Tax Relief for All Americans—Jobs for Americans—Trump Tax Agenda

Join the fight for Federal tax relief, fair and easy tax preparation and the creation for millions of jobs.   Go this this website, sign up and tell your friends to do the same!

The United States has the highest corporate taxes in the world.  American corporations have trillions overseas—since if they brought the money back between 35-39% would go to government, not job creation and business expansion in our nation.

  • “The tax code has increased so much in length and complexity that hundreds of pages in instructions are necessary to file even the most basic tax returns.
    • The typical Form 1040, used by most American families, has grown to 79 lines from only 34 lines in 1935, according to the National Taxpayers Union.
    • The instructions alone for the form has grown to 241 pages from just 2 pages in 1935.
    • The tax code is over six times as long as it was in 1955, according to the Tax Foundation.
  • A complex and ever changing tax code is unworkable for most Americans, forcing them to spend too much of their time and income on paid professionals and filing aids just to pay their taxes.”

We need a tax code that is fair and easy.  That is why I am urging you to join the fight—go here.

I am happy report that Tom Del Beccaro has formed a movement, Californians for tax Relief—and I am serving as Political Director—working with dozens of others.  Go to the website, sign up as a volunteer.

Tax Relief?  It is up to you!

 

 

 

 

 

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2017

PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP TACKLES OUR BROKEN TAX SYSTEM

White House,  8/30/17    

“We believe every-day Americans know better how to spend their own money than the federal bureaucracy, and we want to help them keep as much of that hard-earned money as we can.” – President Donald J. Trump

AN AMERICA FIRST TAX SYSTEM: President Donald J. Trump is working to reform our tax system so that Americans are treated fairly and can keep more of their hard-earned money, and companies can bring jobs back to the United States.

  • President Trump will jumpstart America’s economic engine by making it the most desirable country in the world for businesses to invest and grow.
  • By lowering taxes, President Trump is helping boost take-home pay for all American workers.
  • President Trump will restore fairness to our tax system by simplifying the tax code and closing special interest loopholes.
  • Making our tax code competitive puts the American economy and the American worker first.

 

A BURDEN ON AMERICAN TAXPAYERS: The current tax code has grown out of control in length and complexity so that many Americans must rely on professional help to file even the simplest return.

  • The tax code has increased so much in length and complexity that hundreds of pages in instructions are necessary to file even the most basic tax returns.
    • The typical Form 1040, used by most American families, has grown to 79 lines from only 34 lines in 1935, according to the National Taxpayers Union.
    • The instructions alone for the form has grown to 241 pages from just 2 pages in 1935.
    • The tax code is over six times as long as it was in 1955, according to the Tax Foundation.
  • A complex and ever changing tax code is unworkable for most Americans, forcing them to spend too much of their time and income on paid professionals and filing aids just to pay their taxes.
    • Taxpayers spend over 6 billion hours annually complying with the tax code, according to the IRS’s Taxpayer Advocate Service.
    • Just to comply with the tax code puts a $262 billion burden on the economy, according to the National Taxpayers Union.
    • Over half of all tax returns filed in 2017 were prepared by a tax professional, according to the IRS.
      • 94 percent of taxpayers paid someone or used software to prepare their returns, according to the National Taxpayers Union.
      • 91 percent of small businesses hired a professional to do their taxes, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.
    • The Form 1040 tax return used by most Americans costs $176 to complete with the average accounting firm, according to the National Society of Accountants.
    • Small businesses incur between $15 and $16 billion on tax compliance costs, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.
    • It is no wonder that, according to IBISWorld, the tax preparation industry earned $10 billion in revenue in 2016.

 

HARMING AMERICAN JOB-CREATORS: Our outdated tax code makes our businesses uncompetitive as other nations provide lower tax rates, and incentivizes American businesses to move their headquarters or offshore jobs.

  • The United States now has the highest corporate tax rate among the 35 advanced economies in the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).
    • The combined corporate tax rate in the United States is now 39 percent, according to OECD data, compared to an average of 24 percent among OECD member countries.
    • China, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and Australia all have lower corporate tax rates than the United States.
  • As rates fell across the developed world from the early 1990’s to 2016, the United States’ corporate tax rate increased.
    • The United States’ corporate tax rate is 16.4 percentage points higher than the worldwide average, according to the Tax Foundation.
  • Businesses are moving their facilities and jobs out of the country to escape our burdensome tax code.
  • The money American businesses earn overseas is being kept out of the country to avoid our high corporate tax rate.
    • Since 2014, there has been an increase in inversions as American companies try to avoid the incredible disadvantages of our corporate tax system.
    • Fortune 500 corporations are holding more than $2.6 trillion in profits offshore to avoid $767 billion in Federal taxes, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

 

Study Finds That Only 25% Of LAUSD Grads Earn A College Degree Within 6 Years Of Graduation

We already know that LAUSD in 2015 had a real graduation rate of 54%.  Also, we know that 45% of the graduates, graduate with a “D” average.  So how good is the education for the 55% with a C or better average?  Results show that only 25% of LAUSD grads get a college degree in SIX years

“The study by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and Claremont Graduate University found that among graduates in the LAUSD class of 2008, only 25 percent actually earned a college degree within six years.

The report’s authors — who also tracked the college success of the classes of 2013 and 2014 — said the research points the need for LAUSD students to be better prepared for higher education to ensure more graduates enroll in college, stay in college and earn a degree.

How can they be prepared for college if the District spend millions on providing phony credits to deliver a worthless diploma?  When a district is using education money to create a task force to protect illegal aliens, provide education on sex by Planned Parenthood, use education dollars to pay for union leaders to extort teachers and blackmail the public—of course education is not a priority.

graduation cap diploma isolated on a white background

Study Finds That Only 25% Of LAUSD Grads Earn A College Degree Within 6 Years Of Graduation

LA West Media,  8/30/17

In what’s being billed as the first extensive effort to track the college success of Los Angeles Unified School District graduates, a study released Wednesday found that about 70 percent of LAUSD grads enroll in a two- or four-year college, but only about 60 percent persist to a second year.

Need For LAUSD Students To Be Better Prepared

The study by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and Claremont Graduate University found that among graduates in the LAUSD class of 2008, only 25 percent actually earned a college degree within six years.

The report’s authors — who also tracked the college success of the classes of 2013 and 2014 — said the research points the need for LAUSD students to be better prepared for higher education to ensure more graduates enroll in college, stay in college and earn a degree.

Fewer Than One-Third Of Grads Have A Or B Average

According to the report, fewer than one-third of 2014 LAUSD graduates had an A or B average, and only one-fourth who took the SAT or ACT scored above the national average.

“In LAUSD, graduates with at least a B average were five times more likely to complete a four-year degree than graduates with lower grades,” according to the report. “Because students’ academic performance in high school depends very heavily on the academic skills students have acquired earlier in their lives, improving students’ academic performance is not a task limited to high schools and their students.

Improvement Needs To Start Early

The responsibility for improving LAUSD students’ academic skills begins early in children’s lives and continues throughout their academic career, and should involve the entire school community as well as the families and other adults who work with students to ensure that they are prepared for their highest educational aspirations.”

District Must Work To Help Students And Families To Prepare

The report’s authors said the district must work to ensure students complete their A-G course requirements with at least a C average, and ensure students and their families have a full understanding of the college- application and financial-aid-application processes.

Often, College Eligible Grads Do Not Enroll In College

“More than one in six LAUSD graduates who were academically eligible to attend a public four-year college did not enroll in any college in the year following high school graduation,” the study found. “Another one in six of those eligible for four-year college enrolled in a two-year rather than a four- year college. These students completed their A-G course requirements and earned the combination of grades and SAT scores that made them eligible for a California State University, yet they did not enroll in a four-year college.”

Frances Gipson, LAUSD’s chief academic officer, said the reports recommendations are in line with district efforts to prepare students to succeed in college.

“Work To Foster A College-Going Climate”

The report’s goals “serve as the framework for an array of strategies we are implementing to address the needs of students, families and schools,” Gipson said. “We are passionate about continuing our work to foster a college- going climate in our schools and to strengthen our college planning and academic supports as we provide more robust counseling services for our students.”

70% Of 2014 LAUSD Grads Enrolled In College

According to the report, 68% of LAUSD graduates in 2008 enrolled in a two- or four-year college, most of them in a two-year school. Only 59 percent of them persisted into a second year of college, and only 25 percent earned a degree within six year.

Among 2013 graduates, 68 percent enrolled in college, and 57 percent continued into a second year. For the class of 2014, 70 percent of LAUSD graduates enrolled in college.

Study To Continue To Track Grads

“It will be important to continue to track these college-going outcomes in upcoming years to understand students’ successes and challenges as they progress through college, and to learn about how college outcomes change for future graduate cohorts,” said Thomas Jacobson, Luskin Master of Public Policy graduate and co-author of the report.

Counselors Complain Of Overwhelming Caseloads

A companion study, based on a survey of LAUSD high school staffers and students and external service providers, found that counselors were burdened with overwhelming caseloads limiting their ability to work with students. More than 75 percent of counselors said they have the information available to assist students with college applications and financial-aid processes, but less than half said they have enough time to give students the help they need.

 

Kamala Harris: ‘I Intend to Co-Sponsor the Medicare for All Bill’

The Democrats in Sacramento wanted to pass a single payer health care program.  The General Budget of the State of California is approximately $172 billion this year.  The cost of the Socialist inspired single payer health care would be $400 billion a year—and we know how government under estimates such programs.  Now our not so smart Senator Kamala Harris, the former Willie Brown girlfriend, wants to join Sen. Sanders in doing this nationally.  Note she has no idea as to the cost –and how do yo9u force doctors and hospitals to participate?

“”I intend to co-sponsor the Medicare for All bill because it’s just the right thing to do,” Harris said.

“This is part of our ongoing fight to make very clear this shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” she said. “Babies are not born with something that says they’re a Democrat or a Republican… this is about understanding health care should be a right, and not a privilege.”

She also defended the move on fiscal responsibility grounds.

“But it’s also about being smart. It’s so much better people have meaningful access to affordable health care at every stage from birth on because the alternative is we as taxpayers otherwise are paying huge amounts of money for them to get their health care in an emergency room. It’s not only about what’s morally and ethically right; it also just makes sense from a fiscal standpoint or a return on investment for taxpayers,” she said.

She may be a great girlfriend, but shows she is an economic illiterate.  Literally she is advocating financial bankruptcy and health care disaster.  But, she is rich—and a Senator, no problem for her, how about you?

800px-Kamala_Harris

Kamala Harris: ‘I Intend to Co-Sponsor the Medicare for All Bill’

BY: Charles Fain Lehman, Washington Free Beacon,  8/30/17

Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) announced Wednesday night that she intends to co-sponsor Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I., Vt.) Medicare-for-All bill.

The announcement came during a town hall on Wednesday evening, the Hill reports.

“I intend to co-sponsor the Medicare for All bill because it’s just the right thing to do,” Harris said.

“This is part of our ongoing fight to make very clear this shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” she said. “Babies are not born with something that says they’re a Democrat or a Republican… this is about understanding health care should be a right, and not a privilege.”

She also defended the move on fiscal responsibility grounds.

“But it’s also about being smart. It’s so much better people have meaningful access to affordable health care at every stage from birth on because the alternative is we as taxpayers otherwise are paying huge amounts of money for them to get their health care in an emergency room. It’s not only about what’s morally and ethically right; it also just makes sense from a fiscal standpoint or a return on investment for taxpayers,” she said.

Harris repeated part of her statement in a tweet Wednesday evening.

I intend to co-sponsor the Medicare for All bill because it’s just the right thing to do.

— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 30, 2017

Previously, Harris had said that she supported single payer health care “as a concept.”

“As a concept, I’m completely in support of single pay,” she said, quickly adding that “we’ve got to work out the details, and the details matter on that.”

Sanders tweeted his thanks to Harris shortly after her tweet.

“Thank you @KamalaHarris for your support. Let’s make health care a right, not a privilege,” he wrote.

Thank you @KamalaHarris for your support. Let’s make health care a right, not a privilege. https://t.co/hYbxTq8BVH

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 30, 2017

“You’re seeing more and more movement toward ‘Medicare for All,” Sanders said earlier this week. “When the people are saying we need healthcare for everyone, as more and more Americans come on board, it will become politically possible.”

The first-term Senator Harris is regularly rumored to be considering a run for the presidency in 2020. Her campaign has rented office space in Washington, D.C., and on Tuesday tied herself to former President Barack Obama by signing on to a solicitation from his campaign organization, Organizing for Action.

Gender X? California May Be First State to Create Broad ‘Nonbinary’ Option

Democrats in Sacramento have decide to replace science with feelings.  They have determined that DNA no longer exists—in fact these science deniers have legislation to pretend people are not what they are.  Your sex is determined by the “x and y” chromosome.    Yes, emotionally someone can claim to feel different, that does not change the DNA.  That does not mean that government can use its power to pretend an apple is an orange, if it feels like an orange.

“A bill advancing in the Legislature would allow Californians to opt for a “nonbinary” gender marker on all forms of state identification (it’s not yet clear which alphabetical abbreviation will be used, though “X” appears to be a leading candidate). That will make California the first state in the nation to fully depart from the rigid either/or categorization of gender, embracing a more fluid understanding of the term—at least on paper.

Senate Bill 179, introduced by Democratic Sens. Toni Atkins of San Diego and Scott Wiener of San Francisco, has already cleared the Senate and is set to be considered soon in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The bill would also make it easier for transgender Californians to legally change their designated gender on state documents, including minors who receive parental consent.

Based on this theory, when will the Democrats introduce legislation that an illegal alien, that “feels” like a citizen, actually is recognized as a citizen?  Why is California looked at by late night TV folks for material?  SB 179 is a great example of deniers in charge.

300px-JerryBrownByPhilKonstantin

Gender X? California May Be First State to Create Broad ‘Nonbinary’ Option

 

By Ben Christopher, KQED,  8/30/17

When Californians are designated by gender on a driver’s license, a birth certificate or any state identification, there are only two possible boxes to check: either “M” or “F.”

But they may soon have a third option.

A bill advancing in the Legislature would allow Californians to opt for a “nonbinary” gender marker on all forms of state identification (it’s not yet clear which alphabetical abbreviation will be used, though “X” appears to be a leading candidate). That will make California the first state in the nation to fully depart from the rigid either/or categorization of gender, embracing a more fluid understanding of the term—at least on paper.

Senate Bill 179, introduced by Democratic Sens. Toni Atkins of San Diego and Scott Wiener of San Francisco, has already cleared the Senate and is set to be considered soon in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The bill would also make it easier for transgender Californians to legally change their designated gender on state documents, including minors who receive parental consent.

“Nonbinary” is a catch-all category that includes those who are intersex (born with a combination of male and female biological characteristics), along with those who feel that neither category male nor female reflect their gender.

The concept has gained cred with millennials,who have shown an unprecedented willingness to challenge traditional gender designations. Fusion’s Massive Millennial Poll found that half of millennials—those ages 18 to 34—believe gender is a spectrum and that “some people fall outside traditional categories.” And when it comes to describing themselves, 12 percent of millennials said in a survey for the LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD that they don’t consider themselves cisgender (a term meaning that their personal identity or gender corresponds to the sex on their birth certificates.)

Should California adopt a nonbinary category, it will still lag far behind Facebook—the social media giant offers users more than 50 custom gender options, including nonbinary, bigender, gender nonconforming, genderqueer and gender fluid.

This June, the state of Oregon’s Transportation Commission agreed to issue a driver’s license with a nonbinary designation for the first time in the United States. California law would go a step further by requiring nonbinary options on all state identification documents. In doing so, California would be the only state to provide this designation in the country, though it follows the lead of countries such as Germany, New Zealand, and India.

While so-called bathroom bill legislation has placed statehouses in Texas and North Carolina at the front lines of the nation’s culture war around the question of gender identity, SB 179 has so far enjoyed a relatively peaceful passage through the state Legislature. Despite the not-unexpected objections of conservative religious groups, the bill has so far glided through committees in both chambers with all Democrats, and more than a few Republicans, voting in favor.

Supporters of the bill say the nonbinary marker would allow those who do not identify as either male or female to more easily navigate the tasks of daily life—from making a credit card purchase to boarding an airplane to buying a beer—without subjecting themselves to embarrassment or misunderstanding.

“For someone who has an ID that states a gender that doesn’t match their gender presentation, things can get difficult: everything from a delay in completing what should be a mundane task to outright harassment,” said Sen. Atkins, speaking on the Senate floor last May.

But the bill is about more than convenience, says Dee Shull, who identifies as genderfluid (meaning gender identity varies over time) and uses the pronouns “they” and “them.” It’s also a simple matter of having one’s identity acknowledged and respected.

“It’s liberating to be able to say, ‘yes, this is who I am’ and ‘yes, my state documentation matches that,’ ” they say.

Shull is the communications specialist for the Intersex and Genderqueer Recognition Project, a California nonprofit that bills itself as the first organization in the United States solely focused on helping nonbinary people correct their gender designation on government documents.

“It will take some Californians time to adapt to this,” Shull says. “I’m not expecting miracles, but if I have an ID that accurately reflects who I am, then that’s one less thing that I have to worry about.”

Under current law, anyone who wants to change the gender stated on official state identification documents—either from “M” to “F” or vice versa—must make a court appearance. They must also receive a doctor’s note confirming that they are undergoing gender confirmation treatment of some kind. That means transgender and gender nonconforming Californians must rely on the availability and moral approval of a medical professional to change a letter on their driver’s license or birth certificate.

Nonbinary people, for whom neither letter applies, must petition the court directly and hope to find a sympathetic judge if they wish to receive nonbinary status—that’s happened on an ad hoc basis a few times.

In the Legislature, opposition has come from predictable quarters. Christian conservative organizations such as the California Family Council and church groups have bemoaned what they call a fundamental redefinition of gender, which they consider to be an immutable characteristic connected to biological traits.

At an Assembly Transportation Committee hearing in July, a lobbyist for the council brought along a copy of the American Heritage College Dictionary to recite the meaning of the word “female.”

“Since the dictionary has not been changed to accommodate this new gender definition, that should be an indication your constituents still believe that gender is based on biology,” Greg Burt said.

But the council has also raised logistical and legal concerns. These arguments, less vulnerable to the critique that they are motivated by prejudice, have been echoed by some Republican lawmakers in committee as well.

“With all the ID fraud … it seems to me that it would be pretty simple to steal someone’s identity down the line,” Republican Sen. Mike Morrell of Rancho Cucamonga warned the Senate Transportation Committee last April before voting against the bill. He declined to comment for this article.

But Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, an LGBTQ advocacy organization that co-sponsored the bill, calls this concern a “red herring.”

“In some ways you could say this bill strengthens procedures to make sure that people’s identities are consistent with who they actually are,” he said. “It’s just about making sure that people’s rights are respected.”

Ben Christopher is a contributing writer to CALmatters.org—a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.

Thomas Elias: Affordable housing needed, but in what form?

Why is housing so expensive in California?  Taxes, fees, long processes, attorneys?  Yup, that is a significant cause of the problem.  But it is basic California policy that causes market priced homes to be on sale for costs unaffordable by the middle class.

“One problem is that having to build so many affordable units into their new projects forces developers to raise the price of market-rate housing. Another is that affordable units sometimes lack commonplace amenities like air conditioning. And when those units are built near light rail lines like the expanding Metro system in and around Los Angeles, required numbers of parking spaces are sometimes cut. The presumption — often false — is that residents of those buildings will not need to drive as much as others because public transit is readily available.

None of this has yet alleviated the housing crunch, which at this year’s annual mid-winter counts found record numbers of homeless persons in some locales.”

In fact, government is the cause of the housing crisis.  Yet, Guv Brown and the Democrats are putting an $8 billion affordable housing bond (including interest) on the November 2018 ballot—to make the problem worse.  Ready to call yourself a Texan?  You might not have a choice.

affordable housing

Thomas Elias: Affordable housing needed, but in what form?

Tom Elias, The Union, 8/28/17

 

Everyone in California is at least peripherally aware of the state’s ever-worsening housing crisis. It’s hard to miss when prices have jumped by as much as 75 percent over the last five years in large parts of metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and their suburbs, especially on the San Francisco Peninsula, where $3 million three-bedrooms are not unheard of.

One response has been a state mandate for ever-increasing numbers of affordable units in most cities and many unincorporated areas. It’s common in many places for new apartment and condominium structures to contain as up to 35 percent affordable units, available to families who qualify under various income standards based on whatever the federal poverty standard is at the moment.

One problem is that having to build so many affordable units into their new projects forces developers to raise the price of market-rate housing. Another is that affordable units sometimes lack commonplace amenities like air conditioning. And when those units are built near light rail lines like the expanding Metro system in and around Los Angeles, required numbers of parking spaces are sometimes cut. The presumption — often false — is that residents of those buildings will not need to drive as much as others because public transit is readily available.

None of this has yet alleviated the housing crunch, which at this year’s annual mid-winter counts found record numbers of homeless persons in some locales.

“California cannot afford to let the housing crisis go on, for the sake of families, seniors and hard-working individuals.” Ray PearlCalifornia Housing Consortium executive director

Now the housing crisis has become a lawmaking priority, with Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders proclaiming a “shared commitment” to making a problem-solving deal.

The devil, as always, will be in the details, and it’s anyone’s guess whether a compromise can be reached before the state Senate and Assembly go home in mid-September.

Among major proposals so far are a bill to levy a fee of between $75 and $225 on all real estate sales, which could raise about $225 million a year for affordable housing. Passing this would take a two-thirds vote of both legislative houses, which won’t happen as easily on this as it did on Brown’s pet issue of extending cap-and-trade tactics to fight climate changes.

Another is a multi-billion-dollar general obligation bond to provide even more money (how many billions is not yet determined, the possibilities running from $3 billion to $9 billion). That one would need popular-vote approval next year, but might face tough sledding because it would raise the state’s debt and its annual interest payments for decades to come.

Seeming more likely to pass is a third measure forcing cities and counties to streamline their building permit and other approval processes for new construction that includes affordable housing.

This one could have positive effects on thousands of homeless persons, while damaging the lifestyles of millions of other Californians affected by ugly architecture, increased traffic and more crowding in their neighborhoods.

In a statement, Ray Pearl, executive director of the California Housing Consortium, lauded all these potential laws, saying “California cannot afford to let the housing crisis go on, for the sake of families, seniors and hard-working individuals.”

He’s right about that. But even if money for solving this longstanding problem arrives via either new taxes or a bond, there will still have to be a solution to the ongoing problems created by the fact that new housing creates a need for new transport to accommodate its occupants.

So far, many cities are approving new housing without demanding more or wider roads, transit systems that cover entire metropolitan areas or additional parks and other amenities that might keep the new housing from damaging the lifestyles of residents already present. Many of them neither need nor qualify for affordable units, nor even want them around.

With two-thirds votes or popular majorities forming needed elements of most solutions offered so far, legislators will have to come up with better measures than they have yet devised. Otherwise they may find these barriers far harder to surmount than they believe now, while they’re bask in the glowing aftermath of the cap-and-trade vote.

Thomas Elias is author of the current book “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” now available in an updated third edition.

 

Confused: GOP Assembly Members That VOTED to Raise Taxes—Want to Fight To Stop OTHERS From Raising Taxes

In April Democrat State Senator Josh Newman voted to raise gas taxes by 12 cents a gallon.  Now he is facing a Recall, which has enough signatures.  Then a few weeks ago cap and trade gave us a 63 cent gas tax increase—five times what Newman supported.  This was done with the votes of seven GOP Assembly members—Chad Mayes has already lost he leadership position—and at least one, maybe more are “dead men walking” for re-election in 2018.

“Led by Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley, the lawmakers criticized the state high court for opening up “loopholes” for special interests to place and pass tax measures on local ballots.

Mayes said special interest groups are lining up to take advantage of the court’s 5-2 decision that allows citizens to propose and pass special tax initiatives with a simple majority as opposed to the longstanding two-thirds majority requirement.

“If we don’t get this constitutional amendment passed, there will be a fire that will go all over California with local governments and local special interest groups trying to raise taxes on hard working Californians,” Mayes told reporters.

While still “Leader” for a few more days, Chad Mayes demands a constitutional amendment to stop tax increases.  Mayes led the GOP Assembly members to increase your gas tax by 63 cents.  In the press release, also, Catherine Baker and Devon Mathias are quoted demanding control on taxes.  Maybes, Mathias and Baker all voted to increase your taxes.  Think they have any credibility.  This is the type of action Saturday Night Live would laugh about.  Oh, the fourth Assembly member, Jay Obernolte, did not vote to increase taxes—but was on the Mayes Team to negotiate the cap and trade deal—dropping out at the very end.

GOP credibility—this is a press release that should not have been sent.  Would you use people that voted to increase taxes as spokespeople against local government raising taxes.  Hypocrites.

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California GOP Vows to Fight Lower Threshold for Tax Hikes

NICK CAHILL, Courthousenews,  8/30/17

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Rebuking a California Supreme Court ruling this week that paves the way for cities to pass new taxes more easily, Assembly Republicans Wednesday announced a constitutional amendment to require two-thirds voter approval of special tax hikes.

Led by Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley, the lawmakers criticized the state high court for opening up “loopholes” for special interests to place and pass tax measures on local ballots.

Mayes said special interest groups are lining up to take advantage of the court’s 5-2 decision that allows citizens to propose and pass special tax initiatives with a simple majority as opposed to the longstanding two-thirds majority requirement.

“If we don’t get this constitutional amendment passed, there will be a fire that will go all over California with local governments and local special interest groups trying to raise taxes on hard working Californians,” Mayes told reporters.

Monday’s ruling roiled state Republicans and prompted a quick response. Their proposal, which hasn’t been finalized or released to the public, would reaffirm and cement language in a 1978 initiative that forces local governments to get two-thirds support for new taxes that fund specific projects like new schools or roads.

Mayes says he hopes the measure will be on the June 2018 statewide ballot, but it will first need two-thirds approval in both state houses. Getting the measure before voters will be an uphill battle for Mayes as Democrats currently hold a supermajority in both the state Senate and Assembly.

The state’s majority party meanwhile applauded the high court’s ruling.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, said lowering the threshold for cities to pass special taxes will speed up critical local infrastructure projects.

“It’s hard to overstate how important this ruling is. Communities will now have a much easier time funding schools, transportation and other critical needs,” Wiener said in a statement.

Supporters of the Mayes’ amendment argue that lowering the threshold invites special interests to influence local elections and potentially collude with local governments. The interest groups could simply recruit residents to collect the required 15 percent of voters needed to qualify the initiative and then pass it via simple majority.

Assemblyman Devon Mathis, R-Visalia, said meeting a supermajority threshold forces supporters of tax initiatives to reach out to the entire community and craft a well-rounded proposal.

“Without having that threshold, there’s nothing to get both sides to sit down and come to that common ground and figure out that it’s done right,” Mathis said.

Feinstein Advises Patience for Trump; Democrats Howl

Dianne Feinstein has been in elective office since before a majority of those in the audience that booed her for hoping that the President of the United States becomes a good, successful office holder.  The New American Civil War has begun,  Ft. Sumpter was the official start of the Civil War, November, 8, 2016 was the start of the New American Civil War.  Say something nice, or don’t denounce the President and you are a Nazi, white Supremacist.

““I think we have to have some patience, I do,” Feinstein said at a Commonwealth Club event in the Herbst Theater, as some in the sold-out crowd of more than 800 protested. “It’s eight months into the tenure of the presidency. … We’ll have to see if he can forget himself and his feelings about himself enough to be able to have the empathy and direction that this country needs.”

The comment prompted state Senate leader Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, to say, “We don’t have much patience for Donald Trump here in California. This president has not shown any capacity to learn and proven he is not fit for office. It is the responsibility of Congress to hold him accountable — especially Democrats — not be complicit in his reckless behavior.”

De León, who is termed out of the state Senate next year, is widely believed to be eyeing a run for statewide office.

Does this mean that De Leon will run against Feinstein in 2018?  Probably.  He will go for the Sanders, Hispanic vote.  Bet on Sanders endorsing DeLeon.  I would bet on DeLeon easily beating Feinstein.  The issue?  Feinstein ad her husband Richard Blum are white billionaires—end capitalism by defeating Dianne.

Photo courtesy of EivindAndHans, flickr

Feinstein Advises Patience for Trump; Democrats Howl

 

By Scott Shafer, KQED,  8/29/17

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein is known for her bipartisanship and collegiality, but some in a San Francisco audience last night booed the civility of her comments about President Trump.

“I think we have to have some patience, I do,” Feinstein said at a Commonwealth Club event in the Herbst Theater, as some in the sold-out crowd of more than 800 protested. “It’s eight months into the tenure of the presidency. … We’ll have to see if he can forget himself and his feelings about himself enough to be able to have the empathy and direction that this country needs.”

The comment prompted state Senate leader Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, to say, “We don’t have much patience for Donald Trump here in California. This president has not shown any capacity to learn and proven he is not fit for office. It is the responsibility of Congress to hold him accountable — especially Democrats — not be complicit in his reckless behavior.”

De León, who is termed out of the state Senate next year, is widely believed to be eyeing a run for statewide office.

Perhaps feeling heat from the negative reaction to her comments, Feinstein’s office sent out a statement from her.

“The duty of the American president is to bring people together, not cater to one segment of a political base; to solve problems, not campaign constantly,” the statement read.  “While I’m under no illusion that it’s likely to happen and will continue to oppose his policies, I want President Trump to change for the good of the country.”

In her remarks Tuesday night, Feinstein noted somewhat mysteriously that if Trump didn’t redeem himself, “there are things that could happen that I don’t think it would be responsible for me to talk about here.”

A member of the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, Feinstein downplayed talk that Trump would be impeached or resign.

“This man is going to be president most likely for the rest of this term,” she said. “I just hope he has the ability to learn and change. If he does, he can be a good president.”

That sentiment didn’t go over well when Democratic consultant Garry South was told about it.

“He’s irredeemable,” South said of Trump. “You gotta call a spade a spade. He’s not going to change. There is no Trump 2.0.”

As to Feinstein’s urging patience, South added that “waiting for Trump to become a good president is like leaving the landing lights on for Amelia Earhart. She ain’t coming back, and he ain’t gonna change. He’s a bad president because he’s a terrible human being. Pure and simple.”

Feinstein’s comments seem especially tone-deaf coming just days after a poll by David Binder Research found that 60 percent of California voters — including 20 percent of Republicans — think it would be best for the nation if Trump leaves office before the end of his term.

Feinstein is facing re-election next year, and so far no credible Democrat has announced a challenge. Her seniority in the Senate, her fundraising prowess, her high name recognition in the state and her strong approval ratings make challenging her a less-than-appealing task.

Still, South, the Democratic consultant, says Feinstein’s comments are a reminder of how far the party has moved to the left since she was first elected in 1992.

“I think it’s gonna raise some eyebrows among the base,” he said.

On health care reform, Feinstein said she favored a public option for health care, but that’s unlikely to satisfy supporters of single payer, also known as “Medicare for All.”

RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United and a fierce advocate of single-payer health care, says the public option won’t solve problems with the Affordable Care Act.

“The public option bears more in common with fool’s gold,” DeMoro said recently. “It may look shiny, but it will still leave you broke.”

Feinstein also reminded the audience that she opposed NAFTA back in 1993 and thinks it needs to be changed or renegotiated.

“I didn’t believe it was a great deal for California,” she said of her feelings at the time. “There was a great sucking sound of pushing things into Mexico.”

On Trump’s pardon of controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, Feinstein said, “He was a terrible sheriff.” She called the pardon “a stupid thing to do.”

At the event, Feinstein was questioned by her former campaign treasurer and longtime friend Ellen Tauscher, who represented the East Bay in the House of Representatives from 1997 to 2009.

The questions, like “What are your priorities?” and “What’s your secret to bipartisanship?” were friendly. When asked “What are your plans for the next five to  10 years?,” a gentle reference to her political future, Feinstein said simply “next question.” Tauscher obliged and moved on.

The senator, who is 84 and the oldest member of the U.S. Senate, is widely expected to run for another term next year.

Why One California County Went Surgery Shopping

A few years ago—and now—it became the rage for the middle class to go to India and other places for high quality surgeries, include a recovery period and vacation, for less than half the cost of surgeries in the United States.  Insurance companies pay for this because they save money, without harming the quality of the care.  This is a win-win.  Now Santa Barbara County is looking to do a variation of this, shopping between counties.

“Retiree Leslie Robinson-Stone and her husband enjoyed a weeklong, all-expenses-paid trip to a luxury resort — all thanks to the county she worked for.

The couple also received more than a thousand dollars in spending money and a personal concierge, who attended to their every need. For Santa Barbara County, it was money well spent: Sending Robinson-Stone 250 miles away for knee replacement surgery near San Diego saved the government $30,000.

“The only difference between our two hospitals is one is expensive and the other is exorbitant,” said Andreas Pyper, assistant director of human resources for Santa Barbara County, referring to the local options.”

They could have saved even more by looking at India.  Maybe they will.  These folks are called, “health care tourists” in the industry.

NHS-nurse-hospital_2519626b

Why One California County Went Surgery Shopping

By Chad Terhune, California Healthline,  8/31/17

 

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Retiree Leslie Robinson-Stone and her husband enjoyed a weeklong, all-expenses-paid trip to a luxury resort — all thanks to the county she worked for.

The couple also received more than a thousand dollars in spending money and a personal concierge, who attended to their every need. For Santa Barbara County, it was money well spent: Sending Robinson-Stone 250 miles away for knee replacement surgery near San Diego saved the government $30,000.

“The only difference between our two hospitals is one is expensive and the other is exorbitant,” said Andreas Pyper, assistant director of human resources for Santa Barbara County, referring to the local options.

Frustration with sky-high hospital bills and a lack of local competition is common to many employers and consumers across the country after years of industry consolidation. Fed up with wildly different price tags for routine operations, some private employers are steering patients they insure to top-performing providers who offer bargain prices. Santa Barbara County, with about 4,000 employees, is among a handful of public entities to join them.

The county has saved nearly 50 percent on four surgery cases since starting its out-of-town program last year, officials said. The program is voluntary for covered employees.

At a Scripps Health hospital in the San Diego area, the county paid $61,600 for a spinal fusion surgery that would have cost more than twice as much locally. It avoided two other operations altogether after patients went outside the area for second opinions.

Typically, employers are seeking deals through “bundled payments” — in which one fixed price covers tests, physician fees and hospital charges. And if complications arise, providers are on the hook financially. Medicare began experimenting with this method during the Obama administration.

Santa Barbara County is among about 400 employers on the West Coast working with Carrum Health, a South San Francisco start-up that negotiates bundled prices and chooses surgeons based on data on complications and readmissions.

This story also ran in the Los Angeles Times. It can be republished for free (details).

“Not all surgeons are equal. We don’t want to give Scripps a blank check. That defeats the whole purpose,” said Sachin Jain, Carrum’s chief executive.

Santa Barbara officials try to persuade workers and their family members to participate in its program by waiving copays and deductibles. The county pays about $2,700 in travel costs and still comes out way ahead.

“If that doesn’t speak to the inefficiencies in our health care system, I don’t know what does,” Pyper said. “It’s almost like buying a Toyota Corolla for $50,000 and then going to San Diego to buy the same Corolla for $16,000. How long would the more expensive Toyota dealership last?”

Even as more employers and insurers embrace bundled payments, the Trump administration is applying the brakes. In August, Medicare officials proposed canceling mandatory bundled payments for certain surgeries and scaling back the program for knee and hip replacements. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, when he was still a member of Congress, accused Medicare of overstepping federal authority and interfering in the doctor-patient relationship. Hospital trade groups have voiced similar objections.

That leaves some health-policy experts dismayed.

“These bundled payments put pressure on medical providers … and the savings are astonishing,” said Bob Kocher, a former health official in the Obama administration and now a partner in the venture capital firm Venrock.

Santa Barbara County officials said they had no choice after seeing their medical costs soar by 15 percent in each of the past two years. Like many local governments, it has an older workforce prone to chronic illness, blocked arteries and bum knees.

But health costs run higher than the state average in this scenic coastal county of about 450,000 people, according to data from Oakland-based Integrated Healthcare Association. By one measure, the average health insurance premium in the individual market runs $660 a month in Santa Barbara, 27 percent higher than in Los Angeles.

Still, Maya Barraza, the county’s manager for employee benefits and rewards, knew the program would be a hard sell to workers. “You don’t want to be away from your family and what’s familiar,” she said.

Cottage Health, the county’s largest health system, says it wants to keep patients in town for treatment and follow-up care.

Established in 1891, it’s grown from a single hospital to more than 500 beds across three hospitals, and annual revenue hit $746 million last year.

Valet attendants greet visitors at two entrances outside the group’s white, Spanish-style hospital in the city of Santa Barbara. In the main lobby, the names of wealthy donors are splashed across one wall, including billionaire investor and Donald Trump confidant Thomas Barrack.

“We are continually looking at reducing costs and improving quality,” said Cottage Health spokeswoman Maria Zate. “Cottage Health has some of the top surgeons in California.”

Sixty miles north in Santa Maria, the state’s largest hospital chain, Dignity Health, offers another option: Marian Regional Medical Center.

Both Cottage and Dignity hospitals in Santa Barbara County have quality scores of fair to excellent for joint replacements, spinal procedures and coronary bypass surgeries, according to three years of Medicare data analyzed by research firm Mpirica Health.

Dignity Health didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Carrum tries to help employers like Santa Barbara County find more affordable options. It has struck bundled price deals for various procedures with Scripps hospitals in the San Diego area, Stanford Health Care in the Bay Area and Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, part of the Providence Health chain.

Several other companies, such as Health Design Plus, are also assisting employers, insurers and patients with the logistics of surgery shopping. Boeing and other large employers are the most aggressive at pursuing bundled pricing and sending workers across the country for care.

Since 2014, more than 2,000 joint replacement and spinal surgeries have been performed for fixed prices through the Pacific Business Group on Health’s “centers of excellence” program, which includes employers such as JetBlue and Lowe’s. It added gastric bypass and other bariatric surgeries last year, and the employer group is working on bundled prices for cancer treatment.

LAUSD looks at ways of saving money by adjusting health benefits

The cost of benefits, pensions and health care, are causing a financial collapse of LAUSD.  But, with a decline in enrollment of 34,000 in ONE YEAR, they added teachers and administrators.  Now CalSTRS is causing a doubling of the pension costs—and health costs, due in major part by the medical dislocation costs because of ObamaCare and almost doubling of Medi-Cal, LAUSD is in deep trouble.

“No decisions were made — the Tuesday “board retreat” was an information session — but the board analyzed details of the annual $1.1 billion in health and welfare costs, which take a growing chunk of the annual $7.5 billion budget.

LA Unified continues to have some of the most generous health benefits in the country, for both current and retired employees. Both groups pay no premiums for themselves or their dependents for health care, which includes dental, vision, life insurance, and other benefits.”

Note the staff and teachers pay NOTHING for the most generous benefits in the County.  14% of the LAUSD budget goes JUST to health care. Could this be why only 54% of students get a diploma—they do not have money for quality education for all.

Los-Angeles-Unified-School-District-LAUSD

LAUSD looks at ways of saving money by adjusting health benefits

Mike Szymanski, Los Angeles School Report,  8/30/17

With union leaders looking on, LA Unified’s school board spent four hours looking at options of how to cut or adjust health benefits to stave off a looming budget crisis.

No decisions were made — the Tuesday “board retreat” was an information session — but the board analyzed details of the annual $1.1 billion in health and welfare costs, which take a growing chunk of the annual $7.5 billion budget.

LA Unified continues to have some of the most generous health benefits in the country, for both current and retired employees. Both groups pay no premiums for themselves or their dependents for health care, which includes dental, vision, life insurance, and other benefits.

LA Unified retiree benefits, according to the information presented, are more generous than for retirees of Los Angeles City or County governments, the city of Detroit, and of the school districts of New York, San Diego, Long Beach, and Chicago.

The presentation also detailed how continuing to offer those benefits is unsustainable as enrollment and funding decline.

Some board members wanted to see more “out-of-the-box” solutions, such as newly elected board member Nick Melvoin’s suggestion that LA Unified provide its own medical care and have medical offices on district property. He also suggested additional incentives for opting out of the health plans.

“It will take a lot of courage to see what next steps the district should take,” Melvoin said after the meeting. “I wasn’t surprised about any of the numbers presented today, because I looked at these numbers and I ran on a campaign to fix some of these issues.”

The board retreat was held in the West Adams District at the LA84 Foundation, which has educational programs and a library funded with surplus money from the 1984 Olympic Games. The meeting was open to the public but wasn’t broadcast live like other meetings. Audio of the meeting is posted on the district site.

The board retreat started with a getting-to-know-you exercise for the board members to help them come up with core values for the district.

Carl Cohn, the executive director of the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence who led the workshop, praised the school board for tackling health and welfare as one of their first deep-dives.

“I know you won’t decide anything, but this is symbolic because the rest of the state of California is looking at your debate and conversation,” said Cohn, a retired educator. “You’re having the courage to begin this conversation. I salute you.”

Scott Price, LA Unified’s new chief financial officer, echoed that. “This is a national issue as more people are retiring and health benefits are rising while we are battling with declining enrollment. But some wonderful things have happened with our health benefits already.”

By acting on some of the recommendations of the 2015 Independent Financial Review Panel, the district has already saved $50 million by reducing prescription costs, and those savings could rise to $148.6 million by 2020, Price said. Also, after an audit, the district removed ineligible dependents of retirees, saving nearly $23 million.

Board member Scott Schmerelson, who is a retired LA Unified principal, pointed out that many employees came to the district because of the benefits.

“People could have made more in the public sector, and they came to work here because of the benefits,” Schmerelson said. “All I am wishing is that any changes made won’t be made to retired people first, and active people second, and what we should do is plan on something for new hires. We can’t just pull the rug out from people who have worked all their lives for the district.”

The other board members seemed to generally agree, and Superintendent Michelle King nodded. “I’m thankful our bargaining partners are in the room and so we all can think of ways of how to do it differently based on what we’ve heard and go back and talk,” King said.

Max Arias, the executive director of SEIU Local 99 who sat through the presentation, said he still was concerned about inequities of health benefits in different employee categories and has to digest the report. “I still question whether there is this big financial cliff that the district is headed toward,” Arias said. “Some people don’t think so.”

Board President Ref Rodriguez said, “I believe we can do this. We all want to commit that this district is solvent and no one is interested in giving the store away.”

 

What Is the Arnold Foundation Hiding? Uses Computers to Release Violent Criminals

Anybody heard of the “Arnold Foundation” (no, not connected with the amateur Guv and professional sexual harasser, Schwarzenegger).  This is create a computer program that lets criminals out of jail—and them commit murder.  Arnold Foundation is a friend of criminals and a cause of victims.

“However, a Wired story raises even more questions about the Arnold Foundation algorithm.   It turns out the tool was given to San Francisco for free, but with conditions that bars the disclosure of “any information about the use of the Tool, including any information about the development, operation and presentation of the Tool.”

That insistence on secrecy about a program that could greatly affect public safety is disturbing.  Laughable is the Arnold Foundation stated reason for non-disclosure: to prevent local governments or rivals from using or copying the tool without permission.  Since the tool was given to San Francisco for free–i.e., there was no profit motive–why would the foundation have concerns about the use of the tool without permission?

Could this be why they refuse to show the RESULTS of their computer program, how it works or to verify its accuracy?  This is a Foundation that is so secret—except for some murders occurring because of their efforts, we would never know.

Photo credit: Michael Coghlan via Flickr

What Is the Arnold Foundation Hiding?

 

By Eric W. Siddall, Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys,8/29/17

 

As stories emerge about the Arnold Foundation’s “algorithm” pretrial release tool, we should be disturbed about the results.  As covered in a previous blog, use of the tool is linked to two murders and the wholesale release of dangerous felons.

However, a Wired story raises even more questions about the Arnold Foundation algorithm.   It turns out the tool was given to San Francisco for free, but with conditions that bars the disclosure of “any information about the use of the Tool, including any information about the development, operation and presentation of the Tool.”

That insistence on secrecy about a program that could greatly affect public safety is disturbing.  Laughable is the Arnold Foundation stated reason for non-disclosure: to prevent local governments or rivals from using or copying the tool without permission.  Since the tool was given to San Francisco for free–i.e., there was no profit motive–why would the foundation have concerns about the use of the tool without permission?

While the Arnold Foundation has now released the formulas and factors that guide the tool, it still refuses to release the data set on which the tool was based or any validation tests that may have been performed.  In short, the Arnold Foundation will not allow independent researchers to evaluate the critical factors behind the “tool.”

While John Arnold (after whom the foundation was named) may have used secret algorithms in his natural gas future trading while working at Enron and his own hedge fund, the worst result he could face was the loss of money.  The bad calls this algorithm has made has been linked to at least two murders, one in San Francisco and one in New Jersey. How many more people need to die before this social experiment is ended?

 

Eric W. Siddall is Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.