Next Tuesday, October 8, the Supreme Court is scheduled (pending shutdown nonsense) to hear oral arguments on McCutcheon v. FEC, a challenge to the total cap on the amount of money one wealthy individual is permitted to contribute to all federal candidates, parties, and PACs.
The current “aggregate contribution limit” is $123,200—twice the median household income in the U.S. As you might imagine, this cap affects very few people; just 1,219 people were at, over, or within 10 percent of the limit for the 2012 election cycle.
I’m guessing you are not sitting on $150,000 you’d like put into politics next year—so, why should you care?
Generally, I like to talk about liberty the way that libertarians do. I primarily do that because liberty, as discussed by libertarians, actually makes private property ownership an injustice. Because few people ever bother to think about that, adopting libertarian notions of liberty in my interactions with people of that persuasion is a never-ending well of hilarity. “What do you mean unilaterally grabbing up pieces of the scarce world without the consent of others (whose previously-existing access you steal away) and then violently attacking people who don’t go along with your fiat claims of ownership is aggression?” they say, “that’s just homesteading followed by self-defense!” And on it goes.
Here we go again: Financial markets are plummeting thanks to the threat of a government shutdown and, beyond that, another debt ceiling crisis. One of the great bull markets of recent years is being derailed by a bunch of extreme conservatives in Congress.
Scott Sumner has become famous in the internet world and elsewhere as monetarism’s most capable defender. Sumner has a lot of things to say, but one is illustrative for my purposes here. Sumner argues that advocates of fiscal stimulus often make the mistake in their arguments of assuming away monetary policy as static or accommodating. His point is that you can’t do that because the efficacy of fiscal policy always depends on what monetary policy is doing in the background.
It’s their fifth strike in five months, but the workers of Good Jobs Nation didn’t seem the least bit tired this morning. Low-paid employees from the food courts of federal buildings, the gift shops of the Smithsonian, and others employed under federal contracts, concessions, and lease agreements donned matching t-shirts, picked up signs and marched to the White House.
Last week, the Census Bureau put out its annual income and poverty figures for 2012. The big news on the poverty front is that the percentage of Americans living in poverty is unchanged at 15 percent, which amounts to 46.5 million Americans. More than one in five kids under the age of 18 are in poverty, and nearly one in four kids under the age of six are impoverished as well. These are numbers we’ve all become accustomed to, but they can still shock the conscience if you make an effort to let them soak in again.
Last week, we talked about the role that outside spending played in the New York City Council race and how of the 20 candidates Jobs for New York supported, 16 won. However, as Mark Schmitt at TheNew Republic pointed out, over half of the candidates Jobs for New York supported also had the support of the Working Families Party, who are often on the opposite side of the real estate debate.
You may have missed it, but yesterday President Obama dramatically altered one of the most racially damaging laws in America when the Department of Labor announced that it would extend minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers.
Last week, we highlighted how the outside money group, Jobs for New York, was dominating the New York City Council races. So, how did they do? Not too shabby—of the 20 candidates they supported, 16 won, two are still too close to call, and two more were unsuccessful. Let’s look at the two races that are too close to call, Council District 19 and Council District 36.
The top 1 percent captured 95 percent of the income growth during the economic recovery. That’s just one depressing lowlight in Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez's 2012 update on the fortunes of the nation's top earners.
Are people better off than they were before the recession? By most headline figures they’re not: Poverty and inequality have risen to record levels, median incomes declined. Unemployment has improved marginally, but 37 states have yet to regain their pre-recession job levels.
Economic libertarianism’s most amusing failing is philosophical. In particular, the non-aggression form of libertarianism so popular among the Paul clan and their followers quite straightforwardly generates the conclusion that all private property is unjust theft. Internal contradictions abound in libertarianism, but that is surely the most problematic one. As much as I enjoy the philosophical arguments, experience tells me others prefer an approach that seem less like game-playing.
With the passing of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, commentators have been assessing the status of blacks in society. Matt Yglesias has a post about the black-white income gap, and how it has not budged in 40 years. Brad Plumer has a post at Wonkblog that features ten charts showing the persistence of the black-white economic gap, including rates of unemployment, poverty, and so on.
There is a growing, industry-wide movement to push the fast food economy to work for all involved. Today, workers have called for a national strike that is expected to cross company lines and reach dozens of cities.
The fast food labor force has never been protected by collective bargaining power or labor scarcity, making their demands for higher wages and the right to organize a unique historical event. It is also a bold stance from workers made vulnerable by a frail economy, asking for benefits that reach well beyond their own household budgets to the economy as a whole.
The emergence of Rand Paul as a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination marks an important turning point: Extreme libertarianism has entered the mainstream of American politics.
This shift has been coming for 30 years, a period of growing attacks on government as "the enemy" combined with extolling the laissez-faire idea that the free market can solve all our problems.
These attacks have not emerged out of thin air. Billions of dollars have been spent by corporations, foundations, and wealthy individuals to fund a large conservative policy and media infrastructure on the right, led by think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and the American Enterprise Institute.