Posts Tagged ‘legislation’

Getting From Here To There Politically

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021

Unless you’ve been living under a very big rock at the bottom of a very deep hole at the base of a very large crater on the planet Mars, you probably know there is a very wide chasm separating the Republican and Democratic Parties with respect to domestic policy.

The Democratic Party believes the middle and lower classes have had it tucked to them since the era of Ronald Reagan and the emergence and eventual marketplace triumph of trickle down politics. They point to more than 40 years of stagnant Real Wages, the constant and dispiriting race to keep up with the cost of living in which every step means falling farther behind, and the ever-widening and maddening gulf between the haves and the have nots, the one-percenters and everyone else. Party leadership and President Biden believe something has to be done and now is the time to do it. Ergo, the Build Back Better bill (BBB) currently ricocheting around the halls of Congress.

The Republican Party and its leadership disagree. In a nutshell, they say the whole thing costs too much and will bankrupt the country.

They took a somewhat different stance when they were in power and, with no Democratic support, passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which many consider the quintessential example of trickle down economics in American history. Under this legislation the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that individuals and pass-through entities like partnerships and S corporations would receive about $1.125 trillion in net benefits (i.e. net tax cuts offset by reduced healthcare subsidies) over 10 years, while corporations would receive around $320 billion in benefits. The CBO estimated that implementing the Act would add an estimated $2.289 trillion to the national debt over ten years (emphasis added)( “CBO-Appendix B: The Effects of the 2017 Tax Act on CBO’s Economic and Budget Projections, page 129)

Republicans, said the CBO report was hogwash. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin went so far as to say the Act would pay for itself in ten years and lower the national debt.

Unfortunately, things haven’t worked out that way. Almost every major analysis correctly predicted revenues would fall and debt would increase. Analysis of first-year results released by the Congressional Research Service (the best research service you perhaps have never heard of) in May 2019 found:

  • “a relatively small (if any) first-year effect on the economy”
  • “a feedback effect of 0.3% of GDP or less,” such that the tax cut did not pay for itself
  • “pretax profits and economic depreciation (the price of capital) grew faster than wages,” meaning shareholders benefited more than workers
  • inflation-adjusted wage growth “is smaller than overall growth in labor compensation and indicates that ordinary workers had very little growth in wage rates”
  • “the evidence does not suggest a surge in investment from abroad in 2018” as proponents of the Act had asserted it would
  • “While evidence does indicate significant repurchases of shares, either from tax cuts or repatriated revenues, relatively little was directed to paying worker bonuses”

So, with that kind of batting average it seems a bit precious for Republicans to summarily dismiss the BBB bill and line up the firing squad to kill it. On the other hand, they proclaim agreement with the “goals” of the BBB, while offering no practical applications to achieve the desired results. Just goes to show that since the founding of the country parties in the minority, no matter who they are,  have demonstrated a terrific ability to denigrate what the majority proposes without any responsibility for proposing and implementing their own solutions.

But pity the poor Democrats within the Biden Administration. They’re having to fight the war on three fronts. First, there is the inevitable and total Republican opposition; then they have to appease the Progressive wing of their own party; and they have to do all this while at the same time dealing with a certain Senator from West Virginia. Let us not forget that this is the man who fathered the CEO of Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc., who, with Gordon Gekko enthusiasm, in 2016 raised the price of life saving EpiPens from $100 to $600 for a two-pack. Why? Because she could. I only mention this because of the old adage about the apple and the tree.

Given Senator Manchin’s knife-through-the-heart death blow to BBB this past Sunday on Fox News, one might be forgiven for thinking that if democrats keep bringing up the bill they’ll be fulfilling Einstein’s definition of insanity.

But, hold on a minute. I suggest the erstwhile coal magnate has gone a bridge too far and given the Democrats a magnificent opportunity. After his announcement, he was almost universally excoriated for it. Even the Coal Mining Union called him out on it. Obviously, this affected him, because the next day he seemed to back off a bit. Therefore, if the democratic muck-a-mucks are magnanimous and warm-hearted and forgive him publicly for this unfortunate error in judgement―sort of welcome him home as the Prodigal Son―he may be grateful enough to work with the President and, with a couple of face-saving tweaks, produce a bill all democrats can support, maybe even a few Republicans when they see the writing on the wall.

I’ve always thought the key to success is the ability to outlast the opposition. Elihu Root said it better. He was Secretary of State and Secretary of War in the Roosevelt Administrations, Theodore’s not Franklin’s. He said, “Men do not fail; they give up trying. Failure is a necessary step toward success.” Mr. Root also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1912.

Democrats would do well to remember Root’s words.

What do you think?

Guns on campus: things are heating up in Texas

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Amid much controversy, the Texas Legislature is considering SB354, a bill that would allow licensed students and professors to carry concealed handguns on college campuses. The bill has passed a Senate committee and has been referred to the Committee of Criminal Justice, where it will be up for a hearing. (Follow SB354). With support from Governor Rick Perry and more than half the members of the House signing on as co-authors, most observers think that the bill will be passed. But according to an article by Patrick Williams in the Dallas Observer, concealed guns on campus is not necessarily a fait accompli: “[Similar] legislation has failed 43 times in 23 states since Virginia Tech,” Malte says, referring to the 2007 campus mass murder that claimed 32 lives. “Every time somebody said this is a done deal over the last three years, it was defeated.”
Utah is currently the only state that allows guns on campus, but legislation is on the docket in several other states. Fox Business News reports that eight other states currently have campus carry legislation underway. These include Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Tennessee.
With sympathetic Republicans at or approaching supermajority status in a few of these states, the political stars are in alignment for success. Ultimately, the deciding factor may come down to the strength of student and parental support or opposition. Keep Guns Off Campus says that the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and 271 colleges and universities in 36 states – 189 four-year colleges and universities and 82 community colleges and technical schools – have joined the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus. (See Listing). On the other hand,
Students for Concealed Carry on Campus point to widespread support – not the least of which is the mighty power and deep pockets of the NRA.

Follow-on to “Guns at Work”

The spate of campus carry legislation is a natural adjunct to the NRA’s major “guns at work” legislative initiative, which has been sweeping the country in recent years to considerable success. According to the NRA, there are now 13 states that have laws permitting employees to have guns at work: Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Utah. While the particulars of these laws vary, such laws generally allow licensed gun owners to keep guns locked in their cars at work, including on employer-owned parking lots. In some states, certain business such as hospitals, schools and prisons are exempt. This is an issue that has pitted the rights of an employer to establish policy for their private property (employer-owned parking lots) against second amendment rights. It’s an issue that has been opposed by employer groups and associations.
For more history on the Guns at Work issue, see prior postings on the topic below.
Three new state laws limit employer restrictions on guns at work
Guns at work: coming to a neighborhood near you?
Workers with guns
Guns at work

Another Turkey in Ohio

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

The state of Ohio has attained considerable notoriety for its workers comp program. Unfortunately, the fame derives from a scandal, dubbed Coingate, in which high level officials were implicated in the diversion and theft of comp funds. There are a number of political operatives spending this Thanksgiving in jail. Now we read of a state senator who has proposed legislation to explicitly exclude undocumented workers from the Ohio comp system. It appears that one bad turn in Ohio deserves another.
We all recognize the ambiguous state of undocumented workers in the American workforce. But virtually all states – with the exception of sparsely populated Wyoming – have provided comp coverage to illegal workers once they are injured. It’s a matter of common sense and fundamental decency: we may question how these workers came here, but once hired and in the workforce, they must be afforded the same protections given to other workers. Otherwise, we create a second-class workforce subject to exploitation and substandard working conditions – not exactly the American way.
Turkey of a Bill
Enter one Bill Seitz, a state senator who graduated summa cum laude from the University of Cincinnati and from the University of Cincinnati School of Law, where he was Law Review and Order of the Coif. I have no idea what “Order of the Coif” is, but you can see Bill having a reasonably good hair day here.
Seitz says he was shocked to learn that the Ohio Bureau of Workers Comp does not require injured workers to document their status before receiving benefits. (Why is he shocked? No state has any such requirement.)
According the AP:

Seitz’s bill would place the burden of proof on the injured worker to demonstrate he or she is a legal worker by showing documentation such as a birth certificate or a visa. It would establish immunity from civil lawsuits for businesses in cases in which their workers’ claims are denied by the bureau because the worker is illegal, except in cases in which the business knew the worker was illegal or if it intentionally hurt the worker.

I particulary like the immunity from civil suits. This bill would not just eliminate the “exclusive remedy” of comp – it would strip away any remedy for injured, undocumented workers. It’s an invitation to employers to actively recruit illegal workers: they won’t be held responsible for hiring them, they won’t have any responsibility for workplace injuries that occur and they can avoid other forms of liability, provided, of course, that they did not “intentionally hurt” the worker. Seitz has stacked the deck against an already vulnerable population.
David Leopold, a Cleveland attorney and president-elect of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, thinks Seitz is engaged in a publicity stunt. “It seems to me to be a waste of time to even be talking about this. Beyond being cruel, it’s senseless because it’s not going to address the problem. If he has no statistics to back this up, he hasn’t shown a problem exists.”
Thanksgiving
As all of us gather for this most generous of our holidays, let’s give thanks for our many blessings. Let’s say a prayer for all of the families – native born, immigrant, legal and undocumented – struggling to make ends meet in this most difficult of times. And let’s hope that the good people of Ohio focus on fixing the real problems in their comp system, not the imaginary ones that trouble the waking hours of the well-dressed, well-coifed Mr. Seitz.

California Keeps Digging

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2003

Question: What is the first rule of “holes?” Answer: When you’re in one, stop digging.

Members of the public who have been following this column know that we, here at LynchRyan, have been absolutely fascinated with the workers’ compensation goings on in California, the state that, if it were a country, would have the world’s fifth leading gross national product.

While the eyes of the nation have been riveted on the political codswallop coming out of the “golden state,” California’s employer community is now paying workers’ compensation at the rate of 6.3% of payroll, more than three times the national average.

In the waning days of the Davis Administration, Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, D-San Francisco, maneuvered California’s legislature to approve a series of reforms aimed at reversing the runaway costs, which have climbed $20 billion in the last four years to reach $29 billion in 2003.

Davis signed the legislation and Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi estimated savings of $5 billion in 2004. But during his “campaign,” then-candidate, Arnold Schwarzenegger, called the legislation, “bogus bills.” As we all know, Schwarzenegger was elected and promised, during his inauguration speech, to cut workers’ compensation costs by $11 billion. And now “the game’s afoot.”

Last week, a state Senate committee voted to overturn the reforms. “If they think it’s a ‘bogus bill,’ if they think they can do so much better, they should have the opportunity,” Senator Burton said. “Let them sit in the endless meetings, let their constituents be all over them.” The legislature is now convening new committee hearings with the purpose of crafting new reforms.

Essentially, California is back at square one. We will continue to watch the fur fly.