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What Texans Think
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Just in case you were wondering about political views in Texas (or at least parts of Texas, in which registered voters respond to political surveys by their representatives), here's a link sent to me by my representative, Pete Sessions, who represents the 32nd District here in Texas.

A couple of months ago, his office mailed out a survey to constituents, asking them their views on a variety of subjects. You'll notice that quite a few of the questions are worded in suggestive ways, but that's to be expected. Anyway, here are the questions, with the results of people who answered (the bottom of the survey notes "Survey results are based on a random sample from 300 of 2000 responses. The margin of error is +/- 4%.") and my own answers (in bold).


1. What do you think is the proper way to stimulate the economy?
Cut taxes to spur economic growth through savings and investment. 69%
Increase government spending to build infrastructure, expand government programs, and increase entitlements. 24%
Undecided: 7%


2. Generally speaking, which of the following statements best describes your opinion of the federal government's management of the federal budget?
The federal government is generally well run and efficient. 2%
The federal government is generally well run, but there are examples of wasteful spending in certain departments and agencies. 31%
The federal government is generally not well run, and limited wasteful spending does occur. 15%
The federal government is generally not well run, and there is significant waste and inefficiency in all departments. 50%
Undecided: 2%


3. What government policies do you believe would help us balance the federal budget?
Cut government waste, fraud, and abuse. 63%
Reduce spending. 15%
Repeal the Bush tax cut. 18%
Raise taxes on the wealthy. 4%
Undecided: 0%


4. There is an ongoing debate across the country about what, if any, changes should be made to the federal tax code. Which of the following statements best describes how you would deal with the tax code?
Scrap the tax code and replace it with a flat tax. 49%
Scrap the tax code and replace it with a national sales tax. 15%
Keep the current tax code and reform it in incremental steps. 32%
Keep the current tax code as it is. 3%
Undecided: 1%


5. What do you believe is the most effective way to improve education?
Increase funding through the education bureaucracy. 17%
Raise educational standards and accountability. 53%
Provide vouchers allowing parents to send their children to the schools best suited to meet their individual needs. 26%
Undecided: 4%


6. Who do you think should play the most significant role in setting educational standards?
Federal Government 21%
State Government 39%
Local Government 38%
Undecided: 2%


7. The average rate of return on each American's investment in Social Security is currently 1%. Should Americans be allowed to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes directly in stock portfolios managed through government-sanctioned mutual funds?
Yes 61%
No, Americans should continue to pay their Social Security taxes into the defined benefit plan currently in use. 36%
Undecided: 3%


8. Ensuring the long-term solvency of Social Security may require Congress to make tough choices. Which of the following options for securing Social Security for future retirees is preferable to you?
Raise the retirement age in keeping with today's increasing longevity. 33%
Raise Social Security payroll taxes and/or reduce benefits. 12%
Allow individuals to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes directly in stock portfolios managed through government-sanctioned mutual funds. 50%
Undecided: 5%


9. In 2000, Congress repealed the Social Security earnings limit for retirees 65 and older. Prior to its repeal, this earnings limit reduced Social Security benefits for recipients who continued to work and whose income exceeded an arbitrary limit. Currently, individuals who retire between the ages of 62 and 64 are subject to a Social Security earnings limit of $11,520 per year. What, if any, changes should be made to the earnings limit for early retirees?
Repeal the Social Security earnings limit for early retirees. 52%
No changes should be made. 29%
Reinstate the Social Security earnings limit for those aged 65 and older, and keep it for early retirees. 15%
Undecided: 4%


10. A proposal currently exists to allow people to save throughout their lives for health care expenses by contributing to tax-deferred Health Savings Accounts that can be used at any time to cover a variety of medical expenses that are currently deductible. Do you believe that individuals should be allowed to contribute to tax-free Health Savings Accounts throughout their lives to cover health care expenditures?
Yes 81%
No 15%
Undecided: 4%


11. Ensuring the long-term solvency of Medicare may require Congress to make many of the same tough choices it faces for Social Security. Which of the following options for securing Medicare for future retirees is preferable to you?
Raise the Medicare payroll tax. 19%
Reduce Medicare benefits. 3%
Provide Medicare consumers a choice between traditional Medicare coverage and fee-for-service plans that offer prescription drug coverage. 49%
Allow seniors to opt out of Medicare altogether and use their tax savings to purchase private health care coverage. 22%
Undecided: 7%


12. Skyrocketing medical malpractice insurance premiums that threaten to drive many physicians out of business have brought increasing attention to the issue of medical malpractice reform. Which of the following statements most closely reflects your views on this topic?
In medical malpractice cases, reasonable limits should be placed on punitive damages such as "pain and suffering," but all actual financial obligations such as medical expenses and lost pay resulting from proven negligence should be paid by the physician or his/her insurer. 79%
In medical malpractice cases, both actual financial obligations such as medical expenses and lost pay resulting from proven negligence and punitive damages like "pain and suffering" should be paid by the physician or his/her insurer even if this risks driving up physicians' insurance premiums. 18%
Undecided: 3%


13. In America today, it is legal to have a medical procedure known as "partial birth abortion." Partial birth abortions are late term abortions in which the baby is partially delivered before being terminated. Should Congress act to ban this practice?
Yes 56%
No 39%
Undecided: 5%


14. Illegal immigration has been an issue in Texas for many years, and it has taken on new significance since September 11, 2001. Although many people view immigration favorably for the freedom and economic opportunities it creates for people who might otherwise not have them, others view immigration as a threat and believe we should more closely protect our nation's borders from intrusion. Do you believe we should:
Loosen our immigration laws and provide legal benefits to illegal immigrants. 4%
Keep the current system in place and allow an estimated 5 million illegal immigrants to receive limited benefits (education, limited Supplemental Security Income benefits for the elderly/disabled, citizenship for the children). 20%
Strengthen our current immigration laws, hire more border guards, and ensure that legal benefits are going only to native-born and naturalized citizens of United States. 73%
Undecided: 3%


15. Do you believe that laws limiting gun ownership - which limit the ability of law-abiding citizens to purchase or own firearms as a result of the actions of criminals - ought to be enacted?
Yes 39%
No 59%
Undecided: 2%


16. Do you believe the future safety and security of the United States would have been compromised if Saddam Hussein's regime had not been removed from Iraq?
Yes 56%
No 42%
Undecided: 2%


17. What do you believe is the most important way to spend our homeland security dollars?
Take preventive actions such as protecting our borders, increasing transportation security, and gathering intelligence. 84%
Provide grants and other public funds to first responders in order to allow them to better react to a catastrophic event. 10%
Undecided: 6%


18. Do you support the United States' continued membership in the United Nations?
Yes 70%
No 28%
Undecided: 2%


19. Generally speaking, do you believe international trade is beneficial to the United States?
Yes 85%
No 7%
Undecided: 8%


20. Please indicate in the space provided which three of the following issues you believe should receive the most attention from our government. Rank your choices 1, 2, and 3. [Note: Result percentages will not total 100% because each respondent ranked only three of 14 possible issues. Percentages based on number of respondents in random sample who ranked each issue 1, 2, or 3.]
National Security - Rank - 1st: 33.7%; 2nd: 12.3%; 3rd: 7.3%
Social Security - Rank - 1st: 4.3%; 2nd: 8%; 3rd: 10.7%
Homeland Security - Rank - 1st: 11%; 2nd: 13.7%; 3rd: 7.3%
Tax Reductions - Rank - 1st: 1.3%; 2nd: 5%; 3rd: 7%
Tax Increases - Rank - 1st: 0.3%; 2nd: 1.3%; 3rd: 1%
Transportation - Rank - 1st: 0%; 2nd: 0.7%; 3rd: 0%
Education - Rank - 1st: 6.3%; 2nd: 11.3%; 3rd: 10%
Health Care - Rank - 1st: 4.7%; 2nd: 13.7%; 3rd: 14.3%
The Economy - Rank - 1st: 27.7%; 2nd: 15%; 3rd: 13.3%
Immigration - Rank - 1st: 5%; 2nd: 4%; 3rd: 8.3%
Environment - Rank - 1st: 3%; 2nd: 5.7%; 3rd: 10%
International Trade - Rank - 1st: 0%; 2nd: 3%; 3rd: 2%
Crime Prevention - Rank - 1st: 0.3%; 2nd: 2.7%; 3rd: 5%
Drug Interdiction - Rank - 1st: 0%; 2nd: 1%; 3rd: 1%

My answer: I'm not sure what distinction they're making between "National Security" and "Homeland Security", but I believe I picked the following:

1) National Security
2) Education
3) The Economy



It was interesting to see that I tended to agree with the majority of respondants in my home district on most questions, but there were significant numbers in the minority opinions on such hotbutton issues as partial birth abortion (39% of the people in my district say it shouldn't be banned) and gun control (39% favor stronger gun control).

So overall, political views in Texas are probably more diverse than most people realize.


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