Tag Archives: Texas

Tex-o-blog-o-sphere: Blog news 3/22/13

Here are some great reads from other Texas and Houston-area bloggers…

Charles Kuffner at Off the Kuff is examining the fate of the near-defunct North Forest ISD. Will the district fall into the hands of KIPP charter schools, or will it be managed by HISD? Either decision is sure to be very emotional.

Perry Dorrell at Brains and Eggs is covering the unique story of a Fort Bend County Tea Party Patriot that used to be an American fascist. First the Tea Partiers give us Todd “legitimate rape” Akin, Foster “acid between the legs” Friess, and now Jim “heil Hitler” Ives? The gifts really do just keep coming!

Stace Medellin at Dos Centavos is totally not impressed with State Senator Dan Patrick… especially when he tries to remove cultural History electives from Texas schools. Apparently, Patrick’s idea of educational choice is choosing to be LESS educated.

I’m getting ready for Houston’s Chapter 42 fight coming in April. And I must say, I was very happy to get some feedback from the Mayor’s Office on the issue, and will be sure to add their comments to my post when received.

And one more thing… I’ve actually conducted the Texas Leftist blog’s first interview!! Be on the lookout for it next week. Ok, and I need to figure out what exactly the Texas Progressive Alliance is. Hey, give me a break… I’m still relatively new to the blog world!!

Path to Austerity: The GOP Fantasy Budget

In the face of many storms we’ve weathered, a few aspects of the American experience have remained stalwart… death, taxes and Michelle Bachmann’s uncanny ability to be void of all logic and reason. These principles were sure, and come hell or high water, we could turn to them for stability.

But that third principle, though still very real, has got some new challengers in the “crazy town” department. Wisconsin Congressman and losing Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan unveiled the House GOP budget today. One read-through of this makes Michelle Bachmann’s ravings sound almost sensible.

We now finally have specifics on the US House plan for the federal budget. I of course am no budget analyst, so I highly recommend reading other opinions like Ezra Klein, Matthew Iglesias and Andrew Taylor for a thorough rundown. But here are the big points.

Some of the proposals we’ve come to expect from the GOP… promises to lower tax rates for everyone (though they’ve now relented to keep tax increases passed in January on the books) and of course the continued witch hunt to repeal Obamacare. But here is the real kicker… The GOP/Ryan budget assumes savings from Obamacare, while also assuming its repeal. That in itself doesn’t even make sense. How can you reap savings from a law that you don’t want to exist in the first place?

And then, as expected, there are massive cuts to social programs. The way much of this is achieved is by exchanging funding per constituent that states receive for block grants… a sum of money given to each state to spend the way they want to. That sum of money would decrease over time, and then pass on the responsibility for programs like Medicaid, SNAP and other vital services into state hands. That relieves federal responsibility by passing the taxing burdens onto the states.

Sounds great, only it will cause many already stressed state budgets to be pushed into crisis mode. As the state population increases and the block grant does not, people will continue to be denied these critical programs. All in the name of “fixing the deficit”. In a growing state like Texas, with a massive population of low-wage workers and uninsured, block grants are nothing short of creating a ticking time bomb. Nevermind that the policies President Obama has enacted are already bringing down the deficit as is, the GOP insist on robbing people that already have fewer options than everyone else. Under their plan, all of these cuts are made while increasing the giveaways to our nation’s wealthy.

And that’s why the GOP budget is a total fantasy. Let’s hope it stays that way too.

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.

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!!