Recent editorials from Texas newspapers
San Angelo Standard-Times. March 4, 2013.
Voting Rights Act is still needed in Texas, other states.
It is the misfortune of Shelby County, Ala., to challenge a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a landmark piece of civil rights legislation, following an election when political partisans tried new, more subtle ways of suppressing minority voting participation.
Voter surveys showed Republicans trailing badly among blacks and Hispanics, a gap that could potentially cost them the election, and ultimately, combined with disparate support for the Democrats among women and the young, did.
Certain Republican-run jurisdictions tried a number of tactics to hold down minority voting: unnecessarily strict voter-ID laws, restrictions on early voting, bans on same-day voter registration, or understaffed or inconveniently located polling places that led to frustratingly long lines.
Indeed, one Pennsylvania GOP official boasted — prematurely and mistakenly, as it turned out — that the state's new voter-ID law had handed the election to Mitt Romney.
Shelby County was seeking to get out from under the 1965 law's requirement that nine states and parts of seven others with egregious histories of denying or hindering the minority right to vote get pre-approval from the federal government before changing their voting laws.
The jurisdictions seeking to overturn the law argued before the Supreme Court that it unfairly impinged on their sovereignty and, further, that race relations had evolved to the point where the law was no longer needed. Judging from the questioning at oral arguments, the court's conservative bloc seems inclined to go along.
Among the worst offenders in this new post-Jim Crow era of voter suppression were a number of the nine states, including Texas. The fact that states not covered by the law were also serious offenders would argue for expanding, not scrapping, the law, as the Supreme Court suggested when it last heard a challenge to the law in 2009.
Chief Justice John Roberts has often indicated that, all things being equal, the high court should defer to the will of the legislature.
The most recent legislative vote on the law came in 2006, in a Republican Congress under a Republican president. The Senate voted 98-0 and the House 390-33 to extend it by 25 years. Those lopsided margins certainly bespeak a definite legislative intent.
In the current case, Justice Antonin Scalia raised a number of objections verging on the bizarre. One was that voting rights "was not a question you can leave to Congress," even though the legislature passed the law 47 years ago and has reauthorized it four times. Apparently, Congress doesn't agree.
And Scalia said that the name "Voting Rights Act" was so politically appealing that no senator dared vote against it: "Who's going to vote against it in the future?"
Nobody, we hope, including the conservatives on the court. It has been a remarkably effective law and should be allowed to stand.
Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Feb. 27, 2013.
If conscience dictates, then expand Medicaid
Gov. Rick Perry almost could argue that his consistent refusal to expand Medicaid in Texas is a principled stand. If only it weren't fatal. According to one esteemed estimate, the annual unnecessary death toll for continuing to leave a fourth of Texans uninsured is 9,000.
Perry can claim perseverance among his virtues. He was an early proponent of the idea of states refusing to expand Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. He has endured heckling for refusing to join other anti-Obamacare governors who capitulated recently for the sake of their states' working poor.
Those include, most notably, Arizona's Jan Brewer and Florida's Rick Scott. We single out those two because when it comes to Obama-bashing, Brewer can out-Perry Rick Perry, and because Scott has an extensive private-sector background in the business end of health care. Scott might actually know what he's talking about when he criticizes Obamacare.
This is why Perry should pay special attention to Scott's revised position. Obama's re-election was a big Vegas-style neon sign that didn't test Scott's literacy. The Florida governor said his conversion isn't "a white flag of surrender to government-run health care," and indeed it isn't. He proposes signing on only for the three years that the federal government pays the entire tab for the expansion, to see how it goes. That's shrewd.
Scott says it's also compassionate. And indeed it is.
In an article in The American Spectator under the headline "Rick Scott is wrong," former New York lieutenant governor Betsy McCaughey, a Ph.D. and patient advocate, predicts he will doom Florida to bankruptcy and soaring taxes. She notes that the federal government, after the first three years of paying 100 percent of the expansion cost, is supposed to pay 90 percent thereafter. But, "every deficit reduction plan being discussed in Washington, D.C. includes abandoning that 9-to-1 match soon," she warns, citing the bipartisan State Budget Crisis Task Force chaired last summer by former New York Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.
"The federal government usually breaks its promises," she adds.
But if past behavior continues to be a reliable predictor of future behavior, abandoning the 9-to-1 commitment should appear doubtful at best, even to those who trust government the least. The federal government already pays 60 percent of Texas' Medicaid costs. With the rug already that far under Texas and other states, a federal health care expansion is bound to push it in further, not pull it out.
Texas taxpayers already pay for Medicaid and for the uninsured working poor whose incomes are too high to qualify for it. But those people would receive better, cheaper, more preventive care under Medicaid and they would be less likely to die prematurely.
Refusal to expand Medicaid would cost Texas an estimated $100 billion in 10 years. If Perry persists and prevails, Texas taxpayers will continue to support Medicaid in Texas plus the other 49 states, and get none in return from the 49. We are far from alone in having pointed this out before.
Probably none of the 9,000 who might die because Perry refuses to accept Medicaid expansion would vote for him anyway. Pointing it out is crass, we admit. But his counter-arguments amount to little more than slogans, which point straight down the political campaign trail, which completes the circle back to our original crass point.
Better-informed, sharper conservative minds have concluded that accepting Medicaid expansion is in their states' best interest. It saves money and, oh yeah, it saves lives. Conscience and reason led them to the inevitable conclusion.
Houston Chronicle. Feb. 28, 2013.
Gov. Perry's cruel fantasy: Governor maintains opposition to federal funding to expand state Medicaid
We thought maybe this would be the first legislative session in the last half decade or so without a Rick Perry political campaign to muddy things up.
No such luck.
Supposedly, Perry's planning a second White House run in 2016. Really? After the pasting he took in the 2012 Republican primary, you'd think our veteran governor would know better but Rick Perry is, apparently, unbowed.
Like many Texans, we'd prefer it if the governor stayed focused on important matters at hand in Austin rather than plotting his next national campaign. Perry's fascination with things presidential four years in the future matters quite a lot in the here and now, the 83rd session of the Texas Legislature.
It just isn't helpful, especially when it comes to dealing with problems such as complying with federal law requiring health care for millions of Texans. It appears Perry would make his 2016 run on the backs of some 6 million Texans without health care insurance.
Business Photo Galleriesview all
- 24367Oklahoma weather: Crews work to clear storm damage in Oklahoma City as the state braces for severe weather Sunday.
- 12839Oklahoma Severe Storm Updates
- 7010OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti won't amnesty Kendrick Perkins
- 5994OKC Thunder: Thunder trio praise fans before potential departures
- 5476Wild hogs continue to be a growing menace across Oklahoma
- 5061Student shot dead during botched home invasion
- 3886Oklahoma State football: Todd Monken thinks Wes Lunt should've stayed in Stillwater