How Obama Got The Tax Cut Deal
December 06, 2010

It appears that President Obama got more out of Republicans, in return for extending all the Bush tax cuts, than I expected he would. Of course he also gave up more, agreeing to an extension of a low estate tax rate, which is apparently crucial as an incentive for rich people to, uh, die. Why were Republicans so flexible? They are willing to deal away a lot if they're getting tax cuts for the rich. President Clinton got Republicans to establish a Childrens' Health Insurance Program in 1997 in return for a capital gains tax cut.

Obama Thought America Could Do Without Europe. Well, Europe May Think It Can Do Without America.
October 27, 2010

This is my rather crude way of putting John Vinocur's subtle answer to the question he posed yesterday in his "Politicus" column in the International Herald Tribune: "Could U.S. lose Europe to Russia?" Of course, Obama cares mightily about the Third World. The Third World is a mess, an unholy mess, and it's about time that someone make this argument clearly rather than let it linger as an unspoken and mischievous truth. Not quite a half-century ago I was preparing for my graduate school general examinations and "African nationalism" was one of my special fields.

The Old New Thing
October 20, 2010

The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History By Samuel Moyn (Belknap Press, 337 pp., $27.95) In 1807, in Yorkshire, activists hit the campaign trail for William Wilberforce, whose eloquent parliamentary fight against Britain’s slave trade had won surprising success. “O we’ve heard of his Cants in Humanity’s Cause/While the Senate was hush’d, and the land wept applause,” they sang.

Bill Clinton Feels The Tea Party's Pain
September 21, 2010

I'd half-forgotten his incredibly irritating habit of agreeing with everybody: In short, Clinton said, "I'm sympathetic with these Tea Party folks. American public and private systems need to be modernized and changed so they're more accountable to people and they help the middle class more. I 100% agree with that. They're right." I'm pretty sure that's not what the Tea Parties are saying.

Obama vs. the Republicans (With Full Speech Text)
September 08, 2010

I think it's safe to say that President Obama has given up on bipartisanship, at least for the foreseeable future. The White House just released prepared text of his economic speech to the City Club of Cleveland. A few weeks ago, House Minority Leader John Boehner gave a speech there, outlining his economic agenda (or, at least, what he claimed to be an economic agenda).

How Republicans Learn That Obama Is Muslim
August 27, 2010

Why has the number of voters who think President Obama is a Muslim increased? John Sides looks at the data and finds that the increase has come mostly among Republicans with a college degree or some college: I divide the sample into Democrats and Republicans. Independents who lean toward a party are counted as partisans (see here for why), so this analysis includes about 90 percent of the sample.

Reagan, Bush, and Rotten Eggs
August 25, 2010

The next time you hear a conservative ranting about big government, ask him how he likes his eggs--plain or with a side of salmonella. As you’ve probably heard by now, a massive egg recall is underway. A midwest producer shipped tainted eggs to supermarkets across the country, causing more than 1,300 known infections--with more, possibly, to come. The company ran the kind of factory farming operation that, experts have long warned, made salmonella infection more likely. Its owner had previously paid millions in fines for violating labor and safety regulations.

Oy Bai
August 18, 2010

[Guest post by Jonathan Bernstein:] Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist.

While You Were Sleeping: Tinkering with the EITC
August 10, 2010

Last week was an active one for America’s stealth anti-poverty policy--the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)--though you’d be forgiven for not noticing. A couple of decisions, made with little fanfare, should have big implications for how low-income taxpayers receive the credit in the future.  The first development was a little disappointing. After a more than 30-year run, Congress seems poised to do away with the Advance EITC, to help offset a new round of federal aid to states. The Advance EITC is a little-used mechanism by which workers can get a portion of their expected EITC through their p

Mock Trial
July 26, 2010

Yesterday, in Cambodia, a perpetrator of one of the twentieth century’s great crimes was sentenced. Kang Kek Lew, also known as Comrade Deuch, was the head of the infamous Tuol Sleng prison during the reign of the Khmer Rouge, and was at least partly responsible for the murder of more than 12,000 people.