Matt Miller

Now we know what the doomsayers feel like when the decreed day of judgment passes by without thunderbolts or second comings. Americans Elect, which was going to save our benighted political system with the ultimate deus ex machina—a bipartisan, third-choice presidential ticket borne from an online nominating process funded by leveraged-buyout tycoon Peter Ackerman and other deep-pocketed centrists—announced at midnight that the savior has not yet made his or her appearance.

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Rule of Three

The two most salient facts about Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy as the January primaries approach are that he is always first or second in the polls and that his support is stuck at about 25 percent. It’s premature to call Romney the presumptive nominee before any votes are cast, but this year’s Republican field is so weak that alternative outcomes are pretty hard to imagine. Yet the GOP base remains wary of Romney because of his moderate record in Massachusetts and the extreme pliability of his political views.

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In the past day or two, I've seen a few disparate data points to suggest that the movement to create a new third choice on the 2012 presidential ballot led by people who one might rationally expect to be with President Obama is gaining momentum. It turns out that these guys -- who are working to nominate a bipartisan ticket in an online convention with the blessing of Tom Friedman and the backing of some very wealthy people -- are not the only ones who believe that all Washington needs is a new breed of leader who can swoop in and transcend all our divides. 1.

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Third Wheel

There is a movement afoot in the land, but I don’t mean the one amid the tarps at Zuccotti Park. Instead, it’s a 148-person operation headquartered in a tenth-floor office on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington decorated with sleek posters that proclaim, “Make My Vote Count” and “Open Up The Ballot.” Hanging in the reception area is a framed op-ed column praising the movement, written by the man who is its Marx or Engels: Tom Friedman. This is Americans Elect, the latest attempt to challenge the country’s two-party duopoly from the political center.

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The debate over teacher pay is nothing new. And neither are the arguments about assumptions and methodologies. How do you assign a value to pensions and health benefits? How do you count the time teachers spend working outside the classroom or during summers? How do you factor in job protections and possibilities for advancement? If you want a lengthy, detailed version of the debate, I highly recommend a 2005 exchange between economists Larry Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute* and Michael Podgursky of the University of Missouri-Columbia.

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Matt Miller writes: The "truth-teller" du jour (who unveiled a tough New Jersey budget Tuesday that sensibly asks public workers to pick up more of their health and pension costs) did not have the guts to speak this particular truth. Christie merely said that Social Security's retirement age would have to be raised and Medicare would need to be tweaked lest it bankrupt us - things that less sexy pols, such as Democrats Dick Durbin and Mark Warner, have noted without anyone fainting in admiration. I agree with Miller's broader point.

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Defenders of the Affordable Care Act, including Matt Miller and yours truly, have suggested that the Republicans who favor repeal have no alternatives that would cover as many people at such a low cost. On Friday, Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin posted a lengthy response, in which she insisted the Republicans do have such alternatives. And one statement in particular caught my eye: But now we get to the plans. There are conservative plans that would provide for very large number of Americans to gain coverage at much less cost. Take the plan put out by Sen.

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Unlike some other liberals, I have no problem with the deficit commission to reduce the unsustainably large long-term deficit. I do have a problem with the fact that the Democratic co-chairman of the commission, Erskine Bowles, proposes that the commission's plan hold federal spending at 21% of GDP. As Matt Miller notes, government spending averaged 22% of GDP during the Reagan administration.

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It’s conventional wisdom among business leaders: Our economy would be in much better shape right now if Obama hadn’t injected so much uncertainty into the market. Health-care reform, financial-regulation reform, the prospects of an energy bill, and even the unclear fate of the Bush tax cuts—all these things have led corporations to hoard record levels of cash instead of investing their money and creating jobs. If Obama weren’t so doggone anti-business, the economy would be humming right along. This explanation sounds good; it just happens to be wrong.

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...comes out for a jobs package that includes temporary deficit spending. This time it's journalist and former Clinton Administration budget official Matt Miller, writing for the Washington Post: I got into policy journalism in the late 1980s and government in the early 1990s because of my worries about debt and deficits. I was a warrior for "generational equity" back when I was still (sigh) a member of the younger generation.

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