Archive

  • Paulson Wants to Fix Social Security, How About an English Language Version of the New York Times?

    The New York Times continues its crusade to cut and/or privatize Social Security by again referring to efforts to restore the long-term solvency of the program. Since the program already has long-term solvency (through the year 2046, according to the Congressional Budget Office), this is a phony problem. Of course it's fine that people want to restructure the program, but it is simply not true that there is any need to do so over any reasonable time horizon. It would be nice if the Times reporters could be a bit more honest in their discussion of the topic. -- Dean Baker
  • Cheap Thoughts on Turning the Peru-U.S. Free Trade Agreement Into a Free Trade Agreement

    You've heard it here before, but those who want to hear my rant again can find it at Lame Duck Hunt . --Dean Baker
  • Possible Correction on NPR on the Democrats on Drugs

    I have been told by people who know such things that the Dems are looking at ways to allow Medicare to negotiate prices with the drug industry, without offering its own plan, that actually would be meaningful. For example, it could negotiate a set of prices that would apply to all the insurance plans included under Part D. This seems unduly complex, but it could lead to lower drug prices. Whether they end up going this route and designing something that actually reduces drug prices, or whether they do something that is purely symbolic, remains to be seen. The moral of the story is that everything will depend on the details of how any reform measure is structured. If the public is not informed of these details, it will not be able to distinguish between a substantive measure and a purely symbolic one until it is time to pay the bills. --Dean Baker
  • VETERANS' DAY.

    VETERANS' DAY. Though Laura weighs in below, Tapped is more or less down today in honor of the holiday. But for your TAP Online reading pleasure: Rick Perlstein offers an urgent reminder to Democrats not to let victory lull them into forgetting the dirty tricks operation that the GOP perpetrated on Tuesday -- and will do again in future elections. And Peter Dreier and John Atlas highlight the role that wildly successful minimum wage initiatives in six states played in Tuesday's outcomes. --The Editors
  • "T+1": OR HOW...

    "T+1": OR HOW A BIPARTISAN IRAQ STRATEGY MIGHT EMERGE. From the proverbial well-informed correspondent: The story in the NYT today about Gates bringing in old advisors and critics of Rummy/Iraq policy and cleaning out the 'E Ring' seems to be more evidence that the administration is using the [Gates] nomination to signal and provide a down payment on a change in course. It looks like the administrations plans to meet with the [Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group (ISG)] next week (then the Dems will meet with them), and that the ISG will be the focal point for a new strategy, which increasingly looks like it may involve (at least informal) talks with Iran. We'll see how much these meetings actually SHAPE the ISG findings that will be released next month. In other words, it looks like the following process is unfolding: at time 't' the ISG meets with Bush/Dems, floats a few ideas, gets feedback, and integrates the feedback into its sense of what kind of bipartisan strategy is possible; then...
  • NPR on the Democrats on Drugs

    One of the items on the Democrats' "100 hours" agenda is reforming the Medicare prescription drug bill. The bill passed by the Republican Congress prohibited Medicare from offering its own plan. This denied seniors the benefits of Medicare's lower administrative costs (@ $5 billion annually, or $200 per enrollee, according to CBO) and it means that drugs cost almost twice as much as if Medicare bargained directly with the industry and secured the same prices as the Veterans Administration or the Canadian government. The Republicans also added a seemingly gratuitous clause that explicitly prohibited Medicare from negotiating prices with the industry. During the campaign, the Democrats had promised that they would reform the drug bill to allow Medicare to offer its own drug plan. On NPR this morning, it was reported that the Democrats now are just planning to remove the gratuitous clause prohibiting Medicare from negotiating prices with the drug industry, while not allowing Medicare to...
  • Do Small Businesses Care About Profits? Not According to NPR

    In a short piece on the Democrats' top agenda items, one of their reporters discussed their plan to raise the minimum wage. In noting the objections of small businesses, he said that they are worried that a higher minimum wage would raise costs and force them to lay off workers. Well, maybe they are concerned about having to lay off workers (a large body of economic research shows little or no employment impact from modest increases in the minimum wage), but it is reasonable to believe that they are also concerned about the prospect of lower profits. Is it too radical on National Public Radio to say that small business owners care about profit? --Dean Baker
  • A FEW GOOD...

    A FEW GOOD INTERNS. The Prospect is looking for interns for Winter/Spring 2007. Any Tapped readers out there who are interested in (or who know someone who might be interested in) spending a semester in our DC office, helping out with the magazine and the site, should definitely apply . It's a fun time, and a rewarding experience in every sense of the word except the one that means getting paid money. Check it out . --The Editors
  • GUESS WHO�S BACK?...

    GUESS WHO�S BACK? So with President Bush begging for a new spirit of bi-partisanship in Washington, he re-nominates the next-most-divisive administration official after Rumsfeld : the recess-appointed ambassador to the UN John Bolton . One has to wonder what the president is thinking -- or what tricks he has up his sleeve. In the Senate, Republican support for Bolton has always been lukewarm. Indeed, his nomination died this fall because Republican Lincoln Chafee refused to support moving the nomination from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to the Senate floor for a vote. And almost as soon as the Bolton re-nomination was announced by the White House, Chafee called a press conference restating his opposition to Bolton. In other words, Bolton�s re-nomination is DOA. There are only two ways that Bolton could remain on the job -- and both are of dubious legality. Under option A, the president would select Bolton for a post not requiring Senate confirmation, then move him laterally...
  • RAHMBO REDUX.

    RAHMBO REDUX. OK, this whole business about who's allowed to spike the ball in the end zone gets to last until midnight tonight and then we all hold hands and sing together. On Rahm-v.-netroots, I'm more on Perlstein 's side than Lizza 's here -- and I think Sam makes a critical mistake by minimizing the fact that the DCCC's support in many cases came, as he put it, "relatively late." That, it seems to me, is understating what actually happened. As recently as the summer of 2005, when I was working on a piece for The Boston Globe Magazine about Howard Dean 's chairmanship of the DNC, it was a ludicrously open secret that Rahm Emanuel and the DCCC believed that a nationwide strategy of the kind Dean was proposing likely would prove not only futile, but catastrophic, and a lot of them were already measuring the space on the wall where they'd hang the Doctor's head. They believed neither in the strategy nor, especially, in the guy pushing it, and any of them who says they did is simply...

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