Phoenix Mayor Blinded by Dust Storm; Progressivism is Business Killer

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton claims progressivism is the better plan for business. That’s what he actually told the Phoenix Business Journal.

It seems that ever since the last time a haboob passed through Phoenix area, the mayor’s vision and ability to reason have been severely clouded!

Obviously, the mayor has not been able to see the moving trucks coming in from California and heading for Texas. They’ve left the socialist state for a state that welcomes businesses and doesn’t overburden them with excessive taxation and regulation.

It is evident the mayor doesn’t know that where the minimum wage has been raised — to the lofty heights of $15 an hour in some locations — some have lost their jobs. Many small businesses cannot afford that exorbitant rate, which also means fewer part-time jobs are available.

Stanton also fails to acknowledge that America’s Socialist In Chief, B.H. Obama, has threatened to put out of business those who refuse to provide abortion coverage in their health insurance plans. Through his Obama abortion mandate, the prez would rather harm the business community and the economy, putting families out of work, raising money for Planned Parenthood. He’d rather stand in the way of small businesses, religious colleges and faith-based organizations than allow the economy and the business market to thrive. That’s astounding, mayor.

Progressives have long been strangling businesses in red tape, over-regulation and interference with their ability to survive. This is why we hear about American workers forced to train foreigners to take their jobs and why we lose business to other nations. Think Government Motors moving auto plants to Mexico — where Mexicans gain employment and Americans lose employment.

Progressivism is socialism, which means Big Government, small citizen, small private business.

Obama actually once told businesses, “Now is not the time for profits.” But that’s not surprising for a socialist progressive who prefers that government keep its all-powerful thumb on business.

And that leads us right to unions. Progressives reap huge campaign contributions from unions because they are downright anti-business.

Progressives are also bullish on illegal aliens — future Democratic voters and underminers of the American worker.

Furthermore, progressivism has damaged our public education system for decades, eroding America’s ability to train the workers we need for an efficient business climate and economy. Foreign nationals are getting engineering and doctor’s jobs here because the schools are not preparing enough Americans for those high-paying jobs.

So, bottom line, Mayor Stanton: stop dreaming and stop lying. Clear out your vision and admit the truth. Progressivism is a detriment to business. Conservatism, capitalism create the optimal business climate and represent the best interests of the American worker and the families they feed.

Remember this as election time nears and as you vote. Vote smart. Vote against progressivism, which is the perfect recipe for economic and business failure. Remember also: it was progressive socialists who forced the housing market fiasco that cost many a good American his/her retirement.

Dark Money

By The Goldwater Institute

The proponents of mandatory reporting of private civic activities have won a major marketing victory by the widespread use of the phrase, “dark money.”  As one commentator put it, “Dark money.  The name itself carries ominous undertones, undertones that critics of this relatively new campaign-finance phenomenon claim reflect a genuine threat to democracy.”[x]  But the term is misleading.  “Dark money” would be more aptly referred to by what those who find free speech objectionable actually support – mandated government disclosure.  The use of such terms is intended to cast suspicion on those who contribute to various civic causes so the debate revolves around ad hominem attacks rather than engaging on the issues.

So, what is “dark money”?  It conjures images of shady political operatives greasing the palms of politicians in dark, smoked-filled rooms.  But does it also apply to traditional political activities, like you and your neighbor contributing your time and money to civic and social activities that you support?  And is it really a threat to democracy, or are those who seek to silence the voice of opposition and limit speech the real threats?

“Dark money” generally refers to funds spent for political activities by businesses, unions, nonprofit organizations, and individuals who are not required by law to disclose the identities of their donors.  Depending on where supporters of government disclosure draw the inherently arbitrary line, dark money could refer to donations made to the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) or to your local church or soup kitchen.

As a general matter, all spending that calls for the election or defeat of a political candidate or constitutes “electioneering communications” involves some level of disclosure to the government.  In fact, there are more disclosure obligations on the books today than at any other time in our nation’s history.[xi]  Nevertheless, some supporters of government disclosure claim that current laws do not go far enough.  They assert that certain charitable and social welfare organizations, including those organized under § 501(c) of the federal tax code, should be forced to disclose the identities of their individual donors when those organizations engage in political activity, even if that is not their primary function.[xii]

Those calling for the elimination of “dark money” are thus attempting to dramatically extend the reach of government-mandated disclosure to a wide variety of organizations, activities, and communications.

Advocates for expanded disclosure call for such dramatic and far-reaching regulations despite the fact that “dark money” is not a pervasive element in American politics. Some government disclosure advocates claim that so-called “dark money” expenditures constitute a significant portion of political spending in the United States.[xiii]  But the characterization is inaccurate.  In the 2014 election cycle, the Federal Elections Commission reported approximately $5.9 billion in total spending on federal elections.[xiv]  Of that $5.9 billion, roughly $173 million came from groups that are not required by law to disclose donors.[xv]  This represents a mere 2.9 percent of all spending on federal elections – hardly a significant portion.  In fact, this figure represents a decline from the 2012 election cycle, where such expenditures amounted to 4.4 percent of spending on federal races.[xvi]  As the Center for Competitive Politics observed from the 2012 election cycle, “Nearly all of the organizations that financed such independent expenditures . . . were well-known entities, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the League of Conservation Voters, the National Rifle Association, Planned Parenthood, the National Association of Realtors, the National Federation of Independent Business, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the Humane Society.”[xvii]  As a result, there is no secret as to what causes and issues such groups support.

Under existing campaign finance laws, the identities of these groups must be revealed when making direct contributions to candidates or political parties or engaging in other electioneering communications.  Additionally, donor identities must be disclosed when they specifically earmark their donations to nonprofit organizations to be used for electioneering communications.  Those types of donations can hardly be characterized as “dark money” in need of further regulation when under existing disclosure rules, anyone can see that the NRA contributed to Candidate X and Planned Parenthood contributed to Candidate Y.  The positions of those organizations are well known.  Characterizing those expenditures as “dark money” is, therefore, disingenuous.  But forcing further disclosure of donor identities is at best unnecessary, as donors may contribute to organizations to support the overall mission rather than any specific political candidate.  Their donations are intended to support certain issues, not politicians.

Claims that “dark money” is distorting American politics are even more tenuous when leveled at 501(c)(3)s, considering these nonprofit organizations are prohibited from participating in any partisan political activity.

More Facts about Prop 487 and the Problem of Union Spiking

The Phoenix City Retirement Plan cost taxpayers $28 million in 2000 while it cost $110 million in the 2012 fiscal year and $253 million in 2013.[11][12] In the face of this ballooning of city pension costs, Phoenix voters overwhelmingly approved two propositions that reformed the retirement system of city employees, Proposition 201 and 202, in 2013. Supporters argue that the measure will save millions of dollars for the city in the long-run and will put a stop to exorbitant pension payouts caused by pension spiking. Supporters also argue that Prop. 487 will provide a stable, sustainable retirement system to new employees and any current employees that wish to switch to the new system. Many are worried that the current system is unsustainable and will drag the city into bankruptcy, following the fate of cities like Detroit and San Bernardino.[11]

Phoenix city councilmen who support Prop 487 said …

I am a strong supporter of pension reform, and you should be, too. Facts: 50 Phoenix retirees will be getting $183 million by the time they are 75. A librarian took $280,000 in cash at retirement, and then started a pension of $102,000 per year. This creates strain on public safety, senior services and libraries. The initiative is not perfect, but it does two things: First, it ends all forms of pension spiking. Second, it moves new employees to a 401(k) retirement system, just like yours. Pension reform saves taxpayers millions, stops the abuse and creates more predictability in budgeting.[16]
—Sal DiCiccio, District 6, Ahwatukee and east Phoenix[21]

Vice Mayor Jim Waring, who represents District 2 – northeast Phoenix – on the city council, said:[21]

I support the pension-reform initiative. It will end pension spiking. It will save the city millions in the long run. It will fundamentally change a broken and prohibitively expensive system. Real reform is desperately needed. The March 2013 ballot issue may save taxpayers up to $600 million, but no real reforms were enacted and the financially ruinous status quo persists. In this case, voters will have the chance to make real reforms. If we don’t act, rising pension costs will continue to cause budget deficits and reductions in public safety.[16]
—Vice Mayor Jim Waring, District 2[21]

Supporters of the initiative respond to opponents’ arguments that the initiative could remove death and disability benefits from employees by simply saying the claims are unfounded and false. Scot Mussi said, “This one is just a flat-out lie. It has absolutely nothing to do with death and disability benefits.” He went on to say that the initiative does not prevent the city from offering a separate disability-benefit and death-benefit program for new workers and that the initiative explicitly does not effect current employees who choose to stay in the current pension system. Some supporters also say that the city could easily buy insurance plans for certain employees instead of funding a pension system under Prop. 487.[13]

Reason foundation, a policy research organization espousing libertarian values, also released an analysis of Proposition 487. The report shows significant financial benefits for the city under the initiative, including possible savings of $31 million in the first year and $399.3 million over the next 20 years.[27]

Spiking

Many supporters of pension reform are motivated by a desire to end the use of “pension spiking,” a practice in which city employees convert certain benefits such as unused sick time or saved vacation pay to boost the salaries on which their pensions are based or extend their credited length of city service. Some were further upset by the fact that some employees, such as firefighters and police officers, are allowed to use pension spiking while other rank-and-file employees are limited or restricted from the practice. Some city employees filed suit against the city when they were denied the ability to spike their pensions when other employees were permitted to use the increasingly controversial practice. The city argued in court that it is not legally bound to let employees include unused sick time in their pension-benefit calculations but began allowing it voluntarily in 1996 and can change their position at will.[4]

Several reports released by the Arizona Republic highlighted the pension spiking of executive-level public-safety officers and managers. The reports featured 10 public-safety retirees that had increased their lump-sum retirement benefits to over $700,000 and their annual pension payouts to more than $114,000 per year. According to backers, the proposed pension reform initiative would prohibit the practice of pension spiking.[4]

A study by the Arizona Republic estimated a $12 million dollar cost to the city taxpayers per year from spiking practices, when using overtime and premium pay to boost pensions was counted as spiking. City officials denied the study because they claimed overtime and premium pay were part of base salaries and not a “perk” and, therefore, should not be counted as spiking.[33]