Thursday, December 05, 2013

Texas News Roundup

-- Vote today, or any day until next Tuesday, in Houston's municipal runoff election.  I voted yesterday in less than 30 seconds, from sign-in to 'cast ballot'.  No excuses, people.

-- Fast food workers are striking today in a hundred cities across America.  Support them by not buying your lunch from the corporate welfare queens who don'tUpdate: Houston, Beaumont, and Austin are participating.  Find the specific location via AMERICAblog.

-- A new study finds that Texas will lose billions of dollars by refusing to expand Medicaid.

In 2022, the state would pass up federal money for Medicaid expansion equal to more than twice its haul that year in federal highway aid, according to researchers Sherry Glied and Stephanie Ma of New York University.

Texas would forfeit $9.6 billion of federal Medicaid matching funds in 2022. That’s one-fourth of what the federal government expects to spend on defense contracts in the state that year, the study said.

Nine years from now -- or in other words, as President Hillary Clinton prepares to leave office after two terms and welcomes her vice-president, Joaquin Castro, to the White House as president-elect -- the state of Texas (represented by Gov. Greg Abbott, if you can tolerate the thought of it) will be turning its nose up at the equivalent of 25% of what the federal government spends here with Lockheed Martin, Bell Helicopter, etc.

If Rick Perry and Greg Abbott and David Dewhurst cannot understand what Medicaid expansion means in terms of lives saved, perhaps they can get it if we talk about the money and the jobs part of it.

Last year, Texas took $17 billion in federal money for its $28 billion Medicaid program. It currently covers 3.6 million children, pregnant women, seniors and disabled Texans.

More than 1 million poor adults of working age would be added to the program by 2016 if Texas changed course and embraced expansion, according to the state Health and Human Services Commission.


Anne Dunkelberg, associate director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, which advocates for low-income Texans, said the study highlights how Medicaid already is “a major job generator” in the state.

“It’s just hard to imagine that Texas would even consider giving up a quarter of our defense contracts,” she said. “We would consider it calamitous, yet in the current (political) climate, that’s the kind of decision that’s being promoted.”

-- Thousands of Texans are going to lose their unemployment insurance this holiday season:

As the EUC program is set to expire at the end of this year, an estimated 69,000 Texans still struggling to find work will lose benefits by December 28. And nearly 107,000 Texas workers experiencing persistent unemployment will not receive any long-term benefits as they run out of regular state unemployment insurance through June 2014—benefits previously available to jobless workers during the course of the economic recovery.

Since 2008, the number of weeks of federally-funded UI benefits available for unemployed workers varied based on a state’s unemployment rate. Because the Texas unemployment rate has remained stubbornly high during the recovery, the state qualified for 67 weeks of federally-funded UI benefits just two years ago. Due to federal cuts to the program, however, Texas now only receives 28 weeks of additional EUC benefits. These federally-funded benefits have been an economic lifeline for Texas families as nearly half of Texans receiving unemployment insurance have exhausted their regular state benefits during the past year.

Ebenezer Scrooge would be so proud.  It's just not going to get any better for the poorest among us until we vote these Republicans out of office.  So in that vein...

-- Maxey Scherr has her introductory video posted.

You might recall that I suggested this line of attack to Wendy Davis; that she run against Ted Cruz.  So I am delighted to see Ms. Scherr, who will have quite a bit more competition in her primary than Davis, take this tack.  Frankly I hope everybody running for office -- all the way down to the state representative level -- starts punching like this.

The GNOP wants to run against Obamacare?  Democrats should run on Medicaid expansion.

-- John Boehner intends to call a House vote on immigration reform.  It just won't happen until the filing deadlines for Congressional challengers to incumbents has passed.

Cowardly, but still good news for those who have long been in the crosshairs.  The most revealing thing will be how the moderate Republicans and those in swing districts vote.  If they approve, then the Tea Party will only have the 2014 option of voting for a Democrat -- or perhaps a Libertarian -- or not voting at all.

More from Burnt Orange.

No comments: