Many of us were relieved when former Governor Rick Perry decided not to run for re-election in 2014. Maybe some of us thought it would be the end of an era of a harsh conservative and sometimes ruthless crony capitalist Governor with a heart of stone. That said, in all fairness, one of the few areas where Rick Perry showed a modicum of compassion for a group is his support for in-state tuition for undocumented college students. But outside of this gesture Rick Perry is as cold as they come where struggling middle class and poor Texans are concerned.
Maybe we were being unrealistic when we thought the election of a new Governor, although a Republican one, would usher in more compassionate conservatism, at the very least.
But oh boy. Were we naive or what? Unfortunately, as it turns out, Governor Elect Greg Abbott's policies are even more unforgiving than Rick Perry's.
Despite the fact that Texas has the highest number of uninsured residents then Governor Rick Perry turned down federally expanded Medicaid and the state refused to set insurance exchanges in Texas. Had the SCOTUS ruled in favor of the conservative's recent efforts to gut the Affordable Care Act many insured Texans, thanks to Obamacare, would have lost their federal subsidies, thereby making access to health care next to impossible. Did Greg Abbott care about the thousands of Texans who would have been cut off from affordable health care insurance if the Republican lawsuit had prevailed? Of course not.
Abbott urges GOP not to rescue Obamacare.
AUSTIN - Greg Abbott on Monday urged his fellow Republicans not to "rescue" President Barack Obama's signature health care law if it is torpedoed by the U.S. Supreme Court, an unusually public stance that could make the first-term Texas governor a leading voice on a national issue dividing the GOP.
Abbott's position, announced in an opinion article published on the conservative National Review magazine's website ahead of an expected high court decision, puts him in a group, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, that hopes a ruling against the Affordable Care Act's subsidies to help poor residents buy health insurance ultimately would undo the entire law. Others, including U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, say the government should patch the problem by replacing the subsidies for the nearly 1 million Texans and 5 million other Americans now receiving them, at least temporarily and with some changes to the law.
Rick Perry and John Cornyn, hardly profiles in courage and compassion when it comes to struggling middle class and poor Texans, at least recognize the political liability for such a strident stance against the now insured. No amount of distracting dog whistles
and fear mongering about race, immigrants, gay marriage and abortion would make people forget the raw fact that the Supreme Court, thanks to the Republican lawsuit, would have taken away their Obamcare health insurance coverage.
Greg Abbott's plan?
In his article, Abbott suggested the government could address the issue without the Affordable Care Act by untying health insurance from employment and pursuing market-based solutions, such as encouraging open insurance markets that cross state lines and health savings accounts that stress personal responsibility.
Ah yes. Personal responsibility.
In other words those who accept federal subsidies fall into former President Ronald Reagan's demonization of faux "welfare queens." Besides, the Governor seems to be woefully misinformed about Obamacare in that it has
untied one's ability to access affordable health care insurance from an employer. People can quit a job without having to worry about buying affordable health insurance policies outside of employment.
Greg Abbott's malice toward women's reproductive rights.
But Greg Abbott's cruelty for those who rely on federal subsidies in order to be able to afford healthcare insurance doesn't stop here. His and his Party's ruthless war on women's reproductive rights just became more cold-blooded. This recent decision comes on top of the GOP's ongoing efforts, under Rick Perry's watch, to make abortion next to impossible for economically disadvantaged women in Texas.
Another attack on poor woman. Texas ousts Planned Parenthood from Cancer Screening Program.
It got even harder to be a low-income woman in Texas over the weekend. Following a federal appeals court ruling on Friday that will leave the state with just nine abortion clinics, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a budget proposal that will effectively oust Planned Parenthood from Texas’ Breast and Cervical Cancer Services program, which provides cancer screenings for uninsured, low-income women.
Abbott’s anticipated move marks a win for Texas conservatives, who have tried repeatedly to eliminate all taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood in an effort to further reduce abortion access in the state. The organization has already been targeted with regard to cancer screenings before, with state lawmakers prohibiting the nearly two dozen clinics involved in the screening program from accepting taxpayer dollars if they also provide abortion services. In accordance with the budget provision the governor signed off on Saturday, any clinics affiliated with abortion providers will no longer receive funding for cancer screening services.
There is no rational reason for robbing women of affordable cancer screenings. This decision is based on pure spite.
But angry spite seems to be de rigueur for Greg Abbott. As we can see.
Greg Abbott's Voter ID Law deprives voters from their right.
His contempt for individual rights doesn't stop with Greg Abbott's war on women's reproductive rights. As Attorney General Greg Abbott implemented one of the toughest voter ID laws in the U.S. One federal judge called the law a "poll tax."
In 2014 over 600,000 voters were disenfranchised.
On Saturday morning, the Supreme Court ruled that Texas' harsh voter ID law could remain in effect for the upcoming midterm elections, potentially disenfranchising some 600,000 mostly black and Latino voters. In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the law may be "purposefully discriminatory" and warned that it "likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters." And Ginsburg noted that Texas' 2011 law falls in line with the state's long history of discriminatory voting laws.
But Greg Abbott isn't satisfied with disenfranchising minority voters. He also wants to make voting difficult for senior citizens,
especially disabled ones or those who can no longer drive.
The integrity of the vote-by-mail process must be strengthened, not called into question. Amendments added to Senate Bill 1034 late in the legislative process would create confusion as to how counties should administer mail-in ballot applications. To ensure this important matter is addressed with the clarity it deserves, the Legislature should reconsider the issue and eliminate the uncertainty and ambiguity contained in this bill.
are code words for the TX GOP fear that more and more Democrats would vote by mail if they receive an annual ballot. As we know the Texas GOP wants only for its white base to vote.
Viciousness toward gay marriage.
Greg Abbott also attempted to gum up the works in order for gay couples to marry in Texas by hiding behind so-called religious freedom.
This is despite the SCOTUS's recent ruling on the legality of gay marriage in the U.S.
The Harris Co. (Houston area) Clerk (R-TeaParty) said his office would not issue licenses for gay couples until further instructions come from the state's Attorney General.
Delays in issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Harris County led to a showdown between two elected officials Friday, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states must recognize such unions.
County Attorney Vince Ryan will seek a court order compelling County Clerk Stan Stanart to issue licenses to same-sex couples,
Stanart's office said it intended to issue the licenses, but cited issues of adjusting forms and computer software.
"We were told if we use the wrong form it will be null and void," said George Hammerlein, a deputy clerk.
Needless to say much of the city was up in arms
over the County Clerk's delay in issuing marriage licenses.
Here in Houston, however, we still have to deal with the politics of obstinance. People have known for months that this decision was coming down the Supreme Court pipeline, and the legalistic tea leaves were showing signs that same-sex marriage would be the end result. Yet Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart spent his days dilly-dallying, refusing to update his office for this predictable scenario. His actions left Harris County tarnished as one of the sole major population centers that was not prepared to immediately issue licenses upon the Supreme Court's decision, despite an opinion from Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan's office instructing otherwise. If Stanart cannot follow the Supreme Court's decision, then he should feel free to resign.
While Harris County was issuing marriage licenses by the afternoon, the Gov. Greg Abbott continues to stand in the doorway. Our governor issued a memo Friday claiming that state employees could ignore the law if it was their sincerely held religious belief. He also set out on Twitter to remark that "Marriage was defined by God. No man can redefine it. We will defend our religious liberties."
If Greg Abbott cannot discharge his official duties as the state's Governor because of personal religious reasons, he too should resign. Nor should he use taxpayer money to fight what is now the law of the land.
Ignoring the fact that man has constantly redefined marriage (how many decades ago were wives considered a husband's property?) this attitude glibly ignores the many religious institutions that do recognize same-sex marriage, including many Presbyterian and Lutheran churches, and Reform and Conservative synagogues. The First Amendment well protects those religions that don't want to take part in same-sex weddings, but until today's decision, there was little to protect those that do.
Despite today's victory, the struggle for equality isn't over. For decades, representatives in Washington have proposed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual identity - similar to Houston's own equal rights ordinance. "Now that marriage is a done deal, that's going to be the next shift," Houston GLBT caucus President Maverick Welsh told the Chronicle editorial board.
The words of angry politicians, and the actions of stubborn ones, cannot stop the march of equality. From coast to coast, the bedrock institution of marriage has been opened to consenting couples of all kinds, strengthening the American society and adding new ranks to the next generation of stable, two-parent households. The highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family have new allies.And the chimes of liberty will continue to ring.
Despite the efforts of the Harris County Tea Party clerk couples in other counties have been married. This includes the city of Dallas.
Houston area judges have also ignored the Harris County Clerk's office and married several couples on Friday.
Knowing what we know about Greg Abbott from his tenure as Attorney General and now Governor, no one should be surprised to learn Abbott accepted campaign donations from a racist hate group whose hateful screed held powerful influence over the murderer at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.
In Greg Abbott's Texas personal freedom and liberty are applicable only to those who look and think like Greg Abbott and his ilk. Harsh conservative, religious orthodoxy and tea party fascism applies to everyone else.
Fed up? Are you registered to vote? Do you vote?
If not, just do it. If so, you might want to contact your county's Democratic Party headquarters and offer to volunteer. Or join a neighborhood Democratic club. If you live in the Houston area you can find a Democratic club near you right here.
As for me I am working on a voter outreach initiative with the Harris Co. Democratic Party political director. I am calling close to a thousand hardcore D voters in S.W. Houston in order to touch base and encourage activism. Bit by bit we can chip away at the GOP stranglehold on the state. It won't happen overnight but if we keep at it, we'll get there.
Can we really afford a long-term, more harsh and unforgiving clone of Rick Perry as Governor?