Daily Archives: December 4, 2017

48th Annual 4th Avenue Winter Street Fair

For you locals and long time residents, this winter street fair is in its 48th year. For you snow birds from the Mid West, refer to all info on their website:

“The Fourth Avenue Street Fair, recognized as one of the premier community celebrations in the Southwest, is held biannually in the gorgeous Sonoran Desert community of Tucson, Arizona.

We invite you to participate in this 48-year-old tradition which, attracts more than 500,000 guests each year. In addition to over 300 international artisans, we host entertainment stages, children’s activities and tantalizing treats from 40+ food concessionaires. Admission to the festival is free and open to the entire community.

Selected by an experienced jury, our arts and craft fair is designed to attract a variety of high quality handmade art and fine crafts by artists from around the world. The artists’ work is the focal point of the festival. The proceeds generated from the Fair directly support infrastructure and services in the Fourth Avenue Business District, surrounding neighborhood association enrichment projects, multiple community nonprofits and multiple free special community events for all the guests of Tucson’s Historic Fourth Avenue.”

http://www.fourthavenue.org/street-fair/

 

 

 

Size Matters

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

The recent Arizona Town Hall on “Funding PreK–12 Education”, reported that, after “three days of serious and intense deliberations, [we] believe there is a state of emergency with respect to Arizona’s underfunding of our preK–12 education system, which requires urgent, decisive action.” This Town Hall effort was non-partisan, including a cross-section of diverse participants traveling from across the state to convene in Mesa. The intent of the effort was to discuss how best to fund preK–12 education now and in the future while improving the quality of education provided.

In their yet draft report, the Town Hall states in that, “Arizona already dedicates approximately 43% of the state’s general fund to K–12 education spending – good enough for a ranking of 11th nationally, as compared to average general fund spending of 35% among other states – the problem has more to do with the ”size of the pie” than a lack of relative support for preK–12 education spending.

That led me to notice an Arizona Daily Star story today titled, “Here’s how to use your tax credits to help public schools.” Although there isn’t a public school out there that doesn’t appreciate the tax credit dollars that come in, in the bigger picture they are as much as part of the problem, as they help. Firstly, they exacerbate inequities between private schools and public schools and between public schools themselves. Taxpayers can claim a five-fold greater tax credit for private schools (up to $1,089 per person versus only $200 for public schools.) Secondly, the tax credit monies given to private schools can be used for any purpose versus the limitation to extracurricular activities or character education programs that public schools must live with. Continue reading

Mann and Ornstein: How the Republicans Broke Congress

Political scientists Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein, the high priests of “centrism” in Washington, D.C., warned back in 2012, Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

This op-ed was a preview of the books that followed, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism” (2012) and updated in 2016, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks Was: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism.

Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein are back with a new op-ed at the New York Times, How the Republicans Broke Congress:

In the past three days, Republican leaders in the Senate scrambled to corral votes for a tax bill that the Joint Committee on Taxation said would add $1 trillion to the deficit — without holding any meaningful committee hearings. Worse, Republican leaders have been blunt about their motivation: to deliver on their promises to wealthy donors, and down the road, to use the leverage of huge deficits to cut and privatize Medicare and Social Security.

Congress no longer works the way it’s supposed to. But we’ve said that before.

Continue reading

A lesson from history on the failure of GOP ‘trickle down’ economics

Republicans control the White House, both chambers of Congress, the tilt of the Supreme Court, more state legislative chambers than any time in history, and more governor’s offices than they have held in nearly a century. Republicans Expand Control in a Deeply Divided Nation.

This is the GOP’s high-water mark since 1929 — just before the Great Depression that GOP laissez faire economic policies brought about.

Historian Robert S. McElvaine, the author of “The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941,” warns at the Washington Post, I’m a Depression historian. The GOP tax bill is straight out of 1929.

“There are two ideas of government,” William Jennings Bryan declared in his 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech. “There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.”

That was more than three decades before the collapse of the economy in 1929. The crash followed a decade of Republican control of the federal government during which trickle-down policies, including massive tax cuts for the rich, produced the greatest concentration of income in the accounts of the richest 0.01 percent at any time between World War I and 2007 (when trickle-down economics, tax cuts for the hyper-rich, and deregulation again resulted in another economic collapse).

Yet the plain fact that the trickle-down approach has never worked leaves Republicans unfazed. The GOP has been singing from the Market-is-God hymnal for well over a century, telling us that deregulation, tax cuts for the rich, and the concentration of ever more wealth in the bloated accounts of the richest people will result in prosperity for the rest of us. The party is now trying to pass a scam that throws a few crumbs to the middle class (temporarily — millions of middle-class Americans will soon see a tax hike if the bill is enacted) while heaping benefits on the super-rich, multiplying the national debt and endangering the American economy.

As a historian of the Great Depression, I can say: I’ve seen this show before.

Continue reading

‘A Republican Party whose only purpose is to comfort the already extremely comfortable’

In Senate Tea-Publicans’ mad dash to rewrite the tax code on Friday, lawmakers added loopholes for the wealthy but tightened deductions for middle-income workers. Tax Bill Offers Last-Minute Breaks for Developers, Banks and Oil Industry:

The overhaul by Republican lawmakers of the nation’s tax laws percolated for weeks with virtually no public input, and by the end it turned into a chaotic mad dash with many last-minute changes on Friday night and Saturday morning, some handwritten in the margins of the nearly 500-page bill.

Even hours after the Senate vote, tax experts were scratching their heads over precisely what had made it into the final version of the bill and the impact of some significant provisions.

Still, it was clear that many changes expanded tax benefits for the wealthiest taxpayers, while other attempts to close loopholes fell by the wayside. The bill would add $1 trillion to deficits over the coming decade.

Far from simplifying taxes, the bill opened up a whole range of tactics [for busnesses] to lower the amount owed to the Internal Revenue Service.

Lower Taxes for Top 1 Percent

One of the bill’s biggest windfalls for the wealthy — cutting taxes on income received through so-called pass-through entities like partnerships, popular with real estate developers — got even more generous. The richest taxpayers will be taxed at a rate of about 29.6 percent on such income, a big cut from the current top federal income tax rate of 39.6.

The ever-lengthening list of income that will be taxed at a cut-rate could be seen as “a Donald J. Trump loophole,” said Steven M. Rosenthal of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

That expansion would cost the government $114 billion more than an earlier version of the proposal. The provision would lower rates for taxpayers simply if their businesses are organized as partnerships or other entities whose tax burdens flow to the individual. Half of that type of income goes to the top 1 percent of taxpayers, according to the Tax Policy Center. In total, that tax cut will cost the government about $476 billion over the coming decade.

Continue reading