09.28.09

Hutchison dissembling on health care

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Commentary, Health Care, Insurance Reform, Right Wing Lies at 10:41 am by wcnews

US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) puts forth a false argument in her current Op-Ed in the AAS.  She  starts by stating a common GOP falsehood, that the reform currently being worked on in Congress is a government takeover of health care.

There’s a key line at the end of the first paragraph where she argues that the public option – which would actually give Americans choice in health care that they don’t currenlty have – will actually “crowd out the choices Americans expect”.  While that is what Americans expect, it isn’t what they currently have if they have insurance.  Choice is what the public option will bring. Here are the first few paragraphs on the Op-Ed, and really all that’s worth reading.

Americans love having options. From the food we eat to the cars we drive, we relish making our own choices based on our preferences and what is best for ourselves and our families. Health care should not be an exception. Yet the proposals put forward by the Obama administration and the Democratic congressional leadership would create a massive government plan for health care and crowd out the choices Americans expect.

A federal government takeover of our nation’s health care will limit, if not eliminate, an individual’s options in insurance and delivery. That does not mean “no” is the answer to reform, either. Texas leads the nation in the number of uninsured, which raises the premiums and property taxes for those who are covered. And many families who want insurance do not have access to affordable choices. Now is the time for other approaches. And states can play an important role.

Fortunately, there are promising market-driven, consumer-directed solutions to health reform that beg a closer look. One such innovation is the health exchange.

Under the current system, most employees are presented limited options regarding their coverage — and their choice is to take it or leave it. However, the health exchange places all the decision-making power into the hands of the consumer. A state-level health exchange would allow consumers to compare plans at a single shopping point. Just as many travel Web sites are a commercial compendium for multiple airlines, a health exchange is an online marketplace for health insurance coverage options. Plan information is presented in a standard format, and consumers can complete an electronic application and enroll online. A hallmark of a health exchange is that it utilizes minimum government input and maximizes private competition and consumer choice.

What Hutchison can’t stomach, or admit, is that the “market” will not bring accountability to health insurance.  It hasn’t to this point and there’s no reason to think that the insurance corporations can police themselves.  (See the definition of insanity).  The only thing that can, potentially, save the private health insurance corporations is a public option to bring accountability to the system and keep them honest. Without a public option, there will soon be no other choice, than a single-payer/Medicare for all system. And no amount of dissembling by Hutchison can change that.

Homebuilder sentenced to 4 years probation

Posted in Williamson County at 9:18 am by wcnews

Via the Wilcosun.com, Williamson County homebuilder sentenced.

Williamson County homebuilder Pete Stucky on Tuesday pleaded guilty to 18 counts of leading homebuyers into signing false affidavits on U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development settlement statements.

District Judge Burt Carnes convicted Mr. Stucky, 53, and sentenced him to four years probation after Mr. Stucky paid more than $174,000 in victim restitution.

The court also ordered Mr. Stucky to pay a $1,000 fine for each count. If Mr. Stucky violates the terms of his probation, the judge can order that Mr. Stucky serve a two-year state jail term.

The judge may hold a hearing to see if additional restitution is owed, District Attorney John Bradley said.

You can read EOW’s previous reporting on Sutcky here and here.

Texas Blog Round Up (September 28, 2009)

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:34 am by wcnews

As early voting for the November elections looms on the horizon, the Texas Progressive Alliance says good-bye to September and hello to another weekly blog roundup.

BREAKING NEWS: Natural Gas Development Brings “amazing and very high” Levels of Carcinogens and Neurotoxins to Barnett Shale area! Take a deep breath before you read this study because the findings will take your breath away! TXsharon at Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS broke this story and the study evaluation by MacAuthur (Genius) Award winner, Wilma Subra.

This week Left of College Station, Teddy reports on why the anti-choice movement is not about abortion but about the oppression of women. Also, guest blogger Litia writes about asking non-tradition questions about Texas A&M traditions; Litia writes a weekly guest blog for College Station about a liberal teaching in Aggieland. Left of College Station also coves the week in headlines.

Neil at Texas Liberal writes that Socialist candidate for Mayor of Houston Amanda Ulman should run a serious campaign or not run at all. There once was a solid base of socialist voters in Texas and the U.S. Who says that cannot someday happen again?

McBlogger takes aim at people who think that adjusting to climate change is just something that will unfairly hurt the poor.

Off the Kuff contemplates the possible entry of Farouk Shami into the Governor’s race.

The old Easter Lemming has a useful post on voting for the Constitutional Amendments in his area.

The Texas Cloverleaf looks at the 22 year high TX unemployment rate. What recession? We’re in one?

Agriculture commissioner Todd Staples opened his mouth and out fell a big wad of stupid. Stupid so ignorant that it topped anything Rick Perry or John Cornyn or even Glenn Beck could manage this week. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has it — if you can stand it.

WhosPlayin followed up on an open records request for internal emails related to Lewisville ISD’s decision to ban President Obama’s speech to children. The emails, including a racially charged email from a board member to the superintendant, do not paint a pretty picture..

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on money, energy, and the economy in the Texas governor’s race, Perry’s cap and trade photo op.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes Rick Perry does his best George Bush cowboy imitation with Ranger Recon.

Over at TexasKaos, boadicea, Warrior Queen, is seeking a pulse, any pulse over at the Tom Schieffer campaign, as she opines that Tom Schieffer Needs Something Original to Offer. It seems that lifting policy ideas from Hank Gilbert is the best he can do right now. Read the rest at TexasKaos.

09.25.09

West Williamson County Democrats Meeting Tomorrow, September 26, 2009

Posted in Democratic Events, Good Stuff, Take Action, Williamson County at 4:41 pm by wcnews

Come join us!

Time: 2:00 until 4:00 p.m.

Where: Moody’s Restaurant
309 N Hwy 183, Leander, TX 78641.

This is the same location where we met in August. During this meeting we will brainstorm about future projects our group wants to undertake, get updated on Democratic events taking place throughout the county, share news about the latest local Republican doings.  We’ll have a great opportunity to order a beverage or snack to enjoy while we socialize with like-minded citizens!

The choice is now clear on health insurance reform

Posted in Around The Nation, Commentary, Health Care, Insurance Reform at 12:09 pm by wcnews

Adding to yesterday’s post on health care there are signs that in on the house side in Congress the Democrats from more conservative district, the so-called “Blue Dogs”, are starting to come around on the public option, Blue Dog Opposition To Public Option Fades In Whip Count, and the progressives are holding strong, CPC Still Firm on Public Option.

It’s likely the fact that, despite the Summer of irrational fear, health care is still very much needed and popular in Blue Dog districts. The other part is that passing health care, with a public option, is tied to keeping President Obama popular, and is also tied to getting the Blue Dog’s reelected. Here’s the link to the poll, Supporting Healthcare Reform Continues to be in the Interest of Swing District Dems [.pdf], (tip to Plum Line, Group Commissions Poll To Prove To Blue Dogs Public Option Is Popular Among Their Constituents).
Here are the key findings:

  • Despite media-driven turmoil during the August recess, voters in competitive districts have not become more skeptical of reform and maintain the same fundamental desire for reform that existed prior to the recess.
  • Voters want reform and want it this year, making opposition risky.
  • When voters in swing districts learn what the plan includes, they support it.
  • Swing district Democrats run the risk of opposing policies that strong majorities of their voters support.
  • The public option shouldn’t be considered in isolation. Including a public option is essential to implementing an individual mandate. Voters also already prefer the implementation of a public option, and do not see a need for a trigger.
  • Voters also strongly reject an arbitrary cap on the plan’s cost.
  • Swing District Dems will rise and fall with Obama.
  • Swing district Dems should focus on specifics of the plan and highlight how the insurance industry is isolated in opposition.

And end with these two paragraphs:

Healthcare reform is now reaching a critical phase. Legislation is on the table and lawmakers are confronted with tough decision about the scope, details, and funding mechanisms for healthcare reform. The dynamic did not fundamentally shift over the August recess, and voters in swing districts continue to want significant reform and want it this year. Components of reform such as requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions and providing tax breaks for small businesses that insure their employees are broadly popular and serve as concrete examples of how voters stand to gain from reform. However, even the elements of reform with less consensus such as employer mandates, the public option, and increased taxes on those making $350,000 a year receive majority support in swing districts.

The contrast between those on the side of reform and those who favor the status quo should be alarming for reform opponents. While doctors, nurses, hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, and major businesses of all sizes support healthcare reform, the opposition is confined to insurance companies – a group with anemic trust and support numbers with voters. Given the lack of voter information on this issue, trusted validators like nurses and doctors continue to be incredibly important in this debate, as their support for reform will go a long way in convincing voters that this plan would benefit them. Learning that the opposition is confined to the insurance companies will only reinforce support for reform, as voters believe that insurance companies are much more focused on profits than on what is best for the public. Swing district Democrats have much more to lose by appearing to cast their lot with the insurance companies than by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with trusted healthcare providers and a diverse coalition supporting reform. [Emphasis added].

The choice for the Blue Dogs is simple, vote for health insurance reform your constituents favor and need, or be seen as a toll of the insurance corporations.  The bottom line is that there’s is no health insurance reform without a public option, and without health insurance reform the Blue Dogs will lose. But there’s even better news for the Blue Dogs, a strong public option is the more fiscally responsible way to reform health insurance. There’s no excuse now.

09.24.09

Yes, Sen. Cornyn, he’s talking about you

Posted in Around The Nation, Bad Government Republicans, Commentary, Had Enough Yet?, Insurance Reform, US Senate Race at 9:43 pm by dembones

Our elected members of Congress are once again making us look bad in Washington D.C. From ThinkProgress, via TPMDC, we learn that Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) called Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) out during a markup session in the Finance Committee.

ROCKEFELLER: This is a very very important amendment, and it’s a very very bad amendment. If there’s anything which is clear, it’s that the insurance industry is not running this markup, but it is running certain people in this markup. [...]

CORNYN: With all due respect, senator, I don’t know what amendment you’re referring to —

ROCKEFELLER: I’m referring to yours.

CORNYN: — you’re certainly not referring to my amendment

ROCKEFELLER: I am.

You’ve got to see it to believe it:

Surely there’s someone in this state who will go to Washington and represent us, instead of the corporations and lobbyists. Oh yeah, there is.

The strategy for Democrats is simple

Posted in Around The Nation, Commentary, Election 2010, Health Care, Insurance Reform at 1:26 pm by wcnews

Voters in the United States gave control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency to Democrats in 2008 because they wanted what Democrats were offering – a return to a government that works for it’s people.  And health insurance reform was a big part of that.  It’s simple really, all Democrats have to do is pass what they’ve been campaigning on for decades.  As Gene Lyons points out, even after a Summer full for “wing-nut” GOP lies the public still supports it,

09.23.09

Get to know Hank

Posted in 2010 Primary, Democratic Events, Good Stuff at 1:34 pm by wcnews

If you don’t know much about Hank Gilbert already, EOW highly recommends this three part interview form Southern Shift News, An Interview w/ Hank Gilbert As He Enters Texas Gubernatorial Race.

People are buzzing about rancher/ educator Hank Gilbert tossing his hat into the Texas gubernatorial race on the Democratic side.  Our own Ann Dellano of The Southern Shift caught up with him and had a fairly in-depth interview where Gilbert talked about everything ranging from his passionate dislike of Governor Rick Perry, his vehement opposition to the Trans Texas Corridor,  Race relations in Texas,  his plans for education, prison and advice for young Texans.

Enjoy!

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

Perry’s cap and trade photo op – UPDATED

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Commentary, Energy, Right Wing Lies at 12:32 pm by wcnews

Texas Gov. Rick Perry railed on the Cap & Trade legislation, aka the Waxman-Markey bill that is making it’s way through Congress, at the Federal Climate Change Legislation Summit. The AAS’s Jason Embry points us to this NYT article in which Perry’s “Chicken Little-esque” comments were rebuffed by the state’s Deputy Comptroller.

Mr. Perry’s gloomy forecast leaned heavily on statistics from the Texas comptroller’s office, which anticipates that the Waxman-Markey bill would cost the state 137,000 jobs by 2020.

Yet according to Deputy Comptroller Martin Huber (sic), who also spoke at the meeting, these figures do not include potential employment gains from the increased production of green energy. These could be substantial, as Texas currently leads the nation in wind power generation.

In other words, he left out the “good news” from the good news/bad news scenario.  But when looking at the recent TPJ report on the cash that’s been dumped into the GOP side of the GOP Primary for governor thus far, (Senator v. Governor:  GOP Pumps $29 Million Into First Round of Slugfest [.pdf]), it’s easy to see why Perry left out the good news, (from page 7 of the report).

The top three industries funding Governor Perry also were the leading bankrollers of Senator Hutchison’s state campaign. The industry groups with the biggest investments in these campaigns were: 1. Energy & Natural Resources; 2. Finance and 3. Miscellaneous Business (the top-contributor lists for Perry and Hutchison identify the big guns from these industries). See the last section for an industry analysis of Hutchison’s federal funds. [Emphasis added].

That’s right the energy sector is number one on the list. So it’s no surprise that Perry’s going to bat for the industry, and wants to offer “incentives” – give them money in the form of tax breaks – to tempt them to stop polluting the environment so much.  From Embry’s First Read in the AAS there’s some good commentary that didn’t get much play at summit, which “was heavy on panelists from the energy industry”.

Tom “Smitty” Smith of Public Citizen said Perry was failing to consider “the enormous consequences of global warming on Texans and their pocketbooks,” citing rising electric costs related to higher temperatures.

“Study after study has indicated we could change the climate dramatically and reduce the raging temperatures through energy efficiency, renewables and sensible changes to the way our cars are powered that don’t cost as much as the continued increase of global warming will cost,” Smith said. “What Governor Perry is ignoring is the fact that it’s not just increasing temperatures, but it’s the effect of those temperatures on our crop yields, on the amount of water that we have in our lakes, and the enormous cost that will occur as we relocate our industries away from the coast as a result of seal-level rise.”

The Tuesday event was heavy on panelists from the energy industry, although Smith was part of the day’s final panel. Jim Marston of the Environmental Defense Fund told the Statesman’s Asher Price that the event was more photo-op than fact-finding summit.

“The reason why it clearly isn’t serious is they don’t talk to the best scientists in the state, and they have an economic analysis done by someone who only looks at the cost and not the benefit of bill,” Marston said. “They don’t look at science, and they don’t do real economics. They bring in ideological folks. They bring in the Heritage Foundation. It’s a bunch of folks who are going to say the governor is right, vote for him.”

Marston said there was little advance warning about the event. “This is all politics,” he said. “Other governors have actually had summits where they try to actually get the facts.”

That puts the summit in context. Yes, while there are arguments to be made on both sides and a compromise to behad, that would take each side giving a little. But, like we can see with health care, that’s not how the GOP operates.  When their campaign contributors say no change in current policy, the GOP just says no.  And don’t try and bring facts and science into the discussion, they hate facts and science.

[UPDATE]: As if on cue, Pickens endorses Perry.  Even though they disagree on Cap & Trade.

Perry and Pickens differ on a key energy issue, federal climate legislation that would impose a system to reduce greenhouse gases. Perry says the measure, known as cap and trade, would kill jobs in Texas and amount to a new energy tax; Pickens supports such legislation, saying it would serve his goals for wind and solar power and more transmission lines.

[UPDATE]: After Perry’s comments  earlier in the week this news about those tax incentives can’t be welcome, Texas drops out of top ten for best business tax climate.

States like Texas and Florida, which use tax incentives to lure economic development, are damaging their own business climates in the long run, the nonpartisan Tax Foundation declared in a report released Tuesday.

The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank that rates the tax structures of all 50 states, argued that targeted incentives act as a band-aid solution to compensate for an otherwise poor business tax climate. Citing examples from Texas and Florida, which have increasingly used tax incentives in recent years, the authors of the report argue that such incentives narrow the tax base as they attract a few businesses, forcing these states to raise taxes or cut spending in the future.

Well that’s interesting coming from a right of center, business centric, think tank like the Tax Foundation. The report can be found here.

09.22.09

Hank made it official yesterday

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The State, Democratic Events, Election 2010, Good Stuff at 5:17 pm by wcnews

Hank Gilbert officially entered the Democratic Primary for Governor of Texas yesterday. He was stressing education when, via KERA in Dallas, Hank Gilbert Running for Governor.

Hank Gilbert says he will place a high priority on early childhood education as a way to keep kids from dropping out later on. He wants full-day pre-kindergarten programs and increased awareness of vocational education.

Gilbert: We are going to develop a very comprehensive vocation and technical track for high school students who don’t want to go to college.

Gilbert was a top Democratic vote-getter in 2006 when he ran unsuccessfully for state agriculture commissioner. His campaign then focused on his opposition to Governor Perry’s Trans-Texas Corridor.

On his campaign website this time Gilbert promises to reorganize the state insurance commission. He calls Perry’s appointed commissioner, Mike Geeslin, a “pro-insurance lapdog.”

Gilbert: They all have direct ties back to the same companies they are supposed to be overseeing. I think that was purposeful. Because of that we have the highest health insurance and the highest homeowners’ insurance (rates) in the country with the least amount of coverage.

Gilbert says he understands the difficulties faced by Texans without insurance. He and his family pay their health care bills out of pocket because pre-existing family conditions make their insurance too expensive.

More vocational education, taking on the Perry’s insurance lackeys and health care, all music to the ears. Here’s what Kuff and the DMN had to say.

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