Archive

  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: IN THE BORDERLANDS.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: IN THE BORDERLANDS. Jason Motlagh lays out the historical context for the sanctuary and support given to Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in the semi-autonomous Afghan-Pakistani border regions. --The Editors
  • EDUCATION VS. INSURANCE....

    EDUCATION VS. INSURANCE. I'm a little curious to hear to what resident health policy wonk Ezra makes of this provocative article on the impact of education on health. Thoughts? The one social factor that researchers agree is consistently linked to longer lives in every country where it has been studied is education. It is more important than race; it obliterates any effects of income.... And, health economists say, those factors that are popularly believed to be crucial -- money and health insurance, for example, pale in comparison. Dr. Smith explains: �Giving people more Social Security income, or less for that matter, will not really affect people�s health. It is a good thing to do for other reasons but not for health.� Health insurance, too, he says, �is vastly overrated in the policy debate.� Instead, Dr. Smith and others say, what may make the biggest difference is keeping young people in school. A few extra years of school is associated with extra years of life and vastly...
  • SPITZER COMES THROUGH....

    SPITZER COMES THROUGH. In my cover story for this month's Prospect , I profiled three of the new governors swept into office atop 2006's wave. The piece was a little tricky to write, given that all had run relatively vague, Rose Garden-esque campaigns, but I did my best to extrapolate forward. Ohio's Ted Strickland and Massachusetts's Deval Patrick lent themselves to relatively easy analysis, but Eliot Spitzer was harder. His public pronouncements in the months leading up to the election suggested he'd turn his crusader's eye on government itself, ending his laudable struggle against unbridled corporate capitalism. And his "No New Taxes" pledge seemed to forestall much in the way of affirmative progressivism. So the piece displayed some anxiety over whether he'd fulfill his promise. But happy day : In his first annual address to the Legislature, Gov. Eliot Spitzer proposed to overhaul almost every corner of the state�s operations and policies, saying he would move swiftly to guarantee...
  • LATE NOTES ON FEDERALISM AND JIM CROW.

    LATE NOTES ON FEDERALISM AND JIM CROW. I'm very late in wading into the Jim Crow/federalism debate , but a couple of points I haven't seen anyone else make yet: Eugene Volokh is right that the "federalism permitted Jim Crow, and hence it's bad" argument is fallacious. Just as no constitutional theory can consistently prevent normatively odious outcomes when they have substantial political support, there is no institutional arrangement that can always produce outcomes than one considers to be normatively desirable. (If asked to design a new American constitution, I would unquestionably choose a Parliamentary model with a very powerful federal government; but while I strongly believe that this would produce more congenial political outcomes from my perspective in the long run, it would also have produced much worse outcomes from my perspective than the current Madisionian framework did in 2002-6.) However, I don't think this is the real problem with "states' rights" and Jim Crow. The...
  • One Year, Ten Years, What's the Difference?

    The Washington Post goes the extra mile in meaningless budget reporting this morning. It reports on the Democrats' efforts to increase the royalties assessed on energy companies for drilling on public land and also taking back some of the tax breaks given them by the Republican Congress. The article tells readers that repealing the tax cuts would save $5 billion, while increasing royalty payments would raise $9 billion to $11 billion. Of course all the people reading the article knew that these projections refer to a 10-year time frame so there was no reason to include this information in the article. For the full story, the Post would have told readers that the $5 billion in tax breaks would be equal to 0.017 percent of projected federal spending over this period and the $9-$11 billion in royalties is equal to 0.03 percent to 0.04 percent of federal spending. Readers should have this information. These tax breaks and royalty free contracts were an outrage, but taking them back is not...
  • The 2004 Deficit Was Not a Record

    The Washington Post claims that the federal deficit hit a record $413 billion in 2004. While this is a record in nominal dollars, that is a meaningless number, as I trust the Post's reporter knows. The deficit in 1983 was $207.8 billion. That was smaller in nominal dollars than the 2004 deficit, but so what? The U.S. economy was less than one-third as large in 1983. The 1983 deficit was equal to 6.0 percent of GDP . The 2004 deficit was only 3.6 percent of GDP. Even adding in the money borrowed from Social Security only brings the 2004 deficit to 4.9 percent of GDP, still more than 1.0 percentage points below the post-war peak in 1983. The current deficits are larger than can be sustained, but there is no reason to try to mislead readers to make things sound more scary. Reality is bad enough. --Dean Baker
  • A VOICE AGAINST...

    A VOICE AGAINST REFUGE. This I didn't expect: Spencer Ackerman has come out against bringing Arab or Kurdish Iraqi refugees to the U.S., on the grounds that they might secretly be terrorists : the attacks that have occurred within the Green Zone suggest that merely working with U.S. forces does not indicate a lack of hostility to Americans. How could one set up a system establishing who is and isn't a security risk to allow into the U.S.? If we take Kennedy and Packer's advice, it's incredibly easy to imagine an aggrieved Iraqi obtaining a job with the U.S. in order to travel to America and seek revenge.... the last thing we should do is make the prospect of jihadist exfiltration easier. Easy to imagine, perhaps, unless you know about how our system of mass asylum screening can work. During the 1996 Iraqi Kurd evacuation, people were brought to the American territory of Guam for screening, and while their asylum applications were fast-tracked, they still had to go through them and...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: RUDY CAN FAIL.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: RUDY CAN FAIL. Today, Bossman-at-Large Mike Tomasky inaugurates a "most Wednesdays" web column for TAP Online with a piece laying out the southern problem that Rudy Giuliani will face in his quest for the GOP presidential nomination. Mike includes a suggested attack ad against Rudy for a Republican opponent, free of charge. Check it out . --The Editors
  • A SPLIT IN THE ANTI-ABORTION MOVEMENT?

    A SPLIT IN THE ANTI-ABORTION MOVEMENT? I recently stumbled across this item from the Christian press in which prominent anti-choicer Leslee Unruh admits that during the South Dakota abortion ban campaign she faced more harassment from hardline "pro-lifers" than from pro-choicers. "When you�re running a pro-life campaign the last thing you need is pro-lifers who have a different strategy and won�t respect the people in the state," Unruh said. [...] "When someone works as hard as I have for 22 years, the outside pro-lifers coming in and bringing trucks and (bringing) anger and hate�that affects the community." All of the tactics that "scared" Unruh -- gory photos of dismembered fetuses, disruptive prayer vigils, videotaping reporters and volunteers -- are classic moves by anti-abortion groups. Maybe she should be asking pro-choicers for some advice. We've got a lot of experience dealing with that sort of harassment. This is yet another sign that Unruh's brand of anti-choice/"pro-woman"...
  • HECK OF A...

    HECK OF A JOB, SAUERBREY. Yesterday, Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly warned about the under-qualified U.S. State Department's Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, Ellen Sauerbrey , a GOP activist and former Maryland state legislator: If the [Iraqi] refugee crisis worsens, as it's likely to do, keep an eye on Sauerbrey. We may have another "Brownie"/FEMA story unfolding. That's certainly what some people thought when she was nominated, which is why The Los Angeles Times ' Oct. 2005 article on her appointment by Ken Silverstein got slapped with the headline "Shades of FEMA's Brown in Bush Pick" : "This is a job that deals with one of the great moral issues of our time," said Joel R. Charny of Refugees International in Washington, which opposes Sauerbrey's nomination. "This is not a position where you drop in a political hack." He and critics from other relief organizations - who spoke on condition of anonymity because they work closely with the...

Pages