End Foreign Aid? At Least Cut It

I don’t agree with Senator Rand Paul on many issues, but I do agree with his recent statements on CNN about ending all foreign aid. While Paul’s proposal to end all foreign aid might be a bit drastic, (in situations where people would otherwise starve, for example, I think we should continue to help) there are plenty of countries that need to stand on their own.

This is one of the few issues for which the Tea Party brand of fiscal conservatism makes sense. If our elected leaders are serious about balancing the budget, all spending must be on the table. Every cent that goes to foreign governments should be scrutinized.

It’s Time to Stand Against Prejudice

In Arizona, which was recently described by Sherriff Clarence Dupnik as a “Mecca for prejudice and bigotry,” a state legislator has proposed a bill that would deny citizenship to U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. Not only is this a direct challenge to our Constitution, it is an affront to human decency.

But there is hope. Here in Houston, a coalition of religious leaders from various faiths are speaking out in favor of policies that promote family unity, create a path for citizenship and end current detention policies and a limit on local laws aimed at illegal immigrants.

Religious leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., led the fight for civil rights half a century ago. Dr. King said, “The time is always right to do what's right.” And now it’s time once again to do what’s right stand united against bigotry.

Prejudice in Arizona:
Hope in Texas:

The Forces that Divide Us Are Not as Strong as Those that Unite Us

You’ve probably seen part or all of President Obama’s speech at the memorial service on Jan. 12 for the victims of the shooting in Tucson. I thought it was one of the finest speeches I have ever heard from a president.

Today, as we remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose dream was that we could "sit together at the table of brotherhood,” I hope you agree with me when I affirm the president’s words that “the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.”

From President Obama’s speech:

If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let's make sure it's worthy of those we have lost. Let's make sure it's not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.

The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives - to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let's remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other's ideas without questioning each other's love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.

I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here - they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.

The text and video of the speech are available at:

Does Your Congressman Care Whether You Live or Die?

A 2009 study conducted at Harvard Medical School and published in the American Journal of Public Health found that 45,000 annual deaths are associated with lack of health insurance.

This lack of coverage is the reason the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 was so important and the reason it must not be repealed—not unless it is replaced with similar laws to provide affordable health coverage for all Americans.

Most Republicans in Congress mean well and want to balance our budget, but when they claim that “Obamacare” is too expensive, they are ignoring the report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which said repealing the law will increase the federal deficit. But even if providing health care for all Americans did increase the federal budget, it would still be the right thing to do.

If terrorists or foreign governments killed thousands of Americans each year, would the Republicans in Congress let them die rather than spend more on defense? Of course not—every member of Congress would do their duty and do whatever it takes to protect American lives. Why then are they willing to let Americans die by the thousands for lack of adequate medical treatment?

I urge you to write your congressional representatives and urge them not to put lives at risk by repealing health care reform.

Contact your representative:

Contact your senators:

To read the CBO reports, which states the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will reduce federal deficits, please visit:

For more information about the Harvard study, please visit:

Health Care Reform Could Save Lives

Republicans in the House of Representatives say they will pass a bill to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the landmark health care reform legislation signed by President Obama last year. This repeal is mostly political posturing, as the repeal would not pass the Senate and would never be signed by the president. However, our elected officials need to know that when they oppose health care reform they are not acting in the best interest of the public.

In an earlier post, I cited several studies published in medical journals that demonstrate Americans without health insurance experience worse medical outcomes than those with insurance.

Here are excerpts from a few of the many other studies published in medical journals demonstrating that lack of insurance leads to poorer medical outcomes:

“Among the general U.S. population, patients who were uninsured were less likely to receive critical care services than those with insurance. Once admitted to the intensive care unit, patients who were uninsured had 8.5% fewer procedures, were more likely to experience hospital discharge delays, and were more likely to have life support withdrawn. Lack of insurance may confer an independent risk of death for patients who are critically ill.”
–Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2010 May 1;181(9):1003-11.
An official American Thoracic Society systematic review: the association between health insurance status and access, care delivery, and outcomes for patients who are critically ill.
Fowler RA, Noyahr LA, Thornton JD, Pinto R, Kahn JM, Adhikari NK, Dodek PM, Khan NA, Kalb T, Hill A, O'Brien JM, Evans D, Curtis JR.

“Compared with those with health insurance, the uninsured receive less care for chronic conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes, and experience higher mortality.”
–Am J Med. 2010 Aug;123(8):741-7.
Health insurance and cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Brooks EL, Preis SR, Hwang SJ, Murabito JM, Benjamin EJ, Kelly-Hayes M, Sorlie P, Levy D.