How Run of the Mill Progressivism Became Radical

A recent post by Samuel Hammond of the Niskanen Institute, a center right think tank, criticized Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s recent proposal to impose a 70% marginal tax rate on income over 10 million dollars. A few of the points raised in the piece are interesting jumping off points for discussion.

Hammond presents a figure on the wealth shares held at different levels of the wealth distribution in Sweden over the 20th century, which shows that the top 1% of Swedes held over half of the wealth in the early 1900s. This amount dropped to the neighborhood of 20% by 1970, and has held relatively stable since. Hammond suggests that this stability is proof that high marginal income tax rates in Sweden cemented the country’s old dynastic families in their positions of wealth, while locking out everyone else. This is ultimately a good point that the left should take seriously, but it’s not a particularly good argument against raising marginal rates on income.

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The Case for Automatic Voter Registration in New York State

Any New Yorker who has tried to vote knows that our voting system is truly awful.

There are lots of reasons why, but the most glaringly obvious is our registration requirements: we are one of the few remaining states that requires voters to stamp and mail paper forms, and update their registration every time they move. Voters have to remember to do this at least 25 days before an election – and up to 13 months before an election, depending on the voter’s party affiliation – or they cannot vote. It’s straight out of the 1950s, and it’s a big reason why New York ranked 48th in the nation in voter turnout rate in 2014.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

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Democrats Are Proposing Realistic Solutions, but Terry McAuliffe Isn't Listening

Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic Governor of Virginia, recently penned an op ed where he called for “realistic” solutions to the country’s problems while leaving open the possibility of a presidential run. McAuliffe argued against tuition free college, saying that it would be inappropriate to use taxpayer money for tuition for children of well to do families. For what it’s worth, the public doesn’t seem to buy into this argument. Civis Analytics polled tuition free college for Data for Progress, and included an explicit tax increase as well as McAuliffe’s argument that the program would benefit wealthy families (as a counterargument from a Republican), but the policy had net support anyway.

What’s troubling about this argument is that it can be used against any universal program such as K-12 education, Social Security, or Medicare. There are important debates to be had about education policy, especially on how to create pathways to the middle class that do not require college at all. However, simply noting that the wealthy would benefit is not a compelling reason for why means testing might be appropriate for a particular program, and potentially undermines political support for benefits that many rely upon.

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Oregon Progressives to Attack Rent Profiteering and Racist Apartment Bans Together

As runaway housing costs continue to oppress millions of working Americans, one state hopes to address the rent crisis in one fell swoop.

After picking up a series of key legislative seats in 2018, Oregon progressives intend to remake a generations-old racist, crony capitalist housing system - in a single legislative session. Led by Speaker Tina Kotek, housing advocates believe the 2019 session presents a window of opportunity to defeat the types of entrenched interests that have created and perpetuated housing insecurity in Oregon and across the country.

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Give Smart Wrap Up

Friends,

So how did we do? Well we raised $860,000 total, but we care far more about winning.

We directed donations to forty-six Give Smart candidates. Of those forty-six, twenty have officially won their races, while another six are too close to call or head for recounts (though we expect one race to officially be called for Democrats soon). One of those races that’s too close to call currently features a Democrat trailing by *eight* votes, total.

Of those forty-six races, forty of them were within ten points. Of our twenty winners, ten of them won by two percent or less. Win or lose, you were sending money where it was needed most.  

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The Chart That Broke Our Brains

The New York Times recently published a piece that explored why many of the people who depend on government assistance end up voting for Republicans, the one political party which is not only determined to cut all forms of government assistance but is openly hostile to the concept of government itself (at least the parts of government that don’t kill, imprison, or spy on people). The article offered several important insights, although we will add a few caveats to it here, but mostly the article caught our attention because of a very strange trendline on a chart.

The plot compares county level Trump vote share and the county level percentage of personal income that comes from government transfers, which includes things like Social Security, Medicare and other public assistance for medical care, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), nutrition assistance, disability insurance, unemployment insurance, and a few others.

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Momentum Is Building For A Public Option For Prescription Drugs

Senator Elizabeth Warren has an exciting new plan to create a public option for generic drugs. Her plan continues the trend of progressives getting serious about using the power of government to push back against the abuses of the pharmaceutical industry.

Warren’s Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act, co-sponsored with Rep. Jan Schakowsky, would allow the government to step in to manufacture and sell any generic drug where the private market is yielding too little competition or exorbitant prices. Warren pitches her plan as a way to correct anti-competitive behavior within Big Pharma, writing in the Washington Post: “[S]o long as these companies continue to game the system, we should insist on competitive markets that actually work for consumers.”

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Examining Jumaane Williams's Progressive Housing Agenda

In 2018, the affordable housing crisis finally began to reshape politics in New York, which has created unprecedented momentum for progressive candidates and causes. It played an underappreciated role in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset of Joseph Crowley. It fueled a spirited primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon that has pushed Governor Cuomo to the left. And, most importantly, it created a landslide Democratic majority in the State Senate that included many pro-tenant progressives.

That trend will likely continue in 2019 with the upcoming special election for New York City’s Public Advocate, vacated by Letitia James who won the election for NY Attorney General. The race is crowded (to say the least) and many in the field have carved out reputations as stanch progressive housing activists. This gives progressives a unique opportunity to flesh out a broader housing agenda and test messaging both for the universal rent control fight in Albany later in the year and in the lead up to 2020.

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Who Funds the Federalist: An Interactive Guide For The Perplexed

The Federalist launched in 2013. We know a handful of details about the publication. We know that it was founded by Sean Davis and Ben Domenech. We know that it is committed to publishing trash takes. But after roughly five years, we still have no idea who or what is providing the financial backing for the conservative outlet. The website has never publicly disclosed this information, though John McIntyre, co-founder of RealClearPolitics.com, appeared in a Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities disclosure filed by the website’s parent company, FDRLST Media, to the SEC. He is also a board member.

Still, there is no clear answer to who funds the Federalist, which is particularly thorny question given the site’s demonstrated ethics. Federalist contributors have written about its founder’s wife without disclosing their relationship, downplayed allegations of sexual misconduct toward minors by Roy Moore, and had a tab for articles related to “black crime.” People want to know who is paying other people money to do these things, and thus far the people receiving that money have refused to say where it’s come from.

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Congressional Support for a Green New Deal

The most recent report from the IPCC states that we have about 12 years to halve greenhouse gas emissions to avoid devastating environmental and economic effects of the climate crisis. The IPCC’s conclusions suggest that we need an massive mobilization of resources to decarbonize our economy and build resilient communities, which is apparently considered more politically radical than the alternative of environmental destruction and large-scale human suffering.

Solutions such as a Green New Deal are gaining prominence however, and activists are leading the way. A Green New Deal is not necessarily a fixed set of policies (see our comprehensive policy blueprint), but in broad terms Green New Deal supporters hold the viewpoint that direct public investment in communities, infrastructure, and jobs programs should be the primary tool in the fight against climate change. A Green New Deal also must recognize that the costs of climate change will fall disproportionately on vulnerable communities and seek solutions that place the costs and benefits of decarbonization and resilience equitably.

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