Daily Archives: December 15, 2017

McSally’s Holding Pattern

By Michael Bryan

Arizona has become one of the few states that are key to control of the U.S. Senate in 2018. With Flake declining to run for re-election and McCain facing the end of his life, both of Arizona’s Senate seats are in flux at a time when electoral tides are strongly disadvantaging Republicans. When McCain inevitably lays down his duties and resigns, one would expect there will be a wide field of both Democratic and Republican candidates vying for Arizona’s two open Senate seats.

One of the most salient players in this drama has remained purposefully and stubbornly obscure as to her next moves, however: Representative Martha McSally. While it is widely known that her ambition, and her current intention, is to move up to the Senate, she has remained stubbornly non-committal regarding launching a campaign for Flake’s seat in 2018.

She is certain to run for Senate; she has already recruited (and McSally’s political shop is running the nascent campaign of) Hispanic Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Lea Márquez-Peterson to try to succeed her. Since it seems certain that she plans on departing her current office for the Senate, but is passing up weeks of fund-raising and earned media in a primary against her main rival for the nomination for Flake’s seat, Kelli Ward, what could explain her current passivity?

McSally simply doesn’t plan to enter the primary for Flake’s seat. She expects to take over McCain’s seat, likely well before the primary election next year — probably before the end of this year.

Appointment to replace McCain provides several advantages to McSally. She would likely quash any primary challenge merely by occupying the seat, especially if she is perceived as McCain’s own choice to replace him. Even if she does not quash all opposition, incumbency conveys powerful advantages against both primary and general election challengers. Appointment to McCain’s seat also avoids an unpleasant primary contest with Ward, which would serve to further irritate the far-right Trumpian faction of Arizona’s Republicans, whom McSally has already irritated more than once.

Governor Ducey, likely with the knowledge and blessing of McCain, must be planning to appoint McSally to fill McCain’s seat when he resigns due to his failing health. It is unlikely that McSally would sit on the sidelines like this if she did not have assurances that the appointment to McCain’s seat was hers.

So, I make a few predictions:

  1. McCain will announce his immediate resignation from the Senate before or at the end of this session of the Senate on December 29, 2017.
  2. McCain will make it known that McSally has his support to be appointed to his seat.
  3. Ducey will appoint McSally to McCain’s seat.
  4. McSally will run for the remainder of McCain’s term in the 2018 election substantially or completely unopposed in the Republican primary.

Michael Bloomberg on the #GopTaxScam

Ady Barkan, an activist who has ALS and who works with the Center for Popular Democracy, has set up a web site titled stopgoptaxscam.com. It is a useful resource guide (h/t for the graphic, right).

Addressing the merits of the “GOP tax scam” is former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in an op-ed appearing at his Bloomberg News website. This Tax Bill Is a Trillion-Dollar Blunder:

Last month a Wall Street Journal editor asked a room full of CEOs to raise their hands if the corporate tax cut being considered in Congress would lead them to invest more. Very few hands went up. Attending was Gary Cohn, President Donald Trump’s economic adviser and a friend of mine. He asked: “Why aren’t the other hands up?”

Allow me to answer that: We don’t need the money.

Corporations are sitting on a record amount of cash reserves: nearly $2.3 trillion. That figure has been climbing steadily since the recession ended in 2009, and it’s now double what it was in 2001. The reason CEOs aren’t investing more of their liquid assets has little to do with the tax rate.

CEOs aren’t waiting on a tax cut to “jump-start the economy” — a favorite phrase of politicians who have never run a company — or to hand out raises. It’s pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that.

Instead, Congress did what it always does: It put politics first. After spending the first nine months of the year trying to jam through a repeal of Obamacare without holding hearings, heeding independent analysis or seeking Democratic input, Republicans took the same approach to tax “reform” — and it shows.

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The math gets tricky in the Senate for GOP tax bill (updated)

There is a glimmer of hope today that The Republican tax plan,  the most unpopular bill in 30 years, is not a done deal. The math is getting tricky in the Senate.

Roll Call reports that Marco Rubio, Mike Lee Support for Tax Bill in Jeopardy:

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, are withholding their support for the GOP tax bill in an attempt to bolster the child tax credit, a change that may be difficult amidst opposition from House Republicans.

The duo is hoping to make the credit fully refundable. The two senators, backed by top White House adviser Ivanka Trump, had previously succeeded in increasing the credit to $2,000 per child in the Senate-passed bill.

It was reduced to $1,100, only a $100 increase, by GOP conferees on their tax bill.

Should Lee and Rubio join Corker in opposing it, the bill would fail. The GOP can only afford to lose the support of two members in the event of a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence.

“I understand this is a process of give and take, especially when there are only a couple of us fighting for it. Your leverage is lessened,” Rubio said. “But given all of the other changes they made in the tax code leading in to it, I can’t in good conscience support it unless we are able to increase the refundable portion of it. And there are ways to do it,” he continued.

A spokesman for Lee said the Utah Republican is now “undecided” on the legislation.

* * *

A Republican lawmaker, speaking on background to discuss internal negotiations, said it was unlikely the changes sought by Rubio and Lee could be made given opposition in the House.

The Hill adds: “Making the Child Tax Credit fully refundable would cost $87 billion over 10 years — a significant amount that won’t be easy to pay for. Negotiators are already straining to cover the costs of other fixes, such as lowering the top individual tax rate to 37 percent and allowing people to deduct up to $10,000 for state and local taxes.

“The House pushed back hard on that,” the member said of the revised child tax credit in the Senate bill. “We’re pretty much done with that.”

So is Sen. Rubio a “no” vote then? As Chris Hayes cautions, “If your life depends on Marco Rubio having a spine, you are already dead.” I have to agree: Trump predicts Rubio will vote for tax plan.

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ACLU Report: Arizona Charter Schools Illegally Discriminate

Arizona charter schools are illegally choosing students who fit their mold by applying exclusionary policies, failing to fulfill their “school choice” promise that all students have an equal opportunity to enroll, according to a new report by the ACLU of Arizona.

The report, Schools Choosing Students, exposes Arizona’s 543 charter schools and their discriminatory—and sometimes unlawful—policies, which create barriers to enrollment for low-income students, English learners, students with disabilities, and other vulnerable student populations.

Schools Choosing Students found that at least 262 charter schools, or 56 percent, have policies that are clear violations of the law or may discourage the enrollment of some students. Some of the troubling findings include:

  • At least 19 charter schools have policies or language in their enrollment documents that may prevent or discourage the enrollment of students who have struggled academically in the past. Arizona law prohibits schools from choosing students with high test scores or grades over other students.
  • At least six charter schools place an enrollment cap on the number of students with special education needs, violating federal law and an Arizona statute that states charter schools shall not limit admission based on a student’s disability.
  • Under the Arizona Constitution, students have a right to a free public education; however, at least 35 charter schools charge fees for a range of items without giving parents a waiver option.

The report gives specific examples of discrimination against students with disabilities, special education needs, a need for academic assistance, and kids who “don’t fit the mold” (which is code for “not good enough for the school.”)

Arizona charter schools operate independently, but they are part of Arizona’s public education system and use taxpayer funds. They must be open to all students. Education leaders must act to remove discriminatory barriers to enrollment so that all students have equal opportunity to enroll at a charter school if that’s what the student’s family wants.

“School choice” means families choose schools, not the other way around.

Read Schools Choosing Students in its entirety, available in English and Spanish, on the ACLU of Arizona website.