Thursday, August 30, 2012

Texas’ Long History Against Voting Rights

by Michael Handley

Tuesday, a panel of three federal judges for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia found in favor of a U.S Department of Justice position stated last year that redistricting plans passed during the 2011 Texas Legislative Session and signed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) were drawn with the purpose of discriminating against Latino voters.

The federal three-judge panel stops Texas from enforcing its new Voter Photo I.D. Law.  The new I.D. would require voters to present one of a very limited selection of government issued photo I.D. to election officials before being allowed to cast ballots. Approximately 11 percent of otherwise qualified voters overall and up to 25 percent of some otherwise qualified poor and minority groups do not hold any of those specified I.D documents. 

The three-judge panel found that Texas' new law imposes "strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor" and noted that racial minorities in Texas are more likely to live in poverty. In other words, Texas Photo I.D. Law (SB 14) was drawn with the purpose of discriminating against African American and Latino voters.

Under Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department or a federal court is required to pre-clear laws affecting voters before they go into effect in jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination -- and that includes Texas.  The preclearance requirement was enacted in 1965 and renewed by Congress in 1970, 1975, 1982 and 2006.

When Texas was designated as a Section 5 state in 1965 due to discrimination against Latinos and African Americans, it grew increasingly defiant of the Voting Rights Act. According to a report by the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, “Voting Rights in Texas 1982-2006,” only one state challenged Section 5 in court more than the Texas in that time period—and that’s Mississippi. From 1982 to 2006, Texas registered at least 107 Section 5 objections. Meanwhile, during that same time period, Texas lead the nation in several categories of voting discrimination, including Section 5 violations.

Dr. Martin Luther King and  Coretta Scott King
Texas had far more Section 5 withdrawals, following the DOJ’s request for information to clarify the impact of a proposed voting change, than any other jurisdiction during the 1982-2005 time period. These withdrawals include at least 54 instances in which the state eliminated discriminatory voting changes after it became evident they would not be precleared by the DOJ.”
In other words, at least 54 times in 25 years, Texas had to back down from an effort to restrict the vote—thanks to the power granted the federal government under the Voting Rights Act.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced he “will immediately” appeal both federal court decisions to the U.S. Supreme Court ~ and again challenge the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.


Texas Restrictive Voter Photo ID Law Blocked By Federal Court

by Michael Handley

A federal three-judge panel, composed of D.C. Circuit Judge David Tatel, and District Court Judges Rosemary Collyer and Robert Wilkins, ruled today against a Texas Photo I.D. Law that would require voters to present photo I.D. to election officials before being allowed to cast ballots. The three-judge panel found that the law imposes "strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor" and noted that racial minorities in Texas are more likely to live in poverty.

Originally set to go into effect on January 1, 2012, the Texas Photo I.D. Law (SB 14) would require voters to present one of a limited selection of government issued photo I.D. to election Judges in order to qualify to vote. The accepted forms of currently dated photo identification are: Department of Public Safety issued Texas driver's license, Texas election I.D., or personal identification card; Texas concealed handgun license; U.S. military I.D. card; U.S. citizenship certificate; or U.S. passport.

Update August 30, 2012 @ 6:30pm - Texas had hoped to enforce the Photo I.D. law for the general election this November. While Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said he will appeal the DC Court decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Associated Press reported late today that Abbott said the appeal process can not be complete in time for the law to be enforced for the election this November.

The issue is whether the 2011 law violates the federal Voting Rights Act by making it harder for minorities to cast ballots. Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department or a federal court is required to pre-clear laws affecting voters before they go into effect in jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination -- and that includes Texas. Texas has the burden at trial to prove that its voter photo ID law, signed into law by Gov. Perry last year, does not have the purpose or effect to deny a minority citizen the right to vote.

Here are key parts of the court's ruling:

President Obama At Iowa State University

by Michael Handley

President Obama kicked off his two-day college tour with a grassroots event at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa ~ my Alma Mater. (Yes, I am an Iowa Aggie) The President discussed the choice for young voters in this election.

A choice between two fundamentally different visions of how to grow the economy. The progressive choice will ensure that our future workers can afford to get a college degree. Investing in quality, affordable education is a top priority for President Obama -- it's critical to building the skilled workforce needed to drive America's economy, restoring the foundation that will help the middle class succeed and keeping our country competitive for generations to come.

To help give college students and their families much-needed relief, President Obama established a college tax credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college. He has also eliminated more than $60 billion in wasteful taxpayers subsidies to big banks acting as federal student loan middlemen and used those savings to double our investment in Pell Grant Scholarships. President Obama increased funding for Pell Grants by 95% helping nearly 10 million students in 2011. Romney would cut Pell Grant awards by $830.

A Remembrance Of Molly Ivans On Her Birthday

by Michael Handley

Mary Tyler "Molly" Ivins (August 30, 1944 ~ January 31, 2007)
An American newspaper columnist, political
commentator, humorist and author.
Molly Ivins tells a profound story about John Henry Falk and his childhood friend and what happens when you're so scared you lose your freedom. "When you make yourself less free, all that happens is that you are less free ... you are not safe."

An echo of Benjamin Franklin's warning - "Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power."

Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital

by Michael Handley

The Rolling Stone has a good article on how the GOP presidential candidate Willard Mitt Romney and his private equity firm staged an epic wealth grab, destroyed jobs by sending them off-shore – and stuck others with the bill.

The great criticism of Mitt Romney, from both sides of the aisle, has always been that he doesn't stand for anything. He's a flip-flopper, they say, a lightweight, a cardboard opportunist who'll say anything to get elected.

The incredible untold story of the 2012 election so far is that Romney's run has been a shimmering pearl of perfect political hypocrisy, which he's somehow managed to keep hidden, even with thousands of cameras following his every move.

And Romney ratcheted up the hypocrisy of his campaign even further when he chose Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his VP running mate. By selecting Ryan, Romney, the hard-charging, Gordon Gekko like corporate raider of a disgraced yet still defiant Wall Street, is making a calculated bluff – placing a massive all-in bet on the rank incompetence of the American press corps - that he can convince voters that corporate raider style governance is good for America. Romney wants voters to return to the Wall-Street-gone-wild conservative economic governance that nearly threw America into a massive depression by the end of George Bush's administration, in December 2008

Paul Ryan's speech at the Republican Convention in Tampa last evening was factually misleading.

Even Fox News says his speech was deceptive.

Ryan lied about Medicare. He lied about the Recovery Act. He said a Romney/Ryan administration would protect Medicare even though they plan to turn Medicare into a corporate raider style private insurance voucher program. He lied about the deficit and debt.

He lied blaming Barack Obama for the closing of a GM plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin -- a plant that closed in December 2008 under George W. Bush, a month before Obama took office.

Mitt Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said on an ABC News program, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” Will the American press corp fact-checkers hold Ryan and Romney accountable for making blatantly false representations to the American people - paid for with hundreds of millions of dollars from the billionaires and corporate interests that support them?

Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi

Four years ago, the Mitt Romneys of the world nearly destroyed the global economy with their greed, shortsightedness and – most notably – wildly irresponsible use of debt in pursuit of personal profit. The sight was so disgusting that people everywhere were ready to drop an H-bomb on Lower Manhattan and bayonet the survivors. But today that same insane greed ethos, that same belief in the lunatic pursuit of instant borrowed millions – it's dusted itself off, it's had a shave and a shoeshine, and it's back out there running for president.

Mitt Romney, it turns out, is the perfect frontman for Wall Street's greed revolution. He's not a two-bit, shifty-eyed huckster like Lloyd Blankfein. He's not a sighing, eye-rolling, arrogant jerkwad like Jamie Dimon. But Mitt believes the same things those guys believe: He's been right with them on the front lines of the financialization revolution, a decades-long campaign in which the old, simple, let's-make-stuff-and-sell-it manufacturing economy was replaced with a new, highly complex, let's-take-stuff-and-trash-it financial economy. Instead of cars and airplanes, we built swaps, CDOs and other toxic financial products.

Instead of building new companies from the ground up, we took out massive bank loans and used them to acquire existing firms, liquidating every asset in sight and leaving the target companies holding the note. The new borrow-and-conquer economy was morally sanctified by an almost religious faith in the grossly euphemistic concept of "creative destruction," and amounted to a total abdication of collective responsibility by America's rich, whose new thing was making assloads of money in ever-shorter campaigns of economic conquest, sending the proceeds offshore, and shrugging as the great towns and factories their parents and grandparents built were shuttered and boarded up, crushed by a true prairie fire of debt.

Mitt Romney – a man whose own father built cars and nurtured communities, and was one of the old-school industrial anachronisms pushed aside by the new generation's wealth grab – has emerged now to sell this make-nothing, take-everything, screw-everyone ethos to the world.

He's Gordon Gekko, but a new and improved version, with better PR – and a bigger goal. A takeover artist all his life, Romney is now trying to take over America itself. And if his own history is any guide, we'll all end up paying for the acquisition.

Read more @ Rolling Stone

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

GOP For Choice Poll: Government Should Stay Out Of Reproductive Decisions

by Robin Marty, Senior Political Reporter, RH Reality Check

While the GOP has ratified a party platform that includes a total abortion ban, and changes the definition of pregnancy, Republicans for Choice has discovered most Americans don't want the government involved.


“Regardless of how you personally feel about the issue of abortion,” the polls, which surveyed 1,000 adults, asks, “who do you believe should have the right to make that decision regarding whether to have an abortion…should the woman, her family and her doctor make the decision or should the government make the decision?”
Predictably, 89 percent of Democrats believed “strongly” that the woman should decide.

More remarkably, 71 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of independents also believed strongly that the woman should decide. An additional 10 percent of Republicans believed “not strongly” that the woman should decide, and a total of 81 percent who identified as “pro-life” responded that the woman should decide.

“We challenge ALL national pollsters to include this main question (Q1) in all of their surveys to test the validity of this outcome,” Republicans for Choice said in a press statement.

The polling makes it evident that regardless of the number who self-identify as "pro-life" versus "pro-choice," when it comes to actually deciding who gets an abortion and why, people want politicians to back out.

From RH Reality Check.

Voting GOP? Just Think No!

NYTimes OpEd by Maureen Dowd

Paul Ryan, who teamed up with Todd Akin in the House to sponsor harsh anti-abortion bills, may look young and hip and new generation, with his iPod full of heavy metal jams and his cute kids. But he’s just a fresh face on a Taliban creed — the evermore antediluvian, anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-gay conservative core. Amiable in khakis and polo shirts, Ryan is the perfect modern leader to rally medieval Republicans who believe that Adam and Eve cavorted with dinosaurs.

Read Maureen Dowd's full OpEd @NYTimes

Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, Republican Senate nominee and member of the House Science, Space and Technology committee, said two weeks ago that pregnancy from rape was "really rare" because "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Two words that should never be used together in the same sentence: legitimate and rape. But that’s the way Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) chose to speak about the sensitive topic that has impacted millions of women in the United States in an interview with a local television station.

Last year, Akin joined with GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as two of the original co-sponsors of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill which, among other things, introduced the country to the bizarre term “forcible rape.”

Ryan, Akin and other Republicans in the U.S. Congress also cosponsored the federal Personhood Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Personhood amendment would outlaw abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, domestic violence and life-threatening ectopic pregnancies. In addition, this change to the Constitution would criminalize in-vitro fertilization and common birth control methods, including birth control pills and IUD's. As Mother Jones reported.

More: The Republican War on Women.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Federal Court Turns Back Texas' Redistricting Plan

by Michael Handley

A panel of three federal judges for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia finds in favor of a U.S Department of Justice position stated last year that redistricting plans passed during the 2011 Texas Legislative Session and signed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) were drawn with the purpose of discriminating against Latino voters. From the court's opinion:

The latest Census reports that since 2000 the population of Texas grew by over four million. This dramatic increase required the Texas legislature to create new voting districts for the four seats added to the State’s congressional delegation, U.S. CONST. art. I, § 2, cl. 3; id. amend. XIV, § 2, and draw new boundaries for the state and congressional voting districts to comply with the mandate of one-person, one-vote, see Georgia v. Ashcroft, 539 U.S. 461,
488 n.2 (2003). [...]

[...] We conclude that Texas has not met its burden to show that the U.S. Congressional and State House Plans will not have a retrogressive effect, and that the U.S. Congressional and State Senate Plans were not enacted with discriminatory purpose. Accordingly, we deny Texas declaratory relief. Texas has failed to carry its burden that Plans C185, S148, and H283 do not have the purpose or effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

The Justice Department opposed approval of the redistricting maps for U.S. House of Representatives and Texas State House, but various groups and organizations opposed those maps, plus the State Senate redistricting maps.

The judges found that seats belonging to white incumbent members of Congress were protected under the redistricting plans, while districts belonging to incumbent minorities were redrawn such that their seats were put in jeopardy.

All three judges said they were overwhelmed with the amount of evidence showing the new redistricting plans were intentionally discriminatory, writing in a footnote that parties “have provided more evidence of discriminatory intent than we have space, or need, to address here.” All three permanent redistricting plans — for Texas’ congressional delegation, its state House of Representatives and the state Senate — are blocked by this DC District Court decision.

Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department or a federal court is required to pre-clear laws affecting voters before they go into effect in jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination -- and that includes Texas. Texas had bypassed seeking an administrative ruling from the Department of Justice to ask the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to approve the maps.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced he “will immediately” appeal the DC District Court decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Developing, more to come... DC Court Finding

On March 1, the San Antonio U.S. District Court three-judge panel, which controls the state's temporary redistricting maps and 2012 election schedule, issued an order that allowed the Texas Democratic Party and Republican Party of Texas to hold their respective County/Senatorial District (SD) Conventions in April and Primary Election on May 29.

Today's DC District Court decision is on the permanent election maps under which future elections will be conducted. Whether or not today's DC District Court decision will have any bearing on the 2012 general election will take a few days, or maybe a few weeks, to sort out. Texas Republicans have said that if they maintain control of the Texas Legislature following the November 2012 election, they plan to redraw (gerrymander) the election maps again in the 2013 Legislative Session, if the DC Court blocks the redistricting plan passed during the 2011 Legislative Session.

The House GOP's Plan to Redefine Rape

Mother Jones

Rape is only really rape if it involves force. So says the new House Republican majority as it now moves to change abortion law.

For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to "forcible rape." This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion. (Smith's spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.) ...

Legitimate Rape: A Music Video ~ Taylor Ferrera sings a song in reaction to Todd Akin's recent comments regarding the impossibility of pregnancy resulting from rape.

"This bill takes us back to a time when just saying 'no' wasn't enough to qualify as rape," says Steph Sterling, a lawyer and senior adviser to the National Women's Law Center.

Laurie Levenson, a former assistant US attorney and expert on criminal law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, notes that the new bill's authors are "using language that's not particularly clear, and some people are going to lose protection." Other types of rapes that would no longer be covered by the exemption include rapes in which the woman was drugged or given excessive amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with limited mental capacity, and many date rapes.

"There are a lot of aspects of rape that are not included," Levenson says. As for the incest exception, the bill would only allow federally funded abortions if the woman is under 18.

The bill hasn't been carefully constructed, Levenson notes. The term "forcible rape" is not defined in the federal criminal code, and the bill's authors don't offer their own definition. In some states, there is no legal definition of "forcible rape," making it unclear whether any abortions would be covered by the rape exemption in those jurisdictions.

Read the full story @ Mother Jones

Read more: Todd Akin, Paul Ryan, and the GOP's latest push to redefine rape.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Framing the Democratic Message

by Michael Handley

At the west Texas summit of Democratic County and Precinct Chairs last Saturday, Bill Brannon, Executive Director of the Texas Democratic Party, told the gathering of Democrats they must stand up boldly and actively counter Republican message frames. He said Democrats can win the hearts and minds of voters by explaining to them that Democratic values are the values that built a strong America and Texas, and they are the values shared by all Texans.

Brannon said Democrats must make an effort to frame policy arguments in a positive context that speak to the core values held by most Texans. Brannon told the gathering of Texas Democrats they must no longer silently accept GOP message frames, like Democrats support "big government tax and spend" programs, such as road building projects. He said Democrats must learn to counter-frame such GOP rhetoric by explaining to fellow Texans that building roads is "an investment in America's and Texas' future."

"We built this country together. We built railroads and highways; the Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge together. We sent my grandfather's generation to college on the G.I. Bill together. We instituted minimum wage and safety laws together. Together, we touched the surface of the moon, unlocked the mystery of the atom, connected the world through our own science and imagination. We did these things together not because they benefited any particular individual group, but because they made us all richer. Because they gave us all opportunity. Because they moved us forward together as one people, as one nation." ~~~ Barack Obama

Voters cast their ballots for what they believe is morally right, for the things that make moral sense to them. Yet Democrats too often fail to use language that links, or frames, a moral values position with their issue policy.

Language always comes with what is called "framing." Every word is defined relative to a conceptual framework. If you use a word like "revolt," that implies a population that is being taxed unfairly, or assumes it is being taxed unfairly. That's a frame. Then, if you add the word "voter" in front of "revolt," you get a metaphorical frame saying that the voters are oppressed by big government tax and spend programs.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Obama v. Romney Character Narratives In The News Media

A Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism study finds that on the eve of the conventions, the portrayal in the traditional news media of the character and records of the two presidential contenders in 2012 has been as negative as any campaign in recent times, and neither candidate has enjoyed an advantage over the other, according to Pew's study of mainstream media coverage of the race for president.

More of what the public hears about candidates also now comes from the campaigns themselves and less from journalists acting as independent reporters or interpreters of who the candidates are. (How the campaigns are using digital tools to talk directly with voters.)

An examination of the dominant or master narratives in the press about the character and record of presidential contenders finds that 72% of this coverage has been negative for Barack Obama and 71% has been negative for Mitt Romney.

The study, conducted by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, examined the personal portrayal of the candidate in 50 major news outlets over a 10-week period.

These numbers make this as negative a campaign as PEJ has seen since it began monitoring the master narratives about candidates in press coverage in presidential campaigns in 2000.

Only one campaign has been comparable-2004 when coverage was filled with the controversy over the war in Iraq, the prison scandal at Abu Ghraib and the Swift Boat documentaries. That year, 70% of the personal narrative studied about Democrat John Kerry and 75% of that about incumbent George Bush was negative, numbers similar to now.

Journalists themselves now play a smaller role in shaping these media narratives than they once did. Journalists are the source for about half as much of the statements about the candidates as was the case 12 years go. The campaigns, by contrast, have come to play an ever larger role in shaping these narratives.

The candidates and their partisan allies [using the spectrum Internet communication channels] are the source for nearly a third more of the personal narrative about the candidates than in 2000.

On the eve of the nominating conventions, the discussion of President Obama in major mainstream news outlets is dominated by two narratives assessing his economic record-that his policies have

  1. failed to help the economy, and
  2. that things would be much worse without his actions.

Together these two narratives on Pres. Obama make up half of all the statements about his record and character. The negative side of these arguments outweighs the positive in traditional media coverage by more than two to one. The next biggest personal narrative about Obama in the mainstream news media is one that raises doubts about whether the president really believes in American capitalism and ideas of individualism.

On the Republican side, the No. 1 personal narrative about Romney is that his experience in private equity suggests he is a "vulture" capitalist who doesn't care about workers, followed closely by the idea that he is an elitist out of touch with average Americans. The third-biggest personal narrative in the media about Romney is that he is a gaffe-prone, awkward campaigner.

Only some of these narratives, however, seem to be sticking with voters-at least so far. While much of the press narrative has suggested Obama has the wrong approach to fixing the economy, voters are split on whether to associate that notion with Obama or Romney. They are also divided on which candidate believes in American values (though Obama's ideals are questioned more often in the press). The two personal narrative themes that appear to be breaking through to voters are Romney's elitism and his awkwardness on the stump.

Read the full report @ Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

TDP Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa Coming To Plano Monday August 27

by Michael Handley

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa will be at Fairview Farms Corral Barn on Monday, August 27 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm to support the Democratic candidates for the Fifth District Court of Appeals. (Fairview Farms Corral Barn, 3314 North Central Expressway, Plano 75074 - map)

Democrats living in the Fifth Court of Appeals district (Dallas, Collin, Grayson, Hunt, Rockwall and Kaufman counties) are welcome and encouraged to attend this reception for the Democratic Judicial Candidates asking for your votes this November. This is also your opportunity to meet and talk with Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa.

The Texas District Courts of Appeals are distributed in fourteen districts around the state of Texas. The Courts of Appeal have intermediate appellate jurisdiction in both civil and criminal cases appealed from district or county courts. Like the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals, Justices of the Texas Courts of Appeals are elected to six-year terms by general election.

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas at Dallas, which includes one Chief Justice and twelve Justices, has jurisdiction over appeals from both district and county courts located in Dallas, Collin, Grayson, Hunt, Rockwall and Kaufman counties. The Court hears both civil and criminal appeals.

No Democrats currently sit on Fifth Court of Appeals. In the 2012 General Election five Democratic Candidates are running for the 5th Court of Appeals:

  • Tonya Holt for 5th District Court of Appeals Place 11
  • Penny Phillips for 5th District Court of Appeals Place 5
  • Larry Praeger for 5th District Court of Appeals Place 12
  • David Hanshen for 5th District Court of Appeals Place 9
  • Dan Wood for 5th District Court of Appeals Place 2

Both civil and criminal appeals are typically heard by a panel of three justices, unless in a particular case "en banc" hearing is ordered, in which instance all the justices of that Court hear and consider the case. (Graphical Guide to the Court System of Texas) (map)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The GOP War on Women: A Democratic Network Forum Discussion

by Deborah Angell-Smith

Join us for a Democratic Network Educational Forum discussion on The Republican War on Women, at 10:45am this Sat., August 25th, at the John & Judy Gay Library in McKinney. Kelly Hart, a representative of Planned Parenthood, will lead the discussion on the current issues in women's healthcare, as well as those we can expect to see in the near future. (John & Judy Gay Library - 6861 El Dorado Parkway - Map)

If you didn't already believe that there is a "War On Women" in our country and our state, this week's news should convince you! U.S. Rep. Todd Akin's (R-Mo) comments about "legitimate rape" are just the tip of the iceberg. What they - and the response to them - reveal about the attitudes of the national Republican leadership and their approach to women and women's healthcare is downright scary.

Saturday August 25, 2012

And then there's Tuesday's distressing ruling from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that effectively removes an additional 52,000 low-income Texas women from a Planned Parenthood program providing basic healthcare. What will be next? Next week's Republican National Convention will offer some clues -- as will the first bills filed for the 2013 session of the Texas Legislature. Get out your girdles looks like they want us to go back to the 50's!

Kelly Hart, a representative of Planned Parenthood, will fill us in on the current issues in women's healthcare, as well as those we can expect to see in the near future, at the next Democratic Network Forum, this Saturday morning, August 25th. Please join us, and bring a friend or two -- and your checkbook. Chances are you'll want to make a donation to a worthwhile organization or a great candidate.

As before, we'll meet at the beautiful John & Judy Gay Library in McKinney, 6861 El Dorado Parkway, just east of Alma. It's centrally located in the county and offers plenty of room, so please encourage Democratic friends and neighbors to come along with you.

Join us for coffee and breakfast goodies at 10:45 am and the program will get started at 11. We'll wrap up by 1 pm and those who care to can adjourn to a nearby restaurant for lunch and continue the discussion.

If you're not able to come this Saturday, we hope you'll be able to join us at our next Forum. We offer opportunities for current and future activists to learn about the issues that affect us here in Collin County, and what we, as Democrats, can do to make things better. We'd also like to foster discussion groups in each of our local communities.

We invite your input on topics, speakers, format and other options - and encourage you to get involved in growing our network. We'll have sign-up and comment sheets at the event, but if you aren't able to attend, please e-mail us at, or call (469) 713-2031 to leave a voice message.

More @ The Republican War on Women: A Democratic Network Forum Discussion




Democratic Network Educational Forum

Texas Can Cut Women's Healthcare Funding

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans late Tuesday reversed U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel's temporary injunction requiring the State of Texas to continue Planned Parenthood funding pending an October trial on a challenge to Texas' law that cuts women's healthcare funding.

State officials want to cut funding to clinics that provide family planning and health services as part of the state's Women's Health Program because the Republican-led Texas Legislature passed a law banning funds to organizations linked to abortion providers. When the Texas Tribune asked Texas state Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Nacogdoches), a supporter of the family planning cuts, if this was a war on birth control, he said: “Well of course this is a war on birth control and abortions and everything.”

Family planning clinics are routinely referred to by many Republican lawmakers across the U.S. as “abortion clinics” because many social conservative Republicans say contraceptive use is the same as abortion. Last April, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and his team of state lawyers asked the federal appeals court to rescind U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel's temporary injunction that required the state to continue funding Planned Parenthood. In his request for an emergency injunction, Abbott analogized Planned Parenthood to a terrorist organization.

Planned Parenthood provides services like cancer screenings – but not abortions – to about half of the 130,000 low-income Texas women enrolled in the program, which is designed to provide services to women who might not otherwise qualify for Medicaid.

The appeals court's decision means Texas is now free to impose the women's healthcare funding ban. In response to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision, Ken Lambrecht, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of North Texas, said:

“It is incredibly disappointing that, here in Texas, once again it appears that politics are getting in the way of women receiving access to basic health care. Today’s ruling will allow the state to deny low-income, uninsured Texas women health care from their most trusted provider—Planned Parenthood.

Governor Perry and the Texas legislative leadership have already denied affordable health care access to 160,000 women for political reasons — now there will be more to come. The state’s ongoing efforts jeopardize the health of tens of thousands of Texas women.

This case has never been about Planned Parenthood — it's about the women who rely on us for basic health care including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and annual exams. We are here for the health & safety Texas women.

For more than 75 years, women and families in Texas have trusted Planned Parenthood for high-quality, affordable health care and education. Our doors are open today and they'll be open tomorrow. We won't let politics interfere with access to the basic healthcare that women rely upon at Planned Parenthood health centers in Central and North Texas to stay healthy.”
More: Women's Health Care Suffers in Texas As Republicans Slash Funding.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Fake Voter Fraud Epidemic And The 2012 Election

TPM Editors Blog

Of all the developments in The Voting Wars since 2000, the lead story has to be the successful Republican effort to create an illusion of a voter fraud epidemic used to justify a host of laws, especially tough new state voter identification requirements, with the aim to suppress Democratic turnout and to excite the Republican base about “stolen” elections. Democrats sometimes have exaggerated the likely effects of such laws on turnout—we won’t see millions of voters disenfranchised by state voter id laws, for example.

But in a very close presidential election, as we are likely to see in November, new voter id rules, voter purges in places like Colorado and Florida, cutbacks in early voting in Ohio, and other technical changes have the potential to suppress Democratic turnout enough to swing the election from Obama to Romney. How did we get here? Our story begins with what Josh has aptly referred to as “bamboozlement” by a group of political operatives, “The Fraudulent Fraud Squad.

Chapter 2 of The Voting Wars tells the whole story, but here’s a brief sketch. The disputed 2000 election made clear to political operatives that the rules of the game could matter at the margin, and in our hyper-partisan and evenly divided country more elections would be decided at the margin. When Congress considered fixes to our election system, after 2000, a Republican insider named Thor Hearne—likely at the urging of Karl Rove—created a phony think tank, the “American Center for Voting Rights” to testify before a congressional committee and push the line that “voter fraud” was rampant. (The term “voter fraud” is actually relatively new, and more election crimes appear to be committed by election officials and party operatives than voters.)

ACVR relied upon discredited allegations of election fraud, and upon proven evidence of voter registration fraud. Some of the allegations had racial undertones, such as a focus on a false registration of “Mr. Jive F. Turkey, Sr.” and work by the NAACP. Registration fraud was a real problem thanks to ACORN’s broken business model, which used very poor people to register voters and stood ready to fire them if they did not produce enough voter registrations. While that led ACORN workers to turn in lots of “Mickey Mouse” registration cards, I’ve yet to see proof that a single fraudulent ACORN-related registration card led to an actual fraudulently cast ballot.

Read the full story @ TPM Editors Blog

Monday, August 20, 2012

Video: Robert Reich Explains The Romney / Ryan Budget Plan

The Republican War on Women: A Democratic Network Forum Discussion

by Michael Handley

Join us for a Democratic Network Educational Forum discussion at 10:45am this Sat., August 25th, at the John & Judy Gay Library in McKinney, to learn about "The Republican War on Women's Health," presented by Kelly Hart, a representative of Planned Parenthood North Texas. (John & Judy Gay Library - 6861 El Dorado Parkway - Map)

The Republican Party continues to promote harsh laws restricting access to women's healthcare across the country. Kelly will present the current situation as well as the potential threats to Texas women coming from the state and national levels. With the lives of millions of women potentially impacted by the dangerous proposals of GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, his VP running mate Paul Ryan and nearly every Republican in the U.S. Senate and House, it's vital that this issue isn't forgotten this election season.

August 25, 2012

We are reminded again just what is at stake for women in this election when Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, Republican Senate nominee and member of the House Science, Space and Technology committee, said last weekend that pregnancy from rape was "really rare" because "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Two words that should never be used together in the same sentence: legitimate and rape. Akin later said he misspoke and really meant to say "forcible rape." But that’s the way Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) chose to speak about the sensitive topic that has impacted millions of women in the United States in an interview with a local television station Sunday. (Jezebel: The Official Guide to Legitimate Rape)

Last year, Akin joined with GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as two of the original co-sponsors of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill which, among other things, introduced the country to the bizarre term “forcible rape.”

Federal law prevents federal Medicaid funds and similar programs from paying for abortions, yet the law also contains an exception for women who are raped. The bill Akin and Ryan cosponsored would have narrowed this exception, providing that only pregnancies arising from “forcible rape” may be terminated. Because the primary target of Akin and Ryan’s effort are Medicaid recipients — patients who are unlikely to be able to afford an abortion absent Medicaid funding — the likely impact of this bill would have been forcing many rape survivors to carry their rapist’s baby to term.

Republican in the U.S. Congress want to defund Planned Parenthood, which would cut millions of dollars in funding for contraceptives, reproductive health care and cancer screenings. Last year 156 House Republicans co-sponsored a bill to bar the government from directing any money to any organization that provides abortion services, even in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Planned Parenthood doesn’t use government money to provide abortions; except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother, but the bill was meant to defund Planned Parenthood. The measure would eliminate all $327 million in funding for Title X, a family planning program that began 40 years ago under President Richard Nixon.

"Unbelievably, the House Republican Leadership has set its sights on abolishing a program that provides lifesaving and preventive care to millions of women and saves taxpayers money by helping women plan their families," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood. "This is an extreme proposal, and the new leaders of the House are pushing it forward at great risk to women and at their own political peril." (Another statement by Richards on Elimination of Title X Family Planning Program)

Ryan, Akin and other Republicans in the U.S. Congress also cosponsored the federal Personhood Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Personhood amendment would outlaw abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, domestic violence and life-threatening ectopic pregnancies. In addition, this change to the Constitution would criminalize in-vitro fertilization and common birth control methods, including birth control pills and IUD's. As Mother Jones reported:

Sixty-three House Republicans, or over a quarter of the GOP conference, are cosponsors of HR 212, Rep. Paul Broun's (R-Ga.) "Sanctity of Human Life Act," which includes language declaring that "the life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent…at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood." Five committee chairmen, including budget wunderkind Ryan, support the bill. "There is no greater protection that we as a government can give to protect human beings all the way from the time of fertilization until they have natural deaths," Broun says.

Rep. Duncan Hunter's (R-Calif.) HR 374, an ever-so-slightly tweaked version that includes a clause that says it does not "require" (although it does allow) "the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child," has even more cosponsors—91, including Bachmann (R-Minn.). Nearly 40 percent of House Republicans back this bill, which, like HR 212 and the Mississippi amendment, has language saying that "human persons" exist from "the moment of fertilization" or from any "other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being."

In the Senate, Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) has introduced S 91, a companion bill to HR 374. Wicker has said he hopes his bill will "settle this important life issue once and for all." More than a quarter of Senate Republicans back the proposal.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said in an interview just last month that the pivotal 1965 Supreme Court decision which reversed a law prohibiting women from using contraception is not supported under his interpretation of the Constitution. During an interview on Sunday, Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Scalia why he believed that it is a “lie” that women have a constitutional right of privacy to choose to have an abortion and to use contraception.

A short documentary that cogently explains the state and national efforts by Republicans, including Mitt Romney, to limit access to birth control and other basic women's health services. Visit

The DNC prepared a video which shows Romney saying that he supports a constitutional amendment that says life begins at conception.

Many people today do not remember that the sales and use of contraceptive products, even by married couples, were against the law in many states until the mid-1960's. Even the distribution of books and pamphlets about contraceptive products and practices was illegal.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled such state laws unconstitutional in its 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut decision. The court based its Griswold decision partially on the grounds that such state laws violated a married couple's right to privacy in making their own private family planning decisions.

Social conservatives hold the Supreme Court's Griswold “right to privacy” declaration with contempt because it is the foundation of the court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Citing the Griswold v. Connecticut and Eisenstadt v. Baird decisions, which were based on justifications of privacy, the Justice Burger Court extended the right of privacy to include a woman's right to have an abortion in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Justice Scalia told Fox News host Chris Wallace during the interview:

“Nobody ever thought that the America people voted to prohibit limitations on abortions,” the 76-year-old conservative justice explained. “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says that.”

“What about the right to privacy that the court found in 1965?” Wallace pressed.

“There’s no right to privacy in the Constitution — no generalized right to privacy,” Scalia insisted.

“Well, in the Griswold case, the court said there was,” Wallace pointed out.

“Yeah, it did,” Scalia agreed. “And that was wrong.”

This may not be at the top of your list in determining your choice for President of the United States on Election Day, Nov. 6th, or in deciding whether you will vote at all in this election. But, in a word, it should be this: Voters, particularly women voters, need to care whether Obama or Romney is making lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Either President Obama or would-be President Romney will make appointments to the Supreme Court, which is certainly not immune to the politics. Long after either man leaves office, the justices they appoint -- and their rulings will continue to affect our lives.

While there are many issues that should be considered when casting a vote for a presidential candidate, perhaps the most important issue is the Supreme Court. A president's term lasts for a maximum of eight years; a Supreme Court justice's term is for life.

Consider this: The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision turned life upside down in this country as it outlawed segregation in public schools and provided a road map for the civil rights assault on other aspects of the racist status quo. The 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut Supreme Court decision that women have a constitutional right of privacy to choose to learn about and use contraception is a fundamental cornerstone of women's rights. Those battles are still being fought more than a half century later.

Two of President Reagan's four appointees, Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy, are still serving more than two decades since Reagan left office. So is one of Bush 41's two appointees, Justice Thomas. So are President Clinton's two appointees, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. George W. Bush's two appointees, Samuel Alito and John G. Roberts, and Obama's two appointees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan complete the current court. Ginsburg is most likely to retire in time for the next president -- Obama or Romney -- to appoint a replacement for this reliably liberal-to-moderate jurist.

If Romney wins, he will certainly not nominate a liberal and will more likely nominate extremely conservative justices to appeal to the Tea Party elements within his party, yielding a very conservative advantage on the court.

If Romney becomes our next President, numerous bedrock civil rights, civil liberties and women's rights issues, like a woman's right of privacy to choose to use contraception, will be overturned as surely as night follows day.




Democratic Network Educational Forum

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Why Tea Party Senior Citizens Love Paul Ryan

The New Republic by Timothy Noah

The Tea Party has a lot of reasons to love Paul Ryan, the Ayn Rand acolyte Mitt Romney selected for his running mate. But it also has one very big and little-discussed reason to dislike him. Here’s how Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson explain it in their 2012 book, The Tea Party and The Re-Making of Republican Conservatism:

At its debut, the Ryan plan to eliminate traditional Medicare was described in the media as a “Tea Party proposal” But it would be more accurate to call it a “Koch proposal,” an ideological scheme to realize long-standing ultra-right hopes to privatize and radically shrink a major national social program. There is no evidence that ordinary American citizens who sympathize with the Tea Party were clamoring for the elimination of Medicare in early 2011. We heard no such thing from our interviewees, and a respected national survey completed right after the Ryan plan appeared revealed that 70 percent of the Tea Party supporters, along with even higher percentages of other Americans, oppose cuts in Medicare spending.

The explanation for this inconsistency is that most Tea Party members are AARP-eligible. Surveys have shown 70 to 75 percent of Tea Party supporters to be 45 or older (compared to about half the overall population). Tea Partiers aren’t against government benefits. They’re against government benefits for other people.

They just dress it up in anti-government rhetoric and convince themselves that Medicare and Social Security benefits are different because they’ve already paid for them through payroll taxes (when in fact beneficiaries take out far more than they put in; that’s why both programs need periodic adjustments). Hence the nonsensical slogan, “Keep government out of Medicare.” The fact that Medicare and Social Security account for most of the welfare-state spending that Tea Partiers profess to despise (and about one-third of all federal spending) is something that Tea Partiers either don’t grasp or choose to ignore.

Read the full story @ The New Republic.


Truth and Lies About Medicare

The GOP presidential duo, Romney/Ryan, make a hash of spinning their plans to gut Medicare, replacing it with a private insurance voucher program, and the Obama-care provisions that actually strengthen Medicare.

NYTimes Editorial

Republican attacks on President Obama’s plans for Medicare are growing more heated and inaccurate by the day.

Both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan made statements last week implying that the Affordable Care Act [ACA] would eviscerate Medicare when in fact the law should shore up the program’s finances.

The Republicans also argue that the [ACA] reform law will weaken Medicare and that by preventing the cuts and ultimately turning to vouchers they will enhance the program’s solvency.

But Medicare is not in danger of going “bankrupt”; the issue is whether the trust fund that pays hospital bills will run out of money in 2024, as now projected, and require the program to live on the annual payroll tax revenues it receives.

The Affordable Care Act helped push back the insolvency date by eight years, so repealing the act would actually bring the trust fund closer to insolvency, perhaps in 2016.

The [ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare] reform law will help working-age people on modest incomes buy private policies with government subsidies on new insurance exchanges, starting in 2014. Federal oversight will ensure a reasonably comprehensive benefit package, and competition among the insurers could help keep costs down.

But it is one thing to provide these [ACA] “premium support” subsidies for uninsured people who cannot get affordable coverage in the costly, dysfunctional markets that serve individuals and their families. It is quite another thing to use [a Romney/Ryan private insurance voucher] strategy for older Americans who [currently] have generous [ACA guaranteed] coverage through Medicare and who might well end up worse off if their [private insurance] vouchers failed to keep pace with the cost of decent coverage.

Read the full editorial @ NYTimes


"An Extreme Choice": Embracing Ayn Rand, GOP VP Pick Paul Ryan Backs Dismantling New Deal

by Beverly Bandler

Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's presidential running mate, is “a deep, deep scholar of and reader of Ayn Rand.” According to Ryan, “Rand makes the best case for the morality of democratic capitalism.” But, Ayn Rand not only contradicts Judeo-Christian principles, she contradicts the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

Rand writes that: “Democracy, in short, is a form of collectivism, which denies individual rights: the Majority can do whatever it wants with no restrictions... Democracy is a totalitarian manifestation; it is not a form of freedom.” Ryan has made no mention of having read James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin (or those who influenced them--a list that includes Charles de Montesquieu and John Locke), our Founding Documents (one which a federal elected official is bound by the federal oath office to “support”), or any U.S. historian. Russian √©migr√© Rand gives no indication of having read any of these individuals either. Or U.S. history. Or our founding documents. Ryan has publicly rejected his atheist idol Rand in the face of a backlash, and now embraces Thomas Aquinas. Is Ryan running for Pope?

Just how long is it going to take for the American public, and the enabling corporate media, to understand just how extreme and detached from reality Paul Ryan and the Republican Party have become, and to recognize the latter is now a cult. (Paul Ryan's Biggest Influence: 10 Things You Should Know About the Lunatic Ayn Rand )

John Nichols, political writer for The Nation magazine and Matthew Rothschild, editor and publisher of The Progressive magazine, join Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now, to discuss Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's VP running mate. (video transcript)

As Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney names Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice-presidential running mate, we speak with two Wisconsinites about the seven-term congressman’s record and how his views are influenced by the controversial philosopher Ayn Rand.

"This is not necessarily a foolish choice by Romney," says John Nichols, political writer for The Nation magazine. "It is an extreme choice. And it does define the national Republican Party toward a place where the Wisconsin Republican Party is, which is very anti-labor, willing to make deep cuts in education, public services, and, frankly, very combative on issues like voter ID and a host of other things that really go to the core question of how successful and how functional our democracy will be."

Ryan is chairman of the House of Representatives Budget Committee and architect of a controversial budget plan to cut federal spending by more than $5 trillion over the next 10 years. "Ryan gets a lot of mileage for understanding, so-called, the budget and economics," says Matthew Rothschild, editor and publisher of The Progressive magazine. "But if you look closely, he doesn’t really get it."

Ryan’s planned Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security reform would essentially dismantle key components of the social safety net. Ayn Rand is the progenitor of a sweeping conservative “moral philosophy” that justifies the privilege of the wealthy and demonizes not only the slothful, undeserving poor but the lackluster middle-classes as well for taking Social Security and Medicare benefits. Her books provided wide-ranging parables of "parasites," "looters" and "moochers" using the levers of government to steal the fruits of her wealthy heroes' labor, but in the real world, Ayn Rand herself grabbed social security and medicare when she needed them.

Almost Half of Americans Die Close to Penniless: A new economic study has found that nearly half of Americans reach the end of their lives with virtually no assets, relying entirely on government programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The results indicate that any changes to these safety net programs would indeed threaten the welfare of older Americans. About 46 percent of senior citizens in the United States have less than $10,000 in financial assets when they die. Most of these people rely almost totally on Social Security payments as their only formal means of support, according to the newly published study, co-authored by James Poterba of MIT, Steven Venti of Dartmouth College, and David A. Wise of Harvard University. - Sarah Seltzer.*

From the Democracy Now discussion:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Will A Romney Win Result In War With Iran?

DBN Opinion Editorial by Sudhir Joshi

With less than 90 days left before the election, President Obama and Mitt Romney are trading rhetoric about the economy, jobs, and Medicare on the way to their respective conventions. But there is a much more ominous possibility to consider if Mitt Romney is elected president – war with Iran.

Imagine a freshly elected President Romney faced with a sluggish economy and mounting debt. And if Romney wins, that will more than likely mean a Republican majority in one or both houses of Congress. How does he create jobs and balance the budget?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wise County Democratic Party Fiesta For TDP Chair Gilberto Hinojosa

The Wise County Democratic Party is hosting a reception for Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa at Rubens Ballroom in Decatur (map) this Friday August 17th, 6:00pm to midnight. Music, entertainment and food are free of charge ~ Open Event.

Special Guests include Ms. Mary Gonzalez, our Hispanic Outreach Coordinator, and the North Texas Tejano Democrats Club. Ms. Gonzalez is a State Representative Elect from El Paso.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Obama And Cruz Outpace Opponents In Social Media Strategy

by Michael Handley, DBN Managing Editor

A new Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism study of how the campaigns are using digital tools to talk directly with voters finds that the Obama campaign posted nearly four times as much content as the Romney campaign and was active on nearly twice as many platforms.

More than ever before, voters expect to be given an opportunity to express themselves and interact with information by sharing with friends, posting to Facebook, tweeting and commenting on posts.

Candidates must effectively engage the social sphere from the outset of their campaign to remain competitive in this election cycle. Voters of all ages and persuasions are increasingly turning to social media for information about political issues and candidates.

According to a May 2011 study conducted by digital agency SocialVibe, 94 percent of social media users of voting age engaged by a political message read or watched the entire message, and 39 percent of these people went on to share it with an average of 130 friends online. Social Media Engagement Will Decide Election 2012.

"Disruptive Innovation" can change the rules of the game! Without Barack Obama's disruptive innovation in using the Internet to drive and support his 2008 campaign, he probably would not have won in the primary race against Hillary Clinton.

If presidential campaigns are in part contests over which candidate masters disruptive innovation in campaign strategies, Barack Obama holds a substantial lead over challenger Mitt Romney. President Obama, for example, has 18.5 million Twitter followers verses Mitt Romney's 840,300 followers ~ and some suspect Romney has purchased a certain number of fake Twitter followers.

The Pew study of how the campaigns are using digital tools to talk directly with voters finds:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Older Voters Oppose Romney/Ryan Medicare Voucher Plan

A Pew Research survey in June of 2011 found that those 65 and older had a very negative reaction to Ryan’s plan to change Medicare into a voucher plan: 51% opposed the plan (including 43% who opposed it strongly) compared with only 25% who favored the plan. This could spell trouble for every Republican listed on the ballot with the GOP Romney/Ryan Presidential duo, given that age group is a key GOP voting block.

Trouble because Paul Ryan and nearly every Republican in the U.S. Senate and House, breaking a promise Republicans made during the 2010 mid-term election to protect Social Security and Medicare, voted for Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) sharply conservative 2011 budget bill.

Ryan's conservative budget bill eliminates Medicare, as it exists today, and replaces with a private insurance premium voucher program. Ryan's Republican budget also guts Medicaid. Ryan's budget takes the money cut from Medicare to give additional tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires. Ryan's budget even gives big taxpayer handouts to big pharma, insurance and petrochemical industries. The Republican budget explodes deficit spending in the near term and doesn't actually balance revenues and spending until the year 2040.

Romney has admitted he would sign the Ryan budget if it crossed his desk, calling it “marvelous” and an “important step.”

Romney adviser Ed Gillespie said last weekend following Romney's announcement of Ryan as his VP pick, "Well, as Governor Romney has made clear, if the Romney, sorry, if the Ryan budget had come to his desk as a budget, he would have signed it, of course, and one of the reasons that he chose Congressman Ryan is his willingness to put forward innovative solutions in the budget.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said, "First of all, he did embrace the Ryan budget. He embraced it."

The June 2011 Pew survey found that most seniors said they were happy with how Medicare and Social Security operated. About six-in-ten (61%) said Medicare does an excellent or good job serving the people it covers; 57% said the same about Social Security. By contrast, most of those under 65 said these programs do an only fair or poor job.

In addition, just 33% of those 65 and older said they think Medicare needs major changes or needs to be completely rebuilt. Similarly, few seniors (30%) supported major changes or a complete rebuilding of Social Security. Support for changing Social Security and Medicare was far higher among those under 65.

Voters 65 and older are much more likely than younger voters to name Social Security as a top potential voting issue. A June 2012 survey found about as many senior voters saying Social Security is the issue that matters most to their vote (45%) as saying jobs (48%).

Seniors – along with the public overall – prioritize the protection of Medicare and Social Security benefits over deficit reduction by wide margins. In June 2011, two-thirds (66%) of those 65 and older said it is more important to keep Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are compared with just (20%) who prioritized deficit reduction.

A wide majority of seniors (66%) said people on Medicare already pay enough of the cost of their health care, compared with 24% who said people on Medicare need to be responsible for more costs to keep the program financially secure. Most seniors (54%) also said low income people should not have their Medicaid benefits taken away, compared with 34% who said states should be able to cut back on who is eligible for Medicaid to deal with budget problems.

In addition to presenting challenges among seniors, the issue of entitlements divides the GOP base.

Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 63% of those with family incomes of $75,000 or more say it is more important to take steps to reduce the budget deficit; a nearly identical percentage (62%) of Republicans with incomes of $30,000 or less say it is more important to maintain Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are.

Read the full Pew Research Report.