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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.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The .01 Percent

Robert Frank writes at The New York Times:
According to a recent paper by the economists Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics, almost all of the increase in American inequality over the last 30 years is attributable to the “rise of the share of wealth owned by the 0.1 percent richest families.” And much of that rise is driven by the top 0.01 percent.
The wealth of the top 1 percent grew an average of 3.9 percent a year from 1986 to 2012, though the top one-hundredth of that 1 percent saw its wealth grow about twice as fast. The 16,000 families in that tiptop category — those with fortunes of at least $111 million — have seen their share of national wealth nearly double since 2002, to 11.2 percent.
Wealth is getting more concentrated in the United States,” the authors wrote. “But this phenomenon largely owes to the spectacular dynamics of fortunes of dozens and hundreds of million dollars, and much less to the growth in fortunes of a few million dollars.”

Federalism and State Attorneys General

In the 2014 midterm elections, Adam J. White writes at The Weekly Standard, Republican candidates for attorney general (AG) won 19 of 31 elections, giving them a 27-23 majority overall.  There are implications for federalism:
In suits against the federal government, the states have a technical advantage over private litigants: According to the Supreme Court, state plaintiffs are “entitled to special solicitude” from courts on the question of whether they have “standing” to bring their lawsuits. This may seem like a legalistic point, but at a time when the administration has been very aggressive in disputing challengers’ legal standing to bring lawsuits, even this marginal difference could prove significant. (And ironically so, given that the Supreme Court announced this “solicitude” in Massachusetts v. EPA, the 2007 case in which Democratic AGs from a variety of states persuaded the Court to require the Bush administration to move forward on greenhouse gas regulation.)
But the states’ most important advantage is more practical: Unlike private parties, sovereign states and independently elected AGs are much less susceptible to political pressure by the administration to sign on to controversial regulatory programs. Such an approach was central to the administration’s initial formulation of climate-change regulations for auto companies, according to a House Oversight Committee report detailing the White House’s pressure on auto companies not to challenge those regulations in court.
In the long run, the Senate’s power to conduct oversight of the administration, in conjunction (finally) with the House, and to exert other gravitational pressure on the executive branch is the most powerful means for checking and balancing the administration. But in the short run, states may provide the most immediate means for restoring constitutional balance, in the courts of law and the courts of public opinion. Together, Congress and the states can provide, as Madison famously offered in Federalist 51, “a double security” for “the rights of the people”: the separation of powers at the federal level, and the division of power, politically and legally, among the federal government and the states.