Archive

  • NO, MCCAIN REALLY...

    NO, MCCAIN REALLY IS THAT CONSERVATIVE. As my colleague Matt noticed , the good folks over at The New Republic are playing some full-court press in defense of John McCain . A couple days ago, editor-at-large Peter Beinart offered his plea to see McCain stick close to his populist, contrarian roots, even offering up a unity scenario in which McCain runs as an independent with a Democrat veep. Today, Jon Chait offers a more full-throated defense of McCain on the merits, arguing that: In addition to shepherding campaign finance reform through Congress--against the administration's efforts to kill it quietly--he co-sponsored a patients' bill of rights with John Edwards and Ted Kennedy; co-sponsored with Charles Schumer a measure to allow the importation of generic prescription drugs; co-sponsored with John Kerry legislation to raise auto emissions standards; and co-sponsored legislation with Joe Lieberman to close the "gun-show loophole" and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in compliance...
  • HISTORY REPEATS. Can't...

    HISTORY REPEATS. Can't have a war in Iran without Joe Lieberman 's involvement , so that's taken care of. Which reminds me of something I wanted to say about the whole "how should Democrats handle Iran?" question, namely that the first step is to take this seriously as a party issue. More than one donkey was inclined to favor privatizing Social Security or to make off-message remarks on the subject, but they were largely dissuaded from doing so by a coordinated campaign of fear and intimidation involving party leaders, major interest groups, bloggers and pundits, and everyone else on hand. Liberal constituency groups are overwhelmingly organized around domestic concerns, but everyone from NOW and the Sierra Club to the AFL-CIO and the NAACP needs to understand that their agendas won't be well-served by another Democratic national security meltdown or another outbreak of war fever. --Matthew Yglesias
  • CLINTON POLLSTER SAYS...

    CLINTON POLLSTER SAYS HILLARY HAS MORE THAN A "50-50 CHANCE" OF BECOMING PRESIDENT. In an appearance that's sure to get the wheels of will-she-or-won't-she-in-2008 speculation spinning, Clinton pollster Doug Schoen told a panel discussion last night that Hillary "undeniably" has "a 50-50 chance, at least" of becoming president, according to an account posted at the Daily Politics . At the panel -- sponsored by New York magazine -- Schoen also threw a big chunk of meat to those who want a more confrontational Democratic Party. Schoen, whose firm works for Hillary, said he thinks that the "moderate" wing of the party is losing the struggle -- though that wouldn't stop Hillary from becoming the nominee. Indeed, as the Daily Politics noted, he was surprisingly forthright about her centrist positioning: "She undeniably is a 50-50 chance, at least," to be elected president, [Schoen] said. "Senator Clinton...has the luxury of being able to position erself toward the center as time goes...
  • FAKE DARFUR GRANDSTANDING....

    FAKE DARFUR GRANDSTANDING. If you want to understand the how the Bush administration can score political points while taking a minimalist approach to the crisis in Darfur, observe how the press reacts to Ambassador John Bolton �s forthcoming disclosure of the names of four individuals slated for Security Council sanctions. The Security Council will meet in about a half an hour to discuss sanctioning four individuals for their role in the Darfur crisis. By disclosing these names and calling for an open vote on whether they should be sanctioned, Bolton is trying to force Russia and China into going public with their objection to these names. Said Bolton, "These are people who are involved in atrocities and killing people and turning people into refugees." What Bolton will likely not say is that of those four, only one is a Sudanese government official, and a mid-level official at that. Bolton will likely also not advertise that this list of four was whittled down from a list of eight...
  • THE PASSIONS OF...

    THE PASSIONS OF THE OVERCLASS. Allow me to agree with Reihan Salam on this: Daniel Gross's crusade against the AMT is taking a new shape . Now it's not just a war on affluent Democrats -- it is a a war on "a good chunk of the national Republican base." In that case, though, isn't keeping the AMT an example of the need for revenue trumping politics? The AMT is flawed. Still, I can't help but find the obsession of the upper-middle-left, and the upper-middle-right, with the AMT more than slightly amusing. This is not unlike racial preferences. Somehow the color composition of the Ivy League becomes the central moral challenge of our time. Who says? The Ivy League!!! In an ideal world, this AMT creep business we're seeing wouldn't be going on. In the actual world, however, the government desperately needs more revenue and liberals have no business campaigning for revenue-decreasing measures. This is especially true since though the AMT is hardly the most progressive tax out there (it...
  • DEFINING JOHN MCCAIN....

    DEFINING JOHN MCCAIN. In yesterday's LA Times , Jonathan Chait offers up a more convincing and sober-minded version of Jacob Weisberg 's recent argument that John McCain really isn't a conservative and he's just doing a little necessary pandering. My Big Correct Debate-Changing Observation about this is that the disagreements here are less about McCain than they are about liberalism. For people who were fairly satisfied with the policy outputs of the late Clinton era -- balanced budgets, strong GDP growth, reality-based environmental policies, etc. -- McCain's views on economics are going to look a lot better than standard Republicanism. If, on the other hand, you want to see dramatic health care reform, big improvements in public services, and a serious effort to curb economic inequality, then Bush's differences with McCain look relatively trivial. Again, some liberals think the problem with Bush's foreign policy has been bad management which McCain, perhaps, is well-suited to...
  • THE "OVERHAUL" CONTINUES....

    THE "OVERHAUL" CONTINUES. The president's effort to shake up the White House staff without actually changing anything took another step forward today. When Andy Card resigned, he was replaced by Office of Management and Budget Director Josh Bolten which, in turn, created an opening. That opening, we learn, will be filled by US Trade Representative Rob Portman . And just to make sure there's absolutely no new blood introduced to the system, Portman will be replaced by his deputy. This all serves as a reminder that even if the current campaign to shove Don Rumsfeld out of office were to somehow succeed, the actual results would be minimal. --Matthew Yglesias
  • Budget Deficits and Current Account Deficits

    A New York Times story on Iceland provides a good opportunity to discuss the asymmetry in reporting on government budget deficits and national current account deficits. While news of the budget deficit routinely appears prominently on the front pages (in addition to occupying considerable space on editorial and op-ed pages) discussion of the current account deficit is generally relegated to the inner pages of the business section. Since the long-term impact of the two on the economy is comparable, there is little justification for the difference in treatment. This is another Econ 101 story. A budget deficit is supposed to be bad because it pulls money away from other more productive purposes. Specifically it is supposed to raise interest rates and thereby crowd out private investment. (The deficit hawks have a hard time telling this story at present, with real interest rates in the U.S. at near post-war lows.) The result is slower growth and a poorer country in the long-term. There is...
  • PSA. TAPPED will...

    PSA. TAPPED will be offline today in celebration of Patriots Day. --Alec Oveis
  • The "Theft" of Health Care by Immigrants: Does It Matter?

    The New York Times ran a front page story on Sunday that could have been a case study of why it is essential to put budget numbers in context. The article, " Medicaid Rule For Immigrants May Bar Others ," explains how new rules intended to prevent illegal immigrants from getting Medicaid may also prevent many eligible beneficiaries from getting assistance. The problem is that many low income people don't possess the necessary documentation (e.g. drivers licenses or birth certificates) needed to receive Medicaid under the new rules. The key flaw in an otherwise excellent article is the brief reference to the potential budget savings from the new rules. The article reports that the Congressional Budget Office projects the savings as $220 million over five years and $735 million over ten years. Many readers may have been misled into thinking that this is real money. The projected savings are equal to 0.0015 percent of projected spending over the next five years and 0.0022 percent of...

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