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'Sequestration' In Plain Terms

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: Huge budget cuts in the style of former Texas Senator Phil Gramm, a new study on the Barnett Shale's future, Republicans' proposed compromise for women's health in Texas and more.

Today, the sequester goes into effect. But what does that word even mean? After throwing it out all week, outlets are obviously troubled by the term's “fiscal cliff”-caliber ambiguity: Marketplace’s Sabri Ben-Achour referred to these significant budget cuts as the “S-bomb” drop this morning.

Former Texas Senator Phil Gramm can take credit for the term. It was born in 1985 with the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act and was considered a way to obscure the meaning (horrific budget cuts),  according to the Huffington Post.

This is just one example of how a term in economics or politics can eclipse important messages. Anat Shenker-Osorio filled a book with examples and talked to Krys Boyd about it on Think in October.

  • Though energy companies still drill for naught on land belonging to North Texans (who still get richer), a study says the rigs are just misplaced. The Barnett Shale is spouting 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas each year, and will keep producing for 25 years, according to the University of Texas research team’s findings. NPR’s Wade Goodwyn explains how this massive shale production has reduced the price of natural gas and sustained popularity of natural gas drilling in Texas, despite fracking horror stories and studies on environmental impact. [NPR]

  • Republican state senators are pitching a way to salve budget cuts that affected women’s health last session – without serving the family planning centers they fought to exclude. They want to give a women-focused primary care program run by the state $100 million. It’s called the Community Primary Care Services Program. UT researchers counted 50 family planning clinics that have closed in Texas since Planned Parenthood was banned from the women’s health program. Estimates of 24,000 additional births next year -- ultimately costing taxpayers $273 million -- fueled urgency for a compromise. [Texas Tribune]

  • Van ISD authorized some school employees and “other persons” to carry guns on campuses in January. The district, which sits 70 miles southeast of Dallas, responded to Sandy Hook with this provision and an appropriate training class. Apparently a district employee shot himself in the leg on Wednesday. [Unfair Park]

  • Quarterback Tim Tebow canceled an appearance at First Baptist Dallas because of pastor Robert Jeffress’ contentious statements about homosexuality and other religions. The pastor responds via a ten-minute video, never naming Tebow but referred to men “wimping out” when called to stand up for the truth. “The love of God has no meaning whatsoever unless you understand the judgment of God that all of us deserve," he says. [Dallas Morning News]

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