Horns Up, Horns Down for Nov. 8

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Horns Up: Trans fats a thing of the past

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it will begin banning trans fats from American food, nationalizing a movement that has been taking place at the local level for the past several years. Trans fats are a major contributor to heart disease, adding no health benefits and dangerously clogging arteries, and the FDA estimates that banning them could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths a year. This is a good example of government regulation that could do a lot of good for the country’s health, and we will not miss the gram of trans fats the average American consumes every day.

Horns Down: Texas flunks low-income pre-school rates

According to a study released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a national organization that lobbies for greater government spending on childhood education, only a third of low-income Texas children were enrolled in pre-school between 2009 and 2011. Texas also ranked last in the country for the number of children whose parents regularly read to them. This data serves as further evidence that the Texas Legislature’s dramatic cuts to education funding, including a $210 million cut for preschool programs in 2011, have unsurprisingly kept kids out of school. We shouldn’t have to explain why that’s bad.

Horns Up: New UT course to analyze Obamacare

The two-semester course “Enrolling in Health Insurance Through the Affordable Care Act: An Austin Case Study” is a new addition to the LBJ School of Public Affairs. A requirement for first-year master’s candidates, the course not only teaches students about the Affordable Care Act, but also about its implementation within the state of Texas. The Daily Texan recently reported that the decision to teach this course is part of a national effort to study the implementation of the Health Insurance Marketplace. No matter what one’s views are on the policy, it’s important to get educated on what the act means for Texans: Even strong opposition to issues has to be grounded in a thorough understanding of the facts. We support the LBJ School’s decision to require its students to study the issue and are proud to be on a campus so involved in current affairs.

Horns Down: Texas libraries punished for state’s sins

The Texas Tribune reported Thursday that Texas communities are set to lose funding because of recent cuts in the state library budget that amounted to 64 percent. Those state cuts prompted a threat from the federal government to cut around 70 percent of its annual funding for Texas public libraries because, according to the Tribune, “[the federal government] says the state has failed to pull its own weight in library funding.” Conservative Texans may want to pin all the blame on the federal government, but it’s clear the state has brought this situation on itself. Although the benefits of library programs aren’t as obvious as, say, the recently approved diversion of funds from the rainy day fund to the newly formed State Water Implementation Fund for Texas, they encourage social cohesion and lead to various economic benefits. And with parents not picking up the slack at home (see “Texas flunks low-income pre-school rates” above), now is not the time to slash away at library budgets.