

 

Zero. The number of people held accountable in the Accountability Review Board’s report, on the Benghazi attack, that took the lives of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

The official report did a fairly good job of providing recommendations and detailing the timeline of the attack on the ground. It did however, completely ignore what decisions were or were not made during the attack, by the senior level staff in the State Department, that led to four American deaths even though the report slams the senior level staff involved in the decision making process. It states that “additional staffing” requests were not honored despite growing security concerns and there were “systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department” that led to confusion and inaction during the attacks.

Right before you think the board is going to drop the hammer on the incompetent senior staff, the board does a 180 degree turn and praises them by stating “the interagency response was timely and appropriate” and “found no evidence of any undue delays in decision making for denial of support from Washington.” They even go on to state it does not recommend any disciplinary actions.

I’m disappointed, but not surprised by this report. I’m disappointed an Accountability Review Board can’t find one person to hold accountable for the mismanagement that led to the death of four Americans.

Soon after this report was released three top State Department officials resigned. I guess the buck stops with the people who resign.

Texas business forecast update

December 13, 2012 By: MattSDowling Category: Texas economy

 

Forbes recently ranked Texas the 7th best state for business, which is good, but down one spot from the previous year. Utah took the top spot for 2012 and Maine took the bottom spot, but Texas still has a lot going for it. According the article, Texas has more than 10% of the nation’s largest public and private companies and also is the only state that ranks in the top 3 for economic climate and growth prospects. Texas’ economy is expected to grow by 4.3% annually over the next 5 years, which places us 3rd among all states.

One mark against Texas is that only 80% of adults have a high school degree, which is the lowest in the nation. As companies consider expansion or relocation to Texas, they are not only considering the good business climate, but an available skilled and educated workforce. This workforce issue is helped counteracted by the fact that people are willing to move to Texas. Over 1,000 new people from other states move here every day. However, if our education system isn’t producing the workers we need to move our economy forward, that needs to be addressed sooner than later. Technical colleges and workforce development programs can train and retrain Texans with the skills they need. Also, coordinating with higher education institutions to promote and open up new courses, in areas of workforce shortages, will also be valuable.

The big elephant in the room though is how to increase the number of high school graduates. My fear is that we increase the graduation rate with nothing to show for it. We will still lose if the number of high school graduates in Texas increases, but our students don’t receive a quality education or valuable skills. If this happens then we are right back to where we started. We must prepare a skillful, educated workforce that can fill the skills gap which is so prevalent in Texas and the nation. Therefore, the ultimate objective should not just be to raise the amount of high school graduates in Texas, but to build a ready workforce. As the United States and the world becomes smaller and more competitive, moving numbers up or down on a “balance sheet” isn’t going to cut it anymore. Of course, addressing these issues and enacting the necessary reforms is a whole other story and easier said than done.

Side note: The Forbes article stated that 9 of the top 10 states for businesses are right-to-work states and a 9 of the bottom 10 states are not right-to-work states. Colorado was the exception in the top ten states and Mississippi was the exception in the bottom ten states.

USA Today Op-ed: Christian companies can’t bow to sinful mandate

November 28, 2012 By: MattSDowling Category: David Green, Hobby Lobby, Obamacare

 

This powerful Op/Ed was written by Hobby Lobby founder and CEO David Green. It details why as a Christian based company he is being forced to go to court in order to protect his religious freedoms as a business owner.

First as a Christ follower and in a distant second as a proponent of individual liberties the outcome of this lawsuit will be one of the most defining moments for people in my camp. And in case you were wondering… Yes, I believe this is a bigger issue than the Supreme Court’s original ruling on Obamacare because the court, in this case, can affirm that the government CAN control basic religious activities. I have a feeling they will “punt” this lawsuit on a technicality and not make a real decision, but nevertheless we should watch the unfolding events very closely.

Column: Christian companies can’t bow to sinful mandate

When my family and I started our company 40 years ago, we were working out of a garage on a $600 bank loan, assembling miniature picture frames. Our first retail store wasn’t much bigger than most people’s living rooms, but we had faith that we would succeed if we lived and worked according to God’s word. From there, Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation’s largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states. Our children grew up into fine business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family.

We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I’ve always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God’s laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week’s biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest. We believe that it is by God’s grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We’ve not only added jobs in a weak economy, we’ve raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80% above minimum wage.

But now, our government threatens to change all of that. A new government healthcare mandate says that our family business must provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions. Which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the Biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million per day in government fines.

Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that’s raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It’s not right.

Finish reading this USA Today column by clicking here.

Texas Blog Friday: Captain Watchdog

November 16, 2012 By: MattSDowling Category: Captain Watchdog, Jason Moore

For this week’s TBF we are highlighting the blog Captain Watchdog which is run by Jason Moore. He recently won Americans for Prosperity’s Vernon K. Krieble Foundation’s 2nd annual UNSUNG HERO award. I know everyone in the blogosphere is proud of the work he has done for the taxpayers. We are especially proud that he is a Texan too. Below you can read his latest post and make sure you check out his blog while you are at it.

Nutter Cancels Purchasing Card rather than give receipts

Cindy Nutter wants you to believe that she is the responsible adult in this conversation regarding her job performance. Yet, a couple of days ago I posted an email exchange wherein she admits after almost 3 years in office she still didn’t know that she is both a sitting member of the Bail Bond Board and is ALSO the legal representative of the Board. Yet, I am bringing to your attention ANOTHER (and many more to come) instance where she is clearly acting improperly or outright avoiding dealing with a problem brought to her attention numerous times. Cindy Nutter wants you to believe that she is the responsible adult in this conversation regarding her job performance. Yet, a couple of days ago I posted an email exchange wherein she admits after almost 3 years in office she still didn’t know that she is both a sitting member of the Bail Bond Board and is ALSO the legal representative of the Board. Yet, I am bringing to your attention ANOTHER (and many more to come) instance where she is clearly acting improperly or outright avoiding dealing with a problem brought to her attention numerous times.

Read the full blog post by clicking here.

Blowing in the Wind

November 01, 2012 By: MattSDowling Category: Energy Subsidies

 

Unfortunately, wind energy is about as reliable as the wind and it’s costing taxpayers billions of dollars every year with little to show for it.

In 1992, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act which in part established the federal production tax credit. This credit was created to help boost renewable energy in the United States and help establish a firm foundation in which green energy could expand. However, 20 years later Congress has had to renew or extend the use of the production tax credit over and over again, because renewable energy continues to prove to be an inefficient and unreliable form of energy.

I’m not here to bash wind energy or any other form of renewable energy for that matter. However, once we dive in to how much benefit taxpayers get from renewable energy compared to the amount of money taxpayers waste on it each year, the numbers are quite startling.

  • According to the Congressional Research Center, extending the production tax credit for one year would cost taxpayers $12.1 billion. This doesn’t even include the billions of dollars in subsidies that renewable energy already receives.
  • The Electric Reliability Council of Texas stated that only 9% of wind energy is produced during peak times. We see this trend because a lot of times the hotter it gets outside the less wind we generally receive.
  • In 2010, wind produced 2.3% of all the energy in the U.S. but received 42% of all subsidies from the federal government.
  • Only 1% of oil used in the U.S. is used to produce energy, so more renewable energy doesn’t really mean we will be more energy independent
  • The production tax credit is purely based off of production. So wind companies could technically “sell” wind energy for $0 and still make money because they will make their profit off of the production tax credit.
  • The Institute for Energy Research states that for every dollar that oil and gas companies receive in subsidies, wind gets $88 and solar an astonishing $1,200. And that’s using the Department of Energy’s own numbers.

As you can see taxpayers are handing over a lot of money for results that aren’t very promising. I propose instead of subsidizing every energy product out there we eliminate these subsidies. The government needs to stop picking winners and losers in the energy market. Even when they do pick “winners” like Solyndra they declare bankruptcy and taxpayers are out hundreds of millions of dollars.

As part of the Recovery Act in 2009 the production tax credit was extended, but is supposed to expire in at the end of the year. Let’s do our wallets and the national debt a favor and end this subsidy. While we are at it let’s also end the subsidies to the oil and gas companies and just let the market compete.

I can cry if I want to

November 01, 2012 By: MattSDowling Category: Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney

 

It seems the presidential candidates have gone from kissing babies to making 4 year olds cry. Maybe when she gets older she will replace crying with blogging (not that there is much of a difference).

Which broken promises should Romney focus on in tonight’s debate?

October 03, 2012 By: MattSDowling Category: Co-Author Brent Barksdale, Obama, Presidential Debate, Romney

 

As Mitt Romney prepares for the first Presidential Debate with Barack Obama there has been a lot of speculation on what Romney’s strategy should be. There have been more than a few Republican strategists who say Romney should call out Obama on his countless lies and broken promises that he has made over the years. If done properly this is the right strategy as long as he doesn’t allow himself to get too far off his own message.

You see the American people know our country isn’t better off than we were four years ago. However, Obama has been protected by the main-stream-media to the point that he should be listing the major news outlets as in-kind donors to his campaign. This is why this debate should be exciting. Obama will finally have to answer for his failed policies and broken promises without the protective filter of the media to aide him.

This will be a change of pace from his scripted interviews with People Magazine, Entertainment Tonight, or the Obie and Lil Shawn Morning Show. Of course, I don’t blame Obama. If I were him I would be avoiding these tough press conferences as well. Do you remember what happened the last time he meet with the White House press corps? He said the private sector was doing “just fine.” Ouch. That one must still sting.

So the natural question we must ask ourselves is what lies and broken promises should Romney call out Obama on during the debates? There are so many he can choose from that it would be easy to get lost in the weeds. Do you remember when he said he would shut down Gitmo? Or when he said would slash earmarks as president? Or that he would cut $4 trillion from our deficit? There are dozens and dozens of lies and broken promises, but since Wednesday night’s debate is on domestic policy only here are the top 5 that Romney should focus on:

1.) While campaigning Obama stated that he wouldn’t raise taxes a dime on people making under $250,000 a year. Obama clearly broke this promise when he raised taxes on cigarettes that disproportionately fall on low income Americans. Let’s not forget Obamacare that created individual mandate tax and it raises taxes on flexible spending accounts and the use of tanning beds, among other items. Obama won’t be able to escape this lie if Romney hones in on it.
2.) Now this broken promise might make you laugh. In 2009, Obama stated that he would cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. No, that wasn’t a typo. Not only did he not cut the deficit in half he never even lowered it. In fact, he set four straight years of record setting deficits during his term. This broken promise almost defines the Obama presidency and Romney shouldn’t hold back on reminding the voters about this whopper.
3.) Now on this broken promise Obama redefines what the word guarantee means. Obama stated that during the first year in office he guaranteed he would be supporting and pushing through an immigration bill. Turns out Obama never supported or even pushed for an immigration reform bill. A guarantee is only as good as the person who gives it and Romney needs to remind the American people what an Obama guarantee means.
4.) A mere six months after Obama signed the Recovery Act into law he was boasting how it had saved or created 150,000 jobs. If we ignore the question of “How did Obama know how many jobs were saved?” considering the government doesn’t keep track of this statistic because it is nearly impossible to calculate we are left with the 150,000 jobs that were created. However, when Obama made this statement 1.6 million jobs had been lost since the Recovery Act was passed. Romney needs to remind the voters and especially the people who have lost their job under Obama how far he will go to deceive the American people.
5.) Obamacare is still unpopular with American and it seems like each day it becomes a little bit more expensive that we were originally told. Obama told us that Obamacare wasn’t a tax, but of course it is. Not only did the Supreme Court say it was a tax, but the government even argued it as such. Obama said you can keep your current plan, but Obamacare makes it extremely hard for many businesses to continue to carry their health insurance plan. He also said you can also keep your doctor, that is if he or she hasn’t left their practice under the weight of new regulations that makes it harder to practice medicine. The entire concept of Obamacare is a lie and Obama and Romney both know this. If Romney bites his tongue and doesn’t explain clearly what Obamacare really means for America, Medicare, and seniors he might as well pack up and go home.

As you can see Obama talks and talk and talks, but his actions never match his words. Romney would be wise to continuously jab Obama with these lies and broken promises and remind our country who Obama really is.

#Godwins A 9/11 story

September 11, 2012 By: MattSDowling Category: 9/11, Brian Birdwell

 

If you are like me and are quick to ask the question, “Do these videos accurately depict who these people really are?” then I have good news for you because with this video the answer is “Yes.” I had to the honor to work closely with Senator Brian Birdwell in his special election bid to become the next State Senator out of District 22. His campaign headquarters was located in his home, so I also had the privileged of getting to know his great family as well.

I can’t tell you why God lets bad things happen to good people, but I can tell you at the end of the day God wins and He is glorified.