Obamanomics… Helping or hurting Houston?

So we see the jobs reports on the first Friday of each month, and everyone inhales and holds their breath for just a second. If the unemployment rate goes down, we breathe a sigh of relief. If it ticks up, we wonder what happened.

Over the past few months, the economy has started to pick up steam. Have we had a full recovery yet?? No, of course not. Is there still much to be done? Yes, yes yes. But as we’re in the throws of electomania, I thought it was important to see if any of the recent job growth we are having is sustainable, and how it’s affecting Houston. More specifically, have policies of the Obama administration made any difference for our city?

One of the President’s main economic goals (LONG overshadowed by the bloody healthcare fight, the oil spill, and a bunch of other things) was to get Americans actually making things again. Not only would we make more of our own goods, but actually start to sell those goods to other countries. In the 2010 State of the Union, President Obama set a goal to double US exports by 2014. So far as of 2011 U.S. exports have risen by a whopping 34 percent… well ahead of schedule to meet the original goal. China, in particular, has begun to take notice and buy American goods. According to the US-China Business Council, US exports to China have eclipsed the $100 Billion dollar mark, and it is once again our third largest export market. California is the leading state to export to the rapidly developing nation, but Texas comes in at a surprising 3rd place.

So how does this good news translate to jobs in Houston?? We were already one of the nation’s strongest exporters, but under the Obama administration, export activity in our city has continued to grow, and diversify. Take the Port of Houston, for example. A big expansion of the Panama Canal should be complete by 2014. As a result, shipping volume at the Port of Houston is expected to grow between 20 and 35 percent. it certainly was a wound on Houston pride to lose our beloved Continental to the United merger, but IAH’s new role as the lead hub for the world’s largest airline is quickly elevating our cities statue in the air travel world.

On a landmark trip to Brazil, Houston mayor Annise Parker signed major trade and cooperation deals with the cities of Sao Paulo and Rio De Janerio. As the most rapidly developing economy in Western Hemisphere, these deals could be very lucrative for Houston and Texas’s future. Mayor Parker’s initiative in this respect will surely be remembered as a highlight of her administration.

The groundwork for Parker’s recent trade mission was actually laid by President Obama, as he visited the country last year. Though his trip wasn’t quite as “smooth sailing” as the mayor, this action and similar deals with other emerging markets are sound economic maneuvers that will continue to encourage job growth in America. Houston is a significant part of the success of the USA, and under Obama’s Presidency, Houston and Texas will continue to prosper. So the job growth we’re all seeing and feeling?? It’s no bull.

Follow the Texas money– 2012 Presidential Election

Interesting data published by the New York Times includes some staggering sums about how much money is being raised and spent for this year’s Presidential election. We get one vote at the ballot box, but campaign donations are a much different story. Let’s see how Texans have put their money where their mouth is. (Full article here)

Take a look at how Obama and Romney have faired in Texas (as of Feb. 29th)…

West Texas/ Panhandle

Obama- $88,520.00 Romney- $106,150.00

Central Texas

Obama- $323,587.00 Romney- $362,508.00

South/Central Texas (including Austin and San Antonio)

Obama- $1,419,967.00 Romney- $419,208.00

Southeastern Texas (including Houston)

Obama- $1,058,188.00 Romney- $1,998,380.00

Northeastern Texas (including Dallas and Ft. Worth)

Obama- $1,178,927.00 Romney- $960,873.00

Texas Total

Obama- $4,069,189.00 Romney- $3,847,119.00

A few quick things to note…

-53% of Obama’s donations come from donors giving $200 or less. For Romney that’s a mere 12% of the total.

-58% of Romney’s donors gave the maximum of $2500. That means that Romney has far less donors overall, but they give BIG. For Obama only 20% of his donors have given the maximum so far.

-These are official campaign dollars and don’t account for spending by the Obama or Romney SuperPACs.

So far in Texas, advantage Obama, but not by much. Granted the general election hasn’t officially started yet, so we better hold on to our lassos.

And then there was Scott… a Wisconsin Warning

So let’s take a quick trip back to January 2010. The nation was in the throws of a very contentious Healthcare brawl (the Republicans won that btw… Democrats got screwed because they were SPINELESS). Talk of Death Panels and third-world rationing filled the airwaves. The Tea Party was drawing political blood at every chance. The economy was still feeling for a pulse with jobs numbers swinging on either side of Net Zero. Osama bin Laden was still a real, tangible threat to our country, and the Arabic world had not yet capsized. Basically, Americans were seeing the Democrats as a deplorable, dithering bunch that couldn’t accomplish anything.

And then there was Scott… Brown.

Like Helen of Troy, Brown’s election in the supposed Liberal safehouse of Massachusetts launched a thousand ships. By November the Red Wave had brought nearly all to shore by sweeping the House, demolishing the Senate and completely upsizing state legislatures. To put it plainly, in 2010 the GOP got it’s swagger back.

Let’s face folks… Even today President Obama has fallen far short of the hope and change he promised us in the 2008 campaign. His signature achievement hangs in the balance of the Supreme Court. Unemployment remains at an historic high. The signs should be obvious by now. In any other year, there is a strong case to be made for someone who could possibly do better. In any other year, a capable, charasmatic leader could unite and electrify the GOP while giving us a clear, consistent vision of how America moves forward.

And then there was Scott… Walker.

After unparalleled overreach in the state of Wisconsin, the Liberal base and Moderates have joined together to stop the radical right’s takeover. Two GOP Senators have already been recalled. Walker, the Lieutenant Governor and a few more in the Senate are set to face the political guillotine in June. Even as the GOP sets itself for winner-take-all Primaries on Tuesday, don’t be fooled… This state is showing true buyer’s remorse for the delusions of grandeur forced by Governor Walker and his administration.

But don’t take my word for it. Look at the Protests in action.

And of course, Wisconsin is merely part of the story. Radical, devisive measures have been launched by the GOP (or those radical right that claim to be GOP) all across the country. And in each case, Americans have taken to protest in front of their state capitals, city halls and via social media. The so-called “war on women” will probably be cited in the history books as one of the worst political calculations ever made. If you can’t get a measure like Personhood to pass in the Conservative stronghold of Mississippi, then it’s a pretty good warning that those measures should be untouchable across the US.

The 2012 elections are no longer about philosophical difference. Thanks to an unyielding march to social issues and nonsense gender-baiting, Radical-right Republicans have officially overstayed their welcome this year. Let Wisconsin be a warning sign. Even if voters aren’t happy with the Dems, they’re much more likely to choose a party that displays some logic and reason over one that has flown the Cuckoo’s nest.

Texas Health Scare: The Silent Majority

In watching the historic litigation over Health Care this week, many are left to wonder what the Supreme Court’s ruling will be. Three days of vigorous discussions that mostly centered on the Individual Mandate. To be certain there is much more debate ahead before the landmark ruling (full audio and transcript here via NPR).

But there is one constant in the HealthCare battle that no one is talking about… the millions of people in our country that remain uninsured. They can’t go to the Doctor, the Dentist, or anywhere to get regular check-ups and wellness visits, but instead have to wait until a crisis point occurs and be admitted to the ER. No where else is this a greater problem than in the state of Texas, with the nation’s highest percentage of uninsured people… roughly 6.3 million residents.

It should come as no surprise that Texas, having the highest percentage of the uninsured, also has some of the nation’s most dire health care crises. Houston’s Memorial Hermann was named the “Busiest Trauma Center in the US” by ABC in 2009. Sadly since then the situation hasn’t gotten much better. Houston-area ERs are still inundated by an ever-growing number of uninsured patients who have nowhere else to turn. Texas isn’t rushing to help them however… the Governor and lawmakers in Austin continue to put their political principles over the needs of real Texans, and are playing political football with the Federal Government in its attempt to help our state.

One of the most recent stunts affects the Texas Women’s Health Program. Governor Perry and Austin politicians have just recently decided to remove funding from the program if it goes to Planned Parenthood (eventhough this has never been a problem in the past). According to the State Comptroller’s Office, Texas Healthcare costs are skyrocketing faster than any time in history. Between 2005 and 2009, state Healthcare expenditures have grown by 36%. Factors cited for this growth include costs that continue to be driven by an unbridled private market, an increase of Emergency Room use across all sectors (but especially the uninsured and MediCaid patients), and a growing number of specialty tests per patient. It’s clear that Governor Perry doesn’t have the money or the time to play with ANY Healthcare funding. If we turn down funds for TWHP, where do we expect them to come from?

More of the same is at play with the Affordable Care Act. Originally a Conservative idea, the GOP has become so obsessed with defeating President Obama that they have run away from their own previous positions and forced the Supreme Court to argue the semantics of the law. Even Liberals will tell you that “Obamacare” is far from perfect, but it is much better than doing nothing, and waiting until costs and emergencies are far beyond our control. We’ll soon have longer wait times, for more severe issues.

So the question remains… Who is going to drop the politics and stand up for the betterment of all Texans?? Apparently we can’t expect our Governor or the Legislature to do so. Our fate lies only among those 9 justices in the Supreme Court. And even then, Perry will probably find a way to shoot us in the foot for the sake of politics. Great… another ER visit!!

Texas’ Man-Made Health Scare… For Women

In the wake of the much publicized Supreme Court showdown this week, it’s hard to keep up with local and state issues with our current Healthcare situations. But one that shouldn’t be denied is the current battle for the Texas Women’s Health Program. In a political “game of chicken”, Governor Perry has decided to withdraw funding from TWHP if it is given to Planned Parenthood, eventhough PP has been allotted funding every year since the program was created. As HHS Secretary Sibelius points out, the 130,000 women that are affected by this are the losers… it has very little to do with those that made the law.

Our only hope is that the Texas legislature wakes up and remembers to put the needs of its citizens above manufactured political principles.

A test for DOMA in the health care fight??

Of course the main swarm of the newsday is buzzing around the Supreme Court, but soon we’ll be talking about some big moves going on in the lower courts that will set up another Supreme Showdown. According to Chris Geidner at PoliGlot, the Obama Administration has asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to fast-track it’s review of a case that alleges the Defense of Marriage Act violates the equal protection clause. This case involves Karen Golinski, who’s wife (married in California) was denied Health Care Coverage because eventhough gay marriage was legal in California at the time, DOMA allowed the insurance company to block her coverage. The Obama administration has called it out and is now pursuing DOMA for discrimination.

Recall that the Obama Administration is no longer defending DOMA… it has already declared the 1994 law unconstitutional. Instead, our tax-payer dollars are being spent by House Republicans on the Bi-Partisan Legal Action Group, or BLAG. Don’t let the “Bi-Partisan” name fool you, this effort is entirely from the GOP, as it was approved by a 3-2 party line vote.

How does this affect the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare?? There is no mention of guaranteed coverage for domestic partners in the ACA (the House version of the Bill had domestic partner protections, but they were scrapped in the Senate version of the Bill). But if the ACA is upheld by the Supreme Court, it could potentially weaken DOMA even further by ending other broad discriminatory practices by health insurance companies. Proving that the Defense of Marriage Act is discriminatory would cause portions of it to be struck down, or end the law entirely. So as we all watch the showdown over the Individual Mandate, know that another big court fight is ahead… possibly before the General Election.

Zimmerman utters racist remark just before the murder of Trayvon Martin

The saga behind the murder of young Trayvon Martin has shocked and enraged the entire nation. Even more troubling is the fact that under Florida law, the alleged killer George Zimmerman is allowed to walk as a free man. But evidence continues to mount against him. Recently discovered by ABC news, Trayvon was on the phone at the same time Zimmerman placed the 911 call.

In Zimmerman’s conversation, he also utters a racial slur just as he tries to corner Martin. You can hear him whisper it during the call.

Listen very carefully at 2:23… He says “F_____ Coons”. If that doesn’t prove this to be a racial hate crime, I don’t know what else could.

Please for the sake of America’s children, this man needs to be brought to justice.

A Voice for the Rest of Texas