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Shenanigans Trump Politics In Texas Redistricting Fight

17 Aug

Supreme Court Steps In to Review Texas RedistrictingFive districts here, five districts over there – what does it matter?

Lawmakers made relatively small changes to the House maps that were used in the 2012 elections, but left the Senate and congressional maps just as they were. If the courts go along, that would mean incumbents seeking re-election would run next year in the same or essentially the same districts that elected them last year.

It has been a long, detailed and contentious process, and it is probably far from over. The short form of our story so far:

The 2010 census resulted in shifts in the distribution of congressional seats from states that lost population to states that grew. Texas gained four seats, for a total of 36.

Minority groups noted the state’s growth was fueled by their populations; 89 percent of the population growth in Texas from 2000 to 2010 came in minority groups, and 66 percent was in the Hispanic population.

The 2011 Legislature, with a Republican supermajority in the House and a near supermajority in the Senate, drew new maps for congressional and legislative elections that were immediately challenged by minority and Democratic plaintiffs as unrepresentative of the state’s population. Their cases were consolidated and sent to a panel of three federal judges in San Antonio.

At the same time, the state asked a different panel of federal judges in Washington, D.C., to pre-clear the maps — a requirement under the federal Voting Rights Act.

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The Road To A Blue Texas

12 Aug

HDR-Inside-the-Austin-Texas-Capital-top-floor“They have too many white men, and we don’t have enough,” (via The Texas Tribune)

Optimistically I”m a white voter bringing the blue to Texas. Politically that’s insignificant, as State Rep.Mark Strama, D-Austin, can lament. The reason for that depressing fact is immigration.

cyclo4But someone needs to rain on the rodeo: Democrats don’t have a chance of snagging Texas in a competitive presidential election any time soon. That’s because Latinos in Texas are disproportionately ineligible to vote. Too many either aren’t citizens or are too young to upend the state in the next few election cycles.

In order to win Texas in the near future, a Democratic presidential candidate would need not just record Latino turnout, but a historic performance with white voters, too.

So when, then, could a Democratic contender have a reasonable shot of moving Texas into the toss-up column?

 

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Budget Cuts Lead To IRS Mistakes

17 May

Dear IRSDaniel Werfel has the unhappy, thankless task of reforming the country’s most hated government agency. Fortunately, there’s David Cay Johnston, one of those reporters with a special bailiwick who perform a public service explaining issues most of us either ignore or dread figuring out – case in point, taxes.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, David Cay Johnston, this whole issue of the IRS, every several years there’s a new upsurge of complaints about the IRS and its role in American society. Can you talk about some of the real scandal that you see is going on with the IRS?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Sure. The Internal Revenue Service has been given all of these duties that are beyond collecting taxes, and they have enormously added to their burdens. So, in the last 10 years, the budget of the IRS, adjusted for the size of the population and inflation, has come down 17 percent, while the duties it’s been given have gone like this. Now, if you’re a wage earner and—or pensioner, you have your taxes taken out of your money before you collect it. You’re not being affected by these budget cuts. But people trying to get a tax-exempt status, there aren’t enough people to process the complaint—to process the permit requests. People are not being audited at the level they should, who are very wealthy and who self-report. There is no independent verification of their income. And we know that self-reported income, roughly a third of it, tends not to be reported overall—some people are scrupulous; some people are the exact opposite—and that verified income, like wages, 99.9 percent of that gets reported to the government. So, the IRS is being asked to do things it doesn’t have the budget to do. Its workers have not had pay raises in three years. IRS employees are held to a higher standard than anybody else in the government in terms of their conduct. And they simply cannot do all the things that Congress is asking of them.

(…)

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