Barbara Ehrenreich: "The Great Recession should have put the victim-blaming theory of poverty to rest. In the space of only a few months, millions of people entered the ranks of the officially poor—not only laid-off blue-collar workers, but also downsized tech workers, managers, lawyers, and other once-comfortable professionals. No one could accuse these “nouveau poor” Americans of having made bad choices or bad lifestyle decisions. They were educated, hardworking, and ambitious, and now they were also poor—applying for food stamps, showing up in shelters, lining up for entry-level jobs in retail. This would have been the moment for the pundits to finally admit the truth: Poverty is not a character failing or a lack of motivation. Poverty is a shortage of money."
Dylan Scott: 60% Of KY GOPers Buck McConnell, Support Medicaid Expansion: "The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky... found that 60 percent of self-identified Republicans said they support expansion. In total, 79 percent of Kentuckians agree.... McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer dismissed the findings. 'Most new Obamacare enrollees are not on private plans, but are added to the state’s struggling Medicaid program', he said, 'where one hundred percent of these costs will be picked up by taxpayers and where there is already a shortage of physicians accepting Medicaid patients'. More than 120,000 Kentuckians have enrolled in Medicaid through the state's Obamacare website since it launched in October..."
Larry Elliott: Davos 2014: Larry Summers attacks George Osborne's austerity programme: "Summers... said the chancellor was wrong to blame the eurozone crisis for the weakness of business investment and governments should be spending more on infrastructure.... 'I see less need to impose cuts on people who are vulnerable in the US context than the chancellor sees in the European context', Summers said.... 'It's several years since the US exceeded its peak GDP before the crisis – that still hasn't happened in the UK.'... The chancellor responded to Summers's charge that Britain, unlike the US, had failed to raise national output above its pre-recession levels by saying that the UK had suffered a deeper slump and was more dependent on the financial sector...."
Tax Policy Center: 50 Years in LBJ's War on Poverty: "Introduction by Sarah Rosen Wartell... The Tax Code as a Safety Net... Reducing Poverty through Work Incentives and Community Development... Lunch"
Barbara Morrill: Daily Kos: Boehner says government shutdown was a 'predictable disaster'... and he did it anyway: "'When I looked up, I saw my colleagues going this way. And you learn that a leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk', he said. 'So I said, "You want to fight this fight? I'll go fight the fight with you." But it was a very predictable disaster.' [...] 'I like to describe my job as trying to get 218 frogs in a wheelbarrow long enough to pass a bill. It’s hard to do'. Baloney. All Boehner had to do was hold a vote. With Democrats and the slightly-less-insane Republicans, he had more than enough votes to avoid the shutdown altogether... [but] hundreds of thousands of lives... were disrupted... $24 billion [was what] his little exercise in 'leadership' cost the rest of us."
Paul Krugman: A Note on the Political Economy of Populism: "President Obama will make inequality the central theme of his State of the Union address... [and] will face two different kinds of sniping... usual suspects on the right shrieking 'class warfare'... a variety of people, some of them well-intentioned, arguing that while... inequality is an issue, the crucial thing now is to get the economy growing... [and] that populism is a diversion from the main issue.... They’re wrong.... Inequality and job creation aren’t completely separable issues. There’s a decent though not ironclad case that rising inequality helped set the stage for economic crisis, and may be holding back recovery; there’s an even stronger case that weak employment is depressing wages and increasing inequality.... Beyond that, there’s the political economy.... Deficit obsession hasn’t really been about deficits... [but] using deficits as a club with which to smash to welfare state, and hence increase inequality.... Conversely, talking about the need to help struggling families is also a way to shift the focus away from deficit obsession, and pave the way at least for a relaxation of austerity, if not actual stimulus. And I think we also have to face up to an awkward political reality: moderate populism has a broad popular constituency, Keynesian macroeconomics doesn’t."
Duncan Black: "the point of real-time travel data apps is that they are a very cheap way to add customary functionality to systems which already have GPS information for their fleets. People hate waiting for buses/trains more than they dislike the time spent riding them, especially if weather is bad, and they hate waiting even more if there's uncertainty"
Jamelle Bouie: Did Justin Bieber Set White People Back?: "Yesterday, as you probably heard, Justin Bieber was arrested for street racing and driving under the influence. Because I’m me, I made a joke: 'Justin Bieber has set white people back hundreds of years.' The premise is easy to understand. Individual people of color—and especially women—can’t make mistakes without it saying something about their class. When Richard Sherman makes a post-game outburst, for instance, the reaction goes beyond him, and becomes an indictment of black people. When you apply this standard to a white person—like Justin Bieber, for instance—it sounds absurd, which is the joke. It is absurd, and racism (or sexism) is the only reason anyone would say something similar about a woman or a minority. The people in my immediate Twitter circle got this, and retweeted the joke. But as it spread through various timelines, it lost its context and attracted the anger of internet racists.... Whether they realize it or not, these people are trying to protect the 'value' of white racial identity by casting Bieber from the fold. He can’t reflect badly on white people because he just isn’t white, and whiteness can’t fail, it can only be failed. And how does one fail 'whiteness'? By associating with black people, or adopting their perceived behavior.... This is textbook racial policing, and it’s utterly fascinating."
Buce: Underbelly: The Two Minds of Robert Gates: "After a while, you begin to see a larger theme. Gates does say he feels that Obama didn't have his heart in the Afghan War (indeed, this is about the only thing that most reviewers want to quote). Yet in time, you can see that Gates is at best ambivalent about it himself.... Gates... writing on what he saw in 2010.... 'Embassy polling showed that in 2005 about 80 percent of Afghans saw us as allies and partners; by summer 2009, after nearly eight years of war, that was down to 60 percent... civilian casualties... thoughtless treatment of the Afghans in routine encounters... military vehicles barreling down the roads scattering animals and scaring people... disrespected their culture... failed to cultivate their elders... collaborated with Afghan officials who were ripping off ordinary citizens.... Was it any wonder that Karzai and others complained?... Or that even reasonably honest and competent Afghan officials got no respect from their fellow citizens?...' This is a damning indictment, not so? And it is really nothing new, yes? Gates (channeling Fred Kagan) makes a point of insisting that 'We're Not the Soviets in Afghanistan'. That is probably true; it is equally true that we aren't the Japanese Imperial Army in Nanking. We're full of good intentions. Yet at least since Vietnam and certainly since Iraq, we've piled up an abundance of evidence to tell us that we really don't know how to play this game--that, despite the best efforts of the best military leadership, we wind up wreaking the same kind of havoc and generating the same kinds of resentments that we tell ourselves we want to avoid."
Mike Konczal: Washington Has Not Defeated Wall Street. Yet. Here are four remaining fights | David M. Rubenstein: Study the Humanities |
Should Be Aware of:
Matthew Yglesias: Inequality compromise: No way: "Jackie Calmes... does open the door to some suggestion of a possibility of a compromise that just isn't there.... There's just no room for meaningful compromise here thanks to our old friend taxes.... Republicans don't want to raise them.... They want to lower taxes on high income individuals. It is true that sometimes (1999-2000) they want to do this to avoid a dangerous budget surplus while at other times (2001, 2008-10) they want to do it as economic stimulus while at yet other times (2003-7) they want to do it as a long-term growth strategy or (2011-2013) as a tax simplification strategy. But the policy ask—lower taxes, especially on rich people—doesn't change. The fact that Republicans are now talking about poverty and social mobility is interesting, but the way you get compromises is that people need to change their policies. Obama certainly hasn't softened his interest in progressive taxation and Republicans haven't softened their rampant opposition."
Jonathan Chait: Republicans Make Saddest Hostage Threat Ever: "House Republicans again claim they’re going to threaten to trigger a default crisis next month unless President Obama offers them policy concessions of some kind. Unlike 2011, they’re no longer arguing that raising the debt ceiling is a bad thing.... Unlike 2013, they’re not arguing that they have some kind of right to demand concessions in return for releasing the world economy as a hostage. No, instead they’re arguing..... "The two parameters are that we cannot default, and a clean debt-ceiling increase cannot pass the House," said Illinois Rep. Pete Roskam.... A clean debt-ceiling bill can’t pass the House, you say? Then how come a clean debt-ceiling bill passed the House three months ago by a vote of 285–144?"
Matthew Yglesias: The Phantom Marriage Cure: "A more productive posture might be for liberals to see the family stability angle as a way of getting social conservatives more invested in helping poor people. The suite of things most likely to make for more stable working class families are basically better demand management, better schools, more wage subsidies, better transportation connections to jobs, and overall the kind of stuff that makes things better."
Ed Kilgore: Huck’s Back: "It’s a solid sign of the reality and extent of polarization that someone who might want to run for president of the United States makes a comment that raises his stock in the GOP while making him look like a buffoon with most everybody else.... Mike Huckabee’s loud reentry... as reported by WaPo’s Aaron Blake.... 'Huckabee (R) said Thursday that Republicans need to take a more combative attitude toward winning the votes of women.... “I think it’s time Republicans no longer accept listening to the Democrats talk about a ‘war on women’.... The fact is the Republicans don’t have a war on women, they have a war for women, to empower them to be something other than victims of their gender.”... Huckabee said Democrats rely on women believing they are weaker than men and in need of government handouts... contraception mandate in Obamacare.... Huckabee said Democrats tell women “they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government.”' Let’s get this straight: Republicans are fighting for the empowerment of women by telling them 'Uncle Sugar' should keep them from having abortions, using birth control methods that some religious leaders (unlike medical and scientific experts) have deemed 'abortifacients', and asking for equal pay as a right.... A ban on abortion and curbs on birth control, moreover, empower women to control their libidos, which are clearly a threat to public order.... Yep, Huck’s back, and this time he may not be the wise-cracking bass-playing media favorite, but an Angry Prophet."
Lloyd Green: SOTU 2014: A GOP State of the Union Would Still Be Off Message: "Republicans still talk like they are the party of the rich, and still offer policies aimed at the rich, such as lower tax rates and entitlement cuts. Yet, in reality, the GOP is in the odd position of offering benefits--in the form of tax cuts--to high-end Democrats--and then, on the other side of the political ledger, offering to cut entitlements--in the form of cuts to Social Security--that effectively target the Republicans’ base....
"Democratic and Republican elites have internalized the wants of their donors. Yet, unlike the Democrats who repeatedly win presidential elections and then attempt to govern with an Upstairs-Downstairs Coalition, the results of the Republicans’ strategy has led to winning the popular vote only once in the last six presidential elections.... The GOP should remind everyone that America is not just a place, but remains an ideal--an ideal of work, thrift, and family, not just tax cuts for the rich, subsidies to big business, or props for institutions too big to fail.
"The Republican Party I’m talking about is not the party of the Cato Institute, the Club for Growth and Jim DeMint? It’s the party of Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Eisenhower. The old GOP was a better party; it also won more elections."
David Corn: Remember How Dinesh D'Souza Outed Gay Classmates—and Thought It Was Awesome?: "I wrote a short piece in The Nation and recalled that I had once witnessed him boasting about improperly purloining documents for the gay-naming article. D'Souza cried foul, claiming that the Review had not used any underhanded means to gain access to information about the members of the Gay Student Association... the Review had done nothing untoward to unearth the names of the gay students it outed; the paper had merely relied on public information submitted by the group itself.... At first, I took D'Souza at this word.... [But] I called Dolores Johnson, director of student activities at Dartmouth. She said it was 'absolutely untrue' that the documents the GSA had filed with the school were open to the public. Certainly, she explained, the GSA, like all student groups, had provided her office the names of its officers and a constitution.... But, she said, 'I would never give that information out to the public'. And there was this: She pointed out that shortly before the Review published its article naming the gay students, some documents had disappeared from the GSA's desk in a student center... the ones cited in the Review story."
Alex Macgillis: Rick Santorum's Syria flip-flop: if Obama's for it, he's against it: "Back then, when Obama was seeking support for military action in Syria, the line was that extremists had gotten too strong within the opposition for us to lend the opposition support; now that Obama’s once again reluctant to act, Santorum sees a national interest in us intervening more over there because of the rise of extremists. Which is it, Senator?"
- Mike Konczal and Marcus Stanley: Report: An Unfinished Mission: Making Wall Street Work for Us
- David Ricardo: Essay on the Funding System