Republicans and the Suburbs

November 9, 2018 at 8:12 am

David Brooks writes:

The suburbs happen to be where this election is being fought — around Philadelphia, New York, Denver, Minneapolis and Columbus. The general rule is that Democrats win in the more densely populated suburbs close to the cities and the Republicans win the more sparsely populated ones farther out. The central fight in American politics now is over where the line is demarking the two zones, and the central Republican problem is that every time the party mobilizes its exurban base it further alienates the marginal voters in traditional suburbs where Congressional elections are won or lost...

They are looking for orderly places to raise their children. They are what you might call antiparty empiricists. They distrust partisans and can't imagine why anyone would be sick enough to base an identity on a political organization. They don't expect much from government but a few competently delivered services, and they don't like public officials who unnerve them.

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New York's Low Bar

November 8, 2018 at 2:18 pm

What passes for good news in New York State, after the Democrats took over control of the state Senate, via the New York Daily News:

even though his party controls the entire state Legislature and the governor's mansion, the mayor is not likely to get what has been one of his top priorities since taking office—an increase on taxes for the wealthy to help fund needed subway repairs.

The Senate Democrats, knowing that tax hikes don't go over well in the suburbs and upstate, where they won seats to claim the majority, have said they are not looking to raise taxes.

"We understand how sensitive the tax environment is in New York State, especially after this devastating tax bill that the Trump administration passed," Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins told the Daily News Wednesday. "I'm a suburban legislator who is quite aware of the tax burden people already have. We're not trying to find new ways to increase the burden."

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Jared Polis NPR Interview

November 8, 2018 at 11:07 am

The governor-elect of Colorado. Jared Polis, is a Democrat who founded two charter schools. NPR's Mary Louise Kelly interviewed him after the election and focused her questioning in part on his being the first gay, Jewish governor of Colorado. The response from Polis was pretty interesting and constructive, I thought:

when you're elected governor, you're everybody's governor. I'm governor for people in Colorado who are conservative who didn't vote for me, as well as, of course, being able to honor the aspirations of those who did vote for me. And I look forward to doing a good job for our state. I mean, when it comes to fixing our roads and reducing traffic, it doesn't matter if you're gay or straight. When it comes to expanding health care coverage and saving people money, which is one of our big goals, it doesn't have anything to do with who you love or what gender you are....

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November 8, 2018 at 10:57 am

Back in September 2017, when Amazon first announced its "HQ2" site selection contest, I predicted it would end up selecting the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area: "if I had to predict or bet, I'd suspect that the company winds up choosing Washington, D.C., Virginia, or Maryland.," I wrote then.

The official announcement hasn't yet been made, at least as of this writing, but there sure seems to be a lot of press around the idea that Amazon has indeed chosen Washington's Northern Virginia suburb of Crystal City as one of its HQ2 sites, with Long Island City, Queens, New York, also getting some jobs.

We certainly don't always get these calls right around here, and in general we are less in the predicting business than in the explaining business (please go back to the original post for our explanation of our reasoning). But when we do get one right, or at least it looks like we do, it is satisfying.

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Takeaways From the 2018 Midterm Elections

November 7, 2018 at 11:26 am

What to make of yesterday's election? Some observations:

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Paulson To Puerto Rico

November 6, 2018 at 3:39 pm

Hedge fund manager John Paulson "is considering becoming a resident of Puerto Rico," reports Bloomberg News, which quotes him as saying, "It's the only place a U.S. citizen can go and literally avoid, legally, all their taxes."

Something politicians may want to remember when they try to raise tax rates on very rich individuals is that those individuals are mobile and can afford multiple residences along with planes to ferry them from one residence to another.

If the U.S. went the route President Reagan preferred and made Puerto Rico a state, this particular tax break would probably have to go away. But rich people could and would still move to states that impose no state income tax.

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The Hottest Midterm Race Is Milton Friedman Versus Marc Benioff

November 5, 2018 at 4:37 pm

Proposition C on the San Francisco ballot, to raise taxes on businesses by $250 million to $300 million a year to fund programs to relieve homelessness, is the topic of my column this week, which defends Milton Friedman against Marc Benioff. Please check out the full column at Reason here, at the New York Sun here, and at Newsmax here.

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Could Trump Be Good For Liberalism?

November 2, 2018 at 9:40 am

Maybe Trump could be good for liberalism.

Not because liberals hate him so much that voters and donors are energized to elect Democratic candidates, though that's certainly possible.

But because for political liberalism — not in the classical sense, but in the modern American political sense — to work, voters need to believe that politicians are going to keep their promises. Cynicism is terrible for liberalism, because if voters discount the promises of liberal politicians, there's not much left that remains — other than maybe identity politics — to motivate voters or donors.

We've had a run of presidents recently who governed different from how they campaigned. Bill Clinton ran in 1992 promising a middle class tax cut and instead delivered a tax increase. George W. Bush ran promising a "humble" foreign policy and instead delivered the Iraq War. Barack Obama in 2004 made his national debut as a unifier: "there's not a liberal America and a conservative America there's the United States of America." But his presidency was marked by stark party-line partisan division over issues such as the health care law and the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland.

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Post-Pittsburgh Sympathy Is Just A Start

October 30, 2018 at 8:42 pm

The response to the attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue is the topic of my column this week. Please check it out at the New Boston Post (here) and Newsmax (here).

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Solar Mandate

October 30, 2018 at 3:00 pm

About midway through a New York Times business section article about how a company called Sunrun (RUN) is challenging Tesla in the market for residential rooftop solar installation comes the news that, "Under a policy approved in May, all new-home construction in California must include solar power by Jan. 1, 2020. And Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a bill that allocates $800 million to a program providing rebates for home energy-storage systems. Florida also has new policies supporting residential solar power."

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Ben and Jerry's Resist

October 30, 2018 at 2:19 pm

Just in time for the midterm elections, Ben & Jerry's ice cream has launched "pecan resist," a flavor the company says is meant to convey that "We can peacefully resist the Trump administration's regressive and discriminatory policies and build a future that values inclusivity, equality, and justice for people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, refugees, and immigrants." Also, that "We cannot ignore the Trump administration's attacks on our values, our environment, and our very humanity."

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Birthright Citizenship

October 30, 2018 at 11:42 am

For those wondering what to make of President Trump's announcement that he plans an executive order ending the birthright citizenship that most of us thought was embedded in the 14th Amendment, some useful background is in this article from the Summer 2018 issue of National Affairs. It is by Peter Schuck, who is an emeritus professor at Yale Law School, and Rogers Smith, who is professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and president of the American Political Science Association.

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Two On Politics

October 26, 2018 at 4:12 pm

Two takes on the upcoming midterm elections: John McLaughlin and Jim McLaughlin at Newsmax, and Henry Olsen at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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Democrats Buy The Election

October 24, 2018 at 3:40 pm

In the "read it here first," department, from my September 18 post, "Klarman Funds The Democrats":

even for someone like me who supports political speech rights, the idea of Michael Bloomberg and Seth Klarman, in the name of "democracy," together spending $100 million so that the House of Representatives tilts toward their urban centrist values rather than the values of Trump Republicans who might otherwise get elected is something to behold. There's enough time between now and November for the Republicans to field some television or direct mail in rural districts about how billionaires like Bloomberg and Klarman are trying to buy the election.

From Kevin McCarthy, a top Republican in Congress who is currently the majority leader, on Twitter last night: "We cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election! Get out and vote Republican November 6th." His tweet links to a video making that point.

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Federal Reserve Independence and President Reagan

October 24, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Andrew Ross Sorkin reports on Paul Volcker's new book, Keeping At It: The Quest For Sound Money And Good Government:

while President Trump has complained in recent months about the Fed's plan to raise interest rates, he isn't the first to try to influence the independent Federal Reserve. Mr. Volcker recounts being summoned to meet with President Ronald Reagan and his chief of staff, James Baker, in the president's library next to the Oval Office in 1984.

Reagan "didn't say a word," Mr. Volcker wrote. "Instead Baker delivered a message: 'The president is ordering you not to raise interest rates before the election.'" Mr. Volcker wasn't planning to raise rates at the time.

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