Montgomery County mirrors state, U.S. vote

Published: Thursday, November 08, 2012 @ 8:33 PM
Updated: Thursday, November 08, 2012 @ 8:33 PM

If Ohio was the center of the universe for presidential politics in 2012, Montgomery County was the bull’s-eye.

According to the unofficial statewide election results, Montgomery County mirrored the state’s presidential vote percentages more closely than any of the other 87 counties.

In the county:

* 50.7 percent voted for President Barack Obama, compared to 50.2 statewide;

* 47.7 percent voted for Republican candidate Mitt Romney, compared to 48.2 percent statewide;

* The vote for other presidential candidates was 1.6 percent, both in the county and the state.

“If you look at past elections, last year during the Senate Bill 5 vote, Montgomery County exactly matched the state vote,” said county Democratic Party Chairman Mark Owens. “And we were about a point off on the governor’s race in 2010.”

Both Owens and county Republican Chairman Rob Scott said Ohio has long been crucial in presidential elections because it possesses the same mix of large cities, new and aging suburbs, and rural areas that the nation as a whole does. Candidates know that if their message resonates in Ohio, it likely will succeed nationally, because the candidate who has won Ohio has won the nation in every presidential election in the past 50 years.

In the same way, Montgomery County is a microcosm of the state. It contains a medium-sized city, Dayton, but that city doesn’t dominate the county’s land mass, leaving a healthy ring of suburbs and many square miles of farmland in its western half.

In recent years, the Montgomery County vote is getting closer and closer to the state percentages. In 2000, the county was about 3 percentage points off the state vote — 49 percent voted for Al Gore here, compared to 46 percent statewide. But in 2004, the county-state variation was just under two points. In 2008, it was closer than 1 point. And this year, Montgomery County and the state were only a half-point different.

The same is true nationally — in Obama’s 2008 and 2012 election victories, the county was nearly an exact match for the United States totals. In 2008, Montgomery County voted 52.3 percent for Obama to 46.1 percent for John McCain, while the national figures were 52.9 to 45.7. In this year’s unofficial results, the county voted 50.7 to 47.6 for Obama, while the nation was 50.4 to 48.0.

They are going to keep targeting Montgomery County

For those tired of political ads and campaigns, that’s a bad sign, because it means the national parties likely will continue to use Montgomery County as a proving ground.

Asked if that meant a very contentious 2016 election here, Scott said voters won’t have to wait.

“I would jump even farther — get ready in two years,” Scott said, predicting that Democrats would heavily target Gov. John Kasich in the 2014 governor’s race. “We’re going to be in full swing in a year and a half. … It’s going to be year-round campaigning every year now, and it’s not going to stop.”

Owens agreed that the county will continue to get heavy national attention because it is so balanced. While Hamilton County, home of Cincinnati, has been growing gradually more Democratic, Montgomery County has remained stable. Democrats have won each of the past four presidential races in the county, but with the exception of 2008, the margins have been 1, 2 or 3 percent.

Just like the nation, Montgomery County reaches its fairly balanced vote totals by adding up pockets of heavy Democratic support and pockets of Republican backing.

A total of 47 precincts – mostly in West Dayton and Trotwood – voted more than 90 percent for Obama. In one precinct, Dayton 14-D, Obama beat Romney 543-0, with five people voting for other candidates.

Romney, meanwhile, got at least 70 percent of the vote in 23 different precincts, scattered in a large C-shape in the southern, western and northern edges of the county. The Republican challenger’s biggest margin came in Jackson Twp. Precinct A, where 75.4 percent voted for Romney, and 22.9 percent voted for Obama.

Grant Neely, political science professor at the University of Dayton, said the county’s political diversity is caused both by its mix of communities and the tendency of people to live near people like themselves.

“Within our county … we have a lot of very rural areas and some fairly densely populated areas,” Neely said. “And we have some natural barriers and some longstanding divisions, such as the east-west Dayton division.”

And because commuting is comparatively easy around Dayton, people can take their pick of communities.

“We have a lot of folks who tend to choose to live in areas where people are like them,” Neely said, “where they have maybe the same set of values, at least in terms of political ideologies.”

Dayton precinct 14-D includes the Bella Vista neighborhood off Nicholas Road, and an older but well-kept neighborhood of single-family homes just northeast of the Gettysburg-Germantown intersection.

Dawn Cunningham, who lives in Bella Vista and said she’s working again after a six-year drought, said she almost voted for Romney because she doesn’t like Obama’s positions on abortion and same-sex marriage. But she wasn’t surprised that the area went overwhelmingly for Obama.

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. For myself, I don’t think (a 543-0 precinct) is too healthy,” Cunningham said. “People probably voted for Obama because he’s African-American. And we probably will never, ever get another African-American in office again, so I guess they wanted to give him his fair due. And maybe because he said that he’s for the people … whereas Romney seemed like he was aiming more toward the rich folks.”

Cynthia Campbell, who lives on the north side of Germantown, said she supports almost everything Obama stands for, but she added that she voted for Republican Mike Turner for Congress. She thinks both men work for the entire community.

“I’m praying that (the parties) do come together,” Campbell said. “It’s not Democrat-Republican. It’s all one. God only sees one.”

While Obama dominated the Dayton vote, Neely was not surprised that two-thirds of Romney’s top precincts were in townships, according to the analysis.

“It is the adage that people vote with their feet,” he said. “Well they’re voting with their feet to live in a place with maybe less government taxes, maybe less regulation on what they can do. Those are the folks we would kind of expect to be a little more Republican.”

Chase Holcomb, who lives in the Jackson Twp. precinct that voted most heavily for Romney, said there were multiple Obama signs on a residential street near his home, but that “it’s mostly Romney out in the country.” The precinct features residential areas just south and west of New Lebanon, some clusters of homes on large, rural lots, and plenty of farmland.

Holcomb, who works for a utility company, said he’s no fan of Obamacare or the president’s immigration policies, but said he’s not against all Democrats and added that the nation needs a strong political middleground.

Tim Blanton, a GM retiree farther west in Jackson Twp., backed Romney because of his leadership qualities. But Blanton doesn’t have high hopes that Republicans and Democrats will work together to solve the nation’s problems, calling Wednesday’s press conferences “a dog and pony show.”

“If they all don’t change, we’re just going to continue doing what we’ve been doing,” he said. “Getting a politician to change? Wow. The hope is really slim.”

Echoing Reagan, Trump pushes Congress to act swiftly on tax reform

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 10:05 PM

Pushing the House to take another step this week on the road to major tax reforms, President Donald Trump used an op-ed in USA Today to argue that GOP tax plans will “ignite America’s middle class miracle once again,” as he channeled former President Ronald Reagan, saying with “tax reform, we can make it morning in America again.”

“Revising our tax code is not just a policy discussion — it is a moral one, because we are not talking about the government’s money – we are talking about your money, your hard work,” the President wrote.

Mr. Trump meanwhile used a conference call with House Republicans on Sunday to make much the same argument – that now is the time for action on tax reform.

Here is where things stand on Capitol Hill when it comes to GOP plans to move legislation on tax reform.

1. The budget comes first for the GOP. Before they can focus solely on tax reform, Republicans must approve a non-binding budget outline for 2018, which would authorize expedited action on a tax bill – without the threat of a Senate filibuster. The Senate approved their plan last Thursday, and now the House seems ready to accept that this week, though the budget details are sure to give some GOP fiscal hawks some heartburn, as the plan would not ensure a balanced budget within ten years. But GOP leaders are basically telling rank and file Republicans that now is the time for tax reform, and that there is no use in getting caught up in a battle over budget cuts. Look for the House to vote later this week.

2. But ‘what if’ the House refuses to go along? If enough Republicans refuse to vote for the Senate-passed budget, then there would have to be formal House-Senate negotiations, which could take some time to hash out a deal on the budget resolution for 2018. That would obviously delay work on tax reform, and make it that much more difficult to swiftly get a tax bill moving on Capitol Hill. It seems unlikely that will happen, as more conservative lawmakers have been assured they will get votes on measures dealing with budget savings. But it is safe to say that the ‘normal’ Republican focus on budget deficits has melted away now that the GOP is in charge of the White House and Congress. Here is the sales pitch being made by the Republican Study Group, which says Speaker Paul Ryan has promised votes on some budget-related bills.

3. Let’s assume the House approves the budget – then what? If the House heeds the advice of President Trump, and votes for the Senate-passed budget outline this week, then the focus will shift to the tax-writing committees of the House and Senate – the House Ways and Means Committee, and the Senate Finance Committee, as they produce an actual tax reform bill. Remember – we don’t have a bill as yet from the White House – just some bullet points. In 1985, President Reagan sent Congress an actual 489 page bill as a starting point. President Trump’s bullet points are just a small piece of a much larger bill that is expected to be released by Republicans, as the scrums of reporters grow each day for key lawmakers, like Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

4. What’s the possible timing on tax reform? Ask veterans of Capitol Hill what they think about a GOP tax plan, and they cannot imagine it getting done this year (or even at all). But the White House and GOP leaders in Congress keep talking about doing it fast, maybe having a vote in the House before a Thanksgiving break, and a Senate vote in December. If we go back and look at the tax reform timeline in the Reagan Administration, it took a lot longer. The House Ways and Means Committee started work on a draft bill in late September 1985 – it took two months to finish. The deal almost fell apart in December, as the House voted to approve that plan just before Christmas. In the Senate, it took six months to get the bill out of committee and to a vote, in June 1986. In other words, Republicans think they can move at legislative warp speed compared to thirty one years ago in the Congress.

5. Remember, there are a lot of details involved. If you are going to do just tax cuts, that’s pretty straightforward. But if you are going to try to do sweeping tax reform – for both the individual and corporate sides – that is very complicated. Just look back at 1986, and you can see that bill is filled with rifle-shot provisions intended to help just one company or group. Back then, there was no way to get this out to the voters. But with the internet and social media, these types of provisions will get a lot of attention and scrutiny.

6. One more thought on timing – from 1986. As I write this on October 22, it is 31 years to the day that President Reagan signed the Tax Reform Act into law. But I clearly remembered the final agreement being struck in August – and the vote taking place soon after Labor Day. My memory was correct. So, why did it take another month for the President to sign the bill into law? For one, there were a number of errors in the final agreement, which needed to be fixed. So, on September 25, 1986, the House passed H. Con. Res. 395, to make “technical and clerical” corrections in the final bill. The Senate took that up a few weeks later, and made some changes, which were sent back to the House. The House made a few more changes. But no final resolution was agreed to, as the Congress adjourned for the year on October 18, 1986. So, four days later, the President signed the bill into law anyway. Want to do some more reading about what happened in 1986? Here you go:

And by the way, that explanation of the 1986 Tax Reform Act runs almost 1,400 pages. Happy reading!

Trump voting commission criticized for lack of transparency

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 5:43 PM
Updated: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 5:43 PM


            Trump voting commission criticized for lack of transparency. Getty image
Trump voting commission criticized for lack of transparency. Getty image

President Donald Trump’s advisory commission on election integrity has integrity questions of its own — with some of its own members raising concerns about its openness.

This past week, two members fired off letters to commission staff complaining about a lack of information about the panel’s agenda and demanding answers about its activities. That comes as Democratic U.S. senators are requesting a government investigation of the commission for ignoring formal requests from Congress.

The criticism from the commissioners was remarkable because it came from insiders — the very people who are supposed to be privy to its internal discussions and plans.

In a letter sent Oct. 17, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said it was clear he was not being made aware of information pertaining to the commission. He requested copies of all correspondence between commission members since Trump signed the executive order creating it in May.

“I am in a position where I feel compelled to inquire after the work of the commission upon which I am sworn to serve, and am yet completely uninformed as to its activities,” Dunlap wrote in his letter to Andrew Kossack, the commission’s executive director.

He said he had received no information about the commission’s research or activities since its last meeting, on Sept. 12. He also said he continued to receive media inquiries about commission developments “that I as a commissioner am blind to.”

A commissioner from Alabama, Jefferson County Probate Judge Alan L. King, said he sent a similar letter late last week. He said the only information he has received since the commission’s meeting more than a month ago was an email informing him of the death of a fellow commissioner, former Arkansas state lawmaker David Dunn.

“Here I am on this high-level government committee, and I don’t know when the next meetings are or how many meetings there will be,” he said in a telephone interview. “I am in the dark on what will happen from this point on, to tell you the truth.”

King and Dunlap are two of four Democrats on the 11-member commission.

Requests for comment sent to Kossack, the commission’s executive director, and the commission’s vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, were not returned.

J. Christian Adams, a commission member who was a Justice Department attorney under former President George W. Bush, said in an email that all commissioners were receiving the same information.

“Once upon a time election integrity was bipartisan,” Adams said in the email. “Apparently not all agree. That’s a shame.”

The commission has stirred controversy from the moment it was established last spring. Critics say Trump is using it to find support for his unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud that cost him the popular vote during the 2016 election. Democrat Hillary Clinton received 2.8 million more votes nationwide than Trump.

While there have been isolated cases of voter fraud in the U.S., there is no evidence of it being a widespread problem, as Trump suggests.

Critics argue the commission is stacked with people who favor voting restrictions, rather than those who want to expand access, and that the commission has a predetermined agenda that will result in recommendations making it more difficult for people to register to vote, stay registered and cast ballots.

Its first significant action was to request a wide range of information about all registered voters in every state, including partial Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and voting history. The commission scaled back its response after stinging criticism. A tally by Associated Press reporters nationwide shows that 15 states denied the request, raising questions about how useful the information will be.

In August, the AP filed a records request with the commission under the federal Freedom of Information Act. The law specifies that agencies — including presidential commissions — have 20 business days to respond or 10 calendar days if the request was filed on an expedited basis, as the AP’s was. To date, the AP has received no response from the commission despite multiple attempts to get one.

The commission’s secrecy prompted a lawsuit by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which alleges the commission is violating federal open meetings and disclosure laws.

The group’s executive director, Kristen Clarke, said she was hard-pressed to think of another commission that had acted in such secrecy.

“We have found that, in every respect, this commission has been carrying out its activities in an almost covert fashion,” she said.

The lack of openness even applies to members of Congress.

Democratic senators have filed at least five separate requests for information with the commission since June, and a Sept. 12 follow-up letter noted that none of those had received a response.

“The Commission has not responded to a single letter from Senators with oversight jurisdiction over the Commission and continues to be rebuked for its questionable activities,” said the letter by Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

Last week, a group of three Democratic senators wrote the Government Accountability Office seeking an investigation into the commission because of its lack responsiveness and transparency. The letter signed by Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Klobuchar cited a lack of transparency on the commission and concern that its conclusions would diminish confidence in the democratic process.

“It is incredible that they are not responding to any of this stuff, and that’s why it’s appropriate for GAO to take a look,” Bennet said in an interview.

A job for voters – get yourself ready for the details of tax reform

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 5:50 PM

As the Congress gets moving in coming weeks on the first serious effort at tax reform since the mid-1980’s, it is important for the folks back home to remember one thing – while the focus for many Americans will be on the individual tax rates and changes that impact every day taxpayers, this package is likely to be about so much more than just that, as a look back at the big tax bills of the Reagan Administration so easily demonstrates.

“I will tell you, our country needs tax cuts,” the President said in recent days, making the case that tax reform will spur economic growth in the United States.

“We’re fighting for lower taxes, big tax cuts, the biggest tax cuts in the history of our nation. We’re fighting for tax reform, as part of that,” Mr. Trump said.

And so, the voters have a bit of a homework assignment, because tax reform is about a lot more than just cutting the tax rate that Joe Six Pack and his wife pay to Uncle Sam.

The 1980’s were an active time for the House Ways and Means Committee, and the Senate Finance Committee – those are the panels in charge of writing tax measures in the Congress.

During the Reagan Administration, we had three major tax bills become law:

+ The Reagan tax cuts of 1981, the “Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981.”

+ The next year, there was a major bill to increase taxes, the “Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982.”

+ Then, both parties came together for major changes to the Internal Revenue Code with the 1986 Tax Reform Act.

If you look at the 1986 Act, it starts with something that may end up being a prime focus in 2017:

Sec. 101. Rate Reductions
Sec. 102. Increase in standard deduction

But there is so much more that is involved in that 879 page bill, just as there was so much more than individual matters in the 1981 and 1982 tax bills.

The 1986 bill had provisions on capital gains, real estate, business tax credits, investment tax credit, depreciation, energy, agriculture, limits on certain tax shelters, provisions affecting life insurance, pensions, foreign tax provisions, and on, and on, and on.

Lots of people have told me in recent years of how lawmakers should “read the bill.”

Well, the last three big tax measures from the 1980’s are all linked on this page.

Read the bills.

And start realizing just how complicated this can be on tax reform.

North Carolina politician sparks controversy with tweet comparing Trump to Hitler

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 12:45 PM

Charlotte councilwoman LaWana Mayfield posted a controversial tweet.
WSOCTV.com
Charlotte councilwoman LaWana Mayfield posted a controversial tweet.(WSOCTV.com)

A Charlotte city councilwoman is under scrutiny for a controversial tweet she posted comparing President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.

Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield posted the tweet Friday morning, which reads in part: “For All who read about Hitler you are Now Living how he reigned in #45."

WSOC spoke with members of the community for reactions to Mayfield’s statement.

"I don't think it's appropriate,” Charlotte resident Ulga Mazets said. 

Mazets is from eastern Europe and said her family was impacted by Hitler’s reign.

“My grandfather was in (a) concentration camp, so I feel it's a very harsh comparison,” she said.

>> Read more trending news

Others felt the comparison was inappropriate but said Mayfield had the right to make it.

“Everybody got their own opinion,” a Charlotte resident said.

Earlier this year, one of Mayfield’s fellow council members, Dimple Ajmera, landed in hot water when she said Trump supporters have no place leading Charlotte government.

[READ MORE: Councilwoman receives death threats following Trump comments]

Ironically, Mayfield just called for an investigation into a Charlotte Housing Authority worker who allegedly posted a tweet on Facebook applauding the death of Keith Lamont Scott, who was shot by police during an incident that sparked a nationwide debate.

University of North Carolina - Charlotte professor Anita Blanchard said these types of comments on social media are becoming more common.

She said leaders and those who use social media platforms should learn to be more media savvy.

“Finding a way to say something that’s not rude that still gets your point across,” she said.

Mayfield didn’t immediately respond to Channel 9’s calls about the tweet, but she tweeted again Friday afternoon saying, “I wish the media would question #45 about why we were in Niger.”

Mayfield is up for re-election. Her Republican opponent Daniel Herrera sent WSOC the following statement:

"I have heard of my opponent's divisive, and inflammatory tweet of political rhetoric comparing the President of the United States to Hitler, pure evil and everything President Trump and I stand to oppose. 

While LaWana Mayfield only wishes to divide our community by using the power of fear to distract from her failures. I stand to change and unite District Three. I will move us forward with policies that support safer streets that allow mail to be delivered and not canceled because of street violence. I have a real plan to promote affordable housing rather than subsidized soccer stadiums that only support the developers who own her vote. I will always represent my faith and never write a policy like her devastating bathroom bill, the one she spearheaded and forced upon our Queen City and which brought so much distrain to our community.

Shame on Mayfield for her continuation of divisive political tactics. Shame on her for disrespecting the over 400,000 Defenders of Freedom who fell beneath our flag to defeat Hitler." 

Mayfield's statement in response to the backlash:

"The Constitutional right of "Free Speech" is a precious and uniquely beloved gift among Americans. With this gift of free speech comes great responsibility. To some, I did not express that responsibly within the limited characters of my earlier tweet. I apologize for the brevity of my statement due to being limited to 140 characters. Many times, we cannot fully express intent or emotion through this limited platform."

"I do not want to diminish the heinous treatment and genocide that our Jewish brothers and sisters experienced at the hands of this dictator nor do I want to further create a dialogue that does not focus on the facts at hand."

"Today, we read about history as a story in a book and sometimes disassociate from the realities of lives impacted. Our communities must unite and realize that at this intersectionality of both conservative and liberal, white and people of color, gay or straight, young and seniors, these variances and diverse populations have strength when they unite in one voice."

"My anger and passion when tweeting was directed to those that continue to make excuses for a man who is leading our Nation in a divisive direction. His policies, the creation of the 'Birther movement,' executive orders and continual mistreatment of marginalized communities has quickly eroded the landscape of civility and civil discourse in our society. 

"I value the diversity of my community, work to be inclusive and give voice to those that are not at the table and bring equity to this city that I love.""While my words chosen have offended some, my intent was to bring attention to the continued crisis that we face each day while this president is leading us. My post angered some and I stay in a state of anger every day I watch the news and this like many posts was shared to shine a light on hypocrisy and the discourse rising in our nation."