[Guest post by Matthew Zeitlin] Some may object to dedicating a post to a tweet, but an argument advanced recently by Charles Blow, a New York Times columnist who is ostensibly focused on “all things statistical,” is based on a wildly misleading interpretation of life expectancy statistics and presents a good opportunity to get into the actuarial weeds . Blow objects to President Obama’s proposal, reported in the Huffington Post, to raise the eligibility age for Medicare, and one reason is that, “Deal pushes Medicare to 67 blk men are out. 67 is blk mens' life expt” [sic].
[Guest post by Matthew Zeitlin] It has become clear that Obama thinks that it would be a good idea to reach some kind of grand bargain deficit reduction deal with the Republican House. Whether he thinks this for political reasons, substantive reasons or some combination of the two is immaterial. However, by telegraphing the political stakes so clearly, he has made it very difficult for Boehner to sign on a to a deal that involves a substantive compromise – i.e.
[Guest post by Matthew Zeitlin] In a somewhat odd post for the Atlantic, libertarian-ish Conor Friedersdorf suggests that left-wingers disappointed in the Obama administration ought to support a primary challenge so that they can get Obama to stop taking the left wing of the Democratic Party for granted: Is there any way out of this cycle, whereby every president is virulently hated by the opposition and proceeds to betray his ideological allies, who submit for lack of an alternative?
[Guest post by Matthew Zeitlin] During President Obama’s Twitter Town Hall event this afternoon, he was asked by Twitter user _RenegadeNerd_ “Mr. President, will you issue an executive order to raise the debt ceiling pursuant to section 4 of the 14th amendment?” In response, Obama said “I don't think we should even get to the constitutional issue.” What’s important here is that this is the second time that Obama has been asked about the constitutionality of the debt ceiling and refused to give answer one way or another.
[Guest post by Matthew Zeitlin] Ryan Grim has been doing a great job at the Huffington Post tracking how Senate Democrats are starting to consider the constitutional option when it comes to the debt ceiling. The constitutional option, what Chait calls the “Zeitlin Option,” is for Obama to instruct Treasury to ignore the debt ceiling and continue to honor the government’s obligations to creditors and to fund appropriations and entitlements, arguing that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional under the 14th amendment.
With a Republican-controlled House demanding large cuts in present and future spending in exchange for an increase in the debt ceiling, the possibility that the federal government will have trouble financing and issuing new debt is becoming more frighteningly likely each day. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, CBO chief Doug Elmendorf, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have all encouraged Congress in strong terms to resolve the debt ceiling stand-off before the creditworthiness of the United States is jeopardized.
The GOP nominating process has barely begun, but with an unfocused field and a long hill to climb, the barbs are already flying. As the presumptive frontrunner, Mitt Romney has taken most of the heat. But Palin—not even a nominee yet—has dodged her share of insults as well. TNR brings you some amusing excerpts from the expanding array of political playground fights. Everybody beats up Romney. The frontrunner’s biggest political liability isn’t his religion: That’s old news.