Archive

  • Does Henry Paulson Advocate a Large Trade Deficit?

    According to press accounts, Mr. Paulson is an ardent believer in a strong dollar. Regardless of what you think of the budget deficit, the strong dollar IS the reason for the trade deficit. This is not really a contestable point. No one opts to buy imported goods rather than domestically produced goods because of the budget deficit. They buy imported goods because the strong dollar makes them cheaper. It really is that simple. Of course, the United States cannot continue to run large trade deficits indefinitely. And the trade deficit is more than twice as large as unified budget deficit (it's more than 50 percent larger than the on-budget deficit). It might be cause for concern that our new Treasury secretary is a big advocate for enlarging the country's most unsustainable deficit, but you wouldn't get this from any of the reporting. The high dollar policy is also redistributive since it puts downward pressure on prices and wages in the sectors of the economy exposed to international...
  • IN DEFENSE OF...

    IN DEFENSE OF INTERNSHIPS . I'm going to break with Garance here -- Anya Kamenetz 's op-ed didn't make much sense to me. Her basic point is simple: Internships are a $124 million subsidy to corporate America. Well, maybe. But first you have to figure out how many internships are actually in "corporate America." The American Prospect , The Nation , the AFL-CIO, the Center for American Progress, the ACLU, People for the American Way, and all the other usual suspects have robust intern programs which allow them to train and try out kids they can't necessarily hire. Are they who we're thinking of when we say "corporate America"? Indeed, corporate America doesn't really need the free labor. I'm sure they appreciate it, but they could hire their own grunts. Could the non-profits of the world? That's less clear. It was The Washington Monthly 's internship that channeled me into writing rather than law school (I am eternally grateful). Kamenetz also blames internships for the decline of...
  • THE NEW ANTI-UNION...

    THE NEW ANTI-UNION TRAINING GROUND: UNPAID INTERNSHIPS. Anya Kamenetz , author of Generation Debt: Why Now is a Terrible Time to be Young , today penned a brilliant op-ed for The New York Times arguing that, rather than focusing solely on the impact of illegal immigrants on wages and jobs, we ought to take a good, hard look at the potential wage and other distortions created by the rise of the unpaid internship as a major factor in American economic life, and to treat internships as the "$124 million yearly contribution to the welfare of corporate America" that they are. Moreover, she writes, unpaid internships inculcate in young people an ethos that is anti-union and anti-workers rights, while also undermining meritocracy: internships promote overidentification with employers: I make sacrifices to work free, therefore I must love my work. A sociologist at the University of Washington, Gina Neff, who has studied the coping strategies of interns in communications industries, calls the...
  • ZINSMEISTER'S RACE-CONSCIOUS NATION....

    ZINSMEISTER'S RACE-CONSCIOUS NATION. Greg over at Horse's Mouth notes another peculiar article by new White House domestic policy chief Karl Zinsmeister , this 1996 American Enterprise essay on the always uncontroversial subject of race . While making appropriate hemming and hawing sounds and adding lots of caveats to his assertions, Zinsmeister still manages to come off sounding, well, like the kind of fellow an administration that's already alienated African-Americans might not chose to lead its domestic programs if it wanted to improve those relations. Zinsmeiter, in the below piece, is arguing with an essay by fellow conservative Glenn Loury , and argues, not once, not twice, but three times against the idea of color-blindness, because believing in color-blindness, he says, poses a danger to white people: One place I cannot follow Glenn is in his call for a strict, thoroughgoing blindness to color. This is fruitless idealism. Yes, color-blindness is essential to public policy,...
  • GOREWATCH. So...

    GOREWATCH . So far as all the speculation that Gore has released his fundraisers and is definitively out goes, color me unimpressed. To be clear, I don't think Gore will run -- I'd put the odds at 60:40 against. But the decision has nothing to do with his funders. As Rich Lowry notes , Gore doesn't, in any case, have a serious network of longtime moneymen waiting for reactivation. Whatever cash-shoveling infrastructure he built in 2000 has long since atrophied, and much of it is probably solidly in Hillary 's camp. What makes divining his political intentions so frustrating is that Gore has, comparatively speaking, all the time in the world. It used to be that fundraising required a lot of rich buddies, a heap o' travel, and endless chicken dinners. Now, Gore could enter shortly before Iowa and, if the base was sufficiently dissatisfied, become financially competitive in a matter of hours. And he wouldn't have to lift a finger for infrastructure building until he sent out that press...
  • THAT EXPLAINS IT....

    THAT EXPLAINS IT. If you're ever confused about the GOP's puzzling determination to eliminate the broadly supportable estate tax, this report showing that George Bush , Dick Cheney , and their cabinet will personally gain between $90 and $340 million dollars from the tax's repeal clarifies things considerably. As for amassing the political will for the battle, a recent Center for Public Integrity report found that a handful of superrich families had spent $490 million lobbying against the tax. If they succeed, these same families will gain almost $72 billion . Now that's what I call a good investment. --Ezra Klein
  • GORE WATCH: TAP...

    GORE WATCH: TAP BLOG EMPIRE GETS RESULTS. This post from Greg at The Horse's Mouth provoked Jonah Goldberg to say he'll issue an official correction to his Gore -bashing Los Angeles Times column . (See some follow-up from Greg here .) For those who can't get enough, Ezra and Jonah took advantage of the holiday weekend to get very pissy at each other and wade deep into the weeds of Gore's summer vacation schedule forty years ago. Meanwhile, in another post Greg cites some compelling evidence that Gore won't end up running for President; but Rich Lowry offers a rather convincing alternative take here . --Sam Rosenfeld
  • HOORAY FOR PRE-K....

    HOORAY FOR PRE-K. The vote on California's Proposition 82 -- the Rob Reiner -spearheaded initiative providing universal access to preschool for all Californians, paid for by an income tax hike on wealthy residents -- is coming up in a week. The odds are still in its favor for passage, though not overwhelmingly so. National Review pans the idea in an editorial today, calling it a "boondoggle" whose design is "blind, bloated, and indiscriminate." These obviously aren't terms I'd use to describe the idea but I think they actually (and perversely) get at some of the reasons why liberals should enthusiastically support universal preschool initiatives at the state and federal levels. On substantive policy grounds, the social science data on the benefits of early childhood education (especially, though not exclusively, pertaining to underprivileged kids) has accumulated over several decades, and is overwhelming. This Arthur J. Reynolds op-ed in The Los Angeles Times gives a good rundown of...
  • SPEAKER PELOSI. The...

    SPEAKER PELOSI. The New York Times assesses Nancy Pelosi today. Much ink (including a direct quote from Barney Frank ) is devoted to how bad she is on television. This is true; she's bad on television. It's her deficiency as a "spokesperson for the party" that seems partly to explain the rather odd pincer dynamic that's emerged under her leadership, wherein various observers, activists, and members both to her left and to her right have expressed dissatisfaction with her. The hostility from the right -- from Steny Hoyer 's allies, a.k.a. " Democrats interested in passing more bills that are friendly to corporate campaign contributors " -- is straightforward and makes sense. The criticism from those liberals who are at least aware that the actual alternative to Pelosi is Hoyer tends to center on her failures as a message person. But looking to congressional leaders for party image-making and P.R. is a mistake. The actual job of managing a caucus in some kind of effective and strategic...
  • MAY ACTUALLY DO...

    MAY ACTUALLY DO A HECKUVA JOB. With Treasury Secretary John Snow finally on his way out, Bush has named Goldman-Sachs CEO Henry Paulson to be Snow�s replacement. Paulson is -- believe it or not -- a serious, competent guy who comes, like Robert Rubin before him, from Wall Street. Better yet, he retains a reputation of his own, has long ties to the private sector, and has plenty of money in the bank. In other words, the administration needs him, he doesn't need them, and both sides know it. Paulson should enjoy an easy confirmation, and Chuck Schumer has already offered his support. Guess the Bush administration didn't feel like picking a fight... Update : The Progress Report notices that Paulsen is also a serious conservationist who sits on the board of the pro-Kyoto The Nature Conservancy and has pushed Goldman-Sachs to demand "urgent" action from the government to curb emissions. One wonders what he thinks of Bush's belief that "Kyoto would have wrecked our economy. I couldn't in...

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