The war of words that has become the GOP battle for Governor in 2010 has created some interesting arguments. Due to numerous requests, TCR is taking a look at Kay Bailey Hutchison's pro-life record to separate the myths from the facts.
- Kay Bailey Hutchison has a 94% lifetime rating from the National Right to Life Committee on issues of vital concern.
- Just as she has in the U.S. Senate, Kay Bailey Hutchison will continue to oppose all taxpayer funding for abortion as Governor of Texas. She has consistently supported the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer dollars for abortion or any administrative cost of any health care benefits coverage that includes abortion. She also fought efforts to subvert the Mexico City policy denying U.S. aid for organizations that perform or promote abortion abroad. She has voted to prohibit funding for abortions in U.S. military facilities, in federal employee insurance plans, in District of Columbia funding, in Native American facilities, and in Medicaid and SCHIP authorization bills.
- She is a strong supporter of parental notification and waiting period laws, and other state restrictions now permitted under Roe v Wade. She has voted to criminalize the transportation of a minor across a state line for purposes of abortion. Sen. Hutchison also backed legislation to double penalties for crimes against a pregnant mother.
- A largely-unexamined issue is Kay Bailey Hutchison's vow to promote adoption, a cause personally important to her. Texas currently has one of the lowest adoption rates in the country. Hutchison says this has to be addressed squarely, because any effective policy to reduce incidence of abortion must include strong efforts to encourage adoption.
- Hutchison believes stem cell research, particularly on adult stem cells, has the potential to protect and improve lives, but it must be done ethically and responsibly. She opposes allowing creation of embryonic stem cells for research purposes. She co-sponsored and voted for the 2006 Santorum bill, signed into law by President Bush, that prohibits creation of human embryos specifically for research.
- Kay Bailey Hutchison has consistently opposed "Right to Die" legislation protecting doctors who participate in assisted suicide.
- Kay Bailey Hutchison has been a leader in confirming conservative judges (such as Priscilla Owen of Texas) who enforce the law, and don't try to write their own laws from the bench. She has promised to continue that approach in her appointments as governor.
All in all, a strong record. That leaves one issue, which TCR believes has been overplayed: she opposes repeal of Roe v. Wade. Even when Republicans controlled all branches of government, the idea of a constitutional amendment repealing Roe went nowhere. As amended by Supreme Court decisions starting in the 90s, allowing reasonable state restrictions, Roe is vastly improved now and arguably more effective in reducing abortions than any foreseeable alternative after its repeal. Additionally, despite Roe v. Wade, we have made significant pro-life progress in Washington, D.C. in recent years, such as on banning partial-birth abortions, with Kay Hutchison front and center on virtually all of it.
Rick Perry talks a strong pro-life game. But in contrast to Gov. George Bush, he has excessively politicized Austin, almost eliminating his ability to deliver - on this issue as well as others. He lacked leadership ability to advance the pro-life agenda during the 2009 state legislative session even on common sense items such as pro-life license plates and access to ultrasound imaging. And when it suits his political ambition, Perry has endorsed and worked for pro-choice Presidential candidates, including Al Gore and Rudy Giuliani. TCR believes life will fare at least as well, and likely better, under a Governor Hutchison.
An Extraordinary Look At Health Care Reform
Texas Conservative Review (TCR) has viewed the current health care debate with interest. PBS Houston's Red, White & Blue has had two shows on this important topic. First, for those who say the present system is just fine and sustainable as it is now, they are flat wrong. Second, the Democrat's/ObamaCare Plan takes the worst of the present unsustainable system and expands it, thus hastening the day when the medical care system collapses. Third, the opportunity to get things right is now and if we do, we will have a sustainable health care system for a long time.
So what should we do? The Atlantic Magazine in the September 2009 issue features a story by David Goldhill who, after losing his father after he contracted a hospital-borne infection, went on a quest to determine what is wrong with the present system. What should we do by those who can't afford or get coverage due to pre-existing conditions? What can we do to make pricing in the medical field more opaque? What can we do to control runaway medical cost inflation?
Here are some key excerpts:
- "America has built a health-care system with incentives that inexorably generate terrible and perverse results. Incentives that emphasize health care over any other aspect of health and well-being. That emphasize treatment over prevention. That disguise true costs. That favor complexity, and discourage transparent competition based on price or quality. That result in a generational pyramid scheme rather than sustainable financing. And that - most important - remove consumers from our irreplaceable role as the ultimate ensurer of value."
- "That's the premise behind today's incremental approach to health-care reform. Though details of the legislation are still being negotiated, its principles are a reprise of previous reforms - addressing access to health care by expanding government aid to those without adequate insurance, while attempting to control rising costs through centrally administered initiatives. Some of the ideas now on the table may well be sensible in the context of our current system. But fundamentally, the 'comprehensive' reform being contemplated merely cements in place the current system - insurance-based, employment-centered, administratively complex. It addresses the underlying causes of our health-care crisis only obliquely, if at all; indeed, by extending the current system to more people, it will likely increase the ultimate cost of true reform."
- "I'm a Democrat, and have long been concerned about America's lack of a health safety net. But based on my own work experience, I also believe that unless we fix the problems at the foundation of our health system - largely problems of incentives - our reforms won't do much good, and may do harm. To achieve maximum coverage at acceptable cost with acceptable quality, health care will need to become subject to the same forces that have boosted efficiency and value throughout the economy. We will need to reduce, rather than expand, the role of insurance; focus the government's role exclusively on things that only government can do (protect the poor, cover us against true catastrophe, enforce safety standards, and ensure provider competition); overcome our addiction to Ponzi-scheme financing, hidden subsidies, manipulated prices, and undisclosed results; and rely more on ourselves, the consumers, as the ultimate guarantors of good service, reasonable prices, and sensible trade-offs between health-care spending and spending on all the other good things money can buy."
- "Yet spending on health care, by families and by the government, is crowding out spending on almost everything else. As a nation, we now spend almost 18 percent of our GDP on health care. In 1966, Medicare and Medicaid made up 1 percent of total government spending; now that figure is 20 percent, and quickly rising."
- "Is this really a big problem for our health-care system? Well, for every two doctors in the U.S., there is now one health-insurance employee - more than 470,000 in total. In 2006, it cost almost $500 per person just to administer health insurance. Much of this enormous cost would simply disappear if we paid routine and predictable health-care expenditures the way we pay for everything else - by ourselves."
- "Society's excess cost from health insurance's administrative expense pales next to the damage caused by 'moral hazard' - the tendency we all have to change our behavior, becoming spendthrifts and otherwise taking less care with our decisions, when someone else is covering the costs."
- "Still, the hospitals, drug companies, health insurers, and medical-device manufacturers now spend roughly $6 billion a year on advertising. If the demand for health care is purely a response to unavoidable medical need, why do these companies do so much advertising?"
- "For fun, let's imagine confiscating all the profits of all the famously greedy health-insurance companies. That would pay for four days of health care for all Americans. Let's add in the profits of the 10 biggest rapacious U.S. drug companies. Another 7 days. Indeed, confiscating all the profits of all American companies, in every industry wouldn't cover even five months of our health-care expenses."
- "You may think your employer is paying for your health care, but in fact your company's share of the insurance premium comes out of your potential wage increase. Where else could it come from?"
- "Keeping prices opaque is one way medical institutions seek to avoid competition and thereby keep prices up. And they get away with it in part because so few consumers pay directly for their own care - insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid are basically the whole game. But without transparency on prices - and the related data on measurable outcomes - efforts to give the consumer more control over health care have failed, and always will."
- "It's astonishingly difficult for consumers to find any health-care information that would enable them to make informed choices - based not just on price, but on quality of care or the rate of preventable medical errors. Here's one place where legal requirements might help. But only a few states require institutions to make this sort of information public in a usable form for consumers. So while every city has numerous guidebooks with reviews of schools, restaurants, and spas, the public is frequently deprived of the necessary data to choose hospitals and other providers."
- "A wasteful insurance system; distorted incentives; a bias toward treatment; moral hazard; hidden costs and a lack of transparency; curbed competition; service to the wrong customer. These are the problems at the foundation of our health-care system, resulting in a slow rot and requiring more and more money just to keep the system from collapsing."
- "A central feature of the reform plan is the expansion of comprehensive health insurance to most of the 46 million Americans who now lack private or public insurance."
- "A more consumer-centered health-care system would not rely on a single form of financing for health-care purchases; it would make use of different sorts of financing for different elements of care - with routine care funded largely out of our incomes; major, predicable expenses (including much end-of-life care) funded by savings and credit; and massive, unpredictable expenses funded by insurance."
- "For years, a number of reformers have advocated a more 'consumer-driven' care system - a term coined by the Harvard Business School professor Regina Harzlinger, who has written extensively on the subject. Many different steps could move us toward such a system. Here's one approach that - although it may sound radical - makes sense to me.
First, we should replace our current web of employer- and government-based insurance with a single program of catastrophic insurance open to all Americans - indeed all Americans should be required to buy it - with fixed premiums based solely on age."
- "In place of these programs and the premiums we now contribute to them, and along with catastrophic insurance, the government should create a new form of health savings account - a vehicle that has existed, though in imperfect form, since 2003. Every American should be required to maintain an HSA, and contribute a minimum percentage of post-tax income, subject to a floor and a cap in total dollar contributions. The income percentage required should rise over a working life, as wages and wealth typically do."
- "It would take a full generation to completely migrate from relying on Medicare to saving for late-life care; from Medicaid for the disadvantaged to catastrophic insurance and subsidized savings accounts. Such a transition would require the slow reduction of Medicare taxes, premiums, and benefit levels for those not yet eligible, and a corresponding slow ramp-up in HSAs. And the national catastrophic plan would need to start with much broader coverage and higher premiums than the ultimate goal, in order to fund the care needed today by our aging population. Nonetheless, the benefits of a consumer-centered approach - lower costs for better service - should have early and large dividends for all of us throughout the period of transition. The earlier we start, the less a transition will ultimately cost."
TCR Comment: Write your representatives in Washington, D.C. and share the wisdom detailed herein. We have no time to lose.
There Is Another-Conservative Debra Medina In GOP Race For Governor
The "other" candidate in the race for Governor is conservative Debra Medina of Wharton County. She is a wife and mother, a registered nurse, a businesswoman, a rancher and a fighter. She first got involved in politics in the early 1990s, when she saw that local leaders were not honoring the pro-life principles that guide her beliefs. Now chairing the Republican Party of Wharton County, she took the Republican Party of Texas to court in 2008 over violations in how the state convention was run.
She home schooled both her children long before home schooling had the kind of support and visibility it has today. She graduated from San Antonio's Baptist Memorial Hospital System School of Nursing in 1984, and later earned a bachelor's degree in Business Management from the evangelical Christian Le Tourneau University. In 2002, she founded her own business, Prudentia Inc., which specializes in improving medical billing procedures.
She is running because Texas has had pseudo-conservative government under Rick Perry. She describes Texas' so-called balanced budget as misleading in that every dime we take in is spent and state debt has skyrocketed from $12 billion in 2000 to $31 billion in August of 2008. Also note our "balanced" budget was obtained with $12 billion in federal stimulus money. She also points out that Texas' debt service for the fiscal year 2010 is $1 billion!
Medina suggests the answer is cutting spending instead of increasing debt. She cites doubling of spending in education and healthcare over the last eight years and during the same time transportation was reduced by 1%.
While we are not as bad as California, Medina suggests we are on the same road.
So what are her top priorities? Private property and gun ownership are key elements of freedom and must not be compromised. So we must end private property taxes (as suggested by the Texas Public Policy Foundation in April 2009) to be replaced by a broad-based sales tax with a lower rate of 6.1%. This provides true property ownership and a $3 billion increase in net personal income in Texas in the first year and will increase jobs.
TCR Comment: Debra Medina is a courageous conservative who is willing to take on the entrenched special interests in the GOP. If Rick Perry was as conservative as he "says" he is, she wouldn't be in the race. This will be a candidacy to watch as the big dogs do battle.
TCR on the Air
Red, White & Blue, featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland and liberal commentator David Jones. Coming Friday, September 25th - Jared Woodfill and Gerry Birnberg, Harris County's GOP and Democratic Party Chairmen, respectively. Coming in October: Weekly one-on-one's with the big four for Houston Mayor: Annise Parker, Peter Brown, Roy Morales and Gene Locke. As a new fun feature, visit Red, White & Blue on the Houston PBS website, where you can see after-show commentary about the show and its guests by Gary and David.
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his twelfth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last seven years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.