Government

Investments and Entitlements

Entitlement programs have tended to squeeze out public investment. What is there to be done about that?

div#sidebar-first { margin-top:1610px; } div.introduction { position:absolute; width:285px; left:675px; margin-top:1150px !important; padding:15px; border:1px solid #cccccc; height:300px; overflow-y:scroll; } div.introduction p { font-size:12px !important; line-height:18px !important; font-family: 'droid sans'; } div#table-of-contents { display:block; margin-top:0px; } #table-of-contents { position:absolute; width:285px; left:675px; padding:15px; border:1px solid #cccccc; } #table-of-contents h4 { font-size:28px; text-align:center; font-family:'Oswald', sans-serif;; } #table-of-contents p { font-family: 'Oswald', sans-serif; } Table of Contents Introduction: The Future of the Social Safety Net Triumph and Tribulation Henry Aaron When Public Opinions Collide Andrew Levison Social Insurance: The Real Crisis Robert Kuttner Thoughts on a Center-Left Entitlements Strategy William Galston Fiscal Policy, the Long-Term Budget, and Inequality Dean Baker "Entitlements" Are Just a Budget...

"Entitlements" Are Just a Budget Category

Why should Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid be untouchable and not other programs? And shouldn’t there be more to the liberal message than, “Don’t touch entitlements”?

div#sidebar-first { margin-top:1610px; } div.introduction { position:absolute; width:285px; left:675px; margin-top:1150px !important; padding:15px; border:1px solid #cccccc; height:300px; overflow-y:scroll; } div.introduction p { font-size:12px !important; line-height:18px !important; font-family: 'droid sans'; } div#table-of-contents { display:block; margin-top:0px; } #table-of-contents { position:absolute; width:285px; left:675px; padding:15px; border:1px solid #cccccc; } #table-of-contents h4 { font-size:28px; text-align:center; font-family:'Oswald', sans-serif;; } #table-of-contents p { font-family: 'Oswald', sans-serif; } Related Stories Piketty's Triumph Jacob Hacker, Paul Pierson, Heather Boushey, Branko Milanovic Karl Polanyi Explains It All Robert Kuttner This week and next, The American Prospect , in conjunction with The Democratic Strategist , is proud to sponsor a special forum titled: Progressive Perspectives on the Future of the New Deal/Great Society Entitlement...

Thoughts on a Center-Left Entitlements Strategy

How we might shape Social Security and Medicare for the future

div#sidebar-first { margin-top:1610px; } div.introduction { position:absolute; width:285px; left:675px; margin-top:1150px !important; padding:15px; border:1px solid #cccccc; height:300px; overflow-y:scroll; } div.introduction p { font-size:12px !important; line-height:18px !important; font-family: 'droid sans'; } div#table-of-contents { display:block; margin-top:0px; } #table-of-contents { position:absolute; width:285px; left:675px; padding:15px; border:1px solid #cccccc; } #table-of-contents h4 { font-size:28px; text-align:center; font-family:'Oswald', sans-serif;; } #table-of-contents p { font-family: 'Oswald', sans-serif; } Table of Contents Introduction: The Future of the Social Safety Net Triumph and Tribulation Henry Aaron When Public Opinions Collide Andrew Levison Social Insurance: The Real Crisis Robert Kuttner Thoughts on a Center-Left Entitlements Strategy William Galston Fiscal Policy, the Long-Term Budget, and Inequality Dean Baker "Entitlements" Are Just a Budget...

Social Insurance: The Real Crisis

Why an inefficient welfare state is an insufficient one

div#sidebar-first { margin-top:1610px; } div.introduction { position:absolute; width:285px; left:675px; margin-top:1150px !important; padding:15px; border:1px solid #cccccc; height:300px; overflow-y:scroll; } div.introduction p { font-size:12px !important; line-height:18px !important; font-family: 'droid sans'; } div#table-of-contents { display:block; margin-top:0px; } #table-of-contents { position:absolute; width:285px; left:675px; padding:15px; border:1px solid #cccccc; } #table-of-contents h4 { font-size:28px; text-align:center; font-family:'Oswald', sans-serif;; } #table-of-contents p { font-family: 'Oswald', sans-serif; } Table of Contents Introduction: The Future of the Social Safety Net Triumph and Tribulation Henry Aaron When Public Opinions Collide Andrew Levison Social Insurance: The Real Crisis Robert Kuttner Thoughts on a Center-Left Entitlements Strategy William Galston Fiscal Policy, the Long-Term Budget, and Inequality Dean Baker "Entitlements" Are Just a Budget...

The GOP, Guardians of Health Security

Mitch McConnell chats with some folks about health care 'n stuff.
This morning, Greg Sargent calls our attention to this new ad for Mitch McConnell, in which a man who got cancer from his job at a uranium enrichment plant in Paducah. The man testifies that it was McConnell, fierce advocate of worker safety and health security, who made sure that workers got cancer screening and compensation: That'll never work, a liberal might say. McConnell is not only one of the nation's foremost opponents of any and all regulations to protect worker safety, but he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would take away the health coverage tens of thousands of Kentuckians just got. As you may know, Kentucky has been more aggressive in taking advantage of the ACA than probably any other conservative state. They set up their own exchange, and it has proven to be one of the best in the country; they also accepted the Medicaid expansion (these developments can be attributed mostly to the fact that the governor is a Democrat). According to this site tracking...

One Small Step for the Fourth Amendment

AP Images/Susan Walsh
Last week, Barack Obama delivered a speech announcing some reforms in response to Edward Snowden's revelations about the National Security Agency. As with most aspects of Obama's record on civil liberties, my response is inevitably mixed. The outlined reforms would certainly constitute a real improvement over the status quo, but they are also too narrow and limited. Some of these limitations reflect real political constraints, while others don't. To start with the good news first, Obama has announced that some checks and balances will be restored to the NSA's inquiries under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Under current practices, the NSA doesn't need to get judicial approval to query the database of metadata it collects; it can simply make queries if it makes a self-determination that the query was "reasonable." This self-enforced reasonableness standard is functionally indistinguishable from having no standard at all. Obama announced that he was ending this practice: the database...

Triumph and Tribulation

How progressives might approach changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

div#sidebar-first { margin-top:1610px; } div.introduction { position:absolute; width:285px; left:675px; margin-top:1150px !important; padding:15px; border:1px solid #cccccc; height:300px; overflow-y:scroll; } div.introduction p { font-size:12px !important; line-height:18px !important; font-family: 'droid sans'; } div#table-of-contents { display:block; margin-top:0px; } #table-of-contents { position:absolute; width:285px; left:675px; padding:15px; border:1px solid #cccccc; } #table-of-contents h4 { font-size:28px; text-align:center; font-family:'Oswald', sans-serif;; } #table-of-contents p { font-family: 'Oswald', sans-serif; } Table of Contents Introduction: The Future of the Social Safety Net Triumph and Tribulation Henry Aaron When Public Opinions Collide Andrew Levison Social Insurance: The Real Crisis Robert Kuttner Thoughts on a Center-Left Entitlements Strategy William Galston Fiscal Policy, the Long-Term Budget, and Inequality Dean Baker "Entitlements" Are Just a Budget...

Daily Meme: Obama v. Congress

Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for National Labor Relations Board v. Canning . The case, which kicks off the high court's big year of big cases has the potential to change the whole balance of power between the executive and legislative branches on recess appointments. The most recent iteration of President v. Congress on appointments started when Obama appointed Richard Cordray to lead the NLRB while the Senate was not in session. Republicans had been ... a little reticent, let's say, to give Cordray the thumbs up, so the president went ahead and did it himself, while adding two more people to the board too so it could finally have a quorum. The AP sums it all up as "a politically charged dispute that also is the first in the nation's history to explore the meaning of a provision of the Constitution known as the recess appointments clause. Under the provision, the president may make temporary appointments to positions that otherwise require confirmation by the...

Want to Rock the Vote? Fill the Election Assistance Commission.

AP Images/The Roanoke Times/Joel Hawksley
J ust days after the 2013 elections, former Congresswoman Mary Bono and I were on MSNBC discussing voter-ID laws. A moderate Republican, Bono tried hard to shift the focus to a universally hated aspect of American elections—the lines. “There should be no reason there should be long lines, ever,” she said. “Why [can’t they] orchestrate and engineer a solution that you get to the polls, and there’s 15 minutes, guaranteed in and out, and you vote?” It’s a good question. Even if we forget about the disturbing rash of voting restrictions—the ID laws, the cutbacks to early voting, the efforts to make it harder to register—a basic problem remains: We don’t invest enough in our elections. Across the country, machines are old and breaking down, and we’re failing to use new technology that could clean up our voter rolls and make it easier to predict—and thus prevent—those long lines. The odds of Congress allocating the billions it would take to help localities buy new voting machines and solve...

The Doomed Wars

White House photo by Pete Souza.
Washington loves few things more than a tell-all memoir. Even if a memoir doesn't tell very much, the media will do their best to characterize it as scandalous and shocking. So it is with the book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates which will soon be appearing in airport bookstores everywhere. From the excerpts that have been released, it sounds like Gates has plenty of praise for President Obama, and some criticisms that are not particularly biting. Sure, there's plenty of bureaucratic sniping and the settling of a few scores, but his criticisms (the Obama White House is too controlling, politics sometimes intrudes on national security) sound familiar. Gates' thoughts on Afghanistan, however, do offer us an opportunity to reflect on where we've come in that long war. The quote from his book that has been repeated the most concerns a meeting in March 2011 in which Obama expressed his frustration with how things were going in Afghanistan. "As I sat there," Gates writes, "I...

Is It Already Too Late to Stop the NSA?

The revelations about the scope of National Security Agency surveillance from the documents released to the public by Edward Snowden have been so numerous and so extraordinary that I fear we may be becoming numb to them. That's partly because there's just been so much, one revelation after another to the point where the latest one doesn't surprise us anymore. It's also partly because mixed in with the genuinely distressing surveillance programs are some things that seem almost ridiculous, like the idea of NSA agents trying to unearth terrorist plots in World of Warcraft . But there are some basic facts about this whole affair that should make us all frightened. We can sum it up as follows: 1. The scope of the NSA's surveillance is far greater than almost anyone imagined. 2. Barack Obama is not only perfectly fine with that surveillance, he was perfectly fine with it being kept secret from the American public. 3. As much discussion and consternation as Snowden's revelations produced,...

The Year in Preview: The EPA Levels Up

Press Association via AP Images
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite Protesters ask President Obama to deny granting permission for TransCanada to build the 1,700-mile long pipeline gathered at the White House in August. P roposals that make it as far in Washington as cap-and-trade did rarely die cleanly; they suffer and bleed and seed the ground with a new generation of mutant offspring. Some of the planted ideas aren’t strong enough to thrive in the harsh conditions of politics; others turn out to be surprising hardy. Building a campaign around the Keystone XL pipeline was one of the latter type. Born out of cap-and-trade's failures, it thrived, fed by two theories—that you can’t trust D.C. politicos to react responsibly to climate change and that victory in the next legislative bout would require gathering power outside the capital. As as issue, Keystone XL has grown so big that, whatever decision the Obama administration finally makes about it in 2014, it will be brandished as an omen of this country's future (and,...

The Year in Preview: Dates of Judgment in the Middle East

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite I n front of the United States State Department, two large digital screens should be erected by New Year's, showing the countdown to the Obama administration's looming foreign-policy deadlines for 2014. One screen would flash the days left before March 29, when the nine months allocated by Secretary of State John Kerry for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations run out. By then, the two sides have to reach agreement, or at least show enough progress to have reason to keep talking. On the other screen, we'd see the time remaining until May 24, when the six-month interim accord on Iran's nuclear program ends—with a longterm accord, or well-founded hope of one, or a return to an unpredictable confrontation. In principle, the only thing that links success on the two tracks is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's insistence that peace with the Palestinians depends on removing the Iranian nuclear threat. But the two diplomatic challenges do share common...

A Dubious Budget Deal

The years of Republican obstructionism and the corporate campaign for deficit reduction have taken such a toll that merely the fact of getting a budget deal at all looks like a great achievement. This one is better than continued impasse, but the deal itself is a stinker. Representative Raul Grijanva, co-chair of the House progressive caucus, put it well: “I feel like punching myself in the face, but I’ll vote yes.” The deal does override the automatic sequester for this year. It will restore some $31.5 billion in sequester cut over the next two years in domestic spending, and a like amount in military spending. But those increases are against a backdrop of more than a trillion dollars of cuts over a decade. The deal nominally is deficit-neutral, because it adds new budget cuts in Medicare in 2022 and 2023. Even worse, the deal did not even include an extension of expiring extended unemployment insurance, at a time when the share long-term unemployed is stubbornly stuck. That...

The Year in Preview: Post-Preclearance Voter Protection

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Lots of things happened in 2013. President Obama was sworn in for a second term. We got a new pope and a new royal baby. Two bombs went off at the Boston Marathon and scared a nation. The Supreme Court stripped power from the Defense of Marriage Act and the Voting Rights Act. But these are all stories we've heard before, and if you haven't, you certainly will in the millions of "Year in Review" pieces set to be posted between now and New Year's. Over the next two weeks, our writers will instead preview the year ahead on their beats, letting you know far in advance what the next big story about the Supreme Court—or the environmental movement, immigration reform, reproductive rights, you get the picture—will be. You're welcome in advance for not making you read a dozen more retrospectives on Ted Cruz and Twerking and fiscal cliffs and shutdowns and selfies. Below, we tackle voting rights. AP Photo/Tony Dejak A nyone concerned about voting rights will remember 2013 as the year the...

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