Political Roundup: CT Race for Governor, Border Crisis, Gun Violence Engulfs Chicago

This column appears in the July 31 – August 7 edition of the Hartford News… Safe Work Environment Act Update:  On Monday New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan vetoed the New Hampshire Healthy Workplace Bill. As I have stated in previous columns, the Community Party’s position is that HWB will not protect bullied employees, as workers would have to prove malice and intent by an employer. This is basically impossible. Senator Gary Holder-Winfield will introduce CP’s Safe Work Environment Act in 2015. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/coming-in-2015-safe-work-environment-act/ New Hampshire Public Radio reported on Gov. Hassan’s veto of HWB.  http://nhpr.org/post/hassan-vetoes-workplace-anti-bullying-bill
Three weeks ago Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley’s campaign ad debuted. The Greenwich billionaire was portrayed as a “regular dad“. Foley was shown fixing a car with his oldest son (apparently his on-call mechanics had the day off) and playing with his 21/2 year old twins.
In 2003 the U.S. attempted to crush an uprising by Iraqi workers after successfully overthrowing Saddam Hussein and occupying the country. The U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority busted unions and banned strikes, as they slashed workers wages back to the levels that were in place under Hussein. Guess who was an integral part of these worker suppression tactics? As the Iraqi protests took place Democracy Now! interviewed Progressive reporter David Bacon about his article “The Occupation’s War on Iraqi Workers.”  Bacon explained that $87 billion in funding would not be used to improve the conditions of Iraqis.
“Remember that the $87 billion is on top of the $60 billion that was appropriated to fight the war. So, we have a total of $147 billion that is being spent, or is set to be spent in Iraq — and this money is going to be spent not on improving conditions for the Iraqi population. For instance, there is no unemployment benefit system in Iraq. If you lose your job, if you are one of those lucky people who has a job and you lose it, you’re in deep trouble because there is no unemployment benefit system.
“These new unions being formed in Iraq are all calling for an end to the Occupation as part of what they see will improve conditions for Iraqi workers and also give them some voice over the direction of the Iraqi economy. Right now, workers have no voice over these privatization plans.
They’re simply being announced by Americans, by people from the United States like Tom Foley, who is the Occupation Authority’s representative for private sector development. He gets into the newspapers in Baghdad and announces the industries that will be privatized.
But there is no process, even, of consultation with Iraqi workers, let alone any process in which they can decide over whether or not the property of the Iraqi government is going to be sold off or turned over to private owners.” Foley’s Father Knows Best TV ad did not include any mention of his tenure in Iraq. 
Campaign ads are the most visible representation of money in politics. These ads show candidates telling you how they will return (insert name of state here) to prosperity. The candidate is shown in a factory talking to workers and helping senior citizens cross the street. What you usually won’t see is any specific details about the candidate’s actual policy positions. Attack ads can sink their targets (see Mike Dukakais) but they do not guarantee victory (see Linda McMahon vs. Chris Murphy). George H.W. Bush’s ad team successfully used racism with the infamous 1988 Willie Horton ad against Dukakis, in order to paint Dukakis as being soft on crime. Dukakis was also hurt by the Bush campaign’s “Dukakis in the tank” ad, which was a case study in how a public relations blunder could come back to harm a candidate. Campaign ads are vehicles of misinformation. Candidates are being sold, like all other products.
During a July 7 interview with Connecticut Mirror reporter Mark Pazniokas, Sen. John McKinney laid out his economic plan should he be elected governor. You know the Republican drill; spending cuts, tax cuts (mostly for the rich), coddling of big business and attacks on public employees. While Foley has said that he would keep spending flat, McKinney told Mike Savino of the Manchester Journal Inquirer that he will make cuts. Savino reported that Foley would have to cut spending by $893 million during the next fiscal year in order to maintain the state’s $19 billion 2014 spending level. McKinney plans to demand more concessions from state workers, who have agreed to concessions twice since 2009 (I’m a state employee). 2200 state positions would be cut under a McKinney administration. New state employees would have a 401 (k) program shoved down their throats, instead of having a pension. McKinney told Savino that he will impose a hiring freeze. While McKinney would eliminate the practice of state workers boosting their pensions with money earned working overtime and retired employees would no longer be able to return to work (collecting a pension and a salary), he said nothing about going after companies who sock away far more cash by using tax loopholes. For example, companies like AT&T ship their state profits to Nevada, where they don’t have to pay taxes on the money. McKinney’s budget plan also includes the implementation of income and estate tax cuts.
How effective are tax cuts in stimulating state economies?  Michael Leachman and Chris Mai of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities present Kansas as a case study.
“As other states consider large tax cuts, they should heed these key lessons from Kansas:
  • Deep income tax cuts caused large revenue losses. Kansas’ tax cuts this year are costing the state about 8 percent of the revenue it uses to fund schools, health care, and other public services, a hit comparable to a mid-sized recession. State data shows that the revenue loss will rise to 16 percent in five years if the tax cuts are not reversed.
  • The large revenue losses extended and deepened the recession’s damage to schools and other state services.  Most states are restoring funding for schools after years of significant cuts, but in Kansas the cuts continue. Governor Sam Brownback recently proposed another reduction in per-pupil general school aid for next year, which would leave funding 17 percent below pre-recession levels.  Funding for other services — colleges and universities, libraries, and local health departments, among others — also is way down, and declining.
  • The tax cuts delivered lopsided benefits to the wealthy.  Kansas’ tax cuts didn’t benefit everyone.  Most of the benefits went to high-income households. Kansas even raised taxes for low-income families to offset a portion of the revenue loss; otherwise the cuts to schools and other services would have been greater still.
  • Kansas’ tax cuts haven’t boosted its economy.  Since the tax cuts took effect at the beginning of 2013, Kansas has added jobs at a pace modestly slower than the country as a whole. The earnings and incomes of Kansans have performed slightly worse than the U.S. as a whole as well.  (An exception is farmers, whose incomes improved as the state recovered from a drought.)  And so far there’s no evidence that Kansas is enjoying exceptional business growth: the number of registered business grew more slowly last year than in 2012, and the state’s share of all U.S. business establishments fell over the first three quarters of last year, the latest data available.
  • There’s little evidence to suggest that Kansas’ tax cuts will improve its economy in the future.  No one knows for certain how Kansas’ economy will perform in the years ahead, but it isn’t likely to stand out from other states. The latest official state revenue forecast, from November 2013, projects Kansas personal income will grow more slowly than total national personal income in 2014 and 2015.”
McKinney pummeled Foley in a debate two weeks ago. Although McKinney is full of crap, his passionate speaking style is a sharp contrast to Foley, who talks as if he’s announcing airport boarding times. Foley’s poor communication ability is an extension of his sleep inducing personality. The guy is just boring; his prevent defense campaign strategy is working against him. Foley’s arrogant request to McKinney that he drop out of the primary underscores his sense of entitlement regarding the GOP nomination. Next week we’ll decode Foley’s appearance last Sunday on the WFSB Face the State program. Predictably host Dennis House, Chris Keating of the Hartford Courant and Neil Vigdor of Hearst Connecticut Newspapers didn’t ask any questions about Foley’s urban agenda. Apparently they didn’t think that Foley’s July 10 CNN editorial on urban policy was newsworthy.
Earlier this month immigration advocates protested in Washington DC in support of children fleeing murderous chaos in Central America. CNN reported that families in Guatemala were being terrorized through extortion, kidnapping and murder, including the murder of children. Children from Honduras were fleeing the murder capital of the world. President Obama, dubbed the Deporter in Chief by his critics, did not disappoint. While liberal media pundits railed about House Republicans’ obstruction on immigration reform, they avoided mentioning an inconvenient fact: Obama has deported more undocumented immigrants than George W. Bush. Right-wing immigrant bashers certainly don’t want to talk about an Immigration Policy Center report which found that undocumented immigrants pay more in taxes than the wealthy. http://www.care2.com/causes/undocumented-immigrants-pay-more-in-taxes-than-wealthy.html  Democracy Now! reported on the protests in DC.
“In the United States, immigrant advocates gathered at the White House to criticize the Obama administration’s treatment of immigrant children fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. More than 52,000 unaccompanied children from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have been seized at the U.S. border since October, about double the amount over the same period last year. Protesters say many of the children are trying to rejoin their families.
Cindy Monge, CASA in Action: ” ‘We’re going to take action on this. We want these kids to reunite with their parents, because that’s what they came here for. It’s not their fault. Some of them don’t even know what’s happening. They don’t know what they’re doing. They’re just told, ‘Go with so and so and get here.’ Like, that’s what happened to me. They were just like, ‘You go with these people, and we’re going to see you back here.’ “
“The Obama administration is poised to ask Congress for $2 billion to pay for more detention centers and immigration judges to handle the influx. The White House said most of the children are unlikely to qualify for humanitarian relief and would be deported. According to the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, 58 percent of unaccompanied children detained by the United States could be entitled to refugee protections under international law.”
Obama asked for $3.7 billion. In a classic case of doubletalk, Obama described this situation as an “urgent humanitarian situation” in his letter to Congress, while simultaneously planning to limit the rights of the children at court hearings. This will make it easier to deport them. Immigrant advocates were rightfully furious. The Associated Press reported that Senate Democrats were skeptical of Obama’s immigration flim flam. 
” ‘ Everybody’s very concerned. I’m one of them,’ ” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. ” ‘I just want to make sure that at the end of the day we’re being fair, humane and doing this in an orderly way.’ “
The United Nations called on the United States to accept most of the Central American migrants as refugees. Meanwhile, Obama visited Texas to do fundraising for Democratic Party congressional candidates. The President also found a little time to deal with the border crisis, as he visited with Republican Gov. Rick Perry. Perry has been a vocal critic of Obama’s immigration policy. While the corporate media fixated on the “should Obama visit the border and look concerned” question, Obama held an evening press conference where he reiterated the U.S. position that most of the children would be deported. DN reported on the U.N. appeal for the U.S. to accept most of the migrants as refugees.
“As the White House vows to speed the deportation of migrant children, United Nations officials are calling for most of them to be accepted into the United States as refugees. A report by the U.N. high commissioner for refugees in March found that 58 percent of unaccompanied children detained by the United States could be entitled to refugee protections under international law. The United Nations renewed the call ahead of a meeting Thursday in Nicaragua between the United States, Mexico and Central American countries. The agenda includes updating a 30-year-old declaration on state obligations to aid refugees. The UNHCR says: ‘The U.S. and Mexico should recognize that this is a refugee situation, which implies that [children] shouldn’t be automatically sent to their home countries, but rather receive international protection.’ President Obama is in Texas today meeting with Republican Gov. Rick Perry on the border crisis.”
Malloy’s administration refused to take in 2,000 of the refugees at the request of the federal government, claiming that the Southbury Training School, the designated site, was too small and not equipped to house the children. Latino advocates expressed disappointment with Malloy’s decision and said that another site could be found to house 500 of the refugees. Obama encouraged governors to house the children while Congress debates his $3.7 billion emergency spending bill to address the border crisis. The New Haven Register did not accept Malloy’s lame excuse, as they responded with a scathing editorial. The Register pointed out that the real reason why Malloy gave the refugees the boot was because of his fear of offending bigoted swing voters.
“Despite the logistical reasons Malloy cites, there’s really only one reason we ‘can’t’ help. Our governor is a Democrat facing a tough re-election fight in November. The bottom line is that too many swing voters fear immigrants, and Malloy doesn’t want the ‘optics’ of hundreds of brown-skinned, Spanish-speaking children being bused into Connecticut as uninformed and misinformed debate over border security and immigration policy meet continued anxiety about the state’s economy.” 
Laura Raymond of Truth-out.org reported on an inconvenient fact that conservatives would rather avoid, which is that undocumented immigrants from countries such as Honduras are often fleeing conditions caused by U.S. foreign policy. “Since the military coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya in 2009, violence and repression have continued to increase. Honduras currently has the highest murder rate in the world. The current refugee crisis at the US border is a foreseeable and understandable consequence of this violence. Unfortunately, after playing a widely criticized role in legitimating Honduras’s post-coup government, the US government is now using this crisis to further entrench its alignment with one of the most corrupt and violent police and military forces in the hemisphere.” http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/25178-to-address-honduran-refugee-crisis-at-the-border-us-should-stop-financing-repression-in-honduras

Last week a coalition of immigration advocates held a protest in New Haven demanding that Malloy reverse his decision not to house the refugees. Malloy cowering to bigots for the sake of political expediency underscores his hypocrisy regarding race issues. Malloy claims to be a friend to people of color, but is really a fair weather friend who is unwilling to take the heat and do the right thing. Since the election season began, Malloy has touted his supposed willingness to make “tough decisions”. These decisions, such as his refusal to implement a truly progressive income tax on the rich while he soaked the working class with taxes and cut the Earned Income Tax Credit for the poor, usually work to the benefit of the ruling class.
82 people were shot, 14 fatally, during the July Fourth holiday weekend in Chicago. While the corporate media focused on gang violence in the city, the Chicago Reader examined the root cause of violence in urban communities: poverty. Affluent neighborhoods are not the scene of gangs and street violence. In low income communities of color, the local gang is the biggest employer. Unemployment among young Black males is as high as 50%. Latino unemployment hovers at Depression-era levels. Lacking opportunities, Black and Latino males turn to the underground economy to get paid, where violence is an occupational hazard. Steve Bogira of the Reader talked about the disparate rates of violence between rich and poor neighborhoods. Not surprisingly, the Reader report found that disease and death also occur far more often in poverty stricken communities.
“Every life lost to homicide is a tragedy, of course — and a sense that the life was unfairly taken often heightens the pain. Compounding the unfairness, residents of certain neighborhoods are far more likely to suffer that fate. We illustrated this last month by comparing homicide rates in two sets of Chicago communities — the five poorest and the five least poor. The homicide rate in the poorest neighborhoods was 11 times the rate in the least-poor neighborhoods. And if that isn’t unfair enough, poverty — and especially the concentration of poverty that segregation causes — kills disproportionately in nonviolent ways as well.

“Using the same two sets of communities, we extended our analysis beyond homicide—the eighth-leading cause of death in Chicago—to other, more common causes of death. Our comparison shows that poor African-American neighborhoods should come with a surgeon general’s warning. When it comes to the leading causes of death in Chicago (cancer, heart disease, diabetes-related illnesses, stroke, and unintentional injury), the mortality rate in the five poorest neighborhoods—Riverdale, Fuller Park, Englewood, West Garfield Park, and East Garfield Park—was far higher than in the five least-poor neighborhoods— Mount Greenwood, Edison Park, Norwood Park, Beverly, and Clearing. For diabetes-related deaths, it was almost double; for unintentional injury, it was more than double. The infant mortality rate—the rate of death in the first year of life—was two and a half times as high. And the death rate from all causes was 60 percent higher than in the wealthier counterparts, and 43 percent higher than the citywide rate.”
Jesse Jackson called on Obama to fund economic development and jobs in high crime Chicago areas. Jackson said that Obama should find money to address gun violence in Chicago just as quickly as he did in response to the border crisis. “If we can find $4 billion for those children — and we should — we can find $2 billion for Chicago. There are more children involved, and more have been killed, and more have been shot.”  Obama has not mentioned Black / Latino unemployment once during his two terms in office. The Democrats continue to ignore low income communities of color.  
Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and global headlines and updates on the status of our Trayvon Martin and Safe Work Environment Acts. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1  Check out CP’s No Sellout blog for the archive of our Hartford News columns. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/  Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives. https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com   
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report on the impact of tax cuts in Kansas:
Connecticut Voices for Children report on the state’s regressive tax structure:
David Samuels
Community Party

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