After adjournment, the deluge

stormcoming

I guess it wasn’t enough for Democrats to allow people in the country illegally to get Oregon driver’s licenses, ignoring voters who soundly rejected the practice in 2014. Oregon’s Democrat-controlled 2019 Legislature also voted to bury Oregonians in a deluge of tax increases.

“Only time will tell whether there will be political consequences for Oregon Democrats who enacted this tax hike, Patrick Gleason, Vice President of State Affairs at Americans for Tax Reform, wrote in Forbes. “What is certain is that Oregon lawmakers are making their state a less attractive place to do business, create jobs, invest, and raise a family, and they are doing so at a time when other states are implementing reforms to make their tax and regulatory climates more welcoming.”

 At the top of the 2019 Legislature’s tax list is the gross receipts tax on sales inside the state’s borders that exceed $1 million, whether or not the business makes a profit. The tax, equivalent to a sales tax, is expected to raise $2 billion per biennium. The legislative revenue office says the tax will hit about 40,000 businesses. This less than three years after almost 60% of Oregon voters rejected Measure 97, a ballot measure that would have imposed a state gross receipts tax. 

Adding insult to injury, the Democrats passed SB 116 setting a particularly inconvenient election date if a tax repeal petition now seeking signatures qualifies for the ballot. Rather than having the vote take place during the general election in 2020, when there’s likely to be high interest and participation, the bill provides for a special election on January 21, 2020.

I guess they figured picking Christmas or New Year’s Day for the vote would be too obvious an attempt at manipulation.

Paid Family Leave legislation (HB 2005-B) is going to cost you, too. A 1% payroll tax will fund a paid family leave insurance program (FAMLI) to be administered by the Oregon Employment Department.  The tax will come on top of the business sales tax.

A Revenue Impact statement projected that employers will pay $542.3 million and employees $1,029.6 in 2021-2023. In 2023-2025, employers will pay $ 775.0 million and employees $1,471.5 million.

Then there’s the maneuvering with the kicker.  The collective “kicker” tax rebate Oregonians will likely receive when they file in 2020 is going to be $108 million smaller, thanks to HB 2975, a bill Gov. Kate Brown signed into law in April.

 And don’t forget SB 861, which provides for paying the postage for election ballots. It will cost taxpayers an estimated $1.7 million per election. Gov. Brown pushed for the law, figuring it would increase voter turnout. In a rather bizarre statement, given the widespread availability of stamps, Brown testified that low-income and younger residents don’t always have access to postage stamps.

There’s also HB 2449-B, a 50-cent increase in the emergency communications tax on our phones, which will bring the total to $1.25 per month.

Oregon’s minimum wage law is increasing employer costs, too.

According to the Office of Economic Analysis Department of Administrative Services, the law will result in a slowdown in job growth. “While the impact is small when compared to the size of the Oregon economy, it does result in approximately 40,000 fewer jobs in 2025 than would have been the case absent the legislation,” the office has reported.  “Our office is not predicting outright job losses due to the higher minimum wage; however, we are expecting future growth to be slower as a result.”

And next year, Oregon voters will get a chance to vote on an increase in yet another Oregon tax, this one on tobacco. If approved, the cigarette tax would increase by $2 a pack and E-cigarettes and cigars would be taxed at 65% of their wholesale price.

Whew, what a torrent!

As the humorist Gerald Barzan observed, “Taxation with representation ain’t so hot either.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Democratic presidential candidates and Oregon: they could care less

Digital advertising is one of the key elements of the campaigns of Democrats running for their party’s 2020 presidential nomination. Data show that some candidates are shouting, while others are barely whispering.

According to Acronym, a progressive non-profit that tracks political digital spending, the candidates are paying Facebook and Google millions for digital ads, but spending in Oregon is barely a blip, .

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is the biggest spender so far.  She has spent $1,688,706 on digital ads (Facebook: $1,218,206; Google: $470,500) since launching her campaign.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks during her presidential candidacy announcement event at the Everett Mills in Lawrence, MA on February 9, 2019.

The second biggest spender on Facebook and Google digital ads is Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). She has spent $1,640,339 (Facebook: $1.2 million; Google: $438,000).

Altogether, the Democratic candidates have spent $12,805,165 on Facebook and Google digital ads since launching their individual campaigns.

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Yes, President Trump has spent $9,080,994, outspending every Democratic candidate.

What states have been targeted with all that money?

If you look at the top five states targeted by each of the candidates with Facebook ads, California takes the lead. It’s one of the top five targets of 15 candidates. Then there’s Iowa, which has its caucuses on Feb. 3, 2020.  It’s in the top five lists of nine candidates. Next is Texas, one of the top five states of eight candidates.

Even though New Hampshire has its primary early on Feb. 11, 2020, it’s only in the top five spending list for Facebook ads of three Democratic candidates: Pete Buttigieg, John DeLaney; and Tulsi Gabbard.

Then there’s Oregon. Oregon’s not in the top five list of any of the Democratic candidates and it’s only in the top ten list of two, Bernie Sanders and Julian Castro. But even Sanders has applied only 3.3% ($41,502) of his Facebook spending to Oregon and Castro only 2% ($8,379).

The lack of digital attention to Oregon may well be because the state’s primary isn’t until May 19, 2020, real late in the game, and it has only 52 delegates. If a candidate is trying to harvest a lot of delegates, focusing on the states with earlier primaries, including Super Tuesday, March 3, when 1433 delegates will be at stake, makes more sense.

Sorry, Oregon. You just don’t matter.

 

Addendum, May 5, 2019

The Democratic National Committee announced in late April that 2020 presidential candidates will each need to hit 130,000 donors to qualify for the third and fourth televised debates in the fall. Vice According to the Columbia Journalism Review, Vice News’s David Uberti reported that the high threshold may force longshot contenders to spend more on Facebook ads than they get back in donations—limiting their resources for more traditional forms of campaigning. In all, political ad spending is expected to near the $10-billion mark in 2020, up from $6.3 billion in 2016. The Wall Street Journal’s Alexandra Bruell has the figures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California Democrats are worried: Counting illegal immigrants

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California could lose a seat in the House of Representatives and some Congressional districts could lose population if the millions of illegal immigrants living in the state, which has the largest number of illegal immigrants by far, aren’t counted in the 2020 census.

Oddly enough, California could improve its chances of holding onto that seat if more illegal immigrants come to the state and are counted in the census. Maybe that plays a part in California’s decision to be a Sanctuary State.

The U.S. Census Bureau attempts to count all persons in the U.S. living in residential structures, including prisons, dormitories and similar “group quarters” in the official decennial census. People counted must include citizens, legal immigrants, non-citizen long-term visitors and illegal (or undocumented) immigrants.

This approach was endorsed by the U.S. Supreme Court in April 2016 in EVENWEL ET AL. v. ABBOTT, GOVERNOR OF TEXAS, ET AL, where the Court rejected counting just eligible voters in determining legislative districts.

Efforts in Congress to change this approach have failed to date.

Accordingly, a low number of illegal immigrants counted by the Census in one state may result in that state losing some representation in Congress while high illegal immigration into another state that is counted in the Census can enlarge that state’s representation.

A research report by Election Data Services released Dec. 26, 2017, concluded, “…California is very close to actually losing a congressional seat in 2020, the first time that state will have lost a seat in its nearly 160-year history.” It could lose the seat because “for the last several decades California’s population growth has been relatively flat when compared to other states.”

That makes it even more important to Democrats that everybody is counted. Democrats are worried that if foreign immigration into California slows under Trump, and legal and illegal immigrants don’t step up in the 2020 census, that could hold down the state’s total population count and the count in individual Congressional districts.

Oregon could gain a seat

The Election Data Services report also concluded that, based on new Census Bureau population estimates for 2017 released on Dec. 26, 2017, 12 states clearly will be affected by changes in their congressional delegation if the new numbers were used for apportionment today.

New York, West Virginia, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania are projected to lose a seat in Congress using the new data.

On the other hand, Oregon is projected to gain a House seat, as well as Colorado, Florida and North Carolina. Texas will gain two seats based on the new data.

Since 1941, by law the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives has been capped at 435, so if a given state gains a House seat then another state must lose one.

 

NOTE: For more discussion on counting illegal immigrants in the U.S. Census, see Constitutionality of Excluding Aliens from the Census for Apportionment and Redistricting Purposes, Congressional Research Service Report.

 

 

 

Politicians are laundering Harvey Weinstein’s filthy lucre

Disingenuous – “Not candid or sincere; giving a false appearance of simple frankness”

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Democrat of New York, is shocked, shocked to find that Harvey Weinstein is a serial sexual harasser of women (And even more egregious, the New Yorker reported today that three women had told a writer there that Weinstein raped them). So shocked is Schumer that he’s going to show his purity by getting rid of the money Weinstein has given to him over the years.

“Sen. Schumer is donating all of the contributions to several charities supporting women,” Matt House, a spokesman for the Democratic leader told the Washington Post.

Other Democrats have gotten religion, too. Lawmakers who have said they will be donating Weinstein’s contributions include: Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.

No word yet from dozen of other Democrats who have gleefully taken Harvey Weinstein’s money over the years. The Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit, nonpartisan research group that tracks the effects of money and lobbying on elections and public policy, has a record of those donations.

According to the Center, recipients of Weinstein’s money include the Democratic Party of Oregon, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and such Democratic luminaries as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and even, in an odd twist, the Midwest Values PAC. Weinstein has also made donations to the Clinton Foundation. The Foundation’s website  says Weinstein gave $100,001 to $250,000 through June 2017.

Weinstein has also served as a bundler, collecting contributions from other wealthy donors. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, he was a bundler for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, raising millions for both.

But here’s the rub.

The contrite Democrats are being more than a little disingenuous.

Many of the Democrats who say they will be re-gifting Weinstein’s contributions plan to give the money to organizations that support Democrats. In other words, the money’s going to be laundered through liberal groups right back to Democrats and their causes.

The Democratic National Committee, for example, has said it will give some of Weinstein’s donations to Emily’s List, Emerge America and Higher Heights. Emily’s List’s entire focus is on electing more pro-choice Democratic women. Emerge America’s focus is on increasing the number of Democratic women leaders in public office. Higher Heights works to elect Black women, a primary constituency of the Democratic Party (94 percent of black women voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016).

Chuck Schumer has said he’ll donate Weinstein’s money to women’s rights groups. You can safely bet that means liberal women’s rights groups that support the Democrats’ agenda, not the National Pro-Life Alliance or The Independent Women’s Forum, a conservative think tank.

Most money laundering is dangerous because it can lead to a criminal investigation. But don’t count on any of the Democrats caught in Harvey Weinstein’s web to face such consequences. They’re politicians. They’re protected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Free Is (not) A Very Good Price: Oregon Democrats Propose Co-Pay-Free Health Access Bill

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The 79th Oregon Legislature got underway on Wednesday and already Democrats want to give away more free stuff to some Oregonians, even though the state is facing an almost $2 billion deficit.

Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, Majority Leader in the Oregon House, posted on item on Facebook on Tuesday (Jan. 30) highlighting a bill before the Oregon Legislature. The bill would require coverage of specified health care services, drugs, devices, products and procedures related to reproductive health.

The bill, H.B. 2232, was introduced by Rep. Jeff Barker, D-Aloha, and Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham. It now sits in the  House Committee On Health Care. It would require insurers in Oregon to cover contraceptive drugs and devices approved by the Food and Drug Administration with no co-payment, co-insurance or deductible.

The same requirement would apply to a range of reproductive health services, including prenatal care, well-woman visits, screening for sexually transmitted infections, voluntary sterilization and abortion.

A complete list of items and services covered by the bill is provided below.

A story in the New York Times said 30 million women across the country gained co-pay-free access to preventive services like contraception under the Affordable Care Act. “By codifying the protections of the Affordable Care Act, the bill would protect Oregonians’ access to birth control and other preventive health care in the event of a repeal,” the Times reported.

The bill says health care providers will be reimbursed for providing all the required products and services without any deduction for coinsurance, copayments or any other cost-sharing amounts.

Of course, nothing is really free. Mandated free stuff is an illusion foisted on the public by pandering politicians. If the state requires insurance companies to provide products and services for free, and the state promises to reimburse them, the state will have to come up with the money to do that. At this point, nobody knows how much that would be.

But, hey, why worry. H.B. 2232 would give Democrats a chance to cater to a key constituency and the state is only facing a budget deficit of almost $2 billion.

 

Items and services covered by H.B. 2232

A health benefit plan offered in this state must provide coverage for all of the following services, drugs, devices, products and procedures:
(a) Well-woman care, including screenings, assessments and counseling.
(b) Pregnancy-related services, including pregnancy tests, preconception care, abortion and prenatal care.
(c) Counseling for sexually transmitted infections, including but not limited to human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome. (d) Screening for:
(A) Chlamydia;
(B) Gonorrhea;

(C) Hepatitis B;
(D) Hepatitis C;
(E) Human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome; (F) Human papillomavirus;

(G) Syphilis;

(H) Anemia;
(I) Urinary tract infection;
(J) Rh incompatibility;
(K) Gestational diabetes;
(L) Osteoporosis; and
(M) Cervical cancer.
(e) Screening and appropriate counseling or interventions for:
(A) Tobacco use; and
(B) Domestic and interpersonal violence.
(f) Folic acid supplements.
(g) Breastfeeding comprehensive support, counseling and supplies.
(h)(A) Screening to determine whether genetic counseling related to the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutations is indicated;
(B) Genetic counseling; and
(C) If indicated, BRCA testing.
(i) Breast cancer mammography.
(j) Breast cancer chemoprevention counseling.
(k) Any contraceptive drug, device or product approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, subject to all of the following:
(A) If there is a therapeutic equivalent of a contraceptive drug, device or product approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, a health benefit plan may pro- vide coverage for either the requested contraceptive drug, device or product or for one or more therapeutic equivalents of the requested drug, device or product.

(B) If a contraceptive drug, device or product covered by the health benefit plan is deemed medically inadvisable by the enrollee’s provider, the health benefit plan must cover an alternative contraceptive drug, device or product prescribed by the provider.

(C) A health benefit plan must provide coverage without a prescription for all contraceptive drugs available for over-the-counter sale that are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

(D) A health benefit plan may not infringe upon an enrollee’s choice of contraception and may not require prior authorization, step therapy or other utilization control techniques for covered contraceptive drugs, devices or other products approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

(l) Voluntary sterilization.
(m) Patient education and counseling on contraception.
(n) Services related to the administration and monitoring of drugs, devices, products and services required under this section, including but not limited to:

(A) Management of side effects;
(B) Counseling for continued adherence to a prescribed regimen

(C) Device insertion and removal;

(D) Provision of alternative contraceptive drugs, devices or products deemed medically appropriate in the judgment of the enrollee’s provider; and

(E) Diagnosis and treatment services provided pursuant to or as a follow-up to a service required under this section.

(o) Any additional preventive services for women that must be covered without cost sharing under the 42 U.S.C. 300gg-13, as identified after the effective date of this 2017 Act by the United States Preventive Services Task Force or the Health Resources and Services Administration of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

 

Union Members Can Stop Subsidizing Liberal Candidates and Causes

 

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A question to conservative Oregon union members (I know you’re out there): Why are you contributing to union political funds when most of the money ends up supporting liberal Democratic candidates?

About 18% of the electorate across the country was from union households in the Nov. 8, 2016 presidential election. Donald Trump captured 43% of those union-household voters.

In Oregon, 14.8 percent of the wage and salary workforce belonged to a union in 2015. It’s not clear how they voted, but it’s likely, based upon national patterns, that a decent share voted Republican.

Still, Oregon’s unions overwhelming endorsed Democrats. For example, all but two of the AFL-CIO’s 2016 Legislative endorsements in Oregon were for Democrats (one was an independent, one a Republican), as were all the statewide candidate endorsements.

Similarly, in the 2016 election, political contributions from Oregon’s unions went overwhelmingly to Democrats. For example, SEIU’s PAC, Citizen Action for Political Education (CAPE), spent $2,001,758.89 on the 2016 election. Of that, $706,750.00 went to Defend Oregon (the group pushing Measure 97), $205,000 to the Committee to Elect Brad Avakian, $180,000 to the Kate Brown Committee, and $37,380 to The Real Mike Nearman Committee (created to defeat Republican Mike Nearman).

So why don’t more union members who disagree with their union’s political stances decline to contribute to their union’s PAC and opt out of supporting the union’s political activities. It’s not that hard to do. All a union member has to do is become an “agency fee payer”, sometimes also called a “Fair Share Payer” or “Non-member.”

Oregon allows public employees who are part of a collective bargaining unit to refuse membership in the union that represents that unit. But because the union still has to negotiate on their behalf, these nonmembers must contribute to cover costs which cover collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance adjustment, but not costs associated with political activities.

This worker right was established in 2012 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided that while employees can be required to pay dues for the direct benefits they get from the union, they can’t be forced to give money to unions for political activities.

According to Steve Buckstein,  Founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, even before the 2012 Court decision, a telephone company employee named Harry Beck spent over two decades fighting for the right to opt out of paying the political portion of his union dues to the Communications Workers of America. In 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor in Beck v. CWA and created what are now known as Beck rights. Harry is now retired and lives in Oregon. You can watch him tell his story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a29L3ouJ6tw.

Political spending by unions can be substantial…and influential.

In a Sept. 2015 report to individuals who pay Fair Share fees, the liberal-leaning Oregon Education Association (OEA) said 22.9 percent of its total expenses were nonchargeable for Fair Share fee payers and the liberal-leaning National Education Association (NEA) said a whopping 62.71 percent of its total expenses were nonchargeable for Fair Share fee payers.

This means that if annual OEA dues were $600, they could have been reduced to $462.60 and if annual NEA dues were $185, they could have been reduced to $68.99.

Think of it. Workers, rather than union bosses, deciding for themselves how, or whether, they want to spend their money on political causes.

 

Hear that sucking sound? That’s Oregon tax Initiative Petition 28

Democrats and their union allies want to suck more money out of Oregon businesses than we thought.

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Oregon’s Legislative Revenue Office predicted today (May 23, 2016) that Initiative Petition 28, if approved in November, would generate $6.1 billion in new revenue by the 2017-19 biennium. That’s almost $1 billion more than the $5.3 billion initially predicted.

Talk about greed!

The Revenue Office’s report also estimated that 38,220 private sector jobs would be lost by 2022 if the initiative passed. Meanwhile, in an odd twist, the public sector would add 17,700 jobs.

Talk about an absurd outcome!

And Gov. Kate Brown’s thoughtful response?  “I greatly appreciate the analysis provided by the Legislative Revenue Office, which helps inform our understanding of the impacts of IP-28,” Brown said. “As I have said previously, the problem I remain focused on is how to improve our graduation rate and fund essential services while sustaining economic growth and protecting Oregon jobs. I will begin discussions with my legislative colleagues about a way forward that, should the measure pass, would safeguard new revenue for education while sustaining economic growth and protecting Oregon jobs.”

Whew! Makes you wonder if the governor is being paid by the word.

Initiative Petition 28 is being promoted by A Better Oregon, a campaign organization operating under the umbrella of Portland-based Our Oregon, a coalition of unions and progressive groups.

The measure would raise the corporate minimum tax on Oregon sales of more than $25 million a year from the current minimum of $50,000 to $30,001 plus 2.5 percent of the excess over $25 million. The tax would be based solely on sales, not profit.

Corporate taxes during the 2017-2019 biennium under the current system are projected to reach about $1.1 billion.

In other words, the passage of Initiative petition 28 would increase corporate tax collections per biennium by almost 600 percent in one fell swoop.

Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland), when endorsing the measure, said it would eliminate much of the constant need to choose between funding critical budget concerns each legislative session. “If that passes, we’ll have a lot of money to pay for stuff,” Greenlick said.

Otherwise, Greenlick said, most of the additional revenue in the economic forecast for the 2017-2019 budget would go to cover increased PERS liabilities and the state’s increased share of Medicaid funding, leaving little additional revenue for new stuff.

“This measure will make sure that large and out-of-state corporations do their part to fund the schools and services that will make Oregon thrive,” Our Oregon says.

As long ago as I can remember advocates for higher taxes in Oregon have been making “out-of-state corporations” the bogeyman, the malignant beast that’s doing Oregonians wrong and needs to pay.

But as attractive a target as these corporations are, they’re not fools. They will find a way to avoid paying the taxes or they’ll pass on the added taxes to Oregon consumers.

Then we’d all pay.

The liberal coalition behind Initiative petition 28, recalling their success in a tax increase battle in 2010, may be figuring they have a sure thing again with another measure targeting big business, but hopefully Oregonians in their wisdom will see this proposal is a reach too far.