4 Times Rick Perry's Policies Hurt Minorities, Though He Claims America Is More "Tolerant" Than Ever
On Thursday, former Texas governor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry called on his party to connect with more voters of color in a speech in Washington D.C., according to Think Progress. He said America is a "more tolerant and welcoming place than it's ever been before," so, he asked, "why is it today that so many black families feel left behind, even after federal programs like food stamps and housing subsidies?" He said that the War on Poverty has failed and criticized President Barack Obama for favoring Medicaid expansion and overtime pay. Perry's proposed policies didn't offer many solutions to systemic racial inequality, and he didn't talk about his track record of policies favoring minorities, for good reason. Perry's policies in Texas have actually hurt minorities on a number of instances.
Some of Perry's proposed alternative policies for solving poverty in the U.S. included getting rid of environmental regulations, lowering taxes for corporations, and then giving more federal dollars to private schools and charter schools, according to Think Progress. How these policies are supposed to help poor, minority families isn't exactly clear, and Perry's work as governor didn't often help minorities. Here are four times his policies were particularly bad.
On Healthcare, Generally
Perry is one of a few southern, Republican governors who refused to expand Medicaid in Texas with the help of funds from the federal government, according to the Texas Observer. Medicaid is a free healthcare program that goes to people who live at or below the federal poverty level (about $14,000 a year for an individual). According to the Texas Medical Association, 32 percent of Texans don't have health insurance. Not only is this disproportionately affecting the poor, it's have a disparate effect on Hispanic people.
The uninsured are up to four times less likely to have regular healthcare, which means they're more likely to die from health-related problems early. Unfortunately, Perry's idea of having "access to healthcare" is being able to go to an expensive emergency room when things are really bad, according to the Observer:
Everyone in the state of Texas has access to health care, everyone in America has access to health care. From the standpoint of all people in this country, our government requires that everyone is covered.
On Women In The Workplace
In 2013, Perry vetoed a bill that sought to prevent wage discrimination against women, according to the Huffington Post. Women currently only make 77 cents to every dollar than a man makes, thus why 42 states have passed bills like the one Perry vetoed. This was his reasoning, according to HuffPost:
(The bill) duplicates federal law, which already allows employees who feel they have been discriminated against through compensation to file a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
But filing a claim with the EEOC would require petitioners to go to federal court, which can be costly and time-consuming. The Texas bill would've allowed parties to take up their claim in a local state court, and it would have brought Texas in line with the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, also according to the HuffPost.
On Women's Healthcare
In 2011, Perry cut funds for family-planning clinics by two-thirds, according to NPR. Texas Republican legislators told NPR that family-planning clinics in the state are often referred to as "abortion clinics," even though abortions are often a small portion of what the clinics actually do. At one point, the Texas Tribune asked state Rep. Wayne Christian, a Republican who supported the cuts, if the funding changes were a "war on birth control," and he simply said, "Yes."
Dr. Celia Neavel, the director of adolescent health at the People's Community Clinic in East Austin, told NPR that the cuts wouldn't even really affect abortion. (It's important to note that family-planning clinics are often the most cost-efficient facilities for poor women to visit.) Rather, Neavel said the cuts would affect other vital areas of women's health.
That particular funding was used obviously for birth control, but also Pap smears, breast cancer screening, for diabetes, thyroid disorders, anemia [and] high cholesterol.
On Minorities Voting
Perry signed a voter ID law in 2011 that included handgun permits as an acceptable form of identification, but not student IDs, according to Think Progress. Courts found that the law "was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose” and “has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans.” The Supreme Court allowed the law to stand for November's midterm elections, and Think Progress later found that at least 277 people had trouble voting in the election. About 1,300 people called Battleground Texas’ Voter Protection to report problems with the new ID system. About 1 in 10 of the people who weren't allowed to vote were disabled or elderly, according to Think Progress. The New York Times found that nearly 500 ballots were thrown out in the election because of the voter ID law, which has been described by the Supreme Court as the strictest in the country.
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