Bill O'Reilly Tells Tall Tales About Texas

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Bill O’Reilly used his post-Thanksgiving Talking Points Memo to discuss what he called a “Tale of Two Americas” between Liberal California and Conservative Texas. His weekend trip to the Lone Star State only included Austin and Houston, but he assured his audience that he “got a good look around”. It’s our low-tax low-service, “overriding tradition” of “self-reliance” that led him to believe he would rather live in Texas. I’ve prepared a few points of correction for him to consider before he packs his bags and leaves New York City.

“I was down in Austin and Houston, Texas doing shows with Miller. It's been a while since I had visited the Lone Star State and I took a good look around.” Bill, visiting Austin and Houston don’t constitute getting a good look around Texas. And, since you used the Presidential election totals from each state to illustrate our differing political ideologies, you should know the cities you visited both supported Obama.

“In Texas, the government does not believe that redistributing income is its responsibility.” Bill, you maybe right about programs for the poor or hungry, but we do that upward redistribution thing pretty well. Let me introduce you to the Governor’s Emerging Technology Fund and Texas’ proposed School Voucher Program.

“There are more prisoners in California than any other state.” Actually Bill you’re wrong. Texas has both the largest number of prisoners and an incarceration rate thats about 50% higher than California.

“Meantime in Texas if you hit it big you get to keep as much of what you earn. Yes, there are local taxes but the state does not impose an income tax.” Well, I guess you actually nailed this one Bill but its too bad so few of us get to “hit it big”. Texas is home to largest share of Fortune 500 companies but we also have the largest share of minimum wage earners. The poorest 20% in Texas actually pay 12.2% of their income in taxes compared to 3% for the top 1%.

“In Texas, the government does not believe…that it should micromanage the lives of its citizens.” You must not be aware we have laws that limit access to contraceptives, make Transvaginal Ultrasounds mandatory before abortions, impose restrictive voter ID requirements or that Texas leaders want to drug test TANF applicants.

I realize your income and gender insulate you from most of these pitfalls, but unless you specifically meant Texas was a better place to be rich and avoid paying taxes, you should consider the children. Hundreds of school districts have sued our state over funding, children in Texas have the highest rate of food insecurity and lowest rate of insurance coverage. Also did you know Texas Republican Party officially endorses abstinence only education, yet Texas has the highest teen pregnancy rate?

You were right about one thing, Texas is a special place. Moderate, Independent and Progressive Texans a make the distinction between our great state with its aboundant natural and human resources, and the way inwhich our government is run. God did bless Texas, but when we talk about social statistics, and the general welfare of our citizens – we’re always reminded to give thanks for Mississippi.

Here is the link to original video and full transcript.

About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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