Archive

  • 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...
  • Immigration: Die at the Border and Open Borders

    I want to follow up quickly to a couple of notes on my posting where I referred to the "Die at the Border" policy. I was not arguing for open borders. I don't think that anyone who has given the issue serious thought advocates open borders, since a literal open border policy would almost certainly imply an inflow of hundreds of millions of people in the next couple of decades. My point is that we don't have open borders; instead we have very serious limitations on immigration. Immigration is restricted both by the danger of the border crossing and the prospect of deportation due to a random encounter with law enforcement (e.g. a traffic ticket). These threats ensure that most immigrants will not be well-educated, since well-educated people in the developing world will not take these risks to work in the United States. This means that less-skilled workers in the United States have to worry about competition from undocumented workers, while the people who design and debate immigration...
  • DINING WITH DEAN....

    DINING WITH DEAN. From Tuesday�s American Prospect breakfast with Howard Dean : Walter Shapiro: Governor, from where you sit, is the fact that there will be two caucuses between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary a done deal, or is this still open for negotiation, as to whether there will be caucuses and/or whether New Hampshire will have its traditional unmolested Iowa/New Hampshire role in American history? Howard Dean: We don�t molest anybody. We leave that to the deputy press secretary of the Homeland Security agency. For this and more, listen to this recording of the event. --The Editors
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP: THE OUTRAGE GAP. The last thing Democrats need is an electorate on the fence, says Terence Samuel. --The Editors
  • THE TRUTH ABOUT...

    THE TRUTH ABOUT IRAN MIGHT WORK -- BUT WILL DEMS TELL IT? Matt , Ezra , and Garance all give very thoughtful answers to my question below about Iran -- no question, arguments about cost and effectiveness should certainly prove more effective this time around. My concern, however, is that some Dems -- primarily the presidential contenders and their advisers, and we all know who I'm talking about here -- won't see it our way. It's hard to imagine Dems supporting a full-scale military adventure, but if Bush talks up limited strikes, some ambitious Dems might conclude that backing Bush's plan is the safest way to go -- that their presidential hopes will go up in flames if they don't appear prepared to use limited force against a regime with nuclear ambitions. I don't at all agree with that argument, but it isn't hard to imagine certain Dems thinking it. They might calculate that if anything goes wrong with the Iran adventure -- if it proves more costly or less effective than advertised...
  • MITT ROMNEY CHANNELS...

    MITT ROMNEY CHANNELS JOHN EDWARDS. This is a bit of an old story already, but I think it's still worth noting for the historical record, since I haven't seen it noted elsewhere, that John Edwards , not Mitt Romney , was the first presidential candidate to propose making health insurance mandatory . Romney's just the first to get that approach to health care policy enacted into law -- an outcome attributable to the difference between being a senator from a conservative state and the governor of a liberal one. --Garance Franke-Ruta

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