The story sounded so good until the news broke that the state had a $25 billion deficit. Even then few paid attention but maybe now people will start asking questions. Since Texas has been the conservatives Mecca for a while, it will be interesting to see how they work through this very serious problem. Maybe we will even see a 60 Minutes segment on this crisis and how it compares to the other states in trouble. But then they couldn't drool over Chris Christie, so I guess it won't happen.
More from Krugman:
How bad is the Texas deficit? Comparing budget crises among states is tricky, for technical reasons. Still, data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggest that the Texas budget gap is worse than New York?s, about as bad as California?s, but not quite up to New Jersey levels.
The point, however, is that just the other day Texas was being touted as a role model (and still is by commentators who haven?t been keeping up with the news). It was the state the recession supposedly passed by, thanks to its low taxes and business-friendly policies. Its governor boasted that its budget was in good shape thanks to his ?tough conservative decisions.?
Oh, and at a time when there?s a full-court press on to demonize public-sector unions as the source of all our woes, Texas is nearly demon-free: less than 20 percent of public-sector workers there are covered by union contracts, compared with almost 75 percent in New York.
Just as House Republicans gear up to repeal the “job killing” Affordable Care Act, the Department of Labor is reporting that the U.S. economy added 103,000 jobs last month, pushing the jobless rate down to a 19-month low of 9.4 percent.
In fact, since President Obama signed health reform into law on March 23, 2010, the economy has created approximately a total of 1.1 million new jobs in the private sector. One-fifth of the new jobs — over 200,000 — have been in the health care industry. Nevertheless, Republicans have spent the week decrying health reform as “job killing” legislation. Watch a compilation:
Aside from the fact that increasing access to health services will create thousands of jobs in the health care sector, Harvard economist David Cutler argues in new paper released this morning that repealing the health law would reverse these gains and could destroy 250,000 to 400,000 jobs over the next decade. Eliminating the law would increase health care costs and cause employers to reduce wages and cut jobs for those employees who already receive minimum wage or are in fixed contracts. From the report:
Figure 3 shows the net impact of repealing health reform on total employment. The baseline estimates show that 250,000 jobs will be lost annually if health reform is repealed. Annual job losses would average 400,000 using the greater estimate of 1.5 percentage point cost increases annually resulting from repeal.
Employers may be anxious about some of the new requirements, but many are already benefiting from the law. A growing number of employers are taking advantage of the tax credit that allows businesses with fewer than 25 workers and average wages under $50,000 to deduct up to 35% of the cost of the premiums they provide for their employees and many are receiving money from the law?s reinsurance program, which assists employers with retiree health costs. In 2014, small businesses will be able to use the new health insurance exchanges to pool resources and lower costs by covering their workers through a larger risk pool. All this would free up dollars that could then be used for job creation.
As Steve Pearlstein points out, “what’s particularly noteworthy about this fixation with ‘job killing’ is that it stands in such contrast to the complete lack of concern about policies that kill people rather than jobs.” “Repealing health-care reform, for instance, would inevitably lead to thousands of unnecessary deaths each year because of an inability to get medical care,” he says. “There is an unmistakable redbaiting quality to the “job-killing” rhetoric, a throwback to the McCarthy era.”
Cross-posted on The Wonk Room.
As ThinkProgress previously reported, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) advocated for and passed budget cuts last year that cut off urgent transplant funding that was previously promised to 98 Arizonans. In late November, Mark Price, an Arizona father who had been battling leukemia for a year, died due to complications related to chemotherapy treatment he was receiving. Price was awaiting an organ transplant that could’ve saved his life, but he was unable to receive one in time due to Brewer’s budget cuts.
Now, the University of Arizona Medical Center has told the press that another patient passed away in late December because they were unable to get their organ transplant funded. Although the attending physicians declined to release the name of the patient out of respect for the family’s privacy, they confirmed that the patient that passed away was one of the 98 Arizonans cut off from organ transplants by Brewer and the GOP-controlled state legislature. He “was our patient. He was on our list,” said surgery department spokeswoman Jo Marie Gellerman.
Local news station KGUN reported the second death and tracked down two patients who are still waiting for transplants. They interviewed 48-year old David Hernandez, who has a terminal lung disease and will die without a transplant. They also highlighted the case of 27-year old Tiffany Tate, who also needs a lung transplant to save her life. Despite placing three phone calls and an e-mail, the station was unable to receive any response from Brewer’s office.
KGUN was able to interview Sen. Frank Antenori (R) — a Brewer ally who has long fought for provisions to prevent abortions, based on his supposed belief in the sanctity of human life — who told them that he wishes the legislature “had the money and it was flowing from the hills to fund everything we want to fund. Tough decisions are being made because we’re in a budget crisis right now.” Interestingly, the station found out that all state employees are entitled to medical benefits subsidized by taxpayers, and that “yes, they do cover organ transplants.” Watch it:
After learning about the plight of the 98 Arizonan patients, Steven Daglas, an Illinois State GOP Central Committeeman, worked with several others to analyze the Arizona state budget and finances to develop funding solutions that would allow the state to fully fund the transplants for all of the remaining patients without actually raising any new revenue. The possible solutions included using $2 million from an AIG settlement that the state of Arizona will receive or “transferring $1.2 million in funds that Arizona once planned to use to build bridges for endangered squirrels.” Yet even after repeatedly sending his proposal to Brewer since December, Daglas has received zero response from the governor. He told The Arizona Republic that she may be ignoring his proposal out of the fear that he’s trying to politically damage her, but he explained, “I’m a Republican guy from Illinois…We’re just concerned about these transplant patients and want to help“:
Since early last month, Daglas and those with whom he is working have been reaching out to the governor and her staff with the ideas. Among other things, they sent a letter that required a signature confirmation so they knew the information was getting through. But they haven’t heard back.
“We’re worried that maybe her office is thinking that we’re offering these ideas as a way to attack her or make her look bad, and that isn’t it at all,” Daglas said. “I’m a Republican guy from Illinois. We have plenty of problems up here. We’re just concerned about these transplant patients and want to help. We have provided detailed information about the suggestions, the statutes, the original sources and so on.”
The failure of Brewer to respond to the funding proposal has frustrated Daglas, and this morning he joined with five of the patients in need of transplants and launched a website, Arizona98.com. The website lists 26 possible ways that Arizona can shift funding in order to pay for the transplant procedures without having to raise any additional revenue. As the Arizona Republic notes, the savings Arizona is supposed to have by not funding the transplants amount to $1.36 million. As Arizona98.com notes, “The fact our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters (hard-working citizens and good people) have been deemed expendable at a price of $13,877.56 per human life still does not make sense.”
The conservative panic over super-predators and an out-of-control underclass crime-wavetrunami[...]
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"There is a case to be made that, in the contest between corporate profits and children's lungs, someone should be standing up for children's lungs."In a related story in today's Washington Post, Steven Pearlstein details how Republicans are combining nonsensical job-killing rhetoric with people-killing policies.
So you might have heard that two GOP representatives violated the Constitution yesterday, the day the Constitution was being read on the House floor. Here's what happened.
WASHINGTON -- Two House Republicans have cast votes as members of the 112th Congress, but were not sworn in on Wednesday, a violation of the Constitution on the same day that the GOP had the document read from the podium.
The Republicans, incumbent Pete Sessions of Texas and freshman Mike Fitzpatrick, missed the swearing in because they were at a fundraiser in the Capitol Visitors Center. The pair watched the swearing-in on television from the Capitol Visitors Center with their hands raised....
The Bucks County Courier Times said that roughly 500 Fitzpatrick supporters were on hand at the gathering. Fitzpatrick's campaign had solicited contributions for a bus trip to the Capitol and "Mike Fitzpatrick's Swearing In Celebration."
Sessions is head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, responsible for fundraising for GOP candidates....
There is no provision in the Constitution for a remote swearing-in by television.
Hey, guess what? Holding a fundraiser in the Capitol could be both unethical and illegal, according to the Committee on Standards and Ethics. And, in fact, the Capitol Visitor Center says in the document outlining its official uses, "Visitor Center space may not be used for any fund-raising purpose.... Visitor Center space may not be used for political activities, including political campaign, political party, or political action committee activities." That's the rules.
Fitzpatrick's spokesperson says it wasn't a fundraiser, but they just charted a $30 fee for "transportation costs for the festivities." Nonetheless, the event was sponsored by the Fitzpatrick campaign, which sure makes it seem like a massive violation of the rules.
Despite famously, spectacularly and cravenly throwing his long-time pastor under the bus during the 2008 Democratic primary, Barack Obama has failed to steer our country back to its founding principle of the strict separation between church and state. [...]
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Republicans look at the states that got a boost in EVs, and they rejoice. It's mostly red states! And in the short term (2012), than certainly is good news for them. What isn't good news is the reason why those states have grown.
Hispanic voters are nearly three times more prevalent in states that gained congressional seats and Electoral College votes in the 2010 reapportionment than they are in states that lost seats, according to an analysis of Census data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. Based on averages reflecting congressional gains and losses, 15.2% of the eligible voter population in states that gained seats is Hispanic, compared with just 5.4% of eligible voters in those states that lost seats.
With these reapportionment changes, Latinos likely will play a larger role in national politics in the coming decade. Two states that gained seats, Florida and Nevada, have been key battlegrounds in recent presidential elections (having voted for the Republican nominee in 2004 and the Democratic candidate in 2008). In both states, Latinos are a growing share of eligible voters
The states that gained seats are Texas (4), Florida (2), and single seats in South Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and Washington.
The continued growth of the Latino population in Texas has promised to turn it Blue for several cycles now, only to see that promise unrealized. But with a quarter of the vote now Latino and still surging, that day will come eventually. Texas Republicans are sure doing everything in their power to hasten that day.
Florida is swingy as hell, and will remain that way. Arizona will be the next big battleground state (and could've gained an extra seat had they not driven their Latino population underground). Nevada looks to be shifting from Purple to Blue. Washington is Blue and only getting Bluer.
Of that lot, only South Carolina, Utah, and Georgia should remain safe for Republicans for the time being, and maybe not even Georgia, as a black-brown coalition could help make the state increasingly competitive in this decade.
A smart Republican Party could co-opt Latino support for Democrats by appealing to their social conservatism. Instead, they continue to blast Latinos as the enemy, doing everything in their power to solidify the brown vote for the Democratic Party.
The judge's ruling delayed indefinitely Stanford's trial, which had been scheduled to begin Jan. 24. A psychiatrist hired by Stanford's team said in court that the defendant was taking three milligrams a day of an anti-anxiety drug normally only given out in one milligram a day doses for no longer than two weeks. The medication causes Stanford to suffer drowsiness, lack of energy and inability to focus on tasks, the psychiatrist reportedly said. Federal prosecutor Andrew Warren suggested Stanford was faking his symptoms, the newspaper said.
Lawyers for Stanford also responded to the federal government's objections to his request for a two-year continuance. The prosecution accused Stanford of playing "musical attorneys." Stanford, prosecutors said, made numerous counsel changes after the October hearing not because of financial issues, but because Stanford had personal issues with his attorneys. Stanford's lawyers said in response that there were numerous financial difficulties because his insurance kept oscillating between paying and not paying.
"In sum, the Accused has not had access to his personal funds and was forced to seek funds from a directors' and officers' policy valued at 100 million dollars. The insurer did not make funds available for the Accused's defense and this uncertainty of funds caused turnover in the Accused's counsel."
While the prosecution accused Stanford of exaggerating the complexity of the case, and argued that it involves only one company, Stanford says it involves all his businesses because "this case is about the flow of money through SIB and all related entities." Stanford Financial Group of Companies, lawyers argue, "was a worldwide entity of diverse proportions."
Stanford wants to review all his personal finances because he says he cannot "rely only on those documents that the Government deems as 'hot documents.' While those documents may be important to the Accused in his defense, such documents cannot be construed to represent all documents necessary to the Accused's defense."
"Internet access is required for the Accused to word-search the discovery housed on the database."
Additional reporting by Alex Sciuto.
Scenes from the new Congress:[...]
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