Animals

New Finance Web Site Highlights California Political Campaigns

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Dollar Dollar Bill website

Dollar, Dollar, Bill

This is a fun website which is the brainchild of Democrat Speaker Perez’s staffer Ryan Hughes.

A new campaign finance web site is circulating the Capitol Twitterverse. Dollar, Dollar, Bill allows users to see in graphic format how contributions are stacking up in California political races. The site scans the Secretary of State’s database every 20 minutes and displays contributions to campaigns and IEs associated with legislative races and ballot measures.

The tool is the brainchild of Ryan Hughes, a staffer in the office of Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez. Hughes says Dollar, Dollar, Bill is nonpartisan. “This project is completely objective and without commentary,” he said in a statement announcing the site. “It’s designed to give everyone an intuitive look at how much money is being raised and spent in our elections.”

Go ahead and play with it.

There sure is a good deal of campaign cash being sloshed around California’s elections, no?

The Twitter feed is even more revealing – give it a try, too.

If that is not enough for the California political junkie, I have also been using Election Track which also has a Twitter feed @electiontrack for large, and last minute contributions.

Enjoy!

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Al Ramirez

CA-Sen: Conservative California Republican Assembly Endorses Al Ramirez for U.S. Senate

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While the California Republican Party has endorsed Elizabeth Emken for California United State Senate, the more conservative California Republican Assembly has just announced their endorsement for businessman, Al Ramirez.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Al Ramirez, an accomplished businessman, received the endorsement of the California Republican Assembly (CRA) at the group’s endorsing convention on Sunday.

“I’m incredibly pleased and honored to have the support of the State’s oldest and largest Republican volunteer organization,” said Ramirez.  “The endorsement of the CRA demonstrates that our message is resonating with Republicans across the State.  We simply cannot afford more of the same socialistic policies of Feinstein and Obama.  It’s time to restore the American Dream in California.”

The CRA endorsement is one of the most coveted in all of Republican politics.  Ronald Reagan even referred to the CRA as “The conscience of the Republican Party.”

Candidates seeking the CRA endorsement went through a rigorous vetting process which included giving speeches to the entire delegation and facing a session of tough questioning in front of a “Fact Finding Committee.”  In order to receive an endorsement, a candidate must be supported by two-thirds of the voting delegates.

Ramirez was endorsed overwhelmingly by a vote of the entire CRA delegation late Sunday morning.

This endorsement has to deliver a decided edge to Ramirez, especially with so many candidates in the race vying to run against the front-runner and incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Millions of dollars were embezzled from her campaign. Twenty-two challengers are trying to knock her off in the June primary. And the stakes in the November election are nothing less than control of Capitol Hill.

But U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein isn’t a bit worried. Her campaign is on cruise control, her re-election all but certain — yet again.

After holding elected office for all but five of the last 42 years, Feinstein is the doyenne of California Democrats. She’s so politically bulletproof that no A-list candidates are wasting their time and money trying to dethrone her.

At 78, Feinstein has become the rare lawmaker who plays to her own political base while not overly riling her opponents. “She should have her easiest re-election ever,” said Gary Jacobson, a UC San Diego political science professor.

Feinstein, who won her last two elections in landslides, attributes her success to her work ethic and her ability to get along with fellow Washington politicians during venomous times. “I am known for working hard, and I can tell you if I wasn’t, I would have some major opposition,” Feinstein said in an interview last week.

Just how little she has to worry about was shown in a recent Survey USA poll. It found 51 percent of California’s likely voters intend to vote for Feinstein, while Republicans Elizabeth Emken of Danville and Dan Hughes of Oceanside were backed by 2 percent each. All other candidates clocked in at either 1 percent or zero.

But, will this endorsement be enough for Ramirez to come in second place above Elizbeth Emken and Dan Hughes?

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Arnold Schwarzenegger

Michael Lewis: California and Bust

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Photograph Courtesy of Art Streiber

Read all of Michael Lewis’ excellent piece on California government and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
A ompelling book called Cal­ifornia Crackup describes this problem more generally. It was written by a pair of journalists and nonpartisan think-tank scholars, Joe Mathews and Mark Paul, and they explain, among other things, why Arnold Schwarze­neg­ger’s experience as governor was going to be unlike any other experience in his career: he was never going to win. California had organized itself, not accidentally, into highly partisan legislative districts. It elected highly partisan people to office and then required these people to reach a two-thirds majority to enact any new tax or meddle with big spending decisions. On the off chance that they found some common ground, it could be pulled out from under them by voters through the initiative process. Throw in term limits—no elected official now serves in California government long enough to fully understand it—and you have a recipe for generating maximum contempt for elected officials. Politicians are elected to get things done and are prevented by the system from doing it, leading the people to grow even more disgusted with them. “The vicious cycle of contempt,” as Mark Paul calls it. California state government was designed mainly to maximize the likelihood that voters will continue to despise the people they elect.

But when you look below the surface, he adds, the system is actually very good at giving Californians what they want. “What all the polls show,” says Paul, “is that people want services and not to pay for them. And that’s exactly what they have now got.” As much as they claimed to despise their government, the citizens of California shared its defining trait: a need for debt. The average Californian, in 2011, had debts of $78,000 against an income of $43,000. The behavior was unsustainable, but, in its way, for the people, it works brilliantly. For their leaders, even in the short term, it works less well. They ride into office on great false hopes and quickly discover they can do nothing to justify those hopes.

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Barack Obama

Shocker: Obama and Buffett Are Wrong on Tax Rates Paid By Millionaires

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The Wall Street Journal makes short work of Warren Buffett (“Buffett Rule”) and President Obama’s arguments that millionaires are not paying their “fair share”
So here we are back at the same old political stand, though even Mr. Obama concedes that today those he routinely calls “millionaires and billionaires” pay at least some tax. The President’s complaint, echoing billionaire Warren Buffett, is that too many billionaires pay a lower rate than regular salary earners. So even as he endorsed tax reform in general yesterday, Mr. Obama insisted that one of his reform “principles” is that people who make more than $1 million must pay a higher tax rate than middle-class earners.

There’s one small problem: The entire Buffett Rule premise is false, as the nearby table shows. In 2008, the last year for which such data are available, the IRS reports that those who made more than $1 million in adjusted gross income paid an average income tax rate of 23.3%.

That’s slightly lower than the 24.1% rate paid by those making between $500,000 and $1 million, probably because the richest are like Mr. Buffett and earn more from capital gains and dividends. The rate for a relative handful of the rich—400 people—fell to 18%, the modern equivalent of Barr’s Gang of 21. But nearly all millionaires still paid a rate that is more than twice the 8.9% average rate paid by those earning between $50,000 and $100,000, and more than three times the 7.2% average rate paid by those earning less than $50,000. The larger point is that the claim that CEOs are routinely paying lower tax rates than their secretaries is Omaha hokum.

If Mr. Obama really wants all of these people to pay even more in taxes, there are only two ways to do so. One is to raise tax rates on capital gains, dividends and other investment income that is taxed at 15% and represents a great deal of income for the wealthy. This is probably Mr. Buffett’s tax secret, though to our knowledge he hasn’t released his returns to the public.

Read all of the piece.

Most pundits acknowledge that President Obama’s speech yesterday was more for his re-election than plausible policy that can actually be signed into law.

Obama sold his “Hope and Change” in 2008, but he and Warren Buffett will have a harder time selling their class warfare.

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