Do you remember Bill White?
He served as mayor of Houston, the largest city in Texas. He left office at the beginning of 2010, flirted with the idea of running for the U.S. Senate in 2012, then backed off and decided to run for Texas governor.
He lost to Gov. Rick Perry, which isn’t any shame, given that Perry was the colossus who stood astride the Texas political landscape.
White returned to private life as an investor. Well, now he’s written a book. In it he takes politicians of both major parties to task for, get this, rolling up too much debt and saddling the nation — and the state — with a huge bill that someone is going to have to pay.
The book, “America’s Fiscal Constitution,” suggests to some he isn’t quite the wild-eyed Obama Liberal that Gov. Perry painted him as being during the 2010 race for governor.
White sat down with The Texas Tribune’s Aman Batheja to talk about the book, politics and the upcoming race for Texas governor.
In the interview, which has been condensed and edited on the link attached, White takes the gloves off with (1) Republicans who took control of the White House and Congress in 2001, (2) Democrats who moved into the White House in 2009 and (3) Republicans who still run the political show all across Texas.
White told Batheja: “… the collapse of fiscal discipline occurred in 2001, when Republicans controlled both the White House and Congress. During the current fiscal year, fiscal year 2014, both the House Republicans and the Senate Democrats proposed spending far in excess of available tax revenues. So neither party has a good claim to the historical mantle of fiscal discipline.”
He says the Great Depression wasn’t entirely the fault of President Herbert Hoover and that President Ronald Reagan wasn’t exactly the paragon of low taxation and debt management.
Batheja asks: “What is your view on the debt ceiling debates and the recent government shutdown?”
White responds: “The debt ceiling has been the basis of pure theater, part comedy and part tragedy. Congress has voted to spend money and has the exclusive power to set tax rates to a certain amount of revenue to pay for that spending. When Congress votes to spend more money than available tax revenue, then debt is the only financing available. So it’s silly for a majority in Congress to vote to spend money exceeding tax revenue and then have some members claim to be fiscally responsible by opposing the debt to pay for that spending.”
Of course White hopes Wendy Davis is elected governor this fall. He’s hedging, though, on whether he thinks she will win — which is a political answer from someone who says his book isn’t “particularly political.”
Bill White’s a smart fellow who, I hope, still has something important to add to the political debate in Texas. I think I’ll buy his book to see what he has to say.