Archive

  • WARNER'S ANTI-POPULISM. ...

    WARNER'S ANTI-POPULISM. If you want to know why I think the hype about Mark Warner is oddly misguided, look no further than his recent comments lambasting the Kerry campaign for attacking Bush 's top-bracket tax cuts. He takes up that favorite of chin-stroking op-ed columnists everywhere, arguing that "Even though the Bush tax cuts only applied to the top 2 percent of Americans, what I think the Kerry campaign missed was that the other 98 percent of Americans still aspired to get to the point in their life." Color me unconvinced. Not only is Warner philosophically wrong here -- I don't know what sort of Democrat believes it's supportable public policy to raid the federal treasury to enrich the wealthy -- he's not even backed up by the polling data. Support for Bush's tax cuts is, and always has been, low. They've never been as popular as one might expect. Moreover, they've become less popular as time passed. In 2000, exit polls shows that voters naming "taxes" as their top issue went...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE FORTUNE COOKIE GAME.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE FORTUNE COOKIE GAME. Matt intervenes in the ongoing democracy debate . To Matt, democracy, human rights, liberal reforms -- they're all great. The real issue isn't the policy objective, but the method of achieving it: There's a game that kids (and, OK, me too) like to play with the fortune cookies you get at Chinese restaurants. Read the fortune, but append the phrase "in bed" to whatever it says. Hilarity ensues. The game illustrates that in fortune-telling, as in everything else, context matters. A couple of additional context-setting words transform platitudes into dirty jokes. Much the same could be said of the ongoing debate about the role of democracy promotion in American foreign policy... The way I see it, there's less to this dispute than meets the eye. The real problem is what's missing -- those crucial additional words that determine context. And context makes all the difference. From my perspective, you can take any of these proposals -- "let...
  • THE CURSE OF...

    THE CURSE OF BUSH. The topic du jour over at The Corner is an exploration of what a mean guy and poor candidate George Allen is. K-Lo thinks he often comes off "as a disturbingly nasty guy," Jonah notes that when he's backed into a corner "he becomes decidedly unReaganesque both in his sometimes gormless retorts and his slightly nasty and/or defensive streak," and J-Pod describes Allen's response to a question about his grandfather's religion as "just...weird." Allen's got to be right up there with Bill Frist for the most stunning falls of the 2008 cycle. Folks will remember that Frist was, at one point, Rove 's golden boy, a perfectly serious contender for the presidency who was supposed to use his medical background, telegenic nature, and irrepressible charm to be the second coming of the compassionate conservative. His ascension to majority leader was merely part of that path. His implosion once there was astonishing. Allen, actually, was then the guy who took up the mantle. This...
  • FUNNY BUSINESS.

    FUNNY BUSINESS. Mark Schmitt 's column in our September print issue is a rumination on businesses' efforts at mass voter registration, and the challenge that presents to progressives. Mark mainly focuses on the manufacturing sector, which is sufficiently beleaguered for job loyalty to often trump class loyalty -- as workers "see their economic interest as bound up in their employers� interests." That precise dynamic wouldn't presumably be at work in Wal-Mart, but The Hill reports today that the company "is planning to launch a voter registration and education campaign this fall targeted at its 1.3 million employees in an effort to combat growing criticism from Democrats and labor unions." Details are very skimpy at the moment, but this will certainly be something to watch this season. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • Holiday Retail Sales, Adjust for Inflation

    The Times reported today that the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts a 5 percent increase in holiday sales for 2006. It notes that this is a lower pace than the 6 percent increases seen the prior two years. It would have been helpful to adjust this prediction for inflation. The CPI for commodities, excluding food, energy, and new and used trucks, which most closely corresponds to the items sold in retail stores, is running about 0.7 percent above its year ago level. It was essentially flat on a year over year basis the prior two years. This means that the NRF federation prediction implies a drop of about 1.7 percentage points in real terms from year over year growth in the prior two years. --Dean Baker
  • POVERTY & THE...

    POVERTY & THE DEMS -- AN UPDATE. A couple of weeks ago, during one of the rounds of the blogosphere debate on poverty, I cited Elizabeth Warren 's article from The Democratic Strategist , where she said: When I talk with families about politics, I often hear a variation on this theme: "Democrats care most about the poor. They tell me I'm better off than the poor, and that I should give up more of my money to help the poor. Well, I'm stretched to the breaking point, and I just can't do it any more." Whenever a Democrat stands up and says, "I'll help every child go to college," then cuts off benefits at $20,000 a year, the message just burns deeper. Several bloggers questioned the existence of a program backed by Democrats that cuts off aid at this level, so I wrote her and asked for clarification. As it turns out, Warren was thinking of the federal Pell Grant system, which preferentially provides grants to those who come from families earning less than $20,000 per year, and which...
  • BEYOND RECRIMINATIONS.

    BEYOND RECRIMINATIONS. Perhaps not surprisingly, I second what Matt said about Jon Chait 's column on the incompetence dodge and don't have an enormous amount to add. (I should at least say that I very much appreciate Chait establishing the grounds of the debate pretty accurately and arguing in good faith.) Noam Scheiber 's intervention today does help to underscore one point worth emphasizing. Scheiber says that "Yglesias and Rosenfeld set the bar on themselves too high." To show that blaming Bush-administration incompetence for the Iraq disaster amounts to a "dodge," you don't need to prove that the Iraq project was impossible to pull off under any circumstances -- something I don't believe. You just need to show that the administration's mishandling of Iraq was extremely easy to foresee, which in fact it was. The administration basically advertised that it intended to botch post-war Iraq during the run-up to the war. Scheiber elaborated on this point in a piece last year, and I...
  • A BELLWETHER BLOWOUT?...

    A BELLWETHER BLOWOUT? More trouble is brewing for Ken Blackwell �s gubernatorial bid in Ohio. Last week, three prominent Ohio Republicans publicly denounced Blackwell as being outside the mainstream of the Republican Party and announced their support for his Democratic opponent, Ted Strickland . Might Karl Rove , John McCain , and the editor of Human Events , to name a few , be out of touch with what real Americans, real Ohioans -- and even real Republicans -- want? Leading the charge was Charles �Rocky� Saxbe , a well-known Columbus attorney, former member of the Ohio House of Representatives, and one-time Republican candidate for state attorney general. Saxbe�s father , William Saxbe , is a powerhouse in the Ohio Republican Party, having served as Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, Ohio Attorney General, a member of the United States Senate, and Attorney General of the United States in a political career that spanned four decades. I caught up with Saxbe this morning, who...
  • GORE SPEAKS. ...

    GORE SPEAKS. Around the time Al Gore 's movie came out, a number of conservatives criticized the film for not advocating for a carbon tax. By obscuring the necessity of that policy choice, he was making his case look too easy and the solutions artificially simple. But whether or not he acknowledged it the film, Gore has long been a lover of carbon taxes, and today he came out in favor of one (and basically every other pro-renewable policy you can think of) in a major speech at NYU. The address is an enormously detailed look at global warming and the myriad ways in which America could respond, so I urge interested readers to take a look at the whole thing . For now, however, I want to comment on the most buzz-worthy of Gore's proposals: He wants to eliminate all payroll taxes (including those for Social Security, unemployment, and Medicare) and replace the revenue with pollution taxes. The proposal would be revenue neutral, which is to say that total revenue would be precisely the same...
  • FLACK WATCH. If...

    FLACK WATCH. If ever a blog cried out for a snarky, anonymous author, it's this one . But, alas, the new Potomac Flacks blog, dedicated to the "comings and goings of D.C.'s spokesguys and spokesgals" and penned by former Joe Lieberman '04 spokesguy Adam Kovacevich , maintains the decorum one would expect from the Assistant Vice President at Dittus Communications, the title that Adam now holds. With an open comment policy, however, I suspect the snark won't be far behind...or hard to find. --Garance Franke-Ruta

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