12.31.12

Fairness and equality missing from Texas economy

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Inequality, The Economy at 11:36 am by wcnews

This article on what’s wrong with the Texas economy, Texas economy leaves many behind, makes clear that many are struggling.

State leaders like to brag about Texas’ fast growing economy and low unemployment, but rarely do they mention the high poverty rate and so far they don’t appear inclined to pass any new laws to deal with it.

The unemployment rate and the creation of new jobs are the statistics most often cited by Gov. Rick Perry to brag on Texas, and unemployment is among the lowest in the country at 6.2 percent. That’s well below the national average of 7.7 percent.

Perry also uses the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Emerging Technology Funds to encourage employers to relocate to Texas and create new jobs in the state, adding hundreds of jobs every year. Employment, though, is not the only measure of economic prosperity. There is the question of quality of life.

The number of Texans living in poverty rose for a third consecutive year in 2011, adding more than 214,000 people to total 4.6 million. That’s 18.5 percent of the population, 3 percent higher than the nation as a whole, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. [Emphasis added]

It also does a great job of pointing out the difference between Republicans and Democrats in Texas, when it comes to fixing the problem.

The two biggest predictors of poverty are poor education and chronic health problems. Only about 80 percent of Texans have a high school diploma, the second lowest in the country, and Texas has the highest number of uninsured citizens.

Politicians of all stripes decry the high poverty rate in a Texas, but what differs is how to deal with it. Republicans hold every statewide elected office, control both houses of the Legislature and Perry’s appointees direct every state agency.

Perry’s oft-repeated formula for economic growth is low taxes, few regulations and limited lawsuits. Going into the legislative session that begins Jan. 8, he has promised to limit state spending to less than population growth plus inflation.

To help the poor and unemployed, he has proposed requiring drug testing as a condition for some people to receive welfare benefits, to make sure they are employable.

“Being on drugs makes it much harder to begin the journey to independence, which only assures individuals remain stuck in the terrible cycle of drug abuse, desperation and poverty,” Perry said last month.

“Extending taxpayer-funded benefits while ignoring a behavior that could make it virtually impossible for someone to enter the workforce or finish school, sends them down the road to a much bleaker future.”

Democrats are pushing for state government to provide services they believe will help people move out of poverty, including restoring $5.4 billion cut from the public school budget and nearly $1 billion cut from higher education.

Democrats also want the state to expand Medicaid to provide 1.5 million Texans with health insurance at a minimal cost to the state through 2020. Most Democrats fiercely oppose the drug testing proposal.

“To automatically assume that a single mother, a recently unemployed veteran, or a teacher who lost his or her job because of Governor Perry’s budget cuts is a drug user is shameful,” state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, said. “When a family is in crisis, we have a moral obligation to provide assistance as soon as possible.” [Emphasis added]

The GOP is for more of the same and demonizing the poor and less fortunate, the Democrats are for finding reality-based solutions that help everyone get ahead.

On an somewhat unrelated note Dos Centavos has a great read on the road ahead for Latinos, 2012 – Latinos Bank Some Political Capital.

For all intents and purposes, it would seem that 2012 was a bit more than just OK for a lib-lab like myself. It provided more hope–at least more ganas to fight–for public policies beneficial to Latinos. And because the policies would benefit Latinos, they would benefit most everyone else–even the 1%. Of course, I speak in a national sense, since Texas Latinos have more of a fight against the Tea Party’s scorched earth agenda in the Texas Legislature.

[...]

Let’s face it, when Republicans are in power, the only policies having anything to do with Latinos have been negative–Voter ID, cuts in public education, sanctuary cities laws, etc. Democrats, although defending on most aspects of the progressive agenda Latinos seem to support, failed on comprehensive immigration reform, which I’ve argued encompasses all other issues in one way or another, and was the basis of most of the negativity coming from Republicans.

But in 2012, it seems to me that we have a political savings account in which we’ve saved up our well-earned political pennies to expend on a positive political agenda. And it’s time we do. Not only the voters, but any progressive Latino elected official, too. The Latino electeds should not just wait to be told that it’s their turn, and neither should the Latino electorate wait. Whatever the outcome, it is the fight that matters and empowers us for the future.

Now, it may seem to any right-wing Republican or to any white liberal who thinks he/she is doing Latinos a favor, that I’m being too Latino-centric. Well, I started this blog because no one was mentioning Latinos in the progressive conversation, unless it was to chastise our voter turnout on the day after election day. So, let’s toss the hurt feelings aside and begin an inclusive progressive movement. Don’t try to do Latinos any favors with pats on the head, but do some listening, instead.

In 2012, Latinos sent a message and have become part of the conversation–even though most of the TV talking heads on Sunday morning aren’t Latinos, but that’s a whole other battle. But it is up to the Latino electorate (and not just those individual Latinos on end-of-year “Top 10? lists) to continue pushing beyond Election Day to ensure our elected officials create public policy that is beneficial to all.

Let’s get to work.

TPA Blog Round Up (December 31, 2012)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 11:10 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year as it brings you this week’s roundup.

The filing deadline has passed for the special election in SD06, and Off the Kuff discusses the eight candidates that have filed to run in that race.

Texas’ budget decisions have always been made with what is best for corporations, big business, and the wealthy at the top of the list. WCNews at Eye on Williamson says It’s time we had a budget in Texas that puts the people of Texas first.

BossKitty at TruthHugger is relieved that this years is over: Good Riddance 2012.

The race to replace the late Sen. Mario Gallegos in the Texas Senate will have eight contestants. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs prognosticates.

Neil at Texas Liberal wrote about the silly Merry Christmas bill proposed by Texas State Rep. Dwayne Bohac. If Christmas and Jesus need a boost even here in Texas, then is it really Dwayne Bohac who will be coming to the rescue?

12.30.12

Improving Texas economy does not mean cuts from 2011 will be restored

Posted in 83rd Legislature, Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Education, Public Schools, The Budget, The Economy at 3:51 pm by wcnews

No matter how much money the state of Texas brings in our current state leaders, and the Texas GOP have no intention of ever restoring funding for public education. Texas’ GOP budget writers are in no hurry to restore billions cut from schools.

Republican leaders heading into the new legislative session say they are in no hurry to undo billions of dollars in cuts to public schools made two years ago.

Despite pressure from teacher groups and others, top lawmakers cited holes they must patch in the current budget, a general caution about higher spending and a desire to see how courts rule in the latest suit over how the state funds education.

Many school districts, pointing to an improved Texas economy, are seeking relief. But key budget-writers say the initial two-year plan they’ll unveil soon won’t replace the $5.4 billion the last Legislature sliced from state maintenance and operation aid and discretionary grants.

That means no substantial help to handle bigger classes and no restored grants for half-day prekindergarten and remedial instruction, decisions that are expected to rekindle tensions with school advocates calling for more money.

“The introduced bill won’t have that,” though it may include an additional $1 billion or so to cover student enrollment growth, said Rep. Jim Pitts, the Waxahachie Republican who heads the budget-writing Appropriations Committee.

Pitts said he expects Comptroller Susan Combs’ two-year revenue estimate, which limits what lawmakers can spend, “to be pretty conservative, and so we’re being very conservative.”

Sen. Tommy Williams, who recently became chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he’s skeptical of claims by teacher organizations that the cuts have “devastated” schools.

[...]

Some Republicans’ patience with superintendents and district officials may be wearing thin.

“I don’t like it, I’m not crazy about the school districts’ suing the state,” Williams said. “They’d be a lot better served if they’d come down here and try to work this out.”

Linda Bridges, president of the Texas AFT teachers’ union, said the education lobby decided not to sue before the 2011 session and was hammered with budget cuts.

She said some classrooms today have as many as 40 children, and grants have been eliminated for programs to improve student success, even as lawmakers demand reductions in dropout rates and higher test scores.

The Legislature, whether run by Democrats or Republicans, rarely has boosted spending in great numbers without a court edict threatening the unthinkable, such as closure of the state’s more than 9,000 public schools, Bridges said.

“It doesn’t seem they know how to respond to issues like this without being forced to by a court,” she said.

[...]

Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, said GOP leaders probably are posturing, comparing it to the initial House proposal two years ago for $9 billion in school cuts.

“The story became the restoration of some of the cuts instead of focusing on how can we cut $5.4 billion from education in a school system that we’re holding to higher and higher standards,” said Strama, a member of the Public Education Committee.

“That was actually a smart political strategy to sell a dumb public policy.”

Strama said Republican leaders may ease up some when a final budget starts taking shape.

Don’t count on it, though, said Rep. Charles Perry, a Lubbock Republican who, with tea party support, upset an ally to Speaker Joe Straus two years ago — and then beat him again in a primary rematch this year.

“It’s not going to happen,” he said. “We’re not going to do any restoration.”

Strama is right about the ploy from last session – propose deep cuts at first, and then lessen those cuts in the end to make them look better.  But the GOP has no intention of ever putting that money back.  It will take another party in power to put that money back.

The Texas GOP haven’t spent decades gaining control of our state government, starting to implement their agenda, just to start rolling it back once the economy improves.  The only thing that will restore public education in Texas will be changing who we elect in Texas.

12.29.12

A fool and his money….

Posted in Around The State, Money In Politics at 3:35 pm by wcnews

This has all the markings of a politician who’s been in office too long, Dewhurst blames aide for missing money.

Buddy Barfield, an Austin Republican political consultant under scrutiny after up to $1.3 million disappeared from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s campaign account over the past five years, has had financial troubles since at least 2006, according to Travis County court records.

Officials with the Travis County district attorney’s office said Friday that they had begun an investigation after Dewhurst associates came to them Dec. 20 to report concerns about Barfield’s handling of the campaign’s money.

The Dewhurst campaign Dec. 21 filed 11 corrected campaign finance reports with the Texas Ethics Commission dating back to 2008, claiming that neither Dewhurst nor campaign treasurer Howard Wolf, an Austin lawyer and longtime business associate of Dewhurst’s, knew until recently of discrepancies in the reports. The corrected reports lay all the problems at the feet of Barfield.

The campaign manager for Dewhurst’s 2010 re-election campaign, according to a terse paragraph inserted into each corrected report, said Barfield had engaged in “misrepresentation of campaign balances … for his personal benefit.”

The corrected reports change only the contribution balance figures — essentially cash on hand at the end of each particular reporting period — rather than amounts of the actual political donations and campaign expenditures. Relying on actual bank account balances at various times, the new figures are $600,000 to $1.3 million lower than what the original documents reported was on hand, said Ed Shack, an election lawyer who advised the Dewhurst campaign.

[...]

Campaign officials, speaking on background because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said an accountant discovered problems in the campaign books on Dec. 4 and told Wolf, who quickly passed on the information to Dewhurst. The next day, Dewhurst, his lawyers and the accountant confronted Barfield, the campaign officials say. The campaign was facing a legal deadline, so officials filed the amended paperwork and took their complaints to the district attorney shortly before Christmas.

[...]

Buck Wood, an election law expert and a Democrat, said that regardless of what Barfield might or might not have done with the numbers, Wolf bears some responsibility because he signed and affirmed the accuracy of all campaign finance reports in the five years under review.

“Everyone should understand that if you’re going to be treasurer, you’ve got to be treasurer,” Wood said. “There’s none of this figurehead stuff. … They can’t say, ‘I didn’t check’ or ‘I didn’t know.’”

Wolf referred all questions to Johnson. Dewhurst’s government office directed questions to the campaign.

The Dewhurst campaign committee collected about $16.9 million in contributions between the beginning of 2008 and June 30 this year, the corrected reports say. During that period, the committee spent just under $18 million, the reports say, or about $1.1 million more than it collected.

However, the campaign also secured as much as $2.5 million in loans, complicating the math from 2008 on.

At least, so far, this seems like a case of one dishonest insider. But as the DMN article points out big money campaigns can often allow “trusted” advisers to handle large amounts of money with little or not oversight.

In the Dewhurst case, Barfield apparently had access to the committee’s bank accounts with little oversight from others. That’s not a wise practice, experts said.

“It’s inadvisable, as the Dewhurst debacle has demonstrated,” said Cal Jillson, political science professor at Southern Methodist University.

“Campaigns are high-pressure events,” Jillson said. “Everyone has a full plate, everyone is going a mile a minute, so you can imagine how something like that can happen.”

The difference here though is that this started in 2008 and is just now coming to light. Here’s Kuff’s take on this.

Up to a million dollars may be at issue here. I’ll keep an eye on this, as I’m sure it will be a rather unwelcome distraction for Dewhurst during the session and his upcoming primary race. To be honest, I’m a little surprised there haven’t been more such allegations. Given the huge amounts of money spent in this past election, the secrecy involved with a lot of big-dollar PACs, and the wildly varying rates that can be charged for things like TV ad buys, it’s not hard to imagine grifters of various stripe seeing lots of opportunity in this kind of work. I have a feeling Dewhurst will have some company, inside and outside Texas, any time now.

Dewhurst may be the first of more to come.

12.28.12

It’s time we had a budget in Texas that puts the people of Texas first

Posted in 83rd Legislature, Around The State, The Budget at 3:11 pm by wcnews

Before talking about the upcoming budget for the next biennium, which starts in August 2013, let’s look at the mistakes of the Texas Comptroller Susan Combs from two years ago.

Faced with a shortfall fed by a recession and past budget decisions, lawmakers last year carved some $14 billion from the budget, allocating $173.5 billion in state and federal funds combined for the current two-year budget period.

Comptroller Susan Combs set the spending parameters with her revenue forecast, but state tax money is coming in at much higher rate than she projected.

Some lawmakers and budget experts expect to have as much as $8 billion to $9 billion more in general revenue in this fiscal period, which ends Aug. 31. Some are guessing lower. Combs will give her new revenue estimate on the eve of the legislative session.

The unanticipated tax revenue is on top of some $8.1 billion projected to be in the rainy day fund at the end of this fiscal cycle, plus any revenue growth in the next two-year cycle.

What’s 8 or 9 billion dollars between friends. Well it’s the difference between fully funding Medicaid, $4.7 billion, and almost all of the $5.4 billion that was cut from public education. It’s likely Combs will play with that number a little bit too so her last estimate doesn’t look so bad.  (For more on this read Incompetent or evil?)   There are plenty of other things Texas needs to fund that have been neglected for far too long.

“We didn’t have to cut education,” said Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio. “We ended up having nearly twice the amount of money needed to cover the cuts … It’s heartbreaking.”

He would like to see “strategic investments” to restore money to areas including pre-kindergarten and college grants.

Lawmakers also are facing a push to address water and transportation problems.

Which Kuff reinforces in this post, When is a surplus not a surplus? Speaking of the likely already spent surplus he adds:

That’s all on top of the need to do something about the state’s long-term water usage, and the fact that we currently have no way to pay for any new transportation projects, not to mention the fact that our tax system is antiquated and inadequate and in need of serious overhaul lest we run into these same problems every two years forever. Even if we figure all this out, we’re still going to wind up spending less than we would have to in order to provide the same level of services before the 2011 budget cuts. So yeah, let’s not talk about having a “surplus”. If we’re very lucky, we’ll have enough to do a not-completely-inadequate job of meeting the most pressing needs, while hoping like hell that the economy continues to improve and that the idiotic politics of Rick Perry don’t sabotage everything.

And that article on the tax system says this about Texas’ long-term issues:

Threatening state prosperity, though, are daunting facts. By 2040, an estimated 30 percent of the Texas workforce could lack a high school degree, up from just under 19 percent today, according to the Texas State Data Center. In 2010, Texas ranked sixth among states in its share of people living in poverty — 18.4 percent.

“Minorities now comprise two-thirds of enrollment in Texas public schools, but in Dallas and Houston they represent 92 percent and 95 percent of enrollment, respectively,” the report says. While lawmakers will try to seek alternatives and control costs, “the bottom line is that good schools cost money, and a large percentage of that money should come from the state.”The report said Medicaid is a source of state budget uncertainty, given talks under way in Washington over federal deficit reduction and state GOP leaders’ reluctance to expand the program to include parents and working-age adults, as envisioned by President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. Even if Texas rejects the adult Medicaid expansion, lawmakers probably will have to find about $3 billion in new state funds over the next four years to pay for growth of enrollment of already-eligible children and provider rate increases called for by the federal law, the report says.

Infrastructure needs also could exert strong pressure on the state’s finances.

Just to maintain highways in their condition as of 2010, the state needs to “come up with between $6 [billion] and $14 billion in new revenue each biennium to meet these needs,” according to a blue-ribbon panel appointed by the Texas Transportation Commission. To provide needed water supplies and flood control over the next 50 years, the state may need to kick in $1.6 billion a year for the next decade, to help with “front-load” costs of more than $230 billion of projects, Hamilton’s report says, citing the state water plan.

Meeting all the needs will require an end to state budget writers’ use of accounting gimmicks and a hard look at a tax overhaul, the report says.

“Over time, the state sales tax base has eroded due to the increasing economic importance of largely untaxed services as well as online sales,” it concludes. Hamilton urged lawmakers to “avoid the political temptation to add new or expanded incentives to the tax code” and place no further restrictions on local governments’ ability to raise revenue if their voters approve.

“What we need is more focus on the long-range effects of tax and spending decisions and a plan for how to address what the state finds when it looks beyond the next two years,” Hamilton said. [Emphasis added]

That’s right, Texas is not bringing in enough revenue to pay for the future needs of the state. And there’s a fair way to do just that. In recent years Texas’ budget decisions have always been made with what is best for corporations, big business, and the wealthy at the top of the list. In hopes that if their gluttonous needs were taken care of, eventually some of their excess would trickle-down to the rest of us. Well, that hasn’t happened.  It’s time we had a budget in Texas that puts the people of Texas first.

12.27.12

Vouchers are the wrong choice

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Education, Public Schools, Vouchers at 4:19 pm by wcnews

Pimentel at the Express-News on what vouchers will do to Texas public education, Choice program is a suicide pact for schools. Suffice it to say that the jury is still out on vouchers, as far as whether they’re a solution or will just cause more problems. No matter how they’re structured they are likely to take money from public education. And, as noted below, an accountability mechanism will need to be setup.

But the main thing he points to is this:

The Texas Constitution. Here’s what Article 7, Section I says, after a brief preamble about the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people: “It shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”

It’s hard to make the case that public funds to private schools constitute an “efficient system of public free schools,” particularly since it’s an open question whether these private scholarships for low-income children will cover full tuition at these private schools.

Of course, some schools may simply write off the balance but others may not. If they don’t, how is this “free?” And if there is a balance to pay, how is this a program for low-income children?

And as he points out any “pilot program” is just a wedge for further expansion of vouchers in the future. The point is, putting government money into a private system, is unlikely to make our system of public free schools more efficient.  And it’s not clear the votes in the Texas House will be there, Clash over vouchers comes down to vastly different views on Texas schools.

Democrats in the House and Senate will likely line up against all private school voucher and tuition tax credit bills, but they are in the minority in both chambers.

Rural GOP lawmakers also have also been cool to vouchers in the past.

In 2007, the House voted overwhelmingly to ban use of state funds for private schools — an action that halted all discussion of vouchers in Texas until now.

While Perry and Dewhurst, leader of the Senate, have signaled their support for expanded school choice, House Speaker Joe Straus is taking a more cautious approach, citing previous battles in the House over vouchers.

“If there is not a broad consensus on the issue, then I don’t see a House voucher bill coming” up for a vote, said Straus, R-San Antonio.

“That’s not to say there isn’t a possibility that we can work on an expanded school choice program of some sort. But I want to avoid a scene on the floor over a voucher bill that is not broadly supported.”

One reason vouchers are being pushed so hard, more than likely, is that people already sending their children to private school would like some of their tax money to go to their children’s tuition. What’s lost in all of this is that “vouchers” or “choice” still does not solve any of the problems with public school finance. And the issues with how the public is being educated has more to do with poverty, then anything else.

Most private schools don’t want public school cast offs – like special needs or poor kids filling their schools. They would, more than likely, just take from the cream of the crop from public education.  And public education is the only entity that has the means to deal with the masses.  What this will likely lead to is a class based education system.

Which leads us back to what public education should be. Public education takes a commitment from the public – parents, teachers, grand parents and those without children in school. It’s something we choose to do today as a society, educate all children, so everyone we all have a better future.  Vouchers are the wrong choice.

Further Reading:
The Coalition for Public Schools.

12.24.12

TPA Blog Round Up (December 24, 2012)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 9:52 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff discusses where the redistricting and voter ID lawsuits stand with the Supreme Court.

BossKitty at TruthHugger enjoyed a fiery sunrise on Apocalypse Morning. But, the Sunday morning talk shows laid the cat’s ears back in anger, I have a few NRA Whack-A-Mole Questions.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson says that Perry and the wing nuts latest privatization scheme to be exposed is just the latest instance of The scam that’s always been there for everyone to see.

The legal and moral justification for homophobia, as expressed by Father and Son Scalia, is relayed by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants you to know that the odious Aaron Peña is an official sellout and Rick Perry is no longer universally loved by the Tea Party.

With Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina set to become the fifth Black post-reconstruction U.S. Senator, Neil at Texas Liberal posted photos and links about Mr. Scott and the four who came before him.

12.20.12

The deal breaker in the debate about public money to private schools

Posted in 83rd Legislature, Around The State, Education, Vouchers at 3:13 pm by wcnews

From the just released House Research Organization’s report Topics for the 83rd Legislature, page 10 section on School choice and vouchers.

The 83rd Legislature may consider introducing school vouchers, including using public money to pay private school tuition for some Texas school children. Such a program could be targeted to low-income or special-needs students or those who attend low-performing schools. A related issue for debate could be providing tax credits for businesses that contribute scholarships for certain students to attend qualifying private schools. Proposals may impose state testing and accountability requirements on private schools receiving public money. [Emphasis added]

Yes, that’s right, the taxpayers of Texas are going to want accountability, to know what their money is being on and if their money is being spent well. Do private schools really want the state of Texas becoming involved in their business?  For all the bluster the right wing has about getting government out of everything, it seems so unlike them to be putting forth a proposal that will allow the government to stick it’s nose in private education.

Private schools have always had autonomy from the government accountability that public schools have always had.  But blurring the line between public and private education will end all of that.  That surely looks like a deal breaker.

The scam that’s always been there for everyone to see

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Cronyism, Had Enough Yet?, Money In Politics, Privatization at 11:54 am by wcnews

The Texas GOP, since taking control of all the levers of government in Texas, has been doing everything they can to move taxpayer money into the hands of their campaign contributors, in the form of privatization schemes – aka Public Private Partnerships or P3’s.  Instead of government being a pay as you go, non profit system, it’s turned into a system of privatized profits and socialized losses.

They’ve tried it and somewhat succeeded with toll roads, although the biggest boondoggle, the Trans Texas Corridor, mostly failed. They tried privatizing state services which imploded, see Accenture and IBM. They haven’t yet been able to get their hooks completely into public education, but a new attempt is coming in January.  And more then likely Kyle Janek will be putting forward some kind of scheme soon.

The reason this is important is because another one for Gov. Rick Perry’s great “achievements” has become nothing more than an give-away to his wealthy corporate contributors.  This article from James Moore at Progress Texas PAC points out the latest atrocity, Cancer and Crony Capitalism in Texas.

It is a growing scandal that could forever change Texas politics. As national political players look toward turning red Texas blue, something that would put the electoral college out of Republicans’ reach for years, many see the scandal as the beginning of the end of GOP dominance in Texas.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry and his cronies in and out of public office have diverted funds intended for cutting-edge cancer research into the campaign pockets of Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. You read that right. Proceeds from millions in taxpayer-backed bonds awarded by the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) have fallen victim to corruption and cronyism. Cronies get the state money; the cronies give some of the money back to Perry and others.

The agency might better be named the Crony Capitalist Research Institute as searches for cancer prevention, treatment and cure are sacrificed to the feeble political ambitions of a few petty politicians and greedy plutocrats. It is hard to imagine a greater moral failing. Unless, of course, you remember that Perry and his cronies are the very same people fighting against the expansion of Medicaid and the creation of health care exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. People are going to get sick and die because of the actions of Perry and others. That is not hyperbole or political spin.

CPRIT is the nation’s second largest source of cancer research money, behind only the federal government. Texas voters approved the agency’s bonding authority in November 2007 (a few days later, wannabe recipients of the largesse were lavishng money on Perry and Dewhurst). The agency could spend $3 billion over ten years.

[...]

Amid calls for state and federal criminal investigations (I filed one of the state complaints under the auspices of Progress Texas PAC), agency officials are scrambling. Now it has been revealed that key emails among those officials have disappeared. That is a sign that evidence is being destroyed and that a coverup is underway.

The players involved include such stalwart Perry-ites as James Leininger and Jimmy Mansour. They have also been central players in the right wing’s nationwide effort to privatize public education. Even though he once held stock in a company that received CPRIT funding, Mansour remains chairman of the agency’s Oversight Committee. Other Oversight Committee members include Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and State Comptroller Susan Combs. Perry, Dewhurst and the Texas House Speaker appoint the others.

[...]

This scandal opens a window into the crony capitalists’ privatization mania. What will happen to public education when the greedy and morally unmoored get their hands on taxpayer money through school privatization? Or through Medicare vouchers? Or Social Security private accounts?

If these people will sacrifice victims of cancer to further their own wealth and power, it is doubtful they’ll resist the temptation to destroy education or raid our earned savings and health care insurance. If crimes have been committed, maybe the perps will get to spend some time in a private prison. That might end privatization mania forever.

If Texas taxpayers could only get so lucky.  He points to these three articles for anyone that needs to get up to speed – herehere and here.

Recently reelected Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis is on the case, Senator Davis Calls On Perry To Fast Track Reform Of Cancer Agency.

This is just the way our dysfunctional government malfunctions with our current leadership at the helm.  Rick Perry as the longest serving Texas governor in Texas history, by far, has more control over Texas than any governor ever.  In modern history he is the only governor to serve at least two consecutive four year terms.  There are Perry loyalists in every nook can cranny of Texas government.  He, essentially, owns them all.

All of this proves that the Texas GOP’s plan since taking over the levers of power in Texas is to shift taxpayer money to their corporate sponsors through privatization schemes.  It the scam that’s always been there for everyone to see.

Further Reading:
Perry-fatigue.
That’s a lot of money.
Not just vouchers, corporate-sponsored vouchers.

12.18.12

No cuts to Social Security!

Posted in Around The Nation, Social Security, The Economy at 6:00 am by wcnews

Cutting Social Security is not what Democrats do, I don’t care what kind of a so-called “bargin” is in the deal!!

It’s time to push back on President Obama and any Democrat who is thinking about voting for this clunker.

Mike Lux had this to say, This Deal Would Stink.

It is outrageous that Republicans are demanding cuts in Social Security to do this deal, but if the President who ran his entire campaign on fighting for the middle class agrees to it, it would be wrong. It would be bad policy, forcing middle class folks for generations in the future to pay for the tax cuts and wars and bad economic decisions of the Bush years. And it would be politically stupid, beyond the pale stupid- dividing the president from his base and from working class swing voters dependent on Social Security. And this is in a situation where he had all the leverage coming off a strong election victory and taxes scheduled to go up automatically at the end of the year.

Say it ain’t so, Mr. President. And if it is, those of you Democrats who, unlike this President, have to actually run again, I’d strongly recommend a no vote, or you will have lots of seniors and progressives making things tough back home. A deal that hurts seniors, hurts the middle class, and doesn’t even get what you want on taxes is a terrible deal.

This would such a disappointment.

Cory Robin adds his thoughts, “So that’s the deal: We raise taxes. And what do we get in return? Lower benefits. Genius!”

As Atrios says it’s time for The Social Security Shit List.

I recommend this video for anyone who is wondering what really needs to be done.

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