Republicans eye new front in education wars: Making school board races partisan

“Republicans across America are pressing local jurisdictions and state lawmakers to make typically sleepy school board races into politicized, partisan elections in an attempt to gain more statewide control and swing them to victory in the 2022 midterms.

Tennessee lawmakers in October approved a measure that allows school board candidates to list their party affiliation on the ballot. Arizona and Missouri legislators are weighing similar proposals. And GOP lawmakers in Florida will push a measure in an upcoming legislative session that would pave the way for partisan school board races statewide, potentially creating new primary elections that could further inflame the debate about how to teach kids.

The issue is about to spread to other states: The center-right American Enterprise Institute is urging conservatives to “strongly consider” allowing partisan affiliations to appear on ballots next to school board candidates’ names, as part of broader efforts to boost voter turnout for the contests. A coalition of conservative leaders — including representatives of Heritage Foundation, Manhattan Institute and Kenneth Marcus, the Education Department civil rights chief under former Secretary Betsy DeVos — have separately called for on-cycle school board elections as part of sweeping efforts to “end critical race theory in schools.”

In Florida, school boards are among the last elected officials who blocked policies of Gov. Ron DeSantis. If Republicans succeed in pushing the state to strip school board elections of their nonpartisan status and gain more representation on school boards, they could break the last holdouts who regularly defy the governor.”

“Making school board races partisan could make an already heated political landscape even more contentious”

““I do think party labels would produce more informed voters,” West said. “But, at the same time, it would likely accelerate emerging trend of nationalization of local education politics.””

Why Republicans Need a Childcare Proposal of Their Own

“Child care costs exceed those of a mortgage or college in many states. Access to affordable child care is one of the biggest barriers to women’s work, and there’s increasing evidence that the cost of raising children is a barrier to having more kids as well, according to a New York Times survey. Low quality early childhood care situations have lifetime ramifications for children, including worsened health and economic trajectories and an increased likelihood of needing future government assistance.”

“The evidence of improved outcomes for children from universal preschool and universal child care is mixed at best. The preponderance of evidence shows the largest gains for at-risk kids and unclear results for everyone else, and state-based programs haven’t been around long enough to suss out long-term effects.
Moreover, providing generous subsidies to nearly all American families, irrespective of need, will make child care more expensive by increasing demand, which will necessitate larger subsidies over time. This is a recipe for spiraling costs; look no further than our experiments in health care or college to see how quickly costs inflate when the government makes something “affordable.” Exacerbating these dynamics, the administration’s proposal will also constrain child care supply by mandating higher wages and skill levels from providers who already have thin margins as well as potentially limiting religious providers. Faith leaders across religions (Catholic, Muslim, Christian and Jewish) have expressed concern that their ability to continue to provide care will be negatively impacted by BBB. Those providers make up a huge portion of child care providers: A Bipartisan Policy Center poll from last year found that 31 percent of working-parent households used center-based care, and over half, or 53 percent, of these families used one that was affiliated with a faith organization.

To be sure, most parents will be shielded from the effects of rising costs because of the generous subsidies they are receiving, making the policy seem like a win-win on the surface, though they might be affected by the reduced choice providers. But nothing is free. Taxes on the rich and corporations can only go so far, and at some point that money will also need to go toward the historic debt we’ve accumulated. Estimates from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and Moody’s suggest that the BBB child care provisions alone will cost nearly $1 trillion over 10 years once fully implemented, far exceeding the money to be provided by the tax increases that Democrats have proposed to fund the legislation. The people likely to pay for BBB and the runaway spending in Washington are the very children whom such policies are supposed to benefit.

Policymakers can do better. Republicans should up the ante on what Democrats have proposed with an alternative child care proposal — one that is more targeted, sustainable and also more transformative — by providing greater support and choice to parents.”

Why Republican Support For Peaceful Racial Justice Protests Was Short-Lived

“A poll conducted at the height of the protests last summer found that Republicans were 44 points more likely than Democrats (67 to 23 percent, respectively) to say that the protests were primarily motivated by long-standing biases against the police, whereas 66 percent of Democrats versus 22 percent of Republicans said the protests were motivated by a genuine desire to hold police accountable. The same poll found an even greater partisan divide in views about racial biases in the criminal justice system, with 90 percent of people who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 saying the criminal justice system treats white people better than Black people, compared to just 25 percent of Trump’s 2016 voters.
When such a sizable majority of the party rejects evidence that racial biases exist in the first place, it was always going to be tough to sustain Republicans’ support of peaceful racial justice protests. Protests of pervasive anti-Black biases in the criminal justice system simply don’t fit in a party that views racial discrimination against white people as a bigger problem than the unfair treatment of racial and ethnic minorities in American society.”

“the 29-percentage-point drop in Trump voters’ net approval of the peaceful protests from June 2020 to November 2021 was accompanied by an identical increase in the share of Trump voters who strongly disapproved. In four YouGov/Economist polls conducted last month, an average of 49 percent of Trump voters strongly disapproved of nonviolent protests in response to the deaths of Black Americans — a 29-point increase from the average of a similarly worded question that appeared in two June 2020 YouGov/Economist polls.”

Terry McAuliffe Bet on Voters Hating Trump. Turns Out They Dislike Democrats More.

“many progressives still seem reluctant to engage in any sort of deeper introspection into why they may have alienated former members of their base. Many prefer to cling to the concept of “asymmetric polarization” that blames the widening split solely on conservatives because Republicans have moved farther to the right than Democrats have to the left.

But that view was challenged earlier this year by Kevin Drum, who cited studies showing that, in fact, it had been Democrats who had drifted to the left on issues like immigration, guns, religion and gay marriage.

It is not “both-sides-ism” to point this out. Like others, I have written hundreds of thousands of words about how the Republicans have not only moved hard to the right, but have also gone mad in the process. So this does not suggest any sort of moral equivalence.

The derangement of the GOP, however, has tended to obscure what happened on the left, where elite Democrats have increasingly lost touch with many of the voters who will determine the outcome of the next few elections.

At soccer matches and PTA meetings, or other gatherings of suburban parents, you won’t hear talk of “intersectionality,” or debates about the proper use of pronouns. The words “autocracy” or “authoritarianism” seldom come up; and if you try to define the terms, it’s as likely as not that people will bring up mask and vaccine mandates, cancel culture and what they see as the overreach of the progressive nanny state. References to “white supremacy” are likely to be greeted or with eye rolls or treated as conversation-ending insults.

At times, it seems as if Democrats are speaking a different language than many Americans.”

Biden heads into international climate negotiations with a weak hand

“The US has a singular responsibility to lead: It is second in global climate pollution after China, but far and away responsible for the largest share of cumulative emissions. Since 1850, the US has released a fifth of all carbon emissions, far ahead of every other country, according to an analysis by the research group Carbon Brief.

But US political polarization remains one of the biggest obstacles to global action. The US has never come to an international conference with a comprehensive climate agenda backed by Congress, mostly because Republican lawmakers have refused to negotiate on a serious action plan. So Democrats have banked on passing Biden’s climate plans in the Build Back Better agenda with a simple Senate majority. Their bet on reconciliation has put a good portion of Biden’s climate agenda in the hands of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who is personally invested in the coal industry.

Biden brings a mixed bag of promises to Glasgow. The administration does not have a signed, final law from Congress that backs up his words with billions of dollars in funding. What he has are ambitious promises of slashing pollution in half by 2030, quadrupling international aid, and helping countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. Most of that will depend on Congress following through, and a successful regulatory agenda that survives Supreme Court scrutiny.”

Georgia Republicans didn’t waste any time in using their new voter suppression law

“In March, Georgia Republicans passed SB 202, a sweeping new election law that erects obstacles between Georgia voters and their right to cast a ballot. While some are relatively minor or even popular, the most ominous provisions of this new law allow the state election board, which is dominated by Republicans, to seize control of county election boards. Those boards can disqualify voters, move polling precincts, and potentially even refuse to certify an election count.”

“letters from Republican lawmakers are the first step in the legal process Republicans may use to take over elections in Fulton County, the most populous county in the state, which encompasses most of Atlanta. In 2020, nearly 73 percent of Fulton County voters cast a ballot for President Joe Biden. Biden won the county by nearly a quarter-million votes, enough to push him ahead of former President Donald Trump in a state decided by 11,779 votes overall.

Both letters ask the state elections board to begin a “performance review” of the local officials who oversee elections in Fulton County. The senators claim that such a review is justified because “nearly 200 ballots were scanned twice last fall” during the initial vote count in Fulton — a claim that was previously featured on Tucker Carlson’s show.

The reality is much more nuanced, and it suggests that the state’s existing systems worked exactly as they were supposed to work. Although nearly 200 ballots were double-counted during the first count of Fulton County’s ballots, Georgia conducted both a machine recount and a hand recount of all its ballots, given how close the statewide result was. And there’s no evidence that any ballots were counted twice in the final tallies that showed Biden ahead of Trump.

It appears likely that a poll worker in Fulton County made a minor clerical error, and this error was corrected in the subsequent recounts.

Nevertheless, it is probably inevitable that the GOP-controlled state elections board will open an investigation into Fulton County. And once this investigation concludes, the state board can use it as a pretext to remove Fulton County’s local elections board and replace it with a temporary superintendent who can undermine voting within that county.”

“The outcome of Georgia’s 2022 statewide elections, in other words, may not be determined by the state’s voters. It could hinge on a sham investigation into Fulton County’s election administration — and by a partisan board’s subsequent decision to place a partisan official in charge of counting most of the votes in Atlanta.”

Dems dig in on debt as painful September looms

“Republicans raised the debt ceiling with minimal drama under Donald Trump. Now Democrats are prepared to make them publicly refuse to do the same for Joe Biden.

Senate Republicans are digging in deeper and deeper in their resistance to raising the nation’s borrowing limit, with 46 of them vowing to oppose an increase this fall that will need at least 10 Republican votes. Yet Democrats still plan to burn their most expedient ticket out of the debt mess, with no intention to shift course and pass an increase along party lines.

Their move to pass a budget resolution without tackling the debt ceiling, completed last week, adds a perilous deadline to Democrats’ season full of lofty promises on infrastructure and social spending. It’s not only the majority party facing a fall challenge, however: Republicans will have to actually block a debt ceiling increase instead of just talking about it.

The borrowing fight is perhaps the most immediately consequential drama during a momentous fall for Biden and the Democratic agenda. In addition to raising the debt ceiling, Democrats must fund the government past Sept. 30, devise a likely multitrillion-dollar spending bill and put Biden’s infrastructure bill over the top in the House. Democrats will also make one last-gasp effort at passing voting rights legislation.”