Two key Republicans legislators — both of them doctors — say they’re sticking with Gov. Rick Perry’s position that Texas will reject the Medicaid expansion provision of federal health reform, despite a rising tide of Republican governors who are embracing it.
During a Texas Tribune Triblive conversation on Wednesday, Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, and Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, both spoke against expanding Medicaid, which they called a “broken system.” But they left the door open to working with the Obama administration if it provides more flexibility to let Texas operate the program as it sees fit.
There are many falsehoods that the wing nuts spout about Medicaid. They believe their oft spouted mythology government is reality, but it’s not. The fact is Medicaid is not broken, and is much, much more efficient then private insurance. Here’s one of the Ten Myths About Medicaid.
* Myth 9—The Medicaid program is inefficient.
* FACT: Medicaid compares favorably to other parts of the American health system when measuring administrative efficiency and per enrollee costs.
Compared to private health programs, Medicaid has lower administrative costs per claims paid when compared to private sector plans. Medicaid per capita growth has been consistently about half the rate of growth in private insurance premiums. Both of these factors show that despite program growth, Medicaid is an efficient program.
Steven Brill has written a must-read article for this week’s Time magazine about health care costs and why we really do have to be concerned about them. Following on that, he made an appearance on the round table segment of This Week to discuss those costs and why he’s sounding the alarm.
Anyone who has spent even a day in the hospital knows what the problem is. When one over-the-counter pain reliever administered in the hospital costs as much as an entire bottle at the pharmacy, there’s a very, very big problem.
Brill correctly points out that Medicare is an efficient program that Congress has managed to hog-tie into some ridiculous costly measures:
And it actually that bears on the conversation we’re having, because a chunk of that money is paid by Medicare. Medicare is I point out in the article is very efficient at most things. It buys health care really efficiently, which is a great irony, because it’s supposed to be the big government of bureaucracy.
Where Medicare is not efficient is where Congress, because of lobbyists have handcuffed Medicare. Medicare can’t negotiate what it pays for any kind of drugs. It can’t negotiate what it pays for wheelchairs, diabetes testing equipment. And if Congress took those handcuffs off of Medicare, you could get about half of the spending cuts that we’re sitting around here talking about.
Yes, this. Of course, that assumes anyone in Congress is brave enough to stand up to the mighty PhRMA lobby, which seems to have as deep a lock on Washington as the gun lobby. Brill also makes the compelling argument for lowering the Medicare eligibility age, which I have argued over and over again here at C&L. The single biggest cost-saver for Medicare would be to drop the eligibility age, let people buy in until they actually reach retirement age, and then they would drop to the levels under the Social Security law.
The problem with Medicaid for Perry and the wing nuts,like Schwertner and Zerwas, is that it’s a government run, not for profit system, that works well. And that’s an affront to everything they believe. They would much rather the federal government give them a chunk of money they could then give the the for profit system, which funds their campaigns. But we all know how that would turn out.
Judged kindly, Cruz’ performance in each of these two hearings was aggressively inaccurate. Judged more harshly (and accurately), it was mendacious demagoguery at its finest.
The broader point I got from it is that Cruz may just be playing a part. That he’s too smart to actually believe what he’s saying, but it’s what got him elected so he’s just going to keep doing it.
It shouldn’t have been this way.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is an undeniably smart man. Cruz is by all accounts a brilliant litigator, one talented enough in the courtroom to clerk for a Supreme Court justice and win a number of difficult cases as Texas’ Solicitor General. It wouldn’t have been crazy to expect that Cruz would bring a degree of argumentative rigor into the Senate after his victory in the 2012 election.
Well, Cruz had two golden opportunities to showcase his keen analytical mind, as he sits on both Senate committees that held high profile hearings last week, one on gun violence prevention, the other on Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE)’s nomination to be Secretary of Defense. And Cruz distinguished himself alright. Just not in the way one might have hoped.
Guns and Israel are two issues of paramount importance to staple GOP voting blocs. These voters don’t want mealy-mouthed, hedged defenses of their positions — as evidenced by the Great RINO Purge of the past few election cycles. Rather, these voters want Republicans who see the world as they do: President Obama and the Democrats are attempting to attack their fundamental liberties and eliminate America’s “exceptional” global role, most prominently by “throwing Israel under the bus.” For these voters, the Assault Weapons Ban isn’t just bad policy; it’s a nefarious, unconstitutional gun grab that strikes at the heart of American liberty. Chuck Hagel hasn’t been more qualified in his support for Israel than Republicans would like; he’s an anti-Semite.
Cruz rode this apocalyptic mood to power, pairing a worldview extreme enough to please the base with packaging just well enough to make him acceptable to more establishment folks. As Mother Jones‘ Tim Murphy writes in a profile of the Senator, “Cruz’s greatest asset is that he lives in both worlds;” he’s “an intellectual face on a movement and ideology that have long simmered beneath the Republican mainstream.” Cruz pioneered a marriage between extreme ideas with a manner of expression that allows the party’s “respectable” thought leaders to support it.
Understanding the central dynamic of Cruz’ political strategy is the key to unlocking his intellectually abysmal outings at the Senate last week. His base wants the fireworks, but straight-up calling Hagel an anti-Semite on the Senate floor might be a bit much. So Cruz wraps up more extreme versions of his arguments in intellectual-sounding garb, citing studies and TV clips that are just good enough to justify his firebreathing.
This adulation illustrates just how deeply rooted GOP dysfunction is. The Republican base elects someone like Cruz, who’s extreme enough to have suggested the United Nations was coming for America’s golf courses. Cruz, who’s not only a ideological member of the base but beholden to it, brings its unsupportable ideas and implacably hostile attitude to the center of the Republican party. And he’s rewarded not just by adulation from his supporters, but widespread praise from the ostensibly serious conservative commentariat. There’s just no incentive for any Republican to speak out against the party’s descent into paranoia, and every reason to believe you’ll be rewarded by giving into it.
So if you want to know why the Republican Party will remain broken for the foreseeable future, go watch the Ted Cruz game tape from this week. And try to think how it could have been otherwise.
What the national media doesn’t understand in a story like this is that, at least for now, Texas is different. Cruz is setting quite a standard so far in his short career time in the Senate. What Ted Cruz is doing shouldn’t surprise anyone, this is exactly why Karl Rove is starting a new front group to, as Digby says, kill the Frankenmonster.
Texas legislators used the noblest of language to tout the 2007 bill that created the state’s taxpayer-funded, $3 billion assault on cancer, but Gov. Rick Perry now says creating wealth is a key mission of the cancer agency.
In an interview with the Houston Chronicle this week, Perry said the embattled Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas must regain public trust so it can carry out its dual mission of cure discovery and commercialization.
“The way that the Legislature intended it was to get cures into the public’s arena as soon as possible and at the same time create economic avenues (from) which wealth can be created,” said Perry. “Basic research takes a long time and may or may not ever create wealth.”
Perry made the remarks in response to questions about the scrutiny CPRIT is facing as a result of two grants, totaling more than $30 million, that were awarded without proper review. The problems, both involving grants to commercialize discoveries, have prompted numerous investigations.
Perry has been championing the agency’s commercialization side. In the midst of the controversy, Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus sent CPRIT a letter urging it to move beyond the research foundation already laid and expedite treatment delivery within three to five years.
His remarks to the Chronicle Tuesday marked the first time the governor has publicly said creating wealth should be an important agency goal.
Trickle-down research he should call it. Paul Burka had this to say, “He is creating this supposed legislative intent from whole cloth, years after the fact”. Far too many Texans took Perry and The Lege’s at their word back in 2007. Looking back through the analyses of the Amendments back in 2007 (here and here), wealth creation was never mentioned.
The truly sad part is that many people thought Perry was serious about using this money to find a cure for cancer. Instead it turns out it’s just another one of his privatization schemes to give Texas taxpayer money to his buddies. Cancer research to make money, not cure cancer….despicable! How much longer are the people of Texas, and the Texas GOP, going to put up with this guy?
The 83rd legislature is likely to be much like the 82nd, but with different excuses because this time there will not be a shortfall, but likely a surplus – no matter what “fuzzy math” the Comptroller comes out with tomorrow.
Perry and the wing nuts will come up with every excuse imaginable not to put money back in public education, and the social safety net. All of this will likely make it a much more frustrating legislative session. And also should make it crystal clear to everyone that to change Texas to a more fair and equitable place we must change who we elect.
Stay here through Sine Die for coverage of the 83rd Legislative Session in Texas, aka The Lege.
As much as “conservatives” in Texas complain about money that they believe is wasted on government, they should take a close look at the schemes that Gov. Rick Perry and his buddies have setup for corporations in Texas. Via the NYTimes, Lines Blur as Texas Gives Industries a Bonanza.
The Preston Hollow neighborhood has been home to many of Texas’ rich and powerful — George and Laura Bush, Mark Cuban, T. Boone Pickens, Ross Perot. So it is hardly surprising that a recent political fund-raiser was held there on the back terrace of a 20,000-square-foot home overlooking lush gardens with life-size bronze statues of the host’s daughters.
The guest of honor was Gov. Rick Perry, but the man behind the event was not one of the enclave’s boldface names. He was a tax consultant named G. Brint Ryan.
Mr. Ryan’s specialty is helping clients like ExxonMobil and Neiman Marcus secure state and local tax breaks and other business incentives. It is a good line of work in Texas.
Under Mr. Perry, Texas gives out more of the incentives than any other state, around $19 billion a year, an examination by The New York Times has found. Texas justifies its largess by pointing out that it is home to half of all the private sector jobs created over the last decade nationwide. As the invitation to the fund-raiser boasted: “Texas leads the nation in job creation.”
Yet the raw numbers mask a more complicated reality behind the flood of incentives, the examination shows, and raise questions about who benefits more, the businesses or the people of Texas.
Along with the huge job growth, the state has the third-highest proportion of hourly jobs paying at or below minimum wage. And despite its low level of unemployment, Texas has the 11th-highest poverty rate among states.
“While economic development is the mantra of most officials, there’s a question of when does economic development end and corporate welfare begin,” said Dale Craymer, the president of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, a group supported by business that favors incentives programs.
In a state that markets itself as “wide open for business,” the lines are often blurred between decision makers and beneficiaries, according to interviews with dozens of state and local officials and corporate representatives. The government in many instances is relying on businesses and consultants like Mr. Ryan for suggestions on what incentives to grant and which companies should receive them, as well as on other factors that directly affect public spending and budgets, the interviews show.
Mr. Ryan does not claim to be neutral on where the money should go. “It’s widely known that I represent a lot of taxpayers,” he said in an interview. “I have client relationships with people who hopefully, if they invest in Texas, they’ll receive incentives.”
Granting corporate incentives has become standard operating procedure for state and local governments across the country. The Times investigation found that the governments collectively give incentives worth at least $80 billion a year.
The free flow of tax breaks and subsidies in Texas makes it particularly fertile ground to examine these economic development deals and the fundamental trade-off behind them: the more states give to businesses, the less they have available in the short term to spend on basic services, a calculation made more stark by the recession.
The governor’s office allocates the awards, which state records show amount to millions of dollars each year. In the enterprise zone program, 82 of the 222 awards granted from March 2008 to June 2012 went to companies represented by Mr. Ryan’s firm, according to public records provided by the governor’s office. The list included General Motors, Tyson Foods and the German chemical giant BASF.
Until recently, the cash incentives were overseen in Mr. Perry’s office by a top aide, Roberto De Hoyos. In September, Mr. De Hoyos took a new job — at Ryan LLC.
The abatements have hurt Texas schools.
Lines of new students show up each August at the public schools in Manor. The town is mostly rural, with fields of hay and cattle in every direction. Some of the students’ families came to double up with relatives or friends, others were pushed outward by Austin’s gentrification.
Downtown Manor consists of a couple of blocks lined with spots like Ramos Cocina and a smoke-filled convenience store. There are few doctors and no real place to buy groceries.
About six miles away, a fabrication plant for the South Korean company Samsung looms over one of Manor’s elementary schools, a symbol of corporate interests juxtaposed with a pillar of public spending. The complex, which makes memory chips for smartphones and other products, includes some of the largest buildings in the area: one covers 1.6 million square feet, or about nine football fields.
Since Mr. Perry took office, companies have seen a drop in their school property taxes because of a special incentives program, as well as an across-the-board cut in the school tax rate. The recession has made the squeeze all the more difficult for schools.
In the Manor district, spending shrank by about $540 per student this year, according to the Equity Center, an advocacy group for Texas schools. The cuts came even as school enrollment has nearly tripled since 2000.
The cracks in financing were on display this summer, as families filled a school cafeteria to register for a prekindergarten program with shortened days. For parents like Tommy and Melissa Sifuentes, the cutback means they have to leave work early or hire a baby sitter. “It’s harder,” said Ms. Sifuentes, who is still grateful that her son will learn socialization skills at school.
Of course the relationships get even cozier when the talk turns to the GOP tax swap scheme of 2006. The scheme was hatched by Perry’s former college roommate.
In Texas, tax revenues for schools took a direct hit when Mr. Perry created a commission in 2005 to evaluate the state’s tax system. The State Supreme Court was questioning districts’ property tax rates and warned of a school shutdown if legislators did not intervene. The tax rates had been criticized for years by businesses and residents, but some districts countered that they could not afford to cut them without additional state financing.
Mr. Perry turned to John Sharp, a Democrat and former comptroller, to lead the commission. At the time, Mr. Sharp worked for Ryan LLC. The commission called for districts to cut school property taxes by around one-third. To make up for some of the lost revenue, it recommended adding a business tax, as well as increasing some sales taxes.
“I did what I thought was the best for the state of Texas,” said Mr. Sharp, adding that his position at Ryan LLC did not affect his decisions. “We saved the state of Texas from complete collapse of the school system, and I’m very proud of that.” Mr. Sharp left Ryan last year to become the chancellor of Texas A&M University.
In 2006, the Legislature largely adopted the commission’s proposals and required the state to give districts billions of dollars to allow time for the business tax to make up the difference.
Some six years later, things have not worked out as planned.
The business tax has not yielded anywhere near what Mr. Sharp’s panel projected, and the state has cut its aid to the districts by $5.4 billion. A spokeswoman for Mr. Perry noted that one of the state’s cash incentive funds was also cut back.
And finally the fox is put in charge of the hen house.
For the past few months, a commission created by the Texas Legislature has been taking a broad look at the state’s economic development efforts. It will report back in January with recommendations. Four members of the commission are specifically focused on evaluating the state’s cash grants and the school tax abatement programs. This means that companies in Texas have a lot at stake in the panel’s work.
So does at least one of the commissioners: G. Brint Ryan.
He was appointed to the commission by the state’s lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, who has received more than $150,000 in campaign donations from Mr. Ryan.
At a meeting in mid-September, the panel invited business representatives to testify. Among them was Ms. Morse, the general counsel at Samsung Austin, who urged the commission to continue the school property tax program that benefits her company in the Manor district.
During Ms. Morse’s testimony, it went unmentioned that Samsung is a Ryan client. Ryan LLC had helped the company gain designation as an enterprise zone in 2010, enabling it to receive sales tax refunds from the state on many of its purchases, according to documents obtained by The Times under a public records request.
Mr. Ryan said the commission had never asked him whom he represents.
No representatives from Texas schools spoke at the hearing. But Mr. Ryan said in an interview that school financing and poverty could best be addressed by emphasizing economic activity. He noted his own humble beginnings. “Frankly, I never got one single government handout,” he said.
There’s much more in the article including the state’s tussle with Amazon. It’s incredible what’s happening with taxpayer money in this state.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said Thursday that Texas should consider dipping into the state’s multi-billion dollar rainy day fund to address pressing water and transportation needs.
Dewhurst, speaking before the Dallas Regional Chamber, proposed using $1 billion from the fund, which could reach $8 billion by the end of the year, to create a new water infrastructure development bank to help cities and other municipalities build reservoirs. [Emphasis added]
Joining House Speaker Joe Straus and other state leaders in focusing on the major challenges surrounding Texas’ brisk population growth, the lieutenant governor said it might also make sense to develop a similar bank for highway construction projects.
[You can watch it here.] The business community has been signalling for a while they their willing to give the Texas GOP a pass on raising taxes for either of these issues. They all understand that they need water and roads for their new developments. And they prefer Texas taxpayers to pay for it.
John Folks, former president of the Texas Association of School Administrators and former superintendent of the Northside school district in San Antonio — the state’s fourth-largest district — placed much of the blame for current problems with state lawmakers. It started with the “structural deficit” they created in 2006 when they lowered property taxes and replaced the lost revenue with a new business tax that never produced enough money, he said.
Folks, named Texas superintendent of the year in 2011 by the Texas Association of School Boards, said the Legislature miscalculated by billions of dollars how much revenue the new business tax would raise. Lawmakers were let off the hook when they were able to use federal stimulus money to make up the shortfall in 2009, but the huge financial hole came back in 2011, according to Folks.
Mr. Folks gets most of that right. What he gets wrong is who let lawmakers off the hook. The people of Texas did. There’s has been little – and what there was has been wiped out by the tea party wave of 2012 – electoral punishment for those who voted for the structural deficit that has decimated public education. It should also be noted that The Lege knew when they passed the GOP tax swap scheme of 2006 that it would come up short.
The plan has always been to defund public education (and the safety net), and they’re are not going to allow it to be refunded as long as they hold power. Anyone who thinks they will is just fooling themselves.
A new study finds that state tax and regulatory policies recommended by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) fail to promote stronger job creation or income growth, and actually predict a worse performance.
Since ALEC first published its annual Rich States, Poor States study with its Economic Outlook Ranking in 2007, states that were rated better have actually done worse economically.
“We tested ALEC’s claims against actual economic results,” said Dr. Peter Fisher, primary author of the study. “We conclude that eliminating progressive taxes, suppressing wages, and cutting public services are actually a recipe for economic inequality, declining incomes, and undermining public infrastructure and education that really matter for long-term economic growth.”
Texas has been able to paper over quite a bit of this because of the oil boom. Which is the history of Texas’ economic success. When oil isn’t booming either has Texas, most times. While Texas Gov. Rick Perry is running around squawking about what be believes he’s done to help the economy, the truth is much different. What he’s done has just made the rich in Texas richer and kept the rest of us struggling.
Of course what’s not, and hasn’t been discussed for a while in all of this, is what’s best for the people of Texas. This is still the best way forward, The Best Choice For A Prosperous Texas. But nothing close to that will be on the agenda in January. There’s is little if anything good that will come out of the upcoming session for average working Texans. And little will until we change who governs our state.
The former vice president for health care policy at an Austin-based, conservative think tank has become Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek’s “special adviser,” concentrating on two urgent and thorny social services issues.
Mary Katherine Stout, who also served as budget and policy director to Gov. Rick Perry in recent years, is working for Janek on ideas for overhauling the state-federal Medicaid health insurance program for the poor, elderly and disabled, Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Commission, said Thursday.
From Stout’s work history of the announcement about her joining Gov. Rick Perry’s staff in 2008.
Prior to joining the Foundation in February 2005, Stout worked for then-Chair Diane Rath at the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), where Stout served as policy analyst and handled issues among the two-dozen TWC programs including TANF and child care.
Stout previously worked for the Texas Conservative Coalition and the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute (TCCRI), working closely with the TCCRI task forces on fiscal policy, health and human services, and school finance reform.
Additionally, Stout worked as a policy analyst at the Texas Legislative Council and in the office of former Louisiana Governor Mike Foster.
Stout received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Texas A&M University.
In other words she bounced back-and-forth between the government bureaucracy and the corporate bureaucracy of right-wing think tanks her whole career. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, per se. Her expertise is in gutting government as a ideological political hack. This Andrea Grimes post points out, referenced in the above DMN article, Stout’s boss Kyle Janek is trying to use his best political spin, in a misguided attempt to discredit the how many uninsured adults there are in Texas.
Because Kyle Janek doesn’t believe—despite credible, widely accepted evidence to the contrary—that one of Texas’ most pressing health problems, its high number of uninsured adults, is real.He doesn’t believe that more than a quarter of Texans are uninsured, as estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau. He told a Texas Tribune reporter in early October that he believed that number to be “inflated,” and then reiterated his point in an extended interview with Tribune editor Evan Smith on October 31st. (Through his press representatives, he refused an interview with RH Reality Check.) Here’s his most recent take via the Tribune:
“It’s not that I don’t believe those numbers. I don’t believe the reasoning for those numbers.”
Janek’s problem: he said the Census Bureau only takes a “snapshot” by asking people if they’re uninsured, and doesn’t ask them if they had insurance in the past or if they think they have a job lined up with insurance in the future. Janek must not be aware that for nearly 25 years, the Census Bureau’s “snapshot” has shown practically the same thing: since 1987, Texas repeatedly has one of the highest, or the very highest, number of uninsured adults in the country. That rate has not been below 1987′s 23 percent; it peaked at 26.8 percent in 2009 and is currently estimated at 26.2 percent.
That’s a remarkably consistent snapshot of something that Janek seems to believe changes for millions of people by the day. Janek says he isn’t sure why Texas “is different” when it comes to health care, but he told the Tribune it could be because the weather here is nice.
“Do we have so many people that are temporarily uninsured? Or is it the general climate of better weather and glorious place to live? Folks come here, and that attracts more folks with health care needs or disabilities?” he wondered during the interview. Surely our high uninsured numbers couldn’t be due to the fact that Texas jobs generally don’t provide health insurance, that Medicaid in the state is limited, that insurance rates are unregulated or that Texas has a large immigrant population, as the Washington Postreported last year. No, it’s probably just the purty weather.
I called Dr. John Holcomb, a pulmonologist who chairs the Texas Medical Association’s committee on Medicaid, to find out what he makes of Janek’s stance. (Spoiler alert: the TMA’s official position is that “Texas is the uninsured capital of the United States.”) Holcomb told me that Janek’s comments are “a perfect example of how Dr. Janek is not ready for prime time.”
Holcomb told me that while Janek is a “very good speaker” and “very articulate,” when it comes to uninsured rates in Texas, “everyone knows exactly what those numbers are.” They aren’t inflated. They’re real. They’re accepted by public health professionals all over the state, including Dr. Janet Realini, the president of unplanned pregnancy prevention group Healthy Futures of Texas. Realini has been a vocal supporter of maintaining the Medicaid Women’s Health Program and a critic of the state’s and the HHSC’s cuts and changes to money-saving family planning programs.
And Grimes goes on to say this about Stout’s new position.
Her name is Mary Katherine Stout, and for $150,000 per year, the former Perry staffer, Wal-Mart defender and far-right Texas Public Policy Foundation economics “expert” will act as a “special advisor,” “involved in a number of policy and planning issues,” according to HHSC spokesperson Stephanie Goodman. Goodman toldRH Reality Check that Stout will be “looking at ways [Texas HHSC] can work with medical schools to support their efforts to make sure Texas has enough health professionals.”
In the past, Stout has particularly focused her efforts on criticizing Medicaid and especially CHIP, the popular children’s Medicaid program, which she has said is rife with luxury car-driving freeloaders and should be closed to people who are verily rolling in cash and furs, like “those making as much as $40,000 annually for a family of four.” Stout’s coldness is unusual even for Texas right-wingers, and her cruel preoccupation with making sure as few Texas children as possible receive needed aid borders on the bizarre. To that end, this was her 2007 proposal for fighting “The Left” in the National Review:
Perhaps we should fight their strategy with our own campaign to tell stories of success, of people working hard and making good decisions for their family, of people who made something out of nothing, or who turned something into more. Yes, send me your stories of success, of personal responsibility, and of government’s depredations on a family trying to make ends meet.
These are the words of a “special advisor” on Texas public health care policy, who’ll be whispering in the ear of a man who believes the state has “inflated” uninsured numbers because hey, poor people can always go walk in and get some open heart surgery at a public hospital or amorphous medical school of dubious funding origin.
No one should fool themselves that the current leaders of our government in Texas, the far right of the Texas GOP, is going to use government to help the people of Texas. They want to privatize government and make sure their campaign donors can profit from taxpayers. That’s what their version of the “free market” ideology has become. This is just more of the same. People like this who think government is the problem, will never come up with government solutions to help people. And if we keep electing them nothing is going to change.
Harvey Kronberg seems to think that Texas is setting up for another legislative session in 2013, that’s likely to be at least as bad for the people of Texas, as was the one in 2011. It’s hard to argue with the case he makes.
That President Barack Obama is likely to win a second term;
Coupled with a Romney loss will force the GOP to completely remove all moderates from their party;
Which makes Perry the likely favorite of what’s left of the GOP for the nomination in 2016;
therefore Perry and GOP minions in the Lege will highjack another legislative session for Perry’s “presidential” aspirations.
Nothing unites conservatives more strongly than a passionate animosity toward the President. If Mr. Obama has the decisive win last week’s polling suggests is now possible, the hard right will be energized as never before.
Despite his last bobbled Republican primary effort, Governor Perry is already in the mix for 2016 and will have plenty of time to rebuild his now-broken national brand. That means he will play for the bleachers in this next legislative session.
But as the [legislative committee] hearings reminded us, Texas still faces myriad issues. Holding yet another legislative session hostage to presidential ambitions is not a predicate for serious solutions to serious problems.
But there is still have 7 weeks left to try and blunt these kind of actions in the next legislative session. One way is to elect as many Democrats, like Matt Stillwell , to the legislature as possible. Just what we don’t need is another legislative session where Perry and his GOP minions are trying to make Texas out to be the right wing template for the United States.
Incompetent of evil? That’s the question blogger Atrios often asks about those in charge of our financial sector. The same could be asked at the state level. At issue is whether or not Texas Comptroller Susan Combs is really bad at her job, or she’s bad on purpose. Via this post from a conservative blogger, Longing for Bullock.
So the rumors swirling around Austin is that revenue projections are up. Meaning next session will not be as painful as the last session. As matter of fact some are saying that the state will have quite a surplus – it is projected today to be more than $7 billion. As I understand it, that means it could be $12 billion more than Comptroller Susan Combs projected when law makers return to Austin in January of 2013. That is without the rainy day fund – I hear that fund could have so much money in it that it will be capped next year – where the money goes after it is capped is anyone’s guess but that is for another post.
My point is this; the Texas Comptroller’s only real responsibility is to project what legislators can spend each biennium. In this, case Susan Combs tells the legislature how much they can spend for the next two years. She has hundreds, maybe thousands of employees that help her do that. And she missed it by $12 billion? That is not a little miss – THAT IS A MAJOR F*CKUP MISS!
That covers the incompetent argument but what about the evil you ask?
Well I am no expert and don’t pretend to be but if the legislators knew that they were going to have an additional $12 billion to spend do you think they would have had to have cut education everyone is bitching about? Would they have had to cut local trauma care, Medicaid, DPS, Etc.
And why was she so conservative on her budget projection? Because she missed the one before last by $15 billion! So she was not going to let that happen again so she screwed your local schools and teachers.
The robust tax collections in 2012 have already blown the official estimates out of the water, and 2013 should add to that surplus, said Dale Craymer, an economist and president of the business-backed Texas Taxpayers and Research Association.
In early 2011, Combs notified legislators that they quickly had to close a $4.3 billion deficit in the budget. They filled most of that hole with money from the state’s rainy day fund, then set about reducing spending by $14 billion in the 2012-13 budget.
But Combs reported in December that the state actually started the 2012-13 budget with an unanticipated $1.6 billion in the bank due largely to the oil and gas boom, and she added to that balance with the $3.7 billion announced Wednesday.
Craymer said he expects a message of continued growth coming from Combs in January.
“It would not surprise me if lawmakers were told: ‘We now have a record surplus,’?” Craymer said.
The current high-water mark is the $8.8 billion surplus reported at the end of 2007, he said.
The surplus sums should be plenty to cover the $4.7 billion Medicaid tab that lawmakers left unpaid as well as other supplemental obligations, including the cost of responding to last year’s wildfires. Legislators had been eyeing $8 billion in the rainy day fund to pay for those costs.
What to do with the rest of a potential surplus will probably be a source of intense debate when the Legislature convenes in January.
If that’s the case next year, at least a $5 billion surplus and $11 bilion in the Rainy Day Fund, that should change the budget conversation in 2013. Instead of talking about more cuts, the talk should turn to reversing the austerity of the previous session. Especially as it relates to education and health care.
Much of the budgetary problems Texas has faced in recent years is the result of GOP tax swap scheme of 2006, which has resulted in an annual $5 billion structural deficit. Their budgetary policies of diversions, swaps, and austerity is hurting Texas and can’t continue.
It doesn’t matter how much money we have in this state, in surplus or Rainy Day Fund, it’s unlikely that our current crop of elected officials are going to be in any kind of hurry to reverse what they did last session. As stated before, “”They haven’t been fighting for decades to destroy public education, finally do what they’ve been intending, just to turn around and reverse course two years later”. I know my answer to the question.
After a gaff-filled week in Tampa, Florida, Republicans appear to be experiencing a middling bounce. Unforced errors are certainly at the center of any forensic study of the RNC failure; however, to blame it all on style is to overlook the bitter substance of the Republican agenda.
Running on a platform of austerity, tax cuts for millionaires, Groupon for Grandma voucher-based Medicare, and further culture warfare that targets women’s equality and liberty, the Republicans are hemmed into politically unpopular positions. No wonder their Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees delivered policy-free acceptance speeches.
In place of substance, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney used fact-free filler. Although Romney’s acceptance speech, according to New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow, “avoided the flat-out falseness of Ryan’s,” one in ten of the Romney campaign’s statements evaluated by fact-checking site PolitiFact have been branded “Pants on Fire” lies. In comparison, only one in fifty of the Obama campaign’s statements earned that distinction.
The reaction from the right to having their lies exposed? Blame the fact-checkers! The crime that the Weekly Standard hopes will taint all the fact-checking analysis? A New York Times goof, misplacing interior quote marks. The original White House release did not indicate exactly which of the President’s words were directly quoting a Republican source, and the Times mistakenly included ten extra words in the interior quote. Scandalous! That’s evidence of “incompetent partisans masquerading as ‘independent’ media fact checking organizations.”
En route from the Charlotte Douglas Airport to the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, North Carolina, today, I rode with a busload of arriving delegates to the Democratic National Convention. North Carolina voted for Obama in 2008, and is currently leaning toward Romney. Along the route was one of those weakly-identified political billboards screaming, “Don’t believe the liberal media.”
In 2012, the election hinges on the Republicans being able to prevaricate on a level previously unknown in modern American politics, while imploring their flock to ignore any facts that deviate from their dystopian world view as a plot by liberal media elites. With all their cash, Fox News and the rest of the RWNM, there is a chance they could pull it off.
The stakes for the Democrats this week are high. Will we effectively make the case that Pres. Barack Obama has performed admirably under incredibly adverse conditions, and deserves four more years to try to right the disastrous state that Republicans and Wall Street leveraged buy-out con artists have left us in? Will we be able to effectively articulate what it means to be a Democrat in memorable sound-bite form? Will we be able to rekindle the hope that flickered to life four years ago, only to be extinguished by grinding reality.
We cannot move forward to the promised land as long as the few who have it all are willing to settle for “a lot”, and leave the rest of us a little bit larger slice of the pie. The 2012 campaign pits hope against greed. This is our week to make the case to the American public.
I am deeply honored to have a front-row seat this week. I’ll be reporting on what I experience here. Please allow yourself to hope we succeed.