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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Immigration Details

President Obama repeatedly claimed that there is presidential precedent for the executive actions he took on immigration. But are the actions Obama announced really the “same kinds of actions” taken by past presidents?
Obama’s use of executive actions to defer deportation for up to 5 million people living in the country illegally relies on similar legal principles used by past presidents, although the issue of presidential authority may ultimately have to be decided in federal court. But there are some fundamental differences between Obama’s actions and those taken by past presidents.
The actions taken by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush — examples often cited by White House officials — were attempts to address ambiguities in an immigration law that was passed by Congress. Obama’s executive actions are different. They are a response to congressional failure to pass a law, and they affect a far greater number of immigrants currently living in the country illegally.
Josh Gerstein reports at Politico:
The political debate over Obama’s unilateral immigration actions is obscuring the more basic question of whether the federal government is actually up to the task of handling a flood of applications from as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants seeking quasi-legal status.
Among the potential problems: the agency that handles immigration paperwork may have to double its capacity for applications very quickly; critics say the potential for fraud increases with a high volume of immigrants in a short amount of time; the wait time for all kinds of immigration approvals could dramatically increase.
Julia Edwards reports at Reuters:
U.S. President Barack Obama's executive action easing the threat of deportation for 4.7 million undocumented immigrants is unlikely to cover many of those eligible because of practical hurdles, immigration lawyers said.
High application costs, extensive documentation requirements and lengthy waiting periods for approval sharply reduced participation in a 2012 executive action aimed at undocumented immigrants brought to the United States by their parents as children, and the process is expected to be even more arduous this time around, the lawyers said.
Only 44 percent of the 1.2 million eligible immigrants under the 2012 order had been approved after two years, according to the Migration Policy Institute. And 55 percent of those eligible never completed the application process, according to the nonpartisan, Washington-based think tank.
A $465 filing fee, waiting lists of more than a year and applications requiring biometric screenings and proof of U.S. residency dating to 2007 contributed to the low application rates then, advocates said.

Friday, November 21, 2014

California Is Nearly the Worst for Child Homelessness

California has many social and economic problems.  Child homelessness is one, according to a release from the American Institutes for Research:
A new report on child homelessness in America finds that 2.5 million children experience homelessness annually. Child homelessness has increased 8% nationally, and in 31 states and the District of Columbia. This historic high represents one in every 30 children in the U.S.
America’s Youngest Outcasts looks at child homelessness nationally and in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, ranks the states from 1 (best) to 50 (worst), and examines causes of child homelessness and the solutions. The 130-page report—which can be accessed by computer,   tablet, or mobile phone at —will be presented to the 114th U.S. Congress at a Congressional Briefing on February 10, 2015.
Top Ranked............. Bottom Ranked
1. Minnesota ............41. Tennessee
2. Nebraska ..............42. Kentucky
3. Massachusetts ......43. Oklahoma
4. Iowa .....................44. Nevada
5. New Jersey .......... 45. Arizona
6. Vermont ...............46. New Mexico
7. New Hampshire ...47. Arkansas
8. Pennsylvania ........48. California
9. Hawaii ..................49. Mississippi
10. Maine .................50. Alabama

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Networks Will Not Carry the President's Address

Hadas Gold reports at Politico that ABC, CBS, and NBC will not be carrying the president's speech tonight on immigration:
“In 2006, Bush gave a 17 minute speech that was televised by all three networks that was about deploying 6000 national guard troops to the border. Obama is making a 10 minute speech that will have a vastly greater impact on the issue. And none of the networks are doing it. We can’t believe they were aggrieved that we announced this on Facebook,” a senior administration official told POLITICO.

When the president wants to make a primetime address, White House officials will reach out to the big networks like ABC, NBC, and CBS, to gauge whether they would consider running the speech live before putting in a formal request for airtime.

But on Wednesday morning, with plans underway for a Thursday night address on Obama’s plans to issue executive actions on some of the most sweeping immigration reform in decades, those feelers came back with a negative report. None of the major networks wanted to take time away from their primetime programming for Obama’s 8p.m. speech. So the administration did not send out a formal request to the networks and took to Facebook to publicize the speech with a special video message from Obama along with a link to the livestream.

To be sure, the media landscape is a much different place now than it was in 2006. Smartphones and tablets that could play a livestream were nearly nonexistent. Facebook was barely a few years old. Nevertheless, the White House resents the networks' new calculus.
Also at Politico, Mike Allen adds:
A network insider tells Playbook: “There was agreement among the broadcast networks that this was overtly political. The White House has tried to make a comparison to a time that all the networks carried President Bush in prime time, also related to immigration [2006]. But that was a bipartisan announcement, and this is an overtly political move by the White House.”
According to The Washington Post, the president invited senior lawmakers to the White House to explain the plan. Even though Republicans will have a majority of both chambers in January, he excluded them from the meeting.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fading Whites

Demographer William Frey writes at Politico about changing demographics:

But in the longer run, demography seems inevitably tilted in favor of racial minorities, whose ranks are swelling throughout the country and who have the potential to disrupt the nation’s current political fault lines. And that’s not to say that Democrats will necessarily be the prime beneficent of this demographic shift, either, despite the conventional wisdom. In Texas, for instance, 22 percent of the population in the state’s deep-red, metropolitan suburbs are Hispanic—which could be why GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney took 36-37 percent of Hispanic vote in that state with 27 percent in other states. One of the most pressing questions for candidates and strategists on both sides in 2016 will be how to leverage this groundswell to their advantage. Because if they can’t adapt now, politicos might soon be looking at another challenge: How to keep the coming wave from relegating their party to the sidelines, no more than a relic of majority-white America.

Uber Oppo

Oppo guys work for interest groups, not just campaigns.

Ben Smith reports at Buzzfeed:
A senior executive at Uber suggested that the company should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on its critics in the media — and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticized the company.
The executive, Emil Michael, made the comments in a conversation he later said he believed was off the record. In a statement through Uber Monday evening, he said he regretted them and that they didn’t reflect his or the company’s views.
His remarks came as Uber seeks to improve its relationship with the media and the image of its management team, who have been cast as insensitive and hyper-aggressive even as the company’s business and cultural reach have boomed.
The Washington Post reports:
That combination of vindictiveness and willingness to tap into user information provoked outrage Tuesday on social-media sites, spawning the hashtag “#ubergate” on Twitter. Critics recounted a series of Uber privacy missteps, including a 2012 blog post in which a company official analyzed anonymous ridership data in Washington and several other cities in an attempt to determine the frequency of overnight sexual liaisons by customers — which Uber dubbed “Rides of Glory.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Internet and Communication Technology

Texting, using a cellphone and sending and reading email messages are the most frequently used forms of nonpersonal communication for adult Americans. Between 37% and 39% of all Americans said they used each of these "a lot" on the day prior to being interviewed. That compares with less than 10% of the population who said they used a home landline phone or Twitter "a lot."

The ways Americans communicate vary significantly by age. Sending and receiving text messages is the most prevalent form of communication for Americans younger than 50. More than two-thirds of 18- to 29-year-olds say they sent and received text messages "a lot" the previous day, as did nearly half of Americans between 30 and 49. Younger Americans are also well above average in their use of cellphones, email and social media on a daily basis.
Last December, Pew presented data on cellular-only households:

The Census reports:
An estimated 78.1 percent of people in U.S. households had a high-speed Internet connection last year, according to a new report released today from the U.S. Census Bureau. However, digital divides exist among the nation’s metropolitan areas and demographic groups.

These statistics come from the American Community Survey, which collected data on this topic for the first time in 2013 and is the largest survey used to examine computer and Internet use in the U.S.
Although most Americans have access to computers and high-speed Internet, differences in high-speed Internet use were as large as 25 percentage points between certain age and race groups, while divides between specific income and educational attainment groups were as large as 45 percentage points. In addition, among the nation’s metro areas, Boulder, Colo., had one of the highest rates of high-speed Internet use at 96.9, while Laredo, Texas, had one of the lowest rates at 69.3 percent.

The report released today, Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2013, includes analysis of household computer ownership and Internet use by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, income and education. It covers areas of the country with populations larger than 65,000.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Income and Taxes

The Congressional Budget Office has a new report, The Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes, 2011.

As in the past, people in the highest one-fifth of income got a large share of total income and paid an even larger share of the total tax burden.

The main reason for the difference in tax burden was the difference income tax rates, which were much higher for the top one-fifth.  In fact, the bottom two-fifths were in negative territory, largely because of the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Most of the progressivity of the federal tax system derives from the individual income tax. In 2011, households in the lowest quintile of before-tax income had an average tax rate for the individual income tax of -7.5 percent, and households in the second quintile had a rate of -1.3 percent, CBO estimates. (An income quintile has a negative average income tax rate if refundable tax credits in that quintile exceed other income tax liabilities.) The average individual income tax rate was .4 percent for the middle quintile, 5.8 percent for the fourth quintile, and 14.2 percent for the top quintile (see Figure 5). Households in the top 1 percent of the income distribution paid 20.3 percent of their before-tax income in individual income taxes, on average.