Political Calendar: Week of December 17, 2017

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Political Calendar for the Week of December 17, 2017:

Monday, December 18, Noon: Democrats of Greater Tucson luncheon, Dragon’s View Restaurant (400 N. Bonita, South of St. Mary’s Road between the Freeway and Grande Avenue, turn South at Furr’s Cafeteria). New price: buffet lunch is $10.00 cash, $12 credit; just a drink is $3.50. Featured speaker is Mark Gordon, candidate for AZ Secretary of State. Next Week: No DGT in observance of Christmas Day.

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Cartoon of The Week

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The Pueblo Express to Santa & Holiday Bash

This is Tucson’s answer to The Polar Express, from Mercado San Agustin (out west of the I-10) into downtown, up 4th Avenue to Main Gate Square, just west of the UA. What fun with music (and elves) on board, and Santa at the end of the line. And I know that particular Santa, as I served with him on the ACLU of Arizona. Yes, even Santa cares about civil rights.

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2018 World Inequality Report: inequality in U.S. is a result of deliberate policy decisions (updated)

Christopher Ingraham at the Washington Post reports, U.S. lawmakers are redistributing income from the poor to the rich, according to massive new study:

Back in 1980, the bottom 50 percent of wage-earners in the United States earned about 21 percent of all income in the country — nearly twice as much as the share of income (11 percent) earned by the top 1 percent of Americans.

But today, according to a massive new study on global inequality, those numbers have nearly reversed: The bottom 50 percent take in only 13 percent of the income pie, while the top 1 percent grab over 20 percent of the country’s income.

Since 1980, in other words, the U.S. economy has transferred eight points of national income from the bottom 50 percent to the top 1 percent.

That trend is even more remarkable when you set it against comparable numbers for wealthy nations in Western Europe. There, the bottom 50 percent earn nearly 22 percent of the income in those economies, while the top 1 percent take in just over 12 percent of the money.

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The income situation in Western Europe today, in other words, is similar to how things were in the United States nearly 40 years ago.

The 2018 World Inequality Report, written by a team of leading international economists including Thomas Piketty of “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” fame, finds that the rise of income inequality in the United States is “largely due to massive educational inequalities, combined with a tax system that grew less progressive despite a surge in top labor compensation since the 1980s, and in top capital incomes in the 2000s.”

Since the 1970s the price of higher education has skyrocketed, putting the price of tuition out of reach for many low-income students. Over the same time, the tax code became more generous to the wealthiest Americans — the top marginal income-tax rate fell from 70 percent in 1980 to 39.6 percent in 2017, taxes on capital gains fell by more than half from the mid-1970s to the mid-2000s, and the estate tax has fallen as well.

Those changes have made it easier for high-income Americans to grab more and more of the income pie in any given year.

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McSally’s Holding Pattern

By Michael Bryan

Arizona has become one of the few states that are key to control of the U.S. Senate in 2018. With Flake declining to run for re-election and McCain facing the end of his life, both of Arizona’s Senate seats are in flux at a time when electoral tides are strongly disadvantaging Republicans. When McCain inevitably lays down his duties and resigns, one would expect there will be a wide field of both Democratic and Republican candidates vying for Arizona’s two open Senate seats.

One of the most salient players in this drama has remained purposefully and stubbornly obscure as to her next moves, however: Representative Martha McSally. While it is widely known that her ambition, and her current intention, is to move up to the Senate, she has remained stubbornly non-committal regarding launching a campaign for Flake’s seat in 2018.

She is certain to run for Senate; she has already recruited (and McSally’s political shop is running the nascent campaign of) Hispanic Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Lea Márquez-Peterson to try to succeed her. Since it seems certain that she plans on departing her current office for the Senate, but is passing up weeks of fund-raising and earned media in a primary against her main rival for the nomination for Flake’s seat, Kelli Ward, what could explain her current passivity?

McSally simply doesn’t plan to enter the primary for Flake’s seat. She expects to take over McCain’s seat, likely well before the primary election next year — probably before the end of this year.

Appointment to replace McCain provides several advantages to McSally. She would likely quash any primary challenge merely by occupying the seat, especially if she is perceived as McCain’s own choice to replace him. Even if she does not quash all opposition, incumbency conveys powerful advantages against both primary and general election challengers. Appointment to McCain’s seat also avoids an unpleasant primary contest with Ward, which would serve to further irritate the far-right Trumpian faction of Arizona’s Republicans, whom McSally has already irritated more than once.

Governor Ducey, likely with the knowledge and blessing of McCain, must be planning to appoint McSally to fill McCain’s seat when he resigns due to his failing health. It is unlikely that McSally would sit on the sidelines like this if she did not have assurances that the appointment to McCain’s seat was hers.

So, I make a few predictions:

  1. McCain will announce his immediate resignation from the Senate before or at the end of this session of the Senate on December 29, 2017.
  2. McCain will make it known that McSally has his support to be appointed to his seat.
  3. Ducey will appoint McSally to McCain’s seat.
  4. McSally will run for the remainder of McCain’s term in the 2018 election substantially or completely unopposed in the Republican primary.

Michael Bloomberg on the #GopTaxScam

Ady Barkan, an activist who has ALS and who works with the Center for Popular Democracy, has set up a web site titled stopgoptaxscam.com. It is a useful resource guide (h/t for the graphic, right).

Addressing the merits of the “GOP tax scam” is former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in an op-ed appearing at his Bloomberg News website. This Tax Bill Is a Trillion-Dollar Blunder:

Last month a Wall Street Journal editor asked a room full of CEOs to raise their hands if the corporate tax cut being considered in Congress would lead them to invest more. Very few hands went up. Attending was Gary Cohn, President Donald Trump’s economic adviser and a friend of mine. He asked: “Why aren’t the other hands up?”

Allow me to answer that: We don’t need the money.

Corporations are sitting on a record amount of cash reserves: nearly $2.3 trillion. That figure has been climbing steadily since the recession ended in 2009, and it’s now double what it was in 2001. The reason CEOs aren’t investing more of their liquid assets has little to do with the tax rate.

CEOs aren’t waiting on a tax cut to “jump-start the economy” — a favorite phrase of politicians who have never run a company — or to hand out raises. It’s pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that.

Instead, Congress did what it always does: It put politics first. After spending the first nine months of the year trying to jam through a repeal of Obamacare without holding hearings, heeding independent analysis or seeking Democratic input, Republicans took the same approach to tax “reform” — and it shows.

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