Friday, November 22, 2013

Is the Thruway really going to happen?

A bill authorizing a gasoline tax for PA (which will reach 30 cents per gallon) to fund transportation infrastructure is awaiting Gov. Corbett's signature. The promise is that this money will finally make it possible to build the CSVThruway that has been talked about for over 40 years.  Today's Daily Item has a full story on this, and the on-line version has the reactions of local business leaders:

Building the Thruway is amazingly noncontroversial. Some people oppose it, but not a lot and not in any organized fashion (correct me if I'm wrong on that).

What might be controversial is the gasoline tax.  I recall an ad from an outside group, I believe this was in 2000, that you might also remember.  It had Keystone Cops running in circles and it was about how Al Gore had supported a federal tax on gasoline to pay for infrastructure.  That tax was so controversial that it had to be repealed.  That was a 5 cent per gallon tax. 

PA's new tax will  be 30 cents per gallon.  Gov. Corbett, at the same time, is going to push for more sweetheart deals for natural gas (fracking) operations--so I predict we'll hear about how we should switch to natural gas for both home and car if want to save money.  Still, most people at the lower end of the economic spectrum are not going to buy an electric hybrid or a natural gas powered vehicle, and will feel this new gasoline tax. If it turns out that the money never gets to the Thruway, we'll know that we have been the victims of a huge bait and switch. It's hard not to be skeptical given how many times we've had our hopes dashed on this one.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Matt Miller on the 47% who pay no income tax

There have been a lot of comments about Gov. Romney's comments at a fundraiser in Florida, but Matt Miller's comments seem to get to the heart of the matter about the 47% that don't pay INCOME taxes:

...those in the 47 percent who aren’t seniors or veterans are mostly poor workers whose payroll taxes, at 15.3 percent (since the employer side of the tax effectively comes out of workers’ wages), leaves them taxed at a higher rate than was Mitt Romney on his $20 million income last year...

As far as I've seen, Miller is also the only one who has noted Milton Friedman's hand in the creation of the policies that Romney was indirectly attacking.

If ANY assistance from government is defined as dependence, we can't have a meaningful policy debate.  We all benefit somewhere, somehow, from government.  But if the focus turns to how to allow those who are struggling to empower themselves, then we might get somewhere.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Voter ID update

Here's a Huffington Post article on the latest State Supreme Court ruling on the Voter ID law.

Long story short: the burden of proof has now shifted:  the lower court must now determine that voters will not be disenfranchised by this law for this November's election in order to leave it in effect.  The lower court ruling is due in early October.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Note on Tax Policy

Under Romney, millionaires and billionaires would get a $250,000 tax cut, while families with kids making less than $40,000 a year would, on average, actually see their taxes go up.

--Jim Messina, Campaign Manager, Obama for America

I haven't fact-checked this claim from the Obama Campaign, but I have an easy time believing it is true. Many years ago Grover Norquist outlined a basic strategy for Republican politicians: keep the taxes on lower income people uncomfortably high so they will continue to support "tax relief" for high income earners. We have to break through that smokescreen, and the Occupy movement began to do it with a focus on the 99% and the 1%. If the question is, "Would you like to see lower taxes?" then the Republican frame will win out. If the question is,"Is it fair for Warren Buffett to pay a lower tax rate than his secretary?" the Democrats will have a fighting chance of at least allowing the tax rates for the wealthiest revert to their Clinton-era levels. (They might also point out that Mitt Romney, earning about $20 million per year, is paying a lower tax rate than lots of middle income people.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lakoff on the Santorum Strategy

I think I finally understand what the Republicans are up to, thanks to George Lakoff. I was having a conversation with a politically minded friend recently and we agreed that, as a strategy for getting elected president, attacking contraception is not a winning strategy. But along comes Lakoff to explain that Republicans are probably not worried about this battle, they are focused on a long-term war. Think about how much free media Rush Limbaugh has had in the last two weeks. Now imagine that all that free media HELPS CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATES AT EVERY LEVEL EXCEPT THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE. And suppose that Mitt Romney's response is the one that conservatives generally had--right argument but he used the wrong language. It's a sobering thought. And think about all the coverage that other conservative "leaders" such as Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann etc. have received in the Republican primary. And how many Republican debates have been not on Fox but on CNN, where independents and conservative Democrats are more likely to tune in. It's why we'd better think about what Lakoff has to say and come up with some ways to respond. The first response would be to stop wishing for Rick Santorum to hang in the race into June to "weaken" Mitt Romney. Maybe a loss in Pennsylvania could help usher Rick Santorum off the stage--for good.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Super Tuesday and Beyond--some stuff to consider

The CSCC Blog has been pretty quiet lately in spite of all that's been going on, so here's some stuff to consider on Super Tuesday 2012.

If you are wondering about details and deadlines for the Pennsylvania primary (APRIL 24), a good local resource is the League of Women Voters:

A couple big issues that deserve even more attention than they've been getting:

1. Development of the Marcellus Shale and the natural gas industry. The "Impact Fee" recently passed falls far short of what CSCC called for in its petition last year, especially in the very limited nature of the fee.

2. Campaign Finance, Citizens United, etc. It's clear that we will see unregulated money flooding onto the airwaves this election cycle through SuperPACs. Stephen Colbert has done a nice job of showing how absurd the systems is, but that's not going to change anything in the short term. One reason Mitt Romney continues to be seen as the strongest candidate for the Republicans in spite of his weaknesses as a candidate is the strength of the SuperPAC money supporting him.

Some suggested reading:

Walter Russell Mead argues that we need a new liberalism--the earlier versions having "died of their own success." (I think that's a nice way of saying that they were not ultimately sustainable.)

Mead also wrote a more accessible discussion of the same ideas--a blog version called "Can the L-word be saved?":

In a nutshell, Mead is arguing that we're at a moment when a new paradigm is looking like a possibility, since neither conservatism nor liberalism is able to deliver what Americans seem to want.

In Congressional news, political newcomer Phil Scollo has put together several members of the Chris Carney team to take on Tom Marino. Of course, he will be very much an underdog (assuming he wins the D primary) in a heavily R district, no name recognition, little money, and running against an incumbent, BUT . . . it is good to see the Dems contesting the election, it is possible that more momentum could swing toward the Democrats as election day approaches, and you never know what might happen. It will be interesting to see what positions Scollo takes--if he will be a Blue Dog centrist like Carney or something else.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Independet Voting

OK, I NEVER give money on the phone now. Although I do enjoy chatting with the NRA,RNC, Tea Party Express and so on when they call. Anyway, this group,, actually kept me on the phone long enough to wring out an online donation. I would like to see a whole set of electoral reforms, but open primaries is at least one good start.

She was a very informed called. The emphasis on structural reform sounded smart and good. She said there is a PA chapter. I thought this kind of electoral reform is something CSCC can get behind. Maybe fold into a set of issues for the 2012 cycle about improving the workings of democracy. Also get after bad redistricting, camp finance, and so on.