|Sen. Joni Ernst burst onto the political scene in 2014 with a campaign ad highlighting her personal history castrating hogs―but porcine testicles aren’t the only thing she wants to cut.
At a recent town hall meeting, Ernst admitted to her constituents that the only way to cut Social Security is to do so behind closed doors, where there’s less political accountability.
Joni Ernst is up for re-election in 2020 and we need to remind her constituents that she wants to cut our Social Security benefits. Tell us which mobile billboard ad you’d like to see driving around Iowa.
Click on your favorite ad below to register your vote!
Together, we’re holding our elected officials accountable and reminding them where the American people stand: Expand, don’t cut, Social Security!
JPMorgan CEO Accuses Warren of “Vilifying” Richest Americans
In more election news, JPMorgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon criticized Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren during an interview with CNBC.
Jamie Dimon: “She uses some pretty harsh words, you know, some would say, vilifies successful people, so that — I don’t like vilifying anybody.”
Senator Warren fired back Tuesday, tweeting, “It’s really simple: Jamie Dimon and his buddies are successful in part because of the opportunities, workforce, and public services that we all paid for. …The fact that they’ve reacted so strongly—so angrily!—to being asked to chip in more tells you all you need to know. The system is working great for the wealthy and well-connected, and Jamie Dimon doesn’t want that to change. I’m going to fight to make sure it works for everyone.”
Bill Gates criticises Elizabeth Warren’s plan for tax on super-rich
Bill Gates has become the latest billionaire to express concern for presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren’s plan for a new tax on the super-rich.
At a conference, the philanthropist and Microsoft founder said it would stifle business innovation in America.
Ms Warren, a Democratic front-runner in the 2020 presidential race, has offered to meet Mr Gates in response.
It comes after criticism of Ms Warren’s policy from figures like Jamie Dimon, head of banking giant JP Morgan.
Under the original plan, households with a net worth between $50m (£39m) and $1bn (£780m) will be charged with a 2% “wealth tax” every year. This would rise to 3% for any households with a net worth of over $1bn.
But last week, Ms Warren suggested doubling the latter rate – from 3% to 6%. She said the money raised from this new tax would be used to fund her healthcare plan, which is expected to cost the federal government $20.5tn over 10 years.
Mr Gates hit back at the idea during a talk at the New York Times DealBook conference in New York on Wednesday.
“I’m all for super-progressive tax systems,” he said. “I’ve paid over $10bn in taxes. I’ve paid more than anyone in taxes. If I had to pay $20bn, it’s fine.
“But when you say I should pay $100bn, then I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over. Sorry, I’m just kidding,” he added.
“So you really want the incentive system to be there and you can go a long ways without threatening that.”
Mr Gates is the second-richest person in the world, according to Forbes magazine, with a net worth of $106.2bn.
When asked if he would be willing to meet with her about the policy, Mr Gates said he wasn’t sure if Ms Warren would “sit down with somebody who has large amounts of money”.
Hours after his comments, Ms Warren said she would “love” to meet Mr Gates to explain her plan in more detail.
Tax reform has become a key talking point among contenders for the US presidential election. The debate has been partially spurred by tax reform under Donald Trump’s administration, which the president dubbed “the biggest tax cut in history”.
Mr Trump said cuts would help to boost the economy, but critics argue they disproportionately benefit the country’s wealthiest individuals.
Earlier this year, a group of America’s richest people penned an open letter calling on presidential candidates to roll out a wealth tax on the super-rich.
“America has a moral, ethical and economic responsibility to tax our wealth more,” they said in a letter, proposing that the money be spent on tackling climate change and economic inequality.
Signatories included investor George Soros and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. The group said they were non-partisan and not endorsing any candidate.
Our democracy is based on a simple idea: every voter―rich or poor―has an equal say. That’s why we need to stand together and demand that Washington, DC—home to more than 700,000 people—becomes a state. Only then, will people living in our nation’s capital begin to be treated equally.
Corporate elites actively work to suppress the voices of the people so that they can control the levers of power themselves. DC residents’ disenfranchisement is part of that scheme.
In order to most effectively fight to protect and expand Social Security, we need to enlist the voices of all people throughout our country. Once DC is a state, their voices will be on a level playing field with the rest of the country.
DC statehood is finally getting the national attention it deserves. In September, the House Oversight Committee held the first hearing on the issue in more than a generation, and Democratic federal officials have come out to overwhelmingly support DC Statehood.
DC only won the right to vote for President of the United States in 1961. And that only happened because people in Washington, and their allies throughout the country, stood up and said, “Enough is enough!”
Together, we can do it again and end the disenfranchisement of over 700,000 people.
Add your name! Let’s build a national coalition to fight, once again, for the people who live in Washington, DC and end voter disenfranchisement, which is a racist affront to our democracy and our country’s struggles for civil and human rights.
Washington, DC residents deserve a voice in Congress and control over their own local laws.
After three years of delays, Maine is just about ready to begin licensing recreational marijuana businesses.
The Office of Marijuana Policy, which will oversee roll out of the adult-use market, will begin taking testing lab applications on Nov. 18, and start accepting cultivation, manufacturing and retail license applications on Dec. 5.
“The Office of Marijuana Policy has worked … to develop and institute regulations that we hope will serve as a model of how to properly regulate marijuana for the rest of the country,” Erik Gundersen, director of the office, said on Monday. “The goal has been to put forth the best rules and regulations possible.”
The state’s nascent marijuana industry has been waiting since the 2016 legalization vote to go operational. The three other states that legalized recreational marijuana that year – California, Massachusetts and Nevada – rolled out there regulatory structures, but Maine stood still.
The start of state licensing will represent a symbolic victory of sorts for some, but in towns that are limiting the number of local marijuana businesses, Dec. 5 marks the start of an all-out sprint.
State law requires local approval before the Office of Marijuana Policy will issue any final marijuana licenses.
In first-come, first-served towns, local marijuana entrepreneurs will have to obtain their provisional state license before they can apply for one of the few local licenses that are up for grabs.
In these towns, a delay in obtaining a provisional state license could derail the applicant’s hopes of setting up shop where they have bought a warehouse, or leased retail space from a marijuana-friendly landlord.
Other municipalities have set no limit on the number of marijuana licenses they will issue, or plan, like Portland, to hand out a limited number of retail licenses based on a scoring system.
Anyone who wants to apply for one of the state marijuana business licenses, or work in a cannabis business, must get a state-issued identification card. The cards require a criminal background check. Applications are now available on the Office of Marijuana Policy website.
Mark Barnett, the owner of Higher Grounds, a CBD coffee shop on Wharf Street in Portland, also serves as a spokesman for the Maine Craft Cannabis Association. He is planning to apply for a marijuana license and says he does not have any issues with the conditions, such as the criminal background check, that are going to be imposed by the states.
The office will use the information gathered in the background checks to decide if an applicant or their employees satisfy the character requirements written into the state law. For example, certain felony convictions would rule an applicant out.
Barnett said most people in the industry believe that marijuana should be a fully legalized substance because it is safer than alcohol or nicotine.
“It hasn’t sat well with anyone that a relatively benign substance is being treated as a public health threat,” he said. “Everyone wishes this could have been a more free and open situation.”
But Barnett said the background checks and ID cards are not catching anyone by surprise since the state has been working on regulations for months.
“It’s a very difficult industry, and it’s being made doubly difficult with all these regulations,” Barnett said. “I would have preferred a lighter-touch approach.”
The state’s new adult-use rules don’t go into effect until December, but the Office of Marijuana Policy wanted to start helping prospective licensees prepare to enter the emerging industry now so it would have more time to respond to applicants’ questions.
The office began the staggered rollout of program applications Monday because that is when it completed final adoption of its adult-use program rules. These rules create the regulatory framework for marijuana licensing, compliance and enforcement.
The state projects it will begin collecting its first recreational marijuana sales taxes in March 2020.
From legalization to legal sales, Maine is inching toward the slowest rollout of adult-use sales in the United States so far. Economists say the three-year wait for stores to open will have cost Maine more than $82 million in taxes and 6,100 industry jobs.
After the legislative rewrites, gubernatorial vetoes and contractual snafus, regulators are saying Maine will record its first adult-use sales on March 15, or 1,223 days after voters narrowly approved full-scale legalization at the polls.
Maine’s recreational cannabis market will top $158 million in sales its first year and almost $252 million in its second, according to research from New Frontier Data, a national marijuana analytics consulting firm.
OCTOBER 25, 2019
In a Democracy Now! special report, we look at the rise in homelessness in many major cities across the United States. California has become the poster-child for this economic and humanitarian disaster, with growing encampments in Los Angeles and the Bay Area as more people are forced onto the streets. The state is home to 12% of the country’s population but half of the country’s unsheltered people. As the crisis deepens, so has the criminalization of homelessness, with increasing efforts by city and state officials to crack down on unhoused people occupying public space. President Donald Trump made headlines this month for attacking California’s politicians over the homelessness crisis, threatening to destroy encampments, increase police enforcement and even jail unhoused people. But advocates say California has already employed hostile policies that criminalize homelessness, from laws against unsheltered people sitting on sidewalks to frequent sweeps of the encampments that have popped up on thoroughfares and under freeways across the state’s cities. One of these crackdowns is currently unfolding at a massive Oakland encampment that Democracy Now! visited just a few weeks ago.
Canada’s major tobacco companies are aiming high in the cannabis e-cigarette market.
Ontario will triple its pot-store count beginning in October, just two months before the introduction of new product formats that are expected to significantly boost sales in Canada’s most-populous province.
While chatter about the next wave of legalization in Canada tends to focus on products like edibles and beverages, many of the biggest players entering the space say consumers will opt for the more conventional format of vapes.
The Canadian market for vapes could be as big as C$600 million ($451 million) by 2021, according to Tim Pellerin, Pax Labs Inc.’s general manager of Canada.
San Francisco-based Pax, which split from e-cigarette company Juul Labs Inc. in 2017 to focus on cannabis, captures about 17% of the U.S. market for pot vape devices. It’s the top seller in the extremely fragmented market, and hopes to capture at least as much share in Canada. Pax has partnered with Aphria Inc., Aurora Cannabis Inc., Organigram Holdings Inc. and Supreme Cannabis Co. to sell their oils in its devices.
“We’ll be disappointed if we’re not able to match or exceed our performance in the U.S. market” in Canada, Pellerin said in an interview.
It’s shaping up to be a fierce fight, with two tobacco giants joining the fray via investments in Canadian pot companies.
Marlboro-maker Altria Group Inc. bought a 45% stake in Cronos Group Inc. via a C$2.4 billion investment that closed in March, while Imperial Brands Plc announced last month that it will invest C$123 million in Auxly Cannabis Group Inc. by way of a convertible debenture.
Imperial decided to invest in cannabis after conducting a strategic review to identify new opportunities to offset declining tobacco sales, according to Chief Financial Officer Oliver Tant.
“It’s relatively obvious to most that the tobacco sector is ex-growth and over the longer term that inevitably presents some challenges,” Tant said in a phone interview. “We looked at caffeine, we looked at high-energy drinks, it wasn’t limited to cannabis, but cannabis seemed like the one we had the most obvious overlap and connectivity with.”
Imperial dipped its toe into the sector last year with an investment in closely held Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies Ltd. and decided to investigate the Canadian market after it legalized recreational pot in October.
“I think we probably talked to the majority of the larger listed entities” before settling on Auxly, Tant said.
Auxly will be Imperial’s exclusive global cannabis partner and will gain access to its vaping technology and Liverpool-based R&D lab Nerudia, which is already licensed to work with cannabis.
“The vape IP is a huge portion of the non-financial value in this transaction and ensures that Auxly is going to have best-in-class vape devices,” said Hugo Alves, who will replace Chuck Rifici as Auxly’s chief executive officer this week.
Imperial’s technology won’t show up in Auxly’s vape devices when they’re first released on Dec. 16, the day vapes, edibles and beverages will join dried flower and oils on legal Canadian store shelves.
“We’ve been at it now for close to a year, so I’m happy to report that our vapes are designed, our oils are formulated, our pens are tuned to our specific oil and the hardware is ready,” Alves said. “Our collaboration with Nerudia is forward looking.”
Tant believes the Canadian market for derivative products like vapes will be worth about C$6 billion by 2025. Although Imperial is taking a go-slow approach for now, he sees future opportunities to expand its investments in cannabis.
“We’re taking a pretty cautious approach to investing in the space, we haven’t spent the $1.4 billion that Altria spent in Cronos,” he said.
Tant said he wishes Canada’s pot regulations were less fragmented across provinces, while Pellerin at Pax said he wishes advertising rules made it easier to communicate with the consumer.
“We continue to be in an environment which I’ll say is the worst it’ll ever be from a category standpoint,” Pellerin said. “It’s still very difficult to talk to the consumer through all the constraints and controls in place right now.”