Lobbying and Campaign Contributions
By Steve Smith
When AB 880 comes up for a vote this week in the California Assembly, lawmakers will be given a rare (and dare we say golden) opportunity. California has the chance to lead the nation in ensuring that large corporations like Walmart pay their fair share of health care costs under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Because of what's known as the "Walmart Loophole," large corporations are able to skirt their responsibility by pushing workers onto taxpayer-funded Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California). Walmart's army of accountants knows exactly how to reduce the company's costs by violating the spirit of the ACA: just cut workers' hours and wages low enough, and taxpayers pick up the tab for health care - while Walmart gets off scot-free.
By Robert Reich
"This systematic abuse cannot be fixed with just one resignation, or two," said David Camp, the Republican chairman of the House tax-writing committee, at an oversight hearing dealing with the IRS. "This is not a personnel problem. This is a problem of the IRS being too large, too intrusive, too abusive."
By Randy Shaw
NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd has never liked Barack Obama, so it was fitting that she blamed him for the Senate's failure to break a GOP-led filibuster on gun control bills. According to Dowd, Obama "doesn't know how to work the system" and "still has not learned how to govern." But while Obama's lack of political skill still bedevils supporters, he did "work the system" to pass gun control.
By Robert Cruickshank
Democratic control of the California State Legislature is nothing new. Since 1970 Democrats have dominated the Capitol, with Republicans having only a narrow majority in the Assembly for a short 2-year period in the 1990s and never having control of the Senate in that time. But since 1978, Democratic majorities have been essentially meaningless. Proposition 13 required a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to raise taxes, a conservative attempt to seize power they had failed to win at the ballot box. In November 2012, Democrats finally won the two-thirds majority in the Legislature that had been so close in recent years.
By Richard Holober
Consumer Federation of California
One way to identify who Prop 33 helps and who it hurts is to follow the money behind the campaign.
The Yes on 33 campaign has outspent opponents by 65 to 1. Virtually all of the $17.7 million spent supporting Proposition 33 comes from one man - George Joseph, the billionaire owner of Mercury Insurance. Mr. Joseph has spent $17.5 million promoting Proposition 33. Another $165,000 in contributions to Yes on 33 are from insurance agents and brokers that do business with Mercury Insurance.
No on 33 has raised $275,000, with almost all donations coming from consumer groups and labor unions.
By Malinda Markowitz, RN
It's time to get serious about protecting our schools, our basic healthcare services, and the public support so essential to assuring a civil society in California.
Attention Californians: We need to pass Proposition 30.
With the latest polls showing a real tightening on the measure, let's recall what is at stake, and take a harder look at who is financing the campaign against this vital measure.
By Dan Bacher
On October 24, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) hosted a press conference in Sacramento urging more federal support for levees in rural parts of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and calling for a statewide cost-benefit analysis of the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).
Joined by a bipartisan coalition of local leaders representing diverse Delta communities, Garamendi, a Member of the House Natural Resources Committee and former Deputy U.S. Interior Secretary under President Bill Clinton, said the cost-benefit analysis is necessary to ensure the plan does not cause harm to Northern California farming, fishing, and tourism.
By David Dayen
Michael Gerson is a former Bush speechwriter, and an unlikely candidate to have written something with which I wholeheartedly agree. But I think he’s reached a core insight here:
In its heyday — say, the 1960s — American liberalism had an obvious identity. It was ambitious, reformist and frankly moral in its appeal to a common good that included minorities and the poor. It was praised as idealistic and attacked as utopian. Robert Kennedy, quoting Aeschylus, set out "to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world." […]
By Steve Smith
To many, the billionaire Koch Brothers are the embodiment of a problem that plagues our electoral system in an era of Citizens United: big money from anonymous sources manipulating elections. The Kochs web of Super PACs and front groups are expected to spend $400 million on elections this year alone to promote their anti-worker, big corporate agenda. The Kochs are known for many things, but "campaign finance reform" sure isn't one of them. In fact, most observers point to the Kochs' free-wheeling campaign spending through shadowy front groups as THE REASON we need real reform.
By Matthew Fleischer
How different would California look with Proposition 32's passage? To imagine, it's not necessary to focus on a Golden State without the legacy of its unions, but rather to think of a California in which only the rich and powerful have a say in Sacramento and in the polling booth.
"It will have a devastating effect," says John Logan, director of Labor Studies at San Francisco State University, of Prop. 32's impact. "California would be transformed as a state."
On environmental issues alone, Prop. 32 stands to roll back decades of progress in making California a global leader in green policy-making.