Monthly Archives: January 2018

Could Amazon’s new headquarters flip the presidential vote in a swing state?

By Andrew Van Dam

The Philadelphia Police Department’s headquarters, known as the Roundhouse, is pictured on Aug. 12, 2017. (Jessica Kourkounis for The Washington Post)

Amazon promises its second headquarters will add as many as 50,000 jobs. That’s a lot.

It’s bigger than Donald Trump’s 44,292-vote margin in Pennsylvania, a state that has two cities (Pittsburgh and Philadelphia) in the final 20 contenders.

In a few other swing states, it’s close.

That raises a whale of a question: Could Amazon’s decision about where to place its headquarters transform the electoral landscape in 2024 and beyond?

It’s unlikely, but in certain scenarios, conceivable.

A new headquarters from Amazon (whose chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, owns The Washington Post) would pack enough of an employment and economic punch that it could have a measurable effect on presidential elections. To estimate that effect, we need to understand who Amazon’s workers will be, and how they’ll vote.

The company’s solicitation for bids indicates that the retailer is looking for a workforce that is “highly educated” in software development and other disciplines and steadily renewed by a “strong university system” and outside workers drawn to the area. These and other requirements strongly indicate that the company is looking to attract recent college graduates and other young, educated workers.

Amazon’s HQ2 promotional materials focus on hiring local workers (as you might expect from a colossal corporation trying to win incentives from host cities), but their requirements also emphasize a city’s “ability to recruit talent to the area.”

Which one predominates in practice? We can’t venture a guess, but the answer would significantly affect the political impact of Amazon’s decision. Outside workers are presumably more likely …read more

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Why the Trump administration won’t let Maine ban soda and candy from food stamps

By Caitlin Dewey

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) has twice asked the Agriculture Department for permission to ban soda and candy from the state’s food stamp program. (Robert F. Bukaty/AP)

Momentum is building for new food stamp restrictions that would ban the purchase of candy and soda. This week, however, the Trump administration denied a request from the state of Maine that would have placed such restrictions on its food stamp program.

The denial, issued Tuesday, is the first sign that Trump’s Department of Agriculture may prove no more receptive to so-called “junk food bans” than the previous administration. Now, supporters of such bans are trying to parse the meaning of the rejection.

“It’s hard to tell what they’re going to do,” said Angela Rachidi, a research fellow in poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute. A more thorough program proposal, she argued, might still get approved.

This was Maine’s second attempt in two years at improving nutrition in the safety net formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

First in November 2015, and again this past February, the state requested permission to ban food stamp recipients from using their benefits for candy or sugar-sweetened beverages. Such foods have no nutritive value, the state argued, and probably contribute to high rates of obesity.

“The time has come to stand up to Big Sugar,” Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) said during a Thursday radio address, “and ensure our federal dollars are supporting healthy food choices for our neediest people.”

But in a letter to Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services, USDA refused the request, citing its own concerns, according to the Portland Press Herald. Among them: additional administrative costs for retailers, difficulties deciding on the exclusion of particular foods and the lack of evidence that such …read more

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