Category Archives: Politics

The Drivers of Public Sector Pension Reform Across the U.S. States

Source: Michael Thom, The American Review of Public Administration, Volume 47, Issue 4, May 2017
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From the abstract:
This study analyzes the diffusion of public sector pension reforms across the American states between 1999 and 2012, a policy area notable for its fiscal implications as much as its recent political polarization. Previous enactment in other, non-contiguous states was the largest and most consistent driver of reform. Otherwise, empirical findings suggest that reform antecedents varied by reform type. Existing funding levels reduced the likelihood that states would cut benefits, change pension governance, or reduce cost of living allowances, but had no effect otherwise. Evidence for partisan legislative influence is weak, although Republican control had partial, positive effects on the enactment of pension governance reforms and increases to the retirement age. Across the board, other relevant factors such as constitutional pension protections, collective bargaining rights, and union membership density had no effect. That external contagion pressures have a more robust influence than endogenous conditions raises questions about the future efficacy of pension reform.

We Need To Restore the Frayed Alliance Between Unions and Progressives

Source: Cynthia Phinney, Peter Kellman and Julius Getman, In These Times, March 30, 2017

Progressives are finally energized. Millions of young people became politically active through the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders and several million more joined the women-led solidarity marches of the inaugural weekend. Many of the recently activated are seeking to channel their enthusiasm into effective political resistance. These are heartening developments. But it is far too early to declare victory over those who seek to make America great by returning it to a less tolerant, less progressive past.

A dismayingly large share of the white working class, including union members that once supported liberal candidates and causes, remains supportive of President Donald Trump and his agenda. Only when liberals recognize the importance of labor, and when a progressive labor movement returns to its historic roots, will the battle against right-wing demagogues and zealots be won.

What we are calling for is an active alliance between progressives and organized labor. For progressives and intellectuals, organized labor has much to offer: a rich history, seasoned leaders and, most significantly, an immediate connection to workers. For organized labor, the potential of such an alliance is equally significant. It can renew the commitment to social and political change, reminding workers and their leaders that unions are far more than just vehicles for economic gain. ….

Cook Partisan Voter Index for the 115th Congress

Source: Cook Political Report, 2017

The Cook Political Report is pleased to introduce the 20th anniversary edition of the Partisan Voter Index (PVI) for all 50 states and 435 Congressional districts in the country, compiled especially for the Report by POLIDATA®.

First introduced in 1997, the Cook PVI measures how each district performs at the presidential level compared to the nation as a whole. We have released new PVI scores following every election since 1996 and every round of redistricting since 2001, each time taking into account the prior two presidential elections. This 2017 release has updated our PVI scores to incorporate the results of the November 2016 presidential election.

A Partisan Voting Index score of D+2, for example, means that in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, that district performed an average of two points more Democratic than the nation did as a whole, while an R+4 means the district performed four points more Republican than the national average. If a district performed within half a point of the national average in either direction, we assign it a score of EVEN.

Click here or download our full report below. Additionally, subscribers can view the complete 2017 Partisan Voter Index listing for all 435 districts in three different formats:
2017 Partisan Voter Index by State and District
2017 Partisan Voter Index by Member Name
2017 Partisan Voter Index by Partisan Rank

The Union Household Vote Revisited

Source: Jake Rosenfeld and Patrick Denice, OnLabor blog, April 11, 2017

A spate of labor-related election postmortems converged on one key theme: Donald Trump managed to cleave significant union support away from the Democrats. …. It is true that the Democratic-Republican vote split among union households was narrower in 2016 than in any time since, well, Ronald Reagan’s re-election. In 2016, exit polls indicate that voters in union households supported the Democratic over the Republican candidate by only 8 points. In 2012, by contrast, the Democratic advantage among members of union households was a yawning 18 points. And 2016’s gap looks positively miniscule compared to the Democratic vote advantage among union households Bill Clinton enjoyed. In 1992, exit polls suggest that members of union households preferred Clinton to George H.W. Bush by over 30 points. ….

…. But there is another way of investigating the issue. What if the shrunken Democratic vote advantage among union households in 2016 didn’t so much stem from Trump’s inroads among union household members, but from union households turning to outsider candidates over the Democratic Party choice? ….

Supreme Court vacancy, 2017: An overview

Source: Ballotpedia, 2017

On January 31, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. Scalia was a member of the U.S. Supreme Court for three decades. If confirmed, Gorsuch would be the seventh justice to have once clerked at the Supreme Court, but the first to serve on the court with the justice with whom he clerked. He clerked for Justice Byron White, who was the first Supreme Court clerk to serve as a justice, and for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is the senior associate justice on the court. ….

Confirmation hearings on Gorsuch’s nomination before the Senate Judiciary Committee began on March 20, 2017.

On March 16, 2016, President Barack Obama nominated the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Merrick Garland, to the Supreme Court, but the U.S. Senate took no action on the nomination, returning Garland’s nomination to the president at the sine die adjournment of the 114th Congress on January 3, 2017. The 294-day period set a record for the longest interval from nomination to Senate action for any Supreme Court nominee, besting the 125-day interval attending Justice Louis Brandeis’ nomination in 1916.

Page contents:
Timeline
The announcement
Major players in Gorsuch’s nomination
See also
Footnotes

Related:
Potential nominee profile: Neil Gorsuch
Source: Eric Citron, SCOTUSblog, January 13, 2017

Does Neil Gorsuch Believe in Liberty and Equality for All?
Source: David Gans, New Republic, March 20, 2017
The judge’s selective approach to constitutional originalism raises serious questions about his respect for the Second Founding after the Civil War.

Former Law Student: Gorsuch Told Class Women ‘Manipulate’ Maternal Leave
Source: Arnie Seipel, Nina Totenberg, NPR, March 20, 2017

Neil Gorsuch Has Web of Ties to Secretive Billionaire
Source: Charlie Savage, Julie Turkewitz, New York Times, March 14, 2017

The Lies of Originalism
Source: Matt McManus, Jacobin, March 20, 2017
Neil Gorsuch’s originalist philosophy isn’t uniquely unbiased or respectful of democracy. It’s a handmaiden of American reaction.

Judge Gorsuch and Johnson Resentencing (This is Not a Joke)
Source: Leah M. Litman, University of California, Irvine School of Law, UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2017-07, January 22, 2017
This paper describes an opinion by Judge Gorsuch that addresses when federal criminal defendants may file petitions for habeas corpus to challenge their convictions or sentences.

Facebook’s new ‘Town Hall’ feature helps you find and contact your government reps

Source: Sarah Perez, TechCrunch, March 14, 2017

In Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s nearly 6,000-word manifesto published last month, he laid out a number of global ambitions he had for the social network in the days ahead — including one where its users became more “civically-engaged” and voted more often. Now it seems Facebook has taken its first steps toward making that possible, through a new feature it’s calling “Town Hall.”

This latest addition has just popped up on the “More” menu in Facebook’s mobile app, and offers a simple way for users to find and connect with their government representatives on a local, state and federal level…..