Jonathan Cohn
Senior Editor

Those Poor Corporations
October 15, 2008

John McCain just trotted out his usual line about corporations in America facing the second highest tax rate in the world. It's a very misleading claim: Most corporations pay far less than the stated rates, because of loopholes. For the full explanation, see this Nobel Prize-winning economist. --Jonathan Cohn

David Brooks Sees The Future. And It Looks Pretty Good.
October 13, 2008

David Brooks peers into his crystal ball today and predicts some infighting over the Democratic Party's agenda. With Obama likely to win the presidency and the Democrats likely to pad their margins in Congress, Brooks expects calls for more bailouts, an economic stimulus package, plus major energy and health care reforms. That would mean a lot of government spending, Brooks says, and not everybody in the party will be so happy about it: One the one side, liberals will argue (are already arguing) that it was deregulation and trickle-down economic policies that led us to this crisis.

Less Cancer Screening Under Mccain's Plan? Actually, Yes.
October 07, 2008

McCain, like most conservatives, believes that allowing cross-state purchases of insurance will help make health care more affordable. If people can shop for the policy that best suits their needs, the market will naturally bring down prices--while taking care of everybody's needs. This is pure bunk--for precisely the reasons Obama just laid out. If insurers can sell policies across state lines, they will search out--and then converge upon--whichever state or states have the least stringent regulations.

Obama: Trying To Make Health Care Simple
October 07, 2008

Obama's answer about health care reform came straight from the speech he gave a few days ago--which, as I wrote at the time, was very strong. While the scheme Obama supports is necessarily complicated, I think his two-step explanation makes sense: If you have insurance and like it, you get to keep it; if not, you can buy the same insurance I have. His critique of McCain's plan was spot-on, too.

Your Umpteenth Reminder On The Tax Cuts
October 07, 2008

John McCain, just now in the debate: I am not in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy. The Tax Policy Center, in a report last month: The two candidates' tax plans would have sharply different distributional effects. Senator McCain's tax cuts would primarily benefit those with very high incomes, almost all of whom would receive large tax cuts that would, on average, raise their after-tax incomes by more than twice the average for all households. Many fewer households at the bottom of the income distribution would get tax cuts and those tax cuts would be small as a share of after-tax income.

The Tax-and-spend Attack: Has It Run Its Course?
October 07, 2008

Once again, CNN is showing how voters are reacting to the debate arguments, real-time. Among the more fascinating responses was the one John McCain elicited when he attacked Barack Obama for supporting too much spending. From what I could tell, it got no response at all. I have no idea how accurate that is. But I wonder if it's evidence that the whole "tax-and-spend" attack--the one Republicans used so successfully, for so many years--has finally lost its punch. For what it's worth, I think McCain's delivery during this town hall is light years better than it was in the previous debate.

Mccain: I'm Not Raising Taxes. I'm Cutting Medicare!
October 06, 2008

Barack Obama says John McCain would raise people's taxes by changing the way the IRS looks at health insurance. McCain says he wouldn't. Who's right? Quite possibly McCain. But only because he's decided to slash Medicare and Medicaid instead. Laura Meckler, who is one of the sharpest and most reliable policy reporters around, has the full story in today's Wall Street Journal. To review: The essence of McCain's health care plan is to change the tax treatment of health benefits they get from employers.

For Obama, Just What The Doctor Ordered
October 05, 2008

Health care has been conspicuously absent from the presidential campaign in the last few months. But Barack Obama is trying to change that. He's got the right idea--and, more important, the right message. Mostly. On Saturday, Obama gave a major health care speech in North Carolina. For the next few days, his surrogates will be fanning out to carry his message to local constituencies and to the media. The campaign is also running new ads, distributing a series of mailers, and organizing local events including a series of "Docs for Barack" gatherings.

Paul Newman Dead At 83
September 27, 2008

Actor, activist, and philanthropist. From the obituary: Newman had a soft spot for underdogs in real life, giving tens of millions to charities through his food company and setting up camps for severely ill children. Passionately opposed to the Vietnam War, and in favor of civil rights, he was so famously liberal that he ended up on President Nixon's "enemies list," one of the actor's proudest achievements, he liked to say.  My understanding is that the Newman's Own company donates all of its profits and royalties to charity through its affiliated foundation.

Mccain's New Ad Makes No Sense (literally)
September 27, 2008

Apparently the McCain campaign is sending around this advertisement. The basic message seems to be this: Obama agrees with McCain on three issues, so Obama is not ready to lead. Huh? What's wrong with finding a little common ground on three issues?