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Granderson: If the economy is so great, why are evictions soaring?

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Granderson: If the economy is so great, why are evictions soaring?

There is another migrant crisis brewing. Unlike the one at the southern border, this one will be all over the country.

A recent Harvard study found that half of the country’s renters are spending a third or more of their income on housing. Those are the people fortunate enough to find housing when there’s a nationwide shortage of affordable homes. Combine the rent line item with the soaring cost of child care, and don’t forget groceries, and … well, you can understand why evictions have spiked and homelessness has reached a record high.

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LZ Granderson

LZ Granderson writes about culture, politics, sports and navigating life in America.

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We’re living through an age of contradictions. The United States is the strongest economy in the world, and Americans’ credit card debt has never been higher. The unemployment rate has been less than 5% for President Biden’s entire first term, and voters disapprove of his handling of the economy. Wall Street predicted that last year’s gross domestic product would grow by less than 2%, and instead it was 2.5% — yet the economy feels weak to a lot of people.

That’s because for many people, the economy is weak.

Right now the top 1% has more money than the nation’s entire middle class. For Americans with the lowest incomes, rent is just the beginning of the worries.

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Unaffordable rent is a continuation of the wealth redistribution that accompanied the economic policies of President Reagan.

Before disco, the top 10% shared 30% of the nation’s income, while the remaining 90% lived off the rest. Today, the bottom 90% is getting by with less than 60% of the income. The top 1% took in 14.6% in 2021, which is twice their 7.3% share in 1979, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

After 1979, Reagan convinced voters to make capital more important than people. Give the rich more, and the extra will “trickle down” — remember that? Greed is a part of capitalism, but it’s not a part of patriotism. Reagan’s characterization of our economy conflated those two concepts, and many Americans embraced that fallacy as truth. Those who struggled to achieve prosperity were viewed as lazy and unworthy of help. Something had to be wrong with them, the thinking went, because nothing was wrong with this “land of opportunity.”

This was the era when well-paying manufacturing jobs went elsewhere. This was when large, successful companies were able to rake in record profits, while hardworking employees began to rely on food stamps to feed their families.

And now Congress is trying to solve the housing crisis by offering housing developers more tax credits. So much for the invisible hand of the free market, right? Although there is a desperate need for more affordable housing, developers apparently do not make enough money to want to do it, so government has to dangle a carrot to ensure that thriving corporations will thrive even more.

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Conservatives often talk of the country’s unsustainable spending. It isn’t federal debt that should worry them most, though. How much longer can 22 million people spend a third or more of their earnings on rent?

In 2023, some states saw eviction filings jump more than 50% compared with pre-pandemic levels — and back then, the unemployment rate was higher. That’s not sustainable either.

Whether it’s living off borrowings in order to avoid taxable income or reporting losses legally while still making money, the various ways billionaire owners end up paying a lower tax rate than many of their employees are well-documented. When rising costs are passed down to consumers — rent, baby formula, bacon — we are conditioned to blame the government and not the price-gougers. When gas prices are up, many point fingers at the White House, even though, of course, presidents don’t control gas prices.

This sorry state of the American economy is not attributable entirely to either party or any one presidential administration. This redistribution has continued on everyone’s watch. However, we are reaching a point where a lot of people are fed up with their hard work not paying off, and they’re going to take action. That’s why the Wall Street Journal dubbed 2023 “the year of the strike.” Workers saw the prosperity at the top and demanded their fair share.

Now more than ever, we need Congress to close the tax loopholes that have allowed trillions of dollars to be redirected away from the many and hoarded by the few. Because the rent crisis isn’t a new problem: It’s the latest incarnation of the one that started when policymakers began to pretend that greed is good.

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Nikki Haley bets it all on Super Tuesday after dismal primary night down south

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Nikki Haley bets it all on Super Tuesday after dismal primary night down south

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Nikki Haley isn’t giving up.

Despite a dismal primary performance in her own home state of South Carolina, the former U.N. ambassador is making good on her promise to stay in the GOP presidential primary race and is placing her bets on next month’s Super Tuesday contests when 15 states — or just over a third of all delegates — are up for grabs.

“America will come apart if we make the wrong choices. This has never been about me or my political future. We need to beat Joe Biden in November. I don’t believe Donald Trump can beat Joe Biden,” Haley told a crowd of supporters gathered at her election night watch party in Charleston, South Carolina on Saturday.

TRUMP WINS SOUTH CAROLINA PRIMARY AGAINST HALEY IN HER HOME STATE, MOVES CLOSER TO CLINCHING GOP NOMINATION

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and former President Donald Trump. (Getty Images)

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“I said earlier this week that no matter what happens in South Carolina, I would continue to run for President. I’m a woman of my word. I’m not giving up this fight when a majority of Americans disapprove of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” she said, arguing voters in Michigan and the Super Tuesday states deserved to have a choice as they head to the polls over the next 10 days.

Haley now heads to Michigan, where GOP primary voters will have their say next Tuesday, but with less than a third of the state’s 55 delegates at stake. The rest will be determined at 13 congressional district meetings scheduled to be held on March 2.

What little polling has been done suggests Trump could hold a strong lead in the state, but regardless of that outcome, Haley’s campaign appears set to make Super Tuesday the final stand against Trump’s juggernaut status in the Republican Party.

WATCH: TOP REPUBLICANS SHOWERED WITH BOOS FROM TRUMP VICTORY CROWD, PROMPTING JOKES FROM FORMER PRESIDENT

Trump victory speech

Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump gestures to supporters during an election night watch party at the State Fairgrounds on February 24, 2024 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

On that day, March 5, voters in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia will all head to the polls to decide between Trump and Haley.

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In a press call with reporters on Friday, Haley campaign manager Betsy Ankney announced a seven-figure ad buy across the Super Tuesday states, the strongest sign ahead of the South Carolina primary that Haley would follow through with plans to stay in the race regardless of Saturday’s outcome.

In his South Carolina victory speech, Trump also said he would continue fighting to win over voters in Michigan and the Super Tuesday states.

WATCH: TRUMP RALLYGOERS REVEAL WHOM THEY WANT AS VICE PRESIDENT

Haley South Carolina speech

Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina and 2024 Republican presidential candidate, during an election night watch party in Charleston, South Carolina, US, on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Christian Monterrosa/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“It’s an early evening and a fantastic evening,” Trump told a crowd of supporters gathered at the South Carolina state fairgrounds in Columbia, the state capitol, just minutes after polls closed and he was declared the victor.

“Celebrate for 15 minutes, but then we have to get back to work,” he added.

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When it comes to the delegates needed for either candidate to clinch the Republican nomination for president, Haley faces an extremely steep climb to make the race competitive. 

Trump, who entered the South Carolina primary with 63 delegates to Haley’s 17, could likely reach the 1,215 delegates needed to clinch the nomination by late March — at the earliest — given the number of delegates up for grabs in the states set to vote between now and then, as well as how those delegates are awarded.

Fox News’ Rémy Numa and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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California lawmakers can’t take lobbyist donations — unless they’re running for Congress

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California lawmakers can’t take lobbyist donations — unless they’re running for Congress

State Sen. Susan Rubio has a powerful position in Sacramento. As chair of the Insurance Committee, the Baldwin Park Democrat can help pass or kill any legislation affecting that industry.

Due to a law meant to prevent corruption, Rubio can’t accept campaign donations from insurance lobbyists — or any other lobbyists — as she raises money for her 2026 reelection to the Legislature. State law forbids California lobbyists from donating to the campaigns of state lawmakers.

But there are no such restrictions on lobbyists donating to campaigns for federal office, even when the candidate is a state lawmaker. So as Rubio runs for Congress this year, she can take donations for her federal campaign from lobbyists who may seek to influence her votes in Sacramento.

And she is.

Rubio has received nearly $43,300 in contributions from registered state lobbyists in her campaign to replace retiring Rep. Grace F. Napolitano in California’s 31st Congressional District. It’s a sliver of her overall fundraising as of Feb. 14, but the most lobbyist money of any California lawmaker who is running for federal office. Many of those who donated to Rubio’s congressional campaign represent companies that lobby bills that are heard before committees she sits on as a state legislator, including the Insurance Committee and those that oversee policy related to healthcare, alcohol regulations and energy and utilities.

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Eight state legislators are running for Congress this year. Six have received lobbyist donations, in amounts that vary widely, adding up to $96,090.

The donations are legal and make up a small portion of the candidates’ overall fundraising. Still, some watchdogs say they should be prohibited because of the risk that lobbyists’ money could shape lawmakers’ decisions in the work they are doing at the state level.

“It doesn’t mean they’ll vote in their favor, but the possibility that could happen exists,” said Sean McMorris, a program manager at the government watchdog group Common Cause.

His organization was part of the coalition that 50 years ago introduced California’s Political Reform Act, the law that bans lobbyist donations to state lawmakers.

Bob Stern, co-author of the law, said the state prohibition was put in place because “legislators were receiving huge amounts from people who were lobbying them, and we thought there should be a disconnect between lobbying and campaign contributions.”

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In practice, Stern said, the prohibition’s impacts were limited, since the companies hiring lobbyists could still give directly to candidates, as can affiliated political action committees. But there was “symbolism” to the separation, he said.

Rubio’s campaign manager, Giovanni Ruiz, said all contributions she had received from individuals were “solely based on mutually respectful relationships,” and she has opposed issues that donors lobbied for in the past.

Ruiz also noted that Rubio was being massively outspent by her opponent Gil Cisneros, who has put $4 million of his own money into his campaign.

Silicon Valley congressional candidate Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell) received $21,650 from lobbyists, making up 2% of his fundraising. He joined the late-breaking race to replace retiring Rep. Anna G. Eshoo in early December, just months before the March primary.

State Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine), who is running to replace Rep. Katie Porter in an Orange County seat, received about $16,500 in lobbyist donations, accounting for 1% of total fundraising since he launched his campaign at the beginning of 2023.

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Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), who is vying to replace Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Los Angeles), received $4,000, and her opponent state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-Burbank) received $6,500 from lobbyists. Those totals account for less than 1% of each of their fundraising.

Portantino and Friedman have both been running for the Los Angeles congressional seat for more than a year.

Central Valley congressional candidate State Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) received about $4,000 from lobbyists — a sum that accounted for 6.1% of her fundraising since she launched her campaign in August 2023.

Hurtado told The Times that lawmakers should be able to receive those donations but acknowledged that “money has the ability to corrupt people, it’s plain and simple.”

Since August, Hurtado has raised less than $100,000; she said she is in debt from putting her own money into the race. The only money she doesn’t accept is from the cannabis industry, she told The Times.

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Friedman went further, saying she sees the potential issues and would support a law that prevents federal campaigns from accepting money from state lobbyists.

Friedman noted that her campaign was turning down all corporate PAC money and described that as a far more salient issue in races like hers. She characterized the lobbyist contributions she and her colleagues had received as small compared with the “avalanche of money out there” from clients of the lobbyists.

Portantino, Low and Min did not respond to requests for comment.

Two state legislators running for Congress have not received any lobbyist donations: Sen. Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera), who is also running for Napolitano’s San Gabriel Valley seat and launched his campaign last summer, and Assemblymember Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), who is running for former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s vacant Bakersfield seat. Fong launched his campaign in December.

Because of the limited disclosures required by the state, lobbyists are not required to publicly report which lawmakers they have attempted to influence on various bills, making it difficult to draw direct lines between their lobbying efforts and their donations. But campaign finance and lobbying records show that several of the candidates have received donations from lobbyists who work with companies seeking to influence policy in the areas in which they have power, based on committee positions.

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Sen. Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) is one of several state lawmakers running for Congress.

(Robert Gourley / Los Angeles Times)

Sacramento lobbyist Mandy Lee gave $3,300, the maximum allowable donation, to Rubio. Her firm represents the American Property Casualty Insurance Assn., a major trade group for home, auto and business insurers. The association lobbied on bills heard in the Rubio-chaired Senate Insurance Committee. Lee also donated $500 to Min.

Rubio’s spokesperson noted that the senator’s relationship with Lee long predated her election to the Legislature.

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Rubio also received $2,000 from lobbyist Paul Gladfelty, whose firm represents the Travelers insurance company.

“It is not uncommon for state lobbyists to make personal contributions to congressional candidates we know and believe in, which state law allows. Prior to the Senator running for Legislative office, I had the opportunity to establish a personal friendship,” Gladfelty said by text message, adding that his friendship with Rubio “exists regardless of her committee assignments.”

Lobbyists Soyla Fernández and Kirk Kimmelshue, owners of Fernández Jensen Kimmelshue Government Affairs, both donated to the campaigns of Min and Rubio. Their firm’s client list includes the Regional Water Authority and Northern California Water Assn., which both lobbied on bills that were heard in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water that Min chairs.

Their firm also represents Southern California Edison, which routinely lobbies on bills in the Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee that Min and Rubio both sit on; the Anheuser-Busch beer company, which lobbies the committee that regulates alcohol, of which Rubio is a member; and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which lobbies the health committee that Rubio sits on.

Lobbyist RJ Cervantes, whose clients include trade associations for cryptocurrency and electronic payment companies, gave $3,300 to Low, who serves as co-chair of the Legislative Technology & Innovation Caucus, a group of lawmakers who want to foster a tech-friendly climate in California.

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Cervantes, Kimmelshue, Fernández and Lee did not respond to requests for comment.

Jessica Levinson, an election law professor at Loyola Law School and former president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, sees the situation as less clear-cut than Common Cause’s McMorris does. She said she doesn’t think it is unethical for state lawmakers to accept lobbyist donations to their congressional campaigns, since there is “a very real opening in the law” that allows them.

“It’s up to the voters to determine if this is something that bothers them,” Levinson said. “My guess is that for most voters, it’s pretty far down on the list.”

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NFL team owner appears on stage with Trump during South Carolina victory speech

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NFL team owner appears on stage with Trump during South Carolina victory speech

New York Jets owner and billionaire businessman Woody Johnson stood in support behind former President Trump in South Carolina on Saturday night after Trump was quickly projected the winner of the state’s primary.

Johnson, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom during the Trump administration, was on stage alongside his wife Suzanne behind Trump as the former president delivered a speech after his quick victory in the Palmetto State primary on Saturday.

Johnson, a member of the founding family of Johnson & Johnson, has previously expressed support for the former president during the 2024 campaign. 

“Americans remember how good it was or how much better it was on the border, and inflation, and gas prices, and grocery prices, all that, during the Trump administration, and they want to get back there,” Johnson told News’ Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo earlier this month. 

JETS’ OWNER WOODY JOHNSON TAKES SHOT AT ZACH WILSON, PUTS OFFENSE ON NOTICE: ‘WE’VE GOT TO PRODUCE THIS YEAR’

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Former US Presidential hopeful and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump (C) gestures at an “Election Night Watch Party” in Columbia, South Carolina ( TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

“So I think the most important thing is getting the former president back in the White House, which looks like it’s happening.”

Fox News Digital reached out to Johnson’s representatives but did not immediately receive a response.

WATCH: TRUMP RALLYGOERS REVEAL WHOM THEY WANT AS VICE PRESIDENT

Trump Woody Johnson

Trump delivers victory speech in South Carolina (Fox News)

Trump’s rapidly-called victory on Saturday over former U.N. ambassador and former two-term South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in her home state moves the former president another step closer to clinching the 2024 GOP nomination. 

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“It’s an early evening and a fantastic evening,” Trump told a crowd of supporters gathered at the South Carolina state fairgrounds in Columbia, the state capitol, just minutes after polls closed and he was declared the victor.

Jets' owner Woody Johnson

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson looks on before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium on October 2, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

“Celebrate for 15 minutes, but then we have to get back to work,” he added, referencing next week’s Michigan primary, and Super Tuesday the following week.

Fox News Digital’s Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

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