Trump inherited a robust economy. Then he butchered it | Editorial

Posted Sep 09, 2020

President Trump’s favorite fib, according to those tasked with counting them, is the one about how he had built the greatest economy of all time (pre-pandemic) after he had inherited a “disaster” from his predecessor.

He has repeated some variation of this more than 350 times since taking office, and we’re likely to hear it more often as we get closer to election day, because it is hard for Trump to run on any of his other notable successes, whatever they are.

But he and his acolytes routinely leave out the whole truth — which is that he inherited a robust economy, he didn’t rescue it.

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Administration Argues Nearly 10-Cent Bump at the Pump for Gas Tax Can’t Be Avoided

JOHN REITMEYER | SEPTEMBER 10, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Fuel prices could rise under the proposal.

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A top official from Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration defended a nearly 10-cent hike in the state’s gas tax set to go into effect in just a few weeks, telling lawmakers an increase is inevitable under a formula written into state law.

The uptick emerged as a hot topic Wednesday during the latest hearing on the state budget plan Murphy proposed in late August, around the same time his administration announced New Jersey’s per-gallon gas-tax rate would climb by 9.3 cents on Oct. 1.

The hearing provided lawmakers with their first chance to question state Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio and other administration officials about the increase, which will push New Jersey’s per-gallon rate up to 50.7 cents per gallon for gasoline, and 57.7 cents for diesel.

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Gov. Phil Murphy’s Tax Estimates Off by More Than $1B, Legislative Analysts Say

JOHN REITMEYER | SEPTEMBER 8, 2020

NJ Spotlight

OLS senior fiscal analyst David Drescher and Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio appeared before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Tuesday.

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Gov. Phil Murphy wants to hike taxes and borrow money to help offset forecasted budget shortfalls, but the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal experts now say those losses won’t be as bad as the governor has been projecting.

The Murphy administration is overestimating the projected revenue losses by nearly $1.4 billion through the middle of next year, according to a new, long-range forecast released Tuesday by the Office of Legislative Services.

That discrepancy is the biggest ever gap between revenue estimates from OLS and those from an administration at this point in the budget approval process, the fiscal experts noted during an appearance before members of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Tuesday.

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Poll gives Booker 24-point lead in Senate re-election bid

By David WildsteinSeptember 08 2020 

New Jersey Globe

U.S. Senator Cory Booker. 

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An Emerson College poll shows Cory Booker with a 52%-28% lead in his bid for re-election to the United States Senate against Republican Rik Mehta.

In the race for New Jersey’s 14 electoral votes, Joe Biden leads Donald Trump by a 55%-38% margin. Biden’s margin moves to 58%-40% with leaners included.

“Biden is performing a few points better than Clinton did in 2016 which is a similar trend we have seen in other states around the country,” said Spencer Kimball, director of Emerson College Polling.

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Judge to lawyers in Trump mail-in ballot lawsuit against New Jersey: Hurry up

09/08/2020 

Politico

A man walks past a vote-by-mail drop box for the New Jersey primary election outside the Camden, N.J., Administration Building. 

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A federal judge had a message Tuesday for those involved in the Trump campaign’s lawsuit to stop New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s plans to hold the November election primarily by mail: Hurry up.

“This matter was filed and it was presumably referring to the election in November, but it was filed in ordinary course,” U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp, who sits in Trenton, told lawyers on the case. “By the time this matter is fully briefed and presented to the court, we’re going to be butting up against the election.”

Shipp’s hastily called teleconference came shortly after POLITICO reported that the Trump campaign has not sought to hasten the case after filing the lawsuit on Aug. 18, despite calling Murphy’s election plans a “recipe for disaster.”

Lawyers for the Trump campaign never filed a motion to halt the plans before the full case is decided.

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How Covid-19 made New Jersey’s Phil Murphy the most powerful governor in America

TRENTON — New Jersey endows its governors with the most executive power in the nation. Chris Christie knew it and used that broad authority to become a hero of the Republican Party — a state-level strongman who forced Democrats to do his will or face his wrath.

Few thought Phil Murphy, his Democratic successor, would consolidate that power even further. Murphy struggled early on to move his progressive agenda through the solidly Democratic Legislature. Rival factions formed to oppose him. His signature proposal — a new tax on millionaires — was rejected twice.

Now, six months into a global pandemic that’s shattered the state’s economy and killed roughly 16,000 residents, Murphy has become one of the most popular governors in New Jersey history — and discovered just how much say he has over the state and its government.

The question is, how long can it last?

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NJ Reopens Schools, Restaurants, Gyms and More — but What’s Next?

LILO H. STAINTON | SEPTEMBER 6, 2020

NJ Spotlight

File photo: Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli

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With the reopening of indoor dining, fitness centers and schools – albeit with limited capacity and new safety measures – New Jersey is making significant strides towards restoring the state’s economy, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Restaurant and gym owners have welcomed the developments, after six months of little if any revenue, and some educators and families are eager to embrace the new school year, while others are worried it will lead COVID-19 to spread. Parks, beaches and golf courses have welcomed visitors since late May and out-door dining was permitted starting in mid-June, but the state’s economy continued to suffer.

But where exactly New Jersey stands in Gov. Phil Murphy’s three-stage plan to reopen businesses remains somewhat of a mystery.  The governor has stressed the need for a flexible, phased-in approach, with twin mantras of “data determines dates” and “public health creates economic health.” His policy decisions have been driven by statistical trends, Murphy says, not specific metrics, and he has repeatedly warned that an uptick in viral activity could lead officials to reverse course.

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New Jersey Property-Tax Relief Goes Down as One Tax Break Goes Up

JOHN REITMEYER | SEPTEMBER 6, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Luxury home

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Gov. Phil Murphy’s latest budget calls for flat or even reduced state funding for popular property-tax relief programs that provide targeted financial help to thousands of New Jersey’s low-income homeowners, seniors and people with disabilities.

At the same time, Murphy is asking to increase the share of state spending on tax breaks that go to homeowners regardless of their income — and where the biggest write-offs go to those with the biggest property-tax bills.

The divergence in spending on programs offering targeted help to those who need it most and on tax breaks for homeowners no matter their income is largely a function of separate policies that have been put in place over the years for each relief program.

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Republicans In Swing States Were Fixing Vote-By-Mail Systems. Then Trump Tweeted.

09/06/2020

By Molly Redden

HuffPost

President Donald Trump has tweeted ferociously to undermine the legitimacy of mail-in voting.

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The bill was supposed to be uncontroversial, and at first, it was. Early this year, Michigan advanced a bipartisan measure to let election officials take absentee ballots out of their mailing envelopes — but not to unseal the ballots or count them — the day before Election Day.

It was the kind of small, bureaucratic switch that could make the difference between timely results in this fall’s presidential election and chaos. And it was moving steadily, with Republican support, through Michigan’s GOP-led Senate.

Then, President Donald Trump made it clear that he preferred chaos. 

“There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent,” he tweeted in May. Since then, the bill has barely budged. 

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States Brace For Painful Budget Cuts With Congress Deadlocked Over Coronavirus Aid

09/06/2020 

HuffPost

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in front of a mural on April 29, 2020. New York is among several states facing revenue shortfalls that, absent help from Congress, are likely to inflict financial pain throughout the state.

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Spending cuts to schools, childhood vaccinations and job-training programs. New taxes on millionaires, cigarettes and legalized marijuana. Borrowing, drawing from rainy day funds and reducing government workers’ pay.

These are some actions states are considering to shore up their finances amid a sharp drop in tax revenue caused by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With Congress deadlocked for months on a new coronavirus relief package, many states haven’t had the luxury of waiting to see whether more money is on the way. Some that have delayed budget decisions are growing frustrated by the uncertainty.

As the U.S. Senate returns to session Tuesday, some governors and state lawmakers are again urging action on proposals that could provide hundreds of billions of additional dollars to states and local governments.

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