Right-wing officials have consistently expressed opposition to the federal recovery effort, even as they take credit for the American Recovery and Reinvestment ACT's (ARRA) impcat on economic growth. The combination with promoting budget-busting tax cuts while bemoaning the deficit just adds to the hypocrisy of rhetoric on the right.
Connecticut Defends Clean Elections Financing Program
Overriding a veto by their Governor, the Conneticut Legislature has strengthened its Citizen's Election system of public financing of elections that was first instituted in 2005. Responding to a bad decision by a federal appeals court, the Legislature has fixed the system and increased the public financing available to candidates.
State governments are finally taking action to address the catastrophic damage caused by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Office of the Attorney General of Alabama has filed before a U.S. District Court a complaint against British Petroleum for what it described as the largest marine oil disaster in the history of the United States.
Right-wing officials have consistently expressed opposition to the federal recovery effort, even as they take credit for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's (ARRA) impact on economic growth.
In the past few months, conservative governors who routinely criticize the federal government's state fiscal relief and job creation efforts, including Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, heavily relied on recovery funds to balance steep shortfalls in their respective state budgets and touted projects that were only made possible by the Recovery Act.
Perhaps the most notorious recent example is South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. Sanford previously likened the Recovery Act to "slavery" and filed a boguslawsuit to prevent South Carolina from using ARRA funds, but signed legislation in June to expand eligibility for unemployment benefits in order to access $97.5 million in federal spending to support ailing unemployment insurance funds.
Right-wing Senators and Congressional members harped on inflated short-term deficit concerns to oppose the recent extension of aid for Americans out of work and the approval of critical support for teacher jobs. Yet, conservatives continue to promote the extension of the economically unsound Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. As the Pew Economic Policy Initiativenotes, financing the extension of these Bush-era tax cuts would cost $3.1 trillion over the next ten years. On top of that, these tax reductions do not stimulate the economy -- in fact, one federal dollar spent on Bush tax cuts results in only 29 cents in market activity, according to estimates by Moody's.
Alternatively, progressive actions such as increased infrastructure spending, providing aid to state governments, and extending unemployment benefits all yield considerably higher returns and have consistently proven to be significant catalyst of national economic growth.
The hypocrisy of right-wing officials is indicative of the their misleading rhetoric and the hollowness of their failed economic and fiscal policies.
Overriding a veto by their Governor, the Connecticut Legislature has strengthened its Citizens' Election system of public financing of elections that was first instituted in 2005. The Senate voted on August 5th to override Governor Rell's veto of the bill, SB 551, and the House followed suit last Friday by a 106-30 vote.
The vote comes in response to a Second Circuit decision issued in July. In Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield, the court upheld the major provisions of Connecticut's Citizens' Election Program with one exception: the "trigger provisions," which allow additional public funds to be disbursed when nonparticipating candidates spend in excess of a certain threshold (also known as "fight back" funds), were ruled unconstitutional on the dubious argument that matching the spending of wealthy candidates somehow violates their rights to spend excessively.
The new Connecticut law gets around the court decision by doubling the amount of the initial grant for participating candidates to $6 million. Under the old law, participating candidates only received $3 million initially, but could have qualified for an additional $3 million in "fight back" funds if they were widely outspent by an opponent. A final $3 million, for a total of $9 million, would have been available if they were the subject of attack ads by special interests.
Connecticut's Citizens' Election program is funded through unclaimed property assets, such as real estate and life insurance policies.
State governments are finally taking action to address the catastrophic damage caused by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Office of the Attorney General of Alabama has filed before a U.S. District Court a complaint against British Petroleum for what it describes as the largest marine oil disaster in the history of the United States.
The state of Alabama also sued co-defendant companies Transocean Ltd., Halliburton Energy Services, Inc., Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Mitsui & Co., and Cameron International Corp. All defendants, the complaint states, "negligently and wantonly failed to take appropriate measures to prevent damages [to the State]." As a result, Alabama is enduring damages to its natural and environmental resources, including the loss of use of state property, taxes, revenues, and other income; which in turn has also incurred damages associated with oil disaster response actions.
The lawsuit has received bi-partisan support in the state, including the two contenders for the gubernatorial post.
In addition to this lawsuit, BP has received 142, 400 claims representing all 50 U.S. States. The claims represent the havoc created upon communities and businesses that we discussed in a previous Dispatch. For instance, in a state that heavily relies on tourism like Florida, hotel operators say visitors are deciding not to travel to the state under the impression that the beaches are tarred by oil. It is evident that states will have to look into various ways to ensure that these corporations are held liable for their grossly negligent actions and that every resident gets compensated for the losses they have and will continue to bear.
Quick Credit: The Fringe Economy, the Great Recession, and the Welfare State - This New America Foundation paper looks at the rapid growth of the fringe economy—financial service offerings including check-cashing and payday lenders—and its impact on low- and moderate-income families. Many families waste their social service benefits on high-interest loans and often fall victim to abusive lending practices.
Prioritizing Approaches to Economic Development in New England: Skills, Infrastructure, and Tax Incentives - New England states, can no longer afford to spend scarce resources on tax credits and other business giveaways, argues a new report by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) but instead needs to focus its economic development efforts on rebuilding neglected infrastructure and improving education for people at all levels, from pre-school youngsters to older adult workers. The latter investments are better at creating jobs and generating economic growth, while they often bring in additional matching dollars from the federal government.
New Politics of Judicial Elections, 2000-2009 - Spending on state supreme court elections has more than doubled in the past decade, according to a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice, Justice at Stake, and the National Institute on Money in State Politics. $206.9 million spent in the decade 2000 to 2009, a massive increase from the $83.3 million spent in judicial elections from 1990 to 1999. A select group of "super spenders" is seriously outgunning small donors. In the 29 most costly judicial elections in ten states, the top five spenders each averaged $473,000 per election to help install judges of their choice
Speed Matters: The Benefits of Broadband 2010 -This SpeedMatters report highlights why the U.S. remains only 15th in the world in broadband access and the challenges and opportunities for energy savings, health care, education and job creation from a more active movement to deploy high-speed Internet access for all communities.
Home Broadband 2010 - This Pew Internet study finds that after several years of double digit growth, broadband adoption slowed dramatically in 2010, although African-Americans increased adoption rates from 46% in April 2009 to 56% in May 2010. African-Americans, along with other minorities, continue to trail whites in their use of broadband technologies. 66% of Americans believe lack of broadband is a disadvantage when it comes to finding out about job opportunities, while half of non-internet users do not go online because they do not see the digital world as relevant to them and need help to feel comforable online.
Unauthorized Immigrants and Their U.S.-Born Children - An estimated 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born in the United States in 2008 were the offspring of unauthorized immigrants. Nearly four-in-five (79%) of the 5.1 million children (younger than age 18) of unauthorized immigrants were born in this country and therefore are U.S. citizens.
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