Lions, tigers, and taxes, oh my!

So, thanks to the pro-Democratic year, Democrat Linda Coleman is giving Republican George Holding a tough run in NC’s 2nd district, which includes my media market– so plenty of ads.  A Republican PAC is running ads claiming that Coleman paid her taxes late, plus, she’s going to raise your taxes!  To Holding’s credit, even he claims this late taxes business is just a canard, but, part of me thinks, if all Republicans have against a Democrat is, “she’s going to raise your taxes!” they really don’t have much.  I don’t think there’s a Democrat anywhere in America in the last few decades that hasn’t been accused of favoring ruinous taxes.  And, since I love watching Jeopardy! all I get is campaign ad after campaign ad during the commercial breaks (give me some prescription drug and discount mattress ads, please!)  And, yet. plenty of Democrats elected and here will still stand.

Oh, and speaking of taxes.  Great Catherine Rampell column today:

The Republican tax cut is a big, fat failure.

It has achieved none of the things that Republicans promised it would. It didn’t reduce deficits. It didn’t target the middle class. And it didn’t win goodwill with voters. [emphases mine]

Yet, for some reason, President Trump wants to do it all over again . . . in the next nine days, no less.

Last week the Treasury Department reported that the federal budget deficit swelled by 17 percent, or $113 billion, from fiscal 2017 to 2018. This is noteworthy, and not only because Republicans usually claim to despise deficits (at least, they do when Democrats are in charge).

It also reflects a massive decoupling of the business cycle from the federal budget.

Usually, as the economy improves, deficits shrink. That’s because people earn more money, causing them to pay more in taxes and enroll in fewer federal safety-net programs. This relationship between deficits and the economy has generally held true for the past 70 years, except during times of war.

Unemployment (shown on the right-side axis) has been inverted so that it’s easier to compare the two series. Note that budget balances are shown according to fiscal years, and unemployment data are shown for calendar years. Sources: Congressional Budget Office [via Haver Analytics and Goldman Sachs Economic Research], Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Catherine Rampell/The Washington Post)

The Treasury numbers should not be surprising, by the way. Literally everyindependent forecaster predicted that the tax cut would increase deficits on net. Yet Republicans were somehow caught flat-footed by the news.

After all, when the White House published its 2018 fiscal plan a year and a half ago, Trump officials predicted that deficits would shrink substantially in 2018, thanks both to his tax cuts and the Miracle-Gro that Trump was supposedly sprinkling across the economy.

Yet in the end, the deficit was almost twice what the White House estimated it would be: $779 billion, compared with the forecast $440 billion.

But what do Republican candidates have to offer us.  Democrats will raise your taxes!  Ugh.

Legal marijuana is coming

It’s truly only a matter of when.  I haven’t seen public opinion trendlines like this since way back in the days of… same-sex marriage.  The latest from Gallup:

Line graph of 1969 through 2018. Sixty-six percent of Americans now support legalizing marijuana.

And even a bare majority of Republicans:

Line graph of 2000 through 2018. Support by party -- 53% of Republicans, 75% of Democrats support legalizing marijuana.

Importantly, this is not just generational replacement, people are changing their minds:

Line graph of support for legalizing marijuana by age: 78% of 18- to 34-year-olds, 65% of 35-54 and 59% of 55+ support it.

To me, the evidence is really, really clear that the benefits of legalization far outweigh the costs.  But that doesn’t mean there are no costs.  We should absolutely be smart about it.

So, yes, let’s do this smart.  Of course, it becomes harder to have a sensible conversation when the opposition is old Republican men of the Jeff Sessions “reefer madness!” variety who are still living in a delusional hellscape when it comes to marijuana.

I’m actually somewhat surprised Democrats are not pushing harder on this throughout the country.  Just need a very simple “sensible marijuana policy” or something like that message.  I really don’t think they would lose many votes and it would be just one more issue (i.e., added to climate and LGBT rights) to show young Americans that the old white dude Republicans are hopelessly out of touch.  Of course, as discussed those young Americans actually vote at low rates.  But, convince them more than ever that the Democratic party is the one for them and the dividends will be huge down the road as they age into more participation.

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