TRIFECTA. It was a big -- and, oddly enough, good -- night in the Senate, as Democrats rejected the mutant estate tax/minimum wage hybrid and passed pension reform. Props, of course, go to Harry Reid for asserting that working folks don't need to deprive the government of $750 billion in revenue that'll shore up Medicare and Social Security in order to get a slight pay hike. Of course, one of those pesky anonymous Republican aides chortled, "We won the last 2 elections and beat Tom Daschle by campaigning against Democrat obstructionism. This could be the gift we were looking for." Don't bet on it.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: DEMOCRATIC DILEMMAS. Liberals cheered the passage of the Voting Rights Act extension last month, but Columbia political scientist David Epstein, who's done research on race and redistricting, makes the case for feeling some ambivalence. At issue is the interplay of majority-minority districting and Republican dominance in the South, a dynamic that has vexed progressives for many years now:
ARE NEWSPAPER READERS LEARNING? This isn't really my thing, but there's something absurd about Carl Hulse�s writeup of yesterday's Senate action on the estate tax cut and minimum wage bill for The New York Times. Hulse covers this kind of thing professionally and has been writing about this specific bill for a while and presumably isn't some kind of moron.
When it comes to Social Security, the Washington Post editorial page and the truth never enter the same room. The editorial page is probably the country�s main promoter of the �entitlement� problem. This is the trick in which Social Security is lumped together as an entitlement, with Medicare and Medicaid, and then pronounced a huge problem.
COW STEREOTYPES.Ezra keeps mentioning that Jonah Goldberg has an interesting mind. Okay, I'm willing to be convinced. However, this kind of crap is, ah, not doing the job. I could take this far more seriously than it deserves to be taken and point out how thoroughly those "rugged cowboy types" -- Gooey! Dripping! Steaming! as Frank Zappa once opined -- depend on the largesse of the federal government and its grazing policies.
WHAT IS HEZBOLLAH?Tim Cavanaugh's reply to Robert Pape's op-ed is interesting. Pape, the author of a book on suicide bombers, argues that Hezbollah is a territorial organization, staffed and sustained by anger over Israeli incursions. Cavanaugh, however, has done some more recent work with the organization, and found them a centrally structured, highly sophisticated group.
It is fashionable in many circles to warn of the impending bankruptcy of the federal government (see USAToday). Be warned � this is not a story about the evils of Bush�s tax cuts for the rich. These tax cuts are just a footnote. The real villain in the bankruptcy story is the projected explosion in the cost of Medicare and Medicaid. This cost explosion is not due to aging; Social Security costs inch up in these projections � just like they have been doing for the past seventy years. Medicare and Medicaid costs explode in this story because the U.S. health care system is broken and the projections assume that we never fix it.