Here’s the reason this, President Barack Obama’s permission structure, is so disheartening for so many Democrats and those on the left. He appears to be bending over backward and willing to sacrifice longstanding Democratic principals to cut a deal, instead of fighting for those longstanding Democratic principals. But, and it’s taken me a long time to get to this place, that’s really what Obama believes is best for our country. He’s willing to sacrifice Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, and on and on…for a deal with the GOP.
And what has happened is that too many of us haven’t tried hard enough to force him in a different direction. There’s been an incredible amount of writing on how Obama has not done what the left or Democrats wanted or thought he would do as President. But one that I remember (not sure from where) was that Obama was sort of a blank canvas and that many Democrats projected their views onto Obama. Too many of us, myself included, just assumed he would do what we thought a Democratic president (FDR, LBJ) would, given the opportunity he had. Well, he didn’t.
Because of his great oration during the 2008 campaign it was thought that he could rally the people to his side. But Obama has never talked to the people enough and tried to rally their support. If he has it was when he was in a bind, he never really tried from the start. Whether it would have worked, may be up for discussion, but it should have been tried. But it was likely the only way he could have beat back the GOP obstructionsim, to take it on from the start of his Presidency.
To embrace what Rick Perlstein calls the Rules of Liberal Political Success. It could have been so easy. Bush left the economy in ruins and our foreign policy in a shambles. Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize on credit, and he’s done little to live up to that since then, (see drones and Gitmo). The people were ready, they just weren’t engaged.
While Obama was right to urge graduates over the weekend to greater citizenship his definition was striking for it’s lack of passion. (Maybe why Stevenson never won the Presidency?)
I think about how we might perpetuate this notion of citizenship in a way that another politician from my home state of Illinois, Adlai Stevenson, once described patriotism not as “short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.” That’s what patriotism is. That’s what citizenship is. (Applause.)
And the quotes President Woodrow Wilson on change.
But participation, your civic duty, is more than just voting. You don’t have to run for office yourself — but I hope many of you do, at all levels, because our democracy needs you. And I promise you, it will give you a tough skin. I know a little bit about this. (Laughter.) President Wilson once said, “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”
While Obama made enemies on health care, and continuing the bank bailouts that Bush started, it could have turned out different. Obama’s overriding principal is compromise, that’s how he starts his negotiations with the GOP, by laying out a compromise. His healthcare plan was, and he started by alienating much of his base by taking single-payer off the table from the start. And to fully investigate and reform Wall Street, was a huge missed opportunity. Which are just a couple of things that infuriate many Democrats and the left.
But the president also needs to ask himself why even his supporters are growing impatient. His whole budget strategy, after all, is directed almost entirely toward gently coaxing Republicans his way, without any concern as to whether what he is doing is demobilizing the very people he needs on his side now.
When, in pursuit of tax reform, he explicitly offered a compromise to change the index that determines Social Security benefits as part of his budget, he did so against the advice of many of his most loyal backers in Congress. That includes Democrats who would be willing to vote for that cut to Social Security benefits as part of a serious budget deal. But they insist that such a major step toward the Republicans should be taken only in return for concrete concessions from them on the need for more revenue.
If Obama wants to underscore that his problem is Republican obstruction, he should tell those GOP senators he likes to dine with that they need to come up with revenue very soon or else he’ll withdraw that “chained CPI” offer he claims not to like much anyway. Put up or shut up is a cliche, but a useful one.
Similarly, it’s worth asking why so many of Obama’s initiatives have dropped out of public view. Obama has called for raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour. Many Democrats in Congress think, correctly, that it should be set at $10. Would it be so hard for Obama to come out fighting for the minimum-wage increase — and for other steps to bolster the incomes of those stuck at the bottom of the economy? Why not expose that none of this is happening because of GOP opposition?
Obama wants to provide universal pre-K education. That ought to be a bipartisan idea. Many Republican governors have embraced the concept in their states. Shouldn’t the president be pushing harder to get it on the media’s radar by way of forcing a debate in Congress?
The president believes we need to spend more on our infrastructure to boost job creation now and to make us competitive for the long run. He’s right. But he needs to make clear it is something that’s genuinely important to him.
It’s true that Obama spoke about both his investment agenda and preschool plans at last week’s much-maligned news conference. And the White House announced on Sunday that he would embark on a series of “middle class jobs and opportunity tours.” These should be shaped by a consistent, driving theme: that the stakes in this debate are larger than the day-to-day drone of partisan invective suggests.
Remember the Mark Twain line that Wagner’s music was better than it sounded? Obama’s program has more to do with growth and opportunity than he usually lets on. If he wants to rally us, he might want to change that.
While movements are what have really changed things throughout history, the hope was that a movement tied to a dynamic leader were going to bring transformational change. While I’ve done much to critique Obama in this post there’s also critiquing of us, the citizenship, in here too. We’ve been far too passive, standing by, and letting our government do little if anything in these past 5 years.
It’s also not to be taken as Obama-bashing. It’s about the realization of who Obama is (a compromiser first) and is not (the next great liberal Democratic president). Along with the realization that the Democratic Party decided to embrace oligarchy 30 years ago, And Tip was no bargain, either. And the only thing that can change that is a movement of the people
Cartoon outrages carried over into a second week in Texas, with the NRA blowing into town for the weekend. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs is so old that he remembers when protesting a gun nut convention was all about Tom DeLay.
To bring some conservative holdouts on board, the rest of the money in a hybrid plan could come from general revenue dollars. That would mean less money for universities, public education and nursing homes, among other things, that rely, in part, on general revenue money. Using that money could assuage enough freshmen conservatives, who oppose using rainy day fund money — or just about any other increase in spending. Still, any proposal using general revenue dollars could be a nonstarter for Democrats, depending on how unified they remain. [Emphasis added]
There it is folks, that’s the GOP’s goal in Texas. Why, when we have plenty of money in our state to pay for all of these things, would our elected leaders be hoarding money, and unwilling to pay for them? Because they believe that those things above are unworthy of support. It’s why they’re leaving $100 billion in Medicaid money on the table. They have health care and can’t understand the suffering of those who don’t.
These people believe that’s just the way life is. The only way to get decent medical care and fully protect yourself from financial calamity is to get rich. Really rich. It’s the catch-all answer for everything that ails you. Anyone who doesn’t has only herself to blame.
Eight state agencies were invited to testify at the House Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee hearing, chaired by state Rep. Joseph Pickett, D-El Paso. As the investigation into the cause of the fire and subsequent explosion is still ongoing, many of the lawmakers questions dealt with fertilizer plant regulation in the state generally, and not whether or not the West disaster could have been avoided.
“The intent of this hearing is to try to shed light on where these facilities are located,” Pickett said at the outset. “This will be a learning process for the community at large. Ultimately, this is probably going to be a national issue.”
What became clear at today’s hearing is that among the several state agencies with oversight of fertilizer plants like West, there is no single agency tasked with safety inspections and coordinating with local governments on emergency response. [Emphasis added]
Spending state money on inspections and regulatory oversight would not have prevented the explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. plant, he added.
More from State Impact:
But since ammonium nitrate isn’t considered an “extremely hazardous” chemical by state and federal agencies, plants only have to report to authorities if they have more than 10,000 pounds of it on hand. The state could have stricter reporting requirements if it chose to, according to David Lakey, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). The maximum amount the West Fertilizer plant reported to the state was 270 tons.
And the burden for communities to know where these chemicals are stored, and how to respond to emergencies at facilities that store them, falls on local officials. There are over 14,000 facilities in Texas that self-report having “extremely hazardous substances” on site, according to Lakey of DSHS. Representatives from that agency testified that chlorine and battery acid are the most common hazardous substances near communities, but that they only oversee reporting, not safety.
“How do they [the public] know if there’s a facility like this in their area?” asked state Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton.
“There’s no overarching plan to educate people of what’s in their areas,” replied Steve McCraw, Director of the Department of Public Safety (DPS). Facilities like West are required to share their reports on safety and hazardous chemicals with local officials and emergency planning committees, but that may not always be the case, and those local committees may not always put plans in place to respond to incidents at plants like the one in West.
But following the first legislative inquiry into the catastrophic explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. plant last month, state leaders said they don’t foresee dramatic changes to the way Texas regulates similar chemical facilities.
“I think we’re prepared,” said state Rep. Joe Pickett, chairman of the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, which summoned leaders of the involved Texas agencies. “I don’t see any major changes. I think the state of Texas is in good shape.”
State Rep. Joe Pickett, chairman of the committee, began the two-hour hearing with a moment of silence for the West victims. He emphasized several times that the purpose of the meeting wasn’t to point fingers but instead learn how the state stays on tops of similar facilities that store dangerous materials.
That did not stop others from criticizing the regulations, or lack thereof, in place.
“You have a basic Texas attitude of resisting federal government,” said Jim Moore with Progress Texas, a political action committee.
Testimony revealed that Local Emergency Planning Committees shoulder a large portion of the safety checks that occur at similar plants across the state.
There are 270 LEPCs across the state and they are made up of members appointed by county judges.
However, the effectiveness of the committees, including the one responsible for West, are being questioned.
“It is absurd to think a local fire chief in little town like West will have the knowledge necessary to know if that a plant is operating safely,” said Moore.
Pickett said he was happy with what he heard from the testimony and believes Texas is ready and prepared, but did say he expects more emphasis and attention to be placed on LEPCs because of the West Explosion.
“You are going to see a lot of renewed interest from local communities asking ‘are we ready?’”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has said that spending more state money on inspections would not have prevented the blast. State environmental regulators had last visited the fertilizer plant in 2006.
The truth is we will never know, for sure, if spending more state money on inspections would have prevented the blast. But if I, or any of my family members, lived near one of these facilities, or my kids school was close to one, I’d damn sure want to know it. I’d also want to know that it was being inspected on a regular basis from now on. Wouldn’t you?
The best we can hope for out of a tragedy like this is that we learn from it. We must do our best to insure that something like this never happens again. And it doesn’t make sense for anyone to think that we can’t leverage our state and federal government resources to help us do that.
Twenty-four predatory lenders are paying 82 lobbyists up to $4.4 million to kill a bill to impose consumer protections on payday and auto-title loans. A tenth of the industry’s lobbyists are former Texas lawmakers. Georgia-based auto-title lender Rod Aycox is the biggest lobby spender in Texas, which let lenders repossess the vehicles of 35,000 Texans last year.
If they’re spending that much to kill the legislation, it should make everyone wonder exactly how much money are they making preying on Texans?
Of the 16 states that fail to regulate predatory lenders, Texas is by far the fattest bonanza. The predatory lenders who have given $4 million to Texas politicians in recent years are spending up to $4.4 million on lobbyists this session to keep the staggering profits flowing. The cowing,legislative deference that this money commands has sparked unusually blunt statements about lawmakers selling themselves to special interests.
Apologizing in early April for the modesty of the reforms he initially proposed, powerful Senator John Carona confessed that Texas legislators work for the special interests that pay their bills. “This is the only version that will pass this session,” Carona said. “I am convinced the industry has given as far as it intends to go.”
This month Texas House members will decide whom they most represent. Is it the more than 35,000 Texans who had their vehicles repoed bypredatory lenders last year? Or is it the two dozen, mostly out-of-state predatory PACs and executives who gave current House members more than $1.3 million?
At a recent House committee hearing, a health care analyst for the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation argued against a plan to extend Medicaid benefits to low-income adults, even though the federal government has promised to pay most of the cost.
Already, a declining number of doctors are willing to see Medicaid patients, reasoned the foundation’s John Davidson. He said it would be “reckless and irresponsible” to add more patients to a program that is, essentially, broken.
Under questioning by lawmakers, Davidson acknowledged that doctors opt out of Medicaid because it pays so little. Who determines how much doctors are paid?, Davidson was asked.
“The Legislature of the state of the Texas,” he replied.
Rep. Garnet Coleman jumped at the opportunity: “If you claim it is broken, do you think we broke it?” the Houston Democrat asked. If doctors are being driven out of Medicaid by poor pay, he argued, “the only responsibility for that is us.”
The exchange reduced the legislative session’s most incendiary debate to its core. To Gov. Rick Perry and other conservatives, the state should reject Medicaid expansion, even though the federal government has offered to pay $100 billion over the next decade for a $15 billion match, because the program is “broken.”
So, who broke it, and how?
Coleman’s observation provides part of the answer: Just last session, the Legislature trimmed $486 million in state money paid to Medicaid providers, and ended a student loan-forgiveness program for new doctors exclusively serving Medicaid patients.
The point about the reimbursement rates being set by the Legislature has been made before, but can’t be made often enough. If you don’t maintain your car, you have no business complaining when it craps out on you. Given the flexibility that the federal government has already shown Florida and Arkansas, there’s no question that co-pays will be allowed – Rep. Coleman has been talking about that, and some other items on Texas’ wish list, all along. The rest is up to us. And please note, if we really cared about controlling costs we’d be all over the Medicaid option. There’s no reason at all to believe that the private insurance way – the Arkansas option – will be less expensive. At the end of the day, if we don’t expand access to health care, via Medicaid or some convoluted not-Medicaid process, it will be because the Republicans chose not to, not because it didn’t make sense not to do so.
Kuff also points us to this Paul Burka article, Health Scare, on the politics of Medicaid expansion in Texas.
During the press conference, Perry remarked, “Only three out of every ten doctors are accepting new Medicaid patients.” That statement would subsequently be judged “mostly false” by the nonpartisan website PolitiFact, but whose fault is it in the first place that doctors won’t take Medicaid patients? The previous Legislature slashed provider rates, which is the amount of money doctors are reimbursed by the state for their services, and Perry signed the budget that slashed them. So I asked the governor if the real reason that doctors don’t want to take Medicaid patients is that the state has made the program unattractive to physicians. “Do you believe Medicaid is broken?” Perry shot back, answering my question with a question. Yes, I said. But provider rates are one reason it’s broken, and the governor knows it.
Yet another serious issue lurks in the weeds: the refusal to expand Medicaid could cost Texas employers as much as $448 million in fines because the Affordable Care Act penalizes some companies when workers can’t obtain affordable coverage, according to a recent report by Jackson Hewitt Tax Service. Is Perry really going to stiff those employers? Not likely. But if Texas rejects Medicaid, the state will have to come up with a plan that will satisfy employers.
And because Medicaid’s expansion was conceived in part as a new source of revenue for hospitals, Obamacare ratchets back the disproportionate share payments—ignore the jargon, please—that the federal government currently makes to providers who treat the uninsured. Texas, for instance, received almost $1 billion in disproportionate share payments in 2011. Under Obamacare, providers in Texas will receive far, far less. What’s the chance that the state will step up to cover that gap?
The benefits to Texas, especially the state’s medical community, of accepting the expansion are huge. Several economists, including the Waco-based Perryman Group, have done reports on the subject in an effort to persuade Perry that expansion is good for business, particularly for hospitals, which could receive more than $60 billion in additional funding. Again, this has fallen on deaf ears. The state has a long history of relying on emergency rooms for treating Medicaid patients, but emergency room care is the most expensive care there is. Most Medicaid patients can’t afford to pay for their care, and so the hospital must recoup its costs from urban counties with hospital districts that can levy and collect taxes. The economics of our health care system amounts to a tax hike on property owners, but this bit of information is also carefully hidden from the voters.
Meanwhile, the state continues to have the highest rate of people without health insurance in the country. All of this could be changed in a single stroke of the pen if Perry were to accept expansion of Medicaid. At the moment, he has painted himself into a corner, but the pressure from chambers of commerce and the medical community is building. Noticeably absent from the press conference was Speaker of the House Joe Straus, who also doesn’t support expansion but has said that the state needs to find a way to move forward and address the problem. “We need to move beyond the word ‘no,’?” he told a reporter earlier in the session. Perry is talking tough, as he always does, but there is too much at stake for him not to find a face-saving exit.
The politics of Medicaid expansion raises a timeless issue: What is the proper role of government? As conservative groups like the Texas Public Policy Foundation see it, Medicaid should be left to the states. The refrain that is often heard here is “We want a Texas solution to our problems.” Translation: we want the federal government to give us the money for a block grant for health care and then butt out. The TPPF’s version of a state health care program leaves almost all the decision-making to the state and virtually nothing to the federal government. That is a scary prospect considering the Legislature’s lack of commitment to health care over the years, which has included kicking children off the Children’s Health Insurance Program in 2003 and making access to Medicaid more difficult. But when it comes to Medicaid, the federal government is unlikely to grant Texas’s wish to be in charge of its own destiny, a reality that Perry will find hard to accept.
Scary indeed. Just look at any of the privatization schemes that have been implemented under Perry – Accenture and CPRIT for instance – and they have not turned out well. Letting Perry and the wing nuts in The Lege mess with Medicaid would break it for sure. Which is probably what they want, they’re good a breaking government. They’ve got their hands on public education right now and it’s not looking good.
The part about the Medicaid expansion debate that frustrates me, is the same thing that frustrated me about the “fixing” health care debate at the national level. The solution that most other nations use, a single-payer system, is not part of the discussion. Which forces any solution to be some bastardized government/market Frankenstein that works for nobody, and only causes more frustration.
But a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that when you compare the proper groups, Medicaid actually does a better job delivering access and affordable coverage than either private coverage or Medicare.
As Aaron Carrol summed up at the Incidental Economist, the study focused on the underinsured — that is, people on insurance plans that just aren’t very good — rather than those who have no insurance. More importantly, it only looked at people at our below 125 percent of the poverty line. That’s important because the problem with the studies showing Medicaid delivering inferior results to private coverage is that it’s difficult for their comparisons to avoid the apples-to-oranges problem. Medicaid is meant for poorer Americans — you have to be below a certain income threshold to qualify for it — but private coverage is available to the poor and well-off alike. It’s a matter of basic economic logic that the private plans only the well-off can afford will will provide much better access and quality care then the plans the poor can afford as well. Products poor people can afford tend to be poor products.
That’s why safety net programs like Medicaid, which provide people more assistance than they could afford in pure free market world, are so important. And why, when the proper apples-to-apples comparison is made between poor people on private insurance and poor people on Medicaid, the latter’s performance improves remarkably:
For the purposes of this study, underinsurance was defined as (1) having out-of-pocket expenses that were more than 5% of household income, (2) delaying or failing to get needed medical care because of cost, or (3) delaying or failing to get needed medications because of cost. This study specifically looked at adults who had full-year continuous coverage in some form, but had an income less than 125% of the poverty line. They specifically wanted to know how many of those people were still underinsured.
They found that more than a third of these adults were underinsured. What’s more is what kind of insurance left people underinsured. More than 65% of those people on Medicare were underinsured. More than 37% of people with private insurance were underinsured. But only 26% of people on Medicaid were underinsured. People who were underinsured were more likely to be White, in poor health, and unemployed. Even after adjusting for these factors, those on Medicaid were significantly less likely to be underinsured than those on private insurance (odds ratio 0.22).
The gap between Medicaid and Medicare, meanwhile, is most likely due to Medicare’s higher co-pays and other forms of cost-sharing. While this generally won’t be a problem for seniors in the middle class and up, it can be difficult for poor seniors to meet their share of the costs.
Other studies have come to similar conclusions as the one above. The Government Accountability Office found that people on Medicaid didn’t report any more difficulties obtaining medical care or prescription medicines than people on private insurance. Medicaid does have a problem when it comes to providing adequate dental care, and the GAO found more complaints from Medicaid recipients on that score. Children on Medicaid also tended to fair better than adults on Medicaid. And among the Medicaid recipients who did report difficulties, more of them cited long wait times, delayed appointments, and difficulty contacting providers than people on private coverage.
So Medicaid does have its challenges. Its reimbursement rates for doctors are significantly lower than Medicare’s, meaning that more care providers are willing to accept Medicare patients, and the program’s access and networks are better — assuming the recipient can afford the cost-sharing. But the way to fix this is to bulk up government spending on Medicaid, which is currently well below Medicare’s levels. And Carrol laws out a number of ways the health care reform passed by President Obama and the Democrats will improve things.
It looks like the best thing that could happen to health care in Texas would be for Perry and the wing nuts in The Lege to get out of the way and let the federal government handle it. But, once again, the only way that will ever happen is to change the leadership in our state.
Cohn lays out all the reasons why this report actually proves we should expand Medicaid, and he wonders why conservatives and libertarians are so eager to dismiss it. I’ll tell him why: conservatives think these poor people are lazy and deserve what they get and the libertarians just don’t care about them at all. That’s all there is to it. After all, it’s not as if any of them have any answers. They simply assume that there will always be lots of poor, sick people around for whom they have no responsibility. For conservatives the only question for society is how to punish them for their lack of initiative and for libertarians they’re simply of no concern at all. Either way, the end result is that nobody should have to give up even one nickel to help pay for the poor — and if something happens and you find yourself among them, you’re on your own.
These people believe that’s just the way life is. The only way to get decent medical care and fully protect yourself from financial calamity is to get rich. Really rich. It’s the catch-all answer for everything that ails you. Anyone who doesn’t has only herself to blame.
Their cruel reasoning explained in much greater detail here.
The news isn’t good: Texas is facing a crisis in health and human services, education, and clean air and water. If our leaders continue to fail to address these pressing concerns, the prosperous future of our state is at risk.
Unfortunately, Republican leaders from Rick Perry on down refuse to address the reality faced by most Texans, and too few Democrats seem willing to draw a line in the sand and stand firmly in favor of restoring cuts to education and expanding access to health care.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst says the Texas Senate will push for expanded tax cuts, adding relief for research-driven businesses and broadband and telecom companies to a package that already targets electricity ratepayers and small business.
Dewhurst said the exemption of research and development costs would cost about $240 million.
A fourth proposal the Senate backs is a sales tax refund for telecom, Internet and cable TV companies, he said. Its cost would be capped at $50 million a year.
While Perry has said lawmakers should pay for some part of the tax cuts with rainy day dollars, Dewhurst said the Senate wants to pay for at least half of the tab with available general-purpose state revenue.
“Whether part or all of the rest would come from the rainy day fund is not decided,” he said.
This is a Democratic “pollster” who can’t give us any data. Instead, he talks about his “feelings”. Peggy Noonan had some of those before last November’s elections too. They were worth as much as this joker’s.
Because, of course, there is no data that would find that Democrats want entitlement cuts, or give a rat’s ass about any grand bargain. Voters might want a budget agreement, but one that gets rid of this bullshit sequester. And that shit about making “Medicare and Social Security sustainable”? I wish our own people would quit using Pete Peterson language to undermine our social net. Raise the cap on payroll taxes and be done with it.
Instead, a pollster who happens to be a principal at one of the biggest Democratic polling firms in the nation, Benenson Strategy Group, is going around telling people (and his candidate clients?) about his bullshit “feelings”.
State and federal investigations eventually will uncover the extent to which West Fertilizer Co. followed the law regarding the large amounts of highly volatile ammonium nitrate stored on its property. But regardless of what authorities knew, West residents remained clueless — by design — about the extreme dangers they were living next to until an April 17 explosion killed 15 and devastated a 35-block area.
A little-known section of Texas law allows agencies to withhold information they regard as confidential concerning the handling, storage and transportation of extremely hazardous chemicals. Not only can state agencies claim the right under the law to ensure that the public remains in the dark, they can assert the right to not even explain why they won’t release data.
All of the original justifications for budget cuts have gone away. The sequester is hurting the economy and keeping unemployment high. But instead Republicans plan to double down on cuts. Apparently their real game is to force high unemployment and desperation for 99% of us to further enrich the 1%.
The Republican justification for cutting was “soaring deficits.” But with recovery and tax increases the deficits are falling dramatically, already down by half. Even so Republicans continue to say we need cuts, even though cuts hurt the economy and cause continued high unemployment.
These sorts of facts in the U.S., and related ones from other economies, are threatening to upend the entire austerity movement, as Irwin observes. But while that debate proceeds and evolves elsewhere, Fox News continues to offer conservatives a venue to avoid reconciling ideology and fact.
A new survey of IT decision makers by SAP and Harris Interactive reithat the rise of machine to machine (M2M)communications – more commonly referred to as the “Internet of Things” – is on the cusp of transforming our homes, our cities and how business is conducted.
How, you ask?
By leveraging Big Data and real-time analytics to improve parking and traffic flow, which could reduce pollution and traffic accidents as well.
By managing all the gadgets in our homes, from lights, computers and smartphones down to our coffeemaker and garage door. Wake up, the coffee is brewing, the house is heated, the car already knows the best route to work and the news we need is showing on the screen of our choice – prioritized, obviously.
Connected cars, roads and smartphones will guide us to the nearest open parking spot – and bill us automatically.
This Internet of Things will also let businesses increase “efficiency, productivity and collaboration,” as it delivers real-time data and insight when and where it’s most needed, including to a widely dispersed, highly mobile workforce.
Buried within the survey results are such nuggets as:
Mobile devices will outnumber humans this year.
90% of consumer-connected devices will have access to some personal cloud in 2013.
66% of IT professionals surveyed believe business and consumer technology will converge within 3-5 years – great news for consumer tech leaders like Apple, Samsung and Google.
At least 4 billion terabytes of data will be generated this year alone.
The trend toward BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) has clear and present business repercussions: 75% of the surveyed IT professionals believe that employees’ personal use of mobile devices impacts how the business itself uses the cloud.
65% think the Internet of Things’ biggest challent in managing and analyzing the resulting real-time data.
I would encourage all of those who live in House District 20 and Senate District 5 to watch the video of GOP state legislators Marsha Farney and Charles Schwertner talking with the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith. Farney, for a Republican from Williamson County sounds almost liberal when talking about public education, and the sense she speaks when discussing the voucher question, that Schwertner dodges. But Schwertner is way out there. It really showed when he started talking about Medicaid expansion. He refers our Federal Government as being broke, which is completely false, regularly refers (falsely) to it as insolvent, which is decades old BS. He regurgitated tired GOP talking points like “golden hand cuffs”, spoke about vague “solutions”, and spouted debunked statements about the “expansion group being a group of able-bodied, single, chilldless adults”. As if poor people who are able-bodied, single, and without children doen’t deserve health care. His indifference highlights the change that has occurred in our country over the last 40 or so years.
I got the feeling watching the debate yesterday over the water bill, that it had very little to do with H2O. The debate was more about whether to pay for the water bill from the Economic Stabilization Fund, aka the Rainy Day Fund (RDF), to cut indiscriminately – sequester style – from the state budget to pay for it. Like so many of the fights that are currently going on in Texas politics it has to do with an internal struggle inside the Texas GOP. And there just aren’t enough members of the GOP in The Lege that are willing to go on the record against the wing nuts in their party.
Water Bill Falters After Contentious House Debate
A major bill on the top of Gov. Rick Perry‘spriority list that would authorize spending billions of dollars on state water projects faltered in the Texas House on Monday night after a contentious debate over where to pull the money from.
“My understanding is it’s doorknob dead,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland, said after debate on the measure, which was backed by Speaker Joe Straus, was halted over a legislative technicality.
In a statement, Perry said Texans “expect their elected officials to address the water needs of our state, and we will do just that.”
“This issue is too important to leave its fate uncertain,” he said, “and I will work with lawmakers to ensure we address this need in a fiscally responsible manner.”
Ritter’s bill, House Bill 11, would have taken $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund — a multibillion-dollar reserve of mostly oil and gas taxes — and spent it on water-supply projects, in an effort to help the state withstand future droughts.
The vote on RDF vs. General Revenue (GR) was a vote that the Hosue leadership never wanted to have. Of course their trying to blame the Democrats, and the Democrats are rightly standing up for what’s right.
But HB 11’s backers faced an uphill battle to get enough votes, because drawing from the Rainy Day Fund requires a higher bar — 100 votes rather than the usual 76 votes — to pass.
Democrats’ objections were grounded in the argument that if the Rainy Day Fund gets used for water, it should also be raided for other purposes like public education. Some far-right conservatives, meanwhile, worried about drawing at all from the Rainy Day Fund, which they say should be reserved for emergencies.
Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, ultimately avoided a vote on HB 11 by raising a point of order, a legislative term for a procedural problem with the bill. Ritter said the bill in its current form is now dead; Perry has previously threatened to call a special session if lawmakers cannot find a way to fund water projects.
There was never an actual vote on the contentious amendment that would have allowed the money to come from GR, instead of the RDF. And that’s likely what the GOP leadership in the House was trying to avoid when the accepted the point of order. The wing nuts in the Texas GOP will try to use any situation like this to try and gut government, that’s what they do. Until the “squishes” stand up to the crazies in the GOP this is the kind of government we are going to have in Texas.
But with a reputed 80 votes, and needing 100, it’s not just the Dems who stand in the way. (The statehouse is split 95 R and 55 D.) The TP doesn’t care much for the bill either, but that’s because they don’t want to spendanything.
House Bill 11 also faced challenges from the House’s tea party faction, which has been itching for a fight all session. To appease the brawlers, the House GOP caucus chair Rep. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) presented what one lawmaker called a “nuclear bomb”: an amendment stipulating that if the bill didn’t get a vote of two-thirds of the House, then it would be funded out of general revenue by imposing a $2 billion across-the-board cut. In other words, Creighton would force lawmakers to choose between water and everything else in the state budget.
The proposal, said Turner, puts “water first and everything else is second. By definition your amendment has picked a winner and everyone else stands to lose.”
Creighton’s rejoinder was that everyone would suffer from not funding the water plan. “Whoever is impacted by small reductions in the budget will benefit for years from this move,” he said.
But before the amendment came to a vote, the point of order killed the bill.
The bill could get passed if the Republicans with half a functioning brain could reach Sly Turner’s common ground on funding education and transportation. But Ritter says it’s dead now, so I guess we should take him at his word.
It’s unclear how the House gets the water plan funded now. Any transfer from the Rainy Day Fund, as is preferred by Gov. Perry and other top Republicans, would require a two-thirds vote. The Senate passed a proposed constitutional amendment last week pulling a total of $5.7 billion from the Rainy Day Fund, including $2 billion for water. However, Ritter said that legislation “has a snowball’s chance” in the House.
Ritter and the Democrats pointed to another bill sitting in committee, House Bill 19, which spreads $3.7 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to water and roads.
Without 100 votes, something will have to give to fund the state water plan.
It’s called compromise. It’s defined as Republicans giving up something — their apparent desire NOT to fully fund public schools — in order to get what they want. Which, though difficult for them to manage, beats the kind of intransigence they have demonstrated on other legislative items (such as Medicaid expansion).
State Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, commenting after Turner’s point of order won out, voiced determination to see a water bill through. “If we don’t fix this, I think a lot of people’s political careers will be on the line,” he said.
Since Larson is the guy who advanced term limits legislation over the objections of the governor, hopefully it’s Rick Perry’s political career he’s referring to.
Oh well, he was going to have to call one for getting his bidness buddies their tax cut anyways, might as well have a real reason to call one.
As Eaton and Price reported it in the Statesman, “The rule violation sprang up during contentious debate on the measure, which had become a chip in a game over the larger priorities of the House. Republican leaders, including Gov. Rick Perry, back the plan to tap the rainy day fund for water projects, saying water infrastructure is crucial to maintain Texas’s economic competitiveness.
“The state water plan warns that unless Texas spends billions for water projects over the next half-century, water shortages and drought could cost a million jobs. Democrats, however, want to make sure public education is not shortchanged while water infrastructure is funded, and conservative, largely freshmen Republican lawmakers want to leave the rainy day fund untouched.”
So, as Chris Tomlinson pointed out in his report for AP, while “the error was pointed out by House Democrats who were frustrated that the Republican-controlled Legislature was ready to spend the Rainy Day Fund on water projects, but not on restoring funding cut from public education … conservative Republicans welcomed the measure’s failure because it saved them from having to make a politically difficult vote. Tea party members called the bill’s spending reckless and fiscally imprudent.”
Martinez-Fischer said that Democrats had been “negotiating in good faith for a common solution when all of a sudden HB 11 was on the calendar” and, as the day wore on and Democrats became aware of where things were head, “people started scrambling to file amendments. Everything you saw today happened in real time. There was no rehearsal the night before. Members were writing amendments on the House floor. This was a real-time exercise. It caught everyone by surprise.”
When other points of order failed, Sylvester Turner played his, which he said he was aware of because it had been used against him some years ago. Was that the Democrat’s ace in the hole all along? “No,” said Martinez-Fischer, “I think this one was the ace in the hole,” clutching an envelope in his hand. “I didn’t get to use it.”
In a nice surmise of the legislative process, Martinez-Fischer said, “You have amenders who amend, debaters who debate and you have rules experts who use the rules.”
He said yesterday’s rules play was necessary because, ‘we can’t negotiate with HB 11 pointed at our head like a loaded gun. Today we removed the loaded gun.”