Posts by Paul Constant

As John Kasich Rises, the Republican Party Runs Out of Ideas for the Working Class

As John Kasich Rises, the Republican Party Runs Out of Ideas for the Working Class

Tonight, all eyes are going to be on John Kasich’s performance in the Ohio primary. With Marco Rubio’s campaign sputtering to an undignified halt, and with Republicans reluctant to embrace Ted Cruz, Kasich looks like the establishment’s last, best chance. Even Mitt Romney is campaigning for Kasich. Never mind the fact that Kasich, who has not won a single state thus far, has no clear path to the nomination ; Republicans are desperate for a palatable general-election candidate, and Kasich is their last hope (okay, he’s actually their next-to-last hope, but Republicans really, really don’t like Ted Cruz.) And so how is Kasich trying to represent the Republican Party’s future? By clinging to the policies of the Republican Party’s past, of course! Emily Atkins at ThinkProgress reported that at a rally in Youngstown, Kasich said Ohio communities couldn’t afford clean energy: The Ohio governor’s remarks came in response to a constituent who asked how he would “implement clean energy and green jobs” in Youngstown if elected president. The questioner noted that clean energy was important to fighting human-caused climate change, and that Kerry had recently travelled to Paris to negotiate an international deal to reduce emissions. “I think when [Secretary of State John Kerry] went to Paris, he should have gone there to get our allies together to fight ISIS instead,” Kasich said to applause. He added that clean energy would be too expensive to implement in the Mahoning Valley, where the manufacturing industry has suffered in recent years. Setting aside that strange attempt at tossing out some war-on-terror red meat, what Kasich is selling here is a false dichotomy: clean energy or good jobs. In fact, by tying Youngstown to the energy policies of the past, Kasich is doing damage to the community. (Nick Cassella wrote about this earlier today .) Demand for clean energy is high and  only getting higher ; investing in clean energy is the way to ensure that a community will
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Donald Trump Was the Dominant Chimpanzee at the GOP Debate

Donald Trump Was the Dominant Chimpanzee at the GOP Debate

Here’s Jane Goodall talking about chimpanzee aggression: I listened to this today because it reminds me of last night’s Republican debate. Those pundits who rank Republican debates for “winners” and “losers” are missing the point: Donald Trump is dominating these debates completely. At the opening of every debate Trump plays the music, and then the other candidates dutifully dance along to it. The debate two weeks ago saw Trump lead the way with attacks and bravado, and then every other candidate joined him in a brutal screaming match. Last night’s debate delivered a more subdued Trump who talked about issues and tried to seem presidential, and Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich mimicked him step for step. Experts like Goodall will one day be able to examine these debates as a perfect example of primate dominance. Nobody else can “win” these debates because Trump “wins” them as soon as he walks on stage. He sets the rules, he creates a favorable situation for himself, and then he proceeds to meet the expectations he’s set. When you’re the competitor, the host, and the referee, odds are good you’re going to win the game. At the same time, Trump’s more subdued tempo last night unveiled some fairly horrific facts about the field of Republican nominees. Turns out, when Republicans are not screaming their policies—when they’re saying them in a normal voice—everything is much more horrifying. USA Today , PBS NewsHour , and the Associated Press all published long lists of untruths and misconceptions shared by the candidates last night. It’s fair to say, I think, that absolutely no policy was un-mangled, from Social Security to Obamacare to Trump’s admiration of China. Trump’s refusal to disavow the violence at his rallies was perhaps the nadir of a pretty roundly low evening. The primary narrative out of every single Republican debate has remained the same: the GOP is the
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Three News Stories the Candidates Should Discuss at Tonight’s GOP Debate

Three News Stories the Candidates Should Discuss at Tonight’s GOP Debate

Tonight, as has been a Thursday tradition for over 10,000 years, Republican presidential candidates will gather in Florida to yell over each other and make thinly veiled references to their own genitalia. (I’ll be live-tweeting the debate from @civicskunkworks starting at 5:30 Seattle time.) But what else will they discuss, after all the insulting nicknames have been shouted? Here are three big, current news stories that CNN’s moderators should bring up to the candidates. Topic 1: Our deteriorating discourse. Everyone is talking today about the white Trump supporter who sucker-punched an African-American man at a rally. The man, John McGraw, later told Inside Edition that he punched the protester because”…we don’t know if he’s ISIS. We don’t know who he is, but we know he’s not acting like an American, cussing me…” McGraw also said the man “deserved it. The next time we see him, we might have to kill him. We don’t know who he is. He might be with a terrorist organization.” Questions for all the candidates: Is a candidate responsible for his supporters? Is it okay to punch another human being without provocation? Do you reject McGraw’s actions and statements? Has the discourse become too divisive? If so, what will you do about it? Topic 2: Global warming. Earlier this month, global temperatures reached what Slate referred to as a “Terrifying Milestone.” As of Thursday morning, it appears that average temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere have breached the 2 degrees Celsius above “normal” mark for the first time in recorded history, and likely the first time since human civilization began thousands of years ago.* That mark has long been held (somewhat arbitrarily) as the point above which climate change may begin to become “dangerous” to humanity. It’s now arrived—though very briefly—much more quickly than anticipated. Questions for all the candidates: Is global warming real? If so, what should we
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Local Radio Host Very Confused About the Minimum Wage

Local Radio Host Very Confused About the Minimum Wage

Eric Mandel, the “Digital Content Producer” at myNorthwest.com , reports that Seattle-area conservative talk radio host Dori Monson has some opinions about Raise Up Washington , the coalition fighting to raise Washington State’s minimum wage to $13.50 over four years. First of all, the column begins with a quiet little victory of its own. Monson, who has for years been an angry opponent of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage, seems to now be okay with $15. “Upping the minimum wage in Seattle is one thing,” Mandel says in a paraphrase of Monson’s argument, implying that he has come to accept the wage. He also seems to be taking it on faith that $15 is right for Seattle in this paragraph: “The cost of living in a place like Colfax is dramatically different from the cost of living if you are on Queen Anne or Fremont in Seattle,” [Monson] said. “It doesn’t make any sense to have a statewide minimum wage. The economies of rural Eastern Washington and urban cities in Western Washington are night and day, and (it’s not smart) to say a minimum wage should be one-size fits all.” So, yeah, it sure sounds like Monson might be a convert to $15. Welcome, Dori! It’s never too late to get right on an issue. But addressing Monson’s finer point in that paragraph: it’s perfectly okay to believe that the minimum wage should not be one-size-fits-all. That’s why, if Raise Up Washington’s initiative passes, the minimum wage will be $13.50 in rural areas by 2020, but in Seattle it will be more than two dollars higher than that in many cases , to account for the higher cost of living in Seattle. Problem solved! Monson’s other point is a common misconception about the minimum wage that gets repeated a whole lot: “Minimum-wage jobs generally are entry-level jobs,” he said. “They are jobs that you work while you’re finishing your college degree or while you
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The Conversation About Secure Scheduling Is Heating Up

The Conversation About Secure Scheduling Is Heating Up

Over the weekend, the Seattle Times published an editorial by Steve Gordon, the CEO of a trucking company, that responded to a Seattle Times editorial by Civic Ventures founder Nick Hanauer about secure scheduling. Hanauer argued for a scheduling Golden Rule—you should schedule your employees as you would have them schedule you. Gordon argues that life is unpredictable, and employers can’t be expected to know exactly what kind of coverage they need. Weirdly, though, the two examples that Gordon uses as an example of why employers would need to call in their employees at odd hours—customers needing coffee at 5 am and additional packages needing delivery in December—are incredibly predictable situations. No matter how terrible the economy might be at any given moment, people will always need coffee in the morning and people always will mail packages at Christmas time. An employer who can’t predict those two demands is an employer who might need some help running their business. It’s important to note that no secure scheduling law has been announced in Seattle yet; Seattle City Council members Lorena González and Lisa Herbold are looking at secure scheduling demands and haven’t come to any conclusions about legislation just yet. In fact, Herbold’s committee is hosting a work session with various  labor experts  tomorrow morning at 9:30 am . It’s safe to assume that any eventual secure scheduling law would allow for solutions to workers calling in sick, or a surprise increase in customer demand, or any of the other examples that Gordon and opponents are suggesting. In the meantime, as lawmakers examine the issue, the latest episode of the Seattle Channel show City Inside/Out takes a look at secure scheduling, interviewing civic leaders, including Hanauer, on the issue. It’s well worth your time:

Donald Trump Is Not a Problem. Donald Trump Is a Symptom of a Problem.

Donald Trump Is Not a Problem. Donald Trump Is a Symptom of a Problem.

This was always going to happen. America was always hurtling toward a debate in which the Republican frontrunner bragged about the size of his own genitals in front of an audience of millions. We were destined to watch three contenders spend nearly two full hours accusing the frontrunner of every dirty trick under the sun—scams, lies, flip-flops, foul language, breaks with the party line—and then we were of course going to see those same three contenders, in the last ten minutes of the debate, pledge to support that same frontrunner unconditionally in the general election. In retrospect, it’s as obvious as winter turning to spring. It just had to happen. At the time, nobody could have predicted that the election of the first African-American president, a Democrat, to the presidency would result in a shameless celebrity seizing the Republican Party’s nomination in 2016. But that’s what happened, and now that it’s happened, it’s beyond obvious. The Republican Party over the last eight years has fallen prey to institutional racism. A small but vocal subsection of the party, the ideological heirs to the Dixiecrats who turned Republican, capitalized on conservative unrest after Obama’s first election to seize the discourse. They have since consumed the party, infecting every level of it—from the language Republican elected officials use to the laws they pass. Racism is a tool through which the powerful suppress those with less power. Though racism belongs to no class in particular, it benefits those at the top—in other words, the Donald Trumps of the world. When a large number of Americans are obsessed with taking rights away from other Americans, they don’t worry about protecting or growing their own rights. If the people who vote you into office are concerned about making sure that minorities don’t get any benefits, they
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Can Someone Finally Ask These Questions at the Republican Debate Tonight?

Can Someone Finally Ask These Questions at the Republican Debate Tonight?

The remaining Republican presidential candidates—that’s Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich, if you weren’t keeping track—will appear on Fox News for a debate tonight at 6 pm . I’ll be live-tweeting the debate from the @civicskunkworks handle ; I hope you’ll join me then. So what should you expect? Well, surely Mitt Romney’s weird speech about Donald Trump from this morning will be a big topic of discussion/angle of attack. (Note to Mitt Romney: you are the single worst person in the world to hit Trump on tax returns.) The other candidates will simultaneously attempt to attack Trump and frame themselves as the lone adult onstage. They’ll talk about hating immigrants, and bombing other countries, and cutting taxes and regulations. There will be a lot of screaming. But after months of an overstuffed field, the Republican field has finally been winnowed down to a manageable number. Between four candidates, they will undoubtedly be able to share a significant amount of speaking time, and in theory they will be able to field a broader array of questions. Here’s what I wish they would talk about: The minimum wage. Every candidate left in the race has opposed raising the minimum wage, though Trump has since suggested that “ wages in our country are too low .” So I’d propose a two-part question: Are wages in America too low? And if so, what do you want to do about it? The middle class. Of the four remaining candidates, Trump speaks with the most passion about America’s shrinking middle class. That’s a problem. I would love to see these guys get into a fight about who cares more for the middle class. (And I’d be curious to see how they justify opposing a hike in the minimum wage immediately after they give lip service to the middle class, too.) Infrastructure. Yet again, Trump is the only one of these four candidates who talks longingly of China’s
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Marco Rubio Embraced His Inner Trump. Here’s What He Should’ve Done Instead.

Marco Rubio Embraced His Inner Trump. Here’s What He Should’ve Done Instead.

This is how low Marco Rubio has descended: he’s attacking Donald Trump with a collection of second-rate Trumpisms right before Super Tuesday: This is, of course, the exactly wrong move for Rubio; you can’t beat Trump at his own game. A significant portion of the Republican primary vote has been swept up in Trump’s anti-establishment zeal, and Rubio has no hope of gaining those votes. What he should be doing is trying to win the Republicans who would never vote for Donald Trump. There are plenty of them out there, and Rubio’s insult-comic schtick is scaring them all away. Actually, the truth is that Rubio has been scaring those anti-Trump voters away since the very beginning of his presidential campaign. As we’ve been telling you since last year , Rubio’s policies are just as terrible and unrealistic as Trump’s. So what should Rubio have done if he wanted to be his party’s nominee? What would a sensible Republican presidential candidate look like? I’m glad you asked. • Quit with the exclusionary talk. Stop talking about getting rid of gay marriage. Stop making immigrants out to be the great Satan. Stop punishing women for being women. Quit making all your foreign policy about Christians versus everyone else. Every time you exclude a group from your platform, you’re pushing voters away. Why any presidential candidate would tell voters not to vote for them is a mystery to me, but that’s been Rubio’s plan from the very beginning. • Get over this tired “government-is-the-enemy” routine. Look, we know that Republicans are for limited government, but this is getting ridiculous. Rubio, a sitting Senator running for president, wants us to believe that he thinks government can solve absolutely no problems except those involving the military? It just seems a little disingenuous, doesn’t it? So why not accept the fact that government
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It’s Been a Very Good Week for Seattle’s Minimum Wage

It’s Been a Very Good Week for Seattle’s Minimum Wage

Mark Perry, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute, published a post on Seattle’s minimum wage earlier this month. As you’d expect from the conservative think tank’s most rabid attack dog, Perry claimed that since raising the minimum wage, Seattle was suffering poor employment numbers in relation to the rest of Washington. This is nothing new. Perry has published over two dozen anti-minimum wage posts in the last year, about half of which were centered directly on Seattle. But this latest post was different: Perry seemed more confident than in his dozen or so other hit pieces. Perry had previously based his numbers on regional data, which didn’t prove his point at all. But now he was claiming to highlight Seattle-specific numbers, which he said proved that Seattle employment has fallen by 11,000 jobs since last year’s unemployment hike. Enter Michael Hiltzik at the L.A. Times , who published an excellent refutation of Perry’s latest claims, starting with this significant point: Unfortunately, local economists say Perry is still using bad data. Although he attributes the city-only numbers to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they’re not reliable jobs numbers. Perry’s source is the Local Area Unemployment Statistics file, or LAUS, which is based on a small sampling. It’s aimed at counting the number of employed people living in the sample area (in this case, Seattle), not the number of jobs. The data are “prone to error,” University of Washington economist Jacob Vigdor told me by email, and “basically worthless for any serious analysis.” Indeed, Vigdor — who is overseeing the university’s analysis of minimum-wage data — notes that the same statistics for Bellevue and Everett, Wash., showed exactly the same percentage decrease that Perry found in Seattle, even though they haven’t increased their minimum wage. There’s much more, and you should read the whole thing. But this isn’t the end of the assault
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There Is No Evidence That Marco Rubio Would Be a Better President Than Donald Trump

There Is No Evidence That Marco Rubio Would Be a Better President Than Donald Trump

This morning, Nick Cassella shared an excellent Vox video about why the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency is so scary. And I agree: Donald Trump’s success is terrifying and disappointing. Obviously. He’s made his name, repeatedly, through hate speech. (It’s not a coincidence that the people Trump has problems with are nonwhite.)  He retweets white supremacists  with alarming regularity. He is a terrible candidate, and the fact that he’s right now the Republican frontrunner should be a cause for shame among Americans. But as the presidential field starts to slim down—so long, Jeb!—Republicans are coalescing behind a single establishment candidate. And it looks like that establishment candidate is Marco Rubio. Vox has also published a piece by Matthew Yglesias about why Rubio is a terrifying candidate. It identifies Rubio’s three biggest problems—his budget is ludicrous, his foreign policy is potentially disastrous, and he’s bad on civil liberties—clearly and concisely. We here at Civic Skunk Works have been on the Rubio tip for a while now. We’ve written a lot about his failures as a candidate. A partial list follows: • Hanna Brooks Olsen wrote about Rubio’s problematic take on the minimum wage . In short: Rubio knows you can’t survive on the minimum wage, but he still wants to keep the minimum wage low. What alternative does this give the working poor in America? • Nick Cassella has written about Marco Rubio’s plans to address college debt, which many people suggest would result in something no better than “indentured servitude.” • And I have written about Rubio’s astounding lack of ideas , and investigated the many serious problems with Rubio’s tax plan : What you have here is a candidate who believes the wealthiest Americans—the top 1 percent, yeah, but more importantly the top 0.0003 percent, according to Bernstein—pay too much in taxes. And so naturally Rubio’s tax plan would result in significantly less revenue for the government. Wait, did I say “significantly?” I mean “disastrously.” Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor for the conservativeNational Review, noted in Bloomberg : “The Tax Foundation estimated that over the first 10 years that revenue reduction would amount to $6 trillion, unless the reform
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