Gird Your Loins, Cuts, Cuts, and More Cuts are Coming!

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In some of the most candid public remarks to date Republican Representative Jim Pitts of Waxahachie indicated that if any savings is to come from Texas opting out of the federal Medicaid program that “we will have to throw some people out in the street.”  The full context of the entire quote is below thanks to the Texas Tribune:

Pitts told the crowd that the state is studying Medicaid and other forms of government-run health care with the idea of getting out of it. A man in the audience mentioned a friend on the program and asked whether lawmakers would “throw him out on the street.”

“If we did exactly what we're doing today, we wouldn't be throwing him out on the street,” Pitts answered. “But if we have any savings on getting out of Medicaid, we will have to throw some people out in the street. I'm not telling you that your friend would be, but the eligibility to receive state benefits will go down.

Well most of us knew what was coming, but to hear it so blatantly and unapologetically said in a less than heartfelt manner by Republican Pitts should give much reason for Texans to sweat these days. Moreover, Pitts said clearly your friend will not be thrown off if we keep things the way they are right now, but he would if we change things to the GOP way. Inciteful!  

If a program such as Medicaid, which the federal government reimburses the state of Texas upwards of 60% of the total cost, is on the cutting block one can only imagine what other programs are next. Although Rick Perry and other Republicans continue to say that the state can handle the needs of those on Medicaid “by ourselves” he is unequivocally and deceptively lying.  How can the state of Texas replace 60% of reimbursed funds from the federal government when the state already faces a $25 billion dollar shortfall?  The answer is they can't, and they have no intention to even try. Since the 1980's it has been the mission of Republicans to end programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and others and they fully intend to use an internally perceived “election mandate” to do exactly that. The new GOP extreme machine fully intends to throw as many people into the streets as possible with a slash and burn approach to governing that has no mercy.  

I don't believe this is the mandate that voters truly went to the polls and voted for, I believe it is a dramatic stretch on the part of Republicans to believe that is the case; however, I'm not surprised that Republicans have manifested the election results to be a full-fledged dismantling of state and federal government of the likes we have never, ever seen before.

The new GOP extreme machine may believe their mandate will be well received by Texans, but as the microscope magnifies the extent of this destructive, slash and burn approach to governing the tide will quickly turn back.  

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  1. faces of Medicaid
    The public doesn't truly understand which populations are covered by Medicaid. Predominately children, pregnant mothers, certain people with disabilities, and low-income over 65 Texans.

    Senator Deuell even partially pointed out this fact at last week's joint hearing of HHS and State Affairs. Step 1 here is dispelling the myth about who receives Medicaid.

    Rep. Pitts is talking about throwing grandmother's out of nursing homes and cutting off care to pregnant mother's and many wheel chair bound or otherwise disabled Texans.

      • slight tweak to your stat
        527k children are on CHIP.  2.5 million additional kids are on Medicaid.

        You can't have a CHIP program without a Medicaid program, so total that means more than 3 million kids losing coverage.  

  2. These are the same people…
    that said Pres. Obama was going to form death panels… a complete lie at the time. These guys are for real!

  3. The New Paradigm
    By way of introduction, I am Point Counter, a native Austinite, in my 50's, owner of a small business and a Phd. in Economics. I have never been politically active, primarily because it would be counterproductive to my business (why piss off half my customers). In an attempt for Burnt Orange Nation not to become a shouting at the choir endeavor, I am here to offer a counter point.

    First of all, I have to chuckle at the amount of hyperbole contained within this thread alone. No question, Representative Pitts engaged in his own, but seriously folks…tone it down.

    Bottom line…you have run out of my money. And government at all levels will have to begin to live within it's means. Necessary cuts can be intelligently phased, so that those who are most vulnerable now will not be affected at all. If the message however goes out to the rest of the country that Texas is a mean spirited, cheap fisted society bent on not taking care of the poor and indigent and that only those brave souls who seek opportunity, self sufficiency and freedom need come here, then so be it. Of course, in reality, Texas still spends enormous sums on education and welfare. Just look it up.

    What Texas and the nation are experiencing is a sea change in the awareness of effects of prolonged reliance on debt instead of productivity. I approach this group in all sincerity and civility. I will not name call. I will not be emotional. I am here only to round out the discussion.

    Victory or death (William B. Travis, February 24, 1836, The Alamo)

    Respectfully submitted,

    Point Counter  

    • Please Understand
      Texas does pretty close to the minimum in terms of medicaid and covering our citizens in general, many states do much much more. Please tell me how your going to cut Medicaid without affecting the “most vulnerable” in Texas. Please tell me which group of citizens covered by Medicaid in Texas will be an “intelligent” cut.

      And don't forget that we're #1 in the number of uninsured and we're near the top of the list on a range of other measurements where we'd rather be near the bottom.

      And please save the martyr rhetoric for another blog. If you want to look at whose “run out of [your] money” look at the Texas Enterprise Fund.

      This is classic balancing the budget on the backs of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.

    • Complete Understanding
      First let me clear something up. I am no martyr (does that qualify as name calling?) ;). I refuse to cast myself amongst those who consider themselves victims. Perhaps you missed my point regarding phased cuts…much in the way President Obama's Debt Commission has addressed upping the retirement age for future generations.

      Your statements about Texas being #1 in the number of uninsured or near the bottom in some other unnamed category is all good news. Why on earth would a family who cannot provide insurance for their child want to move here?

      Now let's do something novel. Balancing the budget on the backs of the weakest…

      For Fiscal Year 2010, total state net expenditures estimated at $90,434,143,170. Education and Health and Human Services comprise 75.9% of that figure. A bit difficult to shed a tear with outlays at that level. If you needed to tighten your own budget to live within your means, would you tell your family that 75.9% of the household budget is not only off limits from cutting, but needs to be increased?

      I have no problem cutting the Texas Enterprise Fund…on that we are in agreement…progress! In fact I'll even offer to eliminate it. What else do you suggest to cut?

      • “you have run out of my money”
        Why don't we go back to Reagan era tax rates?   The well-to-do pay higher proportional rates because face it, they have the money. Where does that money come from? Others in society, customers, workers, benefactors, dupes, what have you.   But it is also true that the well-to-do use more of government's functions. Who flies more? Who sues more? Who has the most property to protect by cops or firefighters?  This list could go on.

        Our nation will be stronger when its' people are secure, healthy and happy. Not worrying about the medical survival of your children will lift a huge psychological burden off the working poor and middle class.  We could channel that energy into creative progress for our state, our nation.

        “Point Counter”, why is our medical system cost prohibitive? Why don't we fix things instead of just declaring we don't want poor people to move here?

        We need to cut the spending on war industries. Why does our nation spend more than all the other countries in the world put together?  Let's take half that money and invest in our civil society.  Every earnest person that wants to can become an “indentured” doctor & work in public clinics til their tuition is repaid. We can do anything.

        It really is evolutionary human nature to cooperate & help each other.   Don't go Galt, Point Counter, go Christ-like.

        • Where is John Galt?
          Love the reference MsInformed (and the monikor). Tough to go Christ-like since I'm an atheist, but I find plenty of inspiration elsewhere. The well-to-do (top 1%) already pay a healthy share (28.1%) of the taxes paid currently without raising the rates further. You make an interesting point about those who use government more should pay more. Assuming that is true, the rich already pay more in terms of absolute dollars without raising their rates. I totally agree with you that our nation is stronger when its people are secure. Precisely why we pay so much for our military. In fact, one of the reasons that the U.S. is still considered a safe haven for investment is because of our military might. Speaking personally, worrying about the medical survival of my unborn children was precisely why I worked so extremely hard in my early years. I never once entertained the notion that there would be a government program to care for my children. I started with absolutely nothing. Not a penny from my father. I worked harder and longer than most around me. I wasn't blessed with a superior brain. But I had a belief that given the opportunity I could create a secure, healthy and happy environment by my own hands. And I proceeded to do that. I did not need the thought of a big government safety net to lift any psychological burdens. I was able channel my energy in the face of a very poor upbringing and average intelligence.

          I certainly believe in evolution…but I don't believe that human nature is evolving toward cooperation except by pure coincidence. Happy to go Adam Smith or Mises on ya. 😉

          I'll work on your question about medical system costs, but it's Friday night and I'm going to engage in some self indulgence!

          • Military is not
            the kind of security I was talking about. Our paying way too much into military bucket has contributed to our economic insecurity & brought us poor return on the “investment”.

        • Wrong….
          The well-to-do are supposed to pay more. But don't. The highest tax rate is 35%.  Most in that bracket in fact have all sorts of loopholes to take advantage of. So they end up paying I believe an average of 15%. Far less proportionately than the not-so-well-to-do.

          The real problem is Washington. Not Austin. And Obama has proven who he really serves. And it is not the people.

          You cannot expect Austin to pick up the cost of what is about to be cut in Washington. And sorry but I hope the Republicans completely dismantle Obama's “health care reform” simply because it is, in the end, nothing more than a stimulus for the health care insurance industry.

          Not sure the Texas legislature can address the coming disaster. They are not the brightest light bulbs. But at least some regardless of their party are accepting reality.  Throwing more debt on top of debt only creates unmanageable debt.  More and more people on Medicare are having to turn to our public health care system since more and more primary care providers are refusing to take Medicare. How the public health care system handles the problem may prove to be a solution to much of the problem in our health care system. The public health care system is not out for profit. Which the private health care system is.

           

    • The current state deficit is mostly a result of the economy and ill advised tax schemes
      I disagree that we have been relying on “debt instead of productivity” and that's why we are where we are right now.  I have never bought into this idea that most people who receive benefits are unproductive members of society.  Most work at low wage jobs that make it difficult to maintain a decent qualify of life.

      The only programs that I'd agree with you about in that sense are social security and Medicare, because more people are living older and the current ratio of benefits vs. taxation to maintain them aren't sustainable.  That's not to say that Medicare and social security aren't sustainable at all and should be phased out, but they are going to need to be adjusted somewhat either to increase taxes, decrease benefits, raise the ages of eligibility, or all of the above.

      • Excellent Point
        Now how would you weight your statement:

        The current state deficit is mostly a result of:

        The economy __%  x ill advised tax schemes __% = 98%, 87% of the reason for the current deficit?

        If ONLY we had devised WELL advised tax schemes… 😉

        How do you define an unproductive member of a society…one who takes more out of the system than what they put in? Why do most work at low wage jobs? Is it because they are being held down or because of a series of personal choices? How is a wage determined? Should it be based on the productivity, competency and efficiency of a worker as it relates to the job at hand? And who determines what is a decent quality of life? Is this a top down definition? All intriguing economic questions…

        The reliance on debt is most certainly more of a problem at the federal level, but the original question ties our state contribution to the unsustainable entitlement programs at the federal level.

        • Still waiting for an answer
          Putting a question mark at the end of a nasty statement doesn't really help. It's pretty clear that you view the circumstances of the working poor in Texas as a result of their own “personal choices”?

          You obviously disagree that there is fundamental inequality in Texas so this is probably a worthless discussion. But still, can you tell me which group of people in Texas that receives Medicaid should be kicked off to help balance the budget?

          • just realized
            I'm not giving you a fair opportunity to offer cuts to education and health care programs for kids in Texas. Please let me know what parts of public school funding and CHIP you'd like to cut to balance the budget as well. I'm sure that those kids made bad “personal choices” on their way to becoming “unproductive member[s] of society” who take “more out of the system than they put in.”  

    • A couple things
      First – don't conflate what's going on with the federal government with the state government.

      Texas has one of the leanest budgets in the country.  We cover the bare minimum in most everything, especially healthcare.

      To elaborate on blank's point – our state Medicaid program covers the blind, the disabled, the elderly, pregnant low income women and infants and children.  There's no welfare moms in Cadillacs, the only real extravagance is that we cover pregnant women up to 185% of Federal Poverty Level.

      Over 60% of elderly Texans in nursing homes have at least part of their coverage paid for through Medicaid.  The largest costs in Medicaid are also from individuals in need of long term care, like nursing homes.

      To use your analogy of Texas as a family trying to balance their budgets: Texas has already sold their home, sold their cars, moved into a studio apartment and dined on Ramen noodles for every meal for years now.  Yeah you can save a little cash by selling the TV (Enterprise Fund), but at some point you have to consider getting a 2nd job to pay the bills.

      • I want to add
        That you make reasonable points, and you do so in a largely respectful manner.  I appreciate your comments and tone and empathize with your arguments, but I feel like you are making them with only half of the facts.

        This is more my personal philosophical view, but at what point do we eliminate the cognitive dissonance, and realize that there are essential functions of our government that we need in our society?  That there are important roles of government in our lives?

        I actually appreciate the way Chairman Pitts put it in the video.  Medicaid in Texas serves the most in need, the most vulnerable.  My neighbor has a daughter who is developmentally disabled who relies on Medicaid.  When my great uncle was alive, Medicaid covered part of his nursing home.  

        No matter how terrible things seem on cable news, we live a civilized country and we choose to lend a hand to those most in need.  We recognize both the moral imperative in these actions, and also the incredible profit we reap from doing so.  An educated, healthy citizenry means you have smart employees who don't miss work.  This further drives the economic engine of our nation and propels us forward.  To abandon these fundamental tasks of our government, or even to curtail them, has detrimental effects on our country, our state and our communities.  

        • I could not agree with you more
          Often times we erase the line between economics and philosophy…it's very easy to do. Reasonable people can reasonably disagree on the definition of essential functions. Is it the function of government, for example, to create a numbers racket and prey upon the most vulnerable in our society on the notion of a get rich quick scheme?

          As an independent businessman, it is hard to distinguish from what direction the avalanche of regulations and taxation is coming from on any particular day. It is this death by a thousand paper cuts, whether it comes from the federal, state, county, city or even an HOA, that is threatening the economic engine that keeps all these entities afloat.

          I am a humble student of life. If I lack facts, I am all ears. Thank you for you kind comments.  

          • Regulation as taxation….
            People don't think of regulation as taxation but it is. So it is a two-edged sword. It protects the public interest but at the same time it serves the private interest as many small business owners are put out of business just from the cost of regulation and the hidden taxation of regulation.  

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