Tenants Are Front and Center in Presidential Race

Milwaukee       A funny thing happened on the way to the 2020 presidential primaries in the long shadow of the Great Recession of 2007:  Democrats are finally discovering the tenants living right under their noses, and the fact that the American dream is no longer home ownership, it’s affordable housing.  One candidate after another, elbowing to get to the top of the heap is advocating some kind of plan to address the soaring housing costs in cities around the country.

The latest in the new Tenant Sweepstakes is Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey who has now announced his plan.  It has a big price tag and a huge footprint.  His campaign claims his plan, if implemented, would benefit 57 million Americans including 17 million children.  The central objective, importantly is family-based, rather than developer centered.  Booker’s plan would create an entitlement so that a family’s rental costs would be capped at no more than 30% of their income and make up the difference between that number and fair market rent in the family’s neighborhood.  Booker’s plan would involve an income transfer through a tax credit.  It’s pricey. Reporting in the New York Times offered further details, saying,

“There would not be an income cap limiting who could qualify, according to the campaign, which said the median participating family would receive $4,800 per year. His campaign estimated the program would cost $134 billion annually. It did not propose specifically how to pay for the plan beyond rolling back changes to the estate tax made by President Trump, which it said would raise about $25 billion annually. The remainder, the campaign said, would come from restoring various taxes that were cut in the Republican-led tax overhaul from 2017.”

Now, let’s agree, this is a bold and exciting plan on a number of levels, regardless of the fact that Booker is sitting at 2% in the polls and is carrying huge, almost disqualifying baggage from his courtship with billionaires and Wall Street over the years and the charter school and Facebook debacle in Newark while he was mayor.  I also don’t want to get in the weeds with speculation about whether calculating the spread between 30% of income and the family’s neighborhood would subsidize a family’s residence in a lower income neighborhood and not impact gentrification and exacerbate segregation. The campaign estimates that the median benefit would be $4800 per year, but that certainly wouldn’t allow a family, following Booker’s own personal narrative, to move into a gentrified area with good schools and opportunity to increase their tax credit.  I can just imagine the outcry from existing communities about families moving to their areas to expand their tax credits.  They would be changing the name of that website to NOT Next Door!

The exciting thing has to be that the door is opening for tenants and affordable housing to be at the center of a political campaign waged against an upscale condo developer now living in public housing in the White House.  I like that contrast.  Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren also have housing proposals of interest, and with Booker putting his bet on the table, we can bet the others are going to have to match that ante as well, so the odds of something happening increases, if any of them are able to beat Trump’s current lease on the presidency.

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Please enjoy Ohio by Cherry Glazerr.

Thanks to KABF.

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Hillary for President is Fake News

New Orleans    Just when Halloween was over, we have to live through another ghost story.  As a distraction, some publicity hounds are drooling over speculation that Hillary Clinton could run for President in 2020, and even more improbably, would win the nomination.  This is what happens when too many people start watching movie and television shows about zombies, because if this were anything other than fake news, this would be the zombie campaign of all time.

A cartoon ran in my local paper.  In the top left of the panel was a newspaper with the headline, “Will Hillary Run Again?”  A lamp and chair were turned over.  So was an end table.  There was an outline of a donkey that had jumped through the wall in horror.  The cartoonist, Walt Handelsman with The Advocate, had perfectly captured the screaming madness of such a candidacy.

Frankly, it’s an insult to Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton.  They know how to count.  Bill Clinton was invisible on the campaign trail for the midterms, except for some private fundraisers for people like Mike Espy, a former Congressman and Secretary of Agriculture in his administration, who is now in a runoff for US Senate in Mississippi.  Hillary Clinton was also virtually nowhere to be seen.  Donna Shalala, the Clinton’s former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and more recently a college president, upset a Republican congressman from the Miami area with 52% of the vote, and now finds herself part of the incoming congressional delegation.  Certainly, the Clintons were around that campaign, as they undoubtedly should have been.  So what?

Yes, they are booked on some kind of two-for-one tour next year.  As Hillary famously has said, they have to make money.  It’s what celebrities do.  It’s not what politicians running for higher office do.  My advice?  Either get over it, or buy a ticket and go see the show.

None of that says that they are now inhaling.  There is no way they see a path for another run at the White House.  These are professional politicians.  They talk to donors.  They take polls.  They know people.  They read the news.  They know the long list of contenders and pretenders for the Demo-nomination doesn’t mean “me too” for Hillary.

Zombies aren’t real.

Hillary is not running for president.  She knows better, and so does Bill.

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Please enjoy Glenn Campbell’s Easy Come Easy Go.

Thanks to KABF.

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