Despite recent claims to the contrary, HD 45 erstwhile Democratic representative is no friend to Texas taxpayers or Texas business. And yes, it’s true – Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican from San Antonio, lent his name and presence to a fundraiser for Rose last week in Driftwood. Say it with me people: SIGH).
Rose has consistently rated low from Young Conservatives of Texas during his tenure in the House. His composite score is a 36 – this last session, he dropped to 29 from 46 in the previous session. Under leadership not disposed to support a conservative agenda, Rose’s very true colors (read: true blue) show right on through his shiny veneer. He got a 21 his first session (the 78th, in 2003) and a 48 in the 79th. Rose likes to say he’s “independent,” but he is a fairly typical liberal Democrat, voting for hate crimes legislation (HB 824, 2nd reading, 81st session), government subsidies (HB 873, final passage, 81st session), against school vouchers (SB 1, Amendment 113, 81st session), for the expansion of welfare programs (HB 2962, final passage, 81st session), and for stripping parents of their rights and handing them over to Child Protective Services (SB 1440, 81st session). And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg, just how Rose votes, not the legislation he writes. Legislation to give rulemaking authority to an unelected state agency on the execution of welfare programs, for instance. Legislation designed to strip the State Board of Education of any authority in the state (thanks for the reminder, Jonathan).
Rep. Rose likes to say he’s pro-business, and indeed the speaker claims that he’s helping Rose because of his pro-business stances. But the Texas Association of Business gave Rose a 64% rating for last session, and a 61% cumulative rating. Rose voted for pre-kindergarten subsidies and unfunded mandates, Obamacare-style health insurance mandates, against drug testing requirements for unemployment benefits, and for unreasonable mandates on businesses. There is no way, based on Rose’s voting record, that he could be considered consistently pro-business. Given that he also voted for the business margins tax in 2006, and brags about how he did so (the margins tax was supposed to help give property tax relief – it did not, and conservatives recognize the failure of that legislation), I think his posturing as a “pro-taxpayer, pro-business” independent is asinine.
Why did Republican Speaker Straus appear at a fundraiser for proven liberal Democrat Patrick Rose? The complicated answer has to do with speaker politics. Straus is in the position he holds today because of Democratic support – if you doubt that, take another look at the committee appointments, especially the chairmanships, from the 81st session. Some of the arguments in defense of this fundraiser have been “he’s also doing this for Republicans” (true – he’s doing one for Lubbock Republican John Frullo in Austin), “Craddick supported Rose” (true again – Rose was a well-known “Craddick D” until the ship began to sink), and that he’s “speaker of the whole House.”
Couple of problems here. One, if he is indeed “speaker of the whole House,” the interests of the people of Texas would be better served if he did not do fundraisers or lend his name to any campaigns for Texas House members, incumbent or challenger, Republican or Democrat. Straus was elected speaker on a wave of “no more politics as usual” sympathy and promised to end the game-playing. Well, some of us knew better, but it is disheartening to see that the game played during committee appointments extended to the general election. Two, using Craddick’s activities, or Pete Laney’s, or whomever’s, as a justification for his actions now is further evidence that Straus is just playing “politics as usual” and hasn’t broken the mold at all.
Straus supporting Rose when there is a Republican challenger on the ballot smacks of rank political gaming. There’s no good excuse to do so, when Straus as a Republican does have his own constituents and the party to answer to. Rose is against everything conservative and Republican – he’s even publicly endorsed Bill White for governor, who, if elected, would undermine Straus’, and the Republican, agenda (and likely lead to Straus’ ousting in favor of a Democrat, if the balance in the House was upset enough). Just this week, Straus appeared at a House Appropriations hearing and told the members there that he wants a balanced budget with no tax increases. That’s really excellent news – but I do guarantee that Patrick Rose and his ilk will not help the House pass that kind of budget in the 82nd Legislature.
The grassroots are pretty steamed, and this is gaining traction as the days go on and more people find out about the Rose fundraiser. Typically, they aren’t given credit for understanding “speaker politics.” But, they know enough to get that a speaker is elected by House members, who are elected by the people. Watch this issue come up in elections where it might not have before.