Unforced Errors May Decide Governor's Race
The earned media, both good and bad by Kay Hutchison and Rick Perry, may decide the primary. Most recently, Rick Perry, it appears stalled an investigation into the potential innocence of an executed convicted arsonist by replacing the commissioner in charge days before the scheduled hearing. This has created a firestorm of criticism of Perry. TCR wonders why did he do it? What are they trying to hide? TCR thinks it should have gone forward and the result would have been a lot less damaging to the Governor.
Farm Bureau Embraces Hutchison
Former Rick Perry supporters, the Texas Farm Bureau, have abandoned Governor Perry and endorsed Kay Hutchison. Another self-inflicted loss as the Farm Bureau was still angry over the 2007 Perry veto of the eminent domain bill (he signed a weaker version in 2009).
Harris County Passes Potential Budget Busting Hybrid Public Defender System
In a time of belt tightening and projected lower tax revenues, the Harris County Commissioners passed a new public defender system that when fully implemented will skyrocket spending on accused criminals by an estimated $46-93 million a year to start with, and no guarantee of better services. Our next TCR will feature a guest editorial by a prominent conservative activist on this issue in detail. If you look behind the door, you find big spender Democratic State Senator Rodney Ellis pushing this boondoggle, even resorting to threats, yes, threats, to get Democratic judges to sign up. (Note: the proposed program by current state law is optional for the judges.) Hats off to our Republican Judges who said No Thanks: District Judges Pat Shelton, Mike Schneider, Vanessa Velasquez, Michael McSpadden, Jeannine Barr, Denise Collins, Mary Lou Keel, and Jim Wallace. As for the others, TCR wonders, what are they thinking?
Perry Gets One Right
The appointment of Eva Guzman to the Supreme Court is a good one. She is a thinking conservative who will be a fair jurist. The Supreme Court of Texas is a better place today because of her appointment.
Iran Gets Closer To Nuclear Weapons
As Obama Watches
If we wait long enough, Iran will have nuclear weapons. Remember, this is the culture that celebrates deaths. Our old concept of MAD (mutually assured destruction) won't matter. The only thing for sure is we are headed to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and once that happens, how soon before Islam-fascists get a hold of a device and set it off in the U.S. President Obama needs to wake up and take out Iran's nuclear weapons program. Sooner would be better.
Benkiser Leaves RPT For Perry Campaign,
Will It Make A Difference?
Former Republican Party of Texas Chair Tina Benkiser has resigned to join the Perry re-election campaign officially. It seems to TCR that she would have been more helpful as State Chair. As far as the March primary, she will have little or no impact on the result, as she will just be another former Chair being paid to work for Perry, joining her predecessor Susan Weddington.
The Dollar Collapse On Obama's Watch
If you haven't noticed, since the dollar's high of 89.62 soon after Barack Obama's inauguration, the dollar has declined against a basket of world currencies by 15%, an incredible decline. We could be witnesses to the ending of the dollar as the reserve currency of the world, which has grave consequences to our economic future.
Health Insurance Mandates Explained
by Bud Schauerte
Health insurance "mandates" are laws, enacted by all of the 50 state legislatures (plus U.S. Territories), which offer payment benefits for almost everything a patient might desire. They are referred to as "gold plated" and "Cadillac" insurance because they are both expensive and fully loaded with all conceivable options.
Mandates cannot be stripped from a health insurance plan. Buy a health insurance policy in any state and you buy their mandates.
Some Members of the U.S. Congress, working to develop universal health insurance "reform," would like to tax state insurance mandates out of existence. "Cadillac" health plans, they believe, are unnecessary, too expensive, and should be replaced with one-size-fits-all health insurance programs.
The Virginia-based Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAHI) estimates that state mandated coverages boost premium costs 20% to 50% more than minimum coverage policies.
One federal health care "reform" proposal is to apply a 35% excise tax on state health plan mandates. The proposed tax, were it to become law, could undermine a state's law making authority over the insurance industry and put into question how both state and federal governments, simultaneously, would be responsible for insurance regulation.
Patients seem to appreciate the luxury of "gold plated" health plans, in spite of their high premium costs, because more and more mandates are being created. State legislators find it difficult to oppose any legislation which promises enhanced care to constituents plus stable and dependable fees for health care providers now able to claim insurance benefits for their compensation.
What is more, legislators who sponsor health care mandates in state legislatures generally receive bountiful financial support from newly minted health care providers at reelection time. How reciprical.
A survey of states by the CAHI to date has counted 2,133 mandated health care coverages in all fifty states. Texas has 57 health care mandates. Most mandates are fully functional health care services dominated by physicians and skilled professionals. Others have tacit relationships to physical well-being and maintaining quality of life.
Here are some examples of uncommon health care mandates available in one or more states: marriage counseling, breast reduction and reconstruction, dietician counseling, hair prothesis (wigs), substance abuse therapy, acupuncture, hearing aids, contraception, speech pathology, autism, in vitro fertilization, bone mass measurement, HIV testing, diabetic supplies, dental anesthesia, ambulance service, and the list goes on and on.
Insurance is the last remaining vital industry, national in scope, essential to our free enterprise system and exclusively regulated by each of the 50 states and U.S. territories. It has been that way since 1945 when the U.S. Congress enacted the McCarran-Ferguson Act.
The insurance industry (life & health, property & casualty) is a consistent money maker for all the states. Premium taxes, fees and other revenues, derived from state regulation of insurance, amounts to more than $15.3 billion annually ($1.3 billion in Texas), according to the Insurance Information Institute. What is more, insurance company political campaign committees are known to have contributed mountains of dollars in support of reelections. (Members of Congress understand "mountains of dollars" and "reelections.")
Members of Congress, who favor federal regulation of insurers, swoon at the dollar signs, dream of long careers in public office, and file legislative bills requiring the states to abdicate some of their regulatory authorities to the feds. A bill introduced in Congress last year, if enacted, would have allowed insurers to choose between state or federal regulation of their businesses.
Somehow, it is difficult to visualize a federal government health care program sharing regulatory control and, likely, premium tax revenues with 50 state legislatures. But maybe that's just me.
For anyone who believes that Washington D.C. is less prepared or unwilling to assume regulatory control over the insurance industry, they should be reminded that the Feds already administer: The Social Security Administration, Medicare/Medicaid, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC), the Federal Crime Insurance Program (FCIP), and getting set to control one-sixth of the U.S. economy through national health care.
The state regulated insurance industry is divided on the prospect of being regulated by the Feds. Large insurers, who do business in multiple states, generally favor federal government control. Smaller companies which do not market coast-to-coast mainly prefer to be controlled by multiple state insurance departments. They endorse the idea that individual state insurance departments more likely will understand the unique operating challenges of small insurers.
Mandated coverages embodied in state health care insurance policies, are huge obstacles to the design and development of national health insurance "reform" legislation. Health insurance consumers want mandates. Members of Congress, who are writing new insurance "reform" rules, do not. This issue will not stay "pending." A decision will come.
Democracy again is being tested.
Bud Schauerte is a contributing editor and independent insurance agent in Austin, Texas. Schauerte served as Federal Insurance Administrator in the Federal Emergency Management Administration under former President George Bush and he also served as primary election administrator for the Travis County Republican Party in 1996.
Coming Soon to your mailbox in the City of Houston, the Texas Conservative Review City Election Guide with all the information you need to cast an informed ballot.
TCR on the Air
Red, White & Blue, featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland and liberal commentator David Jones on Houston PBS Channel 8 Fridays at 8:30 pm and Sundays at 5:30 pm. Next up: Weekly one-on-one's with the major candidates for Houston Mayor: Annise Parker, Peter Brown, Roy Morales and Gene Locke. Coming soon: Kathy Whitmire in a rare TV appearance, and the post City of Houston Election Show. 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.