The Census Bureau just released its annual report on income, poverty, and health insurance in the United States. The news is as about as dreary as you'd expect. The official poverty rate is now 15.1 percent, which is a fancy way of saying that one in six Americans are extremely poor. That's the third year in a row the proportion of Americans has risen. If you want to find a year when the poverty rate was significantly higher, you have to go all the way back to the early 1960s, before enactment of the Great Society. As always, the report has a ton of data.
For months now, some pundits have been certain that Mitt Romney was doomed because of his record on health care. And yet Romney has outlasted Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour, and John Thune, and he’s still going strong. Not as strong, perhaps, as Rick Perry. And yet Perry, too, has an apparent fatal skeleton.
Harvard’s “Remembering 9/11” did no such thing. The events on the tenth anniversary of September 11 in Cambridge did little remembering of 9/11 and a whole lot of rehashing of the events in the post-9/11 world. Those people who did talk about 9/11 universalized it ad absurdum.
Rick Perry’s campaign for the presidency largely consists of touting the pro-growth policies of Texas—a state with no personal income tax, and the 47th lowest tax burden in the country—as a model for the rest of the United States. Perry’s claim is that his state, where he has served as governor for the past 11 years, has found more creative and more business-friendly ways to fill its coffers. Don’t tell that to one of the state’s most vibrant industries: its nearly 200 strip clubs.
CNN’s over-produced, odd-couple alliance with the Tea Party produced an unexpected result—the first “Not So Fast, Governor Perry” debate. Direct from Tampa, the site of the 2012 GOP Convention, the debate illustrated Perry’s vulnerabilities as the poll-propelled Republican front-runner. Nothing that happened in Tampa Monday night was so dramatic that it likely will be remembered when the Republicans drench their nominee in confetti and balloons nearly a year from now.
A Politico story on House Republicans, by Marin Cogan and Jake Sherman, is generating a lot of buzz this morning. And the item getting all the attention is a blind quote, from a senior House Republican aide, questioning why Republicans would pass a bill that might improve Obama's chances for re-election. Here it is: Obama is on the ropes; why do we appear ready to hand him a win?
One of the signature policy proposals that Mitt Romney outlined in his economic plan and highlighted in his USA Today op-ed last week is a policy that is as pernicious in practice as it sounds unthreatening. On page 61 of his plan, Romney proposes to cap the rate at which agencies would impose new regulations at zero. This means that if an agency is required by law to issue a new regulation, it must offset the costs, presumably by eliminating some other regulations.
Ever since Rick Perry declared his candidacy, Bachmann has struggled to emerge from his shadow. Once the undisputed craziest candidate who had a plausible shot at the nomination, the congresswoman from Minnesota has suddenly had to contend with a remarkable string of wacky revelations from her Texan opponent. One thing is clear: Between the two of them, there’s more craziness than Ron Paul fans at a straw poll. But who’s the most off-the-wall?
Why do Mitt Romney’s attempts to be funny fall flat? Most of the Romneyisms that get quoted only seem funny to his critics—“Corporations are people, my friend,” or “Look, I’m not going to eat Barack Obama’s dog food.” But he knows he has to try. As he rather grimly told Time in 2008, “One of the rules we had was we were going to have fun. The first rule was every meeting had to begin with a joke. And it took some work to find jokes.” People who know Romney say that in private he’s actually quite funny, and—contrary to his reputation—he does, at times, pull off a good joke or two.
Today The New Republic welcomes Timothy Noah to the masthead. Actually, we welcome him back. Tim’s distinguished career in journalism began at TNR, in 1980, when he was a reporter-researcher. Later he went to the Wall Street Journal, then Slate, and now, to my great delight, he’s here. Among Tim's many accomplishments is his award-winning multimedia series on inequality, which he wrote last year and is turning into a book. It is an example of how the web can make journalism more vivid, useful, and influential – while still promoting a deep, nuanced understanding of the world in which we live.