– See more at: http://progresstexas.org/blog/beautiful-disaster-republican-hoax-texas-miracle#sthash.QZyGC4oV.dpuf
Republicans like to talk about a “Texas Miracle,” in which conservative policies were a magic wand waved over the land that created a mystical utopia. It sounds like quite the tall tale – and that’s because it is.
We call it a “Beautiful Disaster.”
Falling high school graduation rates, last in the country in health care coverage, at the bottom in voter turnout and at at the bottom in air quality. Texas might need a miracle just to turn things around.
But invoking their best used car salesman skills, Texas Republicans for years have been ignoring these truths, painting over the ugly parts and selling broken policies as new.
The following is a long-form post summarizing myths and pointing out that, like so many Republican policies, it’s clear the so-called miracle only extends to those Texans who already have a head start on a chance to get ahead. Click on the following links to jump to the section of your choice.
The alleged Texas Miracle was all the rage in 2011 when Rick Perry tossed his Stetson in the ring and ran for President. Now, as Abbott runs to replace Perry, he’s picked up the torch – trying to take credit for job and population growth patterns that go back decades, long before they came into power.
MYTH: Perry and Abbott Started Job Growth in Texas
FACT: Texas Has Led the Country in Job Growth for Decades
Job growth doesn’t happen in a vacuum. But Abbott and Perry pretend that Texas’s job growth is because of them, as opposed to a trend spanning four decades. Abbott, parrotting Perry, has perpetuated the bumper sticker logic that, “Conservative economic principles of low taxes and less regulation continue to make Texas the nation’s leader for job growth.”
“For the last 41 years Texas has added more jobs than any other state, and in most years, has led the nation in job creation, so Gov. Perry can claim that these jobs were created on his watch, but they were created on everybody else’s watch too.”
It’s not a miracle, folks.
Greg Abbott’s number one talking point amounts to him taking credit for the natural advantages of our great state, and policies that came into place long before Republicans took control of Texas government.
MYTH: Perry and Abbott’s Policies are What’s Attracting People to Move to TX FACT: People Have Been Moving Here for Decades – Long Before GOP Took the Reigns of Government
Also worth looking at – the idea that Texas’ population is booming because everyone from all over the United States are moving here because of our jobs. Remember, we’ve been a leader in job growth four decades straight. And the Texas housing market has always made us an attractive place to move.
Greg Abbott wants to take all the credit, saying, “Over the last decade, more than 4 million people moved to this state, and one reason is freedom and one reason is economic opportunity.” Abbott really wants us to believe people only just noticed?
In Texas, population growth is propelled by high in-state birthrates, a growing foreign-born population and domestic migration from just about everywhere in the country except the heavily Democratic Northeast, including elsewhere in the South.
54% of our state’s population increase is natural growth – births and deaths.
23.7% comes from international immigration – which Abbott demonizes to score political points.
21.6% comes from people moving to Texas from other states.
People are moving to our great state for a variety of reasons, but it’s past time to dispel the idea that everyone from California and New York are flocking en masse to Texas because of Rick Perry and Greg Abbott. The numbers show that’s just not true.
Part 2 – Limiting Opportunity and Economic Mobility
When you consider Abbott’s positions on the following policies – minimum wage, equal pay, and predatory lending – it becomes clear his so-called miracle only extends to Texans who already have a chance to get ahead.
Greg Abbott’s disastrous policies reflect his belief that women, minorities, and low-wage workers have no place in the future of Texas.
Greg Abbott Opposes Raising the Minimum Wage
Raising the minimum wage increases the cost of a burger by a couple pennies. Over the past few decades, prices have gone up – but wages have not. Yet Greg Abbott opposes a raise in the minimum wage, and his party platform supports the repeal of the national minimum wage law altogether.
The disaster of Abbott’s opposition to raising the minimum wage is obvious to Texas families:
26% of Texas children live in poverty. While most workers are adults, not kids, it is obvious that a living wage is good for parents caring for children and for today’s children that will need to support their parents and siblings as soon as they can work.
To act as if low-wage workers are less deserving because they don’t hold “elite” jobs is insulting to hard working Texans doing their best to provide for their families. Perry and Abbott are so focused on protecting their insider donors and luring big businesses away from other states that they are neglecting struggling Texans.
When the San Antonio Express-News looked into the salaries of people working for the Attorney General, they found that for the most part, men were better paid in almost all areas. This led other newspapers to investigate, as well – the following graph is from the Texas Tribune:
Greg Abbott Defends Predatory Lending Donors
Payday loans force Texas workers to live paycheck to paycheck. It is difficult to be economically mobile when the end of each month pressures workers to continue the cycle of loans or forgo food, electricity, or even medication.
Rather than help those suffering Texans, Greg Abbott sees a reason to profit.
Texans take out larger payday loans than borrowers in other states ($468 on average, compared with $392 nationwide) and pay higher annual percentage rates (439%, compared with 339% nationwide), according to the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a nonprofit research organization. In 2013 alone, almost 38,000 vehicles were repossessed in Texas for defaults on title loans.
Abbott works for his insiders, allowing these predators to run rampant through impoverished communities and exploit their economic instability.
Part 3 – Failing to Invest in Texas’ Future
As the state expands, it is important that infrastructure also expands to accommodate the growth. Without a decent education, roads to transport people and goods, affordable health care for workers and families, and water to keep everything going, a state’s unchecked growth can actually become its downfall.
Greg Abbott’s disastrous policies offer no relief to any of these challenges and, in fact, are likely to only make our lives worse in the long run.
The promise that hard work will give you a chance at a better life rings hollow if you do not give young people the tools they need to succeed. Education in Texas has suffered major blows, mainly from the people in office who should be first in line to defend it.
An architect of Greg Abbott’s education plan is an alleged scholar who claims women lack scientific aptitude to be leaders and that, “no woman has been a significant original thinker in any of the world’s great philosophical traditions.”
Texas has the highest rate of the uninsured in America, and the Texas Miracle has done nothing to fix it. Hospitals, county judges, economists, and local Democratic officials are working tirelessly to break the ideological stranglehold Ted Cruz, Greg Abbott, and Dan Patrick have on the state about Medicaid expansion.
6 million Texans are uninsured and over 2 million more Texans would have health coverage if Texas would have accepted federal funds to expanded Medicaid.
Business leaders and chambers of commerce across the state have called for a solution, whether Medicaid expansion or some Texas-specific idea, to fix the problem.
Abbott opposes Medicaid expansion, calling for block grants that even GOP Senators have called not likely and “unproductive.”
Abbott has called for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act – which could immediately jeopardize health care for 734,000 Texans and return us to a time when we could be denied health coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
Then again, Abbott may not even know what he thinks. In a recent op-ed interview, Abbott managed to protest and praise Medicaid…in back-to-back sentences:
“Medicaid provides less access to real healthcare. The state of Texas provides an extraordinary network of access points through Medicaid.” – Greg Abbott
Meanwhile, Texas roads are falling into disrepair and becoming increasingly congested due to lack of upgrades and expansions.
A report by the Texas Comptroller, “Texas in Focus”, found that, “In 2002, almost 1 billion tons of freight, valued at $866 billion, were moved by truck in Texas, or about 46 percent of all freight moved in Texas that year.”
The Texas Drought Project laid it out like this: “Years of unregulated expansion and sprawl, limitless groundwater pumping, and poor conservation management practices have set up the state for disaster. Now come the effects of climate change, with increased temperatures and evaporation rates, and the result is a disaster.”
As with transportation, Abbott pays lips service to the problem but offers no solution while maintaining that no new revenue is necessary to address the disastrous drought.
Greg Abbott has a well on his property to get around Texas water regulations and pump as much water from the ground as he pleases – regardless of whether or not it depletes another well or water source. This shows a lack of leadership and a complete disregard for regulations that exist for the public good.
Part 4 – Cronyism: The Texas Miracle Is That No One Is In Jail Yet
Time and time again, Abbott has made disastrous decisions that benefit his wealthy insider donors at the expense of the people of Texas.
We’ve spent so much time tracking Abbott’s corruption charges, the easiest way to get them in one place is with one of our old-fashioned Top 10 Lists:
In return for the $115,000 in campaign contributions he’s taken from Bank of America, Greg Abbott looked the other way and did nothing to collect the $3.3 million the bank owed taxpayers for not fulfilling its TEF contract.
Farmers Insurance PAC has contributed $127,000 to Attorney General Greg Abbott while he oversees a homeowners insurance case against the company – once again putting the interests of his donors ahead of the interest of the people of Texas.
On April 25, 2014, State Rep. Joe Deshotel asked Abbott to rule on whether or not Rick Perry can use taxpayer funds to pay the legal bills for the grand jury investigation that led to his indictment. To date, Perry has charged taxpayers $133,000 for his high-priced lawyers with cheap excuses. Abbott has refused to speak on the ruling.
After accepting $250,000 in campaign contributions from the chairman of the hostpital that employed the now infamous sociopath surgeon, Greg Abbott chose to intervene in a lawsuit filed against that same hospital by the families of the doctor’s victims.
Greg Abbott has also taken in more than $250,000 in campaign contributions from the predatory lending industry he helped expand. In 2006, Abbott issued a legal opinion exposing a loophole in Texas usury law that cleared the way for predatory lenders to take advantage of a more profitable provision and operate without limits on interest rates (charging rates in excess of 500%).
The Texas Enterprise Fund, one of Governor Perry’s most touted initiatives, was exposed for awarding nearly $222 million in no-strings-attached funds to business that didn’t fill out an application for the money and were not required to use the funds for job creation. Attorney General Abbott turned a blind eye to it all – then took $1.4 million from those same groups.
In the wake of the chemical explosion that killed 15 people in West, TX, Greg Abbott did the unthinkable and wrote several Attorney General opinions allowing state agencies to withhold public records of the locations where dangerous chemicals are stored. And it comes as no surprise that Abbott’s political campaigns have taken in more than $125,000 from businesses—including $75,000 from Koch brother interests, whose money came in the last year—that stand to benefit from keeping this information secret.
The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) was supposed to provide funding for cancer research. But soon after its implementation, the multi-billion dollar entity was awarding grants to donors of Rick Perry and Greg Abbott without the proper review. Scientists resigned in protest, and an investigation into the activities of the fund has since resulted in a felony indictment. Greg Abbott, as the state’s Attorney General, was tasked with serving as a watchdog for this cancer research fund. But he never attended a board meeting – and took no action when cancer research dollars were funneled to his donors.
Above all else, Abbott’s focus remains on benefiting himself and his own political career over others. Abbott will receive up to $10 million in his life for the tree that fell on him, yet he’s denied justice to other Texans – including a woman with an ampuated leg Abbott ruled was not “disabled”, a young mother raped by a sexual predator, and hospital victims maimed or killed by a surgeon high on cocaine.
– See more at: http://progresstexas.org/blog/beautiful-disaster-republican-hoax-texas-miracle#sthash.lbQCB4d1.Y7ln8D2R.dpuf
Cyrus Tashakkori is Vice President at Pioneer Green Energy, a wind and solar power developer based in Austin, TX. He has an MBA and a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Texas in Austin and a Bachelor's in Science & Economics from the University of North Carolina, Asheville.