El Paso, We Have a Problem

Many are celebrating the politics of Donald Trump, including many in El Paso. As dangerous as the Trump politics are to the nation and to the world, El Paso will feel the ramifications the worst. This is not about politics, NAFTA or even immigration. Simply, it is about the economic reality of El Paso. So, put away the pitchforks of not another Donald Trump post and focus on how your taxpayer wallets are in danger.

Most of you are focused on the rate hike recently announced by the electric company. You should be concerned, but what has been buried is the taxpayer funded forgiveness of a large amount of money for the El Paso Children’s Hospital. Buried in the smoke-and-mirrors of the five-year children’s hospital celebration is the taxpayer monies being used to fund it. El Paso Children’s Hospital emerged out of bankruptcy in 2016, after the judge in the case discharged about $40 million is debt. That debt was owed to the taxpayers of El Paso. Children’s was supposed to pay back the balance of $48 million over time.

Here is where the smoke-and-mirrors trick is happening. In KVIA’s, February 14, 2017 report by Darren Hunt about the five-year anniversary is this: “UMC marked the occasion [5-year anniversary] by forgiving $58 million in rent.” It is unclear whether the amount was misreported or that the $58 million is part of the court’s discharge of debt.

Here is where the subterfuge is. The children’s hospital emerged from bankruptcy in May of 2016. Part of the bankruptcy settlement included UMC forgiving debt, which is money owed to the taxpayers of El Paso. The amount was originally about $40 million in rent, but by bankruptcy’s end, it had grown to $58 million. Now, KVIA is reporting that UMC has forgiven $58 million in debt to “mark the occasion” of the five-year anniversary. It is either the bankruptcy amount from May 2016, or it is a new, addition amount. It is unclear.

Regardless, do see how the sleight of hand works? $40 million here, $58 million there and it all comes out of the pockets of the taxpayers. But it gets worse.

As many of you know, UMC and the children’s hospital have been playing a game of federal dollars roulette. They, along with Veronica Escobar and cohorts, keep telling you that you aren’t paying for the children’s hospital. They are even telling you that the El Paso Children’s Hospital is planning to break even this year while completely ignoring that its funding is 100% taxpayer-funded. They keep telling you that UMC must be the lead agency for the children’s hospital to leverage federal dollars to fund it. According to them the federal dollars are allocated per formulas of ownership and community demographics.

It is the same exact mantra from the moment the children’s hospital was conceived. The Medicare and Medicaid federal dollars are the funding mechanisms. All those funds come from the taxpayers’ pockets. As taxpayer monies, the taxpayers across the nation are demanding relief, as in El Paso. Because of this, the rules are in constant flux as the politicians scramble to address the taxpayer demands. You have been told that the plan for the children’s failed because the promised dollars did not materialize because of rules changes.

In response to the changing rules, children’s tried to scam the federal dollars through IGT’s. When that failed, children’s filed bankruptcy and when it emerged, it emerged as a wholly-owned subsidy of UMC. Remember that when the children’s hospital plan was first presented, the taxpayers rejected it because they didn’t want to be saddled with it. Veronica Escobar and cohorts went back to the drawing board and came up with a scam that said that the hospital would not be dependent on taxpayer dollars if it was a stand-alone children’s hospital. You were asked to fund a building amid promises of glory.

Now, the children’s is part of UMC, a fully-taxpayer funded hospital.

Throughout the whole debacle, two things have remained a constant; you, the taxpayer have funded the whole debacle and the federal government has changed the rules closing off the promised federal dollars to the children’s hospital each step of the way.

Well, guess what?

Donald Trump rode into office, in part, promising to end taxpayer funding of unnecessary projects. Trump wants to cut back on the federal government. But, it gets even worse for El Paso.

Trump, besides going after immigrants and México, also promised to eradicate ObamaCare, also known as the Affordable Care Act. As Donald Trump has proven before, he has no plan to replace it but has embarked on eradicating it. Even if Trump had a plan, it would revolve around the notion that the for-profits would be the central mechanism for healthcare.

The latest evolution of the El Paso Children’s Hospital was that it was adjusting to the new realities of ObamaCare funding. Now that is ending.

But, sorry it still gets even worse for the El Paso taxpayers.

El Paso’s economy is dependent on two things; trade with México and to a much larger amount, government largess.

Well, trade with México, like ObamaCare, is being systematically dismantled. Sure, there will be a small uptick as Homeland Security is reinforced to deal with immigration, but generally, federal tax dollars are going to be severely redirected somewhere else or restricted.

Even the glorious wall will have little impact in El Paso because a wall is already there.

That leaves only one pocket of money for El Paso’s failed economy, you, the taxpayers.

But guess what the topic across the El Paso political spectrum is?

A taxpayer-funded arena that only an entrenched elite wants and the rising costs of water, electricity and the fact that El Paso’s tax rates are the highest in the nation.