May 21, 2021
Grover Norquist famously pined for “government so small it could be drowned in a bathtub." One of his strategies for government incapable of providing vital services is to implement a flat income tax. Arizona Republicans are now seriously considering this nightmare for our state without holding any public debate or impact hearings.
The flat tax is being sold to uninformed and unsuspecting voters as being both fair and simple. In truth, however, this malicious plan is unfair to working and vulnerable families and is quite simply a fiscal disaster. The flat tax has a history we can easily fact-check. Kansas implemented it and quickly became mired in red ink and cutbacks to public safety and health services — Arizona should not follow that path.
An analysis by the non-partisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy concludes the top 20% of taxpayers will receive 90% of the benefit. Arizona cities would lose an estimated $225M in annual revenue, resulting in cuts to services across the board. Statewide rollbacks would likely impact public education, first responders and infrastructure modernization. This could actually lead to defunding the police!
2020 proved that big problems need big solutions.
Kneecapping the state’s ability to properly serve its citizens is not only shortsighted, it’s dangerous. Arizona needs to attract people and business investment with a renewed infrastructure and quality education, not a Trojan Horse tax plan that bankrupts and drowns the state and cities.
Tell your state legislators to drop any consideration of the flat income tax plan that has been proven to be a complete failure!
Finally, the truth is out in public. Arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court, Arizona’s GOP lawyer Michael Carvin admitted that the state’s election laws being challenged had nothing to do with ballot security and everything to do with helping Republicans win elections. That’s right, when questioned by SCOTUS justices, Carvin coughed up the truth. Carvin also came clean on the fact that people of color would be disproportionately impacted by a favorable SCOTUS ruling.
Now, I’m hoping all the GOP legislators, cable news pundits and newspaper editors stop spreading the “big lie” and just come to terms with the fact that America is seeing a new version of a Jim Crow era. Election security was never stronger than in 2020. As the pandemic brought about easier and more convenient voting options, more people voted and no state found any significant errors or fraud. Nonetheless, the GOP is pushing ahead with draconian voter suppression laws across America. Black voters in Detroit, Philadelphia and Atlanta are being especially targeted.
The GOP is putting families at risk. Their answer to everything is “No”! Science and facts have lost any meaning to the GOP. They continue to foment discord by promoting conspiracy theories. Their solution to election loss is limiting access to voting.
Democrats in Congress and Phoenix are looking for ways to help working families thrive. They’re sponsoring legislation intended to protect and expand the democratic American franchise. They’re finding new ways to make government, at all levels, be more responsive, fact based and able to meet the health, justice, infrastructure and economic needs of all Americans.
The difference between the parties is stark. America’s path forward is now at a crossroads — which direction will you choose?
Anyone who’s been paying attention to political news in Arizona knows that the state GOP has censured several prominent Republicans for actions they consider to be beyond reasonable. If you missed the headlines coming out of last week’s GOP committee meeting, you need to be updated.
One would expect that with mounting evidence of planning, coordinating, inciting and encouraging the Jan. 6 seditious insurrection in D.C., the censures would be aimed at LD11’s Mark Finchem, CD5’s Andy Biggs and CD4’s Paul Gosar. After all, hasn’t the GOP always stood for patriotism and protecting the Constitution “against all enemies foreign and domestic”? Well, we now know that is no longer the case.
The newly approved GOP censures were instead meant to target those who won’t follow party Chairwoman Kelli Ward’s call to die for Trump. Jeff Flake, Cindy McCain and Doug Ducey were not allowed to stray from the cult-like rigidity of loyalty to Trump over country.
The entire Arizona GOP is heading toward extreme radicalization. Arizona’s legislative majority is pushing to purge voters, implementing a “poll tax” (vote by mail notary requirement) and charging women and providers of legal abortions with murder.
Arizona is facing some real problems. Families are hurting and living in fear of not being able to survive. Small businesses are dying. Owners of private charter schools are ripping us off. Yet the majority party in Arizona seems to believe ideological purity is more important. I think it’s time for voters to make our priorities known to our state representatives — we need to get their attention and make sure they’re working for us — all of us!
Chair Emeritus, Democrats of Casa Grande
The Party of Trump, aka GOP, has taken their ridiculous ranting well beyond mere sour grapes at having been soundly defeated at the polls. They’re willing to undermine the only underpinning a democracy has — voter confidence in the elective process.
LD11’s state Rep. Mark Finchem is joining the Trump circus car of misfits as they claim election fraud in front of TV cameras but produce no evidence in courts of law. Finchem holds non-official “hearings” intended to publicize the lies of fools. Yelling and screaming about nonexistent irregularities with no documentation is being eviscerated by judges but probably playing well with a base of naive voters. The net result is a denigration of American democracy.
The AZ GOP has taken another step toward weakening election integrity by naming newly elected state Rep. Jake Hoffman, R-LD12, as the vice chair of the Government and Elections Committee. Hoffman has been outed as his Rally Forge digital marketing firm helped set up fake personas used to spread false election and COVID-19 information on social media. This elected official helps disseminate lies to voters and the GOP rewards him with a leadership position overseeing Arizona elections.
As we watch with dismay a defeated but spiteful and vindictive president spew false election claims, the AZ GOP is actively co-signing the worst of it. Never in our history have we witnessed a political party willing to burn down democracy because they’re unhappy with election results. In 2016 Democrats were unhappy but never took steps to undermine the will of voters. The ensuing investigations into foreign election interference never called into question any votes actually cast. Despite razor thin margins, Hillary Clinton put country first and conceded. 2020 is a whole new chapter in what may eventually be the undoing of American democracy. How will history judge us?
As Harry Carey used to say, “Holy Cow!” The 2020 election season has only one week left — seems like it’s been going on for five years! Since so many Arizonans vote early or by mail, most of the ballots are in already, so it’s too late to do much persuasion. I just wanted to commend all of our Democratic candidates for working as hard as they could under the toughest of circumstances. Especially our Pinal County candidates who participated in every town hall meeting and debate; the values and policies of the Democratic Party were well represented. Democrats offered pragmatic solutions to the problems facing our nation, our state and our county!
Additionally, our volunteers were engaged, inspired and tireless as they worked for months on end to carry our message of hope to Arizona’s working, retired and neediest families. We were on Zoom meetings, honking our horns in car rallies, writing postcards, dropping literature at doors, pounding signs into the ground and making phone calls — we left no task undone! We as Democrats are proud of our party and our candidates. During these extremely troubled times in America, we stand as the party of inclusion, offering an honest and data driven approach to problem solving. Whether you voted with us or not, we care about each and every one of you and will never stop working to make America better for us all!
The Arizona Republic reported the results of a couple of polls taken recently in Arizona. The phone surveys asked registered voters to identify their top issues in 2020. Surprisingly, some 71% identified climate change as their No. 1 concern. Coming in second was funding for public education followed by access to affordable quality health care.
I said surprisingly because the Arizona Republican Party believes the only Arizona issue is how low your taxes are. Arizona is controlled by a political party that can’t even name any of the actual top three issues. This disconnect becomes very clear when you take a close look at the GOP’s dismal record on these crucial issues.
The GOP members of the state Legislature to a person are science deniers. They’ve never come close to fully funding public education — the results make headlines: teacher shortages and decrepit infrastructure keeping Arizona among the lowest rated systems in the nation. The GOP continues to push for an end to the law that provides basic affordable health coverage for millions as well as protections for those with pre-existing conditions. They have never once offered a plan that actually works.
In 2020, we have a chance to make a real and significant difference by electing state senators and representatives that agree with Arizonans on what’s really important. We can choose to elect people who care about working families. It’s time we chose problem solvers over uncaring career politicians.
In LD8 we need to elect Barbara McGuire to the state Senate and Sharon Girard to the state House. In LD11 we need to elect JoAnna Mendoza to the state Senate and Dr. Felipe Perez to the state House. By electing these highly qualified and committed candidates to our state capital, we will begin to work on the issues that really matter in people's lives.
LD11 Rep. Mark Finchem claims to have no knowledge of the existence of any “radical right wing” organizations. (Guest column July 23) That’s quite a statement from someone with a rich history of personal involvement in several such groups. Then again, LD11 voters have never been able to count on Finchem’s honesty.
In 2016, Finchem was among an outspoken group defending the Bundy family’s armed takeover of a national wildlife refuge in Nevada. Their group’s intent was to use violent means to avoid paying their legally owed fees for cattle grazing rights on federal land. Finchem’s action was admonished by a county judge as emboldening an illegal standoff. You might recall that two years later, the Bundys were involved in another violent standoff that resulted in a death.
Finchem has joined white supremacists in calling the Charlottesville terrorist attack a “deep state” plot. He’s been associated with a far-right militia group, Oath Keepers. They’re known for sending heavily armed men to political hot zones, like Cliven Bundy's ranch and Ferguson, Missouri. He has also introduced legislation that would allow Arizona to subvert U.S. Supreme Court rulings and transfer federal land into state management. These are merely a few examples of Finchem’s extremist views and actions.
All three of LD11’s current state legislators have sought to undermine Arizona mayors and voters in jurisdictions outside of their district. They treat constituent questions like interruptions. Sen. Leach is either sarcastic or busy posting racially charged cartoons. Rep. Roberts refers voters to his social media postings rather than providing answers. Rep. Finchem uses Facebook postings to directly attack constituents by name.
LD11 voters deserve legislators who are concerned with solving the complex issues facing Arizona’s families. 2020 is the time to vote these bums out and make a fresh start.
Most effective leaders are consensus builders. They’re adept at getting people together to solve mutual problems. Those leaders tend to bring out the very best in others, as they encourage cooperation and trust. They usually find the best solutions because they invite ideas from across a wide spectrum of experiences and backgrounds. Unfortunately, this does not describe the current president of the United States.
Nearly everything Donald Trump does and says alienates more than half of the American public. He has a knack for making every policy decision or public statement about loyalty to him personally or becoming his enemy. As a result, we find an America so starkly divided that solutions built with consensus are now impossible. He’s made everything contingent on his sole authority.
The latest in an infinitely long list of issues revolves around face masks. While virtually every medical/scientific expert tells us face masks save lives, Trump has turned this into a political beachhead. The CDC says some 30,000 fewer Americans will die if we wear them — Trump uses ridicule and intimidation, forcing his loyalists to shun them. Trump has equated face masks to weakness and a statement that his administration is a failure. Trump’s COVID mantra has become: Die for the Dow — it’s all about his reelection.
Imagine highways without mandatory enforcement of seat belts or children’s car seats, homes with paint containing lead and asbestos or food processing and packaging with no FDA. Society has to place lifesaving restrictions on itself or we all suffer. It’s not what Congressman Andy Biggs calls “tyrannical,” but merely good governance.
We’re facing some big problems: immigration, racial injustice, overdue policing reforms and a surging pandemic. America desperately needs a consensus builder. America needs leadership based on our common good, not narcissistic whims.
A letter and story in Tuesday’s Dispatch caught my attention. One titled “LD11 reps are abusing power” called out state legislators for political overreaching while not taking care of real problems in their own communities. The second was “Lawmakers want to make it tougher for workers to sue over COVID-19." While they may seem to be taking up separate issues, they’re actually very closely related.
The single point is that Arizona’s GOP legislative majority is failing the common, everyday, clock-punching, lunch-bag-toting worker. Hey, of course businesses have been hurt terribly by the virus shutdown — our country is lawsuit crazy — you’ll get no argument from me on either. Yet, the Legislature is focusing all its attention on businesses while ignoring the hardships and health risks of workers.
If businesses get protected from lawsuits, shouldn’t workers be guaranteed they’re returning to a safe and healthy, pre-inspected environment? If workers can’t sue for negligence, shouldn’t there at least be a whistleblower mechanism in place when the employers fail to meet sanitizing safety standards? If the state’s going to protect owners, why won’t they protect workers by mandating pre-return COVID testing and additional followup testing at regular intervals — paid for by the state?
Everyone has been impacted by COVID-19 infection and/or the economic shutdown. Every segment of our community has suffered — some much more than others. But if, as our political leaders frequently say, “We’re all in this together," then we need to come out of this all together. We need to help business owners, employees and customers get through this all together. We need elected representatives who understand what “all together” really means!
Those of us old enough to remember the very first Earth Day in 1970 recall a much differentenvironment. Back then, gasoline and paint still had hazardous levels of lead, Lake Erie actually caught on fire due to pollution, most American rivers were void of fish and the skies above many cities were blanketed in unbreathable smoke.
We have, indeed, come a long way since then. Hard work by scientists partnering with citizen commitment has paid dividends. Our lakes and rivers, our roadways, our skies and our lives are cleaner and healthier. At this time, however, we might want to take a cautionary look at what’s happened in the past three years to put all those gains at risk.
Since 2017, Trump has not only pulled us out of the Paris Climate Accord, he has publicly, jealously and foolishly tried to humiliate Greta Thunberg — the teenage face of saving Planet Earth. While these acts have gotten a lot of attention, they are merely the tip of a very de- structive iceberg.
Here is but a short list of the environmental protections weakened by the Trump administration: Endangered Species Act, auto emission standards, coal debris and residue allowed in our waterways, levels of mercury and heavy metals emitted into the atmosphere.
A fragile environment barely making a comeback that took 50 years can be pushed to dangerous levels in the blink of an eye. If we continue on the current trajectory, four more years would be devastating! Please stay alert and engaged; together we can continue to strive to keep our Planet Earth a safe and happy home for generations to come!
The Democrats of Casa Grande will have a special 50-year anniversary of Earth Day newsletter issue available on our website; check it out: www.DemsOfCasaGrande.org.