Daily Archives: February 1, 2010

NJPP Monday Minute: 2/1/10 High tech investments yield solid returns

“I’m tired of New Jersey getting its lunch eaten by other states, particularly by Pennsylvania,” is a sentiment often expressed by some New Jerseyans when discussing the possibility that New Jersey businesses are moving to Pennsylvania. How true is the rhetoric? Are New Jersey companies and jobs really being lost to Pennsylvania because of the Keystone State’s low taxes and more lucrative job subsidies (a common misconception)?

The answer is no, according to a recent study by Good Jobs First, a national policy research center that promotes accountability in economic development and smart growth. The report, “Growing Pennsylvania’s High-Tech Economy: Choosing Effective Investments”, focused on the competition for high-tech jobs between Pennsylvania and its neighboring states and uncovered provocative findings. For example:

  • Pennsylvania’s tax rates when compared to those of neighboring states were not always lower. This challenges the oft-repeated mantra that Pennsylvania is always a lower tax state than New Jersey. In fact, Pennsylvania’s 9.99% corporate tax rate is higher than New Jersey’s top corporate rate of 9% – disputing the notion that Pennsylvania has rock-bottom tax rates as many in New Jersey argue.
  • High-tech job creation and loss is overwhelmingly driven by events inside Pennsylvania, not by interstate relocations. From 1990-2006, the study found that Pennsylvania’s interstate in-migration or out-migration of high-tech jobs was dwarfed by the impact of company startups, closings, expansions and contractions within Pennsylvania. In other words, a large part of Pennsylvania’s job growth is not fueled by jobs sucked out of New Jersey, as many contend.
Some say that the Keystone State’s flat 3.07 percent personal income tax rate is a boon to small businesses. In fact, the income of married couples who earn less than $70,000 a year is taxed at the top marginal rate of 2.45 percent in New Jersey-less than Pennsylvania’s flat 3.07 percent. In addition, the income of married wage earners making under $20,000 is not taxed at all in New Jersey, while in Pennsylvania it is still taxed at 3.07 percent. Furthermore, New Jersey does not have local income taxes as Pennsylvania does, which means more tax savings.

The Good Jobs First report recommends that Pennsylvania continue its Industry Partnerships program that integrates workforce and economic development needs. This program brings together businesses to identify common training priorities, thereby investing in technology industries’ human capital infrastructure. New Jersey has made similar investments using the Edison Innovation Technology Fellowship Fund, which provides salary money to life-science and tech companies to hire recent PhDs from New Jersey colleges.

Given New Jersey’s large number of science and technology PhDs (and the large number of patents granted annually), the state should continue to invest in its high-tech workforce. Technology changes quickly and the future will be increasingly reliant on the progress made today. Better policy choices will further New Jersey’s competitive edge much more than tax cuts and business subsidies.

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Filed under Edison Innovation Technology Fellowship Fund, high tech jobs, Job creation, Monday Minute, New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, Pennsylania, tax rate

Raw Story Exclusive: ‘Ellie Light’ regrets damage done to Obama, blasts right-wing ‘conspiracy theorists’


WASHINGTON — In an interview with Raw Story, prolific Obama supporter and letter-writer “Ellie Light” slammed conservatives claiming the published writings were part of a White House “astroturf” operation, and regretted the “damage” they’ve done to the president.

The interview was conducted before the Cleveland Plain Dealer revealed that the deep, husky-voiced “woman” publicly calling herself “Ellie Light” was actually a man named Winston Steward. Most initially believed he was a woman, probably due to his mannerisms and tone, including this reporter.

Steward, 51, is a traveling health care worker based in Frazier Park, California. He admitted to being the author of letters published in dozens of newspapers across the country — sent with fake addresses from a variety of locations — under the name “Ellie Light.”

“The damage has been done,” Steward told Raw Story, “with blog posts and YouTube videos. I don’t think anything can undo that.”

He ripped conservatives for their unsubstantiated allegations about his ostensible affiliations with the White House.

hey are conspiracy theorists, there’s no doubt. Apparently I’m a space alien, that’s the newest thing on one Web site, so it just goes on and on. The Michelle Malkin people — they’re clowns. We know they’re clowns.”

Steward’s alias, Ellie Light, became the subject of widespread conservative fascination after one letter he wrote in defense of President Obama, first published by Politico’s Ben Smith, subsequently appeared in dozens of newspapers across the country.

The story about his letter’s numerous appearances with different addresses was first broken on Friday, January 22 by Sabrina Eaton of The Plain Dealer newspaper before catching the attention of conservative Web sites such as Michelle Malkin’s blog, Patterico’s Pontifications and the National Review.

Following allegations that he wasn’t a real person and merely a ghost-name for an Obama official, Steward posed as a woman and claimed his name was “Ellie Light” in a radio interview on Tuesday, claiming that name was real but admitting he was “wrong” for “giving false address” while submitting the letter to various regional newspapers.

A flurry of conservative bloggers have since suggested — and outright accused — Steward of being an Obama administration plant. Many of them, including Michelle Malkin, declared he was part of White House “astroturf” activities to deceptively burnish its credentials.

He told Raw Story he believed the whole issue had been blown far out of proportion.

No evidence has been unearthed linking Steward to the Obama administration or the Democratic Party. He said he is not and has never been a activist for a political advocacy group.

“Affiliated with an organized group? No,” he said bluntly. “I’ve never been affiliated with anyone like that.”

Steward, who for a brief period after Obama got elected wrote diaries for the Daily Kos, said he hopes people will take the time to understand the situation rather than jump to conclusions.

“For those who pay attention a little longer, it could end up being good, but for the people who are only going to pay attention for the ‘Balloon Boy’ period it’ll be ‘oh, another one of those Obama things’.”

He said if he could go back in time, he “probably would have written the letter and told them all I was in the Los Angeles area.”

Criticizes Democrats: ‘not as loyal’ as Republicans

Steward declined to criticize Obama, calling him “the most remarkable elected official,” and criticized Democrats and progressives for allegedly wanting instant gratification of their wishes.

“Democrats have abandoned the president that they practically worshiped such a short time ago because he couldn’t tend to their needs in the first twelve months of office. And they’re behaving like a bunch of babies,” he said.

“They need to show that there’s a groundswell of support for the president so that the yahoos have nothing to talk about.”

Though he accepted that there are genuine critics of Obama on the left, he criticized Democrats for not being as loyal to Obama as Republicans were to former President George W. Bush.

“Think about the Republicans that had to suck it in in 2003 and 2004 when Bush was caught lying over and over and over again,” he said. “All the Republicans stood there and said ‘the president has his reasons, we trust the president.'”

“And we laughed at them, because they were all liars. But at least they were loyal.”

Steward said he will continue writing letters to newspapers in support of Obama and hoped more Democrats will do the same.

(Editor’s Note: Article originally confused Winston Steward’s last name. Thanks to the multiple readers who noticed the mistake. Raw Story regrets the error, and hopes Eric Arthur Blair’s estate will not mind.)

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Filed under Cleveland Plain Dealer, Daily Kos, Democrat, Ellie Light, health care reform, National Review, Politico.com, President Obama, Raw Story, Republicans, Winston Steward

The GOP’s governor problem


By: Nathan Daschle

Kevin Bacon’s opening argument in “A Few Good Men,” the 1992 movie about the fictional prosecution of two Marines charged with murder, is a shining moment in the history of Hollywood. After rattling off a series of statements that, if true, would appear to doom the defendants, Bacon places his argument in the seemingly unbreakable frame: “These are the facts of the case. And they are undisputed.” Set aside for a moment that Bacon ended up losing the trial, the oratory is a reminder of the raw power of simple facts.

Recent political news has been dominated by the Massachusetts Senate race and its meaning for the Democratic Party. Buried by the coverage, however, is a bit of bad news for the GOP. The government released the December jobs report, and once again, four of the five states with the highest rates of unemployment were those with Republican governors, the self-proclaimed leaders of the so-called GOP Comeback.

Taken in isolation, that fact might seem trivial, like hundreds of other talking points that make their way around Washington on a regular basis. But this one is different because it’s part of a larger trend: Republican governors, as a whole, vastly underperform their Democratic counterparts on virtually every economic or fiscal score. In addition to high unemployment numbers, states with Republican governors are far less likely to be on the Forbes list of “Best States for Business” (only one of the Top 5 has a Republican governor), score a AAA rating from the major credit rating agencies (only two of the seven have GOP governors) or make a real investment in clean technology (only two of the Top 10 clean-tech states have Republican governors).

Perhaps most telling, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, is that throughout the past decade, the size of state governments actually grew more under Republican governors than under Democratic ones. This is true for both traditional ways of measuring the size of government: spending growth and the number of state employees.

These are the facts. And they are undisputed.

These facts are important because they give us an indication of what a “GOP Comeback” would actually look like. We can’t look to the epically vapid congressional Republicans sitting in the cheap seats, because they are enjoying the relief of any obligation to come up with an affirmative plan for this country. While we could look to our former president — whom a real-life Bacon would already have convicted on charges of fiscal negligence — voters are tired of hearing about him. Thus, the only relevant data set is the records of Republican governors.

And while the party seems bent on burying these records, the facts are tough to hide. When Republicans are in charge, government is more likely to grow, investors are less likely to have confidence and people are more likely to lose jobs. This is the record of a party in which dogma and rhetoric continue to trump people and results.

Governors are the weak spot for the GOP, not because they are different from the rest of the party, but because they don’t have their congressional brethren’s privilege of inaction. The governors’ recklessness is a matter of public record, a record replete with indisputable facts that impugn the national party’s efforts to portray itself as ready to assume authority. Voters interested in making a comparison this fall ought to ask the GOP how it would be different than the record of its governors, though I doubt the party can handle the truth.

Nathan Daschle is executive director of the Democratic Governors Association.

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Filed under Democratic Party, GOP Comeback, GOP Governors, Nathan Daschle, Politico.com, undisputed facts