By Doug Porter
On Friday the House of Representatives used a legislative maneuver to block President Obama’s path to fast track legislation on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
One good thing about Friday’s vote is that we now know where Representatives Susan Davis and Scott Peters stand on the issue. Both voted to advance the measure despite weeks of intensive citizen/grassroots/labor lobbying for a no vote. Both did so knowing they’d face the wrath of the coalition opposed to TPP in future elections.
For Davis, this may not mean much; for Peters, the consequences look to be serious–a labor-backed search committee is already looking at alternative candidates to run in the June 2016 primary. The word is that there’s a million dollar war chest to be spent defeating him.
The House separated the bill passed by the Senate into two parts: Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for displaced workers and the Fast Track process. Both parts needed to pass for the bill to pass. The House voted down the TAA portion by a dramatic 126 – 302 vote, thus voting down the entire bill.
If ain’t over ‘till it’s over, though. The package can be re-voted this week; it’s likely a provision saying such a vote must take place within two working days will be extended to allow a vote on Thursday.
From the Guardian’s coverage of the organized labor-led campaign:
Organized labor’s victory – one of its biggest triumphs in years – grew out of a new strategy the AFL-CIO adopted two years ago. Trumka announced that labor would henceforth seek to form broad coalitions out of recognition that it was no longer as powerful and was having a harder time securing legislation it supported.
The anti-fast track coalition was immense – labor was at its heart, and it included environmental, faith, immigrant and food safety groups. The coalition spanned the Democratic base, including 2,000 groups, among them the American Civil Liberties Union, Consumers Union, the Electric Frontier Foundation, Friends of the Earth and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“This is the first time Congress considered a trade deal since we as a country became much more cognizant of surging inequality and the crisis in middle-class jobs,” said Joseph McCartin, a labor historian at Georgetown University. “The old playbook of the president being able to get the votes at the last minute doesn’t seem to apply anymore.”
Richard Barrera, secretary-treasurer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, released a statement via Facebook:
“We are deeply disappointed that Congress members Scott Peters (CA-52) and Susan Davis (CA-53) have prioritized the interests of corporations and the one percent over working families.
We are disheartened that Congress members Peters and Davis would vote to advance trade agreements that would put more than 300,000 San Diego jobs at serious risk of outsourcing when two in five San Diego households can’t afford to make ends meet (even with full-time work) and 26% of working families households still fall below the Self Sufficiency Standard. Something just doesn’t add up.
It is imperative that we hold our members of Congress accountable for their choices on issues affecting San Diegans. These Congressional districts need leaders who will stand together with working families to protect good jobs, the environment and healthy communities in the future.
The local rumor mill would have us believe that Peters is contemplating a run for Mayor in 2020. I wonder if he’ll switch parties along the way…
Minimum Wage Unlikely to Appear on December (Chargers) Ballot
The referendum on increasing the local minimum wage to $11.50 demanded by the Chamber of Commerce won’t be headed for placement on the December special election asking city voters to back a new stadium for the Chargers unless the City Council decides otherwise.
For those of you who may have forgotten, the City Council passed an ordinance last year raising the local minimum wage in steps to $11.50 as of January 2017, indexing further increases to inflation starting in 2019 and allowing 5 earned sick days for workers.
The Chamber of Commerce created a front group calling itself the “Small Business Coalition.” It was almost entirely funded by corporate hospitality interests. Exactly two local businesses made substantial contributions. Led by Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s chief political advisor, they paid up to $12 each for signatures requiring a referendum on the measure.
The measure came back before the city council, which had the option of simply rescinding it or placing it on the ballot in the next election, then assumed to be the June, 2016 primary. Requiring a vote on the matter had the desired (by big business) effect of suspending any increases in the minimum wage until after voters weighed in.
The Chamber’s advocates at that hearing argued for rescinding it, dropping any pretext about caring for voter approval.
The short term victory exacted by the Small Business Coalition may well turn out to be a hollow win. Equating supporters of minimum wage increase like retired basketball star Bill Walton and Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs as union bullies, along with the deceitful tactics used to garner signatures has created long-term bitterness.
Los Angeles and other cities around California have since approved even greater increases in the minimum wage, and the issue has increased in visibility, with advocates now asking for $15–a level that would have been unthinkable not long ago.
By calling attention to the City Council’s original minimum wage/earned sick days measure as part of an election contest that’s sure to attract lots of national media coverage, the image of San Diego is a backwater town is sure to be spread.
That’s IF there’s an election… IF a deal can be worked out that the Spanos family finds acceptable (which I doubt).
The local ordinance could end up being a moot point. Two weeks ago the state Senate approved a bill raising the minimum wage in California from $9 to $11 an hour on Jan. 1 and boosting it again to $13 in 2017. The bill faces an uncertain future in the Assembly.
More Uncertainty on the Stadium
Sports Business Daily reports the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders have jointly retained Legends, a major player in sports marketing, to line up deals for the proposed Carson , Ca stadium.
The company counts the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, Manchester City FC, San Francisco 49ers, One World Observatory, Los Angeles Angels, University of Southern California, Prudential Center, INDYCAR, Notre Dame, the Rose Bowl, Oklahoma Sooners, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, and the NFL among its clients.
The deal is, of course, conditional on those teams actually moving to LA.
Killing Obamacare with a Thousand Small Cuts
The Supreme Court, if it follows past precedents on controversial matters, will hold off on issuing a decision on the legality of federal health care exchanges until later in June.
None-the-less the media is rife with stories about the potential impact of a decision costing more than six million Americans access to health care.
The Republicans have a big fistful of nothing to respond to a ruling undermining health care reform. They never wanted reform in the first place, and became even more opposed to it when President Obama borrowed heavily from proposals they’d liked in the past.
While Californians covered by Medicare will not be immediately impacted, the aftermath of a negative Supreme Court ruling will doom the program in the long run.
One of the other ways the GOP and their allies like Rep. Scott Peters have worked to undermine the Affordable Care Act is by eliminating the $29 billion (over a decade) funding stream created by a 2.3 % medical device tax included in the bill.
The Union-Tribune editorialized (again) recently, cheered by the prospect that repeal of the tax might be politically possible this year.
The 2.3 percent medical device tax is an excise tax, usually imposed on products that lawmakers want to discourage, such as cigarettes or alcohol. In this case, it was simply a $26 [sic] billion revenue generator to help pay for the Affordable Care Act.
The United States is the world leader in manufacturing these life-saving and life-enhancing medical devices, such as heart pacemakers and artificial hips. California is the U.S. leader, with 75,000 jobs in the industry. And San Diego is a leader in California.
The medical device tax was never a good idea. Its repeal is overdue.
The argument that Peters and other have put forth to justify their position–and no doubt please the more than 300 lobbyists the industry has retained to make their case–is that the tax would cripple an industry facing serious foreign competition. The fact that these predictions haven’t come true hasn’t slowed the campaign for repeal of the tax.
From the Washington Post:
A report from Ernst and Young last month found domestic revenues for medical technology firms grew 4 percent to $336 billion in 2013, the first year the tax went into effect — about the same rate from 2012. The 7 percent growth in research spending to $13.5 billion in 2013 is also a positive sign for the industry’s health, according to the analysis.
And another analysis earlier this week from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service concluded the tax is unlikely to hurt the profits of device companies, estimating it will reduce industry output and employment by no more than 0.2 percent. If anything, CRS writes, the tax will most affect customer prices and not company profits.
At no point during the three past attempts have its sponsors proposed any method of replacing the funding lost by such a repeal. That’s so they can complain in the future about the taxpayers dollars being lost on frivolous things like health care when they could be better spend building armaments.
President Obama has indicated that he may give in the this issue as part of some other horse trades, including trade, the administration is working on.
UPDATE: Ezra Klien notes Republicans are moving to repeal one of Obamacare’s most powerful cost controls — the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Like I said, death by a thousand cuts.
Soaking the Rich in Rancho Santa Fe
I’m sure not everybody who lives in Rancho Santa Fe agrees with the lovers of Freedom Watering featured in this weekend’s Washington Post article on water rationing. In fact, the man featured in the lede was a “talk radio” host who makes a living saying stupid stuff.
RANCHO SANTA FE, CALIF. — Drought or no drought, Steve Yuhas resents the idea that it is somehow shameful to be a water hog. If you can pay for it, he argues, you should get your water.
People “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful,” Yuhas fumed recently on social media. “We pay significant property taxes based on where we live,” he added in an interview. “And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.”
And then there’s this woman:
“I think we’re being overly penalized, and we’re certainly being overly scrutinized by the world,” said Gay Butler, an interior designer out for a trail ride on her show horse, Bear. She said her water bill averages about $800 a month.
“It angers me because people aren’t looking at the overall picture,” Butler said. “What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?”
But there are also people from Yorba City and Ventura County advocating for Freedom Watering in the article. Please, I beg you, can we feature another conclave of privilege in the next article?
Police Blotter: SDPD, County Sheriffs in the News
10 News ran with a story about yet another claim about SDPD bad behavior. In this most recent instance a man has filed a claim against the department claiming he was sexually (and otherwise) assaulted during a drug search following a traffic stop for riding a bike without a light.
The police did ultimately charge him with drug possession, a charge a jury refused to convict him on after viewing cell phone and body cam videos of the arrest.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is garnering national publicity following release of a cell phone video showing a deputy choking and tasering a boy, variously described as being either 12 or 13 years old. The boy’s mother had called police saying he’d run aaway from home.
From the Union-Tribune:
Sheriff’s officials are investigating a deputy’s use of force after he used a Taser on a 13-year-old runaway boy Saturday behind a Fallbrook store.
The struggle, which occurred around 5:30 p.m. behind a grocery store on South Mission Road near Ammunition Road, was videotaped by an onlooker with a cellphone and posted online Sunday. A sheriff’s spokeswoman said the deputy used his Taser after being bit on the hand by the boy during a struggle.
The video shows the teen on the ground, leaning against the deputy, who is on his knees, when the deputy puts his Taser up against his back and stuns him. Onlookers can be heard yelling profanities, with one shouting, “he’s a kid” and another saying, “police brutality right here.” A voice also can be heard saying, “You’re going to get sued, dude.”
Several other videos of the event were reportedly erased by Sheriff’s Deputies after they seized the phones of bystanders.
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Tonight SDFP editorial board member Brent E. Beltrán will be co-hosting on the internet radio program El Daily Justice with Mark Lane live from 5:30-7:30pm on www.radiopulsodelbarrio.com.
In studio guests will be Frank Gormlie and Anna Daniels from the editorial board of the San Diego Free Press and Maria E. Garcia writer and researcher of the SDFP series The History of the Neighborhood House of Logan Heights.
Please tune in and support community powered radio and media like Radio Pulso and San Diego Free Press.
On This Day: 1215 – King John of England put his seal on the Magna Carta. 1752 – Benjamin Franklin experimented by flying a kite during a thunderstorm. The result was a little spark that showed the relationship between lightning and electricity. 1990 The Battle of Century City, as police in Los Angeles attacked some 500 janitors and their supporters during a peaceful Service Employees Int’l Union demonstration against cleaning contractor ISS. The event generated public outrage that resulted in recognition of the workers’ union and spurred the creation of an annual June 15 Justice for Janitors Day.
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