Joe Hines

Recent Articles

Heritage Action Is Ruining Your Government

Two days ago, it looked like moderates in the House of Representatives, led by John Boehner, had finally concocted a plan to avert a default and end the government shutdown. Then the plan went down in flames. The deal, the result of weeks of haggling, removed proposals to defund Obamacare and left in its place a provision stripping healthcare from Congressional staffers. It was an cruel deal, but a deal nontheless, with the support of a majority in the House. And it looked like it was going to pass until this: Key Vote: “NO” on House Spending and Debt Deal http://t.co/0yZCqc1wR3 #Obamacare #Shutdown — Heritage Action (@Heritage_Action) October 15, 2013 Marking a vote as a key vote indicates that Heritage Action will include the vote on their scorecard gauging a representative’s conservative bonafides. It suggests their propensity to support, and fund, a primary challenge against Republicans who vote for compromise. As the National Review ’s post-mortem on the collapse of the...

How The Richest Americans Are Doing Better Than Ever, In Two Charts

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. Piketty and Saez's dataset, drawn from exclusive access to the IRS filings of the top 1 percent of wage earners since 1913 , paints a clear picture of the increasingly potent ability of the richest Americans to extract rents from the rest of the society. Taking into account capital gains, Piketty and Saez find that the current recovery has been a windfall for the richest Americans. After a momentary decline during the Great Recession, the incomes of the top 1 percent of earners surged again during the 2011-2012 period. The addition of 2012 data helps paint of a more complete picture of the missing recovery for most Americans. During the recession, the incomes of the richest fell, but not nearly at the rate of everyone else , despite their role in precipitating the...

Conservative Tropes About Low-Income Excess Are Wrong

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 . Conservatives like to push back on claims of rising inequality or worsening poverty by pointing out that their measure of poverty or inequality insufficiently captures the increasing well-being of even the poor. They're better off, they say, because low and middle-income Americans are living better than they did in the past. These arguments manifest themselves in concern over “Obamaphones” or access to liquor or drugs, and generally recommend policy solutions as odious as drug-testing as a prerequisite for welfare or stricter control over food stamps. As Matt Bruenig aptly pointed out on this blog , even taking these conservative policy solutions at their face value, fraud complaints are spurious. We want poor...

Ezra Klein's Blind Spot

(Flickr/Son of Broccoli)
On Monday, Ezra Klein argued that “conventional wisdom on Washington is that corporations win every fight and everyone else—particularly the poor—get shafted" is, wait for it, "wrong, or at least incomplete." He posits that advocates for the poor have increased their influence during the Obama era, pointing to rising food stamp rolls and Obamacare as evidence. His central thesis attacks a straw man: Corporate America and the poor can both wield a lot of power at the same time, as they’re not typically locked in a zero-sum struggle with each other. If anything, it’s the middle class, or perhaps the upper-middle class, that’s been left out. Lo and behold, none other than Larry Bartels, author of the definitive Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age, took to the Monkey Cage to rebut Klein , citing this chart: Bartels sees what Klein does not: there’s a larger economic context. Redistributing income, via food stamps or an Obamacare tax increase is not only...

Jerry Perenchio: California's Sheldon Adelson

(AP Photo)
While Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers have become emblematic of outside spending at the national level, it is local outside spending that could have the greatest impact on policy. Jerry Perenchio is California's homegrown Sheldon Adelson, and he's using his fortune to decide the future of the nation's most populous state. California's income inequality is among the worst in the country. And as the ongoing fight over Proposition 30 shows, that often translates into political inequality. Proposition 30, which Californians will vote on this year, is Governor Jerry Brown’s attempt to solve the state’s budget deficit while maintaining funding of California schools by raising taxes on individuals making over $250,000 dollars a year. The initiative is badly needed. Without Prop. 30, California's budget deficit would slash education funding by $6 billion . Perenchio recently made a $200,000 donation against Prop. 30. As it is, California lags behind the rest of the country when it comes...

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