Afternoon Must-Read: Charles Pierce: Here's Some Stupid For Lunch
Hoisted from the Internet from One Year Ago: Whence the Right-Wing Confidence Back a Year Ago in ObamaCare's Failure?

Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 19, 2014

Screenshot 10 3 14 6 17 PMOver at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog


Must- and Shall-Reads:

And Over Here:

  1. Mark Thoma: When Piketty Argued for Income Redistribution, He Changed Economics: "Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century... has it changed anything within economics?... Piketty has... revive[d] the study of the distribution of wealth without violating the positive and normative distinction that economists hold so dear.... Whether or not Piketty is correct about the fundamental determinants of these distributions remains to be seen, but he deserves much credit.... Another thing Piketty deserves credit for is the revival of the historical, narrative methodology.... In his 1919 presidential address to the American Economic Association, Irving Fisher said, ‘The real scientific study of the distribution of wealth has, we must confess, scarcely begun as yet.’ Nearly a hundred years later that, along with a revival of historical methods and perspective, may finally be changing."

  2. Robert F. Martin et al.: Potential Output and Recessions: Are We Fooling Ourselves?: "The economic collapse in the wake of the global financial crises (GFC) and the weaker-than-expected recovery in many countries have led to questions about the impact of severe downturns on economic potential. Indeed, for several major economies, the level of output is nowhere near returning to pre-crisis trend (figure 1). Such developments have resulted in repeated downward revisions to estimates of potential output by private- and public-sector forecasters. In addition, this disappointment in post-recession growth has contributed to concerns that the U.S. economy, among others, is entering an era of secular stagnation. However, the historical experience of advanced economies around recessions indicates that the current experience is less unusual than one might think. First, output typically does not return to pre-crisis trend following recessions, especially deep ones. Second, in response, forecasters repeatedly revise down measures of trend..."

  3. James Pethokoukis: The GOP needs to rethink its approach to tax cuts: "Steve Moore... doesn’t like the conservative idea of cutting the tax burden and increasing take-home pay of American parents by expanding the child tax credit.... So the Republican Party — tagged as the 'party of the rich'--should head into 2016 with a plan to cut taxes on the rich and raise them on working class Americans? Hmm. (And by the way, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that turning people into non-income taxpayers nudges them into greater support for expanding government.) Anyway, what should the GOP pitch to the middle-class be, according to Moore? This: cutting the top income tax rate would boost GDP growth, which in turn would broadly boost middle-class incomes.... When incomes for the top 1% have risen by 200% over the past three decades vs. for 40% for the middle class, it’s not surprising that Americans wonder about the wisdom of cutting top tax rates..."

  4. Ed O'Keefe: Samuel Alito Fails to Quote Straight: "'Some of the columns that are written, you know, are another story,' Alito said, in a rare public lecture on Constitutional history and law presented by the New York Historical Society on Saturday. 'Some of them are written by people who are not very knowledgeable.... I was reading one, actually, reading one this morning that was complaining about the current membership of the Court, because unlike in past days, according to this columnist, we don't have a representation of drunks, philanderers, and a few, you know, a few other n'er do wells.'... [Dahlia Lithwick's] column.... 'Compared with the political operators, philanderers, and alcoholics of bygone eras, they are almost completely devoid of bad habits or scandalous secrets. This is, of course, not a bad thing.' American legal scholar and Yale University professor Akhil Reed Amar, who moderated the discussion and referred to Alito by his first name throughout the event, politely described the column as 'interesting', and quickly moved on to other topics..."

  5. Charles Pierce: Here's Some Stupid For Lunch: "The editorial board of The Washington Post [serves up] the absolutely perfect Beltway word-souffle: '[Obama] has tried compromise, and the Republicans spurned him. We will not relitigate that last contention except to note that behind the legislative disappointments of the past six years lies fault on both sides.' Wow."

  6. Scott Lemieux: Today In People Insulting Your Intelligence - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money: "Shorter David Brooks: ‘If Obama takes unilateral action on immigration, congressional Republicans will stop cooperating with his initiatives!’ Shorter Lambert Strether: ‘We would totally have had single-payer if it wasn’t for the meddling of President, Speaker of the House, Senate Majority Leader, Secretary of State, Chief Justice of the United States, and longtime don of the Gambino crime family Jonathan Gruber.  Also, I have no idea what was actually in the Heritage health care proposal, and think that governors rule Massachusetts like kings.’ Shorter Verbatim Megan McArdle: ‘So what would I have done, when Obamacare was tanking in the polls and Scott Brown was elected to the Senate on an anti-Obamacare platform? I would have passed something more modest that still significantly expanded coverage, expanding Medicaid to 150 to 200 percent of the poverty line and creating a national high-risk pool to insure anyone who’d been turned down for coverage more than twice in the past 12 months, at prices comparable to what a healthy person of their age would pay in the insurance market. Again, much cheaper, much less intrusive, no blowback from people who lost their policies, and very unlikely to have been tampered with by the Supreme Court.‘ Oh, yes, the Supreme Court tampering with an expansion of Medicaid--that’s unpossible!" :: Postmodulator says: "I liked this even better: 'creating a national high-risk pool to insure anyone who’d been turned down for coverage more than twice in the past 12 months, at prices comparable to what a healthy person of their age would pay in the insurance market.' So, make the bill more palatable by putting the public option back in. I genuinely refuse to believe this woman is the same species as me."

  7. Jonathan Chait: Bush Official Flip-Flopping on Obamacare -- NYMag: "Getting in his licks today is Tevi Troy, former Bush administration health official, who takes to the Wall Street Journal editorial page to denounce Obamacare’s 'Cadillac tax'.... Troy’s column does not mention that the Cadillac tax--or, usually, even more stringent versions of it--have been a mainstay of Republican health-care plans as well.... Troy’s op-ed also fails to mention that he himself used to oppose the tax break for employer-sponsored health insurance. In a 2007 speech, he explained that Bush proposed to cap the health-insurance tax deduction to exclude the more expensive plans: 'The President's proposal would allow every taxpayer with health insurance that meets certain basic criteria... to deduct $15,000 for a family.... These numbers we're pretty confident are large enough to cover all but the most expensive Cadillac-type plans.'... Obama's Cadillac tax kicks in at a threshold of $30,000 per year, compared to the $15,000-per-year threshold Troy endorsed under Bush. Troy has more recently changed his thinking on the issue. As the president of the American Health Policy Institute, Troy’s work now focuses on warning America about the dangerous burdens of the Cadillac tax he once endorsed.... Troy’s op-ed doesn’t mention that either..."

Should Be Aware of:


  1. Molly Redden: Catholic Church Argues It Doesn't Have to Show Up in Court Because Religious Freedom: "When Emily Herx first took time off work for in vitro fertilization treatment, her boss offered what sounded like words of support: 'You are in my prayers.' Soon those words took on a more sinister meaning. The Indiana grade school where Herx was teaching English was Catholic. And after church officials were alerted that Herx was undergoing IVF—making her, in the words of one monsignor, 'a grave, immoral sinner'—it took them less than two weeks to fire her. Herx filed a discrimination lawsuit in 2012. In response, St. Vincent de Paul School and the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, her former employers, countered... [that] its religious liberty rights protect the school from having to go to court at all..."

  2. Nicholas Carlson (2012): Romney Was So Proud Of His Universal Healthcare Law He Included It In His Official Portrait: "One of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign promises is that he will do everything he can to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka 'Obamacare.' But Romney hasn't always been so opposed to the ideas behind 'Obamacare,' such as the act's requirement that all individuals buy health insurance. While he was governor of Massachusetts, Romney's own signature legislation was a healthcare reform act built around the idea of an individual mandate. In 2005, Romney even called it 'the ultimate conservative idea.' In materials from his 2008 campaign for President, Romney cited reports that the bill had 'newly insured' some 300,000 people. In fact, Romney was so proud of this legislation that he insisted his official governor's portrait include a copy of the bill..."

  3. Brian Buetler: Reihan Salam Obamacare Article Shows Why the Debate Will Never End: "The trick is to make the opposition look more sporting. Salam laments that Democrats tailored their health care legislation to obscure and delay transfers so that budget analysts wouldn’t treat the law as they might a single-payer program where... everything coming in is a tax, and everything going out is an expenditure.... The right’s memory has grown conveniently spotty.... In 2011, in a different context, Salam mocked the kind of scolding he’s now directing at Obama. ‘Ah, he made the program marginally less politically poisonous, which will make it harder for us to demonize him. Now let’s attack him for hypocrisy!’ he wrote, paraphrasing critics. The policy architect in that instance was Paul Ryan, who proposed phasing out the existing Medicare program, but only after 10 years, and only for future retirees. At the time, Salam didn’t believe his opponents’ rhetorical strategy had much merit. ‘I mean, I get it,’ he added. ‘But also: let’s move on'..."