Tuesday Open Thread [12.17.13]

Filed in National by on December 17, 2013

“The question that we have is, will it be the Hillary that leads the progressives? Or is it the Hillary that says, ‘I’m already going to win the Democratic nomination, and so I can shift hard right on Day 1.’ We can’t afford any more hard right. We had eight years of George Bush. Now we’ve had five years of Obama, [who], I would argue, in many cases has been a corporatist.”

— Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D), quoted by the Weekly Standard.

I think it is clear that Hillary will be challenged by a progressive, whether it be Howard Dean or Schweitzer. Both should know that they will not win, but at least they can shift Hillary to the left and not the right.

The New York Times on a federal court ruling finding that the NSA’s data mining program is illegal:

Reaching into the 18th century from the 21st, the judge wrote that James Madison “would be aghast” at the degree of privacy invasion the data sweep represents. […] Judge Leon recognized the government’s compelling interest in preventing terrorism, but he pointed out that it “does not cite a single instance” in which the data collection “actually stopped an imminent attack.” […]

The judge, in granting the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction, ordered the government to stop collecting the plaintiffs’ phone data and to destroy any data it had already collected, but because of the “significant national security interests at stake,” he stayed his own ruling to allow the government to appeal. The decision applies only to the plaintiffs in this case, and not to the American public at large.

Though the ruling is limited in those respects, it is an enormous symbolic victory for opponents of the bulk-collection program, and a reminder of the importance of the adversarial process. For seven years, these constitutional issues have been adjudicated under “a cloak of secrecy,” as Judge Leon put it. Now, that cloak has finally been lifted in a true court of law.

Who is ready for the largest class action in human history?

The Governor is about to show us whose side he is on? The rich or the poor.

Gov. Jack Markell, who will present a new budget to the General Assembly next month, will not have a significant boost in new tax revenue to cover mandatory cost increases in health care and education, according to new revenue estimates out Monday.[…]

“Even though revenues ultimately are still going to be up from last year, they’re not going to be up enough to cover the automatic growth in Medicaid and the automatic growth in schools,” said Rep. Melanie George Smith, D-Bear, co-chair of the budget writing Joint FinanceCommittee. “That’s the real issue.”

Senate Minority Leader Gary Simpson offers the standard Republican prescription for anything involving fiscal matters: tax cuts and more tax cuts. Even though history has shown all tax cuts do is raise the budget deficit, something the Governor and the General Assembly is trying to close.

I assume Mr. Markell will not go down the tax cut course, for if he does, he should just join the Republican Party right now. But what I do seem him doing is trying to cut spending on social services to avoid in any way raising a dime in taxes on his friends in the corporate world.

Meanwhile, the solution is simple: enact a progressive tax structure. Right now, someone making $6 million a year and someone making $600,000 a year and someone making $60,000 a year all pay the same tax rate in the state of Delaware. Governor Markell could raise revenue but add more rate levels above the current ceiling of $60,000.

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  1. Jason330 says:

    The Governor is about to show us whose side he is on? The rich or the poor.

    That is snark, I hope.

    For someone like Jack you have to wonder where the dread of raising taxes comes from. He is clearly smart enough to think through the economic implication of raising taxes v. cutting v. keeping them as is. So he knows what course makes economic sense. But he is also smart enough (and ambitious enough) to know that maybe is something that makes getting elected slightly tougher(?)

  2. Andy says:

    How much have taxes been cut since the days of Pete duPont compared to increases?

  3. Delaware Dem says:

    That is a good question Andy. Going to have to research that.

  4. Steve Newton says:

    Meanwhile, the solution is simple: enact a progressive tax structure.

    Given the large majority of Dems in the General Assembly this should be easy to enact–as long as Delaware Democrats are all willing to vote for it.

    If they aren’t, I guess your question for Markell is really a question for all the Ds in the GA, isn’t it?

  5. Delaware Dem says:

    Indeed, Steve. Unfortunately, as we have learned with Markell, just because you are a Democrat doesn’t mean you are a progressive. The Assembly Leadership (Blevins, Schwartzkopf, etc.) are most decidedly not progressive. And if Markell wants something dead, the bill dies in committee. Look at the Minimum Wage Increase last year.

  6. AQC says:

    So the White House Christmas tree has ornaments representing each state and Chip Flowers declares he is “humbled by their support”. Narcissism?

  7. Tim says:

    Looks like Chip is in DC again per his twitter acct. wonder how much this trip is costing us? Does he have the guts to stay at the $600 hotel this time or will he rough it?

  8. Geezer says:

    If Chip Flowers slept in a refrigerator box, he’d bill the state for the refrigerator.

  9. Tim says:

    Has anyone heard of a primary challenger from the 9th RD? That’s one rumor out there. How many challengers so far??

  10. Nuttingham says:

    And if the legislature or Governor decided that they might want to raise taxes again…. what kinds of ground support would they find?

    Not many legislators can point to any very active pro-taxation movement in 2009 or even 2013.

  11. Jeff says:

    The Governor has been showing us for a long time which side he is on. For example, it is my understanding that he has never proposed a pay raise for state employees (although they did get one once). OK, I am talking about Capital versus Labor, but that is a proxy for rich versus poor.

  12. Ezra Temko says:

    Andy and Delaware Dem:

    There is information on the last 50+ years regarding Delaware’s top marginal income tax rate and bracket at http://delawareada.org/advocacy/fairtaxesdelaware/background/#ONE

  13. jason330 says:

    And if the legislature or Governor decided that they might want to raise taxes again…. what kinds of ground support would they find?

    Taxes… revenue are what smart governments use to make investments. If the Governor, or anybody for that matter, proposed good investments that put people to work and improved the economy they’d have plenty to run on.

    The problem is that we’ve allowed the right to frame every governmental outlay as an expense that requires cutting. We need Democrats (like Bill Clinton during his first campaign) who can make the case that taxes are not an evil that must be done away with.

  14. kavips says:

    Thank you Ezra.