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  • Republicans Insist that Productivity Is Lower Than the Data Show

    Yesterday's employment report showed far more growth in employment in the household survey than in the establishment survey. Most economists view the establishment survey, which is much larger, as being the better gage of employment, but there are doubters (many of whom are not Republicans). I have examined this issue in the past and generally concurred with the establishment view. (It's worth noting that the establishment survey actually showed far more rapid job growth in the 90s.) I am more agnostic now, because a quick glance at Social Security tax collections suggests a more rapid pace of growth than is consistent with the wage growth and job growth reported in the establishment survey. (It's late, I could be missing something). There is an important sidebar to this argument. If job growth is actually more rapid than is being reported by the establishment survey, then productivity growth is lower than BLS is now reporting. BLS uses the establishment survey for hours data when it...
  • PHILADELPHIA, PA --

    PHILADELPHIA, PA -- At lunchtime today, hundreds gathered in Philadelphia�s Love Park to support Pennsylvania Democrats. The crowd huddled in the cold, clutching their �Ricky the Rat� signs that depicted a smug Santorum with whiskers, buck teeth, and mouse ears. �He�s a rat,� said one red-cheeked activist, �for making $165,000 a year and not supporting minimum wage changes.� Local labor leaders quickly got the crowd fired up by chanting �Hey hey! Ho ho! Rick Santorum�s got to go!� Governor Ed Rendell �s bus pulled up to the busy Center City intersection with a veritable Dream Team of politicians aboard. The stirring piano intro from Van Halen�s �Right Now� came on over the loudspeakers, as Chakah Fatah, Patrick Murphy, Ed Rendell, Bob Casey , and keynote speaker John Edwards took the stage. If the polls are any indication of what�s in store for Tuesday, of course, both Casey and Rendell are shoo-ins. When Bob Casey took the stage, hundreds of �Casey for Senate� signs went up into the...
  • THE CONSERVATIVE ID.

    THE CONSERVATIVE ID. I'm wary of getting into a lot of meta discussions about blogs, but what the hell. Ben hints at it in responding to Blake , and this is perhaps not going to inspire widespread agreement among readers and commenters (or fellow Tapped ers), but it needs to be said: The Corner is must-reading. I don't read as many conservative blogs as I probably should (as Specialist kindly reminds us, reading at least some is important so as to avoid too much cocooning), but The Corner is truly vital, a smorgasbord of conservative sentiments, thoughts, impulses, biases, arguments, and -- these days -- angst. You've got dead-ender Bush -loyalist hackery mixed with principled conservative self-critiques mixed with plenty of liberal-bashing mixed with truly vicious infighting mixed with intelligent analysis mixed with abject goofiness mixed with interesting provocations and off-message arguments. It's the conservative id. And in the era of the GOP crack-up, it's only getting more...
  • THE INTERESTING THING ABOUT RIGHTWING BLOGS:

    THE INTERESTING THING ABOUT RIGHTWING BLOGS: In response to Blake : I generally do not read rightwing blogs myself, as I typically find their argumentation so tautological and their views so ill-considered that they are totally unpersuasive. However, one thing they can do is make you understand your own beliefs more clearly--and not only out of revulsion at theirs. Some of the better writers at some of the better blogs, like The Corner, actually have a fairly nuanced understanding of American liberalism, even if they try to cover it up with outlandish book titles . Last week I had a back and forth with libertarian blogger Julian Sanchez (sidenote: libertarians, because they actually have a consistent philosophy and they share certain liberal assumptions are generally much more interesting to read than conservatives in my opinion) about whether a conservative or libertarian politician who opposes social security, funding for stem cell research or civil rights protections for the...
  • THE PROCESS OF...

    THE PROCESS OF POPULISTS. I don't know, Mark , I always got the feeling that 1974 represented the zenith of process-oriented, good-government liberalism. My read on 2006 is that we're seeing the opening salvos of a populist turn in the Democratic Party. This obviously isn't true straight across the board, but the Testers, Browns, Webbs , and even Lamonts of the world represent something distinct and resonant, more reminiscent of 1994's class of true believers than 1974's class of hard workers. My understanding is that the Campaign for America's Future and Stan Greenberg (he's everywhere, no?) have reams of polling data backing this up and ready for release on November 9th, but, alas, we'll have to wait till then for hard numbers. Even in their absence, I think various economic trends and forces (inequality, wage stagnation, union decline, death of the corporate welfare state, etc) render a resurgent populism an absolute inevitability in American politics and, fairly or not, I'd guess...
  • SO MANY TYPES...

    SO MANY TYPES OF SANTORUM. But Scott , the Santorum strategy isn't merely to deny that he's a conservative, it's also to affirm that he's a conservative ! And a libertarian ! And a progressive ! Given the breadth of the coalition such a uniter could theoretically muster, Bob Casey must be one helluva candidate to remain so far out ahead. In the final analysis, I think this multiplicity of personas doomed Santorum. He had elements of a new, Christian Democrat progressivism, but he was too much of a pro-business conservative to embrace its economic imperatives, and too much of a social conservative to gain centrist credibility from it. Unlike, say, Sam Brownback , Santorum was traditionally ambitious, and rose to the leadership of the Senate Republicans, requiring him to be a Senate Republican, not a peculiar ideology unto himself. So anything new he brought to the table had to be palatable to the old guard already arrayed around it. But you can't simultaneously blaze a new trail and...
  • IT'S NOT 1994!

    IT'S NOT 1994! Stan Greenberg and James Carville titled their Democracy Corps strategy memo this morning, "Re: 1994." The Wall Street Journal focuses on the 1994 Republican Revolution and what's become of it. I feel obligated to call your attention to an article of mine in this fine publication from exactly a year ago (or more precisely, a year ago from election day) in which I argued that 1994 was not a good model for Democratic ambitions this year . And it still isn't. This year is much more like 1974. And that's much more promising for the possibility of sustainable Democratic majorities and a turn toward progressive policies. The Republican achievement in 1994, for all of Newt Gingrich 's bombast, was actually pretty simple: There were many dozens of districts in the South, West, and Midwest that had been voting reliably Republican at the presidential level for decades, but still elected Democrats to represent them in Congress. In fact, even though George H.W. Bush won only 37...
  • WHO READS THE RIGHT?

    WHO READS THE RIGHT? I must admit that, unlike many of my Tapped colleagues, I don't generally read right-wing blogs anymore. I used to consider it important to engage with the opposition, but most have become too detached from reality. I especially do not read the dreaded Corner . My time and patience are limited. Am I missing anything? --Blake Hounshell
  • COLLINS: SHOCKED, SHOCKED....

    COLLINS: SHOCKED, SHOCKED . One of the more grotesque spectacles in recent years has been the dependably ginned-up outrage (with no willingness to point fingers at the clear culprits) we see from GOP moderates every time their party hoodwinks them, and the American people. Case in point: The New York Times reports today that hidden in a huge military spending bill recently signed by the president is a provision to terminate the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. According to the Times : The clause was inserted by the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee over the objections of Democratic counterparts during a closed-door conference, and it has generated surprise and some outrage among lawmakers who say they had no idea it was in the final legislation. Really, surprise? This kind of sneaky tactic has been the Republicans stock in trade, especially in the House, for quite some time. But somehow moderate Republicans continue to be shocked,...
  • AND DON'T FORGET...

    AND DON'T FORGET -- HE'S A LIBERTARIAN TOO! Shorter Verbatim Peggy Noonan : Most of [Rick Santorum's] own impulses -- protect the unprotected, help the helpless, respect the common man -- have not been conservative in the way conservative is roughly understood, or portrayed, in the national imagination. If this were the JFK era, his politics would not be called "right wing" but "progressive." He is, at heart, a Catholic social reformer. Bobby Kennedy would have loved him. Call me historically ignorant, but I don't recall reading about Bobby Kennedy 's plan to privatize Social Security . I think that the magic dolphins might actually be writing her columns at this point. It does say something encouraging that the new strategy for propping up the campaign of one of the staunchest conservative ideologues in the Senate is to deny that he's a conservative at all. -- Scott Lemieux

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