Secretive group destroys candidates’ chances, leaves few fingerprints

By Rachel Baye, Center for Political Integrity, 3/25/15

NRA-launched Law Enforcement Alliance of America targets state races

LAKE RIDGE, Va. — Wedged between a nail salon and a pizza shop in a strip mall about 25 miles south of Washington, D.C., is a postal supply store where a small brass mailbox sits stuffed with unopened envelopes.

It’s the unlikely home of one of the country’s most mysterious political hit squads….

keep reading at Center for Political Integrity See also Ben Wieder, “The political kingmaker nobody knows: 5-hour Energy founder secretly energizes state political campaigns, Center for Political Integrity, 3/25/15.

Martin O’Malley: “Break Up the Big Banks”

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News, 24 March 15

Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland and a likely candidate for president in 2016, arrived in Iowa on Friday with both guns blazing. In an opinion piece he penned for the Des Moines Register, O’Malley wrote: “The largest banks should be broken up into more manageable institutions. Today, five banks control half of the financial industry’s $15 trillion in assets. Even members of Congress, several Federal Reserve Board governors, and major players in the financial industry are recognizing that institutions that are too big to fail are too big to succeed.”…

keep reading and see video of Q&A at Reader Supported News

Senate Passes GOP Budget After Late-Night Debate

by Laura Barron-Lopez, Huffington Post, 03/27/2015

WASHINGTON — The Senate early Friday passed a Republican budget plan that would cut spending by $5.1 trillion over 10 years, raise military funding and repeal Obamacare.

The non-binding budget, debated all week and passed 52-46 during a 15-hour marathon session before the Easter recess, gives Republicans another crack at repealing the Affordable Care Act, probably through a process known as reconciliation, and increases defense spending while slashing funds in other areas, including education and health care. The House passed a similar spending plan Wednesday….

keep reading at Huffington Post

House Republicans’ Liquor Privatization Proposal

TO: House Democratic Members and Interested Parties
FROM: Rep. Joseph Markosek, Chairman
SUBJECT: House Republicans’ Liquor Privatization Proposal (House Bill 466, PN 512) – Five Key Points
DATE: Feb. 24, 2015

Recently, House Republicans reintroduced their proposal to outsource the state liquor system despite the lack of support from the Senate last session for a nearly identical bill. Liquor privatization also lacks support from newly elected Governor Tom Wolf, who has indicated that he supports modernizing the liquor system, rather than privatizing it. Below are five key points to consider about House Bill 466:

1.) Speaker Turzai’s privatization proposal would do very little to help close the state’s projected $2.2 billion structural budget gap because only about $167 million would be available in the first year.

Speaker Turzai claims his proposal would generate $1.1 billion in one-time revenue for the state budget; however, it would occur over a two- to four-year period dependent upon when retail and wholesale licenses would be sold.

2.) Pennsylvania taxpayers would lose over the long-term because the state would be selling an asset that provides a steady source of revenue in exchange for a one-time payment.

keep reading in the download: LCB_HB466PN521_MSG_022415

The case for modernizing [and not privatizing] state liquor stores

Excerpt from a 1/29/15 letter from the presidents of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) locals to PA legislators:

“…The PLCB is a valuable, profitable asset that has delivered a significant return year after year to all taxpayers. In Fiscal Year 2013-2014, PA’s Wine and Spirits Stores contributed more than $566 million to Pennsylvania taxpayers – a record transfer for the PLCB. This total includes payments to the Pennsylvania State Police, drug and alcohol programs and local communities. In the last five years, the agency has provided more than $2.51 billion to the Pennsylvania Treasury, $111.1 million to the Pennsylvania State Police, $9.8 million to drug and alcohol programs and $22.5 million to local communities. The agency’s profitability grows every year, and the return to taxpayers has continued on an upward, steady trajectory….”

download the full letter here: Letter to GA on Modernization-Monetization.web. Also download UFCW’s 7/1/14 “Speaker Turzai’s Privatization Scheme is WRONG for Pennsylvania!”: Talking points on why to OPPOSE HB 466.

It’s time to overhaul state’s tax code

op-ed by Chesco commissioner Kathi Cozzone, The Times of Chester County, March 20, 2015

Gov. Wolf deserves credit for starting a conversation on taxing

Most Pennsylvanians would agree that our tax code needs some work. I talk to many residents with long-standing complaints: senior citizens having trouble coping with rising school property taxes, small business owners paying the nation’s highest corporate net income (CNI) tax or middle class families who generally feel that the system is built to serve the super-rich at their expense.

Gov. Tom Wolf deserves so much credit for starting a conversation about fundamentally improving our tax code with bold ideas that address these concern….

keep reading at The Times of Chester County

Admiral Joe Sestak Discusses Need to Reduce Recidivism & End Opiate Epidemic

press release, March 22, 2015. For a contrast of Admiral Sestak’s and Sen. Toomey’s records on supporting the formerly incarcerated and the fight against opiate abuse, click here.

Sestak Continues to Walk in the Shoes of Other Pennsylvanians

JOHNSTOWN, PA — Admiral Joe Sestak discussed the need to reduce recidivism and end the prescription drug epidemic and then walked 20 miles through Cambria County Sunday.

Earlier this month, Joe began his walk on the New Jersey border in Philadelphia and will end it 422 miles later when he arrives at the border with Ohio. When Joe kicked off his campaign, he said America is about “We the People,” and that — as Scout recalls in To Kill a Mockingbird — “You never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.” Continue reading

Change in employment, 1980-2014

from Paul Krugman, “Democratic Booms,” 3/22/15 (the largest surge in jobs on the chart has been under president Obama):
Change in employment 1980-2014