San Gabriel Valley Tribune: Montebello residents go to the polls Tuesday to decide on critical sales tax measure
Whether Montebello voters approve a 0.75 sales tax hike Tuesday may come down to trust: Do they believe the city will appropriately spend the $6.7 million the tax would raise annually?
Montebello council members, city employees and the city’s Chamber of Commerce argue that the city needs the monetary boost from Measure S. This year’s city budget was $3.2 million in the red before dipping into reserves. Previous budgets have also relied on reserves — considered a rainy day fund — or one-time sources of income, such as the sale of city property, to pencil out in the black.
“There is a budget crisis, and it’s similar to a lot of cities around us,” Councilwoman Vanessa Delgado said. “Folks already are paying this added tax in other cities. Why not support us?”
The Hill: House Republicans unveil sweeping plan to slash tax rates
House Republicans on Thursday released their long-awaited legislation to overhaul the tax code, proposing major cuts to corporate and individual tax rates.
The 429-page bill, called the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” represents the opening salvo in the GOP's fight to rewrite the tax code for the first time in more than 30 years.
"It's the beginning of the end of this horrible tax code," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said.
The bill largely follows the parameters that GOP leaders and the White House outlined in September. It would reduce the number of individual tax brackets, slash rates for businesses and eliminate a number of tax breaks.
In order to offset the costs of the legislation, Republicans are putting forward some proposals that are sure to be controversial.
The bill would keep the mortgage-interest deduction, but only for interest on the first $500,000 of a newly purchased home; the cap is now set at $1 million. Homes bought in the past could keep the deduction regardless of price. The housing industry quickly blasted the changes.
The legislation would also allow taxpayers to deduct their state and local property taxes, but only up to $10,000. It would not allow people to deduct state and local income or sales taxes.
Sacramento Bee: Oroville Dam ready for winter rains, state says
The Oroville Dam flood control spillway has been fixed.
Eight and a half months after the gravest emergency in the dam’s history forced 188,000 residents to flee, state officials said Wednesday that Oroville’s structures have been largely rebuilt and can withstand a rainy Northern California winter. A second phase of work will be completed next year.
“Lake Oroville’s main spillway is indeed ready to safely handle winter flows if needed,” said Grant Davis, director of the Department of Water Resources, in a conference call with reporters.
Noting that a heavy storm could hit the watershed as early as Thursday, the DWR director spoke directly to the downstream residents who had to evacuate in February and remain mistrustful of the state’s operation of Oroville: “You indeed had a terrifying experience and we are working hard to ensure it never happens again.”
Los Angeles Times: The early numbers don't look good for California Republicans
There are far more challengers running for California’s House seats in 2018 than at this point in the last campaign, and there hasn’t been this much money raised for House elections this early in years, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of campaign finance reports.
As Democrats work to regain power in the House, there are more than three times as many congressional challengers across the state today than there were before the 2016 election. With 80 challengers so far, the candidates have raised money more quickly than any group of challengers going back to 2003.
That’s particularly true in the 13 races where Republican and Democratic incumbents are being targeted. Challengers there have raised more than five times more than the 2016 challengers had this far out from the election. Nearly 70% of the money raised by all congressional challengers has gone to the four Republican-held districts in Orange County that Democrats consider key to their chances.
Money is not the only factor in a tough campaign and much could still change ahead of the June primary, in which the top two vote getters advance to the November election regardless of party. But the totals so far give a window into the viability of the field of candidates and the energy behind their campaigns.
The numbers should give Republican incumbents plenty of reasons to worry.
Capitol Weekly: Rent control may roil 2018 ballot
So far, most of the sound and fury in California politics has revolved around candidates. But there are increasing signs that ballot initiatives may trigger additional uproar in 2018. The latest November filing is an effort to remove a 20-year barrier to local rent control, the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.
Costa-Hawkins, passed in 1995, restricts the ability of local governments to impose rent control. Sponsors of the repeal initiative have dubbed their measure the “Affordable Housing Act.” The measure, if final approval is given to circulate petitions, needs 385,880 valid signatures of voters collected within a six-month window to qualify for the ballot.
In documents filed with the state attorney general, backers of the proposed initiative argue that median rents in California are higher than anywhere else in the country. More than half of California renter households pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs and one-third of renter households pay more than 50 percent of their income on rent, proponents argue.
“Three times as many Californians are living in overcrowded apartments as compared with the U. S. as a whole,” say the initiative backers.
The California Apartment Association lost no time in voicing opposition. The initiative’s proponents filed on Oct. 23 and the Association was out with an opposition statement the same day, apparently within minutes.
“If local rent control ordinances are allowed to regulate rents on new construction and single-family homes, new private investment into rental housing will come to a screeching halt,” said Tom Bannon, the Association’s chief executive officer. He said that in effect, California’s economic expansion “will come to a standstill” if Costa-Hawkins is repealed.
New York Times Magazine: A Post-Obama Democratic Party In Search of Itself
On Nov. 9, 2016, about 12 hours after Hillary Clinton conceded defeat to Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, convened a conference call with her fellow House Democrats. Most of them were still back home in their respective districts and still in shock. Not only would Trump be president, but the Senate remained in G.O.P. control, and — despite rosy predictions from Pelosi and her party’s pollsters — so did the House.
Several members on the call later told me they expected their leader to offer some show of contrition, an inventory of mistakes made or, at minimum, an acknowledgment that responsibility for the previous night’s disaster began at the top. Already, Trump’s sweep of what had for years been Democratic strongholds in the Rust Belt had led to a fast-congealing belief that the party had lost touch with white working-class voters.
But Pelosi sounded downright peppy on the call, noting a few vulnerable House seats that the Democrats had managed to hang onto. As for those working-class voters, “To say we don’t care about them is hard to believe,” Pelosi insisted, according to a transcript of the call I obtained. “I have to take issue and say I don’t think anybody was unaware of the anger.” The Democrats weren’t out of touch, she said. They just hadn’t made their case clearly enough to voters — or as she put it, “We have to get out there and say it in a different way.”
“It reminded me of that scene at the end of ‘Animal House,’ where Kevin Bacon is standing in the middle of all this chaos, screaming: ‘Remain calm! All is well!’ ” Scott Peters, a congressman from California who was on the call, told me. “After telling us before that we were going to pick up 20 seats, and we end up with six, underlaid with Clinton losing, I had no use for that kind of happy talk.” During and after Pelosi’s monologue, Democratic representatives who were listening texted and called one another incredulously, but Peters was one of the few who spoke up on the line. “I think we’re missing something,” he told Pelosi. “We’re just not hearing what’s on people’s minds.”Claremont Review of Books: The Democrats' Dilemma
The case that Democrats should try harder to win white working-class votes is virtually self-evident. In a closely divided democracy, writing off one third of the electorate seems suicidal. Even if Democrats never again receive majorities from this constituency, as they did during the New Deal, smaller margins of defeat, such as those suffered by Barack Obama, are manifestly preferable to those voters’ overwhelming repudiation of Hillary Clinton. The difference may plausibly account for Obama’s two victories as opposed to Clinton’s defeat.
And yet, the “I’m With Her” theory of the case in 2016 was that Clinton’s disregard of the white working class was not only a plausible campaign strategy but her likeliest path to victory. Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg laments that the Clinton campaign’s “malpractice” led to emphasizing the “rainbow base” at “the expense of the working class.” The campaign’s “fatal conclusion,” he argues, was that “she could not win white working-class voters, and that the ‘rising electorate’ would make up the difference.” It is all too fitting, in this view, that Clinton “finished her campaign with rallies in inner cities and university towns.”
By “rainbow base” and “rising electorate” Greenberg refers to a Democratic coalition of blacks, Hispanics, other minority groups, and whites with college degrees, especially with advanced or professional degrees. (According to CNN, voters of all races with a postgraduate education accounted for 18% of the 2016 electorate, and favored Clinton by a margin of 58% to 37%.) This rainbow coalition was constructed to secure Democratic electoral victories despite working-class whites’ growing estrangement from the party. Greenberg believes that the Clinton campaign bet, and lost, the presidency on rejecting class politics in favor of identity politics.
Why can’t Democrats appeal to the rainbow base and the white working class? It depends on whether the latter are primarily working-class, or primarily white. If economics is central, then Democrats should be able to do much better with this electoral bloc by responding to its aspirations, anxieties, and resentments with a newer, post-industrial New Deal. Both former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s opponent for the 2016 nomination, have insisted that the white working-class voters who favored Donald Trump so decisively were not, by and large, bigots. Rather, Sanders said earlier this year, Trump understood “that there’s a lot of pain in this country.” Greenberg thinks Clinton could have defeated Trump if she had addressed that pain with the sort of economic populism that defined the Sanders campaign—by decrying, for example, “the special-interest and big-money influence that was keeping government from working for the middle class.” Instead, though a Clinton campaign ad showed her hugging the child of illegal immigrants, there was never an ad showing the nominee “with an autoworker’s daughter.”