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The Business Lobby Surrenders on Sanctuary Cities

Five years after killing an anti-immigration bill, Texas businesses are now focused on bathrooms.

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John Moore/Getty

EDITOR’S NOTE: Since this article was originally published, Governor Gregg Abbott has signed the sanctuary cities bill into law.

Five years ago, on the first day of the 2011 legislative session, then-Governor Rick Perry declared that Texas had to urgently eliminate “sanctuary cities,” promoting aggressive policing of undocumented immigrants. Perry had made sanctuary cities an issue in his re-election campaign the previous year against Houston Mayor Bill White. Perry claimed Houston was a sanctuary city because police were not allowed to ask someone about immigration status unless that person was actually under arrest.

Perry closed his campaign with a television commercial featuring African-American Houston police officer Joslyn Johnson, who blamed the city’s policies for the murder of her husband by an undocumented immigrant who had been in police custody multiple times. When Perry made his case to the Legislature during the 2011 session, Johnson joined the governor on the House dais. “Texas law enforcement professionals must have the discretion to use their judgment, judgment honed by years of training and experience, when it comes to inquiring about immigration status during lawful detentions and apprehensions,” Perry said in his State of the State address. “Thank you, Sergeant Johnson, for being here and for your grace and courage in these difficult times.”

Legislation to empower Texas police to ask people about their residence status passed the House after an emotional debate and was pending in the Senate. Then two major businesses—Bob Perry home-builders and H-E-B groceries—stepped forward to kill the sanctuary cities legislation. In just two days of intervention, the bill was dead. Since that time, Texas businesses have fought to protect undocumented immigrants and the so-called state Dream Act that allows undocumented children who graduated from a Texas high school to pay in-state college tuition.

This year, Governor Greg Abbott has made passage of a sanctuary city bill again an emergency priority for the Legislature. The Senate and House expanded the bill beyond Abbott’s original scope to include language allowing police officers to ask for papers any time they detain an individual. It passed the House last week after another emotional and contentious debate. The Senate on Wednesday concurred to House amendments and sent the bill to Abbott for his consideration.

The difference this time is that Texas business has been all but absent from the debate. Instead, the focus for big business has been on blocking the so-called bathroom bill that would discriminate against transgender people. Five years ago, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community could hardly get the time of day out of Texas businesses, much less support. Business in Texas is fighting for the LGBT community while almost surrendering on sanctuary cities. “They’ve been unable to fight a two-front war,” said state Representative Rafael Anchia, chairman of the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus. “There really was a lackluster response.” Only after it was too late to affect the Legislature, state business leaders called a news conference for Thursday to oppose Senate Bill 4, the sanctuary cities bill.

The Texas Association of Business opposed sanctuary cities bills in previous legislative sessions, but President Chris Wallace admitted to me that there just hasn’t been the same push among his members this year as there was in 2011 to oppose the sanctuary cities bill. “A lot of people don’t understand the sanctuary cities bill,” Wallace said. “We think it could have a negative impact on the economy. It’s a tough issue that a lot of people don’t understand. There’s a lot of mixed messages about what is a sanctuary city.”

What businesses do understand is that when North Carolina last year passed legislation limiting bathroom access to a person’s birth gender, there was a national backlash. Performers declared North Carolina off limits. Major corporations decided against business expansion. And collegiate sports declared there would be no playoff games in North Carolina, an important factor for Texans looking forward to the NCAA Final Four in San Antonio next year. North Carolina eventually passed compromise legislation to defuse the controversy. A bathroom bill is out of the Texas Senate, and legislation is pending in the House State Affairs Committee.

When business stepped up to block the sanctuary city legislation in 2011, similar boycott threats against Arizona were fresh news. Arizona in 2010 had passed a bill mandating that police stop individuals and ask for their papers. A Rasmussen Reports poll at the time found 60 percent of Americans in favor of allowing police to “stop and verify the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant.” A Gallup Poll found 51 percent of Americans in favor of the law. There were major marches against the law, but efforts to boycott the state failed. Major League Baseball refused to move the 2011 All-Star Game out of Phoenix, and singer Elton John broke a performer boycott, declaring:  “We are all very pleased to be playing in Arizona. I have read that some of the artists won’t come here. They are [expletive]wits! Let’s face it: I still play in California, and as a gay man I have no legal rights whatsoever. So what’s the [expletive] with these people?”

The Arizona controversy is now old news. The state and activists last year reached a lawsuit settlement that removed the requirement for police to ask for citizenship status but gave law enforcement the power to ask the question so long as it did not prolong a detention. Additionally, Republican Donald Trump made immigrants a scapegoat in his presidential campaign last year for economic woes in some parts of the country and portrayed immigrants as “bad hombres” who commit crimes in the United States. That change in atmosphere just cannot be denied.

Before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, the business community was ambivalent about gay rights issues. In fighting for the right to same-sex marriage, the LGBT community built itself into a political force at the ballot box. At the same time, businesses began to understand that appearing to be progressive and inclusive was good for their brand and their bottom lines. And above all else, business respects money.

While the sanctuary cities bill can affect family relationships in the Hispanic community and raises the specter of racial profiling, the undocumented community in many ways is unable to turn its economic clout as labor into a political strength because any activism risks deportation. Undocumented labor’s economic clout is powerful, though. Immigrants sent $2.4 billion in remittances to Mexico in 2014, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. That’s money Mexican laborers in Texas have earned above and beyond their own living expenses. They work in construction, agriculture, and the hospitality industry of hotels and restaurants.

At the moment, the home-building industry is feeling a pinch because many undocumented workers went back to Mexico during the economic downturn. The Dallas Morning News recently reported the city’s housing construction is the hottest in the nation. “Dallas is undersupplied by 10,000 to 20,000 construction workers,” Scott Davis, with housing analyst Meyers Research, told a meeting of local builders. “We should have about 99,000 people employed in the building industry.” And these missing workers, are mostly Mexicans. “Texas has been a job magnet for immigrants because of close ties with Mexico and the amount of work available. But the flow of people has slowed significantly—first, as a result of the housing bust and deep recession, and more recently with the focus on immigration laws and border security.”

In 2011 Houston home-builder Perry, who has since died, was motivated to keep construction workers in Texas, and the sanctuary city legislation threatened to make them flee. But Mexico’s economy recovered from the recession faster than the U.S. economy, wages have grown there, and it is unlikely that many will be lured back to the United States anytime soon. From reading various reports, my best guess is about 200,000 Mexicans have returned to their native land from Texas in the past several years.

The politics are different too. The term “sanctuary city” came on the scene in 1985 and was meant to offer sanctuary to immigrants from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, where death squads were murdering thousands of people. The immigrants could not obtain asylum in the U.S. unless they could prove that violence was specifically targeted at them. The concept of sanctuary cities largely died out after the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which granted legal residency to about half the four million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

Attacks on the concept of sanctuary cities renewed around 2006 after the flood of economic immigrants from Mexico. President George W. Bush had appealed to Hispanics in his 2000 campaign for president with the phrase: “family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande.” Bush in his second term pushed for immigration reform that included a path to citizenship, but many conservatives believed the 1986 law signed by President Reagan amounted to an amnesty that did nothing to slow the influx.

Heading into the 2008 presidential election, Republican Mitt Romney accused party rival Rudy Giuliani, now an immigration hawk, of having presided over a sanctuary city as the mayor of New York. When Texas Governor Rick Perry started thinking about running for president in 2011, he also became an immigration hawk. It’s no small irony that his campaign fell apart when Romney and other Republican opponents attacked him signing the Texas Dream Act. Perry responded by saying if you don’t believe in educating children, “I don’t think you have a heart.” Perry’s campaign started collapsing the very next day.

Since that time, tough-on-immigration rhetoric has become a litmus test in Republican primaries across the nation. That was only heightened by President Trump’s presidential campaign promises to deport undocumented immigrants and build a border wall. President Trump has made one major policy change on immigration so far: Previously, the immigration policy under President Obama was to start deportation proceedings against individuals who had been convicted of crime, while the Trump administration now allows ICE to seize an individual after only an arrest, whether the crime is major or minor.

Texas law enforcement agencies in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio have opposed the Legislature’s sanctuary city bill because it means the immigrant population will be less willing to report crime or serve as witnesses. Also, the mere fact an immigrant is arrested for a crime does not mean that person will be automatically turned over to federal authorities for deportation. As of December 31, 2016, ICE had detainers on 8,923 inmates in the Texas prison system.

Unlike the original Arizona law, Texas law enforcement officers will not be required to ask for citizenship status when they stop someone, but law enforcement agencies will not be able to prevent that from happening, either. At a news conference this week, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said that policy will keep him from properly directing his officers.

“We cannot prohibit officers from doing what they want to do in regard to immigration enforcement, which means that small percent of our officers who decide to become ICE agents and want to stop a jaywalker and they start asking for their papers, I as a chief can’t do anything to explain to that officer, ‘Hey, we’ve got calls for service backed up. We’re taking five or six minutes to get to armed robberies, home invasion robberies, kidnappings. We’ve got MS-3 running around and you want to go play ICE agent with the day laborers?’”

Five years is a pretty short time for state business leaders to change their attitudes on fighting against sanctuary city legislation while opposing the bathroom bill for the LGBT community. San Antonio may get its Final Four tournament, but at what cost?

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  • roadgeek

    The winning. It just never gets old.

    • SpiritofPearl

      What “winning”?

      • anonyfool

        It’s the usual unintended irony, like losing the popular vote by 3,000,000 and claiming that all those illegals voting in California made the popular vote invalid so Trump won the *real* vote count.

        • SpiritofPearl

          “The arc of history bends towards justice.”

          Eventually . . .

    • enp1955

      “Winning” seems to be roughly translated as getting rid of American values and constitutional liberties. The “show your papers” amendment is just one more example of how Texas and Trump are in lockstep in making people less free. Trump is going after the press, Texas is going after – well, everyone that isn’t white, male, and heterosexual.

    • St. Anger

      pretty awesome inserting homophobia in to break things up from your usual racism.


      • SpiritofPearl

        Geek is able to multitask sometimes.

  • SpiritofPearl

    “Votre papiers, s’il vous plait!”

    The Gestapo is patrolling the trains in Texas . . .

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    • roadgeek


      • SpiritofPearl

        I’ll send money to the ACLU. You can write another letter to American Renaissance.

      • enp1955

        Finally what? Finally, cops can now demand your papers? That’s what you are cheering for? Make sure to carry your passport or your birth certificate! If they can ask that Hispanic person next to you, they can ask the same of you. I guess that’s the kind of country you want to live in.

  • SpiritofPearl
  • r.g. ratcliffe

    An update statement from Chris Wallace of the Texas Association of Business: “SB 4, especially the ‘show me your papers’ amendment by Rep. Schaeffer is a step back for Texas and will hurt the business community and families alike. SB 4, with this amendment, will most likely land the State of Texas in court. It is unfortunate that the Senate decided to concur with House amendments to SB 4.” Incidentally, the business leaders cancelled their news conference that had been scheduled for this morning.

    • dave in texas

      Well, it seems the state’s favorite pastime over the last several years is getting its head handed to it by the federal courts. My guess is that this will just be a continuation of that.

      • SpiritofPearl

        All paid for by the taxpayers . . .

    • SpiritofPearl

      Is the business community attempting to justify its failure to do the right thing?

      • St. Anger

        good thing the moral titans at the TAB didn’t follow mann’s advice and move democrat.

        then we could have had TWO parties driven by hate and greed.

        • SpiritofPearl

          I realize a lot of this stuff is genetic, but biology is not destiny, right?

          • St. Anger

            the nature/nurture debate carries less weight when the “nurture” you received was from a couple of racist crackers.

          • SpiritofPearl

            I know many people who have rejected the racism of their parents. They feel their families lied to them once they go out into the world and discover that black people, Latinos, Jews and gays are just, well, people.

          • St. Anger

            statistically, those people are outliers.

            most people lurn their political and social views from maw and paw. parents views are #1 predictor of kids’ views (but only after kid is old enough to have had some time for lurnin’). including racism.

          • SpiritofPearl

            I agree those who hate learn to do so from their parents. Each generation improves, though, and are less bigoted than the previous generation. Many even make giant steps forward.

  • donuthin2

    We can complain all we want about the actions and non-actions of the House and Senate, but I don’t know how we could expect better with the goobers we are electing. We are definitely reaping what we have sown. I thought when it got bad enough we would see a correction. Guess not.

    • St. Anger

      it’s texas. whatever coalition has the racists will have enough votes to control the government.

  • SpiritofPearl
  • SeeItMyWay

    Wow, many posting here have some rather strong opinions!

    For decades, the law was broken, so we now have millions of undocumented people living in our country – but, major businesses, and the elected officials they helped get elected, encouraged them to break the law by looking the other way when they crossed the border and offering them jobs when they did.

    We birthed their babies free of charge. We fed and supplied medical care to their children free of charge. We wanted them here, and we showed that desire in almost every way possible.

    One day, someone decided that we had made a mistake – that the numbers had grown too large, along with the real or perceived costs associated with having them here. All of a sudden, we have a big problem.

    Who’s fault? The undocumented’s? The home builders, roofers, meat and poultry packers, farmers and ranchers wanted them here. Homeowners, restaurants, and landscapers learned to like having them here. They were buying and renting homes without fear, buying goods, and services and contributing to the economy. How much more-so if they weren’t sending that $2B+ out of the country each year?

    We can’t just all of a sudden pack these people, and families they’ve created after decades of being here, back to wherever they came from, can we? Is this fair, in any sense of the word?

    I ask all of you advocating for purging our state of any and all without proper documentation to ask yourself these questions; “If in their position, what would I have done?” “If my family and I were starving, the border was all but wideopen, and a good paying employer was waiting for me with open arms, what would I have done?” “If the law enforcement is looking the other way, and all these additional benefits are available to me, what do I have to lose?”

    I think it could be said that much like a common law marriage, we have an unwritten contract with those undocumented who came under these circumstances, filled needs, bought homes, started their own business and became part of our communities.

    Shore up the border and then send scofflaws packing; throw the criminals in prison and then export them; execute the cop killers and mass murderers; and work out some form of guest worker program to fulfill specific needs of our farmers and ranchers.

    A card laid is a card played. We need to lighten up on the good, hardworking people who we enabled along the way, who know live amongst us, and make us who we are.

    • BCinBCS

      Very insightful, SeeItMyWay.

    • José

      I might argue a bit about the “free of charge” business. Immigrants pay lots of taxes. Some pay more than they get back in services and some pay less. That’s true for citizens as well, but I never saw a kid stopped at the schoolhouse door while they checked to see whether her daddy paid above a certain amount of property tax. Like you said, the whole town understood and accepted that there was a community contract to give the kids an education.

      • SeeItMyWay

        That is a very debatable point, and we hear arguments from both sides. Overall, as a group, and much like lower income citizens, I can’t believe that the undocumented pay in more than the value of what they are afforded. That was my point.

        • BCinBCS

          It doesn’t matter. I don’t have any kids and I have a lot of property and pay a huge school tax bill so I’m paying for them (and I don’t mind).

          • SeeItMyWay

            I’m not going to argue with you about this point. Can we just agree that many, who are subsidizing do care?

          • BCinBCS

            I was trying to point out the inconsistency. I don’t want to pay for the Iraq war ($2,400,000,000,000.00 so far) and I don’t even get my lawn mowed. There’s a lot of things that my taxes pay that I don’t use or that I don’t approve but I still pay my taxes. People who are financial drains on society today will be financial assets in fifteen to twenty years.

            The United States has always had poor immigrants that other citizens helped support. Always. The difference now is that we have a bunch of people who feel that the brown horde is taking away their privilege. They’re afraid.

          • SeeItMyWay

            I get that. I mow my own yard, too – and I already see undocumented families here who own business which I frequent for great tamales and corn tortillas that are scared beyond words. Their kids are in school with my grandchildren. They are friends.

            Having said this, the border situation has, in my opinion, gotten out of hand. Changes have to be implemented.

            Do you agree or disagree?
            This is the cruxt of the issue, along with who stays and who goes. Do you want to leave things as they are?

          • BCinBCS

            I don’t see the border situation as a crisis.

            The inflow of immigrants from Mexico has seriously declined beginning with the 2008 great recession.

            When I was a child I was afraid of the dark. Being the eldest, I was always called upon to do the chore or run the errand at night. I braved through but I was scared. Now as an adult, I have absolutely no fear of the night – as a matter of fact, I prefer it. Fear of illegal immigrants is like my youthful fear of the dark – it’s fear of the unknown and fear of uncertainty. It’s irrational.

          • SeeItMyWay

            Oh, we know. The parents of kids slain by the undocumented deported several times know; those attacked by ones not held, jailed and deported again for criminal offenses know. Those peace officers fighting Latin gangs know. It’s one thing to be fighting citizen derelicts; quite another to have to be spending time, effort and money on those that shouldn’t even be here. If you can’t see this, maybe you need to walk more in the light. It seems you do not see well in the dark.

          • BCinBCS

            I’m sorry that you are so fearful; so fearful that you grasp at what you think are simple solutions to complex problems; solutions that do very little to solve a large problem.

          • SeeItMyWay

            While I have compassion, I am not one who feels a compelling need to treat every undocumented person here in the U.S. to the same rights and priveledges afford us by our citizenship. It would seem that you do.

            Please tell me how a country without borders and no formal declaration of place of birth and birthright would work.

          • St. Anger

            “The difference now is that we have a bunch of people who feel that the brown horde is taking away their privilege. They’re afraid.”

            we have always had, that, too.

        • SpiritofPearl

          Most never collect on social security and other FICA deductions.

          If you want to slow down the flow, start nailing the employers. That will never happen, though, because Big Bidness LOVES them some illegals. All these activities – like SB4 – are enacted to show the bubbas that the GOP loves them.

          It’s disgusting.

          • SeeItMyWay

            I have tried to address all this from both sides. I think we all agree that not requiring proof of citizenship early on was because they were wanted and needed. There was no vetting process. The good came in with the bad. Many allowed to cross our border had no intention of going to work in a poultry plant or hammering nails. They came here for nefarious purposes.

            Our elected officials made terrible mistakes regarding vetting and how border control was handled, and the situation got out of control.

            We can stand here today and cuss the Bubbas and Big Bidness all we want, but does that solve anything?

            We truly have a problem. I think all of us want the criminal element removed, don’t we?

            I think, after we go through this controversial process, that saner heads will prevail, and we will find a way to keep the good and weed out the bad; we will celebrate what the hard working undocumented have brought to our communities, and will also be thankful that our borders are tighter and the bad guys gone.

            Wishful thinking? Maybe – but I am an optimist.

          • BCinBCS

            SeeIt, I am quite pleased that you are willing to look at all sides of a problem and are not wedded to the doctrine of your tribe. Although I have a tribe, I work very hard to research my political positions and adjust my beliefs to fit the facts. In that vein, you need to realize that very few immigrants come to the U.S. for nefarious purposes. It is a well documented fact that illegal immigrant crime rate is lower than that of American citizens. I too, however, believe that illegals convicted of serious, i.e. upper degree felonies, should be deported.

          • St. Anger

            “SeeIt, I am quite pleased that you are willing to look at all sides of a problem and are not wedded to the doctrine of your tribe. ”

            you are getting trolled.

          • SpiritofPearl

            I disagree with your estimate of those who come here for “nefarious purposes.” Most are economic refugees and come here to work and to escape gang violence – which the U.S. exacerbates by supplying guns to the bad guys and by our love of the drugs they market.

            My hope is that a guest worker system will be implemented. Illegals are exploited extensively.

        • José

          Just wanted to make the point that there’s a huge difference between nothing and something. I suspect you’re right that, on balance, most of them pay less than what they receive back. But I also suspect that they pay a lot more than they get credit for.
          Slightly off topic but I work with a number of foreign nationals, folks who are here legally on work permits and have good jobs. They pay income taxes and property taxes but have no vote on how those are used. They also pay into Social Security but don’t accrue benefits. Their payroll taxes go directly to people like you and me. So there’s that too.

          • SeeItMyWay

            I have met several who are here on green cards working just as you described. Some are saying that large corps are bringing them here to displace citizen professionals because they can pay them much less money for doing the same job. I watched a 60 Minutes piece, I think it was, that addressed this happening at the UC Med Center in SFO. They gave employees their pink slips and then offered them extended money if they would stick around and train their replacements. If we truly need them, let’s allow them here; if it is to add to their bottomline, I disagree with it.

            To your original point – if green card carriers are here, and benefitting from being here to their satisfaction, I guess the fact that we allow them to pay into our system without payback is somewhat of a trade off, don’t you think?

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  • BCinBCS

    The House of Representatives finally passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the first step in repealing Obamacare. In order to do it, Republicans had to allow states to eliminate insurance for pre-existing conditions in favor of high risk pools, eliminate the subsidies that made health insurance affordable in exchange for refundable tax credits based on age rather than income, eliminate the penalty for not having insurance for a surcharge on insurance costs after a period of no insurance, drops the requirement that employers with fifty or more employees working more than thirty hours per week must provide group insurance coverage, allow insurers to charge older people up to five time more than younger people (it was limited to no more than three time more in Obamacare), give states the option to eliminate the ten essential benefits that were guaranteed under Obamacare and give states the option to reinstate yearly and lifetime benefit caps.

    The AHCA also limits the amount of money that will be spent on Medicaid. States can make up the difference but states such as Texas that claim to not have the money will simply cut services.

    Has Comrade Trump/Bannon won a tremendous victory?
    Not according to Senate Republicans who have stated that the AHCA is such a bad bill that they will not try to come to a compromise but, instead, will write their own bill. Added to this is the fact that the House AHCA changes funding such that for it to pass in the Senate, 60 votes would be necessary to end a guaranteed filibuster by the Democrats.

    If you are young, healthy and/or rich, you win with the AHCA. If you are not one or more of those three then…well, you should have voted last November.

    • BCinBCS

      How did the Republicans get their moderates to vote for the AHCA?
      I found this little nugget over at TPM:
      (emphasis is mine)

      “As leaders pressure and cajole the remaining holdouts to fall in line, several lawmakers confirmed that one argument they are using is an assurance that the Senate will strip out many of the bill’s most controversial provisions.

      ‘I tell people not to get too worked up. If we do get it out of here, it’s going to the United States Senate, so don’t think it’s coming back here looking like it did when we sent it over,’ Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), the vice chair of the powerful Rules Committee, told reporters. ‘I think people sweat these details way too much at this stage in the game.’

      Cole said his message to GOP moderates—who are hesitant to back the bill due to its deep cuts to Medicaid and rollback of protections for people with pre-existing conditions—is: ‘If you want the pressure off, kick it over to the Senate and let those guys deal with it for a while.’

      Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), who chairs the Health subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, told TPM he has been making the same argument to moderates nervous about the impacts of the bill. ‘I know the senators love to tell us how much smarter they are and how bad our bill is and how much better it will be after they get to manage it,’ he joked. ‘So I’m anxious for them to have their turn.’

      ‘Let’s get it over to the Senate,’ Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) added. ‘It is not the final bill. It will go to the Senate, and it will be changed’.


      • BCinBCS

        The Party of Projection™ passed the AHCA without reading it and without the CBO rating it. Here’s what Joe Barton said about passing it in order to see what’s in it:
        (emphasis is mine)

        Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) admitted to CNN on Thursday that he doesn’t ‘know everything’ about the Republican health care bill, but he said he would vote for it because there is a ‘probability’ that it will work.

        CNN host John Berman pointed out to Barton that the GOP bill to ‘repeal and replace’ Obamacare would allow states to obtain a waiver to eliminate rights for people with pre-existing conditions.

        ‘I think Texas will lead the parade [on requesting waivers,‘ Barton said. ‘But when you opt out of the federal mandates, that doesn’t mean you’re opting out of providing quality care for those that cannot get it through their workplace. So, you know, you either believe in government or you believe in markets’.

        Well, I’m reassured.

        • SpiritofPearl

          Markets have failed for decades . . .

          Nate Silver predicts the GOP will lose as many as 80 seats over this abomination. May it be so!

          • SeeItMyWay

            The ACA act was passed the same way. Wasn’t it? Without knowing what it actually portended? We are going to end up with single payer. You can’t put the toothpaste pack in the tube.

          • BCinBCS

            It took fourteen months to pass Obamacare.

            January 2009: Barack Obama sworn into office.

            March 2009: President Obama convenes a “health summit” with doctors, insurers, drug companies, consumers advocates and lawmakers.

            July 2009: House Democrats unveil their 1,000-page plan for overhauling the health care system.

            Nov. 7, 2009: The House approves its version of health care reform in a 220-215 vote. One Republican votes for the bill.

            Dec. 24, 2009: The Senate approves its version of the health care overhaul in a 60-39 party-line vote. Democrats have to break a GOP filibuster.

            March 21, 2010: The Senate’s version of the health care plan is OK’d by the House in a 219-212 vote. All Republicans voted against it.

            March 23, 2010: President Obama signs the Affordable Care Act into law.

            June 2010: The first major provision of the Affordable Care Act goes into effect.


          • BCinBCS

            SeeIt asked: “The ACA act was passed …[w]ithout knowing what it actually portended?

            Everyone knew what was in Obamacare. Republicans are masters at rephrasing or mislabeling items that they are against. “You have to pass [Obamacare] to see what’s in it” is an example of this.

            Here is what was actually said by Nancy Pelosi as she was speaking at a Board of Counties meeting:

            You’ve heard about the controversies within the bill, the process about the bill, one or the other. But I don’t know if you have heard that it is legislation for the future, not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America, where preventive care is not something that you have to pay a deductible for or out of pocket. Prevention, prevention, prevention—it’s about diet, not diabetes. It’s going to be very, very exciting. But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.

            Notice that she said “So that YOU, [the attendees], could find out” not “So that WE, [the legislators], could find out”.

          • SpiritofPearl

            From the GOP MInistry of Misinformation . . .

          • SeeItMyWay

            We see things a bit differently. Forget what Sen Pelosi said and how that has been interpreted. Let’s lock onto the fact that the ACA is not working as intended, is it? It would appear that with all the providers pulling out of the program, and the high number of middle class families dropping coverage because of the high deductables on top of high premiums, it was going to implode anyway.

            I happen to think that this new Republican offering is not going to work either. Single payer, here we come.

          • BCinBCS

            Rather than doing a lot of multi-source research on the subject, I’ll simply quote CBS News:

            President-elect Donald Trump says that President Barack Obama’s health care law ‘will fall of its own weight.’

            House Speaker Paul Ryan says the law is ‘in what the actuaries call a death spiral.’

            And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that ‘by nearly any measure, Obamacare has failed.’

            The problem with all these claims: They are exaggerated, if not downright false.

            As congressional Republicans prepare to repeal the health law, they are working to portray it as a mess of Democrats’ making, and themselves as the ones who will clean up that mess.

            In the process they are exaggerating the law’s very real problems, according to health care experts, who largely believe that the Affordable Care Act’s troubles with high prices and lack of competition could be addressed with bipartisan solutions.”


            “TRUMP, RYAN AND MCCONNELL [Claim]: The law will ‘fall of its own weight,’ is in a ‘death spiral’ and ‘has failed.’

            THE FACTS: Experts agree that the law is not currently in a ‘death spiral,’ an actuarial term that refers to a vicious cycle when rising insurance costs force healthy customers out of the marketplace, resulting in still higher prices, which cause even more customers to bail, etc., until the system collapses.

            But some say that if the current situation continues, that is a likely or possible scenario. Health care premiums are jumping by double digits this year, and the health care marketplaces created by the law are short on the healthy consumers who make insurance companies profitable.

            ‘It’s not a failure in that 20 million people or more have insurance that didn’t used to have insurance. Everything else, it’s too early to judge,’ said economist Gail Wilensky, who ran Medicare under former President George H.W. Bush.

            ‘To say that the exchange markets remain unstable and in turmoil is an appropriate statement,’ she said. ‘To say that they’re in a death spiral really depends on what happens.’

            The American Academy of Actuaries itself disputed the ‘death spiral’ claim Monday. The group provided a statement from its senior health fellow asserting that high premium increases in many states this year ‘do not necessarily indicate that a premium spiral is occurring’ and could be a one-time adjustment.

            Comrade Trump/Bannon issued an executive order instructing the IRS to not enforce the penalty for failing to have health insurance. If that EO is followed, Obamacare will fail because it will initiate a “death spiral”. It will take bipartisan solutions to adjust Obamacare to make it work properly in the long run.

            Many, many people, including myself, prefer “Medicare for all” i.e. single payer health care but that is not possible with our divided country, Citizens United inspired self interest lobbying and polarized government. It is an unfortunate fact that, in the conceivable future, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is the only system that we can have that works.

          • SeeItMyWay

            Yeah, another one of those who ya gonna believe situations. Major carriers pulling out and some states left with limited choices seems troubling to me.

            My insurance is provided. I don’t dwell on it much other times when I read about people like a single parent nurse who makes too much for subsidized help, has to pay way more each month than she can afford, and in return gets a high deductible, that in all probability, and unless of catastrophic accident or illness, will probably never be met. She chooses not to purchase a policy.

            While this is happening, a starving artist in St. Louis, who has never had insurance is diagnosed as having breast cancer. She can now get coverage and begin treatments.

            Things kinda got flip flopped.

            I don’t think this signifies success in any shape form or fashion. Maybe I’m missing something.

          • BCinBCS

            “…who ya gonna believe?

            It is hard to cut through the partisan slant that accompanies topics such as health care but it can be done. For example, the NY Times explains why the number of health insurance carries in the Obamacare exchanges are decreasing:

            In the last year, several large commercial insurance companies decided to stop offering insurance in the markets. And some carriers that continued to offer Obamacare plans scaled back on the number of counties they served. In general, the places without much remaining insurance competition tend to be rural and expensive. (These areas tend to have fewer hospitals and doctors to choose from, reducing the ability of insurers to negotiate lower prices.)

            Additionally, those states that set up their own exchanges and expanded Medicaid are doing quite well while those generally opposed to Obamacare that make their citizens rely on the Federal Exchange are not doing as good (i.e. Texas).

            Here is a map showing where insurance company choices are limited. The darker the blue the fewer the choices. Note how the fewest choices are in the rural areas, especially in the south where Obamacare exchanges were not set up.


            You do not think that Obamacare has been successful. Let’s look at the change in percentage of people insured before and after Obamacare:

            Note how many more uninsured (white/pale blue) there are in 2017.

          • SeeItMyWay

            Since they have all but made it mandatory wouldn’t you expect more people to be signed up?

            How about old Joe Blow and his family? They pay 1200 a month for the five of them, so they do have insurance and show up on your graphics. However, their deductible is $10K. If they have a few broken bones, or a unexpected minor surgery, they could spend just under $25K before they ever see a cent from their insurer. You call that a good viable system? I don’t.

          • BCinBCS

            How much does Joe Blow make?
            Why did he choose a policy with such a high deductible?

            If he chose the policy because he doesn’t make much money, he should qualify for the Obamacare subsidy which should enable him to get a policy with a lower deductible. If, even with the subsidy he cannot afford his medical bill, he could get assistance through Obamacare until Republicans dropped that funding when Comrade Trump/Bannon was elected. That inconvenience is not a feature of Obamacare but of the granny-starvers in the Republican party.

            If he makes a lot of money and he chose that high deductible policy then he has no one to blame except himself.

          • SeeItMyWay

            Gosh, I must have it all wrong. Bill Clinton said it was a stupid unworkable plan. I hear and read about all sorts of personal stories saying that it’s not working, but you insist it is. You and the brother of the Chicago Mayor. I heard him being interviewed recently.

            Not only did premiums go up, but capital gains taxes did too to help pay for ACA.

            Major ins corps are bailing out, or is that being misreported?

            I’ll say again. Mine is paid for. I don’t like the ACA program and see no reason to expect this new one to be any better. I am a single payer proponent. Watched a documentary on healthcare in the U.K. and Canada. I was impressed.

          • José

            Apparently the big problem with single payer is that it’s hard to get there from here. Too many powerful constituencies have skin in the game today and don’t want to give it up. Maybe offering a public option would be a good start.

          • SeeItMyWay

            No doubt there would be blowback. Big Insurance? Big Pharm? High price hospitals? I have no idea how it would work, but it is what we need.

          • dave in texas

            So why not work to fix the parts of Obamacare that don’t work, instead of replacing it with a poorly though out piece of sh*t that’s going to take insurance away from millions of people?

          • SeeItMyWay

            You obviously know more about the new plan than I do.

            Here’s interesting take on Trump and single payer system.


          • SpiritofPearl

            Because the GOP is corrupt to the core . . .

          • SpiritofPearl

            Obamacare was passed after a great deal of deliberation. Trumpcare was passed on a whim. And Obamacare is still the law of the land . . .

            I hope that’s true that single payer is the outcome because “market based” systems are unsustainable. Compare what Canada pays per capita for health care. They pay half what we pay, yet our outcomes are no better. Medicare for all!

      • dave in texas

        Moderate Republicans always cave, because of their fear of a primary opponent.

  • That_Looks_Delicious

    This is now on the GOP. It’s not just Trump or Sessions. It’s Steve King and Gregg Abbott and Jan Brewer and Joe Arpaio and Kris Kobach… it’s the entire GOP, and the Democrats need to constantly remind voters of this for the next 18 months. Because there *will* be severe economic fallout from this. Ironically, it will be farmers and rural counties -the very same counties that overwhelmingly supported Trump- that will be dealt the biggest blow, although as the article points out, the construction industry will also be hit hard. On top of losing their insurance, many will lose their farms and businesses. If the Democrats handle this astutely, I suspect districts that haven’t voted Democrat in over half a century may suddenly become competitive in 2018.