Thoughts for September 20, 2017

About the President’s address to the U.N. yesterday:  “Me, first,” or “Us, first” doesn’t seem a good way to run our lives or our political rhetoric.  Instead, looking for the point of intersection of mutual interest among all of us might get us closer to world peace and farther from world war.  I favor language and policy that speaks to bringing together the nations of the world that are invested in helping establish a good and healthy community for their peoples, so we can work together rather than trying to be “sovereign.”

About the Affordable Care Act:  Today’s front page story on The New York Times on the bid to repeal the health law ends with this:  “Besides creating block grants, the Graham-Cassidy bill would make deep cuts in Medicaid.  It would end the expansion of eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, which has provided Medicaid coverage to 13 million people.  And it would put the entire program which serves more than 70 million people, on a budget, ending the open-ended entitlement that exists.  States would instead receive a per-beneficiary allotment of federal money.”  Texas actually stands to gain a bit per beneficiary—a sad day when we become the model, since we are near the bottom, along with Mississippi and Alabama, of caring for the health care needs of our people.  In today’s Austin American-Statesman, there’s an Associated Press article that cites, “The Kaiser Family Foundation said that 50% of companies with three to 49 employees offered health insurance this year.  That’s down from 59 percent in 2010 and 66 percent more than a decade ago.”  This is a reminder that there’s work to be done on the Affordable Care Act, shoring up the Affordable Care public marketplaces, which some states have done with success.  There’s work to be done, but it sure doesn’t sound like the Graham-Cassidy bill is the answer, and there are many outstanding questions on a single-payer model, too. Congress, please talk and find a solution to the health care needs of American people, rather than a political posture.  I favor sticking with the Affordable Care Act and improving the parts that aren’t yet working.

About Governor Abbott’s new staffers:  Friends for Civil Action, let’s write a group letter and introduce ourselves and our desire for inclusive policies that reflect our status as residents of our neighborhoods and the world.

About the plaque, titled “Children of the Confederacy Creed” erected in 1959 at the Texas Capitol:  As reported in today’s Austin American-Statesman, this plaque states:  “We, therefore, pledge ourselves to preserve pure ideals, to honor our veterans, to study and teach the truths of history (one of the most important of which is that the War Between the States was not a rebellion, nor was it underlying cause to sustain slavery), and to always act in a manner that will reflect honor upon our noble and patriotic ancestors.”  Thank you to Speaker Joe Straus, for your response to these words: “This is not accurate, and Texans are not well-served by incorrect information about our history. Those of us who serve on the State Preservation Board should direct staff to identify the steps necessary to remove this plaque as soon as practicable.” In contrast, Governor Abbott says, “Tearing down monuments won’t erase our nation’s past, and it doesn’t advance our nation’s future.”  I say removing monuments to past bigotry from places of honor does advance our nation’s future.  I say no black man, woman or child or anyone of any race should have to pass through a public place where such a monument to the confederacy stands, unless that monument has been given a new context for our new world, recognizing how wrong slavery was and awful bigotry is.

About cutting taxes as an economic stimulus:  I haven’t seen information that speaks to me that demonstrates cutting taxes for the rich–taxes which have been already cut way back from what they used to be–stimulates the economy.  Cutting taxes while adding to the deficit doesn’t seem to be fiscally conservative.  The front page of today’s New York Times, reports: “Senate Republicans, abandoning a key fiscal doctrine, agreed on Tuesday to move forward on a budget that would add to the federal deficit in order to pave the way for a $1.5 trillion tax cut over the next 10 years.”  In September 5th’s Times, David Leonhardt reported that “in the early 1960’s, the typical chief executive at a large American company made only 20 times as much as the average worker, rather than the current 271-to-1 ratio.”  He also noted that legislation signed by Lyndon b. Johnson “lowered the marginal tax rate to 70 percent. Under Ronald Reagan, it dropped to 50 percent and kept falling. Since 1987, the top rate has hovered between 30 percent and 40 percent.”  I oppose tax cuts for the very wealthy and other measures that don’t address the income inequality gap that has resulted in a 271-to-1 earnings ratio for the typical chief executive at a large American company.

Weekly Update from the Postcard Storm

Here are message prompts for Congress today; I’ve underlined the key phrase to make it easy to make your message short:

#1: Chancellor Bill McRaven says about our DACA students, “Congress must now act quickly to provide a bridge for these students to remain in the U.S. and become citizens.”  I agree.  Not only does Chancellor McRaven know about education, he knows about public safety, having led the raid on Osama Bin Laden.  DACA students should not be treated as a threat; they should be respected as a resource our nation needs.

#2: President of the Association of American Medical Colleges Darrell G. Kirch said the administration’s decision, even with the “wind down process described, the implications of this action for medical students, medical residents, and researchers with DACA status are serious, and will interfere with their ability to complete their training and contribute meaningfully to the health of the nation.”  Congress needs to provide a legal pathway for all who have been part of the DACA program and to all immigrants already in our country who do not pose threats to their communities.

Both quotes are from the Austin American-Statesman article, September 6 by Ralph K.M. Haurwitz, page A5.

Before signing off for this week, I want to call your attention to Joy Diaz’s August 31st  contribution to Texas Standard which aired on KUT.  Her presentation of the facts around SB 4 (the ban on sanctuary cities) shows us how intertwined  all the major issues of our times are—in this case, immigration policy and public school finance.

With thoughts of all impacted by Hurricane Harvey,


Molly Sharpe

Friends for Civil Action

Friends for Civil Action believe inclusive policies are the right policies for community life, public safety, the economy, and the human spirit.  We are an informal network—without dues or infra-structure—of friends and neighbors branching to many neighborhoods.  As we present our goals to elected officials, we do so with civility, avoiding name calling.  We focus on issues that are vital to community well-being.  We are residents of our neighborhoods and of the world.