The Bright Coast

Progressive Thoughts from San Diego Alums on Law, Politics, and Culture

Archive for November, 2010

Drastic Proposals for Deficit Reduction

Posted by brightcoast on November 11, 2010

Article here regarding some drastic proposals to close the $3.8 trillion deficit gap. These include raising the retirement age to 69 over time (perhaps not unheard of for those of us in the legal profession), and introducing a flat, albeit lower, tax rate, whilst simultaneously eliminating any deductions–hence no more mortgage interest payment deductions.

While this may sound shocking, it seems an answer to the constant debate regarding tax law reform on how to simplify the annual hassle of filing taxes. This way although certain behaviors are not being incentivized, and certain individuals may no doubt lose out, it is a no brainer, you fall into one of the three categories. This is probably music to the ears of Federal Income Tax I students.

On raising the retirement, I think the outcome of this policy would result in Americans taking a long hard look at their spending habits, and would force many people to prepare for their retirement. For example, if you know that you want to retire at age 65, but the feds will not support you via Social Security until the age of 69, there is a 4 year period you will have to save up for. This author personally feels that the inadvertent and inevitable consequence of all of the well intentioned FDR support programs is that Americans have come to rely on the government, rather than themselves, and it needn’t be that way. It is perhaps for this reason that we have gotten into this mess. Social Security is definitely something that shouldn’t be done away with entirely, the need must be there to justify the continued implementation, but with the recent mortgage crisis, our country has to bounce back from the credit spending mentality, and focus on what is truly important: that which money (or credit) cannot buy.

Posted in Americana, Federal Deficit, Internal Revenue Code, Politics, Social Security, Taxes, U.S. Statutes | Leave a Comment »

WTF has Obama Done So Far? & other progressive victories

Posted by brightcoast on November 4, 2010

See WTF here:

click

California elections favored all of our Bay Area, particularly San Francisco candidates. I.e. Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom, and Kamala Harris- though the race for AG was so close (allegedly 0.2% by some accounts) counties have some additional time to complete their recounts. Honestly, I question whether an attorney with the name Cooley doesn’t have the subconscious advantage of sharing a name with a major global law firm. In fact, it may not come as a surprise to some to hear that Democrats swept the officer positions, although many incumbents were simply reelected (e.g. Controller & Treasurer).

Complete California election results available here: SOS site

Prop 19, which would have allowed for statewide regulation and taxation of marijuana did not pass, which is actually not surprising. It is a common misconception that Prop 19 itself would have decriminalized marijuana, as The Governator recently signed Senate Bill 1449 (by Senator Leno also of SF), removing the misdemeanor charge from possession of less than an ounce. Possession of this amount is now considered an, “infraction,” while maintaining the $100 fine. Article here. I was quite surprised of the means I learned of the bill, an out of state acquaintance, due to the utter lack of attention it received in the media. In fact, none of my California attorney friends had heard of this seemingly monumental change.

Here’s what I really want to know, what exactly is an avoirdupois ounce of marijuana? As in:
(b) Except as authorized by law, every person who possesses, while driving a motor vehicle upon a highway or on lands, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 23220, not more than one avoirdupois ounce of marijuana, other than concentrated cannabis as defined by Section 11006.5 of the Health and Safety Code, is guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100).
Link to entire bill here

More exciting, perhaps only to the legal community, is the fact that Prop 25, which changes the California Constitution to lower the threshold number of votes required to pass the budget from 2/3 to a simple majority, passed. This was of course in tandem with Prop 26 which requires a 2/3 vote for some local fees and taxes. Together, therefore (in theory of course), the Legislature can go about its business of balancing the budget via program cuts and fanagling the numbers without the corresponding months of bickering, notorious for months of delay in actually passing anything.

Lastly, what would a post from the Bay Area be without a huge congratulations to our San Francisco Giants, World Champions! What an amazing series, and I don’t ordinarily watch baseball. GO GIANTS!!

Posted in California, Election 2010 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

California: Blue (But Not Green?) to the Core

Posted by demkid on November 1, 2010

On the eve of a potentially historic midterm election for the Republican Party, there are wild celebrations in the Bay Area, as the San Francisco Giants have won their first World Series in 56 years.  24 hours from now, it looks like some of the only significant celebrations for Democrats across the country will also be in the Bay, as Jerry Brown is poised to become only the second governor in California history to serve more than 2 terms (he’ll eventually pass Earl Warren as longest-serving ever), and Barbara Boxer will be re-elected to a new Senate with a reduced number of Democratic colleagues.

In the governor’s race, despite spending $163 million of her own fortune to bombard California voters for 18 straight months, Meg Whitman will soon be miraculously silenced.  After all of that spending (because of it?), her favorability rating winds up somewhere in the high-30s.  Pretty pathetic.  Sure, there’s a 13-point registration advantage for Democrats in California, but with all of that money and in a year which could surpass 1994 in terms of a nationwide Republican wave, it doesn’t look like she’ll be anywhere close to Governor Brown when the votes are counted tomorrow.  In the final polls (taken in the past week), her deficit is anywhere from 4-11 points, with an average of -7.  What went wrong?  People can blame this all on the housekeeper scandal, but her numbers started heading south before that news broke.  I’d say simply that the answer to that question is comfort.  Voters are more comfortable with Jerry Brown and feel like he’d be more effective at leading the largest state in the Union.  They look at Meg Whitman and in addition to the housekeeper thing, they think that she’s trying to buy the election, is out of touch with normal people, is inexperienced, doesn’t have a clear plan, hasn’t voted, etc.  Even with all of the punditry, most of the time it’s simply about comfort.

The same goes (to a lesser degree) with the Senate race.  It can be argued that Barbara Boxer is way too liberal, even for a blue state like California.  It’s going to be a big year for Republicans, but one of the most liberal Senators will survive, if only by the lower single-digits.  Unfortunately for state Republicans, their die was cast when they sent millionaire Carly Fiorina through in the June primary.  Californians can barely tolerate Babs (her favorability ratings are poor as well), but they absolutely can’t tolerate a conservative.  Fiorina is anti-choice, anti-environment, and that just won’t work in the Golden State.  Barbara Boxer won this race back in June, because while she’s extremely left-of-center, that will still always be more comfortable for Californians than someone extremely right-of-center.  Fiorina can compare herself to moderates like Dianne Feinstein all she wants, but voters haven’t been fooled.  Fiorina won the primary by referring to her opponent as a RINO, a demon sheep, but that demon sheep (Tom Campbell) was the only one who could have unseated Barbara Boxer.  Fiorina trails by 3-8.  Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight gives her a 3% chance to win tomorrow.  The Junior Senator will remain for 6 more years.

In other statewide races, it looks as if the one and only hope for Republicans is in the contest to succeed Jerry Brown as Attorney General.  There, Steve Cooley has averaged the slightest of leads over Democrat Kamala Harris.  The final verdict could have to wait on that one until well into Wednesday.  I’d be surprised if any other Republican wins a statewide contest tomorrow, but the Lt. Governor race could also be fairly close.

Here in California, we’re of course known for our propositions, and the most publicized has been, of course, Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana possession and cultivation in the state.  Leading for much of the way, the ballot measure has slipped in the final polling, and trails from anywhere between 2 and 8 points.  It doesn’t look like voters are quite ready to add a green tint to California’s blue state reputation.  The other big propositions are 20/27 (redistricting), 23 (to suspend AB32), and 25 (simple majority for budgets).  The following are the Bright Coast’s foolproof predictions for the midterms which include these measures:

CA GOV: Brown 51, Whitman 43

CA SEN: Boxer 50, Fiorina 45

CA AG: Harris 46.8, Cooley 46.3

Prop 19: 53-47 NO

Props 20/27: Prop 20 passes and puts congressional redistricting in hands of commission

Prop 23: 58-42 NO

Prop 25: 59-41 YES

US HOUSE: GOP 240, DEMS 195 (61 seats)

US SENATE: DEMS 51, GOP 49

Posted in California, Election 2010, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »