In a GOP primary debate last night, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst suggested none of the committees led by Democrats matter. Democrat Sen. Leticia Van de Putte reminded him that Texas veterans - the committee she chairs - actually matter quite a lot.
David Dewhurst and Texas Republican lawmakers hosted a press conference Tuesday morning touting Steve Hotze, a Houston-area "doctor" who is suing to stop the Affordable Care Act being implemented in Texas. Hotze's rather insane beliefs include the idea that a woman must get permission from a man to work outside the home.
Texas Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), head of the Health and Human Services Committee has come out and said that Texas may not say no to federal Medicaid expansion funds as part of the Affordable Care Act after all.
This seems like quite the change of heart, especially after Lieutant Governor’s confirmation that Medicaid expansion would be “off the table” this legislative session and Governor Perry’s claim back in July in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, that he would “not be party to socializing healthcare and bankrupting my state in direct contradiction to our Constitution and our founding principles of limited government."
Yesterday, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) discussed the importance of new proposed legislation regarding Medicaid fraud which they say has cost Texas $6 billion from 2004-2011. “When you defraud the system you are stealing from the taxpayers, from the children, from the poor, the elderly and Texans with disabilities,” Nelson said. “It is a crime against our most vulnerable citizens and we have to change our approach to stopping it.”
Yet at the same press conference, Dewhurst made it clear that Medicaid expansion is off the table for the legislative session and in doing so, is denying health care for 1.5 million Texans that the expansion would benefit. Is this not also a crime against vulnerable citizens that Medicaid is intended to help? The expansion would also be an economic windfall for the state, allowing hospital districts and counties to experience new financial and social benefits, and bring billions of dollars into Texas communities.
Dewhurst himself stated that, “Our Medicaid costs have doubled, doubled since 2002-2003,” yet declines the billions of dollars in federal funds that would be provided by the expansion to help with the exact costs he says Texans are concerned about. Clearly, Dewhurst, along with Governor Perry, who has previously come out saying that Texas will not accept the funds, refuse to bend in their relentless far right ideology, even if it means drastically hurting Texans.
Immigration has become a popular focus of debate in both national and state discourse as of late – last week President Obama used his presidential powers to end deportation of undocumented immigrant brought to the U.S. as children, and the Republican Party of Texas recently shifted a portion of their stance on immigration to support a national guest-worker program. Evidently, this stance has not penetrated the exceedingly anti-immigrant posturing of GOP Senate candidates Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst.
Cruz and Dewhurst have become embroiled in a competition to decide who can take the most extreme and racist position on immigration – a contest that is disturbingly reminiscent of the GOP’s infamous “Southern strategy” adopted under Richard Nixon, used to exploit anti-African American racism in order to garner the support of Southern whites. It’s only necessary to substitute the word “African” with “Latino” in order to paint an apropos portrait of the GOP candidates’ efforts.
Until recently, it appeared as if Cruz was leading the hilariously distasteful competition, but Dewhurst recently scored an equalizer by endorsing a federal mandate that would force employers to use the E-Verify service before making hiring decisions – a position that is perfectly consistent with his party’s stance on states’ rights, limited government, and opposition to government mandated procurement of private services.
What’s even more exasperating in this display of anti-immigrant-one-uppery is Pew's research findings: they conclude that net migration flows from Mexico have actually fallen to zero, and have perhaps even reversed flow in favor of Mexico. That’s right, Republicans have finally succeeded in their quest for de facto immigration reform – but not in the way they necessarily intended. By crashing the American economy through wanton deregulation and perpetuating the non-recovery by way of obstructionist economic policy, the GOP has finally created an environment hostile enough to deter immigrants from even seeking a better life in the “land of opportunity.”