Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – Now to the Dude Maker Hotline, let us say hello for the first time to candidate for the governor’s office of the great State of Texas, here is Tom Pauken. Mr. Pauken has decided to throw his hat into the ring. Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Now to the Dude Maker Hotline, let us say hello for the first time to candidate for the governor’s office of the great State of Texas, here is Tom Pauken. Mr. Pauken has decided to throw his hat into the ring. I will welcome him to the program, then we’ll ask him why he would do such a thing. Hello, Tom, Mr. Pauken, how are you, sir?
Tom Pauken: We talked about my book Bringing America Home: How America Lost Her Way and How We Can Find Our Way Back. Good to be back with you.
Mike: Tell us a little bit, first of all, about you and why you decided now that you would get into the Texas governor’s race.
Pauken: I think we’ve got a lot of people that pass for conservatives, I call them phony conservatives or big-government conservatives, who really don’t share the conservative philosophy. They’ve got their political consultants that tell them what to say. They read the script. They get elected and business goes along as usual. My opponent Greg Abbott and I have strong differences. He just intervened with Eric Holder in the American Airlines merger with US Airways to try and bust it up. That’s a good example of what I call an oxymoron, big-government conservatism. This guy doesn’t believe in the free markets. He’s raised a ton of money, but he does not have a core conservative philosophy.
I call myself a Goldwater-Reagan conservative. I started in the Goldwater movement. I ran a federal agency for Ronald Reagan. I came back in and chaired the Texas Workforce Commission where I led the effort to return control over education to the local communities and provide for more opportunities for vocational education. We had a bunch of people, these establishment Republican types. They can raise a bunch of money. They’ve got their buddies, the Karl Roves of the world who really exercise far too much power over our party. This is a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. Can we put together a conservative majority of libertarians and traditionalists as we once did and build from the grassroots up? First we take our party back, and then I think Texas can lead the way in getting this nation back on the right track.
Mike: That is quite a biography, sir. I read last night on your website, which you can find at TomPaukenForTexas.com. I read and had heard previously that you were active in the Goldwater campaign. I had a momentary chuckle and I’ll share it with you. That was: Well, Tom signed up to work in the Goldwater campaign. Gee, Mrs. Clinton, who was then Ms. Rodham, signed up to work in the Goldwater campaign. Hillary didn’t turn out so well, but it seems that Tom turned out pretty good.
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Pauken: Mike, that’s a funny story because she went up to Wellesley and got these liberal professors and became an Alinskyite. I think her master’s thesis was on Saul Alinsky. Here I am heading a federal agency in the Reagan administration, then called ACTION, now called AmeriCorps. I walked into an office that was funding, under the Carter administration, about $20 million in taxpayer dollars going to Saul Alinsky groups and ACORN groups all across the country. Unlike Hillary, instead of supporting it, I defunded all of them within a year. This is a battle. These career politicians on our side have no clue about the left’s strategy, their policies, their goals to take this country, destroy the free market system, and undermine our traditional values. You keep putting these people back in office and it’s about them. It’s not about the country and it’s not about taking the fight to the left….
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Mike: Let’s talk about the State of Texas for a moment, because after all you would be the governor of the second-most populous state in the United States, and the third-largest land mass. It’s quite a responsibility and quite a duty. Texas has its fair share of fiscal and cultural issues that it’s going to have to deal with. I know you know my good friend Debra Medina who campaigned the last time this happened and was making strides against the Perry machine until she was torpedoed by parties who shall remain nameless. However, Ms. Medina was making the point that Texas is not doing as well as Governor Perry says it is, and that Texans have dipped into their rainy day fund to where there really isn’t a rainy day fund, that Texas is actually billions of dollars in debt in unfunded liabilities. Do you share her concerns? If so, tell our listeners in Texas what you propose to do about it.
Pauken: Let me put it my own way. You take the transportation issue, what the state government and our politicians have failed to do is address the issue on an ongoing basis, and it is a serious problem. What they do is they add debt. I was in the private venture capital business and learned a long time ago that debt is not equity; it’s just taxation by another means. You’ve got to pay back not just the principal but the interest as well. Texas has the highest transportation debt of any state in the nation, $13 billion. You add the interest in and it’s over $30 billion. It’s eating into our maintenance costs. What we need to do is, first of all, we’re not dedicating all of the money that should go in taxes, supposedly dedicated to transportation. A lot of it is being diverted. You’ve got to put it all back in and move towards a pay-as-you-go system.
Secondly, we’ve got these squirrely, public-private toll road deals where we’re subsidizing some of the private companies, so the taxpayers are on the hook for questionable business deals. There’s too much crony capitalism going on in our state. My opponent Greg Abbott, for example, he was on the board of a so-called “cancer fund” that was going to cure cancer. We’re spending $3 billion on that or $300 million a year. He never attended a board meeting, but he’s got contributions over $4 million from entities that benefitted from getting sweetheart deals or questionable deals that are now under investigation from that cancer fund. I think we have a real problem with what I call crony capitalism.
On the other side, we drilled over 40 percent of the wells that were drilled in the U.S. last year. We’ve got a strong economy. There are a lot of really good things happening, but it’s not because of the career politicians. I think it’s because of the entrepreneurs and businesspeople out there and because we don’t have a state income tax, which needs to stay that way. There are a lot of great things happening, but we’ve got to get rid of this crony capitalism. We also have to solve problems in our state based on our conservative principles rather than kicking the can down the road, which is what the current leadership has tended to do.
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Mike: One of the platforms that you’re campaigning on is to restore local rule or local control. In what issues and in what areas do you see that local control needs to be restored and has been usurped by the power machine in Austin?
Pauken: Here’s what’s happened, Mike, and it’s an irony. In Texas, a conservative state, the architect of our education policy is a liberal Democrat by the name of Sandy Kress. It’s a top-down approach, kind of an elitist approach. He’s also the architect of the Bush-Kennedy No Child Left Behind. I remember a time when we as conservatives pushed for local control of education. Even during the Reagan administration, we were trying to return power and control over education from the federal government to the local government, to the state and local governments and districts. We got away from that. I led the fight and we put a coalition together. It was a broad coalition of educators and parents and businesspeople to say: One size doesn’t fit all. We have this teaching-to-the-test system in Texas where it replaced real learning. It made no sense. We were neglecting vocational education, which is so critical. We have a shortage of skilled workers in our state and yet neglect, almost a denigration, of vocational education.
We began the process and fortunately legislation was passed. It was over the objection of people like Kress and others, which began to return local control to the schools, returning it back to the local districts, and also allowed for multiple pathways to a high school diploma. Kids learn differently. They’ve got different talents. Not everybody is suited to go to a four-year university or wants to go to a four-year university. You need to offer them a coherent sequence of vocational and technical courses, which we hadn’t been doing because of this crazy idea that everybody should go to a four-year university. We’re really beginning to move back in the right direction. We’ve got to continue it. I worry, if my opponent is elected, that we go back to business as usual.
Mike: I think that is one of the, if not the most, important things and points you can talk about and act upon in any state, especially if you are a responsible member of that state’s august body of legislators or sitting in the governor’s office. You just said it, Tom, not every child learns the same thing at the same pace, and not everyone needs, few if we’re going to be honest about it, need to go to four- and five-year universities. There is ample, ample opportunity to be seized upon by creating or encouraging and then supporting what you called and when I was a teenager back in the 1970s we called Vo-tech. You could actually get one-half of your junior and senior course credits in the State of Virginia by going to Vo-tech. In other words, they wanted us to go to Vo-tech, to go to machine shop or commercial art as I did, to go to cosmetology. In other words, in high school you could begin training for your vocation. You didn’t go to $120,000-a-year university to do so. I just heard you say that and I think that’s very encouraging. Please feel free to follow up.
Pauken: Mike, you’re absolutely right. Because of this new legislation, now young people will be able to come out of high school with an industry-certified credential or license. It’s not limiting. They can go onto college. Guess what? If you’ve got a welding certificate, you can work in the Eagle Ford Shale and make $1700 a week. If you want to continue later your college education, great. You can come out with a plumbing license and in three years you’re making $75,000 a year. A young person coming out of Texas State Technical College with a two-year certificate — this is post-secondary — in engineering-related instrumentation starts in the petrochemical industry at $68,000 a year. You’ve got a graying workforce, great-paying jobs, yet we’ve neglected career and technical education, what we used to call vocational education.
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We’re beginning to go back in the right direction. I had to butt heads with the powers to be in Austin. They were a terrific group of legislators that I worked with, Jimmie Don Aycock and others, who fought to get this done. That’s just the beginning. We’ve got to do more on this front and understand, as you said earlier, Mike, kids learn differently. Just like Anne Matula who runs the Craft Training Center, she says particularly boys: I get boys in here and they hate school. They viewed it as irrelevant. They start working with their hands and all of a sudden the light bulb goes on and they see: That’s why I need math. That’s why I need basic literacy skills. She’s teaching them to be welders and electricians and pipefitters and other skilled trades. They also do better academically. They have a higher graduation rate. They go on to good-paying jobs.
Mike: Final question, Tom, because our time is short here and I know yours is as well. I notice on your website at TomPaukenForTexas.com, you mention life and family values. I know this will be of great interest to our listeners in Texas and also to our listeners across the amber waves of fuel. Is it your point of view that A, you legislate these kinds of values or legislate so that these values aren’t assaulted, or is it B, that you don’t really legislate it but you lead and do by example and that’s what you mean by life and family values?
Pauken: The biggest problem in this whole issue of life and abortion is cultural. Secondly, what the liberals did in that Roe v. Wade decision was essentially wipe out all 50 state laws which limit or said you can’t have a right to abortion. The funny thing is, we don’t need a constitutional amendment. Congress simply should say: This is a political question and you’re not entitled to take away a political question like this from the people and undo Roe v. Wade. My own view is, I know it’s a difficult issue but I think life is a fundamental issue. I support legislation that would limit or prohibit taking the life of an unborn child.
Also, as you point out, it’s a cultural issue. If the culture says if it’s convenient, take the life of the baby, it tells you something about the culture. There’s a coarsening of the culture out there that we’ve got to address. Ultimately it’s a battle for the soul of the nation. I don’t think you can have a free market system that works effectively without an ethical compass underpinning it. I’ve argued in my book and in my speeches that you cannot have a constitutional republic unless it’s guided by the principles of the Judeo-Christian ethic and Christianity. You don’t have to all be Christians or all be adherents to a particular religion. It has to underpin a truly free and virtuous society. You need both.
Mike: Good answers. Tom, Godspeed to you. When does the heat really get applied to the proverbial frying pan? When is the Republican primary in Texas that you’re gearing up for?
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Pauken: The primary is March of next year, so we’re not that far away. We sure need support financial and otherwise. We’re up against the $25 million man. We’re up against the Karl Rove machine, which is still influential in Texas. We’ve got to bust that machine up once and for all and get back to a true grassroots, policy-driven Republican Party.
Mike: That’s Tom Pauken at TomPaukenForTexas.com. Tom, thank you very much, my friend. Good to hear from you. Best of luck. We’ll be in touch, I’m sure.
Pauken: Thank you, Mike.
Mike: That’s Tom Pauken, candidate for Governor of the State of Texas. I must say, I like what I heard.
End Mike Church Show Transcript