Happy New Year! But…

Are you READY?

Recently, I had the esteemed pleasure of once again appearing on Houston Matters for a special edition of their Good, Bad and Ugly  Hosted by Craig Cohen, fellow panelists Natalie Arceneaux, Joe Holley and myself took part in which we reflected on the many events of the year.  It was a wonderful discussion.

In Case You Missed It you can listen here.


Our first realization is one with which you can probably identify.  With so many twists and turns endured in 2017, it almost feels like we’ve been through several years since our last flip of the calendar.  The drama and trauma, whether from Washington, from Austin or elsewhere, has been nearly non-stop.

A big contributor to that is from the many natural disasters.  From earthquakes to hurricanes, fires and historic floods, nature has made itself known to the Americas in 2017.  The local effects of Hurricane Harvey might not always seem apparent at a quick glance, but if you stop and speak to just a few Houstonians, one is quick to realize that we are not yet out of the woods.

Not so for our smaller neighbors like Dickinson, Rockport, Port Arthur and Port Aransas.  Clean-up may be getting done, but that’s a far cry from economic and financial sustainability.  As Joe Holley says mentioned, much of our towns along the Texas Gulf Coast  depend on a healthy stream of tourists to make a living, and the lack the resources or attention that is placed on a national epicenter like Houston.  As taxpaying Texans and Americans, they are waiting and hoping for help from the government they’ve invested in all of their lives.  As we roll into the New Year, we cannot forget about them.

Which is something of a supreme irony when juxtaposed against United States’ current political climate and those occupying the seats of power.  Even as Trump and the Republicans tried each day to undermine the importance of a Federal Government, mother nature served as a constant reminder that certain needs for the American People can only be addressed when our collective resources are utilized.  At least we hope they’ll be utilized for those affected by disaster next year.

But after months of trying to take away healthcare, then months of trying to, still take away healthcare, the GOP was finally able to inflict some serious damage to the Affordable Care Act, courtesy of the only major piece of legislation they managed to pass.    As Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner reports, the damage done in 2017 is just the beginning…

In the wake of the Republican victory on tax reform, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said that his priorities for 2018 will be welfare reform, healthcare, and entitlement reform.


“I don’t think the health care issue is done,” Ryan said in an interview with the Weekly Standard‘s Stephen Hayes. He suggested revisiting the Obamacare issue as early as January. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to go after the root cause—health care inflation and entitlements. Welfare reform is going to be our next lift.”

Though conceding that Trump is opposed to tackling Medicare and Social Security, he said he would continue to push on the issue. “We’re never going to give up on entitlement reform and the things we need to do to get the debt under control,” Ryan said. “With one more reconciliation, I think we have a pretty good shot at getting some of these things done.”

Which, again, for Speaker Ryan is highly ironic.  Lest one forgets, every single member of Congress that is sent to Washington to take these votes is not only paid by the government, but they receive excellent government healthcare, retirement and pension benefits courtesy of us, the American taxpayers.  They write the laws, decide what benefits they want, and we get to pay for them.  Now that’s entitlement if I ever heard the term.

For the rest of us, he’s concerned that there just isn’t enough money in the budget to support such critical needs for Americans.  He and Republicans should be concerned… after all, they are the ones who voted to give away money which could be used to sustain and improve those same programs.  If the Speaker is so concerned about funding for vital programs, maybe he should set an example and be the first in line to donate his salary and his healthcare to the cause.   Don’t take away from others what you can’t seem to do without yourself.

Yet another reason why the upcoming 2018 Elections are going to be so important.  The decisions made by the current Congress and Presidency have already set the American People back, this year offers our a major opportunity to change direction.

So yeah… I know holiday recovery is in full effect.  Please enjoy and celebrate that you have seen 2018.  That is wonderful, and important!!   But this is not the time to ease into the important work that lies ahead.

Happy New Year.  But… Don’t Get Ready.