A tale of two states
11/25/13 03:30 PM
By Steve Benen
Wisconsin and Minnesota make interesting bookends. They’re neighboring states of similar sizes, similar populations, and similar demographics. But political scientist Lawrence Jacobs did a nice job over the weekend noting an important – and contemporary – political difference between the two (thanks to my colleague Cory Gnazzo for the heads-up).
While both states used to embrace a populist progressive tradition, Minnesota and Wisconsin have followed very different courses over the last few years. The Badger State elected Scott Walker (R) governor and gave control of the legislature to Republicans, while the Gopher State made Mark Dayton (D) governor and elected a Democratic legislature.
After the 2010 elections, Wisconsin got to work targeting collective bargaining, tax cuts, and reduced spending. After the 2010 elections, Minnesota got to work raising taxes on the wealthy and making new in-state investments in areas such as education and infrastructure.
Whose governing model is proving to be more effective?
Three years into Mr. Walker’s term, Wisconsin lags behind Minnesota in job creation and economic growth. As a candidate, Mr. Walker promised to produce 250,000 private-sector jobs in his first term, but a year before the next election that number is less than 90,000. Wisconsin ranks 34th for job growth. […]
Along with California, Minnesota is the fifth fastest growing state economy, with private-sector job growth exceeding pre-recession levels. Forbes rates Minnesota as the eighth best state for business. Republicans deserve some of the credit, particularly for their commitment to education reform. They also argue that Minnesota’s new growth stems from the low taxes and reduced spending under Mr. Dayton’s Republican predecessor, Tim Pawlenty. But Minnesota’s job growth was subpar during Mr. Pawlenty’s eight-year tenure and recovered only under Mr. Dayton.
The two also differ on health care – while Minnesota has embraced Medicaid expansion and is reducing its rate of uninsured, thanks in part to an effective exchange marketplace, Wisconsin is leaving many behind, rejecting both Medicaid expansion and an exchange.
Jacobs didn’t mention it, but I’d also throw in a social-issues data point, with Minnesota embracing marriage equality, and Wisconsin Republicans backing new restrictions on reproductive rights (which were later rejected in court).
The obvious caveats certainly matter. It’s only been three years, for example, and we’ll get a better sense of the efficacy of the competing models as more data becomes available in future years.
But for now, Wisconsin and Minnesota offer a handy case study for competing approaches to governance – at the same time, in the same region, with roughly the same population. Or as Jacobs concluded, “The lesson from the upper Midwest is that rigid anti-tax dogma fails to deliver a convincing optimistic vision that widens economic opportunity and security. The excesses of liberalism may lurk, but Minnesota is building a modern progressivism that plows a hopeful path.”
November 23, 2013 by Egberto Willies
Marc Croes, a Kingwood Area Democrat let Senator Cruz have it.
Now that the can has been kicked down the road and our Federal government is back in business, those of us with a sense of humor can look back on all the angst caused by this manufactured crisis. We can laugh at some of the silliness, and shake our heads in amazement at other outrageous acts.
I laughed when I saw TV talking heads comparing the shutdown to “bunny sex”. I laughed when I saw grumpy Ted Cruz attempt to mimic congenial Wendy Davis and raise his profile by filibuster. He should have worn pink sneakers. I chuckled when I saw a woman grab the microphone in the House of Representatives and rant about Jesus and Freemasons. I was appalled when I saw the video of Texas Congressman Randy Neugebauer bullying a park service employee who was guarding a war memorial in D.C. His behavior was so vile that he was forced to rush out an apology when the video went viral.
I shook my head in amazement when the tea party Republicans manufactured this crisis. They picked a fight they could not possibly win, dug in their heels, and decided they would rather destroy our economy than use reasonable methods to make their case. In effect they declared themselves modern day anarchists, willing to destroy our economy and system of government whenever they disagree with the actions of the majority of the voters and the Legislative, Judicial, and Executive branches.
Of all the drama and comedy to come out of this episode, the most disturbing was the sight of our own Senator Ted Cruz, along with Sarah Palin, giving a speech in front of the WW2 Memorial to a crowd that featured Confederate flags and bigoted signs. The crowd then went on to vandalize the security barricades. One of the other speakers called on the crowd to “demand that this president leave town, to get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up”. All Cruz accomplished was to embarrassingly associate himself with a bunch of ignorant bigots.
Abbott Backer Promotes "Catch An Illegal Immigrant Game"
An individual who formerly served as a Greg Abbott campaign field representative has sent out a press release promoting a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game” on the University of Texas campus. The press release states “There will be several people walking around the UT campus with the label "illegal immigrant" on their clothing. Any UT student who catches one of these "illegal immigrants" and brings them back to our table will receive a $25 gift card.”
The “game” at the University of Texas Campus goes far beyond a display of bad taste or insensitivity. It reflects Greg Abbott’s open hostility to Hispanic Texans. As State Attorney General, Greg Abbott played the lead role in advising the Texas Legislature to adopt redistricting plans that intentionally discriminated against Hispanic and other Texas minority voters. He has spent millions of dollars in Texas taxpayer money to defend the discriminatory plans and to argue that key US Voting Rights Act provisions designed to protect minority voters against discrimination be overturned. Most recently, Abbott has refused to support the bipartisan Dream Act which allows Hispanic students who grew up in Texas to attend Texas colleges and universities as state residents.
The former Abbott staffer, Lorenzo V. Garcia, is the same person who helped promote an equally offensive “affirmative action bake sale” while serving as an Abbott staffer.
In addition to having served as an Abbott staffer, Lorenzo V. Garcia is Chairman of the Young Conservative Texans at the University of Texas. He previously served as an intern for Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz. A copy of his “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game” press release along with screen shots confirming his previous work on behalf of Greg Abbott are pasted below.
Comments by Lone Star Project Director, Matt Angle
“The very notion of a catch an illegal immigrant game is repulsive on its face and illustrates the hostile attitude Greg Abbott holds towards Hispanic Texans.”
“Greg Abbott is playing games with Texas Hispanic voters, saying he wants their votes when in reality, Greg Abbott tolerates, embraces and promotes policies and tactics that denigrate Hispanics and divide Texans one against another.”
By: Sarah Jones more from Sarah Jones
Sunday, November, 17th, 2013, 9:46 am
Instead of coming to the table with real ideas to solve the problems with the ACA rollout, Republicans have spent all of their time on TV gloat-splaining how awful it is to be unable to keep junk insurance. They are fighting hard so that corporations can keep screwing Americans over because it’s so unfair that someone would have to pick new insurance that would actually cover them. Meanwhile, President Obama is doing what grown ups do — he’s taking responsibility and trying to fix problems.
Pollster John Zogby reported for Zogby’s weekly White House report* that while President Obama is taking ownership of the problems with the ACA rollout and trying to fix them, the Republican Party is busy mocking what they prematurely see as a huge, forever failure instead of trying to fix things. He titled his report, “Obama needs support, not GOP mockery, on health care ‘fix’”.
“Mr. Obama took ownership and said he would fix the cancellation problem – giving the Democrats some cover.”
Zogby is not so impressed with the GOP. He reminded them that their job is to make policy, not to gloat and mock:
“And, to the Republicans, the Constitution mandates Congress to make policy, not gloat and mock. Obamacare is after all a program originated under Republican former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney that is being implemented by an African-American president that they love to hate. I will wait to see if the kinks are indeed fixed before I pass final judgment. Meanwhile it would sure be nice to get some creative ideas for fixing those problems from both sides.”
Zogby notes that while the numbers for enrollment aren’t quite what the administration thought they would be, they are impressive – and ultimately, these million plus are people who “will actually have decent health care coverage.”
It should surprise no one that the Republican Party rushed to judgment on ObamaCare and that in doing so, they and the media that supports them revealed that they have no clue about how most Americans live. To Republicans, it’s the End of the World if a person has to pick a new insurance plan, but no biggie if millions die from lack of insurance coverage or are denied coverage after paying faithfully into their “insurance” plan for years.
When former President Bush rolled out Medicare Part D, it had huge problems — but it is now widely popular. Instead of writhing orgasmically in the backseat mocking the fail, Democrats got on board to help fix Bush’s plan. This is what grown ups who are paid to make policy do.
PolitiFact gave a “true” the to statement that Medicare Part D experienced many of the same problems as the ACA. Check this flashback out:
“This is a huge undertaking and there are going to be glitches. My goal is the same as yours: Get rid of the glitches.”
A Democrat in 2013? Wrong! Actually, it was Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican who chaired the House Energy and Commerce Committee, about Medicare Part D in 2006.
Of course, things were a little different in that Democrats weren’t deliberately trying to sabotage the Medicare Part D rollout and liberal activists weren’t DDOS-ing the website in a desperate attempt to ensure that millions remain without insurance lest the other side get a “win”.
And that sums up all that is wrong with the GOP – instead of being serious problem solvers with a different ideology than the President, they have been at war with him and anything he touches since he took office. They raced right past taking any responsibility for the failed implementation of their ideology under Bush, and instead, rushed into trying to make Obama appear even remotely as awful as Bush. That they have had to lie, cheat and steal to do that and have still failed shouldn’t be lost on the public.
The good news is that their Obama hate has managed to make Republicans utter words about the uninsured other than blaming them and laughing at their deaths, even if only while covertly trying kill ObamaCare. The 2014 slogans make themselves: Republicans couldn’t bear that some of you couldn’t keep your fake, junk insurance, so we made sure that no one would have affordable healthcare! #Winning.
The party of “personal responsibility” had devolved party-wide into a screaming chorus of whining, mocking, nasty trolls dead set on derailing any serious discussion in American politics.
*Zogby’s weekly White House report is published under Paul Bedard’s Washington Secrets in the Washington Examiner.
There are risks to starting your own business, but the ability to find affordable health coverage shouldn’t be one of them. However, the decision to stay at a job because an individual doesn’t want to lose his or her employer-sponsored health insurance is so common it has a name: “job lock.” It’s easy to understand why would-be entrepreneurs wouldn’t want to risk striking out on their own when private health insurance is often exorbitantly expensive.
Health care reform to the rescue!
Beginning next year, the Affordable Care Act will provide access to high-quality, affordable health insurance through an online marketplace. Better health coverage options outside of employment will help give people the security and encouragement they need to start their own businesses. A recent study from the Urban Institute and Georgetown University found that the ACA will help enable 1.5 million Americans set off on their own business ventures. That includes 124,000 Texans. (This article explains the foundation for the 1.5 million people finding.)
Health care reform provisions that will lead to more robust and reasonable health coverage plans for entrepreneurs include:
- No more discrimination against people who have preexisting conditions
- No more premium hikes because of an individual’s health status
- Tax credits to help reduce premium costs for low and moderate-income individuals and families
- Expanded Medicaid in some states (so far, not Texas)
- Insurance plans that must include essential health benefits
- Help with the costs of deductibles and co-pays in many cases.
The infographic below provides a breakdown of the how many people in each state will be self-employed due to the ACA. Check it out and share the great news!
Written by: Liz Moskowitz, Texans Care for Children
Egberto Willies: Affordable Care Act Good For Texans – Kingwood Observer
November 7, 2013 by Egberto Willies
Affordable Care Act Good For Texans
Listening to 8 hours of the Affordable Care Act website rollout hearings this week provided no information for the average citizen. It was nothing but a charade. Republicans used it as a platform to attempt to further misinform Americans. Sadly, the format did not lend itself to enlighten Americans about the realities of America’s pre Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) failing insurance market.
Broadly, one could divide America’s insurance market into six segments; employer based insurance, Medicare Insurance, Medicaid Insurance, Children’s Health Care Program (CHIPS), Military, and Individual insurance. 55% of Americans receive health insurance through their employer. 31% of Americans receive health insurance through Medicare, Medicaid, Military, & Chips. The other 14% are either in the individual insurance markets or uninsured. Many are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid and cannot afford individual health insurance.
America is a humane country. Before Obamacare, anyone who got into an accident or went to an emergency room got care. If they did not have insurance all those with insurance as well as tax payers picked up the tab. Before Obamacare, employees who had the bad fortune of getting sick were stuck with that employer.
One could not entertain innovating and forming their own business because insurance companies would deny them coverage for a pre-existing condition. New employers were reluctant to take on an employee with pre-existing conditions because it inflated their own insurance. Pre-Obamacare insurance companies could arbitrarily find loopholes to cancel policies. Pre-Obamacare insurance companies could stop paying bills after some cap. Pre-Obamacare, insurance companies could sell worthless policies that collected premiums but covered very little. When the patient needed insurance they realized they were not covered.
PDF of entire piece.
Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 02:13 PM PST
I found this article on The National Memo about a speech given by Wendy Davis.
Apparently, she dared to give her definition of what it means to be "pro-life":
“I am pro-life,” she told a University of Texas at Brownsville crowd on Tuesday. “I care about the life of every child: every child that goes to bed hungry, every child that goes to bed without a proper education, every child that goes to bed without being able to be a part of the Texas dream, every woman and man who worry about their children’s future and their ability to provide for that future. I care about life and I have a record of fighting for people above all else.”
“This isn’t about protecting abortion,” Davis explained in the same appearance. “It’s about protecting women. It’s about trusting women to make good decisions for themselves and empowering them with the tools to do that.”
Conservatives are throwing a fit about her definition of "pro-life"! Incredible!
By CHRIS TOMLINSON and CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN 11/01/13 05:10 PM ET EDT
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is seen during an interview at the California Republican Party convention in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. Perry compared the business environments of Texas and California, saying that excessive taxation, regulation and other factors were driving companies from California to other states, including Texas. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
HARLINGEN, Texas — HARLINGEN, Texas (AP) — In a Texas abortion clinic, about a dozen women waited Friday to see the doctor, already aware that they would not be able to end their pregnancies there.
A day after a federal appeals court allowed most of the state’s new abortion restrictions to take effect during a legal challenge, about a third of Texas’ clinics were barred from performing the procedure.
Thursday’s ruling made Texas the fourth and largest state to enforce a provision requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital. In places such as the Rio Grande Valley and rural West Texas, the mandate put hundreds of miles between many women and abortion providers.
Anti-abortion groups welcomed the court’s surprise decision, which they insisted would protect women’s health. The ruling came just a few days after a lower federal court put the law on hold.
If women did not know about the ruling before they arrived at Reproductive Services of Harlingen, clinic administrator Angie Tristan told them. Abortions are a two-day process in Texas. On Fridays, women arrive here for their initial consultation with the doctor. On Saturdays, they return for the procedure.
Despite Tristan’s explanation that they would not be able to have abortions on Saturday, some women decided to stay on the slim hope that something would change.
A panel of judges at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that Texas can enforce the law while a lawsuit challenging the restrictions moves forward.
The law that the Legislature passed in July also bans abortions at 20 weeks and, beginning in September 2014, requires doctors to perform all abortions in surgical facilities.
But it’s the provision about admitting privileges that has idled Dr. Lester Minto’s hands here in Harlingen, near the Texas-Mexico border.
After the law was adopted, the clinic began preparing to close, shredding old patient records and drawing down their inventory, ordering only enough supplies to keep going for a month at a time.
Minto, who has been performing abortions for 30 years, predicted the women he sees would take dangerous measures in their desperation. He made clear he would not perform abortions Saturday if they remain prohibited, but he did not rule out taking other steps in the future.
"I’m going to continue helping girls somehow," he said.
Without access to his services, "they’ll do drastic things," Minto predicted. "Some, they may even commit suicide."
He said he has seen women take various concoctions hoping to end pregnancies. Others have been beaten by boyfriends who pounded their abdomens with bats.
The communities Minto serves are among the nation’s poorest. On top of that, many of his patients cross the border from Mexico, where abortion is illegal in most places. Others live in the U.S. illegally.
If this clinic and one in nearby McAllen are forced to close, women seeking abortions would be faced with taking days off work, finding childcare and paying for hotels in cities such as San Antonio, Austin or Houston.
That’s more than many can afford, including a 39-year-old woman from Willacy County who was waiting Friday to see Minto. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she was fearful of the judgment she would face in her small, rural community.
The woman said she and and her husband are happily married but already have several children. They’re just getting back on their feet financially after her husband recently found work. The pregnancy was not planned.
"I just can’t afford to have another one," she said, crying. But the money to travel north for an abortion isn’t there either.
"It’s so unfair. It’s just politics," she said. "It’s my decision. It’s not anybody else’s."
Asked what she would do if the clinic were not allowed to perform her abortion, she said: "I think I will have to go through with the pregnancy. I don’t have the finances to travel."
Among the clinics that could not perform abortions under the current restrictions are those of Whole Woman’s Health in McAllen, San Antonio and Fort Worth.
"Women who need our care will now have nowhere to turn, and the staff and physicians in our clinics now face furlough and likely unemployment," Amy Hagstrom Miller, the agency’s CEO and president, said Friday in a statement. "This law affects real people, real lives and real families."
The Supreme Court prohibits legislatures from banning most abortions, acknowledged Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life. But, he said in a statement, "states should have the right to protect women from dangerous abortion procedures."
Texas follows Utah, Tennessee and Kansas in enforcing the admitting privileges law. Similar laws are under temporary court injunctions in Alabama, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Mississippi, which also falls under the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court has left in place the temporary injunction against the Mississippi law.
If lifted, the Mississippi injunction would force the state’s only remaining clinic to stop providing the procedure. The Supreme Court has ruled in past decisions that lawmakers may not pass laws that would effectively end abortions in a state because that would put an undue burden on women trying to exercise their right to end a pregnancy.
In Thursday’s opinion, appellate Judge Priscilla Owen noted that the Texas law would not end the procedure, only force women to drive a greater distance to obtain one.
Almost all Republican lawmakers who make up the majority in both chambers of the Texas Legislature are vocally anti-abortion and have repeatedly pledged to try to stop abortion. Gov. Rick Perry has also dedicated himself to making abortion illegal, saying late Thursday that his administration would continue "doing everything we can to protect a culture of life in our state."
Tomlinson reported from Austin, Texas.