New Jersey

As recently as a week ago, everybody watching the Supreme Court seemed convinced of one thing: The justices had made up their minds about the Affordable Care Act. They hadn’t issued a decision and, perhaps, they were fine-tuning the legal arguments they would make in their written opinions. But they knew how they were ruling. They just weren't telling anybody about it. Now a new rumor is making the rounds: Five justices have decided to invalidate the individual mandate but they have not settled on what else, if anything, to invalidate along with it. Does the story have any basis in fact?

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Are Republicans increasingly becoming the party of the white working class? So says Jonathan Haidt, but political scientist Larry Bartels offers up a convincing response: While the white working class has trended toward Republicans over the last few decades, the movement is exclusively a Southern phenomenon.

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As I explained yesterday, Obama’s losses among less educated white voters are serious. But remember: those losses are likely to vary state by state. White voters without a college degree in Portland shouldn’t be counted on to swing like those in Pensacola.

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Most experts expect the Supreme Court will issue its ruling on the Affordable Care Act in the last full week of June. Few seem certain of what that ruling will say. The Court could uphold the law its entirety. It could strike down the law in its entirety. Or it could strike down part while leaving the rest in place. One very real possibility is that the Supreme Court invalidates the law's most controversial element, the individual mandate, but nothing else. Most of the commentary I've seen suggests such an outcome would be just as devastating as a decision to invalidate the law entirely.

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Mayor Friendly

Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s star has been rising for what seems like an eternity. His fame rests largely upon a number of almost absurdly heroic acts, which have varied from harrowing to Hollywood-esque: saving a resident from a burning building, cradling a twelve-year-old dying from gunshot wounds, hunger-striking for better police protection in the projects, sleeping in a trailer for five months to halt open-air drug markets. Along with Booker’s media-friendly persona, these superhero moves have ensured a steady stream of adulation.

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Elena I Wish  Naturalism lives. If Zola were a Russian in Russia today, he might have written Elena. Zola being absent, the director Andrei Zvyagintsev has written this screenplay with Oleg Negin, looking at lives with that combination of candor and regret that marks the best naturalist work. This approach in itself is a novelty in Russian films. Another is the milieu. The history of naturalism is closely woven with suffering, with the impulse to inform the disregarding world of social or economic oppression.

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Not long ago, I argued that Democratic candidates ought to be trying to make transportation infrastructure an issue in areas where voters care about such things and where Republican anti-spending dogma was undermining projects, such as New Jersey, where Chris Christie rejected the new tunnel under the Hudson River.

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My apologies for the lack of posts today – spent the day at a terrific policy seminar far from the madding crowd (did Obama say something about Romney and bin Laden?) Posting may also be light in the next few days as I dig into reporting a feature piece. But seeing that as I am now riding good old Amtrak, I figured that would be a good occasion to …announce a run for president!

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The hottest topic in economic development theory right now is the role of institutions.

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Since the 1960s, professional football has supplanted baseball as our nation’s favorite sport—generating higher revenue and better television ratings. And, as the past few weeks have demonstrated, college basketball has captured the attention and diminished the productivity of the American workforce in ways baseball does not. But let’s not confuse popularity with superiority. Major League Baseball (MLB), the oldest spectator team sport in the nation, has become the most affordable and least exploitative one—and its labor relations are remarkably harmonious, too.

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