Former Vice President Al Gore has asked his staff to begin laying out plans for an endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama if he performs well in the Super Tuesday primaries. “[Gore] doesn’t see the utility of endorsing Obama until the endorsement would actually mean something and give Gore an opportunity to be the kingmaker,” says a former aide with knowledge of Gore’s thinking.
Gore is also being pressed by Clinton loyalists not to endorse anyone in the primary phase of the campaign but rather to serve as the one man who can “heal” the rift between Obama and Clinton loyalists leading on the convention in Colorado in August.
“Gore is beyond politics now, and to endorse would lower him to Clinton or Obama’s level, I think,” says another former adviser. “But he could take a real leadership role in the party if he wanted to, bridging the divide that we’re beginning to see in the party. Bill Clinton can’t do it. Really, only Gore can.”
With an expectation that federal and state legislators will be looking to cut spending in the coming fiscal years, Big Labor — the AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union and AFSCME — are watching local telecom tax initiatives in California tomorrow to determine whether similar initiatives can be pushed out across the country.
“If we can get a doubling of people’s phone taxes by tweaking the legal language at the local level, it will mean millions of tax revenue, and revenue is going to be important for our membership across the country as localities and states look to cut across the board,” says an SEIU lobbyist in Washington, D.C.
Voters in such California cities as Richmond, Pasadena, and Los Angeles will vote Tuesday on whether to “modernize” or update decades-old phone utility taxes to include such things as wireless phone texting or music downloads over the Internet. Internal revenue analysis by the city of Pasadena shows that taxpayers there could see as much as a doubling in their communications-taxes on the bottom of their phone bills. The phone companies collect the taxes from consumers and pass it through to the local governments; it is not a tax on the phone companies.
“It isn’t just phone taxes we’re looking at,” says an AFL-CIO tax specialist based in New York. “We’re looking at everything, hotel taxes, car-rental taxes, cable-TV, anything that can get tacked on to people’s bills in a relatively innocuous and painless way that will get local and state government more money.”