The Balanced Budget Scam
August 31, 2011
The 1997 Balanced Budget Act is one of the great propaganda coups in the history of American governance. It is remembered today fondly by right and left as the hallmark of a bygone era of bipartisan cooperation, when the two parties came together in the spirit of shared sacrifice in order to secure a balanced budget. Here's Matthew Yglesias noting how the law "managed to raise revenue." Here are conservatives like Keith Hennessey and Paul Ryan holding it up as a case of the government cutting taxes and balancing the budget. What really happened in 1997?
With David Frum moving in on my dissecting Wall Street Journal editorial territory, and now Zack Beuachamp cutting in on my patented role of pointing out Pete Wehner's hackery, it becomes all the more vital that I cling to my role of ridiculing Stephen Moore, the Journal's lead economics editorial writer and my most cherished foil. Moore's latest column argues that President Obama's economic program has failed and that President Reagan's succeeded, ergo Keynesian economics is wrong and supply-side economics is correct.
The Morality Of Political Hostage Taking
August 04, 2011
Will Wilkinson objects to Democrats referring to Republican debt ceiling tactics as terrorism: The political tactics that seems to each of us most dangerous and irresponsible inevitably reflect deeper assumptions about the way economies and governments do and ought to work. Of course, not every set of assumptions about market and state are equally reasonable.
On Wednesday morning the managing directors of Wall Street’s biggest bond rating agencies lined up in front of the House Financial oversight committee. To the administration and the Treasury, these men currently represent their worst nightmare. In the last two weeks, Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, and Fitch have all threatened to downgrade America’s triple-A debt rating, a move that would cost the government billions in raised interest rates and spark disastrous macroeconomic consequences for the country.
Conservative Activists vs. Business
July 14, 2011
One hardy perennial theme of American political commentary is "tension between the GOP's right-wing base and business elite." The story is almost always overblown. The interests of the conservative activists and the rich folks is often orthogonal (say, one wants to ban gay marriage, the other wants to cut the capital gains tax.) Sometimes there's an asymmetry of passion (activists care way more about impeaching Clinton, business elites care a lot more about a free trade deal.) But almost never do you see a straight, head-on collision between the two.
Anti-abortion views first entered presidential politics in 1980, seven years after Roe v. Wade, when Ronald Reagan embraced a “family values” agenda to run against Jimmy Carter. They’ve been the stock-in-trade of Republican candidates ever since, and, this year, a pro-life group called the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List—more about them in a minute—has instituted an early gut-check, a “Pro-Life Presidential Leadership Pledge.” All of the candidates, except Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, and Gary Johnson, have signed it.
Why The House Will Kill The Grand Bargain
July 07, 2011
Every time somebody suggests there might be a big deficit deal, and every time I catch myself thinking it could happen, I return to one basic question: How does this pass the House of Representatives? I've never heard a remotely persuasive answer to this question. To understand the obstacles in place here, you need to return to the 1990 budget agreement. That was a deal between George Bush and Congress that ran along roughly similar lines to the agreement being floated in the press today: mostly spending cuts, with some tax hikes along with it.
June 09, 2011
The Esenyurt District of Istanbul is classic new Turkey: pastel-colored office buildings with plastic-looking facades, rows of high-rise apartment buildings organized into little vertical gated communities, skeletons of shopping malls waiting to be filled with Mango and Starbucks. On a recent May afternoon, the prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, made a campaign stop there. The people who gathered to meet him were both covered and loose-haired, lower-middle class and middle class, and they eagerly sandwiched their way through security checkpoints.
May 11, 2011
Richmond, Virginia, may be the heart of the old confederacy. But it’s also the place where the federal government eventually indicted Jefferson Davis for treason. A plaque commemorating that event sits outside the entrance to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals—an omen for what transpired inside the courthouse on Tuesday, where three judges considered a pair of lawsuits from Virginians challenging an abuse of federal authority. The alleged abuse in this case is the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The other, more significant omen was the selection of the judges.
There’s just so much press attention the Arab world can receive before even obsessives like me begin to tire of its frenzy, pitilessness, and perfidy. Yes, endless repetition of violence and violation can also seem routine. Which, to tell you God’s honest truth, they are. There is a great deal of exactitude behind this morbid fact. Still, the present upheavals in their cumulative impact are deadening. Not only to the victims of the regimes but to their observers, commentators, rapporteurs. Actually, many of these observers, perhaps most, are infatuated with the Arabs.