Mark Shea vs. “Old Pro-Life” Texas Legislators (Medicaid)

Mark Shea vs. “Old Pro-Life” Texas Legislators (Medicaid) December 6, 2016


23 boys at Crumpsall Workhouse, circa 1895-1897: sent there, no doubt, by wicked conservative pro-lifers [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]


Mark Shea wrote, in his article, What Does the New Prolife Movement Look Like in Action? (12-5-16):

As it happens, Texas Republicans did me the favor of demonstrating my point by, in their utter passion for human life from conception to birth, voting to kill Medicaid funding for kids with disabilities–ten days before Christmas.  These guys, Good Christian Prolifers all, just committed an archetypal act of showing how the Old Prolife Movement *claims* to care about the dignity and sanctity of human life, but in fact invests its time and energy punishing the poor on behalf of the rich and hiding behind the unborn as human shields to do it.  And where are the leaders of the prolife movement as the Texas prolife GOP says “If the poor be like to die, they had better do it and help decrease the surplus population”?   Where are any of the voices who are supposed to speak out on behalf of the most defenseless in our society?

I don’t know about the political leanings of the source he cites to get his news story, and I don’t care (I have my strong suspicions). What I do know, however, is that this article, like Mark’s, presented only one side of the story. In so doing, it makes out that Republicans are, again (surprise!) the bad guys, the ogres, the Grinches and (unrepentant) Scrooges, the wicked ones who hate children and elderly people (and blacks and homosexuals and Arabs and women and Mexicans, and the lower economic classes, and on and on . . .). You all know the routine and the schtick. It’s been standard Democrat playbook polemics for 50 years, but especially in the last thirty years, since Robert Bork was borked by  a pack of lies spewed by Democratic senators, led by that good ol’ man of the people, Joe Biden.

For those who actually try to seek out both sides of a story (I know that’s a big novelty these days, but it still takes place here), and to hear how the folks presented as the “bad guys” talk about the legislation they passed, I will save you the trouble, having looked up that very thing, for your convenience.

Mark’s linked article was dated 4 December, so the writer could easily have looked up the four sources I have found, all of which were from earlier dates. GOP House Speaker in Texas, Joe Straus (who happens to be Jewish: since Democrats insist on classifying everyone into groups), was interviewed by Edgard Walters in The Texas Tribune for an article appearing six days ago. I quote (my added bolding):

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus said Tuesday that lawmakers in the Capitol’s lower chamber would seek to restore funding for disabled children’s in-home therapy services during the upcoming legislative session, potentially reversing the state’s course in an emotionally fraught, year-long legal battle.

It did not work, and it will be addressed in the supplemental budget,” Straus said of the payment cuts. He said the cuts were “well intentioned” but that “maybe they were a mistake.” . . .

Straus said Tuesday he intended to restore the cuts in a supplemental budget. During every legislative session, lawmakers usually pass a supplemental budget that addresses funding needs in the current two-year budget cycle. A spokesman said Tuesday that Straus would move to fully restore the Medicaid funding.

The Medicaid cuts emerged late in the 2015 legislative session out of private budget negotiations between the House and the Senate. Straus appeared to distance himself from the push for the controversial budget cut, saying Tuesday that the idea originated in the Senate. . . .

Straus said that in addition to allocating funding for disabled children’s health care, he would prioritize funds to shore up the foster care and Child Protective Services systems and make improvements to the state’s mental health care safety net.

Nor is this some emphasis arrived only of late, as a matter of political expedience or public pressure. Straus exhibited his hatred of children (that all Republicans suffer from), in an earlier article in the same paper (9-13-16), entitled, “Children, Vulnerable Should Be Focus of Next Session, Straus Says.” The San Antonio Current, in an article on 11-29-16, echoes the same themes (my bolding again):

Straus also made sure to point out that the whopping cuts were “not initiative of the Texas House,” through which he’s shepherded legislation since 2009. Straus also added, “I think you’ll see us addressing” the problem in the coming session, saying he might seek to restore the cuts in a supplemental budget. (*When we asked Straus’ office for more specifics, spokesman Jason Embry sent this statement: “Speaker Straus believes that the reductions have not been implemented well. The Speaker hopes that the Legislature will address the issue in the supplemental budget bill so that children have access to the services they need. Speaker Straus also welcomes the opportunity to take a thoughtful look at these rates, with access to care being the priority.”)

Since Straus basically blamed the Texas Senate for the failure of the legislation as intended, let’s see (more lamentable fairness on my part) what folks over in the Senate have to say for themselves. According to an article by Robert T. Garrett in The Dallas Morning News (Sep. 2015; my bolding):

The Texas Senate’s GOP leaders have told state social services officials that a state budget provision requiring reductions in Medicaid spending on outpatient therapy services sets a dollar amount for a goal.

But that isn’t an absolute requirement, and disabled children’s access always was supposed to be considered, even if it keeps the savings from hitting the goal, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson said publicly on Wednesday. . . .

Two-thirds of the projected two-year savings of $350 million in state and federal funds “should be achieved through rate reductions,” and the rest perhaps “may be achieved through various medical policy initiatives,” the provision says. But the commission should cut rates “while considering stakeholder input and access to care.”

In a press release, Patrick said anyone who claims lawmakers ordered slash and burn “without consideration of the potential impact on Texas’ most vulnerable citizens – is just flat wrong.”

As he and Nelson, R-Flower Mound, told Trayor in their letter, “We also recognize the need to proceed with the reductions in a responsible manner. Rider 50 explicitly states that you should consider access to care when implementing these rate reductions.”

And this opinion expressed by both the Texas House and Senate leaders was despite having won a legal battle to keep the cuts. As with all legislation, sometimes things don’t go as intended, as Straus alludes to. Once something doesn’t work as planned, then armchair political critics habitually criticize it by citing only the bad things, and blaming those who passed it, overlooking the good intentions that went awry, through the compromises of the legislative process and the inevitable difficulties in implementation.

No one knows this better than the crafters and congressional advocates of Obamacare: Democrats to a person. Most critics of Obamacare do not doubt the good intentions of these people (I certainly don’t), anymore than we doubt the good intentions of LBJ when he set out to bring about “The Great Society” and eradication of systemic poverty (for which we still wait in vain). We all know what was promised: we could keep our doctors and health insurance, and costs would go down. And now we all know what happened.

We Republicans predicted all of it, and tried to prevent the disaster, but the Democrats had the power, and so ignored everything we said. But Obama has done nothing to alleviate  these problems: once they have occurred (no fine-tuning or adjustments), whereas Joe Straus will do all he can (as soon as he can) to eliminate the problem of lack of health care access for poorer disabled children. Yet we’re endlessly told that Democrats “care” and Republicans don’t. It doesn’t work any longer, guys. Give it up, for the love of God!

The difference is that we (by and large) don’t go out and say that President Obama “hates” everyone who has his health care, doesn’t give a hoot in hell about any of them, and indeed did all he could to make them  miserable. No! He (like LBJ and his Congress in the mid-60s) enacted stupid legislation, that never was going to work, because liberal economic policies never do. He was well-intentioned, but despite that, the thing failed, out of incompetence, pride, and stupidity. Same with LBJ.

But for Democrat liberals (I generalize, of course, but this is a very widespread occurrence, as we have seen after this election), — and in Mark’s case, third partiers fro the left coast, who often use the same talking points — their opponents are (in the overwhelmingly used rhetoric) wicked, evil people. The intent from the beginning must have been (couldn’t possibly not have been!) to cut off poor disabled children, and make them suffer because, well, as Mark Shea never tires of saying, we conservative pro-lifers only love children before they are born, and not after. That’s why we need the New Pro-Life Movement, after all (which contains all the consistently compassionate, loving pro-lifers), and why Obamacare is the very best we can do, because obviously no Republican alive cares about affordable health care for the well-off folks, and Medicaid for the less financially well-to-do ones.

I guess that’s why my children have always had full medical coverage for 25 years (and my wife’s four pregnancies and deliveries fully covered), under two Republican Governors (18 years) in Michigan, as well as one Democrat (8 years),  and why my wife and I now have it (with my low apologist’s income) as a result of our Republican Governor, Rick Snyder,having expanded Medicaid coverage in Michigan. This is all because Republicans hate anyone who isn’t rich, and because Republican pro-lifers detest and despise all children and adults after they are born, while managing (despite themselves, I reckon) compassionately caring for them before birth.

Now, dear reader, please let me know in comments: do you have a different impression of the situation in Texas with Medicaid than you would have had, if you had only read Mark‘s article?

ADDENDUM (12-6-16):

Mark has now expanded these criticisms (article of 12-6-16), and has gone after Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, as well:

“Prolife” Catholic icon Paul Ryan says free school lunches for poor kids give them “an empty soul“.

Yes, it would be great if every child had a mom and dad who could afford to make them a sack lunch.  But not all do.  It would also be great if every disabled kid in Texas had parents who could afford their medical costs.  But they don’t.  In Texas, the GOP just killed Medicaid for those kids anyway, instead of helping them.  Are you suggesting school lunches should be cut so that kid’s belly can be filled with nothing along with his soul?

It turns out, as so often, that the left had a field day with a few lines from Ryan, taken out of context. Mark cited a  Time Magazine article from 6 March 2014. Mark dredged it up in order to have a rhetorical “one-two punch”: Republicans hate children with disabilities, and also despise poor kids who need a lunch provided. Nice try, Mark. But you missed the mark again. Here is a fuller transcript of Ryan’s remarks made at CPAC, from an article in The Federalist (3-7-14), by Amy Otto:

But I don’t think the problem is too many people are working — I think the problem is not enough people can find work. And if people leave the workforce, our economy will shrink—there will be less opportunity, not more. So the Left is making a big mistake here. What they’re offering people is a full stomach—and an empty soul. The American people want more than that. . . .

That’s what the Left just doesn’t understand. We don’t want people to leave the workforce; we want them to share their skills and talents with the rest of us. And people don’t just want a life of comfort; they want a life of dignity—of self-determination. A life of equal outcomes is not nearly as enriching as a life of equal opportunity. The party that speaks to that desire—that tries to make it concrete and real—that’s the party that will win in November.

Unfortunately, Ryan botched an anecdote that he told between the above two paragraphs, so the liberal media jumped all over that. He clarified soon after: “I regret failing to verify the original source of the story.” Otto added:

No one wants children or poor families to starve. . . . Paul Ryan wasn’t saying we should rip food away from hungry kids. He was saying that a safety net can only do so much to help a child live. But it was International School Lunch Day – so how dare you, Paul Ryan.

And of course, Ryan wasn’t advocating taking away these lunches and causing poor kids to starve (isn’t it amazing that the left actually thinks that conservatives desire such things?). Patrick Brennan, writing in National Review (3-20-14) noted:

[F]or the record, the Ryan budget doesn’t specifically cut federal school-lunch programs. It does reduce funding for anti-poverty programs (more on this here), but provides recommendations for how to accomplish those savings that don’t touch the school-lunch programs.

If we want to find a real disruption of such food programs, we need to look into the result of First Lady Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign, which was reported on at the same time in The Washington Times (3-6-14):

The National School Lunch Program saw a sharp decline in participation once the healthy standards went into effect during the 2012-2013 school year. A total of 1,086,000 students stopped buying school lunch, after participation had increased steadily for nearly a decade.

The report found that 321 districts left the National School Lunch Program altogether, many of which cited the new standards as a factor. . . .

The standards forced some schools to stop serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and led middle school and high school students to opt for vending machines or buying food off campus to avoid the lunch line.

It’s much more fun to engage in stereotypical polemicizing: “all Republicans hate children and poor people [after birth]; therefore, Paul Ryan must want poor schoolkids to starve . . .” I exaggerate a little bit to make my point, but not much! After all, it was the Democrats who put out a famous, notorious campaign ad some years ago, that featured a guy who looked like Paul Ryan pushing an elderly lady in a wheelchair to the edge of a cliff and tossing her over.

That‘s what many liberals actually think of Republicans. It’s amazing, but there it is. This is the ludicrous place that our political discourse has sunk to. Now, I’m the first to readily concede that we conservatives are guilty of our own broad-brushing, far too often as well. I condemn distortions and falsehoods wherever they are found.

Catholics like Mark Shea fall for the liberal “anti-conservative” slop, hook, line, and sinker. Mark’s not even a liberal. He voted third party. But he so often argues like secular political liberals, on the ancient principle of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.” In so doing, he is unwittingly functioning as a “useful idiot” for nefarious secular liberal aims.


Related Reading:



On the Complaint that Pro-Lifers are “Single-Issue” [9-24-15]


Crisis Pregnancy Centers, the Supreme Court, and Pro-Life Efforts to Help Struggling Pregnant Women [Reply to “Left-Wing” Pro-Lifers] [Facebook, 10-24-16]

“New” Pro-Life? Only Spiritual Revival Stops Abortion [12-2-16]


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