Wednesday Edition


California’s tax hikes may be driving the state’s wealthiest residents away. (ABC News)

A new study by Stanford Business School researchers Joshua Rauh and Ryan Shyu looked at the impact of Proposition 30, which went into effect in 2012 and increased California's tax rates by up to 3% for high earners. Shyu and Rauh found that an additional 0.8% of California's high earners moved away in 2013, far more than the usual rate of people departing because of high taxes.

Proposition 30 did increase California's tax revenue, but not by as much as expected. The state initially lost over 45% of its extra tax revenue from people moving away after the tax increase. Within two years, California lost more than 60% of the revenue gained from the tax change.

Contrast California with Texas, which according to a new Zillow analysis is attracting more Gen Z movers than any other state. Texas, which has a much lower cost of living and lower taxes than California, netted 76,000 Gen Z movers in 2022. Between 2021 and 2022, California experienced a net loss of 342,000 residents of all ages. The Lone Star State was the top choice for people leaving California, with nearly 102,000 moving there.

Research firm CEO Ray Perryman on what makes Texas so attractive to young people: “The reasons that make Texas a good place to relocate also make it a good place to stay. The options for financial success and building wealth are aided not only by opportunities, but also by a lower tax structure including the lack of an income tax.”


The “Squad,” a group of radically progressive Congressional Democrats who became media darlings in 2018, are facing a well-deserved backlash, argues Matthew Continetti, director of domestic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. (Commentary)

The challenges confronting the Squad’s eight members are two-fold. Firstly, Reps. Ilhan Omar, Minn., Jamaal Bowman, N.Y., Cori Bush, Mo., and Summer Lee, Pa, are facing competitive primaries. Secondly, the Squad’s provocative rhetoric (especially concerning Israel) and personal conduct has sparked bad PR of late, instead of the glowing media coverage the group’s used to.

Check out some recent headlines:

  • The Daily Beast: “The Squad Is Facing an ‘Existential Threat’ in 2024”

  • Politico: “The Squad at a crossroads”

  • The Independent: “The Squad’s controversies have brought a backlash that could prove fatal”

  • Axios: “Squad under fire in primaries amid deepening divides on Israel”

Continetti: Over the course of its brief and sorry lifespan, the Squad has been insulated from democratic accountability by gerrymandering and political polarization. This year is different. A few Squad members face credible primary challenges. The press, for its part, has framed these contests as fights between the pro-Israel lobby and the anti-Semitic left. … What the conventional framing obscures, however, is the egregious personal conduct that has alienated the Squad’s constituents and invited rebuke. … They are rude and confrontational machine pols who push the boundaries of manners and the law. And now, to quote one of their ideological forebears, the chickens are coming home to roost.”


New polling suggests there may be little political upside to President Biden’s attempts at striking a border deal with Republicans. (WaPo)

An ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday found Americans basically blame President Biden, Congressional Democrats and Republicans equally for the collapse last week of a $118 billion bipartisan foreign aid and border security bill. Donald Trump is the least responsible for the bill’s failure, according to the poll’s respondents.

Congressional Republicans and Trump outlined a number of reasons why they rejected the $118 billion bill, but at least in a literal sense, there’s really no denying it was their opposition that led to the deal falling apart. Trump said only a “fool, or a Radical Left Democrat, would vote for this horrendous Border Bill.” After seeing the text of the bill, GOP Speaker Mike Johnson declared it “dead on arrival” in the House.

Washington Post columnist Phillip Bump’s assessment of the ABC News poll: “This is the fundamental bind in which Biden and his party find themselves. Immigration is increasingly seen as one of the most important problems facing the country and Biden is seen (both correctly and incorrectly at times) as the person responsible for it. So even when he backs a compromise that was once a stated target for Republican leaders, he gets the blame for Republicans submarining it.”

Biden’s caught between a rock and a hard place. A number of polls show Americans are growing increasingly concerned about record-high levels of immigration and blame Biden for the crisis. But the president’s also facing mounting pressure from progressives within his party who say he’s betraying his humanitarian stance on immigration.

Embracing commitment and family, as opposed to a more idealized view of marital life, may be key to long-term happiness in a marriage. (WSJ)

Research shows people who take a family-first view of marriage have better outcomes than those who adopt the “soulmate model,” where happiness depends on an intense emotional and physical connection with a special person. A family-first approach to marriage, which includes prioritizing the welfare of spouses and family members, leads to a 58% higher likelihood of marital satisfaction, according to the California Family Survey. The survey also showed that people following the soulmate model were about twice as likely to report they were divorcing or likely to divorce soon.

But this doesn’t mean romance isn’t important. Research conducted by University of Virginia professor and Institute for Family Studies fellow Brad Wilcox shows couples with regular date nights are 15% more likely to be very happy in their marriages. These couples are also 20% more likely to be sexually satisfied than those who rarely or never have date nights.

Wilcox: The paradox of contemporary marital happiness is that husbands and wives who don’t focus on being in love but instead recognize that love is a decision to care for their spouse, kids and kin are more likely to find themselves happily married. And as my own research shows, no other factor—not money, a satisfying job, a great education or even frequent sex—is a better predictor of happiness for American men and women than a high-quality marriage.”


A number of developments in the U.S. and elsewhere have gone Russian President Vladimir Putin’s way this past week. (Barron’s)

The latest Ukraine funding bill passed the Senate yesterday, but looks unlikely to make it out of the House. GOP Speaker Mike Johnson has suggested he won’t bring the bill up for a vote on the floor. Last week, a $118 bipartisan deal that contained aid to Ukraine collapsed.

Then there’s Putin’s interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, which Russians viewed as a major PR coup. According to Tatiana Stanovaya, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, the interview “was met with euphoria, with state-owned media portraying Carlson as one of the most famous and most influential journalists in the United States.” Kremlin-backed social media accounts and pro-Russia meme-makers celebrated it as a major win.

Lastly, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky fired his popular and highest-ranking commander, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi. Zaluzhnyi’s statement in November that his country’s war with Russia had reached a stalemate reportedly sparked tensions between him and Zelensky.

New York Times bureau chief Andrew Kramer’s assessment of Zaluzhnyi’s firing: “The upheaval comes at a difficult moment for Ukraine in the war, amid intensified Russian attacks, partisan wrangling in the United States over providing aid to the government in Kyiv and the tensions between Ukraine’s civilian and military leadership.”

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