Archives for May 2012

Attendees of Eric Holder event think Operation Fast and Furious is a movie

From The Daily Caller:

Attorney General Eric Holder gave the keynote address at a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Conference of National Black Churches on Wednesday morning.

Following the speech, The Daily Caller asked attendees what they thought of Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF gun-walking operation that lost track of thousands of trafficked firearms across the Mexican border, resulting in the deaths of a U.S. Border Patrol agent and hundreds of Mexican citizens.

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Even after Walker reforms, Wisconsin public workers still overpaid

From The Foundry, Heritage:

“What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin—and eventually, America—less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy.” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman was more theatrical than most in denouncing Act 10, the set of public-sector reforms signed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) on March 11, 2011.

The spirit of Krugman’s denunciation, however, has been echoed by a broad coalition of labor activists, students, left-leaning political commentators, and Democratic politicians. Words such as radicalextreme, and even un-American have been used to describe Act 10.

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Photo courtesy Dave Hoefler, flickr

PPIC poll ignores big drop in support for Brown’s tax

A recent California opinion poll selectively reports data only in favor of Gov. Brown’s tax increase proposal on the November 2012 ballot. Conversely, it ignores data indicating growing opposition to Brown’s package of income and sales tax increases.

The May 23 press release of the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)reported no change from April, whether voters would favor or oppose Brown’s budget and $15.7 billion tax increase proposal.  Here’s what PPIC press release reported:

Support For Brown Initiative Holds. A majority (56%) say they would vote yes on Brown’s tax initiative, with 38 percent saying they would vote no and 7 percent undecided.  This is similar to the results of the April survey in which 54 percent said they would vote yes (39% no, 6% undecided).

But question #34 in its May 2012 opinion poll reports that only 41 percent favor Brown’s tax plan and 50 percent oppose it.

That would reflect a 13 percent drop in favorability for Brown’s tax plan since April.

This also indicates a rise from 39 percent to 50 percent — or a total of 11 percent — of those who oppose Brown’s proposed tax increase.

Unsurprisingly, PPIC was negligent in not accurately reporting the decline in support for and increase in opposition to Brown’s tax measure.

Here’s the results of PPIC’s new poll excerpted verbatim from their website:

34. On another topic, Governor Brown recently released a revised budget plan for the next fiscal year to close the state’s projected $15.7 billion budget deficit. It includes spending cuts to Medi-Cal, welfare, childcare and other social service programs
and to courts and state employee compensation. It increases funding for K-12 public education. The proposal includes tax increases that would have to be approved by voters through an initiative on the November ballot. In general, do you favor or oppose the governor’s budget plan?

  • 41% favor 
  • 50% oppose
  • 3% haven’t heard anything about the budget (volunteered)
  • 6% don’t know 

The reported 41 percent who favor Brown’s tax and the 50 percent who oppose it is unlikely a mistake because all the numbers including “don’t know” add up to 100 percent. The growing — but unreported — opposition to Brown’s tax proposition is consistent with the public’s growing opposition to raising the state sales tax and cigarette tax — Prop 29.

Near supermajority oppose raising sales tax not reported

Part of Gov. Brown’s tax increase proposal includes a one-quarter percent (0.25 percent) increase in the base sales tax rate from 7.25 percent to 7.50 percent.  This proposed sales tax rate increase is being touted as “temporary.”  But California’s “temporary” two-year one percent sales tax increase expired on July 1, 2011.

The PPIC May 2012 poll press release inconsistently reports that the support for the proposed sales tax increase has dropped to 58 percent. But the actual reported results to the poll indicate that support for a sales tax rate increase was only 33 percent in May. Here is the actual PPIC opinion poll question and results excerpted from their website:

May 2012 PPIC Poll Result:

33. Do you favor or oppose raising the state sales tax?

  • 33% favor 
  • 64% oppose
  • 3% don’t know

The April 2012 PPIC poll reported 33 percent of voters were in favor and 52 percent opposed to raising the sales tax, even for K-12th grade public schools (see question #33 in April poll).  Thus, there was an apparent 13 percent drop in those favoring an increase in the state sales tax rate from April to May 2012.

Additionally, there was a 12 percent increase in those opposed to a sale tax rate increase.

But once gain, the PPIC poll press release failed to report the drop of those in favor and the rise of those opposed to a sales tax rate increase.

Support for cigarette tax drops 14 points

PPIC also reported Proposition 29 — the cigarette tax — dropped 14 points from March to May. Support dropped from 67 percent to 53 percent.  The 14 percent drop is consistent with the 13 percent drop in support for Brown’s income tax and sales tax rate increases. PPIC reports the change in public opinion on the cigarette tax accurately.

Voter lack of trust extends to opinion polls

To sum up:

  • PPIC reports support for Gov. Brown’s proposed budget and tax package increase is holding steady at 56 percent in May 2012 compared to 54 percent in April 2012.  The actual PPIC poll results indicate support for Brown’s tax dropped to 41 percent, a 13 percent drop in May. Opposition to Brown’s tax package rose from 39 percent to 50 percent, an 11 percent unreported jump in May.
  • PPIC accurately reports that those FAVORING a sales tax increase held steady at 33 percent from April to May 2012.  But PPIC failed to report that those voters OPPOSED to a sales tax rate increase rose from 52 percent to 64 percent from April to May 2012. This is nearly a supermajority — two thirds — of the voters opposed to a sales tax increase. This indicates a 12 percent increase of those OPPOSED to sales tax rate increase. Once again, PPIC fails to report this in their press release. The PPIC May 2012 press release does not specifically report the change of voters FAVORING or OPPOSING a sales tax increase.

PPIC April and May 2012 reported and actual poll results

April 2012
May 2012
Percent Change of Voters – April to May
What PPIC Press Release Reported PPIC
Reporting Discrepancy

Brown Budget & Tax Package Increase

13% drop of those IN FAVOR Majority of voters (56%) FAVOR Brown’s Tax Increase PPIC puffed up those in FAVOR of tax by 15%
39% OPPOSED 50% OPPOSED 11% Increase in those OPPOSED Rise in those OPPOSED not reported PPIC ignored 11% increase in those OPPOSED to tax hikes

State Sales Tax Rate Increase

33% IN FAVOR 33% IN FAVOR No Change PPIC reported no change No discrepancy
12% Increase of those OPPOSED PPIC said 58% OPPOSED to sales tax rate increase as of May 2012 PPIC omitted 12% increase in those OPPOSED to tax
Cigarette Tax – Prop 29 67% IN FAVOR 53% IN FAVOR 14% drop in those who FAVOR tax 14% drop in those who FAVOR tax No discrepancy
PPIC April 2012 Poll:
PPIC May 2012 Poll:
PPIC Press Release:

The PPIC polls selectively reports data in support of tax increases and ignores data showing growing voter opposition to tax increases.  The actual data trend from April to May is consistent across the board: there is growing opposition to Brown’s tax increase package and the proposed cigarette tax hike — Prop 29 — from 11 percent to 14 percent.  This trend cuts across both those reporting support for a tax increase and those opposing a tax increase.  But PPIC selectively only focuses public attention on the data supporting tax increases.

The May PPIC poll indicated a growing “lack of trust of voters this election season.”  To this might be added a growing lack of voter trust of any opinion polls dealing with taxes.

(Wayne Lusvardi is a political commentator and writes for CalWatchdog. Originally posted on CalWatchdog.)

Foolhardy Shenanigans of CA Legislature

Citizens of California are almost always in danger from being victimized by the foolhardy actions of our Legislature. But some weeks are more dangerous than others – and this is one of those weeks.

Why? Under the Joint Rules of the Legislature, this is the last week for each house to pass the bills that began in their respective houses, also known as the “house of origin.” Thus, the environment is ripe for a higher rate of backroom deals, anti-taxpayer laws and special interests bills. The only thing they have in common is that rarely do these actions result in any public good at all.

Although hundreds of bills will be part of this legislative scrum this week, with sessions going late into the evenings, HJTA’s Legislative Director, David Wolfe, will be monitoring a few specific bills with intense interest because of their threat to taxpayers.

First, AB 1500 by Speaker John Perez is a billion dollar tax increase. Being sold as “closing a tax loophole,” the proposal, nonetheless, would be a massive transfer of wealth from California’s beleaguered business community to government coffers. While HJTA is supportive of tax reform, any change in the tax law must, at a minimum, be “revenue neutral,” meaning that there would be no net tax revenue increase to the state. As a tax increase, this bill would require a two-thirds vote of each house. This means, absent a handful of Republicans who defy the strong wishes of their constituencies, that the bill will have a hard time clearing its house of origin, the California Assembly. Nonetheless, the pressure will be intense to grab the tax dollars that this bill would take from businesses because the Legislature has yet to cure its addiction to overspending.

Another bill threatens the victory that property rights advocates won against the redevelopment industry last year. SB 1220 would impose a $75 tax on various filings filled out by homeowners and other property owners for the purpose of funding “affordable housing” programs. But owning property in California is already tough enough. We don’t need another property tax the kind of which is not imposed in any other state. Moreover, we believe this to be a backdoor attempt at starting to resurrect redevelopment agencies in California. Those agencies died last year as the result of a Supreme Court ruling and, for everyone’s benefit, they deserve to remain in the grave.

The upshot is that this is going to be a busy week for our Legislative Director as he roams the halls of the Legislature protecting the interests of taxpayers late into the night. Millions of California homeowners probably don’t know they have their own lobbyist in Sacramento fighting against the special interests and higher taxes. Hopefully, the word will get out.

(Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights. Originally posted on HJTA.)

Prop 29 shaping up to be fiscal disaster

What do stem cell research and cancer research have in common?

In California, both health causes serve as money making mechanisms for bureaucrats.

Stem cell research

In 2004, California voters passed the stem cell initiative, Proposition 71, which authorized the creation of theCalifornia Institute of Regenerative Medicine, at a cost of $3 billion to taxpayers. Touted to as the only way to find the cure for Parkinson’s disease, rare cancers and other rare diseases, eight years later, where are any cures?

Even after a great deal of scrutiny since its creation, the CIRM is planning on asking voters for even more money.  Highly paidofficials, conflicts of interest, a stunning lack of results, and no accountability, CIRM has become a large and expensive problem for California.

Cancer research

In June, California voters have a chance to stop a similar fiscal disaster. Proposition 29, “The California Cancer Research Act,” exhibits all the same built-in flaws as the stem cell initiative—a lack of financial accountability, conflicts of interest, as well as the possibility of running out of money.

As with the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine , Proposition 29 is exempt from the oversights of the administrative and legislative budget process, which prevents the legislature and Governor from reining in unchecked spending, and questionable uses of funds.

And, Prop 29 was written to remain in place for 15 years, without the possibility of changes–not even by voters.

Prop 29 will provide an even larger discretionary budget to its commission by allowing $110 million to be spent every year on “facilities.”  The nine appointed commission members can spend the money out of the state, or even out of the country. If additional taxes are going to be imposed on Californians, the money should at least be required to be spent within the state.

Conflict of interest

Of the $1.1 billion dispersed by California’s stem cell research agency since its passage, $930 million has gone to research institutions with faculty or administrators on the stem cell agency board. Prop 29 contains the same conflicts of interest, and would allow the tobacco tax money to be given to the organizations which employ the commissioners.

Prop 29 raises revenue from tobacco taxes, and claims that it will discourage people from smoking. However, not only is there no scientific data showing that taxing smokers encourages people to quit smoking, if the goal is really to stop smoking, where will future revenues needed to support the agency come from?  Many anticipate that the Prop 29 commission will eventually run short of revenues, and will end up turning to voters for funding.

As Californians have witnessed with the CIRM, Prop 29 could be an even bigger fiscal disaster.  Even the LA Times editorial board said that Prop 29 was obviously modeled after the CIRM initiative, lacked the same accountability as CIRM, and said that they oppose Prop 29.

With a $17 billion deficit, California does not need one more tax or another costly, unaccountable bureaucracy.

Read Proposition 29 here, to review both sides of the argument. For the two campaigns, look at Californians Against Out-of-Control Taxes & Spending, the opposition to Prop 29, and  Californians for a Cure, the group supporting Prop 29.

(Katy Grimes is a longtime political analyst, writer and journalist, and CalWatchdog’s news reporter. Originally posted on CalWatchdog.)

Obama Flubs at Medal Ceremony; No Comment from Bob Dylan

The case against Governor Romney is the case against President Obama

From Human Events:

President Barack Obama, searching for traction after his Bain Capital attacks failed, will shift to firmer ground this week, going after Mitt Romney’s political and policy record as Massachusetts governor.

ABC News has “obtained”  (hmmm… I wonder who gave it to them?) a 14-page research document that “reveals the breadth of material Democrats plan to deploy, listing dozens of examples of Romney rhetoric and corresponding video clips from 2002, 2012, and the comparative results in Massachusetts.” Team Obama will highlight all the failures and unfulfilled promises of Gov. Mitt Romney.

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Photo courtesy davelawrence8, flickr


Cities seek to freeze state’s ‘claw-back’ of millions

From OC Register:

Twelve California cities, including Stanton and Huntington Beach, will be in Sacramento County Superior Court today asking for a temporary restraining order to keep the state from spending their former redevelopment dollars.

It’s the latest in a primal tug-of-war over what will eventually be some $5 billion a year.

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Plan to plug state budget with foreclosure settlement sparks concerns

From The Bay Citizen:

Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to use more than $400 million from a national foreclosure settlement to help balance the state budget would put struggling homeowners at risk of criminal scams, California housing officials say.

“We are already hearing from three or four families a week who have been approached by scam artists,” said Javier Hernandez, a housing counselor at Neighborhood Housing Services of the East Bay, which is in the heart of Richmond’s hard-hit Iron Triangle.

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Counties miss deadline to send ballots to overseas, military voters

From California Watch:

Elections officials throughout California missed a deadline to send 8,250 ballots to overseas and military voters for next week’s presidential primary, prompting a lawsuit and swift settlement over the weekend between the state officials and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Eleven of the state’s 58 counties violated the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act by failing to send ballots to voters abroad on April 21 – 45 days before the primary. While about 5,450 of the late ballots were sent out within two days of missing the deadline, some were delayed as much as a week.

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