Kevin Drum Feed | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2010/11 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Cubans Really Don't Like Marco Rubio http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/cubans-really-dont-marco-rubio <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>Friend of the blog Jay Jaroch recently spent some time in Cuba. Here's the second of three posts about what he observed while he was there.</em></p> <hr width="20%"><p>For obvious reasons, it can be difficult to get a Cuban to open up about their political views. It usually took some time to establish trust, and a certain amount of privacy. Sharing a few rum drinks didn&rsquo;t seem to hurt either.</p> <p>But they often did open up, especially when I offered to answer any questions they had for me. And the one question virtually everyone had was this: is Hillary Clinton going to be the next president? When I&rsquo;d tell them I gave her a 75%-80% chance of winning based on demographic trends alone, they&rsquo;d exhale. It wasn&rsquo;t because they had any particular love for <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_marco_rubio.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Hillary Clinton. It&rsquo;s that they expected that she would continue Obama&rsquo;s Cuba policies, whereas a Republican president would reinstate the full embargo. So, viva Hillary.</p> <p>The more interesting thing, to me, was that they saved a particular brand of venom for Marco Rubio. Cab drivers, bartenders, artists&mdash;everyone seem to have something to say about Marco Rubio, and none of it was kind. A few suggested that as a Cuban-American Rubio should display some concern for economic struggles of every day Cubans, or to at least recognize that he was afforded an opportunity that millions of poorer Cubans never had, namely having parents who moved to the United States before Castro took over. (Or as Rubio used to tell it, barely escaping the revolution while Castro personally shot at their raft.) The fact that he was pledging to double down on the embargo was a pledge to make their lives worse, to deny them the new hope they&rsquo;ve been given these last few years, all to suck up to the aging exile community in Florida.</p> <p>Yes, I found something Cubans don&rsquo;t like about America&mdash;it&rsquo;s where Marco Rubio lives.</p> <p>President Obama, on the other hand, received a fair amount of praise. According to a recent Gallup survey, Obama enjoys a 80% approval rating among Cubans. And it was pretty obvious why. &ldquo;I loved Obama when he was elected,&rdquo; one man in Havana told me. &ldquo;Then I hated him when he turned out to be like every other president. But now, I like him again.&rdquo;</p> <p>Not surprisingly, when it came to their view of American politics and politicians, the embargo was a bit of a litmus test. Opinions on our Cuba policy ranged from anger to bewilderment. One man in Cienfuegos asked me, &ldquo;Why do you bother? You have all the money. We are a poor island. Only 11 million people. Why do you care?&rdquo;</p> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_rincon_cretinos.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Another made a smart point. &ldquo;Our government blames all our problems on you. If you don&rsquo;t have the embargo, then who can they blame?&rdquo;</p> <p>A visit to the Museo de la Revoluci&oacute;n in Havana drove the man&rsquo;s point home. Before you even exit the lobby you come to the Rincon de los Cretinos, or &ldquo;The Corner of the Pricks.&rdquo; Four panels featuring cartoon versions of Fulgencio Batista, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush, each with a note of thanks translated into three languages.</p> <p>On George W. Bush&rsquo;s panel the note read, &ldquo;Thank you cretin for helping us MAKE SOCIALISM IRREVOCABLE!&rdquo;</p> <p>Socialism was misspelled.</p> <p><strong>Next: How Cubans binge-watch American television.</strong></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 28 May 2015 13:00:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 276116 at http://www.motherjones.com Health Update http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/health-update-0 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/so-how-did-my-experiment-turn-out" target="_blank">Last Saturday</a> I wrote a post whining about how tired and nauseous I was and how I crashed every day around 2 pm. I wrote that post a little before noon, and then....nothing. No crash. Sunday: no crash. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: no crash. And the nausea has improved dramatically. There are two possible explanations for this:</p> <ul><li>It's just a coincidence.</li> <li>Whining in public is really therapeutic and helped me feel better.</li> </ul><p>So which is it? Who knows. I suppose it was just a coincidence, but that's not a very satisfying explanation for us pattern-obsessed primates, is it? In any case, I'm still tired and I still make sure to rest frequently throughout the day. But my energy level is distinctly better than last week, and my nausea is clearly getting better too. Genuine progress! Hooray!</p> <p>Unfortunately, the foul taste in my mouth is still hanging around. In theory, full recovery from the chemo side effects should take 6-7 weeks, and I'm now at week 5. Hopefully this means in another week or two I'll be feeling pretty sprightly and foulness free. We'll see.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 May 2015 18:39:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 275961 at http://www.motherjones.com Note to Politicians: Stop Being So Self-Centered About Medical Research Funding http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/note-politicians-stop-being-so-self-centered-about-medical-research-funding <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_test_tubes.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Steve Benen mentions one of my pet peeves today: politicians who want to cut spending on everything except for research on one particular disease that happens to affect them personally. <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/01/politicians-should-learn-bigger-lessons-their-pet-causes" target="_blank">A couple of years ago,</a> for example, Sen. Mark Kirk suddenly became interested in Medicaid's approach to treating strokes after he himself suffered a stroke. The latest example is Jeb Bush, whose mother-in-law has Alzheimer's. I suppose you can guess what's coming next. <a href="http://mariashriver.com/blog/2015/05/i-emailed-jeb-bush-about-alzheimers-and-he-responded-maria-shriver-jeb-bush/" target="_blank">Here's Jeb in a letter he sent to Maria Shriver:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I have gotten lots of emails based on my comments regarding Alzheimer&rsquo;s and dementia at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire. It is not the first time I have spoken about this disease. I have done so regularly.</p> <p>Here is what I believe:</p> <p><strong>We need to increase funding to find a cure.</strong> We need to reform FDA [regulations] to accelerate the approval process for drug and device approval at a much lower cost. We need to find more community based solutions for care.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-jeb-bushs-line-alzheimers-matters" target="_blank">As Benen points out,</a> Bush vetoed a bunch of bills that would have assisted Alzheimer's patients when he was governor of Florida. I guess that's changed now that he actually knows someone with the disease. However, it doesn't seem to have affected his attitude toward any other kind of medical research spending.</p> <p>I'm not even sure what to call this syndrome, but it's mighty common. It's also wildly inappropriate. If Jeb wants to personally start a charity that helps fund Alzheimer's research, that's great. But if he's running for president, he should be concerned with medical research for everyone. I mean, where's the billion dollars that <em>I'd</em> like to see invested in multiple myeloma research? Huh?</p> <p>Presidents and members of Congress represent the country, not their own families. They should get straight on the fact that if their pet disease is being underfunded, then maybe a lot of other diseases are being underfunded too. It shouldn't take a family member getting sick to get them to figure that out.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 May 2015 17:14:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 275946 at http://www.motherjones.com Republicans Find Yet Another Ingenious Way to Suppress Democratic Votes http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/republicans-find-yet-another-ingenious-way-suppress-democratic-votes <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The number of ways that Republicans invent to reduce the voting power of the Democratic Party is truly impressive. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/27/us/supreme-court-to-weigh-meaning-of-one-person-one-vote.html" target="_blank">Here's the latest:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The court has never resolved whether voting districts should have the same number of people, or the same number of eligible voters. Counting all people amplifies the voting power of places with large numbers of residents who cannot vote legally, including immigrants who are here legally but are not citizens, illegal immigrants, children and prisoners. Those places tend to be urban and to vote Democratic.</p> <p><strong>A ruling that districts must be based on equal numbers of voters would move political power away from cities, with their many immigrants and children, and toward older and more homogeneous rural areas.</strong></p> <p>....The Supreme Court over the past nearly 25 years has turned away at least three similar challenges, and many election law experts expressed surprise that the justices agreed to hear this one. But since Chief Justice John G. Roberts has led the court, it has been active in other voting cases.</p> </blockquote> <p>Over the past few decades we've seen pack-n-crack, photo ID laws, old fashioned gerrymandering, mid-decade gerrymandering, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, reductions in early voting, the crippling of campaign finance law, illegal purges of voter rolls, and now this: a change in the way people are counted that would favor Republican-leaning districts.</p> <p>From a purely academic view, you really have to be impressed by the GOP's relentless creativity in finding ever more ways to trim the votes of groups who lean Democratic. They've done a great job. Sure, it's been a violent and cynical assault on our country's notions of fairness in the voting booth, but that's for eggheads to worry about. After all, it worked. Right? Maybe its made a difference of only a point or two in presidential elections and fewer than a dozen districts in congressional elections, but in a closely balanced electorate that counts for a lot.</p> <p>So: nice work, GOP. You've realized that all the woo-woo talk about democracy and the sacredness of the vote is just a bunch of blah blah blah. We all mouth the words, but no one really cares. There are just too many good shows on TV to pay attention to boring stuff like this.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 May 2015 15:07:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 275931 at http://www.motherjones.com Cuba Is Cautiously Hopeful and You Should Be Too http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/cuba-cautiously-hopeful-and-you-should-be-too <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>Friend of the blog Jay Jaroch recently spent some time in Cuba. Here's the first of three posts about what he observed while he was there.</em></p> <hr width="20%"><p>If you&rsquo;re looking for a country that has solved the problem of income inequality, look no further than Cuba, where everyone has next to nothing. And that&rsquo;s not snark. It&rsquo;s an economic reality that quickly presents itself to any Westerner who spends some time there, as I did this month.</p> <p>Soon after President Obama loosened the travel restrictions, domestic debate about Cuba&rsquo;s economic future in a post-embargo world split into two predictable camps: those who worried that America would &ldquo;ruin&rdquo; Cuba with a heavy dose of fanny-packed tourists and Panera Breads, and those who dismissed this as the &ldquo;fetishization of poverty&rdquo; and welcomed the introduction of American-style capitalism as a long overdue tonic. The reality is that these are mostly debates Americans are having about their views of America. Cubans, one quickly learns, are too economically desperate to care.</p> <p>Havana is unique and dilapidated and strangely beautiful. You almost admire it in the same way you would distressed furniture, or Keith Richard&rsquo;s face. Havana looks a bit like a hurricane hit the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1965 and no one bothered to clean it up. Zoom in and you&rsquo;ll find <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_jaroch_cuba_1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">men standing in front of a partially collapsed building holding menus imploring you to come to their <em>paladares</em> next to stray dogs fucking in the street next to a group of Canadian tourists in faux revolutionary berets next to a woman selling fruit from a cart that most Americans wouldn&rsquo;t eat on a dare. It&rsquo;s all here.</p> <p>Without exception, the Cubans I talked to welcomed the thawing of relations with the US, and even more so the coming influx of American tourists. One quickly learns why: because too much of their day-to-day economy is reliant on tourist dollars and euros. America is simply the biggest account they could land, and that&rsquo;s why they&rsquo;re hopeful. Also cautious, and not so much because they&rsquo;re worried about Starbucks; it's because they&rsquo;re worried their government will mismanage their chance at a better life. The sense was: Raul is finally allowing for some small, common-sense reforms that would have been impossible under Fidel. President Obama is allowing for some small, common sense reforms that will allow Cubans greater access to American dollars. Let&rsquo;s not screw this up. (More on that tomorrow.)</p> <p>Outside Havana, the economic stagnation is even more acute. In Cienfuegos, a middle school English teacher named Alex, who had never spoken to an American before, wanted to know what a teacher of his experience would make in Los Angeles. I told him around $75,000 a year. &ldquo;$75,000 American dollars,&rdquo; he replied, shaking his head. &ldquo;I earn 18 dollars a month.&rdquo; Alex was hardly unique&mdash;monthly salaries in Cuba run from about $14 to $20.</p> <p>In Trinidad, a city about five hours southeast of Havana, an older man sitting in his doorway stopped me on my way down the street. He wanted me to give the Americans a message: &ldquo;Hay mucha musica, pero nada de trabajo.&rdquo; We have lots of music, but no work.</p> <p>This jibed with what I&rsquo;d seen of Trinidad. Other than the jobs related to tourism, I couldn&rsquo;t discern any other source of employment. Pablo, my host in Trinidad, was a civil engineer by trade, but a taxi driver by necessity. On one trip through town I asked him what jobs were available to locals beyond the tourist trade. He replied that there weren&rsquo;t any. I found that hard to believe so I asked the same question of an art gallery employee. I got the same answer&mdash;there aren&rsquo;t any other jobs. The only money coming in to that part of the country came from abroad, either in the form of remittances from family members or from tourism. We were, quite literally, the only game in town.</p> <p>In some respects, both sides of the American debate can stand down. Cuba is neither ready for Pizza Hut nor gearing up for broad-based market reforms. Yes, Cuba is changing. People who had been there five or even two years before would tell me how much had already changed. But the reality is that they&rsquo;re starting, slowly, to dig out from a half century deep hole. The infrastructure is in such disarray that they couldn&rsquo;t take a large scale influx of American tourists if they wanted to. And they want to.</p> <p>No one really knows what happens next. But this much seems clear: if you want to see what Cuba was like under socialism, you can come next year. You can come in three years. Five. Ten. It will still be there.</p> <p><strong>Next: What Cubans think of Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio.</strong></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 May 2015 13:00:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 275921 at http://www.motherjones.com Judges Are Just Extensions of Political Parties These Days http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/judges-are-just-extensions-political-parties-these-days <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>From a post by Dara Lind about a court ruling on <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/5/26/8662523/immigration-fifth-circuit" target="_blank">President Obama's immigration plan:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The two Republican-appointed judges hearing the case sided against the administration, while the Democratic-appointed judge on the panel sided with the White House.</p> </blockquote> <p>How many times have we read sentences exactly like this? It's a wonder that anyone in the country still believes that federal judges are honest brokers these days.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 26 May 2015 21:33:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 275866 at http://www.motherjones.com How Many US Troops Will Be In Iraq By the Time Obama Leaves Office? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/how-many-us-troops-will-be-iraq-time-obama-leaves-office <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Over the past few days I've been trying to catch up with the fall of Ramadi and what it means for the war against ISIS. But it's not easy figuring out what really happened.</p> <p>According to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Ramadi was <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/05/24/us/politics/ap-us-united-states-iraq-.html?_r=0" target="_blank">yet another debacle for the Iraqi military:</a> <strong>"What apparently happened is the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight.</strong> They were not outnumbered; in fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. That says to me, and I think <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ramadi_isis.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves."</p> <p>The inevitable Kenneth Pollack, however, <a href="http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/markaz/posts/2015/05/22-iraq-ramadi-isis-islamic-state-washington" target="_blank">says that just isn't the case:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I think it important to start by putting the fall of Ramadi in its proper perspective. Da&rsquo;ish [ISIS] forces have been battling for Ramadi since December 2013, so while the denouement may have come somewhat suddenly and unexpectedly, this is not a new front in the war and it ultimately took Da&rsquo;ish a very long time to take the city. Although Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) did eventually retreat from the town and abandoned at least some heavy weapons doing so, <strong>most reports indicate they fell back to defensive positions outside the town. They did not simply drop their guns and run pell-mell, as many did in June 2014.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>So what does Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi think? He's certain that Carter was fed bad information. Iraqi troops, he says, are just fine: "They have the will to fight, but when they are faced with an onslaught by [the Islamic State] from nowhere . . . with armored trucks packed with explosives &mdash; <strong>the effect of them is like a small nuclear bomb &mdash; it gives a very, very bad effect on our forces,&rdquo;</strong> he said.</p> <p>Contra Pollack, then, Abadi thinks ISIS did indeed come "from nowhere." Also, he wants us to know that his troops have the will to fight, but not when facing an enemy that uses actual weapons. Or something.</p> <p>Beyond this, all the usual suspects blame the whole thing on President Obama and his usual weak-kneed reluctance to support our friends overseas. Unfortunately, that matters, regardless of whether or not it's just reflexive partisan nonsense. When it's loud enough and persistent enough, it starts to congeal into conventional wisdom. And if conventional wisdom says that things aren't going well in the war against ISIS, then the pressure to <em>do something</em> ratchets up steadily&mdash;and not just from the usual suspects. The pressure also comes in more reasonable form from sympathetic critics. For example <a href="http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0524-mcmanus-isis-strategy-20150524-column.html" target="_blank">here, </a>from Doyle McManus of the <em>LA Times</em>, and <a href="http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/markaz/posts/2014/09/26-pollack-assessing-obama-administration-iraq-syria-strategy" target="_blank">here,</a> from Pollack himself.</p> <p>Zack Beauchamp thinks this friendly criticism matters a lot. <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/5/26/8657965/isis-pollack" target="_blank">Here he is responding to Pollack's piece:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>First, Pollack is right on certain points. For example, the US campaign to equip some Sunni fighters hasn't panned out very well....Second, critics like Pollack are going to jack up the pressure on the administration to put American troops in harm's way. Pollack wants Obama to put American forces on the front lines to more accurately call in US airstrikes. He blames the administration's insistence "that not a single American be killed in this fight" for why this hasn't happened.</p> <p>It's true that the administration has strongly resisted putting American troops in combat positions. That's because they're trying very hard to avoid slouching toward another Iraq war, with a large and growing US combat force that very well might do more harm than good. No combat troops is a red line designed to prevent that escalation.</p> <p>....The foreign policy consensus in Washington is relatively hawkish, so problems with US interventions tend to be seen as problems resulting from not using enough force or committing enough resources. The more the elite consensus shifts against Obama, the more political pressure to escalate will mount. Obama probably will resist it, but the costs of doing so are going up &mdash; as Pollack's piece demonstrates.</p> </blockquote> <p>So now I feel like I've caught up a bit on this. And it hardly matters. It's the same old stuff. On the surface, everyone agrees that this is an Iraqi fight and Iraqis need to fight it. But of course our training of Iraqi troops is woefully inadequate&mdash;something that should come as no surprise to anyone who remembers that a decade wasn't long enough to train Iraqi troops back when George Bush was running things. If Obama could make it happen within a few months, he really would be a miracle worker.</p> <p>But if our training mission isn't working, the alternative is wearily obvious: more American boots on the ground&mdash;which is to say, on the front lines. And again, this comes as no surprise. Anyone who was paying attention knew that Obama's lightweight training-first strategy was likely to take years. We also knew that virtually no one in Washington has that kind of patience. Six months is the usual limit. So even among centrists and moderate hawks, pressure is going to grow to adopt a more aggressive strategy. And that means more Americans fighting on the front lines. And when that isn't enough, even more Americans.</p> <p>Can Obama resist this pressure? If anyone can, it would be him. But I'm not sure that even he can hold out for too long.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 26 May 2015 17:10:31 +0000 Kevin Drum 275816 at http://www.motherjones.com Sen. Lindsey Graham: Iranians in Pool Halls Are All Liars http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/sen-lindsey-graham-iranians-pool-halls-are-all-liars <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Lindsey Graham is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of the US Senate. Here he is, <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32850481" target="_blank">slipping into his Mr. Hyde role:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Senator Lindsey Graham, the first speaker Friday morning, appearing from Washington via video, spoke of losing his parents as a teenager, working in a pool hall and having to help raise his younger sister&nbsp;&mdash; and how it <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_graham_jekyll_hyde_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">relates to his leadership style.</p> <p><strong>"Everything I learned about Iranians I learned working in the pool room," he said. "I met a lot of liars, and I know Iranians are liars."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Well, there you have it. It's not entirely clear to me how you'd become so adept at spotting liars in an open game like pool, but I guess ol' Lindsey managed it.</p> <p>In any case, this is certainly the level of nuance and understanding of world affairs that we're getting accustomed to from the Republican presidential field&mdash;and it's only May. By the time, say, September rolls around, they're going to be competing with each other the same way they did four years ago over border security. It won't be long before we start hearing about nukes, giant domes, and Iron Curtain 2.0. Should be lotsa fun.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 26 May 2015 15:20:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 275811 at http://www.motherjones.com Chart: America Is More Liberal Than Politicians Think http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/chart-day-politicians-dont-know-their-own-districts-very-well <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_conservative_attitudes.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Here's a fascinating tidbit of research. <a href="https://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~broockma/broockman_skovron_asymmetric_misperceptions.pdf" target="_blank">A pair of grad students surveyed 2,000 state legislators</a> and asked them what they thought their constituents believed on several hot button issues. They then compared the results to actual estimates from each district derived from national surveys.</p> <p>The chart on the right is typical of what they found: Everyone&mdash;both liberal and conservative legislators&mdash;thought their districts were more conservative than they really were. For example, in districts where 60 percent of the constituents supported universal health care, liberal legislators estimated the number at about 50 percent. Conservative legislators were even further off: They estimated the number at about 35 percent.</p> <p>Why is this so? The authors don't really try to guess, though they do note that legislators don't seem to learn anything from elections. The original survey had been conducted in August, and a follow-up survey conducted after elections in November produced the same result.</p> <p>My own guess would be that conservatives and conservatism simply have a higher profile these days. Between Fox News and the rise of the tea party and (in the case of universal health care) the relentless jihad of Washington conservatives, it's only natural to think that America&mdash;as well as one's own district&mdash;is more conservative than it really is. But that's just a guess. What's yours?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Charts 2016 Elections Elections The Right Top Stories Sun, 24 May 2015 15:28:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 275786 at http://www.motherjones.com So How Did My Experiment Turn Out? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/so-how-did-my-experiment-turn-out <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/its-experiment-week" target="_blank">On Monday</a> I announced that this was Experiment Week. Today is Saturday, and Science&trade; has spoken.</p> <p>It turns out that I'm kinda sorta OK for about four or five hours in the morning. As long as I rest every hour or so, I can indeed write a couple of light blog posts, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_2_oclock.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">take a walk around the block, and shower and shave. That's the good news.</p> <p>However, the deadline for my second walk of the day is about 2 pm. On Monday I walked at 5 pm, and when I was done I felt like I'd just run a marathon. It took me all evening to recover. On Tuesday I walked at 4 pm. This time it felt like I'd run a mile, and I recovered in about an hour. Basically, I've learned that my body wants to crash at about 2 pm every day. Maybe I doze for a couple of hours, maybe I actually sleep a bit, but either way I'm good for nothing. By 5 pm I'm back up, but all my chemo side effects have started to get worse. The neuropathy is worse, the nausea is worse, and the fatigue is worse. This continues until bedtime, getting steadily worse the entire time.</p> <p>So that's that. I have the energy for light activity from about 7 am to 2 pm. Then I collapse, and when I get up I spend the next five or six hours enduring crappy side effects of the chemo. Oh, and this includes a terrible taste in my mouth that never goes away. Ugh.</p> <p>But it could be worse! In fact, it's <em>been</em> worse before. Still, it's frustrating that recovery seems to come so slowly. I don't know if I'll be spending another week like this or another couple of months. All I can do is wait and see.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 23 May 2015 17:42:23 +0000 Kevin Drum 275776 at http://www.motherjones.com Ireland Is Latest Country to Approve Gay Marriage http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/ireland-latest-country-approve-gay-marriage <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ireland_gay_marriage.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">I don't have anything profound to say about this, but it's just a nice piece of good news. And I could use <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/yes-side-joyous-as-count-starts-in-irish-gay-marriage-vote/2015/05/23/3e7d509a-012b-11e5-8c77-bf274685e1df_story.html?hpid=z1" target="_blank">some good news these days:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Irish voters have resoundingly backed amending the constitution to legalize gay marriage, leaders on both sides of the Irish referendum declared Saturday after the world&rsquo;s first national vote on the issue.</p> <p>As the official ballot counting continued, the only question appeared to be how large the &ldquo;yes&rdquo; margin of victory from Friday&rsquo;s vote would be. Analysts said the &ldquo;yes&rdquo; support was likely to exceed 60 percent nationally when official results are announced later Saturday.</p> </blockquote> <p>Congratulations to Ireland. This is both a human <em>and</em> humane gesture in a world that could use more of them.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 23 May 2015 15:38:12 +0000 Kevin Drum 275771 at http://www.motherjones.com For the First Time Ever, Social Conservatives No Longer Outnumber Social Liberals in America http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/first-time-ever-conservatives-no-longer-outnumber-liberals-america <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2015_05/no_more_social_conservative_te055694.php" target="_blank">Via Ed Kilgore,</a> here's an interesting chart <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/183386/social-ideology-left-catches-right.aspx" target="_blank">from the good folks at Gallup:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gallup_liberal_conservative_1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 55px;"></p> <p>What's interesting about this is that the change is due almost entirely to Democrats and Democratic leaners. Since 1999, that group has gone from 35 percent socially liberal to 53 percent, and from 20 percent socially conservative to 14 percent conservative.</p> <p>Republicans and Republican leaners, by contrast, have barely budged. In the 2015 polling there's a slight dip in conservative ID and a slight spike in moderate ID, but it's probably just noise. Generally speaking, the lines are pretty flat over the past couple of decades.</p> <p>So why have Democrats changed so much? Perhaps it's the impact of Millennials. Perhaps it's the impact of gay marriage, which Democrats have been far more willing to accept than Republicans. Maybe MSNBC and liberal blogs have had a bigger impact than I would have guessed. I'm not sure. But the increase has been steady enough that it can't be blamed on any specific event, like the Bush presidency or the financial crisis.</p> <p>In any case, this really is a milestone. For a long time, one of the rocks of political analysis in America has been the simple fact that conservatives outnumber liberals. That's been true since at least the 60s, and probably for the entire postwar period&mdash;and it's been a perpetual millstone around Democratic necks. They couldn't win national elections just by getting the liberal vote and a little bit of the center-right vote. They had to get a <em>lot</em> of the center-right vote.</p> <p>But it now looks like that era is coming to an end. With social issues increasingly defining politics, a social liberal is, for all practical purposes, just a plain old liberal&mdash;and the trend of <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/180452/liberals-record-trail-conservatives.aspx" target="_blank">increasing liberal ID is already underway.</a> It's still got a ways to go, but the liberal-conservative gap is definitely closing. This probably goes a long way toward explaining why Hillary Clinton and other Democrats seem much more willing to move left than in the past. It's because they no longer think they have to capture a huge chunk of the moderate vote to win. They still need some moderates in their camp, but they no longer need to capture two-thirds or more of them. Like Republicans, they can make do with half or even a bit less.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> The headline initially just said "liberal" and "conservative" without mentioning that it was about <em>social</em> liberals and conservatives. Too much shorthand. Sorry about that. I've changed the headline and a few words of the text to make everything clear.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 22 May 2015 16:40:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 275726 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging Counterpoint: I Don't Care About Your Cute Cat http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/cats-dogs-pets-pandas-whatever <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>While Kevin Drum is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/housekeeping-note" target="_blank">focused on getting better</a>, we've invited some remarkable writers, thinkers, and Friends of Kevin to contribute posts and keep the conversation going. Today, in the spirit of open debate, we interrupt our regularly scheduled <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/friday-cat-blogging-22-may-2015" target="_blank">cat blogging</a> for a counterpoint by <a href="http://annfriedman.com/clips" target="_blank">writer</a>, <a href="http://annfriedman.com/day-jobs" target="_blank">editor</a>, <a href="http://annfriedman.com/cyg" target="_blank">podcaster</a>, <a href="http://annfriedman.com/speaking" target="_blank">speaker</a>, <a href="http://annfriedman.com/tagged/pie+charts" target="_blank">chartisan</a>, <a href="https://tinyletter.com/annfriedman" target="_blank">newsletterer</a>, and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2006/11/mail-order-abortions" target="_blank">former </a></em><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2006/11/mail-order-abortions" target="_blank">MoJo</a><em><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2006/11/mail-order-abortions" target="_blank">er</a></em><em> <a href="http://annfriedman.com/bio" target="_blank">Ann Friedman</a>.</em></p> <p>I don't like cats. And it's even worse than you think: I don't like dogs, either. In fact, I have virtually no interest in animals at all&mdash;even eating them. I am really happy that you are comforted by the presence of your dog. I am thrilled that you and your cat "rescued each other." But, no, I do not want to cuddle with or even see photos of your pet. And please don't bother sending me that video of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Se6flT2EWs">baby red pandas</a> cuddling each other or a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Co3N4-6B2pM">lion reuniting</a> with its long-lost human pal.</p> <p>I feel nothing.</p> <p>On this point, especially among my feminist peers on the internet, I am in the minority. In honor of the man who <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/28/technology/circuits/28cats.html">pioneered Friday cat blogging</a>, I'm going to reckon with the fact that I am just not very interested in furry creatures. The last time I wrote about this was seven years ago, in ancient internet times when I was a blogger for <em>Feministing</em> and <a href="http://feministing.com/2007/08/31/friday_anticat_blogging_1/">dared</a> to do some "Friday anti-catblogging." The commenters weren't having it. "I honestly think that there is a valuable conversation to be had about the correlation of cat-hating with misogyny," one wrote.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/kevin-drum/2015/05/cats-dogs-pets-pandas-whatever"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Kevin Drum Animals Top Stories Fri, 22 May 2015 16:34:47 +0000 Ann Friedman 275621 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 22 May 2015 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/friday-cat-blogging-22-may-2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>One of the reasons we got a pair of sibling cats last year is because I've always wanted a couple of cats who would sleep together in an adorable little kitty pile. And that's worked out pretty well. Is there anything cuter than Hilbert and Hopper snoozing together in the picture below? I don't think so. I really don't.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_hopper_2015_05_21.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 22 May 2015 16:00:12 +0000 Kevin Drum 275711 at http://www.motherjones.com Don't Panic: Health Insurance Rates Aren't About to Rise by 50 Percent http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/dont-panic-health-insurance-rates-arent-about-rise-50-percent <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's the latest Fox News bait <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/health-insurers-seek-hefty-rate-boosts-1432244042?mod=trending_now_1" target="_blank">from the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Major insurers in some states are proposing hefty rate boosts for plans sold under the federal health law, setting the stage for an intense debate this summer over the law&rsquo;s impact.</p> <p>In New Mexico, market leader Health Care Service Corp. is asking for an average jump of 51.6% in premiums for 2016. The biggest insurer in Tennessee, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, has requested an average 36.3% increase. In Maryland, market leader CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield wants to raise rates 30.4% across its products. Moda Health, the largest insurer on the Oregon health exchange, seeks an average boost of around 25%.</p> <p><strong>All of them cite high medical costs incurred by people newly enrolled under the Affordable Care Act.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Well, of course they do. It's a handy excuse, so why not use it?</p> <p>In any case, we've all seen this movie before. Republicans will latch onto it as evidence of how Obamacare is destroying American health care and it will enjoy a nice little run for them. Then, a few months from now, the real rate increases&mdash;the ones approved by state and federal authorities&mdash;will begin to trickle out. They'll mostly be in single digits, with a few in the low teens. The average for the entire country will end up being something like 4-8 percent.</p> <p>So don't panic. Sure, it's possible that the Obamacare shit has finally hit the fan, but probably not. Check back in October before you worry too much about stories like this.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Fri, 22 May 2015 14:53:32 +0000 Kevin Drum 275721 at http://www.motherjones.com Republicans Hate Obamacare Even If They Like Their Own Obamacare Plans http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/republicans-hate-obamacare-even-if-they-their-own-obamacare-plans <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://kff.org/health-reform/poll-finding/survey-of-non-group-health-insurance-enrollees-wave-2/" target="_blank">A new Kaiser poll</a> gives us an in-depth look at what people think about health insurance plans purchased through an Obamacare exchange. Some of the results are unsurprising: people like plans with low deductibles; most say it was easy to shop for a plan; and most were pretty satisfied with the plans they purchased. But unless I'm badly misreading something, there's one result that's pretty gobsmacking. First off, here's a chart showing basic satisfaction levels with Obamacare plans:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kaiser_obamacare_satisfaction_q1_2015.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p>That's pretty good. Positive responses increased a bit from 72 percent to 74 percent. That compares very favorably with satisfaction levels toward employer plans. But now take a look at this chart that breaks down Obamacare favorability attitudes by party:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kaiser_obamacare_party_breakdown_q1_2015.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p>This is crazy. This isn't a general survey of all Americans. It's a survey specifically of people who don't have group coverage. Most of them (probably more than two-thirds) have actually purchased Obamacare plans and therefore have personal experience with them, but favorability is nonetheless still driven mostly by party ID. You can buy an ACA plan on the marketplace, get a subsidy, and be happy with your plan&mdash;but if you're a Republican you <em>still</em> overwhelmingly hate Obamacare by 74-25 percent.</p> <p>Folks, that is hardcore.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Thu, 21 May 2015 17:17:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 275666 at http://www.motherjones.com CNN Plans to Feature Peanut Gallery Debate as Warmup for Main Event http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/cnn-plans-feature-peanut-gallery-debate-warmup-main-event <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>CNN will be hosting the second Republican debate, and they've come up with a....unique way of dealing with the fact that there are just too damn many candidates. To handle the crowd, <a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2015/05/cnn-sets-criteria-for-second-gop-debate-207470.html?hp=rc2_4" target="_blank">they're going to have two separate debates:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>"The first 10 candidates&nbsp;&mdash; ranked from highest to lowest in polling order from an average of all qualifying polls released between July 16 and September 10 who satisfy the criteria requirements ... will be invited to participate in 'Segment B' of the September 16, 2015 Republican Presidential Primary Debate," the network states in its candidate criteria. "Candidates who satisfy the criteria and achieve an average of at least 1 percent in three national polls, but are not ranked in the top 10 of polling order will <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cnn_debate_stage.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">be invited to participate in 'Segment A' of the September 16, 2015 Republican Presidential Primary Debate."</p> </blockquote> <p>Did you get that? All the yokels&mdash;Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, etc.&mdash;will go on first. They'll be sort of the warm-up act. Then they'll get shuffled off the stage and the big guns will have prime time all to themselves. This is pretty humiliating for the also-rans, but presumably if they play by the rules they'll have a chance to move up, just like in English Premier League soccer. Perhaps Rick Perry will stumble and get relegated to the minor leagues for the next debate, while Jindal will knock everyone's socks off and get promoted to the show. I don't know if I'd quite call this "fun," but it would certainly make for some interesting office pools.</p> <p>The first debate, which is hosted by Fox, will feature none of this nonsense. The top ten candidates will be invited to the debate, and that's that. If you're outside the top ten, you can watch the debate on your big-screen TV at home. Or, if Fox is feeling generous, perhaps the sad sacks polling at the 1% level will be allowed to while away their time in the spin room, where they can try to buttonhole reporters and explain why they really should have been up on the stage. Maybe the saddest story will win a prize.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 21 May 2015 15:29:12 +0000 Kevin Drum 275656 at http://www.motherjones.com By About 2020, We'll Probably Finally Know Whether a $15 Minimum Wage Is a Good Idea http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/2020-or-so-well-probably-finally-know-whether-15-minimum-wage-good-idea <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So my near neighbor of Los Angeles is poised to raise the minimum wage to $15. How should we think of that?</p> <p>Personally, I'm thrilled. Not because I think it's a slam-dunk good idea, but because along with Seattle and San Francisco it will give us a great set of natural experiments to figure out what happens when you raise the minimum wage a lot. We can argue all we want; we can extrapolate from other countries; and we can create complex Greek-letter models to predict the effects&mdash;but we can't <em>know</em> until someone actually does it.</p> <p>So what do I think will happen? Several things:</p> <p>In the tradeable sector, such as clothing piece work and agriculture, the results are very likely to be devastating. Luckily, LA doesn't have much agriculture left, but it <em>does</em> have a lot of apparel manufacture. That could evaporate completely (worst case) or <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_los_angeles_15_minimum_wage.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">perhaps migrate just across the borders into Ventura, San Bernardino, and other nearby counties. Heavier manufacturing will likely be unaffected since most workers already make more than $15.</p> <p>In the food sector, people still need to eat, and they need to eat in Los Angeles. So there will probably be little damage there from outside competition. However, the higher minimum wage will almost certainly increase the incentive for fast food places to try to automate further and cut back on jobs. How many jobs this will affect is entirely speculative at this point.</p> <p>Other service industries, including everything from nail salons to education to health care will probably not be affected much. They pretty much have to stay in place in order to serve their local clientele, so they'll just raise wages and pass the higher prices on to customers.</p> <p>Likewise, retail, real estate, the arts, and professional services probably won't be affected too much. Retail has no place to go (though they might be able to automate some jobs away) while the others mostly pay more than $15 already. The hotel industry, by contrast, could easily become less competitive for convention business and end up shedding jobs.</p> <p>On the bright side, of course, a large number of low-income workers will see their wages rise. On the less bright side, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/05/19/the-best-indication-of-what-a-federal-12-minimum-wage-could-mean-for-poor-places-comes-from-puerto-rico/" target="_blank">the experience of Puerto Rico</a> suggests that (a) employment losses could be as high as 9 percent, and (b) lots of low-wage workers will flee to other places.</p> <p>So if I had to guess, I'd say that Los Angeles will see (a) less poverty for low-wage workers who keep their jobs, and (b) higher prices for middle-class consumers, who will end up paying for the minimum wage hike. Since the poor spend more than the middle-class, this could be a net stimulus for the LA economy. On the downside, we're also pretty likely to see significant job losses. In other words, I agree with Adam Ozimek that we should not treat this as terra incognita <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/modeledbehavior/2015/05/20/uncertainty-about-15-minimum-wages-is-not-a-good-thing/" target="_blank">just because it's never been done before:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It&rsquo;s true that the farther we go out of the historical sample, the more uncertain we are about the magnitude of the impact. But I think minimum wage advocates are taking the wrong message from this. After all, a $100 minimum wage would also be out of sample and subject to the same &ldquo;we have no clue&rdquo; and &ldquo;can&rsquo;t be on solid ground&rdquo; statements from Dube and Neumark. But this uncertainty is all in the direction of more job losses. <strong>When you enter unprecedented minimum wage hike territory your uncertainty goes up, but so undeniably does your risk of job losses.</strong> The idea that a minimum wage hike being of an unprecedented magnitude creates neutral uncertainty is like someone drinking more beer than they ever have just being uncertain about what it will do to their driving ability.</p> </blockquote> <p>So we'll see. My own guess is that $15 is too high. I would have supported something in the $10-12 range for a city as large and basically prosperous as Los Angeles. But $15? There's just too much uncertainty in a number that big, and the uncertainty almost all points in the direction of significant job losses.</p> <p>But I could be wrong! We now have three cities that are jumping into the deep end of the minimum wage debate, and that will eventually tell us more than all the speculation in the world combined. Fasten your seat belts.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 21 May 2015 14:23:46 +0000 Kevin Drum 275646 at http://www.motherjones.com Rand Paul's Latest Fundraiser Now Underway http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/rand-pauls-latest-fundraiser-now-underway <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I see from the intertubes that Sen. Rand Paul has <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2015/may/20/rand-paul-senate-filibuster-nsa-spying-patriot-act-live" target="_blank">begun another talking filibuster.</a> This time it's to protest <em>any</em> legislation that extends the NSA's ability to access metadata from phone calls, even if the data is held by <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_rand_paul_filibuster_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">the phone companies and available only by court order. Paul's filibuster will annoy a lot of people, but in the end I think I agree, for once, <a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-rand-paul-filibuster-20150520-story.html#page=1" target="_blank">with John McCain:</a> "He'll get his headline and then we'll move on."</p> <p>That's pretty much the lay of the land. Paul will chew up some floor time, which might end up eating into Memorial Day weekend for the Senate, but since virtually no one agrees with his position, it's simply not going to accomplish anything. I'm even a little skeptical about the headlines. Frankly, once you've done the Jimmy Stewart bit once, its entertainment value starts to plummet.</p> <p>On the other hand, Paul seems to be mostly treating this as another great fundraising opportunity, and it might very well be. But that's probably all it will be.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 20 May 2015 19:17:37 +0000 Kevin Drum 275601 at http://www.motherjones.com Eight Good Lessons About Health Care — Plus a Ninth http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/eight-good-lessons-about-health-care-%E2%80%94-plus-ninth <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Over at Vox today, Sarah Kliff and Julia Belluz have a list of <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/5/20/8621527/health-tips-reporter" target="_blank">eight things they now do differently</a> after reporting on health care for a combined decade between them. It's a great list, and unless I missed something I think I agree with every word on it. Even item #3, which has been, um, a bit of a challenge for me over the past six months.</p> <p>Of course, as with all collections of advice, even good ones, this one has an underlying ninth item: <em>don't be an idiot</em>. Sometimes guidelines need to be broken. But they're still good to keep in mind.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 20 May 2015 17:20:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 275581 at http://www.motherjones.com Big Banks Plead Guilty to Collusion, But Fines are Pocket Change http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/big-banks-plead-guilty-collusion-fines-are-pocket-change <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Five of the planet's biggest banks have finally been forced to plead guilty to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/21/business/dealbook/5-big-banks-to-pay-billions-and-plead-guilty-in-currency-and-interest-rate-cases.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">collusion charges in the foreign exchange market:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Justice Department forced four of the banks &mdash; Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland &mdash; to plead guilty to antitrust violations in the foreign exchange market as part of a scheme that padded the banks&rsquo; profits and enriched the traders who carried out the plot....Underscoring the collusive nature of their contact, which often occurred in online chat rooms, <strong>one group of traders called themselves &ldquo;the cartel,&rdquo;</strong> an invitation-only club where stakes were so high that a newcomer was warned, &ldquo;Mess this up and sleep with one eye open.&rdquo; To carry out the scheme, one trader would typically build a huge position in a currency and then unload it at a <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_banks_foreign_exchange_collusion_0.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">crucial moment, hoping to move prices. Traders at the other banks agreed to, as New York State&rsquo;s financial regulator put it, <strong>&ldquo;stay out of each other&rsquo;s way.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>....The guilty pleas, which the banks are expected to enter in federal court later on Wednesday, represent a first in a financial industry that has been dogged by numerous scandals and investigations since the 2008 financial crisis. Until now, banks have either had their biggest banking units or small subsidiaries plead guilty.</p> <p>....As part of the criminal deal with the Justice Department, a fifth bank, UBS, will plead guilty to manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, a benchmark rate that underpins the cost of trillions of dollars in credit cards and other loans.</p> </blockquote> <p>The total fine is about $5 billion, and it's about damn time this happened. Unfortunately, I assume that a billion dollars each is basically pocket change that's already been fully reserved on their balance sheets. Needless to say, not a single dime of this will hit the actual people running the banks, who couldn't possibly be expected to know that any of this stuff was going on. They were too busy drinking their lunches and remodeling their corner offices to know what a few rogue traders on the 23rd floor were doing. The <em>Times</em> confirms that life will go on as usual:</p> <blockquote> <p>For the banks, though, <strong>life as a felon is likely to carry more symbolic shame than practical problems.</strong> Although they could be technically barred by American regulators from managing mutual funds or corporate pension plans or perform certain other securities activities, the banks have obtained waivers from the Securities and Exchange Commission that will allow them to conduct business as usual. In fact, the cases were not announced until after the S.E.C. had time to act.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's good to be king.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 20 May 2015 15:43:47 +0000 Kevin Drum 275566 at http://www.motherjones.com The Truth About How Obama Has Handled the Pacific Trade Deal http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/obama-leadership-trans-pacific-partnership-tpp <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>While Kevin Drum is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/housekeeping-note" target="_blank">focused on getting better</a>, we've invited some of the remarkable writers and thinkers who have traded links and ideas with him from Blogosphere 1.0 to this day to contribute posts and keep the conversation going. Today we're honored to present a post from <a href="https://twitter.com/dandrezner" target="_blank">Daniel Drezner</a>.</em></p> <p>One of the enduring memes of the Obama administration has been the notion that the president is a lousy politician. One of the things that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had in common is that they knew how to schmooze. Obama, on the other hand, <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-and-world-leaders-2015-3" target="_blank">does not have any close friendships on the international stage</a>, nor is he particularly tight with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/11/obama-congressional-gridlock_n_6451466.html" target="_blank">Republican</a> or <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/19/us/aloof-obama-is-frustrating-his-own-party.html?_r=0" target="_blank">Democrat</a> members of Congress. Indeed, this has been a sufficiently common lament for someone to write "<a href="http://www.thewire.com/politics/2014/08/a-brief-history-of-president-obama-not-having-any-friends/378761/" target="_blank">A Brief History of President Obama Not Having Any Friends</a>" last year.</p> <p>So let's stipulate that the president is a cold fish. What remains contested is whether this matters in terms of getting things done. There are DC insiders who argue that personal relationships and one-on-one politicking really do matter. These are the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/01/opinion/dowd-bottoms-up-lame-duck.html?ref=maureendowd" target="_blank">pundits</a> who tend to <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-on-ferguson-obama-is-mostly-thoughts-and-little-action/2014/12/01/f3decf9e-79aa-11e4-b821-503cc7efed9e_story.html" target="_blank">bemoan presidential passivity</a> and write "<a href="http://www.realclearpolitics.com/2013/03/10/why_won039t_obama_lead_303613.html" target="_blank">Why won't Obama lead</a>?" ledes and ask why Barack Obama doesn't drink more whiskey with Mitch McConnell or play more golf with John Boehner. And then there are <a href="http://themonkeycage.org/2012/11/26/dinner-wont-do-it/" target="_blank">structuralists</a> who argue that what really matters are the separation of powers written into the Constitution and the <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/05/obama-leadership-and-magical-thinking.html" target="_blank">incentive of opposition parties</a> to, you know, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/03/politics-is-not-here-to-please-you/" target="_blank">oppose the president's policies</a>.</p> <p>Last week's machinations over trade promotion authority (TPA) regarding the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will not definitively settle this debate, but they did offer a few data points that suggest the relative merits of each side of this debate.</p> <p>First, Senate Majority Leader <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/14/us/politics/mcconnell-siding-with-obama-on-trade-deal-describes-unlikely-alliance.html?_r=0" target="_blank">Mitch McConnell gave a delightfully blunt interview</a> to the <em>New York Times</em>' John Harwood. On TPA/TPP, McConnell and most of the Senate Republicans are working with Obama, which puts him in strange territory. To explain this to Harwood, McConnell flatly debunked the notion that Obama would have accomplished more in the GOP-controlled Congress if only he'd been more sociable with Republican members of Congress:</p> <blockquote> <p>In the caricature of how Washington works, Mr. McConnell and other congressional Republicans were supposed to bond with Mr. Obama at a so-called bourbon summit meeting, as though a soothing, generous pour would bring them together.</p> <p>It has never happened&mdash;which, as far as Mr. McConnell is concerned, counts for exactly zero.</p> <p>"It's all good stuff for you all to write, but it has no effect on policy," Mr. McConnell said. He dismissed "press talk" that social outreach could bridge the deep ideological and partisan divisions of 21st-century American politics.</p> <p><strong>"It wouldn't make any difference," </strong>he concluded. <strong>"Look, it's a business." </strong>(emphasis added)</p> </blockquote> <p>And that sound you just heard was the combined egos of the "why can't Obama lead" crowd visibly deflating.</p> <p>McConnell's <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=au0zM3I_p3w" target="_blank">Hyman Roth-like</a> answer would seem to validate the structuralist position of the president's ability to get legislation passed&mdash;at least when it comes to dealing with the opposition party.</p> <p>When it comes to dealing with his own party, however, I'm not sure that the structuralists can claim victory. One could argue that Democrats are just as constrained on trade as Republicans because of their base's public opinion, but <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/05/13/how-trade-affects-u-s-elections/" target="_blank">I don't think it's really that simple</a>.</p> <p>There were a lot of things going on in last Tuesday's initial failure of TPA to pass the Senate, including genuine policy differences between Obama and elements of the progressive movement. But <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/12/us-usa-congress-trade-vote-idUSKBN0NX2R620150512?mod=related&amp;channelName=politicsNews" target="_blank">as Reuters noted</a>, at least part of it was Obama's alienation of Senate Democrats:</p> <blockquote> <p>As for Obama, he may have hurt his chances with Democrats by minimizing concerns about trade's impact on labor, the environment and regulations, and his explicit criticism of the anti-trade stance of leading liberal Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren.</p> <p>"The president was disrespectful to her," Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown told reporters. "When he said that a number of us, not just Senator Warren, don't know what we're talking about...he shouldn't have." Brown opposes the fast-track bill.</p> </blockquote> <p>Indeed, there has been <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-warren-feud-breaks-open-as-trade-legislation-blocked-by-democrats/2015/05/12/9902f880-f8bb-11e4-9030-b4732caefe81_story.html" target="_blank">a lot of Democrat grumbling</a> about <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/09/business/nike-to-create-jobs-if-trans-pacific-partnership-is-approved.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&amp;smprod=nytcore-ipad&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">Obama's</a> <a href="https://www.yahoo.com/politics/why-obama-is-happy-to-fight-elizabeth-warren-on-118537612596.html?soc_src=unv-sh&amp;soc_trk=tw" target="_blank">rhetorical</a> jabs at Warren and other anti-TPP Democrats, to the point where <a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=5&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CDoQFjAE&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fthehill.com%2Fblogs%2Fblog-briefing-room%2Fnews%2F241820-democratic-senator-sees-sexism-in-obama-remarks-on-warren&amp;ei=i2JZVfTYCpLkgwT_9YGYDQ&amp;usg=AFQjCNGHJIzoNuYA3oLVmYoZ7tMpKjZLDA&amp;sig2=NIXZkks69q34kJJOQZsVcg&amp;bvm=bv.93564037,d.eXY" target="_blank">Sherrod Brown accused Obama of sexism</a>.</p> <p>Of course, twenty-four hours later, a deal had been struck for a vote on TPA in the Senate. <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2015/05/obama-trans-pacific-partnership-trade-deal-117921.html#ixzz3a47nef6f" target="_blank">If Edward Isaac-Dovere and Burgess Everett's <em>Politico</em> recap</a> is accurate, then Presidential Leadership (TM) played a pivotal role in the process:</p> <blockquote> <p>The White House named names. And not 24 hours later, President Barack Obama and his aides had a deal to get fast-track back on track...</p> <p>Obama aides strategically put out word to reporters of the meeting, even before senators had arrived at the White House. Shortly after the meeting ended, they released the list: the seven Democrats who'd voted for fast-track in committee, plus Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.). A few hours before, every Senate Democrat except Tom Carper of Delaware had publicly rebuked his trade effort. Now the White House put on the spot the other nine who had either publicly or privately indicated they would support the underlying fast-track and Trade Adjustment Assistance package, but who voted against opening debate.</p> <p>In other words, the president had more than enough votes just in the room to get the trade bill moving. According to senators who were there, the president took his time, spending 90 minutes to explain why they needed to get their act together.</p> </blockquote> <p>Now this <em>does </em>sound like some Old Time-y Presidential leadership, and so maybe, when it comes to managing his own party, there is something to the "Why can't Obama lead?" meme.</p> <p>But not a lot. My colleague <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/05/13/fast-track-may-not-be-dead-after-all/" target="_blank">Greg Sargent's take</a> suggests that last Tuesday's vote was more about Reid/McConnell dynamics than anything to do with Obama. And even the close of <em>Politico</em>'s story:</p> <blockquote> <p>Then again, some Senate Democrats said this all would have been resolved even without Obama&mdash;though maybe not in time for the House to take up the bill in June, keeping it on track to help Obama seal the Trans-Pacific Partnership with 12 Pacific Rim countries.</p> <p>"This was going to end up there anyway," Nelson said. "But I would say the meeting with the president accelerated the discussion."</p> </blockquote> <p>So, to sum up: Most of the time, the structuralists are mostly right when it comes to presidents exercising leadership in pushing legislation through Congress. But they're not completely right. On the margins, when dealing with one's own party, maybe presidential leadership matters just a wee bit.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Corporations Foreign Policy International Labor Top Stories Wed, 20 May 2015 13:00:08 +0000 Daniel Drezner 275526 at http://www.motherjones.com Are You a True Political Junkie? A Wee Test. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/are-you-true-political-junkie-wee-test <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I'm often amazed at the incredible memories that true political junkies have for trivial stuff that happened well over a decade ago. I was just reading a Kevin Williamson item over at The Corner, and he was noting that (a) some police organizations are apparently referring to President Obama's new restrictions on transfer of military equipment as a "ban," and (b) that lefties were attacking this as fear-mongering, since it <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bush_stem_cells.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">wasn't a ban, just a restriction on how the federal government plans to spend its own money.</p> <p>Where's he going with this, I wondered. <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/418577/whats-ban-kevin-d-williamson" target="_blank">I didn't have to wait long to find out:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Well....</p> <p>Am I the only one who remembers the so-called federal ban on stem-cell research enacted by the Bush administration? That was a ban that was not, in fact, a ban at all, or even a ban on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, but a restriction on federal funding for research using newly created lines of embryonic stem cells. When the [Fraternal Order of Police] complains that police departments cannot use federal funds the way they did before, the Left insists that the word &ldquo;ban&rdquo; is inappropriate, that the complaints amount to &ldquo;fear-mongering.&rdquo; But <em>Mother Jones</em> wrote of a &ldquo;Stem Cell Research Ban&rdquo; under Bush, CBS News reported &ldquo;Obama Ends Stem Cell Research Ban,&rdquo; Wired wrote of a &ldquo;Bush stem cell ban,&rdquo; <em>U.S. News and World Report</em> wrote of &ldquo;Bush&rsquo;s Stem Cell Research Ban,&rdquo; etc.</p> <p>A funding restriction is not a ban; it isn&rsquo;t now&mdash;but it wasn&rsquo;t then, either. It is too much to expect even a modicum of consistency from our feckless, lollygagging media, which is mainly composed of people who were too thick for law school and too lazy to sell real estate, and certainly not from the intellectually dishonest Democratic operatives within the media (Hello, Mr. Stephanopoulos!). But we should always keep that dishonesty in mind.</p> </blockquote> <p>I guess I take a much more easygoing attitude toward this stuff, especially when we're talking about headlines. Heds are almost never entirely accurate thanks to space constraints, and using the word <em>ban</em> instead of <em>ban on federal funding of new stem cell lines</em> seems pretty much inevitable. As long as the hed is reasonably close to reality and a more accurate explanation is put in the first paragraph or two, I can't get too excited.</p> <p>And if it was something that happened back in 2001? I'd be racking my brains to remember what happened and whether I should still give a damn. I guess that's what marks me as not really a true political junkie. I don't hold grudges against the press quite long enough.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 19 May 2015 18:49:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 275496 at http://www.motherjones.com Finally! It's Tax Fantasyland Season Again! http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/finally-its-tax-fantasyland-season-again <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>One of the more entertaining aspects of the 2012 presidential race was keeping track of the ever-expanding array of fanciful tax plans from Republicans. Even after Herman Cain announced his absurd 9-9-9 plan, other plans that would cut taxes even more kept coming down the pike. No candidate was willing to give up the mantle of biggest tax cutter.</p> <p>But that wasn't the truly entertaining part. The entertainment came from the fact that the candidates were all willing to describe in almost loving detail what they'd cut: capital gains vs. regular income; different tax brackets; precise rates that millionaires would have to pay; and so forth. But when anyone asked which tax deductions and tax credits <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_death_to_taxes.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">they'd kill in order to make their plans revenue neutral, they'd blush like schoolchildren and insist that only Congress could make that call. So brave!</p> <p>Josh Barro reports today that even with only a few candidates yet in the race, Republicans are already <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/19/upshot/can-republicans-avoid-the-romney-tax-trap.html?partner=rss&amp;emc=rss&amp;_r=0&amp;abt=0002&amp;abg=1" target="_blank">tying themselves in knots over taxes:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>There are a few ways the 2016 Republican candidates can avoid the Romney middle-class tax trap. They can break with party tradition and abandon the position that there should be significant tax-rate cuts for top earners. They can forthrightly defend the idea that people with low and middle incomes should pay more. They can abandon the promise of revenue neutrality &mdash; so a tax cut for the rich does not need to be offset by tax increases elsewhere. They can be as vague as possible.</p> </blockquote> <p>So far, apparently, the scorecard looks like this:</p> <ul><li>Carson, Cruz and Paul are calling for flat taxes but are taking the classic position that they'll talk about ways to stay revenue neutral sometime.....in the future. Like maybe the 14th of never.</li> <li>Christie has a slightly modified version of the classic. He won't talk about how he'll stay revenue neutral either, but he's also claiming that he might just let the deficit take some of the hit, which would mean fewer hot-button deductions to eliminate that could wreck his candidacy.</li> <li>Rubio, the boy genius of the Everglades, goes even further, taking what I'll call the Sam Brownback position: screw the deficit, he says. He's just going to lower taxes and leave it at that. After that we're in God's hands.</li> <li>Finally, Jeb Bush has taken the most unusual position of all: he's not even talking about taxes. He's generally in favor of lowering taxes, but that's as much as he's willing to say.</li> </ul><p>That's only six candidates, and there are many more to come&mdash;and we can expect plenty of tax fantasyland from all of them, I think. I mean, can you imagine what Lindsey Graham or Carly Fiorina are going to come up with? The mind reels. With the exception of the poor shmoes at the Tax Policy Center, who have to pretend to take this stuff seriously while they trudge through their analysis of each and every farfetched plan, it should be plenty of fun for the rest of us. Which candidate will come up with the most ridiculous, most pandering plan of all? Your guess is as good as mine.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 19 May 2015 15:29:15 +0000 Kevin Drum 275476 at http://www.motherjones.com Obamacare Is Making It Easier to Be a Young Working Parent http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/obamacare-helps-young-working-parents <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="354" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/j3ngg/1/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p><em>With Kevin Drum continuing to <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/its-experiment-week" target="_blank">focus on getting better</a>, we've invited some of the remarkable writers and thinkers who have traded links and ideas with him from Blogosphere 1.0 to this day to contribute posts and keep the conversation going. Today we're honored to present a post from economist <a href="http://deanbaker.net/index.html#home" target="_blank">Dean Baker</a>.</em></p> <p>The main point of the Affordable Care Act was to extend health insurance coverage to the uninsured. While this is a tremendously important goal, a benefit that is almost equally important was to provide a guarantee of coverage to those already insured if they lose or leave their job. This matters hugely because roughly 2 million people lose their job every month due to firing or layoffs. As a result of the ACA most of these workers can now count on being able to get affordable coverage even after losing their job.</p> <p>The ACA also means that people who may previously have felt trapped at a job because of their need for insurance now can leave their job without the risk that they or their family would go uninsured. This could give many pre-Medicare age workers the option to retire early. It could give workers with young children or other care-giving responsibilities the opportunity to work part-time. It could give workers the opportunity to start a business. Or, it could just give workers the opportunity to leave a job they hate.</p> <p>While it is still too early to reach conclusive assessments of the labor market impact of the ACA, the evidence to date looks promising. Republican opponents of Obamacare have often complained that the program would turn the country into a "part-time nation." It turns out that there is something to their story, but probably not what they intended. The number of people who are working part-time for economic reasons, meaning they would work full-time if a full-time position was available, has fallen by almost 16 percent from the start of 2013 to the start of 2015. This is part of the general improvement in the labor market over this period.</p> <p>The number of people working part-time involuntarily is still well above pre-recession levels, but it has been going in the right direction.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="354" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/UUcgH/2/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>It is true that the employer sanction part of the ACA has not taken effect (which required that employers with more than 50 workers provide insurance or pay a penalty, but it is not clear this would make a difference. Under the original wording of the law (Obama subsequently suspended this provision), employers would have expected that the sanctions would apply for the first six months of 2013. We found no evidence of shifting to more part-time work during this period compared to the first six months of 2012.</p> <p>But there is a story on increased voluntary part-time employment. This is up by 5.7 percent in the first four months of 2015 compared to 2013. This corresponds to more than 1 million people who have chosen to work part-time. We did some analysis of who these people were and found that it was overwhelmingly a story of young parents working part-time.</p> <p>There was little change or an actual decline in the percentage of workers over the age of 35 who were working part-time voluntarily. There was a modest increase in the percentage of workers under age 35, without children, working part-time voluntarily. There was a 10.2 percent increase in the share of workers under the age of 35, with one to two kids, working part-time. For young workers with three of more kids the increase was 15.4 percent.</p> <p>Based on these findings it appears that Obamacare has allowed many young parents the opportunity to work at part-time jobs so that they could spend more time with their kids. Back in the old days we might have thought this was an outcome that family-values conservatives would have welcomed.</p> <p>As far as other labor market effects of Obamacare, there has been a modest uptick in self-employment, but it would require more analysis to give the ACA credit. Similarly, older workers are accounting for a smaller share of employment growth, perhaps due to the fact that they no longer to need to get health care through their jobs. These areas will require further study to make any conclusive judgments, but based on the data we have seen to date, it seems pretty clear that Obamacare is allowing many young parents to have more time with their kids. And that is a good story that needs to be told.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Charts Economy Health Care Obama Top Stories Tue, 19 May 2015 10:20:06 +0000 Dean Baker 275431 at http://www.motherjones.com