The dark history of Kirby Wilbur, state GOP chair

Let’s remember some of our local PIGS who started the Iraq War. My fascist is worse than yours! Kirby Wilbur, a rightwing talk radio host on KVI 570 AM Seattle boosted every war, and organized his audience into a militia called the “570th Cavalry” to swarm and intimidate peace rallies. Kirby Wilbur is now the Chairman of the Republican Party in the State of Washington and was one of the plaintiffs who funded and won Citizens United.

Radio station makes pre-emptive strike against peace rallies

Bad math: Corporate lobbyists, conservative think tanks hawk snake-oil economics for WA

Economist Arthur Laffer is touted as a go-to source of wisdom by conservative think tanks and corporate lobby groups in Washington state like the Washington Policy Center, Evergreen Freedom Foundation, National Federation of Independent Businesses, and Association of Washington Business. But a recent report shows Laffer’s economic prescriptions are more likely to hurt than heal our economy. selling-snake-oil-cover large

Report: Selling Snake Oil to the States: The American Legislative Exchange Council’s Flawed Prescriptions for Prosperity – from Good Jobs First and the Iowa Policy Project [PDF]

This year marks the fifth anniversary of Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index. Written by Arthur Laffer and others and published by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Rich States, Poor States embodies the policy agenda that ALEC pushes to state legislators: reduction or abolition of progressive taxes, fewer investments in education and other public services, a smaller social safety net, and weaker or non-existent unions. These are the policies, ALEC claims, that promote economic growth.

But a hard look at the actual data finds that the ALEC-Laffer recommendations not only fail to predict positive results for state economies – the policies they endorse actually forecast worse state outcomes for job creation and paychecks. That is, states that were rated higher on ALEC’s Economic Outlook Ranking in 2007, based on 15 “fiscal and regulatory policy variables,” have actually been doing worse economically in the years since, while the less a state conformed with ALEC policies the better off it was.

That is true whether the outcome is growth in jobs or growth in per capita or median income. There is virtually no relationship between the ALEC ranking and state Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Further examination of the predictive power of other key components of ALEC’s rankings (income tax rates, existence of an estate tax, overall tax levels, right-towork status) shows that none had a statistically significant effect on growth in state GDP, non-farm employment, or per capita income.

Further analysis finds that key ALEC-Laffer claims contradict longstanding peer-reviewed academic research on how state economies grow:

  • ALEC-Laffer claim that lowering state and local taxes produces much greater job growth; in actuality, such taxes are such a tiny cost factor for businesses, and come with higher taxes on others or lower quality public services, that such a strategy fails (see Chapter 3).
  • ALEC-Laffer claim that a low top personal income tax rate is a key to small business success; in actuality, property and sales taxes – ignored by ALEC-Laffer – are far more important issues (see Chapter 1).
  • ALEC-Laffer claim that high top personal income tax rates and the presence of estate and inheritance taxes cause large-scale out-migration of high-income individuals; in reality, migration has little to do with taxes, and there is no plausible case for state estate taxes affecting job-creating investment (see Chapters 3 and 4).
  • The ALEC report asserts that state tax rates in many instances approach “Laffer Curve” territory, where tax cuts would actually increase tax revenue; in reality, tax cuts reduce revenue and result in the defunding of public goods such as education and infrastructure, which really do matter for economic development (see Chapter 5).
  • ALEC-Laffer claim that wage suppression policies (anti-union “right-to- work” laws and the lack of a state minimum wage law) lead to greater job creation and prosperity; in actuality, such laws reduce wages and benefits but have little to no effect on job growth (see Chapter 6).

Overall, Rich States, Poor States consistently ignores decades of published research, making broad, unsubstantiated claims and often using anecdotes or spurious two-factor correlations that fail to control for obviously relevant factors. Indeed, the report repeatedly engages in methodologically primitive analysis that any college student taking Statistics 101 would be taught to avoid.

Consensus academic research derives far more plausible explanations for recent differences in state results. For example, instead of ALEC’s extreme policy recommendations, the composition of a state’s economy – whether it has large or small shares of the nation’s fastest-growing industries – is a far better predictor of job and income growth.

The evidence cited to support Rich States, Poor States’ policy menu ranges from deeply flawed to nonexistent. Subjected to scrutiny, these policies are revealed to explain nothing about why some states have created more jobs or enjoyed higher income growth than others over the past five years.

In actuality, Rich States, Poor States provides a recipe for economic inequality, wage suppression, and stagnant incomes, and for depriving state and local governments of the revenue needed to maintain the public infrastructure and education systems that are the true foundations of long term economic growth and shared prosperity.

Click here to read the full reportSelling Snake Oil to the States: The American Legislative Exchange Council’s Flawed Prescriptions for Prosperity” from Good Jobs First and the Iowa Policy Project.

Originally published at Washington Policy Watch

WA Senate conservatives attack working families, vote to weaken Seattle’s sick days law

The attack on Washington’s families and middle class by Senate Republicans and “Road-Kill” Democrats continued in full force yesterday.

Conservative senators passed SB 5726, which waters down Seattle’s sick and safe leave ordinance and restricts similar laws that might be passed by other Washington cities in the future. If conservatives in the Washington State Senate get their way, this will be the fate of Seattle's landmark paid sick days law.

Who would lose the right to earn a little time to stay home when sick or to deal with their families’ health needs if the House and the Governor accept the Senate bill? Anyone working for a company without a physical location inside Seattle, as well as employees of any company who spend more than 15% of the hours they work in a year outside of city limits.

That would mean, for example, that someone working for a bakery or produce supplier based in Bellevue and spending their entire day delivering food to Seattle restaurants and grocery stores could be forced to work sick. So could a furnace installer or plumber who enters Seattle homes on a daily basis, but who is dispatched from a Shoreline office.

People who basically work fulltime in Seattle, but go to meetings or work outside of their main office an average of 3 days a month could also have the right to earn sick time taken from them. In fact, large chains with multiple locations could easily game the system by rotating staff to a non-Seattle store every couple of weeks.

Senators Braun (Centralia), Hobbes (Lake Stevens), Tom (Bellevue), and Holmquist-Newbry (Moses Lake) led the fight to limit working people’s ability to care for their own health or a sick child. They championed “building a wall around Seattle” and bemoaned the dilemma of businesses in suburban and rural districts who choose to sell their products and services in the big bad city and now find themselves having to provide a few hours of sick leave a year to some employees.

Let’s be clear. Complying with Seattle’s ordinance is only complicated for firms who want to deny their workers even the most minimal paid sick leave and require them to work when they are sick. Most companies covered by the law that didn’t offer sick leave before, do now and are not having any difficulty.

Of course, no company is forced to enjoy the benefits of the city’s customer base and facilities. And after listening to business representatives, Seattle’s city council limited coverage of the ordinance to workers based elsewhere to those who are working in the city at least 240 hours in a year, or 6 full-time weeks. This was a reasonable compromise, protecting the health and safety of Seattle residents and businesses, but not requiring that workers who were only incidentally inside the city be covered.

A number of Senators stood to defend the right of local governments to protect public health and the importance of paid sick leave standards to family economic security and business vitality. Senators Keiser, Frockt, Hasagawa, Murray, Conway, Kline and Kohl-Welles all spoke eloquently in opposition to SB 5726.

Meanwhile, House Bill 1313 which would extend paid sick and safe leave standards statewide has yet to be acted on by the House, although cut-off for passage of policy bills is tomorrow.

How did your Senator vote on ESB 5726, Placing geographic limitations on local paid sick leave and paid safe leave programs?

Voting Yea: Senators Bailey (R-Oak Harbor), Baumgartner (R-Spokane), Becker (R-Eatonville), Benton (R-Vancouver), Braun (R-Centralia), Brown (R-Kennewick), Carrell (R-Lakewood), Dammeier (R-Puyallup), Eide (D-Federal Way), Ericksen (D-Ferndale), Fain (R-S King County), Hargrove (D-Hoquiam), Hatfield (D-Raymond), Hewitt (R-Walla Walla), Hill (R-E King County), Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens), Holmquist Newbry (R-Ellensburg), Honeyford (R-Sunnyside), King (R-Yakima), Litzow (R-Mercer Island), Padden (R-Spokane Valley), Parlette (R-Wenatchee), Pearson (R-Monroe), Rivers (R-La Center), Roach (R-Auburn), Schoesler (R-Ritzville), Sheldon (D-Kitsap), Smith (R-Colville), and Tom (D-Bellevue)

Voting Nay: Senators Billig (D-Spokane), Chase (D-Shoreline), Cleveland (D-Vancouver), Conway (D-South Tacoma), Darneille (D-Tacoma), Fraser (D-Olympia), Frockt (D-Seattle), Harper (D-Everett), Hasegawa (D-Beacon Hill), Keiser (D-Kent), Kline (D-Seattle), Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle), McAuliffe (D-Bothell), Mullet (D-Issaquah), Murray (D-Seattle), Nelson (D-Seattle), Ranker (D-Orcas Island), Rolfes (D-Kitsap County), Schlicher (D-Gig Harbor), and Shin (D-Edmonds)

Cross-posted from the Washington Policy Watch

Does the Republican caucus offer webinars in Stupid?

Representative Ed Orcutt (R – Kalama) does not think bicycling is environmentally friendly because the activity causes cyclists to have “an increased heart rate and respiration.”

This is according to comments he made in an email to a constituent who questioned the wisdom of a new bike tax the legislature is considering as part of a large transportation package.

We spoke with Rep. Orcutt to confirm the email’s authenticity and to get further clarification.

“You would be giving off more CO2 if you are riding a bike than driving in a car,” he said. However, he said he had not “done any analysis” of the difference in CO2 from a person on a bike compared to the engine of a car (others have).
Email from Wash. rep. drawing ire from NW bike community
Source: KGW-TV

A Washington State Representative who serves as a ranking republican on the State Transportation Committee may be an unlikely proponent of a tax that would require everyone who buys a bike for more than $500 to pay a $25 fee.

His reason for supporting the tax, however, is raising some eyebrows in the Northwest biking community.

Rep. Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama) said in an email to bike shop owner Dale Carlson that, “since CO2 is deemed a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride.”

Read more:

Rep. Adam Smith and military spending

Washington’s Rep. Adam Smith of the 9th Congressional District is the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.  Smith figures prominently in the Jan 28 issue of the The New Yorker, in the article “The Force” about the power and cost of the military-industrial complex and about America’s obsession with violence and militarism.

At a 2011 hearing, the Republican Chairman, Howard P. McKeon, strongly defended the military and spoke out against reductions to the military budget.  His comments were echoed by testimony from two former chairs of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former vice-chair. They said, Look at all the threats we face! Etc, etc.

None of this was contested by anyone, including the ranking Democrat, Adam Smith, a lawyer from Bellevue, Washington, who has served on the House Armed Services Committee since 1997 and who agreed that “defense is in an incredibly vulnerable position” because budget cuts, which could lead to force reductions and base closings, would “change the equation of of power projection.”  ….  He asked a question, which was purely rhetorical: “What if, all of a sudden, we don’t have troop in Europe, we don’t have troops in Asia, we are just, frankly, like pretty much every other country in the world?”

The article describes the problem facing the United States. Our country spends more on defense than all the other nations of the world combined. “The United States, a nation founded on opposition to a standing Army, is now a nation engaged in a standing war.” (See, for example, Thomas Jefferson’s opposition to standing armies.)  “The United States, separated from much of the world by two oceans and bordered by allies, is, by dint of geography, among the best-protected countries on earth.  Nevertheless, six decades after V-J Day nearly three hundred thousand American troops are stationed overseas.”  “We have hundreds of military bases all over the world.”   Rather than defending the homeland, “the U.S. military enforces American foreign policy.”

“Lockheed Martin spends fifteen million dollars a year on lobbying efforts and campaign contributions.”  Shouldn’t such spending should be illegal for government contractors?

“The company was the single largest contributor to Buck McKeon’s last campaign. (Lockheed Martin has a major R. & D. center in McKeon’s congressional district.) This patronage hardly distinguishes McKeon from his colleagues….” Lockheed Martin contributed to 51 of the 62 members of the House Armed Services Committee.

Andrew Bacevich, a former colonel in the US Army and now a professor at Boston University, points out that Americans “have fallen prey to militarism, manifesting itself in a romanticized view of soldiers, a tendency to see military power as the truest measure of national greatness, and outsized expectations regarding the efficacy of force.” (quoted in the New Yorker article)

Such views are reinforced by Hollywood movies and by TV programs that glorify righteous violence.

Chairman McKeon’s district is home to a naval weapons station, an Army fort, an Air Force base, and a Marines training area. Adam Smith’s current district, the 9th CD, extends from Tacoma north to Redmond. Prior to redistricting, the district went as far south as Olympia and included several military bases, including McChord Air Force Base and the Army’s Fort Lewis.  Apparently, the northward movement of Smith’s district, into more urban and liberal areas, may be accompanied by a leftward tilt of Smith’s political leanings.

According to Wikipedia, “In 2012, Smith cosponsored the National Defense Authorization Bill that would grant the President of the United States unprecedented powers to wage war freely against persons abroad and detaining and restricting access to the civil court system by persons suspected of terrorism. ”  But more recently, Smith has stated his opposition to the intrusive parts of NDAA.  See this and this and this.

At the beginning of this year, Smith voted against the budget deal, saying, it makes “getting to a reasonable ten-year plan far more difficult by making permanent 90 percent of the Bush Tax Cuts. By not allowing those tax cuts to expire, and then making them permanent, we took $3.5 Trillion of revenue off the table. This will lead to one of two results, both of which I am strongly against. Either our debt will climb over 100 percent of GDP or we will have to make devastating cuts in vital programs like Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, education, transportation, and more.”

I hope to meet with Congressman Smith, accompanied by like-minded progressives, in an effort to lobby him to help rein in the out-of-control military spending that is bankrupting our nation.  I reside in Smith’s district.

Related article: Revelations about the out-of-control US security state

Peggy Noonan: Republicans are too "lockstep"

Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan says in a Wall Street Journal essay:

“Republicans are now in the habit of editing their views, and they’ve been in it for 10 years. The Bush White House suppressed dissent; talk-radio stars functioned as enforcers; the angrier parts of the base, on the Internet, attempted to silence critical thinkers. Orthodoxy was everything, or orthodoxy as some defined it.

This isn’t loyalty, it’s lockstep. It has harmed the party’s creativity, its ability to think, when now more than ever it has to. Enough.”