Archive for the ‘Texas’ Category

Public Citizen and many other organizations helped organize a historic gathering of climate activists in Washington, D.C. this past weekend.

In case you missed Public Citizen Energy Director Tyson Slocum on Up With Chris Hayes discussing new legislation and the amazing momentum of the climate movement here are the three clips: introduction, panel discussion and predictions.

Also, you’ll definitely want to check out below video on YouTube to hear the perspectives of Texans opposed to the Keystone Tar Sands pipeline that traveled up with our Texas office for the big #ForwardOnClimate rally.


Finally, quotes from some of these Texans can be read here in this front page Huffington Post hit . Despite harsh conditions, more than double the expected number of activists came out to take a stand against from the largest climate rally in history. Meanwhile, we learned that as this historic rally was happening, the president was actually golfing with executives from Haliburton and other big oil and defense industry representatives. You can read that story here.

Follow our energy director @TysonSlocum and @PublicCitizenTx on Twitter to keep up with the latest on climate change.

The holidays are almost upon us, but things here in Washington, D.C. are still buzzing. Congress is still in town, arguing about the payroll tax. Federal agencies are still doing their work.

And Public Citizen is still focusing on representing you – the public – in the halls of power.

Here’s what’s on tap this week (that we know about – things always crop up unexpectedly!):

We continue to ramp up for Jan. 21, the two-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, which let corporations spend unlimited sums to influence elections. Sign up to host an event in your community on Jan. 21 and help build momentum to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. Or, join or host a house party!

Speaking of constitutional amendments, on Tuesday, the Oakland City Council is going to vote on whether to support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. We’ll be issuing a statement urging the Council to go forward.

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Peabody Award-winning journalist Bill Moyers’ keynote remarks for Public Citizen’s 40th Anniversary Gala are found below.

"Bill Moyers" "Public Citizen"

I am honored to share this occasion with you.   No one beyond your collegial inner appreciates more than I do what you have stood for over these 40 years, or is more aware of the battles you have fought, the victories you have won, and the passion for democracy that still courses through your veins.  The great progressive of a century ago, Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin – a Republican, by the way – believed that “Democracy is a life; and involves constant struggle.”  Democracy has been your life for four decades now, and would have been even more imperiled today if you had not stayed the course.

I began my public journalism the same year you began your public advocacy, in 1971. Our paths often paralleled and sometimes crossed. Over these 40 years  journalism for me has been a continuing course in adult education, and I came early on to consider the work you do as part of the curriculum – an open seminar on how government works – and for whom.   Your muckraking investigations – into money and politics, corporate behavior, lobbying, regulatory oversight, public health and safety, openness in government, and consumer protection, among others – are models of accuracy and integrity. They drive home to journalists that while it is important to cover the news, it is more important to uncover the news.  As one of my mentors said, “News is what people want to keep hidden; everything else is publicity.”  And when a student asked the journalist and historian Richard Reeves for his definition of “real news”, he answered: “The news you and I need to keep our freedoms.”  You keep reminding us how crucial that news is to democracy.  And when the watchdogs of the press have fallen silent, your vigilant growls have told us something’s up.

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Last night was a night to remember. From the performance of Capitol Movement, to the rousing speech by Public Citizen’s keynote Bill Moyers, energy filled the ballroom at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington, D.C., where  public interest luminaries mingled with the next generation of Naders Raiders to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Public Citizen.

Cocktails were served beginning at 6 p.m. . Following this, attendees went to the main ballroom where dinner was served. Public Citizen board member Steve Skrovan, whose documentary about Public Citizen founder Ralph Nader is currently showing on Showtime, MCed the event and offered the following quote to start the evening off:

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
-George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903) “Maxims for Revolutionists”

Skrovan went on to say that he believed the ballroom of nearly 600 supporters was probably full of “unreasonable people.” One of those unreasonables: Joan Claybrook. Claybrook, who helped found the organization and served as president of Public Citizen for nearly three decades, spoke about her pride in the organization and all its accomplishments. Her remarks preceded a short video created to explain the origins of Public Citizen and highlight its accomplishments over the last four decades. It’s a must see! CLICK ON THE IMAGE BELOW TO WATCH THE VIDEO . . .

U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), who worked at Public Citizen in our Congress Watch division a number of years ago, recounted the many lessons she had learned working at Public Citizen. Public Citizen board member and commentator Jim Hightower then spoke, telling the audience that he serves on only one nonprofit board. The reason he chose Public Citizen’s board: because Public Citizen knows you can’t sweet talk a pig out of a creek– you need to “get right up behind it and push it!” (He was explaining how hard we push to get things done and how we don’t back down.) Maybe you had to be there.

Hightower’s Texas humor was given a run for its money though when Public Citizen founder Ralph Nader took to the podium. While his remarks were earnest and provided often somber reflections on the history of the consumer movement he fathered and the challenges before our nation, his wit was clear. Nader, who once said the point of leadership “is to create more leaders,” said, “You can always tell a Public Citizen project director but you can’t tell them much.”

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"taylor lincoln" You might remember that during the health care debate, many opponents of reform blamed medical malpractice litigation for our soaring health care costs and burgeoning numbers of uninsured.

“Prevent the lawsuits,” they essentially said, “and our health care problems will solve themselves.”

One of their chief exhibits was the state of Texas, which imposed some of the strictest liability caps in the country in 2003 and, in the critics’ imaginations, had experienced wondrous results. For instance, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said, “the state of Texas did a wonderful job of lawsuit reform and actually saw medical costs come down.”

We decided to take a look at what really has happened in the Lone Star state since it imposed a $250,000 cap on doctors’ liability for non-economic damages and immunized emergency room doctors except in cases of “wanton” negligence.

What we found is that the reality is the opposite of the rhetoric.

First, as the tort reform crowd hoped, litigation did go way down. Payments for malpractice are down 65 percent since 2003 and nearly 75 percent if corrected for inflation and population growth.

But regular Texans have not received any of the benefits they were promised in exchange for giving up their legal rights.

Medicare spending in the state has increased faster than the national average on a per-enrollee basis, meaning the increases are not connected to Texas’s rising population.

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