It's Election Day in America once again next Tuesday, whether you've noticed or not. In New York, democracy itself is on the ballot, even as longtime election and democracy champions (real ones, not the phony, post-2020 MAGA Mob fakers) differ on how to vote next week on three different democracy- and elections-related Constitutional amendments. On today's BradCast, we discuss all three proposed measures which will have far-reaching consequences for voters both in New York and across the nation. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
But, very quickly at the top of today's show...As Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) continue to obstruct and, actually, shred the bulk of the far-reaching, long-overdue progressive social safety net and climate change agenda of Joe Biden and pretty much the entirety of the Democratic Congressional caucus, we offer a friendly reminder.
Dems insist on making their Build Back Better package fully paid for (unlike the deficit spending in the separate bipartisan roads and bridges infrastructure deal supported by Manchin, Sinema and a bunch of Republicans). But Sinema has nixed her own party's plan for a tiny tax increase on corporations and the wealthy, even though, in 2017, she voted against the $2 trillion Trump/GOP tax cuts for those same people. One alternate "pay-for" mechanism now being proposed by Dems is a wealth tax on those worth more than a billion dollars or who made $100 million for three consecutive years in a row. On Wednesday, however, Manchin was suggesting such a tax might be too divisive for his tastes, by "targeting" certain people.
So, here's the reminder, courtesy of Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies Program on Inequality: There were 614 U.S. billionaires before the pandemic and 745 of them now. Billionaires have seen their wealth grow 70%(!) since the start of the pandemic, to more than $5 trillion. The money they made during the pandemic alone --- from March of 2020 through last month --- would fully cover the cost of Biden's entire 10-year spending plan in the Build Back Better Act, to offer a transformative expansion of healthcare, education, child care and take on climate change for every person in the nation, more than 330 million of us. Meanwhile, a White House analysis last month found that the wealthiest 400 families in the country paid an average federal income tax of 8.2%. (How much did you pay last year?)
Anyway, that's just a reminder as this madness continues. We'll likely discuss all of that more in the days ahead.
Meanwhile, voters --- at least some of them --- are heading to the polls for off-year elections on Tuesday. The neck-and-neck race for Governor in Virginia is receiving much of the attention, but we have our eyes elsewhere today --- on the great state of New York, one of the nation's, theoretically, most "liberal" states which has some of its most restrictive voting policies.
There are several important state constitutional measures on the ballot this year, with three of them having a direct effect on elections in the Empire State and even democracy across the nation.
- Prop 1 would make it easier for the majority party in Albany (currently Democrats) to approve new legislative and Congressional maps for redistricting following the 2020 Census. That, as Republicans pretend to be furious about the notion that it might allow partisan gerrymandering in the state (which we no longer oppose, for reasons explained again today --- at least until federal legislation bars it in all 50 states.)
- NY's Prop 3 would abolish the 10-day Constitutional deadline for voter registration before elections, paving the way for eventual election-day registration at the polls.
- And Prop 4 will remove restrictions on absentee voting in the state, where voters are currently required to attest to being out of town on Election Day or being too ill to go to the polls in order to vote by mail. The hope for proponents is that this will allow for no-excuse absentee voting in the future, as currently available in the majority of states.
While I suspect many believe that folks on the left side of the political aisle might favor all three propositions, that's not actually true, as discussed today with two of New York's longtime champions of election integrity. We walk through all three propositions with them to explain what each may or may not mean for voters and election integrity.
We're joined by DR. VIRGINA MARTIN, who served for 11 years, until 2020, as the Democratic Election Commissioner of the Columbia County, NY Board of Elections and ALLEGRA DENGLER, a longtime election security advocate with Citizens for Voting Integrity NY.
You may be shocked to learn that all three of us do not actually agree on how voters should vote on each of these measures. They each offer their own well-informed and nuanced opinions on the issues at stake in each ballot proposition. We hope this is helpful not only for NY voters, but for others around the nation, where similar issues are being addressed and debated at both the state and local levels, not to mention in proposed federal legislation.
Given Martin's decade-long personal experience as an election official, we also take a few minutes to discuss her thoughts on the ongoing nationwide assault and threats against election officials and poll workers in the wake of sore loser Donald Trump's evidence-free false claims of fraud in the 2020 Presidential election and the very real concerns (as opposed to the MAGA Mob's) when it comes to computerized voting and tabulation systems. Martin made a name for herself amongst election integrity advocates when, in 2010, she joined with her Republican counterpart on Columbia County's Board of Elections to carry out full, transparent hand-counts of hand-marked paper ballots in the county. That, after --- and despite of --- the state's mandate for optical-scan computerized tabulation systems in all of New York's 57 counties...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)