• Shiny Object Watch: The Vitter Amendment

    Erick Erickson, who is pretty clearly the voice of the Tea Party at this point, is unhappy with his fellow Republicans and he’s letting everyone know it via Twitter:

    At this point, the House should just go on and pass a clean CR. They’ve already embarrassed themselves and done requisite head pats.

    Seriously House GOP, if you’re going to fully fund Obamacare, go on and stop the shiny object dangling and just embrace it.

    GOP should either find for defund or just embrace the suck.

    And which shiny object is Erickson objecting to here? That’s hard to say since Republicans could furnish a disco hall with all the shiny objects they’ve been dangling in front of their base lately, but most likely he’s talking about the stupidest shiny object of them all: the Vitter Amendment.

    In fact, the Vitter Amendment is so stupid that it’s actually a little hard to explain. As you know, the whole point of Obamacare is that it’s for people who don’t get health insurance via their employer. Back in 2009, however, when Republicans were offering up a slew of amendments to try to embarrass Democrats, Chuck Grassley offered an amendment that would require members of Congress and their staffs to buy insurance via the exchanges.

    This made no sense since staffers already had a health insurance plan, just like all other federal employees. But Republicans somehow decided that if Grassley’s amendment didn’t pass, it would mean Democrats weren’t willing to use their own program. So Democrats sighed and went ahead and voted for it.

    But wait. The federal government paid for staffers’ health insurance. Under Obamacare, they’d have to pay for it themselves. That’s a raw deal. So the federal government decided to take the money that had previously gone to health insurance and give it to staffers to offset the cost of insurance on the exchanges. Fair enough.

    But now Republicans are up in arms again. Allegedly, this is because they’ve somehow decided that it’s unfair for staffers to get this money, so they want to take it away via the Vitter Amendment. After all, other people on Obamacare don’t get money from their employer to offset the cost of insurance.

    Which is true. But that’s because other employers aren’t allowed to dump their employees onto Obamacare. Only Congress does that.

    This is all mind-bogglingly stupid. Congressional staffers should never have been put on Obamacare in the first place. It only happened thanks to a craven political ploy from Republicans. Now they want to double down on their cravenness by taking away a chunk of their staffers’ compensation under the moronic pretense that they’re getting “special treatment.” They aren’t, of course. In fact, they got screwed by Grassley, and now they’re going to get doubly screwed by Vitter.

    What’s more, this ploy is so craven and moronic that even Erick Erickson recognizes it for what it is. Go figure that. If this is the best Republicans can come up with, even Erickson thinks they should just give up and pass a clean CR. That’s how bad things have gotten.

    POSTSCRIPT: Of course, passing a clean CR isn’t what Erickson wants. He wants the House to fight Fight FIGHT! Refuse to pass anything except a bill that fully repeals Obamacare, and if the government shuts down, then the government shuts down.

    But if they’re not going to do that, the Vitter Amendment is just about the worst way imaginable to save face. Republicans think they’re being clever because they can complain about Congress giving itself “special privileges,” and they know that Fox News will dutifully repeat this no matter how dumb it is. But all they’re doing is screwing their own staff members because they know they can’t fight back. It’s truly odious behavior.

  • How Proton Beams Are a Metaphor for Our Broken Health Care System

    Via Austin Frakt, here’s a lovely little chart from a Brookings report that helps explain why health care costs in the United States are so stubbornly hard to control. It shows the growth in proton beam facilities, which Kaiser Health News describes as an “arms race” between hospitals. These facilities are the size of a football field and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to construct.

    Which might be OK if PRT were truly an advance in treating cancer. Unfortunately, there’s not much evidence that it is, even though it costs far more than old-school IMRT radiotherapy. Here’s the conclusion from a recent study of prostate cancer cases:

    Although PRT is substantially more costly than IMRT, there was no difference in toxicity in a comprehensive cohort of Medicare beneficiaries with prostate cancer at 12 months post-treatment.

    In other words, the supposed advantage of PRT—that it targets cancers more precisely and has fewer toxic side effects—doesn’t seem to be true. It might be better in certain very specialized cases, but not for garden variety prostate cancer.

    And yet, new facilities are being constructed at a breakneck pace. Why? Because if they build them, patients will come. “They’re simply done to generate profits,” says health care advisor Ezekiel Emanuel. Roger that.

  • Here’s Why the Public Blames Republicans for an Imminent Government Shutdown

    Just another quick reminder, because sometimes this stuff gets lost in the fog.

    Q: Why do we need a 6-week Continuing Resolution to keep the government running?

    A: Because Congress hasn’t passed a budget for the new year, which begins October 1st.

    Q: And why is that?

    A: There’s no mystery. Both the House and Senate passed budget resolutions months ago, but Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP have refused to open talks with the Senate to negotiate a final budget number.

    Q: Why is that?

    A: They’ve been crystal clear about this. They wanted more leverage for their demands, and they figured the only way to get it was to threaten a government shutdown. Here’s the Washington Post last May:

    Republicans face a listless summer, with little appetite for compromise but no leverage to shape an agreement. Without that leverage, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday, there is no point in opening formal budget negotiations between the House and the Senate.

    ….“The debt limit is the backstop,” Ryan said before taking the stage at a debt summit organized by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation in Washington. “I’d like to go through regular order and get something done sooner rather than later. But we need to get a down payment on the debt. We need entitlement reform. We’re very serious about tax reform because we think that’s critical to economic growth and job creation. Those are the things we want to talk about.”

    This is why the public is likely to blame Republicans for a government shutdown: because Republicans have been very clear all along that they were deliberately stringing out the budget process so they could use a shutdown as leverage for their demands. At the time Ryan made the statement above, it looked like we were going to hit the debt ceiling before we hit the end of the budget year, so that was the “backstop.” Now it’s turned out that the end of the budget year will come first, so that’s become the backstop instead. Either way, though, Republicans have been quite open for months about their desire to delay negotiations until they had a government shutdown of some kind to use as a threat. Now they have it, and they’re using it.

    So that’s that. They’re the ones who said they wanted a shutdown as leverage. They can’t really pretend otherwise at this point.

    It’s also worth noting, just for the sake of nostalgia, Ryan’s claim that he was doing this because he really, really wanted to talk about entitlement reform and tax reform. That was always laughable—nobody thinks you can negotiate stuff like that in a couple of weeks with a gun to your head—and we haven’t heard much about it since. Still, it’s worth preserving for the memory vaults.

  • The Obamacare Fight Starts Tomorrow

    Harold Pollack is tired of wasting his time arguing with yet another disingenuous Avik Roy column predicting doom for Obamacare. In a few days people are going to start finding out what premiums will be like on the exchanges, and he figures they’re mostly going to have positive experiences. But that doesn’t mean everything will be smooth sailing:

    Thousands of employers will blame “ObamaCare” for whatever unpopular moves they impose their workers. It’s the obvious play. In many cases, this blame will be mostly or entirely misplaced. Other times, the blame will be justified, reflecting glitches or unintended consequences of the new law. Either way, many workers will believe what their employers tell them. Millions of workers with relatively modest incomes will see their lives getting a little worse when they were hoping that health reform would make their lives a little better. Other people—I suspect many more—will see their lives getting a little or a lot better. Some of the most deserving people will seek benefits and medical care–only to discover that no help is forthcoming because their states rejected Medicaid expansion. Republicans had better hope that this is a disorganized and politically marginal group.

    We’ve been seeing this all along. For the past year or so, Obamacare has been the perfect foil for every corporation in America that’s done something unpopular with its benefits package. In the past, they were forced to vaguely blame their handiwork on “rising prices” and leave it at that, but now they have something better. Cutting back on benefits? Obamacare! Raising copays? Obamacare! Reducing hours? Obamacare! Whatever it is, all they have to do is say that it’s a response to Obamacare. CEOs and HR directors across the country are pleased as punch that for at least a little while, they can plausibly deflect criticism for things they were probably planning to do anyway. It’s been a godsend.

    But deceptive or not, Pollack is right that it’s a real phenomenon and that workers will often believe what their bosses tell them. There’s not a lot liberals can do about this when it comes to smallish companies—other than relentlessly highlighting the truth and pointing to positive experiences around the country—but in the case of large corporations I hope liberals are able to make it clear that it’s a bad PR decision to badmouth Obamacare. The Fortune 5000 folks don’t have to be Obamacare boosters, but we should expect them to at least remain neutral. If they’re on the side of the tea partiers, they should know that there’s a PR price to be paid.

    One day left. It starts tomorrow, folks.

  • I Think Republicans Are Confused About the Word “Compromise”

    Budget ping pong continues today, with the Senate expected to simply ignore the latest House bill and send back a clean Continuing Resolution that funds the government. The Washington Post reports that Republicans continue to object:

    House Republicans are weighing several options for what to do when the Senate rejects their latest bill, senior GOP aides said Sunday. The possibilities include: Trying again to repeal the medical-device tax….Attacking a different part of the health-care law, such as a special board created to keep Medicare costs low….Proposing to eliminate health-insurance subsidies for lawmakers and their staff members.

    Republicans repeatedly refer to these options as compromises, just like their past offers. “On Sunday,” reports the Post, “Republicans tended to argue that they were trying to compromise with Obama and the Democrats to avoid a shutdown while pursuing conservative principles.”

    So I need to ask again: what exactly do they think is the compromise here? Obviously they’re trying to get something they want, but what exactly are Democrats getting in return? I don’t get it. If my neighbor threatens to steal my car, and then comes back and says he’ll settle for just stealing my TV set, what kind of compromise is that? What am I getting out of the deal?

    And just as a reminder, keep in mind that all of this compromising is for a CR that lasts only six weeks. Six weeks! Then we get to play this game all over again with fresh new demands compromises.

  • No, Both Sides Don’t Do It

    In today’s news, a Republican apologist gathers evidence that Democrats have “repeatedly” used debt ceiling hostage taking in past fights with Republican presidents. He fails abjectly. Dave Weigel tells the story.

  • Friday Cat Blogging – 27 September 2013

    Today you get two Dominos in one. For reasons that escape us, she decided a few weeks ago that her new favorite thing was drinking water out of the tap. So whenever I brush my teeth, she hops up on the counter and demands that I turn on the water. I figure she’ll get bored of it eventually. Note the untouched water bowl on the floor, which she passed directly by on her way to the sink. If I pick it up and put it on the counter, she’ll drink out of it. But not if it’s on the floor.

    (When I’m around, anyway. When I’m not around, she’s perfectly happy to drink out of it. Kinda makes you think there’s some ulterior motive at work here, doesn’t it?)

  • A Quick One-Sentence Reminder of What This Is All About

    The Republican Party is bending its entire will, staking its very soul, fighting to its last breath, in service of a crusade to….

    Make sure that the working poor don’t have access to affordable health care. I just thought I’d mention that in plain language, since it seems to get lost in the fog fairly often. But that’s it. That’s what’s happening. They have been driven mad by the thought that rich people will see their taxes go up slightly in order to help non-rich people get decent access to medical care.

    That’s a pretty stirring animating principle, no?

  • Mid-Cap Executives Are Only a Little Worried About a Debt Default

    I’m not quite sure how seriously to take a poll by the National Center for the Middle Market, which focuses on companies with between $10 million and $1 billion in annual revenues, but I suppose it’s as good as any. Today, Jim Tankersley highlights an NCMM poll about the debt ceiling, which NCMM headlines, “Few believe a government default is a real possibility in the near future.”

    But that’s not quite how I read it. The chart on the right suggests that 38 percent of the executives who responded think a default is likely. 38 percent! That’s a fair amount, and it’s likely to increase as we get closer to October 17. Unfortunately, it’s not clear exactly what this means. Does “defaulting on debt obligations” mean defaulting on treasury bonds? Does it mean holding up Social Security checks? Or does it mean not paying a few bills in a timely manner? These are very different things. Defaulting on treasurys would be catastrophic, and if that’s what these guys think might happen, they’re certainly a lot calmer about it than I would be.

    Still, it’s true that 63 percent think this is all a big snooze, and that Congress will come to its senses after everyone has blown off a little steam. Unfortunately, this is why business leaders aren’t doing much to push for a solution, and it’s possible that the very fact of their listless attitude might be increasing the odds that they’ll be wrong.

    So what will it take to end the debt ceiling crisis? Here’s a guess: a stock market crash. If we really and truly breach the debt limit without a resolution, markets will probably go crazy. In fact, they might go especially crazy because they seem so sure that it won’t happen. But that’s the one thing that always seems to get everyone’s attention. You can have failing banks, massive ranks of the unemployed, and auto giants going bankrupt—and Congress will twiddle its thumbs. But let the Dow fall a thousand points or three, and suddenly they spring into action. There are lots of ways this could end, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that turns out to be the winner.

  • Budget Temper Tantrum Slogs On For Another Day

    Today the Senate will pass a clean budget resolution and send it back to the House. Then what? Nobody knows. The temper-tantrum caucus in the House refuses to consider it, and John Boehner isn’t (yet) willing to cross them. The business community is snoozing, so there’s no help from that quarter. And obviously a bill that defunds Obamacare is off the table. So what’s next?

    It is unclear what the Republicans want, other than a complete repeal of the health law. Senior House Republicans continue to assess their options as the Senate prepares to vote on Friday, and are likely to insert any changes over the weekend, when the House plans to be in session.

    One idea, according to a Republican who had spoken to the leadership, would be to put an amendment in the Senate budget bill that would eliminate health insurance subsidies for members of Congress and many of their aides, who must purchase their insurance on the exchanges that are part of the new law.

    And the point of this is….what? Nobody knows. It’s just an action of pure spite, a howl of frustration from children who have been denied ice cream for lunch and are looking for some way to lash out. So now they’re thinking that maybe a bit of self-mutilation is in order. Maybe that will make everyone pay attention to them.

    Or something. I don’t know what to think anymore. I don’t know if this behavior is sociopathic, or just sad, or merely embarrassing, or what. I just don’t know.

  • The US Is Drifting Farther and Farther Apart From the Rest of the World

    Here’s a fascinating chart from Erik Voeten. It’s sort of the international equivalent of those charts that track congressional votes to show how Democrats and Republicans have become more polarized over the years. In this case, Voeten is looking at votes in the UN, and tracking how far apart the U.S. is from everyone else.

    When the Iron Curtain fell, Eastern Europe almost immediately adopted the views of the West. Aside from that, however, the lines show that the U.S. has been steadily moving in one direction while every other region has been moving in the opposite direction. In the 1950s, the US, Africa, Latin America, and Western Europe were all quite close. Today, Western Europe has drifted away, and Africa and Latin America are actively opposed to US positions.

    You can’t really blame this on the end of the Cold War, either. All of these trends have been steadily visible for over half a century. Voeten surveys a few possible explanations for this, but none of them are entirely persuasive. In the end, it’s a little bit of a mystery why this has happened.

  • We Can Reduce Poverty If We Want To. We Just Have To Want To.

    Jared Bernstein makes an important point today: Several Nordic countries have made great strides in ending poverty, but it’s not because they have some kind of magic bullet. It’s because they give poor people more money and more services.

    The chart on the right shows raw poverty levels in blue. The Nordic countries are basically about the same as the United States. There’s no Scandinavian miracle that provides high-paying jobs for everyone. However, once you account for government benefits, the poverty rate in the Nordic countries is about half the rate in America. Universal health care accounts for some of this, and other benefits account for the rest. Some are means-tested, others are universal. There’s no single answer. The only thing these countries have in common is a simple commitment to taking poverty seriously and doing something about it. Bernstein approves:

    In the age of inequality, such anti-poverty policies are more important than ever, as higher inequality creates both more poverty along with steeper barriers to getting ahead, whether through the lack of early education, nutrition, adequate housing, and a host of other poverty-related conditions that dampen ones chances in life.

    This situation is only going to get worse as automation improves. Still, we’re plenty rich enough to address it if we want to. There’s nothing stopping us except our own will to do it.

  • A Question for House Republicans

    I’m curious about something. House Republicans have issued a list of demands that they want met before they’ll agree to raise the debt ceiling. Obviously President Obama is opposed to all their demands. So has anyone asked any of these House Republicans why they think Obama should accept their proposal?

    To be clear, my question to them is: Why should Obama care about raising the debt ceiling? Why not just let it stay where it is? Has anyone asked them this?

  • Yet Another Heartwarming Tale of Corporate Virtue

    Suppose you were a manufacturer of OxyContin, and you had strong evidence that certain doctors were illegally selling huge quantities of your pills to all comers. Keith Humphreys asks, What Would You Do?

    • (A) Report these doctors to the authorities?
    • (B) Insulate yourself by not sending your representatives to these doctors anymore, but continue to pocket the huge profits they generate from writing countless prescriptions for your products?
    • (C) Keep a secret list of these doctors but publicly promote the idea that painkiller abuse is not driven by wayward doctors but by other sources, such as pharmaceutical robberies?
    • (D) Reveal the list of doctors to authorities years later only because at that point it could stop a competitor from introducing a new generic medication that might cut into your own sales?
    • (E) A combination of B, C and D, but certainly not A.

    You’ve already guessed the answer, haven’t you? I can’t put anything over on you guys. Click the link if you want the gory details.

  • Republicans Are Blowing Up Yet Another Governing Norm

    I was chatting with a friend last night about the breakdown of governing norms in American politics. You know the drill: routine filibusters, mid-decade redistricting, flat refusals to allow votes on executive appointments, etc. But now there’s a new one on the scene. It’s a little more subtle than the others, though, so permit me an analogy.

    If I ask my neighbor for a cup of sugar and he tells me to get lost, everyone agrees that he’s being a dick. Under our usual social norms, that’s a pretty reasonable kind of favor to ask. On the other hand, if I ask him to give me his car because I totaled mine, everyone agrees that I’m the one being unreasonable. That goes well beyond the kind of favor you’d normally expect from a neighbor.

    The problem with this norm is that it’s not really provable. Is asking for a cup of sugar really a reasonable request? Says who? Conversely, why can’t I have your car? I say that’s perfectly reasonable. Sometimes stuff like this ends up in court, but for the most part we rely on a social norm of reasonableness to adjudicate things like this. It’s the only practical way to keep society humming along.

    But this is the latest norm to go down for the count in Washington DC. House Republicans have decided to issue a laundry list of demands in return for raising the debt ceiling that go way, way beyond the usual bargaining norms of Washington. If they had proposed, say, a cut in SNAP funding, that would be politics as usual, to be fought along the usual lines. But demanding the elimination of a historic piece of social welfare legislation? Or the absurd ransom note on the right, courtesy of Steve Benen? That’s just not the same thing and everyone knows it. Unfortunately, the norms of the press don’t really allow them to say that. So you get story after story about all the previous government shutdowns, or about the various hobbyhorses that have been attached to debt ceiling legislation in the past, with the strong implication that, really, what’s happening today isn’t all that unusual.

    It is, though, and everyone knows it perfectly well. But you can’t prove it. So reporters end up in he-said-she-said mode and the public ends up evenly divided about whether Republicans are bargaining in good faith.

    And with that, yet another governing norm is on life support. The problem is that in any complex culture, norms are every bit as important as formal rules—something that, in other contexts, conservatives harangue us about constantly. They should think a little harder about why they feel that way as they go about their business of blowing up Capitol Hill. There might actually be a good reason that all these norms have evolved organically over the past couple of centuries.

  • Repeat After Me: The Deficit Is Falling. The Deficit is Falling.

    Dave Weigel notes a conundrum today: according to a new poll, 54 percent of the public disapproves of Barack Obama’s handling of the deficit. And yet, as the chart on the right shows, the deficit is shrinking dramatically. Last year it dropped by $200 billion, and this year, thanks to a recovering economy, lower spending from the sequester, and the increased taxes in the fiscal cliff deal, it’s projected to fall another $450 billion.

    Weigel notes that this has deprived conservative yakkers of one of their favorite applause lines: “You don’t hear Republicans lulz-ing at Obama for failing to ‘cut the deficit in half in my first four years,’ because he basically did this, albeit in four and a half.” That’s true. It’s also true that contrary to Republican orthodoxy, it turns out that raising taxes on the rich does bring in higher revenues and therefore reduces the deficit.

    Bottom line: It’s unfortunate that the deficit is falling so fast. It’s a headwind against the recovery that we don’t need. Nonetheless, the deficit is falling fast, and no one seems to know it yet. The chart above is one that deserves much wider distribution. Be sure to show it to your conservative friends at every opportunity.

  • $25 Billion Mortgage Relief Program Hasn’t Worked Out So Great

    Remember that $25 billion mortgage settlement with five big banks last year? The idea was to use the money to help underwater homeowners, and the best way to do that is via debt forgiveness. So how did that work out? A new report from UC Irvine law professor Katherine Porter, who was appointed to study the issue by California’s attorney general, says that the program hasn’t worked out so great:

    The vast majority of the aid to borrowers, it turns out, came in the form of short sales and forgiveness of second mortgages. Just 20% of the aid doled out under the national settlement went to forgiveness of first-mortgage principal, the kind of help most likely to keep troubled borrowers in their homes. In terms of borrowers helped, just 15% of the total received first-mortgage forgiveness

    The five banks collectively delivered twice as much aid using short sales, in which owners sell their homes for less than the amount owed and move out, with the shortfall forgiven.

    ….Bruce Marks, founder of Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America, a major housing counseling group, had a [harsh] assessment of the lack of aid to keep people in their homes. “It just shows you that the banks are running the government,” Marks said. “There’s virtually no benefit to borrowers, and yet you give the banks credit for short sales and getting second liens wiped out — something they were going to have to do anyway.”

    In the end, this was better than nothing, but not nearly as good as it could have been. I’d be rich if I had a nickel for every time I’d said something like that.

  • Here’s a Kinda Sorta Map of All the Nearby Earthlike Planets

    Here’s a cool graphic from New Scientist with their best estimate of how many habitable planets there might be in the galaxy. They started with the 3,588 planets discovered by the Kepler space telescope and then pared this back to only smallish planets in the “habitable zone”—not too near their star to boil over and not too far away to be iceballs. That got them down to 51 planets. But that only counts the planets we could see because our view from Earth was directly on their ecliptic. Extrapolating to all the rest produces 22,500 Earthlike planets. And since Kepler only covered 0.28 percent of the sky and only looked out 3,000 light years, extrapolating yet again produces a final estimate of 15-30 billion possibly Earthlike planets.

    That’s too many to show, so the picture below is a guesstimate of all the Earthlike planets “visible with a good pair of binoculars on a dark night.” The grid in the lower right is the area of the sky mapped by the Kepler telescope. The rest is extrapolation. It probably doesn’t mean much, but it’s kind of a pretty picture.

    But if there are really that many planets, where are all the people?

  • Obamacare Subsidies Act Like an Effective Marginal Tax of About 15 Percent as Your Income Goes Up


    Something I’m looking for and not finding is an estimate of the effective marginal tax rates on people in the exchanges who are eligible for subsidies. A problem with means-testing programs is that as you earn more income, your benefits go away, meaning that effectively you’re paying a pretty high tax on each additional dollar earned. Your company giveth, and Uncle Sam taketh away.

    That got me curious. The subsidies are calculated so that you never have to pay more than a certain percentage of your income in health premiums. That percentage rises with income according to a formula, so it’s pretty easy to figure out the subsidy at different income levels and then calculate the effective marginal tax rate caused by the fact that the subsidy level goes down.

    I used the Kaiser subsidy calculator to get the subsidy for a family of three at various income levels. (The exact subsidy level varies depending on family size, but this provides a pretty good estimate for an average family.) As you can see, as you gain more income, you get less subsidy, which produces an effective marginal tax rate of 12-16 percent at most income levels. When your income gets high enough, the subsidies are so low that there isn’t much left to lose, so the effective marginal rate goes down. At 400 percent of the poverty level, the subsidies decline to zero.

    The moral of this story, of course, is that you should avoid means testing if you can, since it provides a negative incentive to earn more money. Unfortunately, means testing is often the only practical way of providing benefits to the poor, so we put up with it even though everyone agrees it’s suboptimal. However, in the case of health care we could solve this problem easily by simply adopting a national health care plan that provided coverage for everyone at no charge. Since it’s a flat benefit, it wouldn’t distort work incentives. Taxes would have to go up to pay for this, of course, but those taxes would almost certainly produce less distortion at low income levels than Obamacare does.

    Someday we might have a sensible system like that. Someday.

  • The Way We Live Today: From Tweet to Meme in 14 Hours

    The political branch of the intertubes today has been consumed by the question of whether the media is hopelessly biased because it treated Wendy Davis’ abortion filibuster more sympathetically than Ted Cruz’s kinda-buster on Obamacare. The whole fuss is so mind-crushingly inane that it’s enough to make one fear for the future of the human race, but still I’m curious: where did this meme get its start?

    It apparently went mainstream in a Dylan Byers column posted today at 10:00 am. Dave Weigel says the meme was “codified” in a Tim Carney column posted a few minutes earlier at 9:44 am. Tom Kludt of TPM noted the invention of the meme an hour before that, at 8:57 am. He’s got tweets from Erick Erickson and Byron York from even earlier in the morning, and one from Richard Grenell late last night. But the earliest mention is from Laura Ingraham, who tweeted about this an hour before Grenell, at 8:20 pm last night.

    But wait! Ingraham was retweeting Chad Seiter, who was responding to a dismissive tweet from Jennifer Rubin. Seiter’s tweet went up at 8:10 pm:

    So as near as I can tell, that’s where it came from. A guy in Kentucky with 187 followers on Twitter got retweeted by Laura Ingraham, and by the next morning his tweet had morphed into a media bias meme that went viral. Congratulations, Chad! You won the internet today. Isn’t social media remarkable?