2020 Democrats Blaming Trump’s Rhetoric for Shootings

Democratic presidential candidates sought to lay blame Sunday on President Donald Trump following a pair of mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, saying his language against minorities promotes racial division and violence.

At public events and on television, several candidates pointed to a need for more gun restrictions, such as universal background checks. But they directed much of their criticism at Trump, seeking to draw a link between the shootings in Dayton and El Paso that have left more than two dozen dead and months of presidential rhetoric against immigrants and people of color.

“There is complicity in the president’s hatred that undermines the goodness and the decency of Americans regardless of what party,” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said. “To say nothing in a time of rising hatred, it’s not enough to say that ‘I’m not a hate monger myself.’ If you are not actively working against hate, calling it out, you are complicit in what is going on.”

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said confronting white nationalist terrorism would be embarrassing for a president who “helped stoke many of these feelings in this country to begin with.”

“At best, he’s condoning and encouraging white nationalism,” Buttigieg said. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associate Press

California Passes Law Requiring Presidential Candidates to Release Tax Returns to Get on the Ballot

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Tuesday a requirement for candidates to release their tax returns in order to participate in the state’s presidential primaries. The law is clearly aimed at President Donald Trump and his no-show taxes and will likely result in high-stakes legal challenges from the Trump campaign and its allies. California, the country’s most populous state, has used its significant economic weight to take the lead in combating Trump administration policies with state laws of its own, which at the moment have the administration and the state locked in more than 40 lawsuits over a range of issues.

The Trump campaign fired back Tuesday after the bill’s signing, declaring the law unconstitutional. “The Constitution is clear on the qualifications for someone to serve as president and states cannot add additional requirements on their own,” a Trump campaign spokesperson said. “The bill also violates the First Amendment right of association since California can’t tell political parties which candidates their members can or cannot vote for in a primary election.” The Trump campaign appears destined to file a lawsuit challenging the measure and could be joined by the Republican National Committee and the California Republican Party.

The tax-return-disclosure requirement was previously vetoed in 2017 due to questions over its constitutionality by former Gov. Jerry Brown, who, along with his Republican opponents, refused to disclose tax returns during his successful campaigns for governor in 2010 and 2014. “A qualified candidate’s ability to appear on the ballot is fundamental to our democratic system,” Brown wrote in his veto message at the time. “For that reason, I hesitate to start down a road that well might lead to an ever escalating set of differing state requirements for presidential candidates.” Newsom, however, signed the bill into law, which requires presidential and gubernatorial candidates to submit five years of tax returns at least three months before the state’s primary. Primary day in California is scheduled for March 3, 2020, which means Trump — and others — would have just over four months to submit returns to the California secretary of state. …

Click here to read the full article from Slate.com

Trump Prevails: Justices Clear Border Wall Funding

The Supreme Court on Friday handed President Trump a major victory by clearing the way for him to divert $2.5 billion from the military’s budget and use it to build an extra 100 miles of border wall in California, Arizona and New Mexico.

The justices voted 5 to 4 to lift orders by a federal judge in Oakland and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that had barred the administration from using the Pentagon’s money to build a border wall.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the court’s four other conservatives joined in ruling for the Trump administration. They questioned whether the Sierra Club and other plaintiffs had standing to challenge the government’s spending policy.

The court’s four liberals dissented.

Though the environmental group’s lawsuit challenging the wall will continue in lower courts, Trump can begin using the money for the wall in the meantime.

Trump celebrated the decision on Twitter. “Wow! Big VICTORY on the Wall,” he tweeted. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times

Bill requiring Trump to release taxes to make CA ballot reaches Newsom’s desk

When Gov. Gavin Newsom got back from his vacation last week, awaiting him was a bill that some see as a principled attempt to force President Donald Trump to be transparent about his personal finances and that others – including California’s last governor – see as partisan meddling that could haunt elections across the nation going forward.

Senate Bill 27 was enrolled and sent to the governor’s office on July 15 after passing the Assembly 29-10 and the Senate 57-17 along party lines. Newsom has until July 30 to act on it. Introduced by Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, and Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, it would require presidential and gubernatorial candidates to release their most recent five years of tax returns as a prerequisite for appearing on the California ballot.

McGuire and Wiener reject the characterization that it is an attempt to punish Trump, who has famously feuded with California officials via the media and in court since he began his presidential campaign in 2015. Instead, they say it is an attempt to preserve democratic norms by ensuring that voters know about candidates’ financial entanglements before they become U.S. president or governor of the nation’s richest, most populous state.

It’s unclear, however, whether the measure is constitutional. Some attorneys say the Constitution has long enshrined states’ rights, including partial sovereignty, on many fronts. But the U.S. Supreme Court has held that a state cannot add additional qualifications for candidates for federal office. California’s legislative counsel cited this history in a 2017 opinion raising doubts about whether Trump could be compelled to release his taxes as a precondition of getting on the Golden State’s ballot.

Brown vetoed similar bill, cited bad precedent

In vetoing similar legislation in 2017, Brown not only questioned its constitutionality, he worried about the precedent it would set in his veto message.

“Today we require tax returns, but what would be next? Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power?” he wrote. California’s enactment would start the U.S. “down a road that well might lead to an ever escalating set of differing state requirements for presidential candidates.”

There is a recent precedent for a state seeking to limit a sitting president’s access to the ballot. In 2011, the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature responded to unsupported, much-ridiculed claims that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya or Indonesia by passing a measure requiring that presidential candidates provide birth certificates before they could be placed on subsequent presidential ballots. The validity of the birth certificates would have been determined by the Arizona secretary of state.

But GOP Gov. Jan Brewer, a former Arizona secretary of state, vetoed the bill. “I do not support designating one person as the gatekeeper to the ballot for a candidate, which could lead to arbitrary or politically motivated decisions,” she said.

Axios reported last month that lawmakers in 25 states have introduced bills linking ballot eligibility to presidential candidates releasing their tax returns. The Nexis news database shows California to be the only state that has sent such a measure to the governor. The most progress elsewhere appears to be in Rhode Island and Maryland, where the state Senates have given their approval to such legislation.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

CA Legislature Now Determining Which Presidential Candidates You Can Vote For

What’s in President Trump’s tax returns?  It’s a mystery that has stumped cable television pundits since he refused to release them during the 2016 campaign.  At times, the furor has been so high that I’m surprised that Matlock or Jessica Fletcher were not called out of retirement to investigate.

Democrats in Congress are dying to know and are fighting with the President and his lawyers over a congressional subpoena issued earlier this year.

Now enter the California Legislature.  Not content to dictate how you run your business, raise your kids, or what care you drive, they now want to dictate what presidential candidates you can vote for on the California ballot.

Last week, lawmakers passed the “Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act” (Senate Bill 27, by Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg) to require presidential candidates to send the state 5 years of tax returns to qualify for California’s primary.  The Secretary of State would be required to post the returns online.  The Sacramento Bee reports that Gov. Newsom is expected to soon sign the measure into law.

What are the qualifications to run for President?

Article 2, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution says that “no person except a natural born citizen . . . shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person have been eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.”

No mention of tax returns.  Since the Constitution sets the qualifications for President, not the states, it’s likely SB 27 would be tossed out in court.

In a press release, Sen. Scott Weiner, the bill’s joint author, said that, “voters should have confidence that their President is working for them and not to enrich himself or herself.”

It’s a fact that presidents from both parties – including Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton – made money from serving as the nation’s chief executive.  Once out of office, presidents routinely make millions of dollars writing books, giving speeches around the world, and serving on corporate boards.

As the Bee noted, former Gov. Jerry Brown refused to release any of his tax returns during his most recent stint as governor.  Did Weiner lack confidence that Brown was not working for the people of California and only to enrich himself?  Probably not.

Brown also vetoed a prior version of this bill two years ago.  He wrote in his veto message that this effort would “start down a road that well might lead to an ever escalating set of differing state requirements for presidential candidates.”

It also has no bearing on who the GOP will pick as their presidential standard bearer.  The Republican Party could cancel the presidential primary and pick convention delegates by caucus instead.  Also, Trump will appear on California’s general election ballot as the Republican Party nominee, regardless of whether he discloses his tax returns.

At the end of the day, it’s up to voters to decide if a candidate’s finances are disqualifying.

Every voter has their own individual checklist when deciding on a presidential candidate.  Some may be interested in their position on taxes, while others are interested in where they stand on foreign policy.   And yes, some may be interested in reviewing a candidate’s tax returns.

California voters can weigh the facts and decide for themselves.  They certainly don’t need meddlesome state lawmakers getting in the way when choosing America’s next president.

Tim Anaya is the Pacific Research Institute’s communications director.

This article was originally published by the Pacific Research Institute

Things Aren’t so Bad for California Under the Electoral College

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, thinks that populous coastal states like California and New York are being done a grave disservice by the Electoral College. Warren recently bemoaned the fact that presidential candidates ignore these populous, but safely blue, states in favor of battleground states. That’s why she thinks we should supersede the Electoral College with a national popular vote to determine who holds the White House.

But do candidates ignore these states under our current system? Hardly. In fact, Hillary Clinton visited California nearly 70 times over the course of her 2016 campaign. By comparison, Clinton made only seven visits to Michigan – a state she narrowly lost to Donald Trump. Democratic front-runner Joe Biden has already hosted fundraisers in the Bay Area and Los Angeles and is currently planning a tour of New York. Moreover, in 2016, both presidential candidates set up their campaign headquarters in New York City.

Blue, coastal cities will always enjoy political influence because they are the cultural and economic hubs of our country. Financial institutions, tech companies, and media conglomerates – the supermajority of which are located in New York or California – will always have an entrée to the Oval Office. Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Bob Iger are not the “forgotten men” even if they don’t live in swing states.

Coastal meccas are also where most wealthy campaign donors reside. Of the 100 top individual donors in the 2016 election cycle, over half live in one of four metropolitan areas: New York (26 percent), San Francisco (13 percent), Los Angeles (8 percent), and Chicago (6 percent).

Progressives may retort that, despite the frequent trips presidential candidates take to California and New York, they never see the plight, nor hear the concerns, of ordinary San Franciscans, Angelinos, or New Yorkers. During trips to the Bay Area and Manhattan, presidential candidates are hobnobbing at cocktail parties and swanky dinners, not pressing the flesh at greasy spoons and discount shopping stores.

While not all candidate visits are aimed at the same segment of the population, if the Electoral College were replaced with a national popular vote, every candidate’s campaign would focus on the same few zip codes. If winning an election was a simple matter of garnering the most votes nationwide, candidates would naturally focus their attention on the limited number of locations where the most voters live – namely, major cities.

Electoral campaigns simply do not have the time or the money to visit every part of the country; states with neither big donors, nor sprawling cities, would be left out. It is anyone’s guess how long voters in so-called “fly-over country” would be content to watch presidential candidates race by overhead, but they will inevitably start to feel that Washington, D.C., is hopelessly out of touch and alien.

While progressives ignore the negative consequences of a national popular vote, they greatly exaggerate the positive impact on voters in coastal states like California. It is unlikely that voters in Bakersfield or San Bernardino, Redding or Rio Linda would see any more of presidential candidates than they do now. If state borders no longer mattered in presidential elections, it is unlikely candidates would spend any time in rural – or even suburban – areas.

Under the Electoral College, presidential candidates journey to nearly every corner of hotly contested swing states. Even populous states like Ohio or Pennsylvania can be thoroughly canvassed over the course of a campaign and, knowing that a handful of voters can swing all of a state’s Electoral College votes, most presidential candidates do exactly this. So in these swing states, it is equally common to see presidential aspirants at rural coffee shops and industrial plants, suburban town halls, and metropolitan stadiums. With the national popular vote, a loop around the BART or Metrolink would become the 21st century version of the old whistle-stop tour.

No electoral system will force presidential candidates to visit all 3,000 counties in the country. But our current system ensures that the few cities that already shape our economy and culture do not thoroughly dominate our electoral politics as well.

The Electoral College gives a voice to broad regions of the country that might otherwise be ignored and unheard. Indeed, our mode of electing presidents is not just a boon for the forgotten men and women of the Rust Belt and Bible Belt, but for voters in central California and upstate New York, with which they have much in common.

John W. York is a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation.

Poll: Trump’s approval rating hits highest point of presidency

President Trump‘s approval rating has surged to the highest level of his presidency, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll

The survey, which was released Sunday, found that 47 percent of registered voters approve of the job Trump is doing in the White House, a figure that represents a 5-point increase from April. Fifty percent of registered voters disapprove of Trump’s performance as president, however.

Meanwhile, 44 percent of voting-age Americans said they approve of Trump’s job performance, while 53 percent said they disapprove of it. Just 39 percent of voting-age Americans said they approved of Trump’s job performance in April. …

Click here to read the full article from The Hill

President Trump Doing California a Bullet Train Favor

At last count, California’s Democratic political leadership had filed four dozen lawsuits against President Donald Trump’s administration, reflecting differences on policies large and small.

For the most part, California’s legal allegations have been on target. However, Trump is on solid legal and logical ground in the latest conflict over the state’s disastrous foray into high-speed rail transportation.

Nine years ago, the Obama administration gave the state a $3.5 billion grant to finance a big share of the initial bullet train segment, more than 100 miles of track from a point north of Fresno to the outskirts of Bakersfield.

The federal money was to be matched by state funds from a $9.95 billion bond issue passed by California voters in 2008 and the San Joaquin Valley stretch was to be completed by 2017. Later, before Trump became president, the feds gave California an extension to 2022, but only tiny portions have been built.

Late last year, the state’s auditor, Elaine Howle, told the Legislature that meeting the 2022 deadline would be nearly impossible, citing the High-Speed Rail Authority’s “flawed decision making regarding the start of high-speed rail system construction in the Central Valley and its ongoing poor contract management for a wide range of high-value contracts.” Howle said the problems “have contributed to billions of dollars in cost overruns for completing the system.”

A couple of months later, Gavin Newsom succeeded bullet-train booster Jerry Brown as governor and told the Legislature in his first State of the State address, “Let’s be real. The project as currently planned would cost too much and take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency. Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A.”

He said he would concentrate on finishing the San Joaquin Valley segment and extending it on both ends to piece together a three-system pathway for traveling between San Francisco and Bakersfield.

After Newsom’s address, President Donald Trump declared on Twitter: “California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars. They owe the federal government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now. Whole project is a ‘green’ disaster!”

Last week, the Federal Railroad Administration, in a 25-page letter, formally rescinded about $1 billion dollars not yet given to California and hinted again that it would claw back the other $2.5 billion.

“It is now clear that California has no foreseeable plans, nor the capability, to pursue that statewide High-Speed Rail System as originally proposed,” wrote Ronald Batory, the federal railroad administrator, adding that the state “is chronically behind in project construction activities and has not been able to correct or mitigate its deficiencies.”

“The Trump administration is trying to exact political retribution on our state,” Newsom responded in a statement. “This is California’s money, appropriated by Congress, and we will vigorously defend it in court.”

That’s not really true. The money was part of an overall appropriation by Congress for rail projects and California was given a piece of it by the Obama administration under a contract.

It has not met its contractual obligations and cannot, as Howle said late last year, meet the 2022 deadline due to poor management during Jerry Brown’s administration.

The bullet train utterly lacks a rational purpose, has been ill-managed from the onset and is a black financial hole. If the Trumpies strangle it, they would be doing California a big favor.

This article was originally published by CalMatters

California Regulator Threatens Trump With `Extreme’ Auto Rules

A top California environmental regulator is threatening to enact tough, new pollution rules — including an unprecedented ban on cars burning petroleum-based fuels — in response to a Trump administration plan to relax vehicle emission standards.

California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols said the state would be forced to pursue “extreme” requirements to offset the uptick in pollution that would be unleashed if federal vehicle emission and fuel economy standards are weakened.

“If we lose the state vehicle standards, we have to fill up the gap with other measures,” Nichols said at a forum on the issue Thursday. “We will be faced with dramatic alternatives in terms of tighter, stricter controls on everything else, including movement of vehicles and potentially looking at things like fees and taxes and bans on certain types of vehicles and products.”

Nichols did not explicitly outline possible changes at Thursday’s event, which was held to discuss the consequences of the Trump proposals and potential California countermeasures. But in remarks prepared for the meeting, she raised the specter of outlawing conventional vehicles with combustion engines, as well as tougher anti-pollution requirements on everything from fuel to the refineries producing it. …

Click here to read the full article from Bloomberg

Trump administration cancels $929 million in California high speed rail funds

The Trump administration said on Thursday it was formally cancelling $929 million in previously awarded funding for California’s high-speed rail program after rejecting an appeal by the state.

The U.S. railway regulator, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), said on Thursday it had canceled the funding awarded in a 2010 agreement after it said the state had “repeatedly failed to comply” and “failed to make reasonable progress on the project.”

In a statement, the FRA said it was still considering “all options” on seeking the return of $2.5 billion in federal funds the state has already received. …

Click here to read the full article from Reuters.com