Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Seattle, Washington, One of the Premier Cities in the West, has Worked for Nearly a Decade to Create a Cultural Tax District Modeled After Denver’s Scientific and Cultural Facilities District

Unfortunately, voters in King County, home of Seattle, just rejected the multi-year effort to create a tenth of a cent cultural taxing district. The election, held August 1, lost by 2 percentage points, 51 percent to 49 percent, 9,000 votes out of 400,000 cast.

Advocates knew that after the May 1, 2017 King County Council vote they had some challenges for the August 1 election. The County Council was divided with bipartisan opposition. The most powerful paper, The Seattle Times, did not favor it. But, they organized a strong campaign with nearly $2 million in funding, TV advertising and many local endorsements.

In the end, the local tax environment was too much to overcome. The Seattle area sales tax has been increased repeatedly and is now above 10 percent. It’s often referred to as a regressive tax. There are a host of other issues the Times and others wanted addressed, such as homelessness, affordable housing and opioids. Arts funding was seen as a lower priority.

It is a reminder of how special Denver’s SCFD is and serves as a challenge to Denver’s cultural and civic leaders to nurture and protect it.

See articles:
The Stranger: King County Council Puts 'Access for All' on the August Ballot
Seattle Times: ‘Education, inspiration’: King County putting sales tax to fund arts on August ballot
Seattle Times: King County voters saying no to Prop. 1 sales-tax plan
Seattle Times: Voter rejection of Proposition 1 sends message about tax measures
King 5 TV: Analysts say Prop One results point to levy fatigue
Cascadia Advocate: King County voters reject proposition to fund the arts with sales tax increase

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Bipartisan Movement on Health Care

The public claims it supports a bipartisan approach to health care legislation now being attempted by a group of independent-minded congresspersons. Seventy-seven percent of Americans tell CNN pollsters that “Republicans should work with Democrats to pass a health care bill.” Only twelve percent said go it alone. In fact, sixty-nine percent of Republicans said go with bipartisan approach.

A bipartisan coalition of the House of Representatives has proffered a plan to stabilize the Obamacare markets to ensure the ACA doesn’t just collapse. This bill has a number of significant elements, but it faces a leadership in both parties that must deal with members committed to completely repeal on the right to single-payer on the left. In Colorado, Representatives Coffman and Polis have been listed as members.

Release: Josh Gottheimer and Tom Reed lead 35 problem solvers caucus members in bipartisan letter to President Trump
Politico: Centrist lawmakers plot bipartisan health care stabilization bill
Bipartisan problem solvers caucus proposal to stabilize the individual market

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Oorah! Semper Fi

Donald Trump early on liked military officers. They are now the most prominent feature of the administration. His attraction is partially based on military officers being mostly non-partisan, very professional and tending to support the commander-in-chief, even if they disagree with some policies.

Marines, who have the smallest officer corps of the four major divisions, are holding key positions in the government’s foreign policy establishment and White House: Generals Mattis, Dunford, Kelly and Alles (Secret Service). H.R. McMaster is Army and operates the National Security Council.

The Corps had serious reservations with Barack Obama’s risk avoidance foreign policy characterized by withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan and little involvement in Syria. In Trump’s administration, there is a potential for conflict with the nationalist camp. The Corps (and the Army) believes the peace and prosperity of America depends on the order established by the United States since the Second World War. The threats they see today will not be addressed by any form of nationalistic isolation.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

August 2017 Recess

The August 2017 congressional recess feels like the history-making 2009 recess. In that year, the Tea Party got its start going to congressional town halls and offices to express their supreme dislike of the early drafts of Obamacare.

Although Obamacare didn’t pass Congress until the next March, the movement had momentum and Democrats began to recognize they were in trouble. They lost two governorships in November 2009, Ted Kennedy’s open Senate seat, and then in November 2010, a record-breaking 63 House seats.

Republican congresspersons are in trouble from disappointed conservatives who wanted Obamacare repealed. In addition, the high profile collapse of the bill damaged Republicans with voters who actually depend on Obamacare insurance. Possibly most importantly, their agenda has lost credibility and their rationale for having control of the government to get things done is no longer believable. Gridlock is back.

Off-year elections are typically difficult for the presidential party and can be a disaster in the first term if presidents are in trouble. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama had terrible first midterm elections. Clinton lost the House for the first time in 40 years and Obama lost it back to the Republicans after holding it for only four years.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

John McCain Made History – 9-KUSA, Kim Christiansen

John McCain voted 2:00 am Friday morning, July 28, at the end of a late night Senate session that decided the fate of the repeal of Obamacare. McCain voted no, joining two colleagues, and stopped the Republicans’ plan for repeal. This was part of an on-air interview with Kim Christiansen.

McCain demonstrated the power of a single senator from a small state taking on his party establishment and president. His vote, which saved Obamacare for the time-being, was ironic. McCain was beaten by Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, and now he was saving Obama’s legacy legislation.

Sen. John McCain casts “no” vote on health care bill,
 July 28, 2017 | New York Times
The closeness of the vote was not surprising from a historical sense. Obama barely received the 60 votes he needed in the Senate back in 2010, and it only passed with one vote to spare on the House floor in final passage in 2011. Indeed, this bill struggled since its filing this year, first in the House and then in the Senate. A vote had to be postponed over the Fourth of July recess for a lack of a majority.

Although McCain was hailed in many quarters as a hero for stopping an unpopular bill, many of his Republican colleagues criticized him for contributing to the problem of “getting nothing done,” which he complained about in his epic Tuesday afternoon speech after dramatically returning to the Senate from his cancer treatment.

Regardless of the reasons, the bill’s loss was historic and could have fateful consequences for Republicans. Seldom has party leadership brought a bill to the floor without knowing the vote. The loss damages the party’s reputation as being effective and it derails its momentum.

One aspect of McCain’s action was a help for the party. The bill’s repeal aspect was extremely unpopular with some people, but the replacement parts were nearly universally disliked. Also, three-quarters of the public said they would like to try McCain’s bipartisan effort to pass health care.

Read more:
New York Times: Senate rejects slimmed-down Obamacare repeal as McCain votes no
The Buzz: Cory Gardner’s problems with health care

Monday, August 7, 2017

Cory Gardner’s Problems with Health Care

Senator Cory Gardner, a member of the Senate Republican leadership, voted for all three failed health care bills. None of them were very popular as replacements for Obamacare. Hence, he suffers both from the failure to deliver on the promise to repeal Obamacare and the anger of people who disliked its replacements.

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-CO, joined by (L to R) Sen. John Barrasso, R-WY,
Sen. John Thune, R-SD, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of KY,
 at a news conference on Capitol Hill, May 16, 2017 |J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Gardner also had a myriad of pro-Obamacare (or pro-medical subsidies in general) voters that wanted attention at his office and at meetings around the state during the last months of deliberations. He got in trouble with the Denver Post, which endorsed him in 2014, for avoiding some constituents and for not taking a position on the bills.

As a senator in a swing state, he was never going to find a popular position on repeal and replacement of Obamacare. Polling shows more than 80 percent of Republican voters want it repealed, but as Obamacare became more subject to repeal, it became more popular with the general population.

Gardner is not up until 2020 (the Trump re-election year), but his reputation for thoughtful, somewhat independent and candid positions has been damaged. Like his colleagues, he’s now trying to determine what’s next. It is not apparent how the major divisions in the party come together in a strategy.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Soaring Market and Plunging Polls

The Dow has hit four 1,000-point records since Donald Trump’s election nine months ago, but on August 2, the day it crossed its latest record (22,000), the President’s approval rating hit a new low –33 percent (Quinnipiac).

Trump often rails that the media does not give him enough credit for the markets. In fact, he was frequently mentioned as having unleashed pent up optimism from investors and businesses based on his having a pro-business cabinet and agenda. But as the agenda bogged down in Washington, his contribution got less notice, and more credit now goes to good earnings reports, low interest rates and a reasonably calm world economy. An economic recovery going into its 9th year is also a driver.

The latest 1,000-point record represents an 11 percent increase for the year and a 20 percent increase since the election (183 trading days). In spite of the dysfunction in Washington, the market continues to surge, hitting its latest increase in a mere 107 days.

Trump’s approval rating, however, has been moving in the opposite direction, with the latest polls placing it in the mid 30-point range. His approval (using RealClearPolitics average) – never high – is 8 points lower at about the same time the market is 10 points higher.

Read The Buzz:
Trump surge builds on Obama’s recovery
Trump rally breaks 20000 in near record speed
Trump gives the rally a boost