Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hankster/CitiVote

Should independent voters be allowed to vote in presidential primaries in all states?

Check out Hankster/CitiVote at the top of The Hankster to see Ken Samarra in Alaska talking with Jeff, and Nancy Hanks in New York speaking with Molly, Angela and Patrick.

Check it out!

Mother, May I? West Virginia independent voters must ask for a party ballot

Some independent voters having trouble at the polls
By Scott Finn
This is the first year independent voters can vote in the Democratic primary. Some are finding out too late they can’t vote in the Democratic primary however – because they didn’t ask for the right type of ballot. (West Virginia Public Broadcasting)


Oregon Open Primary Campaign

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS


INDEPENDENT VOTERS


CAMPAIGN


  • For McCain, There's Only One Perfect Candidate for Veep (By Stuart Rothenberg, RealClearPolitics) [NOTE: Is this a liberal version of Bill O'Reilly calling for Repubs to vote for Obama so that Hillary wins??? Joe Lieberman has turned off more independents than you can shake a stick at!]

  • Tuesday is deadline for voter registration, party switching (By kgw.com and AP)

  • A swell of enthusiasm in North Carolina (Cary News) On the ground in North Carolina

POLLS


  • Indiana Poll Data Analysis (Associated Content) Very very close

  • Gallup Daily Tracking: Clinton Pulls Slightly Ahead Of Obama (The Moderate Voice) Rasmussen shows that both Republicans and unaffiliated voters are less likely to believe that Obama is a stronger general election candidate than Clinton.

  • Rasmussen Reports

  • Rasmussen: Obama Leads By 8 Nationally (Donklephant)

  • Clinton, Obama gap closes; Perdue pulls away (ABC 11 Raleigh Durham) Unaffiliated voters shift slightly to Hillary in North Carolina

REFORM


  • OHIO: Court ruling on voter ID not much of an issue in Ohio (The Vindicator) Supreme Court rules on Idaho voter ID

  • OREGON: Independent Voters Now Officially Locked Out of May 20 Races; Open Primary Campaign Passes Half-way Mark (Earth Times Press Release)

NEW YORK
The Sean Bell Verdict and the American Dilemma (Lenora Fulani, The Daily Voice)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sen. Obama's Avoidable Dilemma

TUESDAY 29 APRIL 2008 — http://www.dcindependents.org/
TO: District of Columbia Citizens; D.C. Council; D.C. & U.S. Media
FROM: Dennis Moore, Chairperson,
District of Columbia Independents for Citizen Control Party (DCICC)

A most avoidable dilemma has come upon Senator Barack Obama. His Tuesday news conference is revealing a potentially dangerous crack in his otherwise formidable presidential bid. The Reverend Dr. Jeremiah Wright controversy has become an artificial stone in his campaign shoe.

This manufactured political impediment was predictably going to become fodder for some ratings driven media outlets, political spin operatives, agenda pundits, and assorted campaign bottom feeders. To put it politely, candidate Obama is getting politically punked.

Senator Obama is being steered dangerously close to an invisible ethnocentric political line. As much as Black voters earlier questioned his authenticity, electability and motives, Mr. Obama runs the risk of alienating them through weakness. The one thing despised most by much of the African American electorate is the appearance of compliance and accommodation under fire. Going along to get along leaves a historically bad taste in Black mouths.

Barack Obama needs to sharply deflect and diminish ongoing attempts by media and political operatives to take him off his message. Moreover, Obama needs to stop explaining or reacting to the free speech of Reverend Wright, or anyone he has no real logistical connection to his campaign.

The best way for Obama to win this game is not to play it, and say it without being defensive or apologetic. Senator Obama shows weakness by throwing his former minister under the bus to satisfy the perverse political motivations of those already inclined not to favor or support him.
Most of all, it is a purposeful distraction from the many real national issues plaguing Americans of every ethnicity. Wasting time trying to make road kill out of Reverend Wright only derails the movement for change most Americans are demanding.

Leaders lead. Presidents lead. Lead Mr. Obama.

Dennis Moore, Chairperson
District of Columbia Independents for Citizen Control Party (DCICC)
http://www.dcindependents.org/
Catalysts for Real Change!
202.441.8528
dennis@DCIndependents.org, dcindependents@gmail.com
www.DCIndependents.org is the official website of District of Columbia Independents for Citizen Control (DCICC) and is a registered Washington, D.C., political party certified by the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics. Feel free to call the DCICC at 202.441.8528. We are members of the Committee for a Unified Independent Party (CUIP: www.IndependentVoting.org) national organization. The DCICC is listed with the D.C. Board of Elections at: www.dcboee.org/information/info_can/political_parties.shtm

CONTEXTS, NORMALCY AND THE WRIGHT STUFF

Sunday, April 27, 2008
Below are excerpts from this week's Talk Talk, CONTEXTS, NORMALCY AND THE WRIGHT STUFF. Every Sunday CUIP's president Jacqueline Salit and strategist and philosopher Fred Newman watch the political talk shows and discuss them. Here are excerpts from their dialogue on Sunday, April 27, 2008 after watching "The Chris Matthews Show" and "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."


Newman: I haven't seen any polls recently, but the last ones I did see, they were both unpopular. The Republicans were slightly more unpopular than the Democrats. I think that's probably holding up throughout all of this. Pardon me if I make a philosophical point, but things matter contextually, not as things in themselves. Most things matter contextually. So when you change the context, what matters is going to change. This is where we are right now and so things matter in the way they do relative to the context we're in right now.

Salit: Yes.

Newman: When we change the context, what matters is going to change. And it can change on a dime. On a dime. The biggest thing to say about Pennsylvania is that through all of this hullabaloo, nothing much changed. Hillary was expected to win. And she did. She was expected to win by between six and ten points and she did. It was a state, in some ways, made for her. Then all these things happened and people say 'Oh it was this that caused it, or this that caused it.' And no doubt, these things played a role. But it wasn't as if there was this shift so large that they have to explain it - it was about the expectation. And that's been true for most of the primary, even through all of the hullabaloo about it. The most unexpected thing that happened through this whole Democratic primary was Iowa.

Continue reading here

Conversations on the Independent Party of Oregon

According to the Secretary of State, there are 17,229 registered Independents as of April 24th, making the Independent Party of Oregon the 3rd largest political party (and largest "minor party") in Oregon. The growth of the party, which is less than eighteen months old, is unprecedented for an Oregon-based minor political party.

And Sal Peralta's blog, Oregon Independent, has some great statistics of interest. Here's one: Though 948 Independents have re-registered as Democrats in 2008, 1037 Democrats have re-registered as Independents.

The future of the country is peeking through in Oregon this year!



Independents here have to ASK for a party ballot to vote for president in the primary

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS

NORTH CAROLINA
  • Democrats, independents surge in WNC (Asheville Citizen Times) independents gained nearly 2.2 percent statewide
  • Gubernatorial primaries take back seat to presidential race (AP Google) North Carolina has 5.8 million registered voters, a 13 percent increase over 2004. Those figures include 1.2 million unaffiliated or independent voters, many of whom are expected to vote in the Democratic primary. Black voter registration has also spiked in North Carolina, up 19 percent from 2004 to 1.2 million.
  • A little homework, planning will make voting easy (Asheville Citizen Times) Know your rights: If you make a mistake on your ballot, you can ask for another one. If you’re registered as Unaffiliated, you can ask to receive the primary ballot of either party. If you’re an ex-felon, you can register and vote if you’ve served all parts of your sentence, including probation.

WEST VIRGINIA
  • Registered voters hit record numbers (Parkersburg News and Sentinel) ‘‘You must request the ballot when they come to the table,’’
  • Voter registration hits record level (Huntington Herald Dispatch)
  • SurveyUSA Poll in Indiana shows Obama 2 points ahead of Clinton among independents (SurveyUSA)
  • West Virginia’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy for Voters (Alternet) The West Virginia Secretary of State's office and county election offices in the state are refusing to tell independent voters arriving to early vote at the state's 55 voting locations that they are entitled to vote in its Democratic or Republican primary, stating that they are forbidden to do so by law.
  • West Virginia Secretary of State Disenfranchising Thousands of Obama Voters? (by: Matt Stoller, Open Left)

OREGON * As deadline looms, residents registering in droves to vote (The Register-Guard) Independent Party of Oregon also has seen significant growth [in Lane County], nearly doubling in size from 921 to 1,651 members since December 2007. [Updated 12:15pm]

MINNESOTA INDEPENDENCE PARTY * Three-way, anyone? Independence party vet Dean Barkley mulls US Senate run (Minnesota Monitor)

FEATURE * Jeremiah, Obama, and Roman Catholics (Commonweal Magazine) "I would also ask whether the Catholic Church has an “African-American problem.” "

Monday, April 28, 2008

West Virginia: Independents have to ASK for a party ballot

And don't count on the poll workers to tell you that! Read on:

West Virginia’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy for Voters By Jeff Kisseloff, AlterNet.

Independent voters won’t be told they can vote Democratic or Republican, disenfranchising likely voters.

Lenora Fulani: Sean Bell verdict shows much more to do on issues of racial justice

April 26, 2008

My name is Lenora Fulani and I represent hundreds of thousands of independent New Yorkers – black, white, Latino and Asian – who believe in fairness and justice for all people. We are deeply saddened and angry over yesterday’s verdict in the Sean Bell case.

There has been progress in this city, under the firm leadership of Rev. Al Sharpton, with respect to issues of racial justice. His voice has been passionate and consistent. He has done more to take us out of extreme polarization and recurrent racial violence than he is ever given credit for. But, as the verdict in the Bell case shows, there is much more to do.

Even as we give expression to our rage – through civil disobedience and other actions Rev. Sharpton calls for – we must continue all efforts for the fundamental cultural changes required to eliminate the racialism that permeates our institutions.

No police department, no judge, no court of public opinion, will be fair until we can bring about the cultural and human development that takes us beyond race-based biases that are deeply rooted in them. This is a painful truth for the black community and for all who seek justice. But we must face it and act accordingly. Even as we follow Rev. Sharpton’s lead in protest, we must be sure to keep our eye on the long term prize.

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS

INDEPENDENT VOTERS
  • Obama’s Strength Among Independent Voters Makes Him More Electable Than Clinton (Joe Gandelman, The Moderate Voice)
  • CLASH OF THE INDEPENDENTS (By JOHN AVLON, New York Post)

CAMPAIGN

WEST VIRGINIA* W.Va. hits voter record (Charleston Daily Mail)

NORTH CAROLINA* Other races pale as presidential candidates woo N.C. (Houston Chronicle)

NEW YORK * Fulani 'deeply saddened and angry' over Sean Bell verdict (Redding News Review)

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Do we need an American Freedom Democratic Party right about now as the Clinton Machine and the Dem establishment superdelegates are about to yank Barack off the lunch counter stool?

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS

* America’s Third Party starts here (Jessie Stensland/ Whidbey News-Times) They created a new, centrist political party, which they call America’s Third Party. They are trying to strike a balance between the Democratic and Republican philosophies, often taking the best ideas from each camp and marrying them with technological innovations.

CAMPAIGN
  • Primary poses more questions than answers (The Citizens Voice - PA) In earlier states, Obama has shown an ability that Clinton lacks — attracting Republicans and independent voters. They couldn’t vote in Pennsylvania’s closed primary, but independents and third-party members represent one of 10 state voters.
  • For national Democrats, no clear path forward (Syracuse Post Standard) Idealistic first-time participants and independent voters were inspired by the promise of a campaign more honest, authentic and inclusive.
  • Rifts Mend, Unless Identity Politics Is a Different Stripe (New York Times) Much turns on what the superdelegates decide to do. In a Gallup poll in mid-March, before the Pennsylvania primary, 7 percent of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independent voters said they would not vote at all in November if superdelegates gave the nomination to Mrs. Clinton, and 2 percent indicated a third-party choice. In addition, 11 percent said they would vote for a Republican.
  • Media Conventional Wisdom Shifting Towards Belief Clinton Could Defeat Obama? (by JOE GANDELMAN, The Moderate Voice) But you can’t hope to change the political culture unless you’re in a position to change the political culture.

WEST VIRGINIA:
  • Presidential politics: State has influence-Clinton-Obama race most significant since JFK’s ’60 primary battle (Times West Virginian) But the percentage of independents has climbed from 6.83 percent in the 1996 general election to 13.2 percent for this primary.
  • Real contest-A matter of voting (Charleston Gazette) a high-stakes contest still exists for West Virginia's 660,000 Democrats and 150,000 independents

NORTH CAROLINA* About one-stop early voting (Burlington Times-News) Independents and unaffiliatated voters CAN vote in the Democratic primary in North Carolina.

POLLS* McCain leads (Fairbanks Daily News Miner) However, Obama had a two-to-one lead over McCain among unaffiliated voters. McCain leads Clinton by eight percentage points among unaffiliated voters.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS

  • Polls: Clinton, Obama in tight race in Indiana (CNN) Obama owes his victories throughout the nomination battle to African-Americans, young voters, upscale whites and independent voters.
  • GOP Seeds Of Dissent? (The Bulletin, Philadelphia's Family Newspaper) Mr. Huckabee and Dr. Paul collected 11 percent (91,423 votes) and 16 percent (128,467 votes), of the vote, respectively, at a time the GOP race is all but over.
  • Obama Plans May General Election Organizing Launch (Washington Post/The Trail) New registrations have hit 165,000 in North Carolina and topped 150,000 in Indiana -- and unlike in Pennsylvania, both of those May 6 states open the primaries to unaffiliated voters (and Republicans too in Indiana)
  • North Carolina: By The Numbers (RealClearPolitics) There are more than 2.6 million Democrats and 1.2 million unaffiliated registered voters in the state
  • FOX TV Rasmussen Reports: Obama Trails McCain by 1 Point (RasmussenReports.com) Among unaffiliated voters in the state, McCain leads Clinton by twelve and Obama by five.

Friday, April 25, 2008

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS

INDEPENDENT VOTERS

NORTH CAROLINA
  • Dems expect flurry of action-Obama, Clinton set up across street from each other (Independent Tribune - Concord and Kannapolis)
  • Thanks Price, Watt (LETTER to Carrboro Citizen) Superdelegates endorse Obama
  • Clinton faces uphill battle in North Carolina (CNN) Unaffiliated voters can participate in North Carolina's semi-open primary, and although Obama split independent voters with Clinton in Ohio and Texas, political observers say independents in North Carolina appear likely to tilt back toward Obama, as they have done in other southern states.
  • Lower numbers taking advantage of early voting (Blue Ridge Times-News) So far, Republican, Democratic and unaffiliated voters turned out in similar numbers in Henderson County. More than 480 unaffiliated voters turned out, compared to 432 Republicans and 474 Democrats.

CAMPAIGN
  • Napolitano: Dems fight won't help McCain in long run (by KTAR Newsroom)
  • Wu endorses Obama, tying up Oregon's superdelegate count (The Oregonian)

POLLS
  • Harvard survey: Young voters favor Obama over Clinton (Boston Globe)
  • Despite youth hoopla, it's seniors who vote (San Francisco Chronicle) In a national survey of 514 GOP and independent voters released Thursday, 52 percent of Republicans said they felt irritated while viewing the anti-Obama North Carolina ad. Regardless, 46 percent of Republicans felt it would help McCain's chances in the general election compared to 37 percent of independents, according to the HCD Research survey.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

video

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS

INDEPENDENT VOTERS
  • Wooing independents (By Gary Andres, Washington Times) The popular myth that independents are the same as "moderates" is not true.
  • Who Will Independents Vote for in November: Republicans or Democrats? (Fox Business) Mindset Media operates an online ad network that enables brand advertisers to reach millions of people with the personality traits that fit their brands...

PENNSYLVANIA * Turning Tide vs. Fundamentally Unchanged (NY Daily News/Daily Politics, Elizabeth Benjamin) Clinton and Obama campaign memos, Obama ref. independents

NORTH CAROLINA* Now N.C. has a big stage in Democratic race (Asheville Citizen Times)

WEST VIRGINIA* Turnout light for early voting in W.Va. (Herald Mail)

LIBERTARIANS* Libertarian Presidential Hopefuls Say US Voters Ready for Change (Voice of America)

REFORM* Senate backs bill for competitive congressional districts (Examiner - AP) Colorado redistricting

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Pennsylvania: The Morning After

The Low Road to Victory: The New York Times had some choice words today about yesterday's Pennsylvania Democratic Primary. Hillary began "Tuesday morning by declaring in an interview on ABC News that if Iran attacked Israel while she were president: “We would be able to totally obliterate them.” ....

From Maureen Dowd's column this morning: “The time has come. The time has come. The time is now. Just go. ... I don’t care how. You can go by foot. You can go by cow. Hillary R. Clinton, will you please go now! You can go on skates. You can go on skis. ... You can go in an old blue shoe.
Just go, go, GO!”

From Steve Benen, The Carpetbagger Report: "She wins by 9.4% -- a number Clinton supporters round up to call it a double-digit win, and Obama supporters round down for the opposite reason...."

From Elrod on The Moderate Voice: "I’m just annoyed that the race is continuing on in the same fashion as before: no momentum, no game changers, no resolution."


My 2 cents: I know a lot of Obama supporters would like to see Hillary drop out of the race, and I'm no fan of the Clinton Machine. But I do think the more people throughout the country who are engaged by this primary, the more independents who go to the polls and try to vote even when they're not allowed to, the better off the country is. After all, it's not just about this primary. It's not about saving the Democratic Party from itself. It's about what kind of nation we're going to be. This primary is as good a time as any to begin to decide that. There are still lots of ordinary people who want to weigh in on this!


Still crazy:
And here's one more thought --- several mornings after: The Accidental Rebel by Paul Auster: By the night of April 30, the Columbia administration had had enough, and the police were called in. A bloody riot ensued. Along with more than 700 other people, I was arrested — pulled by my hair to the police van by one officer as another officer stomped on my hand with his boot. But no regrets. I was proud to have done my bit for the cause. Both crazy and proud. What did we accomplish? Not much of anything. It’s true that the gymnasium project was scrapped, but the real issue was Vietnam, and the war dragged on for seven more horrible years. You can’t change government policy by attacking a private institution.....

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS

INDEPENDENT VOTERS * Voter Suppression and the Major Parties (By Marcia Ford, Donklephant)

CAMPAIGN * Is McCain a Different Kind of Republican? (Dan Balz, Washington Post/The Trail) Independent voters tilt far more in the direction of Democrats than they did four years ago.

PENNSYLVANIA
  • Independents upset about being shut out of today's election (The Morning Call)
  • Voters encounter few glitches at polls (The Express-Times) Unaffiliated or registered independent voters came to the polls expecting to vote, said Julia Starke, a judge of elections in the Western District 2 at Forks Township Community Center.
  • Obama Campaign Shrugs off Clinton Win (Christian Broadcasting Network) Obama: Independent voters – the group that will decide the general election and a group Obama is particularly strong with – were not able to vote
  • Smooth sailing so far at polls, officials say (The Patriot-News) There were some snags -- many involving independent voters who did not realize they were barred from voting in the primary.
  • Party switchers lean toward Obama, exit polls show (Fox News) About half the party-switchers had been registered Republicans, while the rest had been unaffiliated with either party, and even more were voting for the first time in Pennsylvania.
  • For most, it was a quiet day at the polls (The Patriot-News) Meanwhile, the group Voter Action sought a court order to keep polls open until 10 p.m. in Philadelphia amid complaints about long lines at eight polling places and a lack of emergency ballots to replace malfunctioning machines.
  • Election Protection Coalition Fields Over 1,000 Calls Reporting Scattered Problems Throughout Pennsylvania (By Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Sun Herald - MS)

WEST VIRGINIA
  • The morning after: Is West Virginia the new presidential battleground? (Bluefield Daily Telegraph) The Associated Press reported last week there are roughly 151,000 voters in West Virginia with “no party affiliation.”
  • W.Va. Early Voting Begins Today (The Intelligencer/Wheeling News Register) Independent voters who wish to cast ballots in the Republican or Democratic primary must request a Republican or Democratic ballot at their courthouse during early voting or at their polling place on Election Day.

NORTH CAROLINA
  • Brunswick rolls grow ahead of Democrats' rally (MyrtleBeachOnline) The biggest jump has been among Republicans, which went from 20,684 registered in 2004 to 26,155 on Tuesday, and unaffiliated, which was 10,935 in '04 and 16,286 Tuesday. Democrats also saw a gain of about 3,000 registered voters, from 24,523 in '04 to 27,340 Tuesday. There were five registered Libertarians in 2004 and none this year.
  • Fresh blood (YES! Weekly-Greensboro NC) everybody's getting a piece of the action: Of the 150,000 or so new voters - a 2.6 percent increase in just three months - the Democrats garnered more than half, and 37 percent registered as unaffiliated.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Conversations on Pennsylvania's Closed Primary






Who Benefits From Pennsylvania's Closed Primary? Just a quick thought about how the "closed" nature of tomorrow's primary might affect the outcome. The conventional wisdom is that it hurts Obama, since he tends to do better among independents and Republicans. But I think that could be wrong...... (The New Republic The Stump)


Pennsylvania by the numbers: As Pennsylvania voters head to the polls today, they'll invariably cast their ballots not only as citizens of the Keystone State but as representatives of their various demographic groups: the working-class, old, educated, suburban, late-deciders..... (New York Magazine Daily Intel)

Clinton's to lose: The Pennsylvania primary is closed to the independents who have buoyed Obama to many big victories around the country. Pennsylvania is a traditionally machine politics state, and the biggest machine is controlled by popular Governor Ed Rendell, Hillary’s biggest backer..... (New West Notes)

George Washington warned against the forming of political parties: Get out and vote. I know I sure would, if I could. However, since PA is a closed primary election state, other party affiliates like myself are excluded from primary elections..... (JessicaLPL)


Lock Out: Today I am but an observer. Pennsylvania practices what is called a 'closed' primary, meaning that in order to vote, one must be registered in one of the two major political parties. To much criticism, I refuse to relinquish my independent status. I do not approve of the two-party system, so I will not take part in it. My own political standpoint leans towards something like a much more radical democracy than we have now, and that means at least a few other parties.... (Syndesmotic Soul Mania)

It's Not My Party: I can't vote. I'm a card carrying member of the Green Party, which I've belonged to since 2004 and don't see myself changing back to the Democratic party any time soon. My reasons are varied but basically I don't believe they are serious about addressing the issues that really affect America and the world anymore.... (The Lost and Found Bin of My Mind)

Pennsylvania primary: Barack and Hillary at High Noon

About 4 million Democrats were eligible to vote in their party's closed primary. (Washington Post)

Turnout at the Pennsylvania polls is "sky-high, much greater than usual" as voters in the Keystone State cast ballots in today's closed watched presidential primary. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

"So, former President Clinton dismissed my victory in South Carolina as being similar to Jesse Jackson and he is suggesting that somehow I had something to do with it," Obama said laughing, "Ok, well, you better ask him what he meant by that. I have no idea what he meant. These are words that came out of his mouth, not out of mine." (ABC Political Radar blog)


Obama memo: "Behind in delegates and sporting a 14-30 primary record (not good enough even to make the playoffs in the NBA Eastern Conference), the Clinton campaign needs a blowout victory in Pennsylvania to get any closer to winning the nomination," the memo asserts. (Boston Globe Political Intelligence)

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS

CAMPAIGN * PA: Today, voters in Pa. will have their say (Philadelphia Inquirer) Obama ground organization: The most unusual touch will be criers boarding SEPTA buses and giving riders a brief pitch and some Obama literature.

WEST VIRGINIA
  • Today is last day to register for primary (Bluefield Daily Telegraph) For the first time, independent voters and voters who marked “no party affiliation” on their voter registration form will be able to vote in the Republican or the Democrat or the Mountain Party’s primary on May 13.
  • Dems seek independent voters (Parkersburg News and Sentinel) Since the 2006 elections, roughly 18,600 people have registered as independents, double the number of new Democrats and triple the number of new Republicans.
  • Today is last day to register for primary (Charleston Daily Mail) Unaffiliated voters have increased by 19 percent since November 2006, and now make up more than 13 percent of all registered voters.

NORTH CAROLINA * Conflict resolved, gubernatorial debate is go (News Observer) So far, 36,011 registered Democrats have voted early, as have 1,741 registered Republicans and 9,794 unaffiliated voters.

ALASKA * Anchorage Mayor Enters Alaska Senate Race (CQ Politics) Alaskans typically vote Republican, but candidates in Alaska also must appeal to unaffiliated voters and third-party supporters who make up 60 percent of the registration rolls.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pennsylvania Rep. Chris King's bill would allow independents to vote in primary elections

Bill would allow Pennsylvania independents, third-party members a vote in primary elections
By RICHARD FELLINGER Public Opinion Harrisburg Bureau

Independents and third-party voters don't have a say in Tuesday's red-hot primary elections, but a handful of lawmakers say they should. Rep. Chris King, D-Bucks, has authored a new bill that would allow registered independents and third-party members to vote in Pennsylvania primary elections.....

Pennsylvania independents speak out about closed primaries

Pennsylvania has a "closed" primary system where voters have to be registered in the party they vote in for the primary. If you're an independent (and some of you may have reregistered lately to vote in the Democratic primary tomorrow), you can make your voice heard by joining with Independent Pennsylvanians in the last day of their media blitz calling for open primaries.

Pennsylvania Polls: Obama catches up to Hillary

From Poll Tracker at CQ Politics: Seven More Pa. Polls: Clinton's Margins are 10, 7, 6, 5 and 3















Hankster Top 5 Cities:



Fairmount City PA
Hagerstown MD
Ogdensburg NY
Gilbert PA
Wayne PA

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS

* Our current system is an unjustified way to select a president (The Tennessean) As such, the Electoral College should be abolished not just because it is an anti-democratic anachronism from an age where democracy was viewed with deep suspicion, but also because it fails even to do that which its defenders claim justifies its retention.

* Poll shows Clinton pulling away from Obama (Washington Times) "Democrats can't begin to make case to independents till they lock up their own core supporters, and this poll suggests there is a problem holding on to those core voters."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS

INDEPENDENT VOTERS

  • Arizona Green Party wins separate status on Nov. ballot (The Arizona Republic) You can be independent and left-leaning, or independent and right-leaning. The key is to get people to vote for our (Green Party) issues. NOTE: The Greens are a tough party-oriented nut to crack! Personally, I wish they'd loosen up!.. Let's play! Who's not in favor of a healthy planet? But is a traditional partisan structure apt to enact that? Not hardly.... -NH

CAMPAIGN


NORTH CAROLINA

  • Make voting easy on yourself (Fayetteville Observer) If you’re registered as unaffiliated, you can ask to receive the primary ballot of either party.

  • N.C. looms large in Dems' race (Washington Bureau Blue Ridge Times News) More than 3.8 million Democrats and unaffiliated voters are eligible to vote in the May 6 primary, which, along with Indiana's primary the same day, may well decide the Dem primary

  • Is this another remake? (News Observer) Barack Obama versus Hillary Rodham Clinton.

  • Isn't that a remake of the old North Carolina classics of Harvey Gantt versus Mike Easley or Gantt versus Charles Sanders?... The Democratic Party has also changed. Many conservative Democrats have become Republicans or are registered as unaffiliated.

  • Buncombe voters swap political parties (Ashville Citizen Times)

  • Swaping Sides (Hickory Daily Record) Officials at the Catawba County Board of Elections can’t recall so many voters switching party affiliation leading up to an election.

  • Nearly 800 turn out for early voting (The Daily Reflector)

  • Learn about candidates at forums this week (Star News Wilmington NC)

  • One stop voting off to ‘really slow’ start (Roxboro Courier Times)

LOCAL

  • NH: MARIJUANA BILL DEBATE (Union Leader) Mason-Dixon found the lower fine had support of 63 percent of Democrats surveyed, 62 percent of those under 50, 58 percent of women and 54 percent of independent voters.

  • SC: Learn about candidates at forums this week (Star News Wilmington NC) If a party chairman creates the perception that some candidates are favored and that the party will work on behalf of the favorites against others, good candidates will shy away from the system. Volunteers will be disillusioned, and voters will look for alternatives.

  • PA: Hornberger, former county controller, wants term limits (Republican Herald-Pottsville PA -- Harrisburg)

  • DENTON TX: Nearly 2,000 cross party lines to vote-One-time Republicans cast ballots in county Democratic primary primary (Denton TX Record Chronicle)

OREGON ELECTIONS * (The Oregonian) Open Primary would shift debate to center - As Phil Keisling and Norma Paulus noted in your paper ("Let's make primaries truly open, inclusive and fair," April 13), the partisan primary system we have in place is archaic and obsolete...


THE PEOPLE VS THE PARTIES:
Welcome to the Jungle (Nick Wirth, BlueOregon) On March 5, the 5th Circuit in New Orleans heard Mississippi Democratic Party v. Barbour. Mississippi's only method of nomination is their open primary, and last June a U. S. district judge declared the state-mandated open primary unconstitutional. (However, it did not enjoin the recent Miss primary, which was held under the “old” rules).


NOTE: BILL MOYERS WILL INTERVIEW REV. WRIGHT NEXT SUNDAY ON PBS.

Ashley Casey, Louisiana independent candidate for Congress

Ashley Casey of Baton Rouge, a candidate in the 6th Congressional District race is running for Congress from Louisiana as an independent. You can see her video ads here where she talks about being an independent. Ashley says, "People are intrigued by my candidacy and more and more people tell me every day that they may just vote independent too!" Here's her website.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS

INDEPENDENT VOTERS

POLLS
  • Hillary Drops Back-A new Newsweek poll shows Obama pulling away. (Newsweek Web Exclusive) In a race against McCain, Obama gets more independent support than Clinton does.
  • LINK TO COMPLETE POLL RESULTS
  • Pre-Pennsylvania Primary Poll: Obama O-Belts it Out of the Park (Half Empty - pro-Obama blog)

NORTH CAROLINA

LOUISIANA INDEPENDENT ASHLEY CASEY * Candidates Face Challenges in Louisiana 6th Congressional Race (Bayou Buzz)

Friday, April 18, 2008



Harold Washington

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS

INDEPENDENT VOTERS
  • Independent Voters in Profile (By Marcia Ford - Donklephant) The few independents I knew personally were evangelicals disenchanted with the Religious Right and its close association with the GOP who considered themselves to be conservatives or moderates.
  • W.Va. Voters Still Can Change Parties (The Intelligencer/Wheeling News Register)
  • PA Lawmaker would open primary election (Lebanon Daily News) Independents and third-party voters don’t have a say in Tuesday’s red-hot primary elections, but a handful of lawmakers say they should.
  • WA 'Top two' primary: new ballots, new headaches? Proposed rules call for listing a candidate's party preference, not affiliation, and at least one lawmaker thinks only confusion will result. (Daily Herald - Everett WA) It's the Parties vs. the People...


CAMPAIGN

NORTH CAROLINA EARLY VOTING
  • Early voters: Let's get started (News Observer) KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: If you ruin your ballot, you can ask for another one. If you're registered as unaffiliated, you can ask to receive the primary ballot of either party. If you're an ex-felon, you can register and vote if you've served all parts of your sentence, including probation. If you have a disability, you have a right to a voting machine that allows you to vote on your own. Anyone also has a right to receive assistance from a friend (not your employer) or an elections official.
  • Obama in state; speaks to News 14 (News 14 Raleigh)
  • Obama helping stimulate local voter interest (Mount Airy News - Surry County) As of Thursday, the updated registration totals in Surry show Democrats outnumbering Republicans 18,336 to 17,345. There are 8,146 unaffiliated voters in the county. [That's a margin of victory...]
  • Early birds flock to polling spots (Rocky Mount Telegram) More than 5.7 million North Carolinians are registered to vote, state officials said, which includes 2.6 million Democrats, 1.9 million Republicans and 1.2 million unaffiliated voters – all record totals heading into a primary election.
  • Early voters may cast ballots now (The Lexington Dispatch) Unaffiliated voters can choose to vote for nonpartisan races or in either the Republican or Democratic primary but not both.

FEATURE * What Happened to the [Harold] Washington Coalition? (Chicago Daily Observer) A big question that emerges at many meetings has to do with why the Washington Coalition—consisting of virtually the entire black community, a cadre of Latino warriors and a small but active band of progressive whites—did not continue as a political force.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Coming Soon: Hankster/CitiVote

The Hankster and CitiVote will be teaming up to bring you a new video project. Interviews with folks on the street around the country about the presidential election 2008.

Stay tuned!!

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS

CAMPAIGN
  • Setting the Barr: Presidential bid by ex-rep. may hurt McCain (The Hill) Since leaving Congress in 2002, Barr has bucked the party line in opposing the warrantless wiretapping program and calling for a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
  • I Was a Clinton Volunteer (Philadelphia City Paper) The one unifying sentiment among all Hillary volunteers, besides the obvious, is their disdain for Obama supporters, whom they see as both delusional and impossibly peppy. Clintonites don't hate them per se, they just think they're not smart enough to think on their own.
  • Price, Watt endorse Obama (News Observer) Both suberdelegates Watt and Price had previously endorsed John Edwards for president. In a conference call, Price said Obama can help bring independent voters to the Democratic column in November.
  • ABC/Washington Post Poll: Campaign Against Obama Gives Clinton Her Highest Negatives Since 1992 (JOE GANDELMAN, The Moderate Voice)
  • Democrats Willing to Let Battle Continue-Poll Shows Gains in Key Areas for Obama (By Dan Balz and Jon Cohen, Washington Post) Clinton's favorability rating has dropped among both Democrats and independents over the past three months, although her overall such rating among Democrats remains high. Nearly six in 10 independents now view her unfavorably.

NORTH CAROLINA
  • Early voting begins today (Winston Salem Journal) Unaffiliated (independent) voters can vote in either primary
  • A letter to the senator (Greensboro News Record) Please debate on April 27: Almost 110,000 Democrats and 69,000 unaffiliated voters (who can choose to vote in the Democratic primary) have been added to the rolls this year. The N.C. Democratic Party has been swamped with requests for tickets to the proposed April 27 debate at the RBC Center in Raleigh. It has received requests from about 20,000 and will hold a drawing to see who gets tickets.
  • Time to vote: Starting today, you can cast your ballot in the N.C. primary election. (Fayetteville Observer) Overall, the new voters are 53 percent Democrat, 37 percent unaffiliated and 10 percent Republican

REFORM
  • Reform sorely needed in reshaping state's districts (San Joaquin Record)
  • Nodler fails to mention personal bias in stance on independent candidate bill (The Turner Report) This legislation obviously does not "level the playing field," but adds to the already substantial advantage Democrats and Republicans have over anyone who tries to get elected as an independent.

SCHWARZENEGGER/BLOOMBERG * Fundraising, alliances on agenda during Schwarzenegger trip to New York (Mercury News) At the Thursday luncheon, talk show host Charlie Rose will ask Schwarzenegger and Bloomberg to address issues "that affect cities and states nationwide, regardless of partisan politics"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Conversations on American Elitism

Here's what Barack Obama said when he was on the Left Coast: "But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations. "

Karl Rove thinks this is a Marxian statement [h/t to Think Progress]. Whatever that statement was, it wasn't Neo-Con-ian. Thank God.

I rather agree with Fred Newman on Talk/Talk: "I don't really know how the remark plays to the people who Hillary has now appointed herself the defender of. So, she wants to get some mileage out of it. This gives her the freedom to get into personalistic accusations about Obama and his past. And that's what's so sick about politics. It's a very dangerous business to put yourself out as a spokesperson for millions of Americans who hold very complex and varied views on values, on religion and on guns."

Andrew Sullivan was horrified by Hillary's follow-up ad: "Without batting an eyelid, Clinton effortlessly adopts the entire worldview of the most cynical of Republican operatives and applies it with the delicacy of a shovel to the likely Democratic party nominee. This is a) how desperate she must know feel; b) how utterly irrelevant it is to her what happens in this election unless she is the next Democratic nominee for president. "

And from The Daily Doubter: "I must cut Sean Hannity some slack, however. Hannity isn't an amoral Machiavellian such as Karl Rove who is perfectly happy to use religion and the evangelical leaders he reportedly called "the nuts" as a political tool. No, Hannity is just a witless authoritarian follower and partisan hack who attacks which ever Democrat is on the sheet of paper he's gotten from his producers; Hannity also has an ability which is key to his success as a Fox News pundit and radio personality - he has an unlimited capacity for self-blindness, double standard, and hypocrisy." [Hey Daily Doubter -- tell us what you REALLY think! ;-)]

With all due respect to Michelle "Them's Fightin' Words!" Obama (And if you're smart, you don't want to fight nobody who grew up on the Southside of Chicago..... see the YouTube video here from Keith Olbermann's show), elitism isn't a factor of where you come from. Many working class people who have "made it" are elitist. That's what most major institutions -- universities, political parties, etc. -- cultivate. For my money, elitism is a political issue. When Geo. Washington declined the crown, he made a statement on behalf of American Democracy. That's the politics we need to be cultivating. And that's the politics of inclusion. --NH

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS

INDEPENDENT VOTERS
  • Lawsuit, Round II-May primary elections unlikely to be affected by suit (Boise Weekly) The fight to open up the Idaho primaries for independents
  • Republican announces run for 3rd District seat (Des Moines Register) In December, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by more than 20,000 in the 12-county district, which covers 12 counties in east-central and south-central Iowa, including Polk. Since then, Republican registration has shrunk nominally, while Democrats have surged by more than 12,000, largely due to former independent voters pouring into the Democrats’ ranks to participate in the caucuses.
  • Cumberland County PA Democrats make small gains in registration (Cumberland County Sentinel) 3500 independents have reregistered to vote in the primary

OPEN PRIMARIES
  • S.D., N.D. Democratic voters prefer Obama (Argus Leader)
  • State seal brouhaha has some faces red (The Oregonian) Kiesling has state seal on Open Primaries website -- Oregon partisans don't like that
  • Lawsuit Opens Idaho’s Closed Primary Issue Again (New West Network)
  • PA Switch hitters: Voter registration changes are a result of state’s closed primary system (Beaver Co. Times & Allegheny Times)
  • Superdelegate FAQ (Great Falls Tribune - MT) Montana voters choose which primary they want to vote in and don't have to register with the party
  • Dems now ‘party of disenfranchisement’ (LETTER to Bluefield Daily Telegraph) Crocodile tears for partisans.....

CAMPAIGN
  • Easley urges Obama to debate in N.C. (Charlotte Observer) Easley writes that the debate would benefit 75,000 new Democrats and 50,000 unaffiliated voters who have recently registered.
  • Mac's Bar Having Debate-Watch Party Tonight-Might be Fireworks Ahead of Pennsylvania Primary (Huntington News)

LIBERTARIAN PARTY KC CONFERENCE Libertarian Candidates, Supporters Gather in KC (KCUR Public Broadcasting)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

CitiVote

Independent filmmaker, Ken Samarra, has been interviewing people in various cities about the 2008 election. These are wonderful "person on the street" interviews. Check it out here and at the top of The Hankster (that's Philly)!

The Hankster recommends CitiVote!

For a few of the individual cities: New York City, Seattle, Philly... Stay tuned!

Talk/Talk: The "Good, Good, Good," the "Bad, Bad, Bad" and Jimmy Carter

Sunday, April 13, 2008
Below are excerpts from this week's Talk Talk,
The "Good, Good, Good," the "Bad, Bad, Bad" and Jimmy Carter. Every Sunday CUIP's president Jacqueline Salit and strategist and philosopher Fred Newman watch the political talk shows and discuss them. Here are excerpts from their dialogue on Sunday, April 13, 2008 after watching "The Chris Matthews Show" and "This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Salit: Jimmy Carter was on George Stephanopoulos.

Newman: I like Jimmy.

Salit: I like Jimmy, too. He's a better private citizen than he was a president. But that probably says something more about the presidency than about him. He's currently an election monitor for the elections in Nepal. Then he's going to the Middle East. The big controversy about his trip to the Middle East is that he's planning meetings with leaders of Hamas. George Stephanopoulos, being a "good tough reporter" says 'How could you consider meeting with Hamas, given who they are?' Then Carter, completely non-hysterical, says 'Well, actually, I've been meeting with Hamas for years.'

Newman: And so have a lot of other people.

Read Talk Talk in its entirety here.

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS

INDEPENDENT VOTERS
  • West Virginia independents allowed to vote in Democratic primary (The Herald-Dispatch) The decision became official on March 2007, after about seven years of consideration and a steady increase in independent voters.
  • Unaffiliated Voters Could Swing N.C. Primaries (WRAL - Raleigh Durham) About one-fifth of North Carolina's 5.7 million registered voters aren't Democrats or Republicans, and politicians are working hard to sway the growing bloc of unaffiliated voters.
  • The Unsexy Stuff of Political Reform (By Marcia Ford-Donklephant)
  • Hurricane Katrina affected racial, partisan politics in Louisiana, study finds (Louisana Weekly) Meanwhile, the number of Republican voters statewide increased by 3.5 percent, and third party/independent voters increased by eight percent
  • `Restless' Independents May Pick Next U.S. President (By Heidi Przybyla-Bloomberg) Update1 - Russ Oullette, an independent activist in New Hampshire says "The growth of independents ``scares the heck out of a lot of people."

NORTH CAROLINA
  • More North Carolinians sign up to vote (News Observer) In all, new registered voters were: 76,131 Democrats, or 53 percent; 53,732 unaffiliated, or 37 percent; and 14,911 Republicans, or 10 percent.
  • Voters get more chances (Richmond County Daily Journal) As of Monday, the political parties are represented as 19,188 Democrats, 4,990 Republicans and 4,296 registered as unaffiliated.

CAMPAIGN
  • Race Is Still the X Factor for Obama (By Earl Ofari Hutchinson, New American Media-Alternet) Yet, if he can't convince Clinton's white vote supporters, and they are Democrats, to back him, the chances are nil that he'll have any more success with Republican and independent white voters in these states.
  • John Baer: At forum on faith, the Dems find redemption (Philadelphia Daily News) I now think God's registered independent, or as Pennsylvania calls it, "unaffiliated." And I'm pretty sure He didn't change his registration to vote in next week's primary.

Monday, April 14, 2008

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS

INDEPENDENT VOTERS
  • `Restless' Independents, Not Parties, May Select U.S. President (By Heidi Przybyla, Bloomberg.com) Independents are the ``restless and anxious moderates,'' and their profile has ``broadened significantly'' over the past decade, Democratic pollster Doug Schoen said.
  • South Dakota: The New Voice of Independence Party (V.I.P.) is Forming (Press Release from emediawire.com)

NORTH CAROLINA
  • About 600 Dukies register to vote (Duke Chronicle) According to statistics from the Board of Elections, 545 of the total individuals registered were either Democratic or unaffiliated, qualifying them to vote in the May 6 showdown between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
  • Business owner launches ballot bid (Fayetteville Observer - NC) David Lisenby, a 57-year-old small-business owner in Laurinburg, says he doesn’t have much use for any of the presidential candidates this year — or the two major parties.

OPEN PRIMARIES
  • WA: Republicans may benefit from 'top two' primary format (Yakima Herald-Republic)
  • Give more attention to state's 375,000 'unaffiliated' voters (Pennsylvania Patriot) Has the time come for Pennsylvania to consider allowing voters registered as nonpartisan to participate in party primaries?

RELIGION & POLITICS
  • A Rapidly Changing Flock Losing Our Religion (From The Pew Forum On Religion And Public Life-The Tampa Tribune)
  • Compassion Forum Clings to Religion (Christianity Today) Even the president of the Messiah College Republicans said the presumptive Republican nominee hurt himself, particularly with religious conservatives, by declining an invitation to participate. CNN transcript of Compassion Forum
  • America is entering a secular era (E.J. Dionne - Statesman Journal) Obama has been explicit about the need to broker political peace between Democrats and believers. "If we don't reach out to evangelical Christians and other religious Americans and tell them what we stand for, then the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons and Alan Keyeses will continue to hold sway," he said at a 2006 meeting organized by the progressive evangelical Jim Wallis.
  • Clinton, Obama put politics aside to discuss faith (CNN Election Center) For years, the evangelical community has largely supported Republican presidential candidates. However this year, evangelical leaders have split over presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, who is struggling to mend fences with some evangelical luminaries like James Dobson who have expressed disappointment with his selection.
  • FOR MORE ON THIS SUBJECT, see Marcia Ford's We The Purple: Faith, Politics and the Independent Voter

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Allen Johnson, Man Without a Party

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS

INDEPENDENT VOTERS

  • NORTH CAROLINA: Allen Johnson: Why, 24 years later, I remain a man without a party — and why I like it that way (Greensboro News Record) NOTE: Read this!!
  • WEST VIRGINIA: Clinton, Obama campaigns dissecting state voters (Times West Virginian) The trend of more women than men voters holds up among those registered as belonging to “No Party,” or independents. Women make up 77,089 to 67,290 men in that category. But in the 50 and older group, men outnumber women among independents, 16,098 to 14,847.
  • OREGON: Valuing 'independent' participation (The Oregonian-Phil Kiesling) Why have the Oregon Democratic and Republican parties chosen not to allow independents to participate? FLORIDA: Can the GOP police itself? (Middletown Journal - FL) Weber said he would be best suited to hold other Republicans accountable because of his background as an independent. Weber ran for the position in 2002 as an independent and lost; he ran in 2006 as a Republican but dropped out after Reynolds won the party endorsement.
  • WEST VIRGINIA: Independents Can Vote in W.Va. Primary (The Intelligencer/Wheeling News Register) While the state’s Independents have been able to vote in Republican primaries for six years, 2008 will mark the first time they will be able to mark a Democratic ballot as that party has opened up its primary to Independents for the first time.
  • WEST VIRGINIA: Independents likely to have impact on upcoming primaries (The Herald-Dispatch) In 1984, only 2 percent of West Virginia's voters, or 20,559 people, were registered with no party affiliation. Since then, independent voter registration has increased yearly to an all-time high in the 2006 general election of 11.7 percent, or 133,555, of the voting public.
  • Barack Obama, Federalism, and a Winning Coalition (Yossef Ben-Meir, American Chronicle) By presenting community organizing as a federalist process, the campaign will attract those Republicans and Independents who are disaffected by the Iraq war, but who would otherwise still support John McCain.
  • FLORIDA: Crist makes pitch for new Rays' stadium (tampabay.com/St. Petersburg Times) State Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg and State Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, have filed bills (HB 1189 and SB 2726) to open Florida's primaries and let unaffiliated voters weigh in on the presidential choices.
  • War-Weary Pa. Voters Wonder About Exit (AP-Google)

POLLS Rasmussen presidential tracking poll gives edge to McCain (Marketwatch) McCain now leads both Democrats among unaffiliated voters


FEATURE Evangelicals' new face (Baltimore Sun) If you think that evangelical Christians vote automatically for the Republican Party and are obsessed with abortion and gay marriage to the exclusion of other issues, you haven't been paying attention.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS

  • Party switchers can't vote in primary (Morehead News - KY)
  • Voters switch sides in droves-Thousands change parties before primary (Charlotte Observer)
  • Ron Paul finds fans of his libertarian message at Gettysburg College-GOP presidential hopeful favors ending Iraq war, foreign bases, IRS, the Fed. (The Morning Call)
  • Weekly wrap: Raging registrations, council confusion (Fay Observer NC)
  • New voters flood upcoming primaries-Democrats' battle lures many from GOP (Boston Globe)
  • NC: More blacks registering- Number of people signing up to vote surges in Forsyth County and the state (The JOURNAL)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Making Tax Day Less Painful While Reducing Deficits

By Andrew L. Yarrow
Author of Forgive Us Our Debts (The Intergenerational Dangers of Fiscal Irresponsibility)

Marie Antoinette is said to have asked Louis XVI’s finance minister," What are you going to do about the deficit?" To which, the good minister—not unlike many an American politician today—purportedly answered: "Nothing Madame. It is too serious."

With a national debt of $9.3 trillion and rapidly growing, federal debt is serious, and failing to balance spending with revenues portends serious long-term pain for the American people, economy, and government if nothing is done.

The elephant in the room is entitlement spending, but it is worth considering the role of our tax system, not tax rates, in exacerbating America’s debt. Liberals and conservatives can disagree about tax rates or types of taxes, but few disagree that how the United States collects taxes could not be much more dysfunctional.

Almost no one likes taxes, despite Oliver Wendell Holmes’ injunction that they are the price for a civilized society. Moreover, almost no taxpayer, expert, or politician likes the current U.S. tax system, which is insanely complex, grossly unfair, and horribly inefficient.

There are several basic problems: 1) filing taxes wastes stunning amounts of time and money; 2) huge amounts of owed taxes go uncollected because of rampant tax cheating; 3) too many Americans pay no taxes; and 4) many tax subsidies are corporate and special-interest welfare.
Income taxes, with 900 or so IRS forms, devour 3.4 billion hours of Americans’ lives every year, or 25 hours per taxpayer. They cost the average filer $200 in out-of-pocket expenses, the U.S. economy untold billions in lost productivity, and IRS compliance costs are one-tenth to one-seventh of the amount of taxes collected. Between the costs of preparing taxes and the lost income from time that could be spent productively, or more enjoyably, paying taxes costs our country between $240 billion and $600 billion in 2005, according to the Government Accountability Office – all to raise about $2 trillion.

Secondly, as Will Rogers once said, "The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has." About $300 billion in taxes owed – more than recent deficits – go uncollected, as polls have found that at least one-fifth of Americans publicly say that it’s OK to cheat on your taxes. That’s only those who admit, in essence, to being liars.

In addition, one-third of Americans pay no income taxes, up from one-fifth in the mid-20th century. While many are low-income, there are good citizenship reasons for all Americans to pay taxes, even if this is not a big revenue-raiser.

The fourth arena – called "corporate welfare" by Ralph Nader liberals and Cato Institute conservatives – involves hundreds of billions of dollars in forfeited revenues from market-distorting tax breaks to business and special interests. Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says that these $800 billion a year in "tax expenditures are really spending programs designed to look like tax cuts." These range from farm subsidies to the $225 billion-a-year exclusion for employer-based health care, which exempts corporations and individuals from paying taxes on the value of health insurance.

These four issues are areas where bipartisan agreement would be relatively easy. While the devil may be in the details, tax simplification is a no-brainer. We could eliminate most forms for most taxpayers; go to return-free filing, putting the onus on the government, as Grover Norquist has suggested; and/or adopt a Simplified Income Tax proposed by the Urban Institute’s Leonard Burman, with a single family credit, a refundable work credit, a 15 percent mortgage credit, no state or local tax deduction, and a built-in 401(k).

To collect owed taxes, honesty could be encouraged and we could beef up enforcement, as the audit rate falling from 2.15 percent in 1978 to 0.58 percent in 2001. The employer health-care exclusion and many agricultural and corporate subsidies are often seen as prime candidates for elimination.

Reducing long-term debt requires many other reforms—notably of entitlement spending—but we could address much easier, tax-system reforms that could win broad support across the political spectrum.

— Andrew L. Yarrow, Washington director and vice president of Public Agenda, a nonpartisan think tank, is a professor of U.S. history at American University, and the author of Forgive Us Our Debts, a book about the causes, consequences, and cures for America’s national debt, published by Yale University Press this spring. Yarrow's book Forgive us Our Debts is available from Yale University Press