Columns/Opinions

Thu
16
Mar

House takes stumble on Obamacare fix

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

That pretty much sums up the health care reform bill unveiled by the U.S. House of Representatives last Monday that purports to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.” Although it does eliminate a lot of Obamacare’s tangle of taxes, the House proposal retains the federal government’s fundamental role in health care. It therefore maintains the vast regulatory regimen that increases costs, and it does nothing to reverse the downward spiral of health insurance markets.

It transforms the ACA’s mandate to buy insurance into a surcharge on anyone who doesn’t maintain continuous coverage. That’s supposed to discourage healthy adults from leaving insurance rolls, where their premiums are needed to help pay for the sick. But that penalty might disincentivize healthy people who had already left from getting back on the rolls.

 

Thu
16
Mar

Federal court panel rules against Texas redistricting plan

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — Three of Texas’ 36 congressional districts are unconstitutional because of racial or political gerrymandering, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas ruled on March 10.

The judges ruled 2-1 that the districts’ boundaries, drawn by the Texas Legislature in 2011 and 2013, violate the U.S. Constitution.

 

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Fri
10
Mar

Federal judge sides with plaintiffs in Planned Parenthood case

By Ed Sterling

 

AUSTIN — Texans who rely on Planned Parenthood as a medical care provider won’t have to seek those services elsewhere, pending an upcoming trial.

In the lawsuit titled Planned Parenthood et al. v. Texas Health and Human Services Commission, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of Austin on Feb. 21 granted a preliminary injunction to prevent the Texas Department of Health and Human Services from eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood in the state’s 2017-18 budget.

There is no legitimate public interest in allowing Texas to complete its planned terminations (of funding) based on the current facts,” wrote Sparks. “Instead, the public interest favors enforcing the individual plaintiffs’ rights and avoiding disrupting the health care of some of Texas’s most vulnerable individuals.”

 

Fri
10
Mar

Going wobbly will not serve GOP legislators

Shortly after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, the incident that triggered America's first war in the Middle East, the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution allowing Western naval forces operating in the Persian Gulf to enforce an economic embargo against the Iraqi strongman, in the hope a blockade would force Saddam to withdraw. As he mulled over the potential consequences, President George H.W. Bush got some advice from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. "This is no time to go wobbly, George," Thatcher told Bush.

It's too bad Lady Thatcher isn't around to offer some contemporary Republicans the same advice.

In recent days, as Congress took its first recess of the year, GOP lawmakers have become surrogates for hostile crowds at home that are intent on venting their anger at President Donald Trump's actions and agenda. That is, at least the ones who show up.

 

Thu
02
Mar

Federal judge sides with plaintiffs in Planned Parenthood case

By Ed Sterling

 

AUSTIN — Texans who rely on Planned Parenthood as a medical care provider won’t have to seek those services elsewhere, pending an upcoming trial.

 

In the lawsuit titled Planned Parenthood et al. v. Texas Health and Human Services Commission, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of Austin on Feb. 21 granted a preliminary injunction to prevent the Texas Department of Health and Human Services from eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood in the state’s 2017-18 budget.

 

“There is no legitimate public interest in allowing Texas to complete its planned terminations (of funding) based on the current facts,” wrote Sparks.

 

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Thu
02
Mar

Our View: Europeans should pay their fair share

For years, U.S. presidents have complained that the members of NATO refuse to kick in as much as American taxpayers do in providing for Europe's defense. Let us hope President Trump succeeds in his efforts to nudge them to pay their fair share. It's time for these very wealthy nations to pull their weight.

 

NATO is a 28-nation alliance that was built to stop aggression from the Soviet Union in its tracks. An attack on any one member is regarded as an attack on all.

 

It was founded when Europe was still trying to dig out from World War II. Those days are gone. But NATO members have found it easier to play America for a sucker than to fund their own defense.

 

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Thu
23
Feb

Paxton files brief in support of president’s immigration order

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a legal brief supporting President Trump’s executive order for an immigration crackdown.

In his Feb. 15 brief with a San Francisco federal appeals court, Paxton defends President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”

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Thu
23
Feb

Comanches not easy pickings for buffalo hunters

By Bartee Haile

Acting like the Paul Revere of the Texas Panhandle, Pat Garrett rode from camp to camp on Feb. 22, 1877 warning fellow buffalo hunters, “The Comanches are coming! The Comanches are coming!”

That, of course, was not altogether true. The Indians had been in the vicinity for weeks but posed no real danger to white hunters with sense enough to keep their distance.

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Thu
16
Feb

Triple lynching touches off nasty feud

By Bartee Haile

A masked mob dragged five suspected cattle thieves kicking and screaming from the Mason County jail on Feb. 18, 1875, lynched three of the terrified outlaws and touched off a nasty feud forever known as the Hoodoo War.

In the chaotic aftermath of the Civil War, Texans often took the law into their own hands. Desperate characters, who mistook common folk for easy pickings, were routinely dispatched without benefit of judge, jury or clergy.

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Thu
16
Feb

Legislation banning sanctuary city policies clears hurdle

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Feb. 8 praised the Texas Senate’s approval of legislation to ban sanctuary cities, an item on his priority list for the current legislative session.

Senate Bill 4 by Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, passed after 16 hours of floor debate on a 20-10 party-line vote, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats in opposition.

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