Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Religious right starts new war on contraception

Years ago I’d heard from several “liberals” who I thought were crackpots that the religious right didn’t just want to do away with abortion they really wanted to eliminate contraception all together because if a woman is married she should have as many children as God gave her. If a woman isn’t married she shouldn’t be having sex anyway and if she did and got pregnant that too was God’s plan.

Then I saw State Representative Wayne Christian in an interview with a reporter from the Texas Tribune say “Well of course it’s a war on birth control, on abortions, on everything. That’s what family planning is supposed to be about.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UA75-PY5muk I almost fell out of my chair.

Some call this a war on women, I can’t disagree but I think it is also another example of why the separation of church and state is so important. There may be religious reasons to advocate for no contraception and that is the privilege of those who believe that way because our Constitution insures Freedom of Religion. At the same time our Constitution also provides protection from religious interference in state matters and no one has the right to push their religious convictions on anyone else in this country.

There simply is no social case for the Republican Party’s war on contraception.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lamar Smith responds in the SA Express News and my response

Smith's letter:
A recent letter to the editor wrongly accused me of wanting to end Medicare. That is false. The House budget would save Medicare to ensure it is available for future generations. We know that if we do nothing Medicare will become insolvent in 10 years, according to recent estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

Under this budget proposal, anyone 55 or older would keep their current Medicare system for the rest of their life. And for those 54 and under, the Medicare system would be saved by providing retirees with the ability to choose from a menu of government-supported options.

For the sake of our seniors, we cannot afford to wait to fix Medicare's impending insolvency. Those who oppose the House budget have not proposed any solutions of their own.


My response:
Congressman Smith’s letter published May 28 falsely states that he’s protecting Medicare when in fact he’s ending it for anyone 54 and younger. While a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, calling a voucher program Medicare is disingenuous at best. Mr. Smith fails to inform us that the program he voted for will only pay a fixed amount to private insurers who can charge any amount they want for any level of coverage they to choose to offer and deny coverage to anyone they wish all in the name of making a profit.

I hope regular readers will note that he didn’t bother to respond to the question posed in the original letter. “I’m 44 years old and can’t get private coverage now due to several medical conditions; what insurance company do they think will want to cover me when I’m 67?”

There are any number of ways to address the projected funding shortfall including raising premiums, raising co-pays and forcefully prosecuting Medicare fraud. Mr. Smith needs to understand that handing us steaming longhorn droppings and calling it roses doesn’t make it roses.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lamar Smith doesn't remember voting to kill Medicare last month

Wednesday evening at a Town Hall hosted by WOAI a constituent asked Congressman Lamar Smith why he voted to end Medicare and give more tax breaks to the rich when the majority of Americans were opposed. Smith responded: “What vote was that?” The constituent’s reply was: “Aren’t you in the House?”

What a short memory Smith must have, the vote to pass the Ryan budget bill occurred on April 15. Congressman Smith and 234 other Republicans voted to end Medicare and give away tax breaks to the wealthy. Since then Smith has claimed that ending Medicare is necessary to protect our children’s future when in fact it actually makes things worse for their parents.

Smith and Ryan claim that the voucher provided in lieu of actual insurance coverage will allow seniors to seek private insurance. I’m 44 years old and can’t get private coverage now due to several medical conditions; what insurance company do they think will want to cover me when I’m 67? On the odd chance that seniors can find coverage on the private market what makes them so sure that the voucher will be enough to cover that insurance?

The election was all about jobs, jobs, jobs so why did we elect Republicans?

In the last election the American people indicated they wanted a focus on jobs and the economy. They were so unhappy about the state of the economy and shortage of jobs that they threw out the Democratic majority in the US House and gave the Republican Party a super-majority of 101 seats in the state House. With jobs and the economy as an overwhelming mandate what did we get?
A congressional push for a five-year, $100 million plan to pour taxpayer money into a religious school voucher scheme in Washington, D.C.

A vote reaffirming the importance of "In God We Trust" as the national motto, and a call for its display in all public schools and other public buildings.

A vote to end federal support for family planning.

A federal budget bill that would end Medicare.

A state budget bill that damages public education by reducing funding 10 to 12 %. We’re already 49th in per student spending on education.

Sharia Law bills that attempt to protect us from something that we’re already protected from by the United States Constitution’s First Amendment.

A bill to force invasive, medically unnecessary sonograms on women who wish to legally terminate their pregnancies.

I could go on but by now I’m sure you’ve noticed that there are no proposals to actually generate jobs either directly or indirectly, in fact by cutting the state education budget Texas will lose tens of thousands of jobs. So exactly why was it that Republicans were elected?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Are you sure that Republican Party values really align with yours?

Lately I’ve heard from quite a few well-meaning people that say they vote Republican because the party generally espouses their values. These conversations have led me to wonder to which values they’re referring. Do they mean carving a hole in education budgets across the state such that a whole generation of Texans receives an inferior education? After all Texas already spends less per student on education than almost every state but Mississippi.

Do the values of these well-meaning people require such extensive cuts to the state's Medicaid program that seniors, in need of daily medical care which their families are unable to provide, be thrown out on the street in the name of low taxes for millionaires?

While one may argue over when life begins based on one’s interpretation of the bible or science or some combination thereof; are the values of these well-meaning people really such that making abortions almost impossible to get for low income women more important than the non-abortion related women’s health care services provided by Planned Parenthood which are 97% of its budget?

Are the profits of Halliburton and other energy companies valued more highly than the lives and health of people who live near virtually unregulated gas drilling sites where you can ignite the water from your kitchen faucet with a match? All these and more are brought to us by the Republican Party of Texas whose values you say align more closely with yours, I’d like to know if you’re sure about that?