Senators vs. Their Constituents on Climate Change

Washington Post: The Yale Project on Climate Change has released a new analysis “(based on this Nature Climate Change paper) that examined the climate views of people in all 50 states, and provides a state by state breakdown of how many think global warming is either mostly human caused or caused by ‘both human activities and natural changes,’ versus how many say it is either ‘not happening’ or ’caused mostly by natural changes.’ Then, the analysis further compared those views with votes on the Schatz climate change amendment for all 100 U.S. senators.”

“The analysis show that Rubio is one of several GOP senators who seem notably distant from their constituents on climate. Even farther out, according to the Yale research, is Colorado’s Sen. Cory Gardner. Gardner voted nay, but in his state, 58 percent of citizens say global warming is at least partly human caused and only 41 percent say ‘not happening/natural.’”

“Yale finds 10 more Republican senators who voted ‘nay’ but whose states show at least a 10-point preference for human-caused global warming over ‘not happening/natural’: Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, Texas’s John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, Arizona’s Jeff Flake and John McCain, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, North Carolina’s Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, and Iowa’s Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley.”

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Highest Obamacare Enrollment in Rubio’s Backyard

CNN: “During his presidential campaign announcement, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio came out swinging with a punch list that included the popular Republican mantra to ‘repeal and replace Obamacare.’ But the Department of Health and Human Services had already thrown a punch of its own earlier in April.”

“HHS released its updated list of enrollments by zip code and it turns out the top 15 are in Rubio’s backyard – Miami-Dade and Broward counties. In fact, the second highest zip code in the country is 33126, which lies just blocks from the City of West Miami, where Rubio got his political start. That area saw 11,222 people sign-up for the healthcare benefits, in the enrollment period ending in February.”

“That’s roughly 4,000 less than the top Obamacare zip code in the United States, 33012, which is in the heart of Hialeah, a Republican stronghold.”

Who Thinks Taxes Are Fair?

Gallup: “Americans’ perceptions of the fairness of their federal income taxes have diverged along income lines in recent years. From 2005 to 2008, roughly six in 10 Americans in each income group said what they paid in income taxes was fair. Since then, higher- and lower-income Americans have grown less likely to consider it fair, while middle-income Americans have remained largely content.”

Perceptions of Income Taxes Paid as Fair, by Annual Household Income

“As Tax Day approaches, more Americans continue to say their taxes are fair than to say they are not. In recent years, though, there has been a growing disparity in perceptions of fairness by income group. Middle-income Americans are the most likely to believe their taxes are fair, and their views on the matter have changed little. But lower- and higher-income Americans are less likely than roughly a decade ago to view their taxes as fair, even though the tax rates for most people in these groups have not changed.”

“Along these lines, between 85% and 90% of Americans said their taxes were fair in Gallup polls conducted during World War II.”

Conservative Texas Embraces Wind Power as a Money Maker

Yale Environment 360: “Texas now leads the United States in wind power production. In 2014, wind generated 10.6 percent of Texas electricity, up from 9.9 percent the previous year and 6.2 percent in 2009, according to the U.S Energy Information Administration.”

“Currently, Texas has more than 12 gigawatts of wind power capacity installed across the state — equivalent to six Hoover Dams. That figure could jump to 20 gigawatts in a few years with upgrades to the current transmission system.”

“So how has the Lone Star state done it? Strong government incentives, sizeable investments in infrastructure, and innovative policies have played an important role. So has the backing of governors of all political persuasions, from liberal Democrat Ann Richards to conservative Republican Rick Perry. But at heart the profit motive has driven the state’s wind energy boom, with ranchers and landowners seeing gold in the spinning turbines on the Texas plains.”

The Guardian: Jim Briggs, interim city manager of Georgetown, TX, explained the rationale behind plans to become the first city in Texas to be powered by 100% renewable energy.

“I’m probably the furthest thing from an Al Gore clone you could find,” he says. “We didn’t do this to save the world – we did this to get a competitive rate and reduce the risk for our consumers.”

Will It Ever Be Called ‘ClintonCare?’

National Journal: “Clinton has been openly enthusiastic about [Obamacare] in the weeks leading up to her announcement.”

“She singled out the congressional Republican budget’s repeal of Obamacare for criticism in March 17 comments on Twitter … ‘Our nation’s future—jobs & economic growth—depends on investments made today. The GOP budget fails Americans on these principles … Repeal of the ACA would let insurers write their own rules again, and wipe out coverage for 16 million Americans.'”

“Clinton has run toward the law with arms open. Last year, she urged Democratic congressional candidates to campaign on it.”

Philip Bump analyzes the latest Gallup poll of uninsured Americans, concluding that those gaining coverage are the “Democratic base.” Bump predicts that supporting Obamacare could be an asset for the 2016 elections.

“Polling shows that opposition to the bill fluctuates within a narrow range. It spiked last summer, but in March of this year was only two points higher than approval. It’s important to the Republican base that will vote in primaries, but it doesn’t seem to be getting much more unpopular.”

“The key for any Democrat … is turnout … Whoever ends up being the Republican candidate will likely have pledged at some point to repeal Obamacare — allowing whoever ends up being the Democratic nominee (whoever that might be!) to say, ‘Vote for me or else.'”

The message: “Go vote for the Democrat or risk losing their health-care coverage.”

Most Welfare Recipients Have a Job

Wall Street Journal: “It’s poor-paying jobs, not unemployment, that strains the welfare system.”

“That’s one key finding from a study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, that showed the majority of households receiving government assistance are headed by a working adult.”

“The study found that 56% of federal and state dollars spent between 2009 and 2011 on welfare programs — including Medicaid, food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit — flowed to working families and individuals with jobs. In some industries, about half the workforce relies on welfare.”

“’When companies pay too little for workers to provide for their families, workers rely on public assistance programs to meet their basic needs,’ said Ken Jacobs, chairman of the university’s Center for Labor Research and Education and one of the report’s authors.”

Americans Choose Environmental Protection Over Energy Production

Gallup: “About half of Americans (49%) say that protection of environment should be given priority, even at the risk of limiting the amount of energy supplies, virtually unchanged from their sentiment last year. Fewer than four in 10 (39%) prioritize the development of U.S. energy supplies even if the environment suffers to some extent.”

Energy Production vs. Environmental Protection

“For the second year in a row, Americans are leaning more heavily in favor of protecting the environment than in developing energy supplies … A majority of Americans say Obama is doing a “good job” of protecting the nation’s environment, suggesting this is an area of strength for the president.”

“But even as a plurality of Americans favor environmental protection over energy development, U.S. oil production is set to hit a 45-year high, benefitting many Americans in the form of lower gas prices … But should gas prices increase substantially, Americans’ feelings on this issue could change.”

A Political Divide Drives a Widening Policy Divide

Paul Krugman: “There has never been a time in American history when the alleged personal traits of candidates mattered less. As we head into 2016, each party is quite unified on major policy issues — and these unified positions are very far from each other. The huge, substantive gulf between the parties will be reflected in the policy positions of whomever they nominate, and will almost surely be reflected in the actual policies adopted by whoever wins.”

“How did the parties get this far apart? Political scientists suggest that it has a lot to do with income inequality. As the wealthy grow richer compared with everyone else, their policy preferences have moved to the right — and they have pulled the Republican Party ever further in their direction. Meanwhile, the influence of big money on Democrats has at least eroded a bit, now that Wall Street, furious over regulations and modest tax hikes, has deserted the party en masse. The result is a level of political polarization not seen since the Civil War.”

“The differences between the parties are so clear and dramatic that it’s hard to see how anyone who has been paying attention could be undecided even now, or be induced to change his or her mind between now and the election.”

“One thing is for sure: American voters will be getting a real choice. May the best party win.”

Is Laffer’s Creed as Popular as Ever With the GOP?

Washington Post: “As the 2016 GOP primary season takes off, Laffer is more in demand than ever before, with Republican candidates embracing tax-cut-for-the-rich policies even as they bemoan economic inequality.”

“For the first time in a generation, however, Laffer’s ‘supply-side’ strategies are not going without question on the right. Some conservatives believe that America’s struggling middle class needs more targeted policies today than simply broad tax cuts, and that Republicans won’t win back the White House without offering that relief. And mainstream economists, in surveys and interviews, have expressed deep doubt about whether his view of economics is correct.”

“Michael Strain, an influential economist at the American Enterprise Institute, said Laffer’s formula needs an update for Republicans to win. ‘I would argue that conditions are substantially different today than they were in 1978,’ he said.”

“Laffer rejects the ideas of candidates such as Rubio who push for targeted tax relief for families or the middle class, saying those deductions ‘don’t make sense in the tax code.’”

“But then in the next breath he praises Rubio, recalls how long it took Reagan to come around, and expresses confidence that the eventual nominee will follow his advice. ‘We’ll see who slugs it out’ in the primaries, Laffer said. ‘But no one’s voting for a redistributionist again. It’s over.’”

Is More Work the Answer?

Vox: “Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton don’t agree on much, but they both strongly believe more Americans should be working in low-wage, unpleasant jobs.”

“America is a very, very rich society. The richest the world has ever known. For many Americans — particularly Americans with children — working a low-wage, physical job with little job security and unpredictable hours is a deeply unpleasant way to spend your life. Maybe more work isn’t always the answer.”

“For many Americans, the central problem here isn’t work. It’s wages. You can see it in this chart:”

epi compensation wages

“What Paul and Clinton are essentially proposing is to improve living standards by getting people to work more in low-wage jobs.”

“For people who are involuntarily out of the workforce because they can’t afford child care, that’s great. If they want to work, they should work. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that, for many people, work is the worst.”