Archive

  • IN WHICH I...

    IN WHICH I MAKE VARIOUS POINTS ABOUT HEALTH CARE. NO, REALLY. I've a feeling lots of folks� eyes glaze over when I start posts with "there's a new study out of...," but hang on a second, this one's a good one. The Commonwealth Fund reports that a full nine out of every 10 Americans who seek private insurance never buy . Of those who do apply for a plan, 20 percent are turned down or charged much more for a preexisting condition. And of those who settle for a cheaper, high-deductible plan, 40 percent eventually realize that some of their medical costs aren't covered by insurance. In other words, insurance in the private market is expensive -- too expensive for most of those seeking it. Employers aren't picking up a portion of the costs, there's no risk sharing, so your past conditions and personal proclivities come into play, and it's not tax deductible, as it is for businesses. Add in that most folks rich enough to easily purchase private insurance will work in a position or for an...
  • KRAUTHAMMER ADDENDUM.

    KRAUTHAMMER ADDENDUM. I think Ezra 's comments on Krauthammer's column are apt, but surely his most dubious claims come right after the passage Ezra cites. It's straightforward, after all, that Iran's strategic position in the region would at least be strengthened by becoming a nuclear power, notwithstanding Krauthammer's stronger claims about that. Not at all straightforward (or "undeniable," in Krauthammer's words) are his exceedingly strong claims about the dangers of "permitting nuclear weapons to be acquired by religious fanatics seized with an eschatological belief in the imminent apocalypse and in their own divine duty to hasten the End of Days." He goes on: "The mullahs are infinitely more likely to use these weapons than anyone in the history of the nuclear age...Against millenarian fanaticism glorying in a cult of death, deterrence is a mere wish." This kind of talk is tough to take seriously -- "infinitely," for example, is sort of a difficult quantification to assess and...
  • FEAR NOT THESE...

    FEAR NOT THESE DANGERS I PREDICT AND CREATE. I was impressed, reading the latest Charles Krauthammer column , to see that he'd included a relatively accurate assessment of what an attack on Iran would cause: Namely, a death spiral for America's economy, worldwide instability, a vast and rapid increase in retaliatory terrorism, and lots of killing. I was less impressed, and depressingly unsurprised, to watch Krauthammer pull off the predictable pivot to supporting war. His argument appears to be that a nuclear Iran will exercise total hegemony over the Middle East. "Today," writes Krauthammer, "[Iran] is deterred from overt aggression against its neighbors by the threat of conventional retaliation. Against a nuclear Iran, such deterrence becomes far less credible. As its weak, nonnuclear Persian Gulf neighbors accommodate to it, jihadist Iran will gain control of the most strategic region on the globe." It's unclear why the other nuclear powers in Iran's neck o' the woods -- Israel,...
  • ASKING THE RIGHT...

    ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS. I think the finest entry in TAP 's debate over the fate of the middle class comes, sadly, from Paul Krugman in The New York Times . As he argues , the very fact that there is a debate is, in itself, the answer. In the period after World War II, the living standards of Americans improved unambiguously. Not so since. Over the last three decades, the rich have rapidly gained ground, while the middle class saw their climb slow. That they may have remained affluent enough is not a satisfactory rejoinder to the question of why their growth slowed. That's not to say there's been no improvement, or that the internet isn't worth something. You could jack up my income into the millions, and I'd still prefer to exist on my paltry salary in the age of the web. That doesn't mean, however, that I don't want my salary to be better today , nor that it shouldn't be. The country can enjoy technological advances and relative affluence while still wondering why growth has...
  • ROSE RESPONDS.

    ROSE RESPONDS. See Steve Rose 's newly published response to his tough crowd of critics in our debate on the middle class; Larry Mishel will have his second-round thoughts posted early next week. --The Editors
  • CAPITOL DOMES AND HOWDY DOODYGATE.

    CAPITOL DOMES AND HOWDY DOODYGATE. Eve Fairbanks points us to Radar 's "worst hair in Congress" rankings . Readers with good memories will recall that two of the three exponents of trend number four, "Childlike hair," played key rolls in the "Howdy Doody-looking nimrod" incident of 2005. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE ACTIVISM INDUSTRY.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE ACTIVISM INDUSTRY. Dana Fisher , author of the new book Activism, Inc. , argues that the left's model of outsourced grassroots canvassing weakens progressive politics in America. --The Editors
  • THE LESSON OF RHODE ISLAND.

    THE LESSON OF RHODE ISLAND. The Republican story on Connecticut and Rhode Island, repeated a little too credulously by much of the press, is that the Dems shoved aside their moderate incumbent, Joe Lieberman , while the Republicans wisely kept theirs, Lincoln Chafee . But hold on a minute. Didn't voters in both states' primaries choose the guy who is opposed to Bush 's Iraq War? The man who narrowly lost to Chafee, Warwick Mayor Stephen Laffey , was actually the faithful Bush supporter, just like Joe Lieberman. The RNC held its nose and poured money into Chafee's race, calculating that the moderate Chafee had the better chance of holding onto the seat for the GOP in the blue, blue Ocean State. But Chafee's win hardly validates voter enthusiasm for Bush. Maybe the Republican National Committee should be disparaging Chafee in the same terms they disparage Lamont . (How do you spell Defeat-o-Rep?) --Robert Kuttner
  • A GOOD START....

    A GOOD START. The always worthwhile Jon Cohn has a terrific article on the burgeoning Democratic consensus around card check that stumbles on one point. "Bloggers on the left," he writes, "take notice: Last week, the dreaded Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) got something right. And the only major political writer who seems to have noticed was the equally dreaded David Broder." That something was endorsing card check. As it currently stands, the path to creating a union runs through an NLRB election process so difficult and skewed that employers can essentially decide the outcome. Add in that the fines for firing organizing workers are laughably low, and organizing has become nearly impossible -- it's too dangerous for the workers involved. The alternative is card check, where if a majority of workers sign a card expressing their desire for a union, they have one. It's already the law in Canada, and progressives are seeking to import it here. This week, the DLC endorsed it. Good for...
  • THE THORNY ROSE...

    THE THORNY ROSE OF TEXAS. The reasons liberals will miss former Texas Governor Ann Richards , who died yesterday of cancer, are many -- not least among them her biting wit and willingness to turn it on the Bushes. She first caught the nation's eye as the keynote speaker at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, at which she took on the transplant-to-Texas and bumbling George Herbert Walker Bush , playing on the Connecticut native's patrician roots. "Poor George," she said in her trademark twang, "he can't help it; he was born with a silver foot in his mouth." Of course, the Bushes -- that vindictive dynasty of mediocrity -- got their revenge when, in 1994, Richards was defeated in the Texas gubernatorial race by none other than our current president. My reasons for mourning Richards are more personal. She was a feminist, a champion of civil and gay rights, and a recovering alcoholic who went public with her recovery. It was as if she were my personal champion, the patron saint of...

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