Monday, November 17, 2014
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Slowdown at ports needs quick solution (editorial) — The implications of labor strife along the West Coast are far-reaching and may call for federal intervention if the issues cannot be quickly resolved. Longshoremen make a fantastic living. Port businesses turn big profits. Their labor issues should not burden the rest of us.
► In today’s Seattle Times — U.S. economy calls for end of port slowdown (editorial) — Both sides of the labor agreement must hammer out the best contract. A slowdown ends up hurting people and businesses absent from the bargaining table. After more than six months at the bargaining table, the time has come to finalize an agreement.
► In the Seattle Times — ‘Millionaires tax’ possible in Seattle? Council asks city’s lawyers — The Seattle City Council on Friday approved about $14 million in changes to Mayor Ed Murray’s proposed budget, including fast-tracking a higher minimum wage for city employees and exploring a so-called “millionaires tax.”
► In The Olympian — Tax-exempt status of Olympia-based think tank under challenge by channeler JZ Knight — Lawyers for JZ Knight’s Ramtha School of Enlightenment say they sent a complaint letter to the IRS challenging The Freedom Foundation’s tax status on grounds the libertarian-oriented think tank has engaged in partisan politics.
ALSO at The Stand — Right-wing group’s tax-free status challenged
► In the Spokesman-Review — Slim majorities require focus on party discipline (by Jim Camden) — Small margins usually require iron discipline by leaders to keep legislation moving through the pipeline. Allowing detours for proposals that satisfy the most liberal or conservative segments of a caucus, but have little hope of passing the full chamber, is only practical in times of large margins. House leaders have to be cognizant of the defection of moderate Democrats in the Senate, the self-dubbed “Road Kill Caucus” for its perceived middle-roadness a few years back. They gave Republicans in that chamber a working majority on budget matters even when the GOP had a five-seat deficit on paper. Senate Democrats didn’t know it then but those defections were a harbinger of their current minority status.
► In today’s Olympian — Youngest state legislator ready to represent Puyallup’s values in Olympia — Melanie Stambaugh’s campaign has ended, but her campaign enthusiasm has not. The 24-year-old Republican from Puyallup says she’s ready to prove herself when she’s sworn in as the state’s youngest legislator. She defeated five-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Dawn Morrell in the 25th District.
► In today’s Columbian — Lynda Wilson ready, eager for first session — Newly elected Lynda Wilson is reluctant to outline any grand policy proposals so soon after the election, but it seems that the principles that have dictated much of her life will remain at the forefront as she heads to the statehouse: less government, no new taxes, protect small businesses.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Washington Healthplanfinder back up after on-and-off service — Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s health-insurance exchange website, reopened for business at 8 a.m. Sunday after recovering from a glitch that caused officials to shut down the system about 22 hours earlier on Saturday morning. The system went on to have a smoother day Sunday, drawing about 3,300 site visitors by 4 p.m.
► At Think Progress — ACA started accepting new signups — and four good things happened — 1. There haven’t been major issues with HealthCare.gov so far. 2. Shoppers have significantly more plans to choose from. 3. Premiums haven’t skyrocketed. 4. Business owners are more optimistic now that they’ve seen how Obamacare works.
► At Think Progress — Scott Walker: Denying health care to low-income people helps them ‘live the American dream’ — Defending his fellow Republican governors’ decision to block Medicaid expansion in their states, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) suggested that denying health coverage to additional low-income Americans helps more people “live the American Dream” because they won’t be “dependent on the American government.”
► From AP — Obama’s immigration moves due by year’s end — U.S. President Barack Obama will announce immigration policy changes he expects to enact by executive order, including on border security, by year’s end, said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
► In The Hill — Top GOP senator won’t dismiss talk of shutdown over immigration — A high-ranking Senate GOP leader on Sunday left the door open to a government shutdown if President Obama moves forward with unilateral action on immigration reform.
► From AP — Reagan, Bush also acted alone to shield immigrants — Two of the last three Republican presidents — Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush — did the same thing in extending amnesty to family members who were not covered by the last major overhaul of immigration law in 1986. There was no political explosion then comparable to the one Republicans are threatening now.
► From Reuters — Democrats expect Obama to veto pipeline bill if it passes Senate — A Democratic leader says a single vote could determine the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. Senate this week but that President Obama was likely to veto the bill even if it passes.
► In today’s NY Times — Indictment of ex-official raises questions on Mississippi’s private prisons — The state’s longest-serving corrections commissioner faces charges that he pocketed more than $1 million while clearing the way for the private-sector prisons.
► In today’s NY Times — Inequality, unbelievably, gets worse (by Steven Rattner) — To only modest notice, during the campaign the Federal Reserve put forth more sobering news about income inequality: Inflation-adjusted earnings of the bottom 90 percent of Americans fell between 2010 and 2013, with those near the bottom dropping the most. Meanwhile, incomes in the top decile rose. But here’s what’s rarely reported: Before the impact of tax and spending policies is taken into account, income inequality in the United States is no worse than in most developed countries and is even a bit below levels in Britain and, by some measures, Germany. However, once the effect of government programs is included in the calculations, the United States emerges on top of the inequality heap. That’s because our taxes, while progressive, are low by international standards and our social welfare programs — ranging from unemployment benefits to disability insurance to retirement payments — are consequently less generous. Conservatives may bemoan the size of our government; in reality, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, total tax revenues in the United States this year will be smaller on a relative basis than those of any other member country.
► A related story in today’s LA Times — Steve Ballmer could get $1 billion tax break for Clippers purchase — Ballmer could seek as much as half of the $2 billion purchase price of the team in tax benefits over the next 15 years, according to accountants.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.