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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Threats Against Members of Congress

 Sarah D. Wire at LAT:

A few months ago, Rep. Norma Torres (D-Pomona) received an anonymous video of someone following her car. The camera pans down to a 9-millimeter handgun on the seat as a male voice says: “I see you. I got something for you.”

In June, police charged a man with making “terroristic threats” against Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.). The man left on the congressman’s doorstep a dead rat with a noose around its neck and a brick with a family member’s name.

Police intervened in January when more than a dozen supporters of then-President Trump confronted, surrounded and threatened Rep. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) as he was catching a flight at a Washington airport.

In a year that kicked off with the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, threats against lawmakers are soaring. In the first three months of 2021, the U.S. Capitol Police recorded 4,135 threats against members of Congress. If that pace continues, total threats this year will double those in 2020.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Firearm Injuries

 Many posts have discussed firearms and gun control.

Bryan Walsh at Axios:

new study found health care visits for gun injuries rose sharply last year during the pandemic.

Why it matters: The new data from electronic health records helps confirm media reports and preliminary data suggesting a surge in gun violence in many cities.

By the numbers: According to data compiled by the Epic Health Research Network, firearm injuries that resulted in a documented health care visit began spiking in the late spring of 2020 and peaked in October at 73% higher than the monthly average in 2018 and 2019.
After dipping in the late fall and early winter last year — while still remaining well above pre-pandemic averages — documented firearm injury rates surged again in the spring, with June 2021 levels 64% higher than in 2019.
People of color were particularly vulnerable — firearm injury visits increased by 76% for Hispanic patients and 89% for Black patients, while rising 40% for whites.

Between the lines: The initial surge coincided with the early summer protests over police violence and with a massive increase in gun purchases.

Background: EHRN began tracking firearm injuries at the request of the Chicago HEAL Initiative, a group of health care systems dedicated to curbing violence in vulnerable Chicago neighborhoods.
Of note: Chicago has been one of the cities hardest hit by the gun violence surge, with murders up more than 50% in 2020 and on a pace to be even higher in 2021.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Mississippi Burning (With COVID)


Friday, September 17, 2021

Opinion on the Debt and Debt Limit

Karlyn Bowman at AEI:
An Axios/Ipsos Hard Truth Higher Education poll from August, for example, asked people to name issues that worried them the most, and government budget and debt tied with immigration for sixth place behind coronavirus, political extremism, climate, crime, and health care. In Gallup’s mid-August question that asks people to volunteer what they think is the most important problem facing the country, 2 percent spontaneously mentioned the federal deficit and debt. In the abstract, Americans have long wanted the country to live within its means, but at the same time, they want government to do a lot. Most recent polls show solid support for the $1 trillion infrastructure legislation and slightly less enthusiastic support for the $3.5 trillion social infrastructure package.

The news cycle moves at a dizzying speed, and it is likely that if the US comes close to defaulting on the federal debt sometime in October, the public will start paying attention. This happened in past showdowns as people realized that government checks would stop, not to mention dire global financial implications. In early August 2011, 71 percent in a Pew Research Center poll said they had been following the negotiations on the debt limit deal very or fairly closely. A mid-October 2013 question from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 75 percent followed the fight between President Obama and congressional leaders about the extension and the shutdown very or fairly closely. (In 2011, resolution came in early August and in 2013, it came in mid-October.)

BIG CAVEAT:  Many people do not understand this issue.  It is likely that they equate raising the debt ceiling with increasing spending.  That is false. 

GAO reports: 

  • The debt ceiling does not control the amount of debt. Instead, it is an after-the-fact measure that restricts the Treasury’s ability to borrow to finance the decisions already enacted by Congress and the President.
  • Delays in raising the debt ceiling can disrupt financial markets, increase U.S. borrowing costs, and threaten the full faith and credit of the United States.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Poverty 2020

 Courtenay Brown at Axios:

In one of the worst years ever for the economy and labor market, America's poverty rate dropped, per one measure that takes into account pandemic-era aid, the government said Tuesday.

Why it matters: It underscores the colossal impact stimulus checks, expanded unemployment payments and other benefits had on households in 2020 — even as millions lost jobs. Without them (and other safety nets, like Social Security), the poverty rate jumped for the first time in five years by one percentage point to 11.4%.

The big picture: The poverty rate typically cited each year focuses solely on cash income. But an alternate rate that includes major aid programs took on new significance given the flood of pandemic-era stimulus injected into the economy.
That measure fell to 9.1% — the lowest rate since the government started publishing this estimate in 2009.

By the numbers: Stimulus checks lifted nearly 12 million Americans out of poverty, while expanded unemployment benefits lifted over 5 million.

Of note: There was no statistically significant change in the uninsured rate last year from 2018, the data shows. If someone lost their job, they were able to get coverage through Medicaid or other heavily subsidized individual health insurance.

David Wagner at LAist:

According to new U.S. Census Bureau statistics, California — once again — has the highest poverty rate of any state in the country.

However, despite the heavy economic toll of COVID-19, the state's poverty rate actually fell last year.

Why? Largely because of federal aid.

“Federal stimulus payments and unemployment insurance kept millions of citizens out of poverty,” said Caroline Danielson, senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

“We can see that those programs really did make a big difference,” she said.

The census measures poverty in a few different ways. Its supplemental poverty measure takes into account regional cost of living, as well as the effects of government aid.

Using this approach, California consistently has the highest poverty rate in the country — eclipsing states such as Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana.

And 2020 was no different. The latest supplemental poverty measure puts California’s poverty rate at 15.4%. No other state had a higher rate (though the District of Columbia came in at 16.5%).

Unaffordable housing costs are primarily to blame for California’s nation-leading poverty rate.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Total Recall

At NYT,  Soumya Karlamangla writes about Governor Gavin Newsom's victory in the CA recall.  She notes that GOP registration has plunged since Schwarzenegger's 2003 election.

Plus, over the past 18 years, party lines have hardened. In 2003, Democrats were more willing to criticize the governor from their party, while Schwarzenegger had cross-aisle appeal as a moderate Republican, and also a movie star.

“Arnold was to many Dems a perfectly acceptable alternative,” said Raphael Sonenshein, the executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles.

This year, however, Republicans failed to coalesce around a candidate who could appeal beyond the far right, as my colleague Jeremy W. Peters reports.

Kevin Faulconer, the centrist Republican candidate on the ballot, garnered little support throughout the campaign, though he resembles the kind of moderate Republicans who have succeeded here in the past.

Meanwhile, Larry Elder, a far right conservative radio host, quickly became the most popular candidate for recall supporters. But, as demonstrated by Tuesday’s results, Elder’s appeal with Republicans didn’t translate to Democrats, who overwhelmingly voted to keep Newsom in office.

There are no obvious answers as to what the future of the Republican Party will be in California. But Newsom is up for re-election in 2022, (yes, actually) so whatever tack the party chooses may become clear soon enough.