Posts by Nick Cassella

Daily Clips: March 8th, 2016

Daily Clips: March 8th, 2016

David Brooks asks his fellow Republicans to come to their senses:  Call me crazy, but if “my” party’s best two options were politicians like Trump and Cruz, I’d ditch my party fast. Blatant racism and bigotry is usually where I draw the line. But Brooks cannot do that. It’s so weird to see in real time. He simply cannot get himself to realize that his party has left him. It’s like watching someone trudge through a terrible relationship where the other person has moved on, but the other person still thinks everything is fine. In meme form, this: Anyways, like all other “middle-of-the-road conservatives,” Brooks is hoping for a brokered convention this summer. He admits that this “would be bedlam for a few days, but a broadly acceptable new option might emerge.” So much for democracy, huh?!  What’s the solution to political polarization in the US? Fine, the 1860s and the 1960s were bad. But the fact that the nation hasn’t fallen into civil war and our leaders haven’t been gunned down is a pathetically low bar for a first-world country with the greatest military and strongest economy on Earth. Even during the tumult of the 1960s, Congress created Medicare and Medicaid, enacted landmark civil-rights legislation, and passed a sweeping education bill that still serves as the foundation for federal funding of public schools today. Ever since Obama’s first two years in office, Congress hasn’t done anything except shut down the government and come close to tanking the economy with a near-default on the nation’s debt. Immigration reform stalled. Gun reform went nowhere. Congress can’t even agree to declare war on ISIS, and now that Antonin Scalia has died, it might leave the Supreme Court short-handed for more than a year. Tolerant white working-class voters, turned off by Trump, may side with Democrats: Democrats are going after that more tolerant sector with a progressive populism initially and charismatically championed by Bernie Sanders but increasingly advocated by Hillary Clinton as well. Tweet of
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How Does Washington State Rank On Poverty?

How Does Washington State Rank On Poverty?

The Center for American Progress released a report last month which ranks all fifty states based on indicators dealing with poverty and economic opportunity. These indicators include measures like poverty rates, the gender wage gap, and the percent of households dealing with hunger and food security. According to the report , “these indicators help us better understand the areas in which the situation is improving for America’s struggling families – and those in which Washington must do more work to boost families’ well-being.” See for yourself how Washington stacks up in regards to poverty and inequality: Those numbers are quite middling. To put Washington’s poverty rate in perspective, in 2014, the official poverty rate in the US was 14.8 percent (New Hampshire is ranked first with 9.2 percent of people living below the poverty line). So we’re just 1.6 percent below the national average – hardly a number which should satisfy any citizen or politician in this state. Perhaps the most disturbing ranking in this report is Washington’s 42nd placing when it comes to affordable housing. The Evergreen state had “54 apartments or other units that were affordable and available for every 100 renter households with very low incomes in 2014.” To clarify, very low income households are defined in this study as “those with incomes at or below half of median income in the metropolitan or other area where they live.” Poverty and affordable housing are issues which must become higher priorities in this state. That’s why it is good to see that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine have declared a State of Emergency in response to the homeless crisis . Democratic members of the state legislature have also tried to solve this issue. Last month, Senate Democrats announced the “Bring Washington Home Act” which would “ spend nearly $300 million on services and house for homeless people in Washington .” While this bill may not have been perfect, the response from Republican leaders in our state
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Daily Clips: March 7th, 2016

Daily Clips: March 7th, 2016

The Democratic debate on Sunday was an orgy of protectionist rhetoric: So says Daniel Drezner, who pointed out that Sanders is “campaigning on Two Big Lies about the global political economy.” Let’s examine them. 1. Sanders’ first lie “is that he thinks trade protectionism will trigger a massive inflow of manufacturing jobs, n most of those jobs have disappeared from the face of the Earth .” 2. Sanders’ second lie “is that he pretends that there would be no foreign policy consequences from a US shift back to the days of Smoot-Hawley.” By this he means, how can Sanders simultaneously erect high trade barriers and persuade the rest of the world to cooperate on tackling climate change? These are extremely fair critiques of Sanders’ economic positions. Both Donald Trump and Mitt Romney are talking economic nonsense:  Paul Krugman doesn’t mince his words in this column. He takes a critical look at the economic policy disagreements between Mitt Romney and Donald Trump. If you remember from last week’s speech, Mitt warned the nation that America would “sink into prolonged recession” if Trump became POTUS. Krugman finds this a hysterical declaration, 1) because Mitt Romney was “saying almost exactly the same thing Mr Trump is saying now” when he was running for POTUS and 2) Romney loved the endorsement of Trump four years ago. The NRA is not doing Bernie Sanders any favors:  Ugh, that’s not an endorsement you want. Sen. Sanders was spot-on in his comments about gun manufacturer liability/PLCAA https://t.co/nDjEerjkgB #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/jEScbMDFt4 — NRA (@NRA) March 7, 2016

Hillary & Bernie Agree: It’s Time to Give Washington Workers a Raise & Paid Sick Leave

Hillary & Bernie Agree: It’s Time to Give Washington Workers a Raise & Paid Sick Leave

Raise Up Washington had a very good day. The statewide initiative (I-1433), which will be on the ballot in 2016, is composed of two parts: increasing the minimum wage and implementing paid sick leave for all Washingtonian workers. The wage increase is phased-in over four years, beginning at $11 (2017), $11.50 (2018), $12 (2019), and $13.50 (2020). The measure also allows workers to earn 1 hour paid sick leave for every forty hours worked, so workers can take care of themselves and their family when sick without fear of being fired or losing a day’s wage. And today, this groundbreaking initiative received the endorsements of both Democratic presidential candidates via Twitter. See for yourself! We have to do more to raise wages & support paid leave for hardworking families. I stand with @Raise_Up_WA in their work to do just that. -H — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 4, 2016 We must raise the minimum wage to a living wage. Congrats to @Raise_Up_WA for taking the first step to a $15/hr min. wage and paid leave. — Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 4, 2016 Now that’s what you call getting earned media! Sadly, Donald Trump hasn’t tweeted his support yet. Until then, let me take this time to thank Bernie and Hillary for leading on this pressing issue.

Daily Clips: March 4th, 2016

Daily Clips: March 4th, 2016

A GREAT US JOBS REPORT:  What wonderful news to wake up to. The government reported on Friday that employers added 242,000 workers in February, a hefty increase that highlighted the labor market’s steady gains at a time when anxiety about the economy was registering on Wall Street and at campaign rallies around the country. This is really big news. These two graphics (provided by those liberals over at NYT) illustrate the steady progress of our economy post-2008. It was not all good news, however. Unfortunately, “wages fell by 0.1 percent in February, a disappointing showing after the 0.5 percent increase in January, resulting in a 2.2 percent bump in the yearly rise.” Expect the Democratic nominee to talk non-stop about the need for higher wages. Just when you thought the GOP race had hit rock bottom:   22 out of my 25 focus group members said tonight’s #GOPDebate will hurt Republicans in the general election. This has to stop. Seriously. — Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) March 4, 2016 Where the f*** were you six months ago, Frank?! And he wasn’t alone. Where was Mitt? Or Rubio? Or McCain? Tweet of the day: We have to do more to raise wages & support paid leave for hardworking families. I stand with @Raise_Up_WA in their work to do just that. -H — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 4, 2016 This morning, Hillary took to Twitter and voiced her support for Initiative 1433 , which would increase the state’s minimum wage to $13.50 (by 2020) and ensure paid sick leave for all Washington employees.

Daily Clips: March 3rd, 2016

Daily Clips: March 3rd, 2016

Koch brothers will not use funds to try to block Trump nomination:   The Koch brothers, the most powerful conservative mega donors in the United States, will not use their $400 million political arsenal to try to block Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s path to the presidential nomination, a spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday. The decision by the billionaire industrialists is another setback to Republican establishment efforts to derail the New York real estate mogul’s bid for the White House, and follows speculation the Kochs would soon launch a “Trump Intervention.” Video of the day:  Bruce Bartlett, who served under the first Bush, explains to Lawrence O’Donnell why he voted for Donald Trump: “My goal is to try to destroy the Republican Party, frankly.” That takes a lot of political and moral courage for him to say and frankly, it’s refreshing to hear. David Brooks, Michael Gerson, Rich Lowry, and all those other “intellectual” conservatives should take note. Kate Brown signs minimum wage bill for $14.75 in Portland:  Way to go Oregon! The bill gives Oregon the highest statewide minimum wage rates in the nation, to $14.75 inside Portland’s urban growth boundary, $13.50 in midsize counties and $12.50 in rural areas by 2022. President Barack Obama lauded Brown, saying in a statement: “I commend the Oregon Legislature and Governor Kate Brown for taking action to raise their state’s minimum wage…Congress needs to keep up with the rest of the country. They need to act, and finally give America a raise. And until they do, I’ll continue to encourage states, cities, counties and companies to act on their own to support hardworking families.”

Daily Clips: March 2nd, 2016

Daily Clips: March 2nd, 2016

On CNN, a Trump supporter said that Democrats were “dividing the country” by calling out racism: Something tells me that sort of messaging won’t work in the general election for Trumpers. Jeffrey Lord (the Trump dude) said the KKK was a “leftist” organization and the terrorist wing of the Democratic Party. Yes, really. Thomas Friedman on the state of American politics: The G.O.P. fell into the grip of a coalition of far-right media and money people who have created a closed loop of incentives for bad behavior and never getting to hybrid: Deny climate change. Spurn immigration reform. Shut down the Congress. Block Obamacare (even though it was based on an idea first implemented by a Republican governor). Do so, and you get rewarded by Fox TV and the G.O.P. cash machine. Stray from those principles, and you get purged. That purging eventually produced a collection of G.O.P. presidential candidates who, when they gathered on stage for their first debate, resembled nothing more than the “Star Wars” bar scene at the Mos Eisley Cantina on the remote planet of Tatooine — that assortment of alien species, each more bizarre than the last, from a “galaxy far, far away.” Video of the day: Trump Your Enthusiasm pic.twitter.com/cPeweKwgVD — Seinfeld Current Day (@Seinfeld2000) March 2, 2016

Daily Clips: March 1st, 2016

Daily Clips: March 1st, 2016

US February auto sales jump: After a record 2015, the US auto industry has not slowed down at all. Ford’s car sales jumped 19 percent, Fiat Chrysler’s sales rose 12 percent, and Nissan’s sales rose 10.5 percent. According to Reuters, the auto industry is cyclical and so “most analysts expect sales to eventually hit a plateau, then taper off.” Yet the auto industry has been “on a roll since the 2008-2009 recession.” And if these latest numbers are any indication, the good times have not stopped rolling. Clarence Thomas breaks his silence…to defend abusers’ rights to guns:  You can’t make this stuff up. He’s making Scalia proud. Tweet of the day:  I'm a lifelong Republican but Trump surge proves that every bad thing Democrats have ever said about GOP is basically true. #NeverTrump — Max Boot (@MaxBoot) February 29, 2016 That tweet leads me to this incredible quote from Bret Stephens at The Wall Street Journal who is “grappling with the implications of Donald Trump’s rise for the conservative movement. As Stephens notes : Liberals may have been fond of claiming that Republicans were all closet bigots and that tax cuts were a form of racial prejudice, but the accusation rang hollow because the evidence for it was so tendentious. Not anymore. The candidacy of Donald Trump is the open sewer of American conservatism. This mindset explains why intellectual conservatives like David Brooks are “ wandering around dazed, openly questioning everything they ever knew ” about their party and its principles.

WA Secretary of State Kim Wyman is defending the indefensible

WA Secretary of State Kim Wyman is defending the indefensible

Washington State is leading again on another pressing civic issue. Earlier this year, Democrats in Olympia introduced legislation  that would “automatically register eligible voters who have an enhanced drivers license, commercial driver’s license or apply for benefits for certain programs through the Department of Social and Health Services or the state Health Benefits Exchange.” This proposal passed the state House (controlled by Democrats) but has since been bottled up in the Republican-controlled Senate. Washington’s secretary of state, Kim Wyman (R) is a supporter of the law, but admits that “ there are very, very long odds right now ” for its success. How has this come to pass? How can Republicans actually stand in the way of this legislation? Automatic voter registration shouldn’t be a policy which is considered “partisan” in a thriving democracy. Yet here we are in 2016 with the Republican party (both nationally and federally) opposed to any suggestion of increased democratic participation. Their arguments against this “liberal” proposal are hardly unfamiliar. They claim it is an example of creeping “big government” and warn that adopting such a policy would lead to a “slippery slope” where it would “ eventually lead to compulsory voting and fining people who don’t turn out, like in Australia .” As per usual, these arguments have little basis in reality and only prey on fear and philosophical fallacies. If opponents of voter registration actually cared about the truth, they would have seen that the proposed registration law actually gives citizens the opportunity to opt out. Our neighbor to the south, Oregon, did just that. It’s worth reading about the success of their registration law in full : Oregon began implementing its program through the state’s DMV at the beginning of the year, and through the first six weeks, 7 percent of people who received cards alerting them to their new registration returned the cards asking to be taken off the rolls. But the state registered more than 10,000 new voters over that same time period, dwarfing the monthly average of 2,000 new registrations it
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Daily Clips: February 29th, 2016

Daily Clips: February 29th, 2016

College, the skills gap, and the student loan crisis:  The American Prospect sat down with economist Marshall Steinbaum, someone who I had never heard of before this morning. His relative anonymity should not stop you from reading his thoughts on education, however. Steinbuam’s in-depth take on student loans and college in particular is much needed in today’s day and age where specificity is lacking. (Seriously, go to  Hillary Clinton’s website and try and find a specific number for refinanced interest rates. You can’t.) Here was my favorite answer from Steinbaum: I think we’ve made our bed: People have to go to college to work, and hence it’s incumbent on us to make sure they can actually find a job and that college is affordable and non-exclusionary. But we could rethink everything. We could forget the “skills gap” nonsense, and go back to a world where economic policy is organized around making sure everyone who works makes a decent living, regardless of educational attainment, and that our universal K-12 system actually gives everyone the academic background they need not just to enter the economy, but to prosper in it. SCOTUS and abortion: Reuters reports that this Wednesday the US Supreme Court will hear “a major abortion case for the first time in nearly a decade” where “the regulations at issue will not involve fetuses or the mother, but rather standards for doctors and facilities where the procedure is performed.” Remember, because of the recent death of Antonin Scalia, “if the justices split 4-4, no national legal precedent would be set but the lower court decision upholding the Texas law would stand.” A tipping point for automatic voter registration ?  “I have met many Democrats that are convinced that Republican are trying to keep their party from voting, and I’ve met many Republicans that are convinced that Democrats are cheating,” said Kim Wyman, the top elections official in Washington state. “And it’s really hard to convince either side otherwise.” Um…Kim
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