Harry Reid Slates Minimum Wage Vote

From Politico:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday set up a long-shot Wednesday vote on a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Senate Democrats will need 60 votes to open debate on the legislation written by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to gradually increase the wage and eventually peg it to inflation — a level of support that appears unattainable.

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California Key to Raising Graduation Rate

From The Sacramento Bee:

The high school graduation rate in the United States will not increase as quickly as experts think it can without more improvement in California, which educates one-fifth of the nation’s low-income school children and more Hispanic students than any other state, a report set to be released Monday concludes.

The “Building a Grad Nation” report, produced by a coalition of advocacy groups and researchers at Johns Hopkins University, credits the nation’s most populous and diverse state with developing effective strategies that helped push its 2012 graduation rate to 79 percent, an increase of five percentage points from two years earlier and one point below the national average.

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Rick Santorum’s Winning Strategy

From The Daily Caller:

In 2012, Republicans were dead wrong about President Obama. With unemployment over 8 percent and the long-delayed economic recovery nowhere in sight, they assumed that he would lose to anyone they nominated. Obama had promised “hope and change,” but he had provided no hope, and the change was all for the worse. Even the liberal mainstream media expected that “anybody but Obama” would win in November.

Yet the president cruised to re-election. The critical swing voters — blue collar Americans from industrial and rural communities with generally conservative values — swung for Obama or stayed home. The people hurt most by the president’s disastrous policies chose him over Mitt Romney.

In the post-election polling, one amazing fact jumped out: Those who voted for a candidate because he “cared more” about people like them chose President Obama over Governor Romney by 81 to 18 percent. Even if you win voters over on your governing philosophy, leadership, and managerial competence, it’s hard to win an election if they think you don’t care about them.

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Photo courtesy Gage Skidmore, flickr

Photo courtesy Gage Skidmore, flickr

The Quiet Bailout of Detroit

From The Daily Caller:

President Barack Obama is using $100 million in taxpayer cash to help keep  Detroit’s pension funds afloat, contradicting his administration’s commitment to  avoid a bailout.

The federal $100 million is being described as “blight remediation,” but it  allows the city’s new managers to reshuffle more cash into the city employees’  pension funds, which were looted by city and union officials for several  decades.

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Brown Negotiating with Republicans over Rainy-Day Fund

From The Sacramento Bee:

Gov. Jerry Brown called Wednesday for a special session of the Legislature to take up his proposal to create a rainy-day fund, and for the first time since 2011 he will have to negotiate a major budget deal with Republicans.

The special session, scheduled to begin next week, is a significant test for the Democratic governor, who tried – and failed – to reach a budget accord with GOP lawmakers in the first year of his second stint as governor. That was before Democrats achieved a supermajority in the Legislature, and Brown hasn’t needed Republicans for much since.

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey, flickr

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey, flickr

‘Money just simply corrupts,’ Yee said weeks before arrest

From The Sacramento Bee:

In the weeks since the arrest of Sen.  Leland Yee, two hard-to-reconcile versions of the San Francisco Democrat have emerged: Transparency advocate running for secretary of state vs. the man who, according to an FBI affidavit, accepted campaign money in exchange for favors and a promise to set up an illegal gun deal.

A videotaped interview in December with Voice of OC, a nonprofit publication in Orange County, illustrates the size of the gulf.

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10 Ways the Income Tax harms Civil Liberties

From The Daily Caller:

The Internal Revenue Service scandal over the targeting of conservative groups has highlighted the agency’s power to obstruct our political freedoms. Filing taxes every April also drives home how the government reduces our freedom.

Chief Justice John Marshall famously observed in 1819 that “the power to tax involves the power to destroy.” That’s true of any tax, but the massive federal income tax harms civil liberties much more than is necessary to raise the needed funds.

Some members of Congress have been talking about tax reform. But their efforts so far have been accounting-driven exercises that simply tweak the monstrous code. Instead, Congress should pursue major tax reforms that not only unshackle the economy but also expand our civil liberties.

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Is Decline of Public Spaces Hurting our Democracy?

From U-T San Diego:

Maidan Square in Kiev. Taksim Square in Istanbul. Tahrir Square in Cairo. Recent democratic movements around the globe have risen, or crashed and burned, on the hard pavement of vast urban public squares. The media largely has focused on the role of social media technology in these movements. But too few observers have considered the significance of the empty public spaces themselves.

Comedian Jon Stewart was one who got it. He quipped that if he ever becomes a dictator, he’d “get rid of these [bleep]ing squares” Why? Because “nothing good happens for dictators” in such places.

In the U.S., children are taught that the public square is essential to democracy. Here, the phrase “public square” is practically synonymous with free political speech. But these days “public square” is more likely to be a metaphor for media in all its forms than it is a reference to an actual, concrete place.

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Poll: Most Say Federal Taxes Too High

From Politico:

The day before Tax Day, April 15, a new poll shows that more than half of Americans think the amount they pay in federal income taxes is too high.

Fifty-two percent said the amount they have to pay is too high, while 42 percent called it “about right,” according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

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Photo courtesy of Rob Crawley, flickr

Photo courtesy of Rob Crawley, flickr

California Sen. Leland Yee indicted

From The Sacramento Bee:

Marking the next step in a sweeping FBI operation that has implicated suspended Sen. Leland Yee, a federal grand jury has indicted Yee and 28 others.

The indictment charges Yee with honest services conspiracy, wire fraud and conspiracy to deal in and import firearms. If convicted on all counts, Yee faces a sentence of 125 years in federal prison and $1.75 million in potential fines.

Also indicted were Keith Jackson, a former San Francisco School Board member and Yee fundraiser who surfaces throughout an FBI affidavit (wire fraud, engaging in business of dealing in firearms narcotics conspiracy, murder for hire, conspiracy to deal in and import firearms) and Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, a former convict who had publicly touted having reformed and re-invented himself (money laundering conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes, conspiracy to transport and receive stolen property in interstate commerce).

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