Democrats Talk Openly About Challenging Nancy Pelosi’s Leadership

Nancy-Pelois-denied-CommunionHouse Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is facing unprecedented pressure, as frustrated Democrats have begun — for the first time in seven years — to talk about replacing her after a series of disappointments at the ballot box.

Pelosi was hailed as a driving force behind Democrats’ victory in 2006, when the party seized both houses of Congress and set the stage for victory in the 2008 presidential election. She became the first female Speaker of the House, and set about centralizing power in the Speaker’s office, ruling her caucus with unquestioned authority and promoting an unapologetically liberal agenda.

However, Pelosi’s role in the Obamacare debacle of 2009-10 helped provoke the Tea Party wave, sending her party to historic defeat and costing her the Speaker’s gavel. Amazingly, Pelosi did not resign at that point, and dispatched several would-be challengers, most notably Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC), who later lost his seat to a Republican. She also fended off a challenge by Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) after 2016. Pelosi has been a prolific fundraiser for the party, even if she has also become a lightning rod for criticism and a useful political foil for Republicans to run against.

Ironically, Pelosi’s power within her caucus only grew as the Democrats lost seats, because most of the losses were in conservative swing districts. That left a core of liberal representatives from major cities, and blue states such as New York, Illinois, and Pelosi’s home state of California. There has been no political constituency in the caucus for an ideological alternative to the left-wing agenda that Pelosi and her coterie have continued to push even in defeat.

The high expectations that Pelosi set for Tuesday’s special election in Georgia may prove to be her undoing. Early in the week, with Jon Ossoff expected to win, Pelosi let it be known that she expected to take back the Speaker’s gavel after 2018. But Republican Karen Handel surged to victory, partly by tying her opponent to Pelosi.

As reality hit home, some Democrats began to break the taboo around challenging their leader. MSNBC analyst Matthew A. Miller tweeted: “No Dem wants to say it publicly, but taking their top bogeyman Pelosi off the table would help too. Fair or not, it’s the truth.”

Now, other critics are beginning to emerge.

“It’s time for some change. I think it’s time for a new generation of leadership,” said Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA). And Rep Filemon Vela (D-TX) told Politico: “I think you’d have to be an idiot to think we could win the House with Pelosi at the top … Nancy Pelosi is not the only reason that Ossoff lost. But she certainly is one of the reasons.”

But Pelosi also has her defenders — and she will not go easily.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This piece was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Dem-on-Dem spats belie party unity in San Jose

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

SAN JOSE — Tired of taking potshots from Bernie Sanders supporters at the California Democratic Party’s convention this weekend, Dana Smith tried to make nice with one antagonist.

“Whoever wins in November, it will be a Democrat,” Smith, a Daly City delegate holding two pro-Hillary Clinton signs, told Clark McCartney, a retired teacher from Riverside County. “Not if she’s indicted first,” he barked.

Even as party bigwigs assure the more than 3,000 Democratic activists gathered at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center that the Republican presidential candidates’ “food fight” will virtually guarantee that a Democrat stays in the White House, some of the rank-and-file don’t seem so sure as they watch the Dem-on-Dem spats on the convention floor.

Indeed, with the traditionally decisive Super Tuesday nominating contests just two days away — and Clinton romping to victory in Saturday’s South Carolina Democratic Primary — many convention-goers appear to have more in common with their Republican counterparts than they might want to admit. …

Click here to read the full story

CA Budget About HOW We Spend … Not Just How Much

Jerry Brown Legislature BudgetGov. Brown’s opening general fund budget gambit of $122.6 billion – total spending including bond and special funds is $170.7 billion – sets a new record for state government spending.  That the big increases are coming from the man many regard as one of the more sane of Sacramento’s top politicians does not bode well for taxpayers. After all, this is just a starting point.  Now the real fun begins with those less well grounded in economic reality starting the annual ritual of “making it rain” for their favorite projects and special interest employers.

To the governor’s credit, he is paying attention to paying down debt and strengthening the state’s rainy day reserve, a wise move considering that state revenue is highly dependent on top earners and is thus very vulnerable to an economic contraction.

Still, leading Democratic lawmakers want more – a lot more.  They are already complaining that that the budget does not spend enough on early childcare programs, grants to families on welfare, or provide more money for affordable housing.

Let’s concede at the outset that Californians have widely divergent views about how much money should go to all the various things government does. For example, there is a legitimate debate about how much money we, the taxpayers, should be paying to deal with the water crisis. Or how much for K-12 education? Prisons?  The list is fairly extensive.

But too often we neglect a very important topic when it comes to spending. That is, are we actually getting value for our tax dollars?  Per pupil education spending is important, but a poor indicator of educational outcomes. Total spending on prisons is irrelevant if we are releasing dangerous criminals back out on the street. Californians are angry at traffic congestion, but what good is more transportation spending if it doesn’t actually help people get to where they want to go? Californians are sympathetic to the needs of the poor, but are justifiably outraged when needed assistance fails to get to the truly needed and, instead, is used to buy luxury goods or pay for expensive vacations.

We know that Governor Brown is capable of recognizing waste, fraud and abuse. Just a few years ago he put forth a very credible 12 point pension reform plan that would have corrected most of the pension abuses in California. Regrettably, except for dealing with the most obvious of abuses, the reforms were shelved due to intense pushback from public sector unions. This means that the ever increasing percentage of the general fund budget going to address pension obligations is more than it needs to be.

Taxpayer advocates are constantly told that the amount of tax dollars lost to waste, fraud and abuse is but a tiny fraction of government spending. To be blunt, we don’t believe it – and mounds of evidence supports our disbelief. Even the Los Angeles Times several years ago pegged Medi-Cal fraud in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

To understand why more focus in the budget process should be on oversight, the observations of Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman are instructive. He noted that there are four ways people can spend money:

  1. You can spend your own money for yourself. (Being careful both about how much you spend and on what you buy);
  2. You can spend your own money for somebody else. (Being careful about how much you spend but less careful about what you buy);
  3. You can spend somebody else’s money for yourself. (Being careful about what you buy but less careful about how much you spend); and
  4. You can spend somebody else’s money for somebody else. (Where you care less both about how much you spend and what you buy).

Friedman’s thesis is that what government does is spend money in the fourth way. And that is why any discussion about the California state budget needs to include the question of whether taxpayers are getting value for the hard-earned dollars they send to Sacramento.

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 published by at HTJA.org

Brown Cautious in 2016/17 Budget Proposal

brown prop 30 california budgetChanneling philosopher George Santayana (“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”), Gov. Jerry Brown presented his budget yesterday looking to the future by considering the past. Warning that budget writers “put out of their minds” thoughts of recessions that could cripple state budgets, he vowed not to repeat past mistakes of building budgets that cannot be sustained in difficult economic times.

Brown offered a chart that showed the rollercoaster budgets over the last decade-and-a-half with big budget hits from the dot-com bust and the mortgage crisis. Brown said using the budget history as a template, his team predicted the effects of another budget shortfall, which could happen soon. The average economic recovery period is five years, the governor said, and California is well beyond that point now.

Presenting a chart that showed recent deficits in the red, to prevent future large deficits Brown said, “If you do what I want” there would be less red on a chart during the next recession.

Warning legislators against creating new programs that will continually require state funding—even if the ideas behind the programs are noble — Brown said, “Too many goods, too quickly, become bad.”

Will Brown’s warnings be heard by legislators?

Maybe. With the change in the term limit law, legislators will have more time to serve in the capitol. Actions they take now they would have to live with in the coming years (as long as they are re-elected).

Still, majority Democrats and interest groups plan to test the governor over budget priorities. Brown seemed prepared to confront new demands. “This is not a candy store that you can pick out what you want.”

Some groups would not bother with debating issues in the legislature but are planning to take their proposals to the voters via the initiative process.

Governor Brown was asked about a number of proposed initiatives. While he said he did not want to comment on initiatives, he did, dropping boulder-sized hints of what he was thinking on some prominent potential ballot measures.

On the Proposition 30 income tax extensions, Brown cited a “fatal flaw” in the measure by stipulating that none of the tax revenue collected by the tax extension would end up in the rainy day fund. (Brown’s budget is adding $2 billion to the fund bringing it up to 65% of its constitutional mandate.)

The governor in response to a reporter’s question said that Prop 30 could make a future budget deficit worse because the tax measure relies so heavily on high-end income taxpayers, who see great drops in their capital gains during recession.

On the minimum wage, the governor pointed out that because the state increased the minimum wage a dollar on the first of the month, the budget had to set aside an additional quarter-of-a-billion dollars from the General Fund to cover state workers. Should the $15 dollar-an-hour minimum wage ballot proposal become law that would cost the state an additional $4 billion. The money has to come from somewhere, Brown said.

Addressing the $9 billion statewide school bond already qualified for the General Election, Brown said much of the money would end up with affluent school districts. It is not well targeted, he said, arguing that the legislature can do a better job than the “developers” who put this together.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

The Business Democrat Gains Influence

HALF MOON BAY — It’s a lovely place to do business.

Ocean waves crash into rocky cliffs. Pelicans flap along the shoreline. And on the golf resort overlooking it all, a powerful bloc of legislators hit the links recently with donors who paid up to $40,000 for the opportunity to join them.

This was the annual fundraiser benefitting the legislators who call themselves “moderate Democrats.” Since last month, when the group unexpectedly killed a centerpiece of Gov. Jerry Brown’s climate change plan, the moderate Democrats have been getting much more scrutiny, particularly about those who pay for their elections and attend their fundraisers.

Since 2013, the group’s political action committee has taken in more than $4 million, with nearly one-third of that coming from Chevron, PG&E and other oil and gas companies. Other major donors include Wal-Mart, a hospital association and a realtors group. Only 1 percent of the committee’s money came from labor unions.

Who supports the moderate Democrats? Donations to the political action committee for moderate Democrats called Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy, 2013-2015. Who supports the moderate Democrats? Donations to the political action committee for moderate Democrats called Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy, 2013-2015.  Source: California Secretary of State

By contrast, organized labor provided more than a quarter of the money the California Democratic Party raised in the same time period, and oil and gas companies made up about 6 percent. The liberal-leaning party, which also benefits from fundraisers at swanky golf resorts, has traditionally declined contributions from Wal-Mart because of its anti-union policies.

The business money to the moderate Democrat committee helped several candidates — like Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) — prevail last year over more liberal opponents. Cooper was critical of the governor’s failed climate change plan to cut fuel consumption in half by 2030, but he said money from business sources did not influence his decision.

“I tell everybody: I’m not going to be with you 100 percent of the time,” Cooper said. “One day we’ll be together on a bill, another day we’ll be at odds.”

Overall, the moderate Democrat committee has spent $2.3 million on campaign efforts since 2013 – more than half of it focused on five legislative races in the Central Valley, Orange County and Los Angeles. Voters elected three of the five candidates on which the committee spent the most in the last election — the other two seats went to Republicans.

The effort to elect moderate Democrats started more than a decade ago with Sacramento political consultant David Townsend. Back then, the Legislature had more Republicans and fewer centrist Democrats. The centrists complained to him that the party’s liberal wing wielded too much influence in the Capitol. So Townsend set up the political action committee that accepts unlimited donations from wealthy interests and spends the money urging voters to choose moderate Democrats.

The effort was helped in 2010 when voters approved an initiative that was designed to elect more moderates — a change Townsend spearheaded. Since then, the top two vote getters in the June primary move to the November general election even if they are from the same party.

Today, Townsend’s committee is one of several that pour corporate dollars into campaigns for Democrats. But it wasn’t always that way.

“When we started out, it was pretty lonely,” Townsend said, recalling that the moderate committee’s first fundraiser included just a half-dozen lawmakers and 25 donors. “Now when we have an event, we’ll have 25 or 30 legislators and over 100 people attending.”

Which brings us back to the seaside golf course an hour south of San Francisco, where Townsend’s committee raises money by inviting donors to mingle with lawmakers for two days each fall.

On Friday, an AT&T lobbyist golfed with two lobbyists from Sacramento’s highest-earning firm. Nearby, Assemblyman Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) chatted on a sunny patio. Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Concord) ate lunch at a table overlooking the ocean as Assemblywoman Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) walked by. Assemblyman Mike Gipson (D-Carson) checked email in the hotel’s business center before leaving the resort.

Organizers of the mod Dems’ annual event won’t talk about how much it raises for the PAC or who attends. A flyer distributed to Sacramento lobbyists advertises ticket packages ranging from $5,000 to $40,000 that include dinner, golf, spa treatments and lodging at the Ritz-Carlton.

Unlike the organization that raises money to elect centrist Democrats, the legislators who make up the party’s moderate caucus are a loosely affiliated bunch that ranges from 9 members to 24 depending on the issue. Bonilla and Eggman, for example, broke from the moderates by voting in favor of a bill to cut greenhouse gas emissions — though it still fell short of passing. Many of these Democrats represent poor inland areas like Fresno, Bakersfield and San Bernardino and say they make policy decisions based on what’s best for job creation.

So far the group has made its mark by casting key votes with Republicans, killing or watering down legislation backed by liberal Democrats. As the moderate Democrats’ clout grows, many will be watching whether they become a force that advances new policy in the Legislature – or if they’ll express power just by voting “no.”

Who are the moderate democrats? There is no official roster of members, but these politicians received support from Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy:Who are the moderate democrats? There is no official roster of members, but these politicians received support from Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy: Source: California Secretary of State

This piece was originally published by CalMatters.org

Governor and Democrats Intent on Raising Taxes

TaxesMajority Democrats have made it increasingly obvious that they are intent on raising taxes on hardworking Californians. In the clearest sign yet, the governor released a draft transportation funding plan on Thursday, which includes a $65 fee on vehicle owners, an 11-cent increase in the diesel tax, and a 6-cent increase in the gas tax. This comes on top of the estimated 10-cent increase in the gas tax that kicked in earlier this year due to cap and trade.

The governor and legislative Democrats are spending more than ever before, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at our roads. California drivers pay one of the highest gas taxes in the nation, yet our infrastructure ranks near the bottom. The state has money to improve our highways without asking taxpayers for more. As Republicans, we continue to stand with families to say enough is enough and oppose new taxes.

On Tuesday, Senate Democrats passed several measures that contained no substantive content to the state Assembly. The procedural move, a tactic frequently used during the state budget process, makes it easier to facilitate backroom deals, giving the public little time to review final products. These vehicles would likely be used to push through tax increases, such as those proposed by the Governor. New taxes require a two-thirds vote of the legislature.

Just one week before, Democrats on the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Development Committee approved a $35 increase in the vehicle registration fee and a 12-cent hike in the gas tax. A new poll out this week shows a majority of Californians oppose higher gas taxes.

California State Senate, 23rd District.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

America: Losing Our Religion

cross“Losing My Religion” is not just a song by R.E.M. It’s also a fact of American life.

That’s the message of a survey of more than 35,000 Americans just released by the Pew Research Center. The key finding: the number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation is growing, from 16 percent in 2007 to 23 percent in 2014. That’s nearly a quarter of the adult population. Meanwhile, the number of Christians in the U.S. is down 8 percent.

Pew estimates that the U.S. now counts about 56 million unaffiliated adults. The unchurched are larger than the number of Catholics and mainline Protestants and nearly equal to the number of evangelicals.

And it’s having a political impact. Look at the backlash last month to the “religious freedom” law passed in Indiana that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples on religious grounds. The huge wave of criticism shocked conservatives who are used to seeing “religious freedom” trump every argument. This time, conservatives were forced to back down.

The rise of the unchurched is partly due to the growing numbers of millennials. Millennials (Americans born after 1980) are the least churched generation — 35 percent are unaffiliated. But the turning away from religion is not confined to them. The Pew survey shows Christians declining and the unchurched increasing in every age group. Even seniors.

The growing number of unchurched matters politically because religiosity is a key marker of political affiliation. Not religion. Religiosity.

Today, if you can ask a voter only one question to identify his or her political leanings (besides “Are you a Democrat or a Republican?”), the best question would be “How often do you go to church?”

Pew reports that, among Americans with no religious affiliation, Democrats and Democratic-leaners outnumber Republicans and Republican-leaners 61 to 25 percent.

In 1992, I held a post as visiting professor of American politics at a leading Jesuit university. One of the perquisites of that position was an invitation to tea with the Cardinal. After we exchanged pleasantries, the Cardinal asked, “Is there anything happening in American politics that I should be aware of?”

“As a matter of fact, your eminence, there is,” I answered. “Since 1980, religious Americans of all faiths — fundamentalist Protestants, observant Catholics, even Orthodox Jews — have been moving toward the Republican Party. At the same time, irreligious Americans have found a home in the Democratic Party.

“This is something new,” I said. Then I went a fateful step further, adding, “I’m a little uncomfortable with the idea of a religious party in this country.”

The Cardinal pounced. “Well,” he said, “I’m a little uncomfortable with an irreligious party in this country.”

“Your eminence,” I responded, “I think I’ll have more tea.”

The unchurched are an important constituency in the Democratic coalition that Barack Obama brought to power. Democrats don’t like to talk about them, however, because they don’t want to be seen as “the godless party.”

The split between the churched and the unchurched goes back to the 1960s, when values became the defining partisan issue in the U.S. Bill Clinton once said, “If you look back on the sixties and, on balance, you think there was more good than harm, you’re probably a Democrat. And if you think there’s more harm than good, you’re probably a Republican.”

The backlash to the sixties among religious Americans helped create the Reagan majority. The growing number of unchurched Americans has undermined it. We’ve seen views on same-sex marriage and marijuana liberalize with astonishing speed.

In the long run, the Pew study is good news for Democrats. The problem is, politics doesn’t just reflect long-term trends, like changing demographics and declining religiosity. In politics, short-term factors typically dominate.

2008, for example, was a good year for Democrats. In the nationwide exit poll on election day, 16 percent of voters said they had no religious affiliation. They voted 67 percent for Democrats in elections for the House of Representatives.

2014 was a bad year for Democrats. In the 2014 midterm, the percentage of voters with no religious affiliation rose to 18 percent, even though the turnout of young voters was down. But enthusiasm for Democrats lagged in 2014, even among the unchurched. Only 60 percent of them voted for House Democrats.

Sure, the demographic trends look good for Democrats. The problem is, demographics is long. Politics is short.

(Bill Schneider is a professor at George Mason University and a contributor to Al Jazeera. This piece was posted most recently at the Huffington Post)

Dem v. Dem State Senate Battle Reflects New Political Split in CA

Photo credit:  Capitolweekly.net

Photo credit: Capitolweekly.net

California’s politics remain polarized, but not just via the traditional division of Republicans vs. Democrats. As reported here two months ago in the post “Issue of Government Unions Divide Candidates More Than Party Affiliation,” there were two California State Senate contests that remained unresolved after the November 2014 election. One of them, pitting Republican John Moorlach against Republican Don Wagner for the 37th Senate District, was settled on March 17th. Moorlach, who has fought to restore financial sustainability to public employee pension systems, was opposed by government unions. Wagner, also a conservative, but less outspoken than Moorlach on the issue of pension reform, was endorsed by government unions. Moorlach won.

The other race, originally pitting three Democrats against each other for the 7th Senate District, has narrowed to a contest between two candidates that will be settled on May 19th, Democrat Steve Glazer vs. Democrat Susan Bonilla.

It will be interesting to see how voters in a largely Democratic district respond in a race that is not between candidates from opposing parties. Glazer is a fiscal conservative who is progressive on virtually all of the issues important to Democrats. Bonilla offers up many similar positions, with one important exception: Glazer has stood up to government unions on critical issues, to the point where government unions do not consider him reliable. As a result, Bonilla is receiving cash and endorsements from the unions representing our public servants, all of it, of course, money that originated from taxpayers.

Here’s a list of some of Bonilla’s government union endorsements:

California Association of Highway Patrolmen
California Professional Firefighters
California State Sheriffs’ Association
California State Coalition of Probation Organizations
CALFIRE Local 2881
Peace Officers Research Association of California
Deputy Sheriffs Association of Alameda County
Antioch Police Officer’s Association
Concord Police Officer’s Association
Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriffs Association
Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney’s Association
Brentwood Police Officers Association
Livermore-Pleasanton Firefighters, Local 1974
Livermore Police Officer’s Association
Pittsburg Police Officers Association
Pleasanton Police Officers Association
Probation Peace Officers Association of Contra Costa County
San Ramon Valley Firefighters Association, Local 3546
United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County, Local 1230

Bonilla campaignOne has to ask why so many public safety officials are endorsing Bonilla rather than Glazer, and it is fair to wonder if their endorsement has anything to do with the positions of these candidates on issues and policies relating to public safety. Take a look at this flyer from the Bonilla campaign:

As can be seen, Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson and Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern, both apparently Republicans, are touting the pro public safety record of Susan Bonilla. But would they have made these statements if Susan Bonilla was challenging their unions on fiscal issues relating to pensions and compensation?

From that perspective, candidate Steven Glazer is a threat to government unions. For ten years starting in 2004, Glazer was a councilmember, then mayor, in Orinda, one of the most fiscally responsible cities in the state. In a California Policy Center study released late last year entitled “California’s Most Financially Stressed Cities and Counties,” every city and county in California was ranked in order of its risk of insolvency. Orinda was ranked 369 out of 491, putting it in the top 25% in terms of financial health. More significantly, in a subsequent California Policy Center study entitled “California City Pension Burdens,” every city in the state was ranked according to how much pension contributions strain their budgets. Orinda wasn’t even on this list, because they are among only nine cities in California who don’t have a defined benefit plan for their employees. They use a defined contribution plan instead.

Hopefully the reader will forgive this prurient dive into personal financial data, but when public employees endorse political candidates, how much they make is relevant. Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson made $322,180 in 2013, an amount that included $111,897 in employer paid benefits. Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern made $556,268 in 2013; an astonishing $266,130 of that in the form of employer paid benefits. The vast majority of these benefit payments were to cover the required employer pension contributions. These men would have to be saints to have an objective perspective on an election that could result in a fiscal conservative holding office who is conversant in pension finance and formerly presided over a town that offers defined contribution plans to their employees instead of defined benefit pensions.

To drive the point home, take a look at the salaries and benefits for Alameda County workers, the pensions for Alameda County retirees, the salaries for Contra Costa County workers, and the pensions for Contra Costa County retirees. No conflict of interest there.

In the race for California’s 7th Senate District, Government unions have already spent over $2.0 million to support Susan Bonilla and oppose Steve Glazer. Download this spreadsheet to view the latest contributions through 4-20-2015, or click on the following four links to follow the money pouring in to make sure a fiscal conservative Senator does not head to Sacramento on May 19th:

Bonilla for Senate 2015, Putting the East Bay First
Bonilla for Senate 2015
Bonilla for Senate 2016
Working Families Opposing Glazer for Senate 2015

California’s Republican leadership, to the extent they tepidly claim to support pension reform while taking money from public sector unions and doing nothing, should understand as clearly as the Democratic leadership who avoid the issue entirely: It doesn’t matter what else you believe, or what you stand for, or what’s in your platform. Government unions support candidates who fight to preserve and increase the pay and benefits of unionized government employees, at the same time as they fight to minimize the accountability of unionized government employees. Across California, their demands, almost invariably fulfilled by politicians they control, have taken money away from other services, including infrastructure investment, and nearly destroyed California’s system of public education.

This is having a polarizing impact in both parties, and rendering the distinction between Democrat and Republican less important than whether or not they are willing to stand up to government unions.

*   *   *

Ed Ring is the executive director of the California Policy Center.

Democratic Immigrant Protection Bills Don’t Solve Poverty Problem

Legislative Democrats heralded a package of bills they purport to aid and protect undocumented immigrants. Acknowledging the humanitarian concern behind the package, the plan will do little to help immigrants achieve the American Dream if something isn’t done to provide middle class jobs. Without them, many immigrants here and those attracted by California ‘s largesse are subject to a life of poverty.

Immigration reform is a Federal issue but California’s Democratic legislative leadership chooses to take the issue on to the extent that they can with this package of bills. There are many concerns associated with the bills worthy of serious questions and doubt, not the least of which is the immediate cost. Leading the cost concern is Senator Ricardo Lara’s SB 4 that would add 1.5 million undocumented immigrants to the already stressed Medi-Cal roles.

Putting the cost question aside for the moment, as well as the implication that the laws likely would serve as a magnet to draw even more undocumented immigrants to California, an important question is if these proposals become law will the immigrants the laws are designed to assist continue to be prisoners of California’s poverty prison?

California leads the nation in the number of people trapped in poverty. Many are immigrants in the country illegally. Without creation of good paying jobs many likely will remain victims of poverty.

The push for minimum wage increases is not the real answer to the poverty problem. Modifying regulations and cutting taxes to promote small business is one solution. Offering incentives to encourage the capital investment needed to create manufacturing jobs that pay middle class wages is another.

Taking the major step to encourage middle class jobs is the best thing the state can do for all California’s residents.

Joel Fox is Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Not A Good Look: Human Trafficking Bill Held Up Over Attention To Detail

The reasons Senate Democrats give for suddenly slammed the breaks on an anti-human trafficking bill this week are numerous, but one thing is clear: for them, it’s definitely been awkward.human trafficking

The 68-page anti-human trafficking bill has 13 Democratic cosponsors and was supposed to pass easily Tuesday, but Democrats suddenly reversed course and are now holding the bill hostage over standard language preventing federal funding of abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or life of the mother.

Democrats claim they didn’t notice the abortion language until this week, and accuse Republicans of “sneaking” it into the bill. Republicans say that’s bogus, and accuse the Democrats of lying about it for political gain. (RELATED: Dems Remember To Read Bill They’re Pushing, Throw A Fit)

Whatever the case, it’s not a good look for Senate Dems.

The language of the bill has been publicly available online since it was introduced in January, and the abortion language is on page 4 of the bill. In February, it passed unanimously through the Senate Judiciary Committee after Republicans and Democrats on the committee examined the bill and offered amendments.

So it’s hard to believe not a single Democrat or any of their staffers read the bill carefully enough to catch the abortion language. And yet, that’s exactly what they claim.

“Republicans were aghast that Democrats were sticking to their insistence that their aides had not read the bill,” wrote Politico’s Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kim.

Their aides. Had not. Read. The bill … which was months old and less than 70 pages.

“In order to think that people missed it, and all of a sudden discovered it just this week really is not plausible,” Republican Sen. John Cornyn, a sponsor of the bill, said at a press conference Thursday.

A Senate aide told The Daily Caller News Foundation it’s a fundraising ploy. “Democrats are basically trying to fundraise off of this,” he said. “They’re trying to make it sound like they are standing up for women’s rights by holding up a bill that is protecting women.”

“Look how quickly they turn on their own people,” he added.

Maybe they did create this mess on purpose to score points with pro-abortion groups, such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood, who are now condemning the bill and calling on Senators to remove the abortion language with the hashtag “StrikeTheBan.”

Or maybe they did it to obscure a different objection to the bill — an amendment designed to curb illegal immigration proposed by Republican Sen. David Vitter. (RELATED: Senate Democrats Fight For More Illegals In Anti-Prostitution Bill)

“It appears they’re scared to vote on amendments like mine, to close the birthright citizenship loophole,” Vitter told TheDCNF.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered to let Democrats offer an amendment stripping the bill of the abortion language, if they stop blocking the bill, but they refused his offer.

Maybe Senate Democrats aren’t actually blocking a bipartisan bill that would help trafficking victims for political purposes. But that would mean they failed to read the bill carefully enough to catch the abortion language.

“Of course we read the bill,” Adam Jentleson, a spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, told TheDCNF. “But it’s easy to miss the language if you’re not looking for it, which we weren’t since Republicans told us it wasn’t in the bill.”

Read it, but not carefully, he said.

Is it worth then killing bill over the abortion language?

“No. We want the bill to pass,” he said.

So Reid and McConnell are in yet another face-off.

“I’ll say this to everybody out there who cares about this bill,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday. “We’re going to stay on it until we finish it.”

Reid also insisted the bill would pass, but without the abortion language. ”The legislation dealing with human trafficking is going to pass this Congress, but it’s going to pass this congress without abortion language in it,” he said on the floor Thursday.

The Senate will take up the bill again next week.

Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

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