While Texas has some of the nation’s toughest restrictions on reproductive health care, it has also drastically cut funding to family planning centers. At the same time the state has increased funding to so-called crisis pregnancy centers (CPC), which has decreased the access women have to reproductive health care in the state. In Rick Perry’s Texas, women are not trusted to make their own reproductive health care decisions.
Last year I wrote about Congressman Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America's Future Act of 2010 and how it would increase the tax burdens on working and middle class Americans and make significant cuts to the social safety net. Earlier this month Ryan released the Path to Prosperity, which would dramatically reduce taxes on the wealthy and corporations while making draconian cuts in the social safety net. While the Roadmap and the Path are both radical conservative proposals, apparently Ryan left his Roadmap to go on a Path where the laws of arithmetic do not apply.
There are three ways to become a citizen of the United States. You can be a naturalized American citizen; where a foreign born individual meets several requirements and then is granted citizenship. If you are born outside of the United States but at least one of your parents is a United States citizen then you can become a citizen through Jus Sanguinis (Right of Blood). The most common way to become a United States citizen is through Jus Soli (Right of Birthplace), which was codified by the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. However, there is now a movement to repeal the 14th Amendment, and remove the right of individuals born within the United States borders to automatically become citizens.
The midterms are headed into the final two weeks of the campaigns, and the candidates are beginning their sprint for the finish line. In Texas Congressional District 17 that means we are going to see a blitz of television advertisements, and next week Democratic Congressman Chet Edwards will debate Republican challenger Bill Flores twice. The Bryan-College Station Eagle reported this week that both candidates are making their final pitch to the voters, and they are both going to be campaigning quite heavily in the district. The campaign for District 17 exemplifies the overall campaign during the midterms, as Democrats like Edwards have chosen to focus on local issues, while the Republicans like Flores have focused on making the election about national issues. Both parties have decided to follow the conventional wisdom. In stead of campaign on actually policy ideas the Republicans have campaigned as the opposition party, and have provided no real alternative. The Democrats have campaigned on their disagreements with the Obama Administration instead of campaigning on their legislative achievements.
The political advertisements from have become a regular feature on televisions across Texas Congressional District 17, as both Democrat Congressman Chet Edwards and Republican Bill Flores flood the airwaves with advertising. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, over $1.8 million has been spent already by both campaigns, and while Flores has already spent $1.2 million Edwards has over $2.1 million cash on hand that he will likely spend in the an advertising blitz during the last month of the campaign. However, there is not just money being spent by the two campaigns trying to influence the election in District 17. A conservative advocacy group, American Future Fund, is also spending money in the district. The AFF has released two advertisements attacking Edwards:
Among the issues that voters are concerned about during the midterm elections, energy may not be a deciding factor in how they cast their votes. However, energy is often considered to be a component of the economy, and the economy will easily be the most important issue during the midterm elections. According to a recent Gallup poll, 30% of those survey said that the "economy in general" is the most important problem facing the country, and 28% said that "unemployment/jobs" are the most important problem. Where do each of the candidates for Congressional District 17 stand on the issue of energy?
This week from the think tanks, the narrative was that of an economy under stress, and attempting to recover from the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. The report this month from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that while employment remained steady at 9.5% the private sector added only 71,000 jobs. While the employment rate is holding steady, the labor market is shrinking as more and more workers drop out of the labor force because they have been unable to find employment. What we can see from the latest reports is that while the government stimulus prevented the economy from falling into a second Great Depression, and according to a report from two leading economists without the stimulus the GDP in 2010 would be about 11.5% lower, and payroll employment would be less by some 8½ million jobs. However, despite this it is clear that the economy needs more economic stimulus and jobs programs to prevent the Great Recession to turn into the Great Depression.
More Tank Think Below the Fold...
Saying no only goes so far. The Congressional Republicans obstructionism has been purely a political strategy, but it is a shortsighted political strategy with no long term vision. Perhaps that is because that Republicans have no long term vision, and that their campaign agenda amounts to nothing but clichés and platitudes. Over the course of the primary campaign season we have heard Republican candidates use phrases like "pro-growth," and "free enterprise," and "lower taxes," and "less spending," and of course "smaller government." These candidates have spent most of their time informing voters about everything that they’re against, but they haven’t spent much time explaining to voters what they support. Some may argue that Republicans don’t have a coherent narrative for a policy agenda because they do not have one. However, the real reason they don’t have a coherent narrative might be because they do have an agenda, and the policy ideas that Republicans are advocating are to simply double down on the failed economic policies that lead to the Great Recession.
What should Congress do? Right now, nothing. Why should Congress do nothing? Because if Congress does nothing then the Bush Administration tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans will expire and this will recover much needed revenue and help reduce the budget deficits. Except for the first time during the course of the Obama Administration Congressional Republicans actually want to do something: extend the Bush Administration tax cuts and some believe they should be made permanent.
Recently there has been a national conversation about race and racism, but this conversation has been inadequate at best and detrimental at worst. The problem is that the conversation has not been about racism as a systemic and institutional problem, but the conversation has been about whether or not individual acts of prejudice constitute racism. This conversation then completely ignores the structural problems that create racial disparities, and therefore completely misses the point of what our national conversation about race should be about. Perhaps the most significant source of structural racism is the United States justice system, where justice is not always blind.
This week the Congress passed a $34 billion dollar extension of benefits to Americans who have been out of work for more than 26 weeks, and these benefits where passed along party lines with the Republicans in the Senate blocking the benefits for weeks. Congressional Republicans argued that the benefits should not be passed unless a corresponding amount of budget cuts could be made, however, another argument that Republicans have offered is that unemployment benefits themselves are a disincentive to find work. At a time when long term unemployment is high than at any time since the Great Depression, and there are five workers applying for every one job these arguments seem ludicrous. The unemployment benefits will help 2 million struggling Americans, and the extension of benefits will last through November.
The debate over immigration has been pushed into the national conversation since the Arizona state legislature passed Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, otherwise known as SB1070. Since Arizona Governor, Republican Jan Brewer, signed SB1070 into law there have been seven separate lawsuits filed against the law, including a lawsuit filed by the United States Department of Justice. In federal court last week Judge Susan Bolton heard arguments from both sides of Salgado v. Brewer, and this week Judge Bolton will hear arguments in the case brought by the Justice Department. These lawsuits argue that the law is unconstitutional on different grounds including that it violates civil liberty, that it causes racial profiling and that it is an unlawful regulation of federal immigration law.
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