Aftermath of a big election

Aftermath of a big election

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ narrow win in Saturday’s runoff election relied on three factors, The Advocate’s Tyler Bridges writes in his post-mortem. It required support from moderate Republicans in the suburbs, and the defection of at least 10% of those who supported Ralph Abraham in the Oct. 12 primary. But perhaps most critical was a surge in turnout among black voters from the levels seen in October, helped by massive get-out-the-vote efforts led by groups such as The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice

Under (Scott) Arceneaux, the (Democratic) party targeted 220,000 African-Aericans who had voted in the 2016 or the 2018 elections but had stayed home for this year’s primary. … Together Louisiana, a nonprofit group, targeted similar voters in 320 precincts statewide. Marc Morial, a former New Orleans mayor who heads the National Urban League, and Judy Reese Morse, of the Urban League of Louisiana, coordinated “Geaux Voter,” an ostensibly nonpartisan effort that almost entirely benefited the governor. 

Second-term Edwards will be sharing power with a Legislature that has 18 new senators and 46 newly elected members of the House, and figures to be more conservative than any in modern history. Mark Ballard reports

Republicans, provided they act together, have enough votes in the Senate and nearly enough in the House to overturn gubernatorial vetoes and to otherwise act on certain budget and tax decisions without regard to Democratic input. The governor said during his victory speech Saturday night, and all through the campaign, that he wanted to spend more on early childhood education, which will have some Republican support. He wants to take another run at establishing a minimum wage in Louisiana, which the GOP opposes.

The inimitable Jim Beam of the Lake Charles American-Press writes that with the elections finally over, it’s time for both sides to work together. 


Low-hanging fruit on tax reform
The shipping giant FedEx had a federal tax bill of more than $1.5 billion in 2017. But in 2018 the company paid no federal taxes – thanks in large part to the corporate tax cut law that the company’s founder fought to enact. But the company has not used the windfall to make new investments, which was one of the main arguments for the tax cut bill by its supporters. Jim Tankersley, Peter Eavis and Ben Casselman report for The New York Times

A New York Times analysis of data compiled by Capital IQ shows no statistically meaningful relationship between the size of the tax cut that companies and industries received and the investments they made. If anything, the companies that received the biggest tax cuts increased their capital investment by less, on average, than companies that got smaller cuts.

While true tax reform is badly needed, such an effort will be exceedingly difficult in politically divided Washington. In the meantime, Lawrence Summers writes in The Washington Post, the federal government could start by doing a much better job of collecting the taxes that are already owed.  

Such investment would raise substantial revenue, as well as increase economic efficiency and help redress growing inequality: Our rough estimates suggest that at least 70 percent of the “tax gap”— defined as owed but uncollected taxes — comes from underpayment by the top 1 percent. This contributes to legitimate concerns that our tax system unfairly advantages the elite.


The latest on paid leave
A longtime argument in support of paid family leave policies is that by giving new moms time away from work to bond with their infants, they are more likely to return to the workforce after the leave has expired. But Claire Caine Miller of The New York Times points to a new study showing that women who take paid leave ended up working less and earning less even after a decade. That does not negate the well-documented benefits for children, however, and researchers say it may point to the need for other child-friendly policies. 

(I)f the goal is to keep women working, other things seem necessary beyond several weeks of paid leave, researchers said. One would be subsidized child care, for after parents return to work. It could also help if fathers take leave and change their work and family routines alongside women. Countries that give men incentives to take paternity leave have seen more gender equalityat work and at home as a result.


The cost of worker misclassification
When a worker is misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee, they lose out on a number of hardwon worker benefits – including minimum wage and overtime protections, paid sick days, workers’ compensation benefits and unemployment insurance benefits. This issue affects a wide range of industries including many low-wage jobs like house cleaning and in-home care. Celine McNicholas and Margaret Poydock of Economic Policy Institute break down a California law aimed at reigning in this unfair practice:   

The misclassification of workers as independent contractors is a serious and persistent problem nationwide. A 2000 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Labor found that between 10% and 30% of audited employers misclassified workers and that up to 95% of workers who claimed they were misclassified as independent contractors were reclassified as employees following review.


Number of the Day
$1 trillion – Estimated amount that the federal government would collect over the next decade, primarily from very high-income taxpayers, if it did a better job of auditing and enforcing existing tax laws (Source: The Washington Post)