Thursday, July 11, 2019

WOW: Math Proves Democrat Presidential Candidates Policies Will Hurt The Middle Class!

By Brandon Hall
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The Washington Post recently featured a great article about how Democrat proposals will hurt the middle class, check it out below:
Democrats’ 2020 policy proposals almost certainly require middle-class tax hikes
Some left-leaning economists argue the plans would help middle-class families overall by reducing their spending on health care, education.
By Jeff Stein 
Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) is campaigning for president on a plan to cut working-class taxes by nearly $3 trillion, promoting legislation that would boost wages but slash federal revenue by giving thousands of dollars to millions of Americans.
Harris has also backed Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) Medicare-for-all legislation, which would require increasing federal revenue by as much as $30 trillion — almost certainly requiring tax increases on many of the same families who would see cuts under her tax legislation.
The tension between the positions, some economists and political strategists say, underscores one of the most fraught issues Democrats will face as they push a dramatic expansion of government investments in infrastructure, education, housing, health care and new renewable energy sources, among other items.
For several presidential election cycles, Democratic candidates have pledged not to raise taxes on the middle class, a position that was deemed politically necessary even if it would ultimately cap the ambition of their proposals.
Now, Democrats in Congress and on the 2020 presidential campaign trail have proposed a number of new or expanded federal programs but have been largely silent on how to pay for them, saying that the details can be filled in later or during the process of passing legislation. The lack of clarity over how to finance these plans has fueled a debate among economists and policymakers, with conservatives and even some Democrats saying they require middle-class tax hikes that will prove hurtful for economic growth and the party’s political fortunes.
“Democrats have to be careful here: If they’re going to pay for these programs, the math suggests middle-class taxpayers are going to be hit,” said Jim Manley, who served as an aide to former Senate majority leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). “And that’s not what Democrats have traditionally stood for.”
Backers of these plans acknowledge they will require middle-class tax hikes but say Democrats should defend them anyway. They argue they will improve Americans’ lives in part by greatly reducing families’ private spending on expenses like education and health care, while also providing new public services and accomplishing key policy goals like combating climate change or improving schools.
“We shouldn’t be scared to talk about broad-based taxes that will affect the middle class,” said J.W. Mason, an economics professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a left-leaning think tank, who noted that the federal government could also afford to add spending to the deficit. “The U.S. has a lot of space to raise income taxes while still being below the average for most European and rich Asian countries. When the taxes are clearly linked to public services people value, I don’t think it’s such a challenge.”
Left-leaning Democrats have rolled out several new ideas to dramatically increase taxes on the rich, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) tax on wealth above $50 million, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) proposed 70 percent tax on income above $10 million, Sanders’s proposed 77 percent tax rate on billionaire estates, and a Wall Street transactions tax.
Estimates vary, but Democrats could likely aim to raise as much as $10 trillion over 10 years if they implemented all these taxes, including if they significantly increased the corporate tax rate, economists say. They could also free up another $3 trillion cutting defense spending and spend another $5 trillion through higher deficits, using generous assumptions
By contrast, the party’s left flank has proposed upward of $43 trillion in new spending, according to Brian Riedl, a conservative budget expert at the libertarian-leaning Manhattan Institute.
“There’s no possible way to finance even single-payer without big middle-class tax increases,” said Marc Goldwein, senior vice president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a think tank that pushes for lower deficits.
Jeffrey Sachs, a professor at Columbia University who backed Sanders in the 2016 presidential election, said these policies could be financed in part through higher taxes on the middle class. He pointed to the example set by America’s peer nations in Europe and argued the United States is the outlier rather than the norm, noting Scandinavian countries that publicly provide health care, college tuition, paid vacation and family benefits are consistently ranked the happiest in the world.
Medicare-for-all in particular would require tax hikes on middle-class families, but supporters say it would save them money overall by eliminating their private premium and deductible payments.
“We live with this huge financial insecurity. And it’s weighing heavily on our well-being, our social trust and people’s ability to get by day-to-day,” Sachs said, citing high levels of depression and declining life expectancy in the United States. “Countries with higher levels of public benefits, matched with higher levels of tax revenue, are much happier for it. The evidence is overwhelming.”
The United States takes in far less tax revenue as a share of its economy than all but five other economically advanced countries, including Mexico, Turkey and Ireland, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s rankings. In the United States, tax revenue represents 27 percent of the entire economy, compared with 34 percent in the OECD average. In Finland, Sweden and Denmark — where residents have a longer life expectancy and lower poverty rates than those in the United States — tax revenue represents around 45 percent of the economy.
If the United States took in roughly as much in tax revenue as the Scandinavian countries do, the federal government would have an additional $50 trillion to spend over 10 years, said Matt Bruenig, founder of the People’s Policy Project, a socialist think tank.
Democrats have traditionally bet against this kind of pitch to American voters. In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton promised to cut taxes for the middle class while raising them only for the wealthy. He raised taxes on the richest 1.2 percent of U.S. taxpayers, while also lowering a number of taxes for lower-income Americans. 
President Barack Obama backed, and then helped pass, an extension of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for all but the richest Americans. The Obama administration decided against supporting a plan, modest by the standards of the 2020 presidential nominees, to fund a paid family leave policy by increasing the payroll tax contribution for workers and companies by 0.2 percentage points. 
Conservatives express confidence they can beat Democrats forced to admit their plans require middle-class tax increases, while arguing they would hinder economic growth. Riedl, of the Manhattan Institute, said tax hikes of the magnitude required by Democrats’ plans would require doubling the payroll tax and imposing consumption taxes higher than those in Europe.
“With incomes growing slowly over the last few decades, a lot of families can’t handle a large tax increase. They’re having a hard enough time making ends meet,” Riedl said. “And, of course, the politics are deadly. If you look at surveys, it’s usually about only 30 percent that will pay higher taxes for additional government benefits.”
The political incentive to cut taxes for the working class may inform Harris’s legislation, called the LIFT Act. Several economists argued that the plan also acted as an effective anti-poverty measure, by delivering upward of $3,000 (or $6,000 for married couples) for those earning under $87,000.
“You can either provide specific program benefits or take the path of providing more cash. There’s some merit to the idea of just providing cash, because people in various situations have very diverse needs,” said Elaine Maag, a tax expert with the Tax Policy Center, who provided input into the plan. “When we give people money, they can apply their knowledge of their own situations to solve their problems.”
But Sachs, of Columbia University, argued prioritizing a cut to middle-class taxes represented the wrong direction for the party, given the need to maintain or raise them to finance the party’s many priorities. (A spokesman for Harris did not return a request for comment.)
“Starting with tax cuts does not consider the comprehensive fiscal picture, including all the areas where fiscal investments are needed,” Sachs said. “This is the time for significant change for how we’re operating in this country — to address inequality, climate change, skills, infrastructure — and I’m skeptical how large tax cuts will fit within that overall picture.”
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

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Justin Amash Leaves GOP After Advocating Trump Impeachment: Here Are The Candidates To Replace Him

By Brandon Hall
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With Rep. Justin Amash out of the Republican Party, the GOP primary for his 3rd District seat is now open.

An endorsement from President Trump could easily decide this race, which is sure to be one of the hottest in the country in 2020.

Here are the declared candidates so far:

State Rep. Jim Lower

Lower, a second term State Rep., was the first legislator to challenge Amash, earning him significant attention online, as well as earned media, including Fox & Friends.

Both major polls commissioned so far show Lower leading the field by nearly 20%, however, that was before Amash bowed out.

Lower hails from far outside the district's population hub, Grand Rapids, which could be a challenge down the stretch.

Joel Langlois

Joel Langlois, who declared his candidacy earlier this week, is the only candidate with any real longstanding ties to President Trump.

The outsider businessman, who owns Grand Rapids area staples the DeltaPlex, as well as the Intersection, hosted the President in 2015 for a rally. 

That rally infamously saw Mr. Trump say Hillary had been "schlonged" by President Obama in the 2008 primary.

Langlois has never held elected office before. Combined with his status as a political outsider and businessman, he would be well suited for the general after the primary. 

His early support of President Trump should give him a major advantage, as the other candidates can't boast the same cred.

Lynn Afendoulis

Afendoulis, a first term State Rep. who took office less than 7 months ago, previously worked at Peter Secchia's Universal Forest Products before entering politics last year.

She has a Conservative record in the House so far, but statements blasting President Trump in 2016 saying we "shouldn't elect a President this year" have caused big league concerns.

Tom Norton

Norton, a grassroots favorite, was the first to challenge Amash, even before Lower.

Norton was a member of the Army National Guard from 2008 to 2014. He also served as a trustee and president of the Sand Lake Village Council from 2014 to 2018.

Norton  will trail in fundraising, but he will hit the doors and have a decent amount of volunteers, count on that.

Peter Meijer

A few months ago, Peter Meijer was a top donor to Rep. Justin Amash, writing him a check for nearly $3,000.

Meijer, who has spent recent years living in New York, is known in political circles for his extremely moderate views, as well as his hostility towards President Trump. He is also a proponent of electing Vets to public office.

Meijer has nothing to do with running the popular store chain that features his famous last name. A recent poll of the race shows Meijer in last place...

If he can make it out of the primary, Meijer could prove to be a strong general election candidate, though for different reasons than Langlois.
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

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Breaking: Sources Say Rick Johnson Under FBI Investigation For Racketeering As Medical Marijuana Board Chairman

By Brandon Hall
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Sources familiar with the investigation tell West Michigan Politics that Rick Johnson is under FBI investigation for racketeering and pay-to-play corruption related to his role as Medical Marijuana Board Chairman.

Johnson, a former Speaker of the House turned lobbyist, saw his reign as Chair end earlier this year when Governor Whitmer wisely eliminated the controversial board.

The investigation was ongoing before a Bridge Magazine article from Craig Mauger of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network spotlighting Johnson and former Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof seemingly flagrantly violating state law to grease the wheel for marijuana clients.

Sources refused to comment on whether Meekhof was also under investigation in this case, or others.

West Michigan Politics has a proven track record of solid federal sources. 

Last year, WMP broke the story that Mike Mitchell was busted with all sorts of government owned toys and tools in his garage:

Stay tuned for more on this developing situation...

>>>Here is part of Mauger's Bridge story:

"Former Senate Leader Arlan Meekhof helped create the law that guides Michigan’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry. Within weeks of leaving office, he was consulting for businesses that wanted a piece of it.

In one pointed email, obtained under the state’s Freedom of Information Act, Meekhof described actions he took on behalf of three businesses he worked for that may have violated the law he helped write.

In a Feb. 21 email shared with state officials, Meekhof said he had spoken to Rick Johnson, chairman of the medical marijuana licensing board, and that Johnson was going to tell another state official to place the three businesses on the board’s March agenda. The board was in charge of deciding whether medical marijuana businesses qualified to operate in the state under the 2016 law.

Such a conversation, if it took place, could represent a violation of the 2016 law, which forbids representatives of applicants from having outside communication with licensing board members. As it happens, it was Meekhof, in his role as Republican Senate Leader, who recommended Johnson be appointed to the marijuana board in May 2017.

The behind-the-scenes communications raise questions about Meekhof’s handling of marijuana legislation while he was in office (he left the Senate because of term limits at the end of 2018) and Michigan’s lax ethics laws."

Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Peter Meijer Announces Campaign Against Amash As New Poll Shows Supermarket Heir In Trouble

Peter Meijer (Dale Young/Detroit News)

By Brandon Hall
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A few months ago, Peter Meijer was a top donor to Rep. Justin Amash, writing him a check for nearly $3,000. 

Today, the grandson of iconic Michigan businessman Fred Meijer announced he would run against the 5 term Congressman.

Meijer, who has spent recent years living in New York, is known in political circles for his moderate views, and hostility towards President Trump. He is also a proponent of electing Vets to public office.

A new poll released this morning shows Meijer faces an uphill battle as the race begins.
According to Breitbart:

"Amash is polling at just 17 percent in the GOP primary, trailing State Rep. Jim Lower by double digits. Lower, who announced his candidacy as Amash revealed his support for impeaching Trump, is at 27 percent–a 10-point lead over Amash. What’s more, another Amash challenger, State Rep. Lynn Afendoulis, is tied with the congressman for 17 percent–meaning one challenger to the incumbent representative is beating him by double digits and a second is already tied with him.

Another challenger, activist Tom Norton, is at 5 percent in this poll. Pete Meijer, the heir to the Meijer supermarket chain fortune who just announced his candidacy on Wednesday, polls at just 4 percent in this survey. Thirty percent of respondents were undecided.

The poll, conducted by Strategic National, surveyed 400 likely Republican voters in Michigan’s third congressional district from June 29 to July 1 and has a margin of error of 4.89 percent.

Another potential candidate, businessman and real estate developer Joel Langlois who owns the DeltaPlex facility in which President Trump has held rallies as well as manufacturing companies, is also considering running for the seat."

Strategic National CEO John Yob believes Democrats could help push Amash over the top in a crowded, open primary.
“Congressman Amash has a path to victory by turning out Democrats to vote in the Republican Primary in a crowded field that isn’t represented in the topline results of the survey,” Yob said in a press release. “The results of the Democrat portion of the survey are consistent with the strong Democrat turnout he had at his townhall meeting.”
This will be a hell of a race, stay tuned!

Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

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Friday, April 26, 2019

Controversial Rep. Rashida Tlaib Is A Plaintiff In Major Gerrymandering Lawsuit That Killed Michigan's Legislative Maps

Rep. Rashida Tlaib

By Brandon Hall
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Controversial Democrat Rep. Rashida Tlaib is a plaintiff in the gerrymandering lawsuit brought by Mark Brewer and the League of Women Voters that has resulted in Michigan's legislative maps being thrown out by federal judges.

Tlaib, known for controversial statements like saying "impeach the mother f-cker!" regarding President Trump, represents Michigan's 14th District in Congress.

Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

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Developing: Bombshell Court Ruling Severely Impacts Michigan's 2020 Elections After Legislative Maps Ruled Illegal

By Brandon Hall
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A bombshell court ruling issued by a panel of three federal judges could severely impact 2020 elections in Michigan.

The decision, handed down Thursday afternoon, says that 9 of Michigan's 14 Congressional Districts drawn in 2011 are illegally gerrymandered, and must be re-drawn.The court also identified 10 State Senate districts, and 15 State House districts they say are illegal. 

The most shocking aspect of the ruling ordered Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to hold special State Senate elections in 2020, two years ahead of schedule. 

The judges say special elections are needed because the old maps egregiously hurt the rights of voters in those districts on a "historic" level. 

This could mean State Senators will lose 2-4 years of time in Lansing. Michigan's Constitutional amendment enacting term limits, passed in 1992, says Senators can only be elected twice, the only exception being to fill a vacancy under two years.

New districts must be created by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Whitmer before August 1st, or the court will draw them.

The problematic districts, which you can view below, are "packed" and "cracked" to favor Republicans and disenfranchise Democrats, the panel said. 

"Packing" is when a political party is heavily grouped into one district to prevent them from being competitive in other neighboring districts. 

"Cracking" is essentially when a district is carved up and rigged up without regard for aspects such as municipal boundaries in order to benefit or hurt a particular political party.

The lawsuit was filed against the Secretary of State at the time, Ruth Johnson, by Mark Brewer on behalf of the League of Women Voters. It is likely to be decided by the US Supreme Court.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey has already announced the Senate will appeal the ruling.


8th, Senator Pete Lucido
10th, Senator Michael McDonald
11th, Senator Jeremy Moss
12th, Senator Rosemary Bayer
14th, Senator Ruth Johnson
18th, Senator Jeff Irwin
22nd, Senator Lana Theis
27th, Senator Jim Ananich
32nd, Senator Horn
36th, Senator Jim Stamas

24th, Rep. Steve Marino
32nd, Rep. Pam Hornberger
51st, Rep. Mike Mueller
52nd, 52nd, Rep. Donna Lasinski
55th, Rep. Rebekah Warren
60th, Rep. Jon Hoadley
62nd, Rep. Jim Haadsma
63rd, Rep. Matt Hall
75th, Rep. David LaGrand
76th, Rep. Rachel Hood
83rd, Rep. Shane Hernandez
91st, Rep. Greg VanWoerkom
92nd, Rep. Terry Sabo
94th, Rep. Rodney Wakeman
95th, Rep Vanessa Guerra
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

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Michigan State Senate CHAOS: Federal Judges Order 2020 Senate Elections, Senators May See Their Time In Lansing Cut By 2-4 Years

By Brandon Hall
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Thursday's federal court ruling that Michigan must hold State Senate elections in 2020 has shaken Lansing to the core. 

After 10 Senate districts were ruled illegal, a three judge panel is demanding the districts be re-drawn, and elections held in 2020 instead of waiting until 2022. Any Senate seats amended to accommodate the 10 under scrutiny must also vote in 2020.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey has already announced the Senate will appeal the ruling.

It will be virtually impossible to re-draw so many districts without the domino effect impacting nearly every region in the state. A couple Senators far away from the districts at issue, like Ed McBroom in the Western corner of the UP, or someone like Roger Victory in Ottawa County, could perhaps escape. Maybe...

The court opined that "the fact that a special Senate election would truncate the four-year terms of senators is not ‘unduly intrusive’ given the gravity and extent of the constitutional violations at issue in this case. While senators may be disappointed that their four-year terms will be reduced to two years, the sentiment of the legislators elected under an unconstitutional apportionment plan does not outweigh the constitutional rights of millions of Michiganders to elect their senators under constitutional maps.” 

Also, here is an immensely interesting contention: State Senators who were just re-elected can't run again in 2020, limiting them to six years, and freshman Senators who won for the first time in 2018 won't be able to run again in 2022, limiting them to four years.
The Michigan Constitution is clear: "No person shall be elected to the office of state senate more than two times."

The only exception is to fill a vacant seat if it's under two years, which is not the issue here.

Senators Ananich, Hertel, Schmidt, Horn, MacGregor, Stamas, Shirkey, and Zorn could be ineligible to run again in 2020 if this ruling holds, creating 8 open seats.

The order to hold new Senate elections comes after Mark Brewer and the League of Women Voters sued Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, arguing many legislative districts at the state and federal level are gerrymandered to benefit Republicans.

In the end, the case is likely to be decided by the US Supreme Court... Stay tuned!

>>>Read More About The Lawsuit Below:
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

>>>Email him at