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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback delivers his State of the State speech to an annual joint session of the House and Senate at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan., Jan. 15, 2014. (Photo by Orlin Wagner/AP)

What happened after California raised taxes and Kansas cut them

06/21/16 11:31AM

The state of California made some headlines last week when the latest economic data found that the Golden State's economy is now the sixth largest on the planet, passing France and Brazil. It was a striking milestone just in terms of California's sheer economic might.
But there was something else about the news with some political salience: when California raised taxes on the wealthy in 2012, creating one of the highest marginal tax rates in the country, conservatives were certain the state's economy would take a severe hit. How'd that work out? The Washington Post reported the other day:
California grew just fine in the year the tax hikes took effect... California's economy grew by 4.1 percent in 2015, according to new numbers from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, tying it with Oregon for the fastest state growth of the year. That was up from 3.1 percent growth for the Golden State in 2014, which was near the top of the national pack.
At the same time, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) slashed taxes, leading conservatives to predict great things for the state's economy. And yet, here we are.
The Kansas economy, on the other hand, grew 0.2 percent in 2015. That's down from 1.2 percent in 2014, and below neighboring states such as Nebraska (2.1 percent) and Missouri (1.2 percent). Kansas ended the year with two consecutive quarters of negative growth -- a shrinking economy. By a common definition of the term, the state entered 2016 in recession. [...]
Kansas's gross domestic product is still less than it was at the end of 2011, said Menzie Chinn, an economist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who has been following Kansas's economy. Meanwhile, the economy in the rest of the country continues to expand.
In case it's not obvious, California and Kansas don't have much in common, and they have very different populations and industries. It wouldn't be fair to evaluate the two solely on the basis of size.
But it is fair to note that conservatives' predictions weren't even close to being correct about these two states -- though it hasn't caused much in the way of introspection.
Obamacare Tax Subsidies Upheld by U.S. Supreme Court. (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty)

'Obamacare' contributes to dramatic health care savings

06/21/16 10:51AM

The United States spends a lot on health care, but thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act, we're going to spend quite a bit less than expected. The Huffington Post reported yesterday:
Twenty million or so more people have health insurance now than they did before Obamacare, and yet the American health care system is on track to spend $2.6 trillion less from 2014 to 2019 than before the Affordable Care Act became law.
That's right -- $2.6 trillion, which is equivalent to about 1.5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. That's the conclusion researchers at the Urban Institute came to when comparing health care spending projections made in 2010 before Congress passed the ACA, and projections made later that year after President Barack Obama enacted the statute, with more recent findings.
I can appreciate why this is counter-intuitive -- we're getting more while spending less -- but it's nevertheless true.
"Health care costs have had several years of really historic low spending during the period, so overall, public programs, private spending is all less than we thought it would be," Gary Claxton, vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told TPM. "Each year we see spending going up 3 percent, 2 percent, whatever, and not 5 percent, and because that stuff compounds, when it continues to go up more slowly ... it starts to really add up."
The right will be quick to insist that the Affordable Care Act can't claim all of the credit for the progress, and there's some truth to that. The report noted, for example, that in recent years, policymakers have approved Medicaid and Medicare savings, which contribute to the overall savings.
"There's lots of things, and you can't ever really disentangle them," Claxton added.
People looking for work stand in line to apply for a job during a job fair at the Miami Dolphins Sun Life stadium in Miami, Fla. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty)

Independent analysis: Trump's economic plan invites disaster

06/21/16 10:13AM

Hillary Clinton recently delivered a brutal speech condemning Donald Trump's views on foreign policy, exposing the Republican presidential hopeful as an untrustworthy and incompetent fraud. Today, she's reportedly going to take another swing, this time hammering the presumptive GOP nominee over economic policy.
But before considering Clinton's indictment, it's worth appreciating what independent economic analysts are saying about Trump's economic agenda. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday:
A new analysis concludes Donald Trump's economic proposals, taken at face value, could produce a prolonged recession and heavy job losses that would fall hardest on low- and middle-income workers.
The Moody's Analytics report, which a person close to the Trump campaign strongly disputed, is the first that attempts to quantify the cumulative economic benefits and costs of Mr. Trump's proposals on taxes, trade, immigration and spending. It determines that full adoption of those policies would sharply reduce economic output during his first term and reduce employment by 3.5 million jobs.
Under almost any scenario, the report says, "the U.S. economy will be more isolated and diminished."
The report is available in its entirety here (pdf). Were it not for Trump's campaign turmoil and anemic fundraising, it's likely this scathing analysis would have been pretty big news yesterday.
While Trump hasn't gone into any real detail on his economic plans, the New York Republican has sketched out a broad outline of massive tax cuts, deep reductions in public investment, and a possible trade war with China. In fact, Trump's exact words last month were, "Who the hell cares if there's a trade war?"
As it turns out, economists care quite a bit. This new analysis found that Trump's approach to trade would contribute to a sharp economic downturn.
Making matters worse, the WSJ article added, "On immigration, Moody's estimates that a crackdown on illegal immigration through forced deportations would reduce slack in the labor force but also leave more positions unfilled, particularly in industries such as agriculture where native-born workers have been reluctant to seek work even at modestly higher wages. Labor shortages in those industries could prompt job losses in upstream and downstream industries and also boost inflation as labor costs run higher, the report said."
A voter casts their ballot at a polling place at the CrossWay Christian Church in Nashua, N.H., Feb. 9, 2016. (Photo by Cassi Alexandra/For The Washington Post/Getty)

New polls show Clinton and Trump are not 'essentially even'

06/21/16 09:31AM

We've reached the curious stage in the presidential race at which Donald Trump can't even agree with himself about whether or not he's losing. Over the weekend, for example, the presumptive Republican nominee acknowledged he's "down" in the polls, but his deficit doesn't really count -- because he hasn't "started yet" and some of his supporters are too embarrassed to admit it to pollsters.
Soon after, however, Trump said he's "essentially even" with Hillary Clinton. He added on Fox News last night, "I have spent much less money than her [sic] and the result so far is the same. I should be credited for that."
But the results so far are not "the same" and the two major-party presidential hopefuls are not "essentially even." Consider, for example, the latest Monmouth University poll.
In a head-to-head contest for president, Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by 7 points among registered voters and by 8 points among likely voters. The Democrat's lead shrinks by a point when potential third party support is taken into account.
Currently, Clinton holds a 7-point lead in a direct match-up against Trump -- 47% to 40% among registered voters nationally.... Importantly, Clinton holds a 47% to 39% lead in the all-important swing states -- ten states where the winning margin in the 2012 election was less than seven points.
A new CNN poll points in a similar direction, showing Clinton ahead of Trump in a head-to-head match-up, 47% to 42%. Overall averages put Clinton's advantage a little higher.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Greensboro, N.C., June 14, 2016. (Photo by Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

In more ways than one, the Trump campaign is broke

06/21/16 08:50AM

A couple of weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal quoted Fred Malek, the finance chairman of the Republican Governors Association and a leading GOP fundraiser, reflecting on Donald Trump's finances. The presumptive 2016 nominee, Malek said, is facing a fundraising disadvantage that's "huge and not widely understood."
As of last night, we're starting to understand it a whole lot better.
Trump raised just over $3 million in May -- the month he secured enough delegates to win the Republican nomination -- while Clinton raked in more than $26 million, according to the latest filings from the Federal Election Commission.
Those numbers -- weak for a Congressional campaign, let alone a run at the White House -- have put Trump and the Republican Party at an extraordinary financial disadvantage heading into the general election.
I can appreciate why some of these figures and fundraising terms can make eyes glaze over, but it's important to understand just what a disaster this is for the presumptive Republican nominee. As June got underway, Trump had just $1.29 million in the bank (or "cash on hand"). That's a joke. When Rachel noted this on the show last night, she had to check to make sure the decimal point wasn't in the wrong place.
To put that in context, at the same point four years ago, Mitt Romney had $17 million in the bank. Hillary Clinton started June with $42 million.
Heck, Ben Carson -- remember him? -- ended May with $1.7 million cash on hand, and he ended his campaign in early March.

On Twitter in late May, Trump wrote, "Good news is that my campaign has perhaps more cash than any campaign in the history of politics- b/c I stand 100% behind everything we do."

Three weeks later, it's the sort of comment that's become a cringe-worthy punch-line.

Similarly, Trump boasted on NBC's "Today" this morning, "I understand money better than anybody." If that's true, then the Republican candidate should understand just how big a problem he has. (In the same interview, Trump suggested "the party" is to blame for his campaign's financial troubles, which doesn't make a lot of sense.)
Without mentioning Donald Trump by name, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., denounced Trump's recent remarks about restricting Muslim travel during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 8, 2015. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Senate Republicans take a stand against key gun reforms

06/21/16 08:00AM

Eight days after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, how much has changed on Capitol Hill? Very little.
Four gun policy measures failed to pass the 60-vote threshold to move forward in the Senate on Monday, following impassioned debate from both sides of the aisle.
The votes came just over a week after a deadly shooting spree in a gay nightclub in Orlando -- the nation's worst mass shooting in modern history -- and a subsequent 15-hour filibuster by Senate Democrats who demanded action on gun control.
For a breakdown on what these four proposals were all about, take a look at our report from Friday.
The two key measures -- Sen. Chris Murphy's (D-Conn.) proposal to expand background checks and Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) amendment on blocking suspected terrorists from buying guns -- were expected to fall short and they did. Murphy's proposal lost on a 44-56 vote, while Feinstein's measure did only slightly better, failing on a 47-53 vote.
There may be some talk about the votes not falling neatly along partisan lines, but the broader truth is more straightforward: nearly every Democrat in the Senate voted for these reforms, while nearly every Republican in the chamber voted against them.
As the Washington Post's Dana Milbank put it, "[O]n the question of closing the 'terror gap' in gun laws, it really isn't a close call.... Republicans responded as if President Obama himself were going door-to-door, confiscating every American's guns."
For those hoping to see meaningful policy changes, last night was the latest in a series of disappointing setbacks, but there were some silver linings in this cloud.
Trump likely to skip Ireland on upcoming trip

Hostile Ireland stop likely a skip on Trump trip

06/20/16 09:32PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the history of enthusiastic receptions of American presidents visiting Ireland, and even some less than enthusiastic receptions, but the sheer unpopularity of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Ireland will likely keep him from visiting while on a trip to nearby Scotland. watch

Firing comes as Trump campaign falters

Trump campaign manager firing could be needed shake up

06/20/16 09:08PM

Rachel Maddow points out that while it's difficult to tell if the firing of Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is a sign of the campaign falling apart or getting itself together, the campaign so far is not well run by conventional standards. watch

Meaning of campaign staff change hard to read

Meaning of campaign manager change tricky to read

06/20/16 09:00PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the Donald Trump campaign's firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and notes that campaign manager firings in the past have indicated anything from a campaign's demise to a rallying reorganization. watch

Monday's Mini-Report, 6.20.16

06/20/16 05:31PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* Afghanistan: "A Taliban suicide bomber attacked a minibus carrying Nepalese and Indian security contractors to work at the Canadian Embassy early Monday, killing 14 people in one of the deadliest attacks on foreign workers in the Afghan capital, the police and government officials said."
* Venezuela's crisis: "In the last two weeks alone, more than 50 food riots, protests and mass looting have erupted around the country. Scores of businesses have been stripped bare or destroyed. At least five people have been killed. This is precisely the Venezuela its leaders vowed to prevent."
* The Justice Department today released an un-redacted transcript of the 911 call made by the gunman in the Orlando mass-shooting.
* A 5-3 ruling: "The Supreme Court on Monday made it easier for police to get evidence admitted in a prosecution even if that evidence was obtained after an unconstitutional stop."
* On a related note, the ruling included a striking dissent: "Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a searing -- and at times, wrenching -- dissent in a Supreme Court illegal-stop-and-search case in which she accused the conservative majority of giving 'officers an array of instruments to probe and examine you.'"
* Death penalty: "An Alabama appeals court on Friday upheld the validity of the state's death-sentencing law despite a January decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down a similar law in Florida."
* Over the course of just nine days, three different Oakland police chiefs were forced to resign in the wake of assorted controversies.
* Sorry, conservatives, but the ACA is still working: "Fewer Americans reported not having enough money in the past 12 months to pay for necessary healthcare and/or medicines for themselves or their families than at any point since Gallup and Healthways began tracking this metric in 2008."


About The Rachel Maddow Show

Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.



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