Stealing the Debt

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By: Eric Bruns

The United States national debt surpassed $21 trillion on March 15th, 2018.  This is yet another milestone in the saga of ever increasing debt in America and, as usual, there was very little mention of this fact.  Outside of the fact that we’re all Americans that care deeply about our country, why does the ever increasing national debt and the current lack of any serious plan to address it matter to us as Democrats?  Because it’s a serious threat.  However, combating the national debt isn’t just a serious issue that requires a serious solution, it presents an opportunity to shift the political landscape for foreseeable future and steal a march on Republicans.

The national debt is the single largest long-term threat to our nation’s social safety net.  The programs that comprise the social safety net are among the greatest resources our country has for protecting those less fortunate.  They provide much needed relief for those that have fallen on hard times and need a hand up.  As Democrats, we constantly see it as our duty to protect those programs.  While we have fought hard to protect these programs from being dismembered legislatively, we’ve done little to ensure their long-term viability for the coming generations.

For the FY 2019 federal budget, the federal government will spend $363 billion on interest payments toward the debt.  By 2028, the interest payments alone are projected to increase to $761 billion per year.  That is an absolutely mind boggling amount to be spending on interest payments in a given year.  Think of what we could do with that amount of money for those that could most use the assistance.  In essence, as the amount of money we pay towards interest on the debt increases, the less money will be left to fund these program.  If we continue down the path of ignoring this problem until we can’t, we will be forced into a solution that will inflict maximum damage on the largest amount of people.  However, if we begin to seriously work on the issue now, we can come up with a solution that avoids hurting those that can afford it the least.

Deficit spending and the national debt is an issue Republicans have consistently used to lambast Democrats as “tax and spend liberals.”  However, the passage of the Republican tax cuts last year effectively showed that when it comes time to lead, Republicans lacked the intestinal fortitude to tackle an issue they claim is one of their most important. In reality, they made it worse and ended up increasing the projected national debt by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.  This has created an opportunity for Democrats to not just protect the long term viability of the social safety net, but snatch this issue away from Republicans and bludgeon them with the stick of hypocrisy. 

Like all serious issues we care about, time is the most precious resource we possess.  Just like climate change, the longer we wait to devise and implement a serious plan to tackle our ballooning national debt, the greater the damage will be when we finally exhaust our ability to kick the can down the road.    If Democrats are able to take up this problem and work toward a solution, we stand a very good chance of gaining maintaining our ability to provide much needed support to those that need it the most.  Otherwise, the support programs we provide to people today will be on the backs of our children and grandchildren.

March Madness: Municipal Elections Edition

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March Madness: Municipal Elections Edition

Palm Beach County hosted its municipal elections on March 13th--and in particular, Delray Beach city commission seats were hotly contested. Two of the new commissioner-elects, Adam Frankel and Ryan Boylston, joined our chapter at our March monthly meeting to briefly give an overview of the type of campaigns they ran and their vision for Delray Beach going forward.

Commissioner-elect Adam Frankel explained he ran a more traditional campaign; he made sure to converse with the “old guard” and elected officials. It also should be noted, however, that Commissioner-elect Frankel laid strong groundwork with canvassing and even made sure to go the extra mile by calling voters who weren’t home to check in. Additionally, Commissioner-elect Frankel previously served on the commission for 6 years.

Commissioner-elect Boylston ran “the best campaign in Delray”, according to Commissioner-elect Frankel, in part because his campaign was so tuned in on social media. Frankel admitted that while they shared many of same positions on important issues, they ran two different types of campaigns.

The most inspiring message of the evening, however, came from Commissioner-elect Boylston when he chose to speak candidly of his choice to stay independent of a political party affiliation for the city commission race.

 

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“The main thing I wanted to talk about, particularly being a young commissioner and with the Young Democrats--I thought this was important for me to make this point. When I went to college, I was first in my family to go to college. I did not know anything about politics, and when I had the Democrats and Republicans trying to sign me up, I decided to stay independent. I stayed independent for many years, and then I began running a newspaper--when you run a newspaper, it is customary to stay independent or NPA. I had an excuse to stay in the middle for a while. On January 1st, when I decided to run, I gave up my ownership of the paper-- so for the first time in a very long time, I had an option to choose one way or another. I am an independent today and this was a non-partisan race. My first taste of what that meant when running for city commission is that the local Democratic Party tried to tell me I couldn’t attend a Democratic forum or debate, not that I couldn't attend it to speak, but that I literally couldn't walk into the building to attend. Now, it only took a few phone calls and about 20-30 minutes for me to get an apology letter from that organization, and I did go, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. When I went to a similar event, which was run by some Republicans, they said, “Oh, you're an independent? We need more Republicans running. Maybe we can send you a check.” That check never showed up, I don’t think, but they were two different approaches. I have a long story of why I am an independent. There were 55 students at a rally at Atlantic High School recently and when given voter registration paperwork, they all filed as independent. They are looking for a reason to pick a side, and you guys need to give them a reason. And I'm happy to say that the Young Democrats club gave me a reason. I was running against a Democrat, as an independent. You guys, because of your leadership, decided to stay out of that race and not endorse because it was what was best for Delray Beach. That sent a message to a lot of people, because I'm telling that story, and it struck a chord with me. So if and when I decide if I want to continue my political career, which above city commission, I will have to decide (a political party affiliation), know that that will be the difference. What this group, what the YDs did, that is what made the difference, and I hope it will also be the difference to those 55 students at Atlantic High School. Hopefully, they’re choosing blue, and not red, because of you guys.”

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The atmosphere was energized at a new meeting location, beautiful Sundy House in Delray Beach. The speeches were a concrete reminder that the work we do in our local communities, politically affiliated or not, truly matters.

To close out the meeting, super presenter Geoffrey Kashdan gave an in-depth look into gun regulations historically in the state of Florida. We hope many of you will be joining one of the local March for Our Lives events taking place on March 24th.


See you next time!

POINT OF VIEW: It doesn’t have to be business vs. the environment

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The time has come when the business interests and the environmental community in Palm Beach County must recognize that both sides have legitimate concerns that are critical to the long-term health of our county and state. These co-dependent interests often find themselves at odds as we attempt to find some balance between economic growth and conservation interests.

The business community believes that environmentalists all push for extreme regulations that create excessive costs and simply oppose almost any development as destructive. Unfortunately, environmental purists reinforce that view. Similarly, on the business side, comments are often made on the disconcerting realities of climate change, such as “the Atlantic Ocean is not rising”, “Saltwater intrusion in our aquifer is a myth” and “Climate change is a natural cycle, so we shouldn’t be concerned.” So, the issue in the 21st century, particularly in Palm Beach County, is how to create a rational dialogue and discuss what reasonable accommodations both sides can agree to.

Curtailing real estate investment on our barrier islands and other high-risk flood areas is an opportunity for a proactive compromise. As we inch closer to the next potential housing crisis, this time fueled by abandoned mortgages on homes increasingly inundated by flooding, let’s rethink our approach to waterfront real estate development. Long-term, we would do better to throttle certain development interests to sidestep or at least mitigate a potential economic meltdown.

Besides just building outside of flood zones, a mutually beneficial approach to development is “smart growth,” which is not a new concept in Palm Beach County. In an ongoing effort to preserve green space and limit urban sprawl, there has been an expanding population movement toward high-density development in more urban areas. Companies have slowly begun following the millennial talent pool into these sustainable cities all over the country. County businesses could benefit from migrating to these urban centers to engage this burgeoning workforce and at the same time preserve more farmland. Additionally, we could see a range of free ecological substitutes to engineered infrastructure solutions from maintaining more of this green space, like drinking water filtration and storage, erosion prevention along our canals, and flood protection.

Ultimately, the effect of the rising tides on the limestone and sand we call Florida will not distinguish between whose grandchildren are displaced by a massive migration of Miami-Dade County climate change refugees in the next 30 years. We need cooperation now. Fueled by rhetoric, the gap between business and environmental protection has widened and the danger continues to grow. Instead of having philosophical debates about owls and coal mines that serve neither side’s objectives, let’s refocus our dialogue on aligning our business and environment interests on risk mitigation and proactive infrastructure planning.

ROB LONG, DELRAY BEACH

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Editor’s note: Rob Long is supervisor of the Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation District.

Original post on here.

County Commission District 2 Debate

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Welcome to the new Palm Beach County Young Democrats blog!

This blog will be a space to keep you updated on local and state politics, elected officials, as well as national issues that we believe should be brought to attention.


Our 2018 year kicked off at our new meeting place in Northwood, Cafe Centro, with an exciting debate between three of the four District 2 Palm Beach County Commission candidates: Alex Garcia, Gregg Weiss, and Emmanuel Morel. (Sylvia Sharps will be speaking at our February meeting.) For those who were unable to make the lively debate, please see video for highlights.


Alex Garcia is a realtor who is dedicated to creating well paying jobs for postgraduates once they return from college, lowering taxes for the middle class residents of Palm Beach County and championing growth management as Palm Beach County develops. Alex will support growth management strategies that preserve open spaces, will make traffic and congestion more manageable, and exercise the most sustainable use of our natural resources.

 

Emmanuel Morel has spent his entire career dedicated to fair labor practices and and labor legislation. His plans include protecting and maintaining agricultural reserves, advocating for free college, banning the use of plastic in supermarkets, ending homelessness in Palm Beach County, ending wage theft, and fighting for a $15 minimum wage (which both contribute to the homeless problem that faces the county.)


Gregg Weiss has over 30 years of business experience overseeing sales, marketing and implementing best business strategies. He is a county activist and has been extremely involved in the West Palm Beach community. Gregg’s executive experience will give him valuable insight on managing the county budget and increasing government efficiency. He believes his history of mediation throughout his career would help bring the West Palm Beach City Commission and Palm Beach County Commission together. He also believes that by communicating and finding common ground, we can move forward in our goals as a county.

Quotes from the candidates:

“Things must change here. We can’t continue to live like this. I’m willing to take blows and I’m willing to take blows behalf of the poor people, our people who have 1 trillion dollars in student loans and nobody sees anything wrong with that.” --Emmanuel Morel

“I want to make sure when they (young students) come back here they have good high paying jobs--it’s great that there’s tourism, but I want to make sure that those tourism dollars are spent back into the county, back into the young people.”--Alex Garcia

It was great to be alongside the Young Democrats for the first Palm Beach County Commission District 2 Debate. Tons of energy and lots of excitement about the future of our party. Palm Beach County is blessed to have some of the hardest working Young D’s in the state." --Gregg Weiss


We would like to thank Alex, Gregg, and Emmanuel for participating in our debate, and we look forward to a thrilling August 2018 primary! If you would like to get involved with a particular campaign, see below:

https://www.votegreggweiss.com/volunteer/

http://www.votemorel.com/volunteer

https://www.electalexgarcia.com/volunteer.html

http://www.sylviasharps.com/volunteer

POINT OF VIEW: Why soil and water conservation should matter to you

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The traditionally nonpolitical Palm Beach County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) recently became much better known after November’s contentious Board of Supervisors election. The friction erupted over the SWCD’s Mobile Irrigation Lab.

The lab is a free, consultative service offered to local growers. Paid for through the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the lab provides technical analysis and recommendations to farms and nurseries regarding irrigation water management and efficiency. For the past 12 years, the lab has been conserving hundreds of millions of gallons of water per year in Palm Beach County, saving growers thousands of dollars and drastically reducing water usage estimates.

So far this year, the Mobile Irrigation Lab has documented actual savings of 78 million gallons from its over 100 visits to farmers and growers, with the potential to save over 150 million gallons by the end of the year. This conservation has a significant beneficial impact on irrigation runoff, water purity and utility pricing for county citizens.

Recently, the lab came under fire from several of the same SWCD supervisors elected to promote conservationism in our county. These supervisors want to privatize the “free” lab program, which would not only make these services unavailable to many small farms and nurseries but could also result in the loss of local SWCD jobs.

Fortunately, the Mobile Irrigation Lab program was recently rescued by a narrow vote margin and will remain a functional water and money-saving program for county residents, at least for now. However, instead of forcing the majority of the supervisors to spend valuable time justifying programs like the lab, which has consistently demonstrated quantifiable results, all SWCD supervisors should be seeking the money to institute other constructive programs, like the defunded Urban Mobile Irrigation Lab. That lab program used to bring the same preservation applications rendered by the agriculture-focused Mobile Irrigation Lab to residential irrigation systems, and consequently offered even more direct benefit to county residents.

It is important to know who the county’s SWCD supervisors are, and who is running to replace them. The SWCD deserves leaders who will fight to leverage this community’s resources to appropriately serve the needs of county residents.

ROB LONG, DELRAY BEACH

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Editor’s note: Rob Long is a member of the Palm Beach County Soil & Water Conservation District’s Board of Supervisors.

Original post here.