How the rich avoid taxes and the shift behind Texas’ social conservatism

Welcome to a new edition of The Weekender… where we are seeing another celebrity politician run against California Governor Gavin Newsom in the Governor’s recall election, which could have implications for political parties. Also—children see the highest spike in COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic last week, and polls show parents are less enthusiastic to send their kids back to in-person learning. Finally—Texas is becoming a haven for social conservatives amid an influx of new laws, despite the state’s growing demographics and expanding diversity. Find out more below in this week’s edition of The Weekender. We’re glad you could join us.
 
In other news, be sure to check out one of our newest team members, Lynn Stinson. She joins the coast-to-coast team from the San Francisco Bay area after serving as a Partner at Banner Public Affairs, where she created the digital practice and integrated the communication and creative teams. Stinson has more than 15 years of experience in digital advertising, social media management, and analytics and is excited to bring a cutting-edge perspective and analytic mindset to the team. To learn more about Lynn and our recent nationwide team hires, click here or head to our social media pages, FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.
 
THE BIG FIVE

California’s recall election: What it means for Democrats and Republicans in the upcoming election.

By this time next week, California may have a new governor… or maybe not. Governor Newsom will face California’s first recall election since 2003, when “The Governator” Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced Gray Davis. This recall election may be the Republican’s opportunity to take back the administrative branch, after not having control of the administration or legislative branches since the last recall. In the running to take over the seat are radio host Larry Elder, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Falconer, YouTuber Kevin Paffrath, and even ex-Olympian-turned-reality star Caitlyn Jenner (to name a few of the 46 candidates running to unseat Newsom). The recall has the candidates bringing out all the stops—John Cox even brought a real, living, breathing grizzly bear to the Capitol. Newsom has had all the major Democratic names make a plea to vote against the recall, including AOC (also known as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) and even Vice President Harris. The biggest name that is set to speak out? President Joe Biden, who is set to speak in Long Beach next week. Republicans are doing everything they can to capitalize on this opportunity—but polls indicate opposition to the recall is leading going into the final days before the vote. However, as the infamous saying in campaigns goes: the only poll that counts is the one on Election Day. Read more in the Associated Press

The top one percent of Americans avoid billions of dollars in tax every year, U.S. Treasury Dept. says.
Across the pond, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing heat from international media regarding his recent decision to raise the payroll tax on income labor by 2.5 percent. The Wall Street Journal reports that the burden will reach 28 percent for middle-class workers. This news comes to the United States as elected officials across the nation look into their middle-class entitlements. While the U.S. debates on whether or not to take on universal healthcare initiatives and other government expansion, the U.K. is facing the problem that national healthcare and other entitlements become ever more unaffordable even as they are politically impossible to reform. However, both countries are the same when facing billionaires evading millions of dollars in taxes. The U.S. Treasury Department recently released a report that revealed that the wealthiest one percent of Americans are failing to pay as much as $163 billion in owed taxes per year. Internationally, it seems that the backbone of social safety nets is breaking down due to millions of missing tax payments from its richest citizens. However, cryptocurrency and financial surveillance may be a solution. President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen are pushing a vast, intrusive financial surveillance system in the name of closing the “tax gap.” In July, representatives from 130 countries, including finance ministers from the G-20 representing the world’s wealthiest democracies, agreed in principle to a global corporate tax system. This plan comes with a myriad of concerns, including privacy and the increased use of scarce cash, and an overarching worry that raising taxes will cool an economy still struggling with a global pandemic. Not to mention a tradition of tax hikes being politically dangerous when the discussion moves from the theoretical to the real. Read more in the Wall Street Journal.  
 

What’s heating up in Texas and why now: the fight over civil rights issues.  

The 2020 Census revealed that Texas gained four million residents and two congressional seats—more than any other state in the nation. The population growth also led to a shift in demographics, making the state more diverse. The nation’s largest conservative state is creating shifts in policy changes, amid growing talks of a potential blue wave due to the spike in diversity and suburban living. The Associated Press reports that Texas Republicans have championed a bevy of boundary-pushing conservative policymaking that dramatically expands gun rights, curbs abortions, and tightens election laws. Texas is continuously in the news, with Governor Greg Abbott making himself a national name by selling traditional conservative values and speaking against universal mask mandates and vaccination requirements for businesses. Earlier this week, Texas had 666 laws take effect, including controversial voting legislation. The voting legislation was nearly overshadowed by one of the most restrictive abortion laws since Roe v. Wade. The “Heartbeat Bill” passage comes after the U.S. Supreme Court gave a green light on the state’s abortion law. Days after the state enacted the law, The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state arguing that it was enacted “in open defiance of the Constitution,” the Associated Press reports. Texas has set a precedent for other Republican states to follow suit. Less than 12 hours after the high court passed the Texas law, a Pennsylvania lawmaker introduced a new law that would require pain control for an unborn fetus. Not to be outdone, Florida’s Senate President said that the state would consider a heartbeat bill. This week, the Justice Department sued Texas over the abortion law, marking the first major move by President Biden to control the ban. The U.S. Supreme Court move has not only emboldened Republicans across the country, but it has also energized Democrats in preparation for elections later this year and into 2022. The GOP says Texas is now the leader of, and prototype for, movements to ban abortion, ease gun restrictions, and fight the conservative side of culture war issues. As Texas is leading the discussion in social conservatism and other states follow, it seems that Texas is not like a whole other country after all. Read more in the Associated Press.

New tech CEOs have big shoes to fill after the company founder leaves. Whose legacy will it be?
From Apple to Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, many tech founders have thrown in their hats. It’s a new generation of leaders at Big Tech companies, which also means a shift in leadership, policy, and culture. Eighty-four percent of tech executives agree that succession planning is more important than ever before because of the fast-changing business environment, according to a new survey. However, three out of five respondents in the survey said their companies don’t have a documented plan to handle a leadership change. While a change in leadership can make or break a company, tech companies have been able to withstand skepticism and turn to innovation. One example where we see this is with Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. While many were skeptical of Cook’s ability to take over for Steve Jobs, the company is a global leader in technology, becoming the first company to hit a $2 trillion market cap. Business Insider reports that interviewers often asked Cook whether corporate leaders should take a stance on public policy, and his willingness to go against the grain where other business executives remain silent could be the greatest part of his legacy. While tech companies continue to view themselves as “nimble, young innovators,” nearly all large tech companies are being run by managers—not founders. Cook carried Jobs’ legacy in making Apple one of the largest, most successful companies in the world without changing product lines. Read more in Axios. 

Polling shows parents flip flop on in-person learning as COVID-19 cases surpass last year’s numbers, impacting more kids.

After more than a year of remote or distanced learning, children across the country are heading back to school in person. Many K-12 schools are reopening with limited or no COVID-19 protocols, seeing worse effects in comparison to this time last year. This past spring, schools that planned for students to return fully in person were highly supported by parents, polling at 79 percent, well… at least until the Delta variant hit the U.S. NBC reports after the CDC updated its recommendations for vaccinated people to take precautions, such as wearing a mask, the number of parents who supported their kids going back to school full time in-person dropped to 43 percent, many of them no longer wanting their kids in school. Despite the growing concerns, many states have mandated in-person instruction. What does that mean for parents who are still concerned? While many parents believe that homeschool options have become more accessible due to the internet, Black and Hispanic children disproportionately face internet connection issues, creating more barriers to learning. President Joe Biden addressed the nation Thursday on the next phase of the pandemic response. In his address, he called for additional federal support to assist schools in safely operating, including additional funding for testing. The President is also requiring businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure workers are fully vaccinated or tested weekly, with critics arguing the move is unconstitutional and plan to take legal action. We will be observing to see if President Biden’s pivot from recommendation to mandates will impact his popularity in the polls. No doubt there will be strong opinions in support and opposition. Read more in The New York Times.

INTERNATIONAL SPOTLIGHT

September 11th, 20 years later: America’s fight against terrorism.
Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon. The attacks of 9/11 mark the start of America’s war on terrorism. Today, counterterrorism efforts still stand in the Middle East, Pew Research reports, with the U.S. sending troops overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan to stop terrorists both internationally and here at home. From banking to travel and security measures—there’s no question that Americans’ lives have changed since that day. The Associated Press said it best: Flying before September 11th wasn’t as hectic or tense. There was security, but not anywhere near as intrusive. Passengers and their loved ones could walk right to the gate together, postponing goodbye hugs until the last possible moment. Overall, an airport experience meant far less stress. This week, two more 9/11 victims were identified. Dorothy Morgan of Hempstead, N.Y., is the 1,646 victim to be identified through ongoing DNA analysis of unidentified remains that have been recovered from the World Trade Center site—where 2,753 lives were lost. The second person discovered was identified as a male, though his name is being withheld at his family’s request. Most importantly, we mourn for the families who lost loved ones that day and thank first responders for their dedication to helping fellow Americans every day. Read more in The Hill

DATA POINTS

 50,000: The number of refugee beds that the Pentagon needs to add by next week. The influx of refugees following the Afghan crisis is adding pressure to America’s already broken immigration system.

3.15 inches: The amount of rain that fell in a singular hour in New York City on September 1st as Hurricane Ida made its way up the East Coast, causing flash flooding and destruction across New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

3,000: The number of farmers that Amazon Inc. is providing with a sustainable income while restoring native forests that will store carbon. Up to 47 million acres of Amazonian rainforest have been damaged in fires since 2001.

100+: The number of companies expected to go public on the U.S. stock exchange by year-end, capping off what has already been the busiest year for IPOs since 2000. Almost 300 U.S. companies have completed IPOs so far this year, topping last year’s 218.

2/3: The fraction of the world that isn’t fully vaccinated. Experts say to return to some form of “normal,” there needs to be a drastic increase in global vaccine production and distribution.

350:  The number of reported oil spills the U.S. Coast Guard is investigating after Hurricane Ida swept through. The Coast Guard established a pollution response team in Baton Rouge.

400: The amount of bitcoin El Salvador purchased on Monday as President Nayib Bukele adopted the cryptocurrency as legal tender. The country is the first country to adopt bitcoin formally.

2:  The number of 9/11 victims New York City’s chief medical examiner identified just days before the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks. While 40% of those who died remain unidentified, identifications are still being made.

60%: The number of female students attending university in the U.S. If this trend continues, two women will earn a college degree for every man.

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