Greg Abbott’s bad week has stretched into a bad month, as the the AG keeps stepping in (that’s not insensitive, is it?) messes of his own making. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs links to Harvey Kronberg, who declares that “all bets are off” in the Texas governor’s race.
When the political debate in Texas is about issues that are central to the lives of poor, working and middle class Texans, that’s a bad day for the Texas GOP, and a good day for everyone else in Texas. WCNews at Eye on Williamson says that’s what we need as a A Democratic Alternative.
Neil at All People Have Value took a long walk in Houston to note the first day of spring. Neil said that just as the work of freedom is up to each of us, so is the task of seeing the value in the everyday things around us. All People Have Value is part of NeilAquino.com.
As more Houstonians discover public transit, they are also beginning to expect a higher level of transit service. A sincere attempt to address this void is Houston METRO’s T.R.I.P. App- a geo-location tool that provides real-time arrival information to anyone with a smart phone. The app is potentially a game-changer, which is why Texas Leftist decided to test it out on a couple of routes. Does it really work?
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. - Matthew 6:21
It’s pretty easy to see where Ted Cruz’s heart lies, Unhealthy Presidential Politics and Ted Cruz.
While Ted Cruz was happily meeting with home schoolers in Iowa, the residents of the Rio Grande Valley in his home state were getting ready to sign up for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Cruz, a Republican, has been to Iowa four times in the eight months he has been in office but has made one appearance here in the sub-tropical region along the border. He continues to fight against Obamacare and the expansion of Medicaid in Texas.
But at a public sign up and educational event at the McAllen Civic Center, almost directly south of Iowa by close to a thousand miles, hundreds of people lined up to see if they qualified for Obamacare. Community organizers brought in dozens of extra navigators from San Antonio to manage the crowd but processing was still expected to take about three hours. Several people turned around and went back to work simply because they could not afford the time.
The senator fighting to make sure Obamacare covers no one, instead of the five million who have already signed up, next travels to New Hampshire where he will continue to insist he is not running for president. In his one appearance here on the border as a U.S. Senator, Cruz spoke at a country club to a business group. He then went for a photo opportunity at Anzalduas Park near the Rio Grande. A number of community interest groups have urged him to return to get a better understanding of the needs of residents along the border. But Cruz has not accepted the invitation.
He’s been too busy not running for president.
Ted’s on a big adventure and his ambition means more then making sure those in need get health care. Now we know where his heart is.
It’s not surprising that since he won the primary the Texas GOP candidate for comptroller is starting to dial-back his crazy, wing nut rhetoric. Via the DMN.
During the recent Republican primary for state comptroller, state Sen. Glenn Hegar repeatedly endorsed eliminating local property taxes in Texas.
Borrowing from GOP opponent Debra Medina’s 2010 playbook, Hegar urged a shift to sales taxes to make up the more than $40 billion a year of revenue that cities, counties, school districts and other local governmental entities would lose.
Hegar, R-Katy, even suggested a very rapid transition to the new tax system. At a Longview tea party gathering in January, he told a man in the audience, “You just do it.”
This week, though, the governing implications of so massive a shift seem to have cooled Hegar’s jets.
On Thursday, Hegar campaign manager David White said Hegar “has been clear that we are many years away from being able to implement such” a shift from property tax to sales tax.
White repeated a response he gave The Dallas Morning News on Tuesday, saying “Glenn will review all options to reduce the burden on taxpayers.”
Of course his recent comments sound much more weasely then his “just do it” tea party bravado.
His Democratic opponent Mike Collier was quick to pounce on his opponents softening tone.
Democratic comptroller nominee Mike Collier, though, has blasted Hegar’s happy talk on property tax during the primary. Collier, a Houston businessman, called it an “unimpeachably bad” policy idea that would produce a monster increase in sales tax, shift power away from localities to the Legislature and “put our schools at unnecessary risk.”
He warned Hegar’s “promise” to eliminate the property tax would require sales tax “to be at least 20 percent – and possibly as high as 25 percent.” In most Texas cities today, the combined state-local sales tax rate is 8.25 percent. Collier even created an online petition drive so voters can protest “Senator Hegar’s sales tax.”
Replacing property taxes with sales taxes would shift the state’s tax burden from the wealthy to the working class. The Center for Public Policy Priorities reported that to replace “all property taxes in the state would require a state sales tax rate close to 18 percent. Add the current local sales tax of 2 percent, and the sales tax rate in most parts of the state would approach 20 percent.”
The equal pay narrative looks to be causing problems for the GOP and Greg Abbott in the race for Texas Governor. Not only did Abbott take days to answer the primary question – Would he veto the Lilly Ledbetter/Equal Pay bill? when he did finally answer he gave the answer most knew he would – he would veto it just like Rick Perry did. Via the Texas Observer, Greg Abbott Scores an Own Goal on Equal Pay.
The situation in Abbott’s office, of course, is part of a much wider problem. Cases like these don’t require active prejudice or intentional discrimination (though that sometimes happens too.) Elsewhere in the article, Abbott touts the number of women the agency has hired during his tenure, something he’s probably genuinely proud of.
Pay discrimination happens because of entrenched institutional and personal biases and assumptions—ones the people responsible for hiring and setting salaries may not even be aware of. It doesn’t mean someone said: “I’m going to pay women less.” It’s not because women aren’t “better negotiators,” as the executive director of the state GOP recently said, or because Texas hasn’t amped up “job creation” enough, as the director of the RedState Women PAC recently said (before she said a lot else.) So why not give women more tools and legal leverage to address pay discrimination, to balance out the fact that many institutions—often without malice—value their work less than their male counterparts? Let’s go live to Attorney General Abbott:
Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott would not sign a measure to make it easier for women to bring pay discrimination lawsuits in state court if he were governor, a spokesman said Wednesday, hoping to get past an issue that has dogged the campaign for weeks.
So sayeth the man today to the Associated Press, after a lengthy period of equivocating on the issue of whether he’d veto it. From a political standpoint, this seems like an incomprehensibly weird move. Will the Davis campaign stop hammering Abbott over this issue now that Abbott has swept away doubt from his position? The opposite! He’s given the Davis campaign—even more than they had before—a clear line to use against Abbott: “Abbott opposes making it easier for women to demand equal pay.” Pay equity is something women really care about. And he did it, apparently, just hours after a major newspaper raised substantial questions about pay equity at his own office.
As stated before at EOW, the GOP struggles when they have to discuss issues of fairness and equality in economics. Because they fundamentally don’t believe in it. Whether it’s because they believe in the fictional “free market” or the factual rigged market makes no difference. Either way it’s hard for them to seem caring or compassionate about an issue they fundamentally abhor.
This morning, the Dallas Morning News‘ Wayne Slater noted the connection between RedState Women, Mike Toomey and Dave Carney—the latter two being longtime GOP insiders. But the RedState Women’s staff and board feature an even more eclectic crew.
This feeds into the bigger narrative and inequality in general, and the fundamental neglect of issues, (transportation, education, health, etc..), that matter most to Texans since the GOP took over control of the state. The next issue should be raising the minimum wage, which is a populist winner and the right thing to do.
Abbott’s campaign, AN (After Nugent), has been on the defensive and Davis has been setting the narrative. The GOP is not used to it, and it shows. The more they talk on issues that make them look bad the better it is for Democrats.
Remember the old news axiom, If it bleeds it leads? Well it appears that’s not the case when it comes to the consequences of denying Medicaid expansion. The Texas Observer has the latest on how many lives not expanding Medicaid will cost in Texas and the media’s near silence, Texas Media Underreports the Costs of Refusing Medicaid Expansion.
A team of Harvard researchers recently released a deeply sobering study quantifying how many Americans stand to die needlessly in the unflinching states hellbent on denying Medicaid expansion, as provided by the Affordable Care Act. The study singles out Texas:
“In Texas, the largest state opting out of Medicaid expansion, 2,013,025 people who would otherwise have been insured will remain uninsured due to the opt-out decision. We estimate that Medicaid expansion in that state would have resulted in 184,192 fewer depression diagnoses, 62,610 fewer individuals suffering catastrophic medical expenditures, and between 1,840 and 3,035 fewer deaths.”
Crunching the numbers, the study suggests that Texas could bear almost 18 percent of a potential 17,104 unnecessary deaths nationwide. The figures are stark, damning, and presented with dispassionate and clinical precision—and yes, the study was quickly subjected to right-wing critics arguing the math.
Just one or two mainstream Texas outlets have tried to put a human face on the issue. In late January, the San Antonio Express-Newswrote about Irma Aguilar, a mother of four who earns $9 an hour at her no-health-insurance job at Pizza Hut. Because she makes a whopping $19,200 a year, by Texas rules she is unable to secure the Medicaid benefits that would help offset the $80,000 in emergency-room care costs she’s accumulated over the past two years, including an uncovered surgery to remove her gallbladder.
I hate to be one of those people telling the Wendy Davis campaign what to do – in part because I think most of the “advice” given to her has been in response to trivial matters, and in part because I doubt any of us armchair quarterbacks have any idea how to win statewide races – but I’d really like to see her jump all over this. I see no real downside for her in going big on economic populism, which includes Medicaid expansion and raising the minimum wage. The latter is broadly popular, including in Texas, and the former will put her on the side of most doctors and hospitals, as well as county officials. It fits with her overall message of breaking from the Rick Perry past that Greg Abbott represents and it will help drive turnout from the Democratic base, which is job one for her. We need to be talking about this, and that means we need Wendy Davis talking about it.
It better be on her radar, and it most certainly is, but I doubt they want to change the message, (here and here too), right now. That being said it’s long past time for Democrats to embrace, if not Obamacare, then what is in it and learn how to communicate that, Balls.
I’m no genius about marketing but I know this: If you don’t define the good parts of your program, your opponents will define it for you with all the horrible aspects and a few lies to boot.
All the polling I’ve seen shows that people despise Obama Care. But when they are asked about a program that eliminates pre-existing conditions, life time caps, can’t throw them off their plan because they’re sick; and my favorite for old farts like me, Obama care makes drugs for seniors cheaper by filling the doughnut hall.
So I would respectfully like to encourage all the Democratic candidates running for office, to grow a set of balls!
Democrats are going to be in a world of hurt this year if they keep this up. There’s no running from Obamacare. There just isn’t. If they want to win, they’d better emerge from their fetal crouch and start fighting back. Nobody likes candidates who won’t stand up and defend their own party’s achievements.
The good news is expanding Medicaid is much more popular.
This issue is not just about running on economic populism, but there needs to be an emotional appeal. Expanding Medicaid in Texas is a ridiculously good deal financially and will save lives. Why is the Texas GOP dead-set against that? There’s no good reason, other then they’re just not very concerned about poor people who don’t have health care. What ever happened to if it bleeds it leads?
It was rather sad, from a left-of-center perspective, to see the post primary reactions. While I may not believe the results on the Democratic side are as bad as the GOP, and some in the media, have made them out to be, they’re not good news for the Democrats either. But mostly it was bad news for democracy.
The larger question moving forward is the one put forward in the post below on taxes. Essentially the reason we have such low voter turnout in Texas is because most Texans know our political system in this state is rigged and/or corrupt. And until a candidate, or candidates, offers an alternative the voters will likely continue to stay home.
It’s axiomatic that turnout in the Texas primary is low – for both Democrats and Republicans.
But exactly how low is highlighted by a look back at the heyday of the Texas Democratic Party.
In 1926, for example, 821,234 Texans voted in the Democratic primary – at a time when the state had just barely over 5.4 million residents.
Contrast that to the 546,523 Texans who voted in the 2014 Democratic primary in a state that now is home to over 26 million people and more than 13.6 million registered voters.
Now, there are plenty of reasons why turnout would have been higher in 1926. And, of course, the chief of these is that Texas back then was functionally a one-party state in which everything of consequence got decided in the Democratic primary. If you wanted your vote to count, you needed to vote in the Democratic primary.
But still it is striking by just how much primary turnout – for both Democrats and Republicans – has lagged the state’s remarkable nine-decade population boom.
Most Texans don’t see any reason to turnout to vote for candidates who are not speaking to the issues that matter to them. And notice that the registered voter number is starting a downward turn, away from the upward turn of population growth. The situation is getting worse, not better.
Everyone knows for Wendy Davis and Democrats to win they must register and turnout out several hundred thousand new and non-voting Texans. Why anyone would think that could happen appealing to the same issues, the same way Democrats in Texas have been doing for the past two decades, is beyond me. There should be a clear Democratic alternative to the GOP.
Cristman told WFAA that the PAC believes women “want and deserve” equal pay, but doesn’t believe legislation like the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is the right solution. When asked what would resolve the gender pay gap, Cristman repeatedly said women are “busy.”
“Well, if you look at it, women are extremely busy,” she said. “We lead busy lives, whether working professionally, whether working from home, and times are extremely busy. It’s a busy cycle for women and we’ve got a lot to juggle. So when we look at this issue we think, what’s practical? And we want more access to jobs. We want to be able to get a higher education degree at the same time that we’re working or raising a family.”
The Dallas Morning News pointed out that Abbott’s office has successfully argued before the state’s Supreme Court that equal pay protections don’t apply in Texas, while Davis sponsored an equal pay bill last year that was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry (R).
A spokeswoman for Davis’ campaign called Cristman’s and Abbott’s comments out of touch.
“Here’s a newsflash for Greg Abbott: women aren’t too ‘busy’ to fight for economic fairness for all hardworking Texans and they aren’t too ‘busy’ to reject his business as usual opposition to equal pay legislation at the polls next November,” Davis spokeswoman Rebecca Acuna said Monday in a statement.
Maybe they’re too busy, because they’re having to work too many hours, because their pay is too low! Equality and fairness are not issues the GOP is comfortable talking about and it shows. When the political debate in Texas is about issues that are central to the lives of poor, working and middle class Texans, that’s a bad day for the Texas GOP, and a good day for everyone else in Texas.
Who knows who would turnout to vote if we had an election based on what matters most to most Texans. I would certainly be nice to find out.
A Fort Bend Republican wrote an article for Houston Style magazine about “Democrat” Kesha Rogers. You can imagine how ridiculous that was. Well, no you can’t, because it’s even worse than you can imagine. PDiddie at Brains and Eggscalled BS on it about five times. But nobody involved bothered to correct the record.
We’ve been writing about the raw deal Texas taxpayers haven been getting for quite some time. Don’t Grow Texas takes a crack at it as well, Taxation, Texas.
I know this is boring as hell, but hang with me here because it’s important, and, I think it is an issue that is at the nexus of the future of this state and any political party or leader who wants to offer better opportunity for Texans. Property taxes and increased down payments are making it prohibitive for young families to purchase a home. Tax escrow money calculated on high property taxation rates and then added to a 20 percent down will keep a lot of couples from being able to get a mortgage.
What are other manifestations of state leadership’s failure to properly fund Texas schools? Almost every year voters in various school districts are asked to approve bonds, which they will then retire with some form of payment, for school buildings and educational facilities. Their high property tax rates apparently do not cover the cost of construction and neither does the money provided by the state. Politicians continue to dodge blame for raising taxes by approving bond measures that dump the job onto the backs of the taxpayers who elected them to office. The gas tax in Texas, as an example, has not been raised since 1992, which means we end up with toll roads instead of taxpayer-funded highways that we drive for free. Officeholders are farming out the responsibility under the guise of a public-private partnership.
By constitution, Texas is a pay-as-you-go state. We are not allowed to acquire debt like the federal government. But lawmakers have been avoiding that requirement by using bonded indebtedness to circumvent the law. About $40 billion dollars in bonded indebtedness has currently been issued for everything from transportation and water projects to construction of public housing and state colleges and universities. It becomes an irresponsible shell game so politicians can campaign by insisting they’ve not raised anyone’s taxes, but the debt has to be retired somehow and it is the taxpayers’ obligation.
Meanwhile, the TEF gives away hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars to corporations moving to Texas and when they arrive local municipalities are giving them exemptions on property taxes, which keep valuable corporate land off of tax rolls for significant periods of time. Programs like enterprise zones, manufacturing exemptions, and value limitation and tax credits under the Texas Economic Development Act take billions of dollars out of state coffers and place the obligation for making up that lost revenue on the shoulders of homeowners.
According to the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, Texas property taxes have more than tripled, increasing 3.4 times since 1990. Although the state does not have a personal or corporate income tax, an annual income tax assessment of around $800 per individual would raise more than $20 billion dollars and could easily lift some of the weight carried by homeowners since not everyone earning an income in the state owns and is paying property taxes. A corporate income tax would generate even more revenue, considerably increasing funds to alleviate homeowner burdens. Texas currently only has a one percent margins tax on corporations.
So here’s a suggestion for someone who wants to be a leader: talk about the arcane issue of tax reform. Be a voice for creating more balance in the source of funding that pays for state government. It will provide enough money to properly and equitably fund state schools and, by reducing escrow demands on new home down payments, will spur home construction as more new families moving to the state are able to purchase homes.
Anybody who takes on this job has courage and gets my vote. And probably millions of others, too.
What this shows is the lie we’ve been told for so long. No state income tax, along with giving welfare to corporations, was supposed to make us all better off. Well it hasn’t. It’s time that we tried something else, and it would be nice if someone running for office would make the case.
That’s a big reason why so many Texans don’t show up to vote. No one is offering a clear alternative to the system we currently have. Most people know it’s unfair, at the least, but more likely corrupt at the worst. Those who don’t vote know this, and therefore see no reason to show up to vote for someone who is, essentially, offering the same system but not quite as bad.
The biggest loser besides David Dewhurst in yesterday’s primary was the recent UT/TT poll. They had Dewhurst 37%, Patricke 31%…and the actual results were Dewhurst 28% and Patrick 41%. If you go down the line, Democratic race for US Senate, and the GOP races for AG and Comptroller were equally as bad for UT/TT poll.
The race for governor is set, it’s official, it will be Democrat Wendy Davis taking on Republican Greg Abbott.
Many times in runoffs the person that came in second wins. But in Dewhurst’s case this is three races in a row getting below 50% in a GOP primary. That’s has to say something about how GOP voters feel about Dewhurst. There is no more important race moving forward for Democrats then Leticia Van De Putte‘s race for Lt. Governor of Texas. Texas Rush, aka Dan Patrick, is not something Texas needs. PDiddie had the to say about The Dew’s troubles.
Dan Patrick led nearly every urban county. He steamrolled Dewhurst and will finish him off in May. For comparison’s sake, Dewhurst led Ted Cruz 45-34 in 2012′s US Senate primary, and Cruz won the runoff with 56-43. Dewhurst actually lost almost two percentage points in the runoff.
The worst enws of the election is that it will be a former GOP donor millionaire (David Alameel) vs. a LaRouchie (Kesha Robers) in the US Senate runoff on the Democratic side. Alameel, no matter his faults, is the better choice.
In Williamson County there were no big stories or surprises. On the Democratic side Karen Carter won reelection as County Chair of the Williamson County Democratic Party. On the GOP side Precinct 4 County Commissioner Ron Morrison won his primary and the right to face Democrat Tom Mowdy in November. And Kevin Stofle will stay on as Constable in Precinct 3.
The Tribune has a round up and Texas Senate and House primaries. The tow big take-aways from the GOP primaries are that moderates can no longer win in the Texas GOP primary, and that it’s impossible to be too right wing in the GOP primary.
Here’s James Morre’s take on yesterday, Texas Political Junkie. His thoughts on Texas Rush are particularly worth reading.
Patrick, a former sportscaster at a Houston TV station where I spent a decade as a reporter, said last night after his victory that he is “never surprised by the power of God.” It wasn’t quite God who went to the polls, though; it was the Tea Party voters who had been analyzed out of relevance by the national media. Those voters like someone sitting in the state’s most powerful political office that wants creationism taught in textbooks and thinks the idea of exceptions in abortion laws for rape and incest are absurd. When Patrick takes up the gavel in the state senate, his priorities will have little to do with economics and will be much about social issues.
There will legislation trying to undo everything ever accomplished by President Obama, the Ten Commandments will be on the backs of school textbooks, there will be entire chapters on our 6000 year-old planet and how dinosaurs and humans roamed the earth together, women will have to go to Mississippi to find modern parenting and birth control services, and the Texas-Mexico border will look about as inviting as the Korean demilitarized zone by the time Patrick finishes pushing his agenda through the Texas senate.
And Patrick almost certainly be handed the gavel, if historic voting trends are not upturned.