Kevin Drum Feed | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en The Most Important Free Speech Question Is: Who Decides? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Like everyone, I've been watching as the free speech debate on college campuses has morphed from its usual steady background hum into a Big Issue Of The Day. First there was Milo Yiannopoulos at Berkeley. Then Charles Murray at Middlebury. Heather Mac Donald at Claremont McKenna. Ann Coulter at Berkeley. The right is naturally outraged that these speakers were harassed or banned, and the left is&mdash;well, what <em>is</em> the left's reaction to all this? At first, it was mostly a matter of not really sticking up for free speech rights on campus. That was bad enough, but then the conversation changed. Instead of a collective mumble, I began reading affirmative arguments that there was absolutely nothing wrong with "no-platforming" these folks. For example, a few days ago a <em>New Republic</em> article showed up in my Facebook feed and got high fives from several people I follow. <a href="" target="_blank">Here is Aaron Hanlon:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>When departments or groups arrange for a speaker, invitations are usually authorized by small committees or localized administrative offices without a campus-wide discussion or debate....Instead of community-wide discussion and debate over the merits of bringing a given speaker to campus, the debate happens <em>after</em> the invitation, <strong>giving the misleading impression that no-platforming is about shutting down speech.</strong></p> <p>....But no-platforming is better understood as the kind of value judgment that lies at heart of a liberal arts education....This has always meant deciding what people needed to know, <strong>but also what they don&rsquo;t need to know</strong>&mdash;or at least which knowledge and skills deserved priority in one&rsquo;s formal education.</p> <p>....No-platforming may look like censorship from certain angles, but from others it&rsquo;s a consequence of a challenging, never-ending process occurring at virtually all levels of the university: deciding what educational material to present to our students and what to leave out. <strong>In this sense, de-platforming isn&rsquo;t censorship; it&rsquo;s a product of free expression and the foundational aims of a classically liberal education.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>The sophistry here is breathtaking. If it's just some small group that invites someone, then it's OK if the rest of the university blackballs their choice. After all, universities are <em>supposed</em> to decide what students don't need to know. It may "look like censorship from certain angles," but it's actually the very zenith of free expression. <a href="" target="_blank">Juliet Kleber followed up today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>As Aaron Hanlon argued in the <em>New Republic</em> earlier this week, choosing not to host Ann Coulter or Milo Yiannopoulos on campus is not a suppression of their free speech. Academia certainly has an important place in selecting and elevating certain voices to relevance in a broader culture, <strong>but let&rsquo;s not forget that a college isn&rsquo;t a town hall: it&rsquo;s a particular community of people engaged in intersecting missions of education.</strong> Coulter is not a member of that community and she has no claims upon it. <strong>Campus life is curated,</strong> and none of us outside of it are guaranteed access to that platform.</p> </blockquote> <p>Enough. I don't usually pay a lot of attention to the latest outrages on college campuses because college campuses are teeming with smart, verbal, overconfident 19-year-olds. Of course they do stupid things. We all did stupid things at that age. I'm generally happy for all these micro-outrages to remain local controversies handled by local administrators.</p> <p>But now everyone is weighing in, and here on the left we're caving in way too often to this Hanlon-esque lunacy. Is some of the speech he's concerned about ugly and dangerous and deliberately provocative? Of course it is. But that's not a reason to shut it down. <em>That's the whole reason we defend free speech in the first place.</em> If political speech was all a harmless game of patty-cake, nobody would even care.</p> <p>Speech is often harmful. And vicious. And hurtful. And racist. And just plain disgusting. But whenever you start thinking these are good reasons to overturn&mdash;by violence or otherwise&mdash;someone's invitation to speak, ask yourself this: <em>Who decides?</em> Because once you concede the right to keep people from speaking, you concede the right of somebody to make that decision. And that somebody may eventually decide to shut down communists. Or anti-war protesters. Or gays. Or sociobiologists. Or Jews who defend Israel. Or Muslims.</p> <p>I don't want anyone to have that power. No one else on the left should want it either.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Apr 2017 22:15:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 331521 at Lunchtime Photo <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I keep mentioning the blimp hangars on the old MCAS Tustin base, so here's a picture of one of them. (The other one is identical.) They were built during WWII as housing for blimps used to patrol the West Coast, and according to the American Society of Civil Engineers they are the <a href="" target="_blank">biggest wooden frame structures in the world.</a> You can read a book about them <a href="" target="_blank">here.</a> Or watch a 25-minute video about them <a href="" target="_blank">here.</a> Every year or two I read a story about how we've finally decided what to do with them, but nothing ever happens. At the moment, they're still behind fencing around the old base and closed to the public.</p> <p>However, I was invited inside one of them once. Back when the base was still open, Goodyear used the hangars to do maintenance on their local blimp based in Carson. In my senior year in college I was interning at the Orange County bureau of the <em>LA Times</em> when a storm drove a tailfin through the blimp and it was hauled out to Tustin for repairs. The Marine Corps invited the press to come out and see it, and I got the assignment to go. In a preview of Twitter days to come, I wrote a <a href="" target="_blank">snarky story</a> about how there was nothing to see, really, except a huge piece of flat polyester. Surprisingly, my editor thought it was great even though I offered to write a straight version of the story if he wanted it. The Marine Corps was not so excited. One of their press folks called the next day, reminding me that they had only offered the tour because the press itself asked for it. That was true enough. Live by the snark, die by the snark.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_lunchtime_blimp_hangar_large.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></p> <p><strong>BONUS PHOTO:</strong> Here's the interior of the blimp hangar from the 2009 movie <em>Star </em><em>Trek</em>, where it served as the set for the shuttle bay sequence. Orange County film commissioner Janice Arrington <a href="" target="_blank">describes the shoot:</a> "The entire Starfleet was built in the north blimp hangar in 2008," she said&mdash;not quite accurately, but close enough for government work I suppose. "It was overwhelming to see endless rows of space vehicles lined up and stretching to the ends of the 300,000-square-foot hangar."</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_star_trek_blimp_hangar.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 0px 0px;" width="630"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Apr 2017 19:30:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 331421 at The Dry Bulk Market Is More Exciting Than You Think <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The <em>Wall Street Journal</em> has an <a href="" target="_blank">intriguing story today on its front page:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>When stocks rose after last year&rsquo;s presidential election, DryShips Inc. left the market far behind. The little-known Greek dry bulk carrier&rsquo;s epic one-week rally <strong>pushed its shares up by 1,500% for no apparent reason.</strong> The rally quickly unwound after the shares were briefly suspended by Nasdaq, but the run-up appears to have made possible a flurry of financial maneuvers that <strong>may earn the company&rsquo;s founder a huge windfall,</strong> according to calculations by <em>The Wall Street Journal</em>, while small investors suffered hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. Since they peaked, DryShips&rsquo;s shares are down by 99.9%.</p> </blockquote> <p>The <em>Journal</em> provides a handy timeline of events surrounding DryShips. I've added the line in red:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_wsj_dryships_0.gif" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></p> <p><em>Somebody</em> was sure excited about the prospects for bulk shipping in the Trump era. This is especially mysterious since DryShips announced that it was defaulting on its loans ("suspending principal and interest payments") right before the huge price runup.</p> <p>Oddly enough, when I went looking for the performance of other dry bulk carriers at around the same time&mdash;fully expecting to find that DryShips was indeed unique&mdash;I found another carrier with a very similar profile. Right after the election, stock in Globus Maritime skyrocketed 900 percent for a day or two:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_globus_maritime.gif" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></p> <p>Very strange. I guess the dry bulk market is not a place for amateurs.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Apr 2017 19:20:41 +0000 Kevin Drum 331506 at Mexico Finally Has Donald Trump Figured Out <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Yesterday Donald Trump suggested he might pull out of NAFTA entirely, then turned on a dime and agreed to begin negotiations instead over changes to the treaty. <a href="" target="_blank">Mexico has finally figured him out:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>On Wednesday, the suggestion from the White House that Mr. Trump was finalizing an executive order to begin the process of withdrawing the United States from NAFTA revealed a different, more experienced Mexico, one that was learning to live with what it considers Mr. Trump&rsquo;s bluster and stagecraft &mdash; and not inclined to publicly react too quickly.</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;It seems like he&rsquo;s sitting at a poker table bluffing rather than making serious decisions,&rdquo;</strong> said Senator Armando R&iacute;os Piter, a Mexican legislator. &ldquo;In front of a bluffer, you always have to maintain a firm and dignified position.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Has Trump ever threatened to pull out of a deal and then followed through? We know that he talks a lot, and he's quick to file lawsuits. But in, say, the past 20 years or so, has he ever made a great real estate deal? Has he ever threatened to pull out of a real estate deal, and then done so when the other side refused to meet his terms? Ever?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Apr 2017 17:51:33 +0000 Kevin Drum 331461 at Chart of the Day: Obamacare's Triumph—Except in the South <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The CDC has a new report out on the chronically uninsured. <a href="" target="_blank">Here's the good news:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cdc_chronically_uninsured_2010_2016.gif" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></p> <p>Starting in 2014, when Obamacare went into effect, the number of chronically uninsured plummeted by more than half, from 15.7 percent to 7.6 percent. That's a huge public policy victory.</p> <p>Now here's the bad news&mdash;at least for some people:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cdc_chronically_uninsured_region.gif" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></p> <p>States that resisted Obamacare in general, and refused the Medicaid expansion in particular, were largely in the South. In 2013 those states already accounted for 46.1 percent of the uninsured even though they have only 35 percent of the US population. By 2016, as other states were making progress, their share of the chronically uninsured skyrocketed to 54.7 percent.</p> <p>Put another way: by 2016, the per capita rate of chronically uninsured in the South was more than twice what it was in the rest of the country <em>even though southern states could have reduced their uninsured rate practically for free.</em> This is the triumph of Republican bitterness over human decency.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Apr 2017 17:11:56 +0000 Kevin Drum 331451 at Quote of the Day: This Shit Is Hard <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From an anonymous White House official:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I kind of pooh-poohed the experience stuff when I first got here. But this shit is hard.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's early morning here on the West Coast, but I'm pretty sure this quote is going to be the winner for the day. It comes from a <em>Politico</em> story, yet another in the "interviews with dozens of aides" genre. Basically, it paints a picture of a president and a White House <a href="" target="_blank">who have no idea what they're doing:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>[Trump] sat at the Resolute desk, <strong>with his daughter Ivanka across from him.</strong> One aide said the chat was off-the-record, but Trump insisted, <strong>over objections from nervous-looking staffers,</strong> that he be quoted....It was classic Trump: Confident, hyperbolic and insistent on asserting control.</p> <p>But interviews with nearly two dozen aides, allies, and others close to the president paint a different picture&nbsp;&mdash; one of a White House on a collision course between Trump&rsquo;s fixed habits and his growing realization that <strong>this job is harder than he imagined when he won the election on Nov. 8.</strong></p> <p>So far, Trump has led a White House <strong>gripped by paranoia and insecurity,</strong> paralyzed by internal jockeying for power. <strong>Mistrust between aides</strong> runs so deep that many now employ their own personal P.R. advisers &mdash; in part to ensure their own narratives get out. Trump himself has been deeply engaged with media figures, even huddling in the Oval Office with Matt Drudge.</p> <p>....As Trump is beginning to better understand the challenges&mdash;and the limits&mdash;of the presidency, his aides are understanding better how to manage perhaps the most improvisational and free-wheeling president in history. &ldquo;If you&rsquo;re an adviser to him, your job is to help him at the margins,&rdquo; said one Trump confidante. <strong>&ldquo;To talk him out of doing crazy things.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>....&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t walk in with a traditional presentation, like a binder or a PowerPoint. He doesn&rsquo;t care. He doesn&rsquo;t consume information that way,&rdquo; said one senior administration official. &ldquo;You go in and tell him the pros and cons, <strong>and what the media coverage is going to be like.</strong>&rdquo;...What the president hears on the cable morning gabfests on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN can redirect his attention, schedule and agenda. <strong>The three TVs in the chief-of-staff's office sometimes dictate the 8 a.m. meeting</strong>&nbsp;&mdash; and are always turned on to cable news, West Wing officials say.</p> </blockquote> <p>Go ahead and read the whole thing if you want to ruin the rest of your day.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Apr 2017 14:34:37 +0000 Kevin Drum 331441 at When Can We Stop Pretending That Republicans Care About the Deficit? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">This is from the <em>New York Times</em>:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_nyt_hed_deficit_hawks.gif" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></p> <p>When does this nonsense stop? Republicans aren't deficit hawks. They haven't been since the Reagan era. Republicans <em>used to be</em> deficit hawks, but the whole point of the Reagan Revolution was that tax cuts were more important than deficits. Their only concern about the deficit these days is as a handy excuse for opposing any increase to social welfare programs.</p> <p>I know I'm a partisan, but the evidence behind this is about as clear as it could be. Read up on the Reagan tax cut. It took about a decade for the GOP to completely shake off its historical aversion to deficits, but George H. W. Bush's tax increase in 1990 was the final straw. Since then, deficits have been a rhetorical trope, but nothing more.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Apr 2017 14:06:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 331436 at It's Not a Big Mystery Why Jason Chaffetz Is Quitting Congress <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The latest from Capitol Hill:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">After saying he won't run again, may leave Congress early, Rep. <a href="">@jasoninthehouse</a> now says he's got to be OOO for surgery ASAP <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Garance Franke-Ruta (@thegarance) <a href="">April 27, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Ever since Jason Chaffetz announced he would be leaving Congress, people have been trying to figure out what's going on. Why would he do that?</p> <p>But it doesn't seem like much of a mystery to me. Chaffetz is a very ambitious guy. Like everyone else, he assumed Hillary Clinton would win the election and provide him with endless fodder for high-profile investigations from his perch as chairman of the Oversight Committee. He'd be on the front page all the time, doing CNN hits, and just generally gaining lots of name recognition for the next step in his career. President Chaffetz? It could happen!</p> <p>Then Trump won. Suddenly the Oversight Committee was all but shut down. There would be no investigations. In fact, it was even worse than that. There was a real possibility that Trump would do something so outrageous that Chaffetz would have no choice but to hold hearings. Then he'd really be in trouble. He'd be caught between loyalty to party and the need to avoid looking like a total shill. It's a lose-lose proposition.</p> <p>tl;dr version: Trump's election transformed the Oversight Committee from a platform for fame and fortune into a backwater at best and an endless tightrope with career-ending risk at worst. So Chaffetz decided to quit. In the meantime, though, he might as well get his foot fixed on the taxpayer's dime, amirite? Plus it gets him out of the line of fire even quicker. What's not to like?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Apr 2017 02:43:15 +0000 Kevin Drum 331411 at One Chart Shows How the Trump Tax Plan Will Totally Pay For Itself <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's the first quick-and-dirty estimate of how much Donald Trump's tax plan would cost. It comes from the <a href="" target="_blank">Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_crfb_trump_tax_plan_cost.gif" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></p> <p>Oh please. This is a ridiculously pessimistic estimate because CRFB doesn't account for the economic growth this tax plan will unleash. They estimate that productivity would need to grow 3.8 percent per year to make Trump's plan pay for itself, something they scoff at. But that's well within reason:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_factor_productivity_1972_2027.gif" style="border: 1px solid #cccccc; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></p> <p>I don't see a problem with that. Do you? Yes? That's probably because you don't believe in the power of the white American worker. That's why you lefties lost the election.</p> <p>Perhaps you sense that I'm taking this less than seriously. Guilty as charged. But if Trump himself doesn't take his plans seriously, why should I?<sup>1</sup></p> <p><sup>1</sup>Also, the eagle-eyed might have noticed that although the 1-page tax plan summary we got today was very similar to Trump's campaign document, one thing was left out: it no longer claims to be revenue neutral. Funny how that works.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Apr 2017 00:53:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 331406 at Lunchtime Photo <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Look! A squirrel!</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_lunchtime_squirrel_large.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 0px 0px;" width="630"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 26 Apr 2017 19:30:13 +0000 Kevin Drum 331206 at It's Embarrassing To Be an American These Days <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I want to repeat something from the previous post because it deserves a post all its own. This is Donald Trump's "tax plan":</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The promised Trump tax plan, as distributed to press moments ago: <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Matthew Nussbaum (@MatthewNussbaum) <a href="">April 26, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Trump has embarrassed us in so many ways that I guess this is small beer, but FFS. This is the United States of America, the biggest, richest country on the planet. The leader of the free world. And this is what we get from our president these days. He wants to cut taxes by $4 trillion or more&mdash;$4 trillion!&mdash;and he can't be bothered to produce more than a single page of bullet points about it. No details. No legislation. No analysis from the OMB. Nothing. Just a comic book version of a tax overhaul.</p> <p>The contempt and incompetence this displays is breathtaking.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 26 Apr 2017 19:04:50 +0000 Kevin Drum 331376 at Trump Tax Plan Unveiled! <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Last night I wrote that the Trump tax plan would be little more a than a rewrite of his campaign document. I was wrong. Here it is:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The promised Trump tax plan, as distributed to press moments ago: <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Matthew Nussbaum (@MatthewNussbaum) <a href="">April 26, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>It's not worth the 60 seconds it would take to check this, but I'm pretty sure this is <em>less</em> detailed than Trump's campaign document. What a fucking embarrassment. It's like something a high school class would put together. Even with only five days to work with, you'd think the Treasury Department of the United States of America could produce a little more than this.</p> <p>But let's go through the whole thing. There's a little more than you see in the tweet above:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Three tax brackets</strong> instead of seven. However, there's no telling how this affects taxes until Steve Mnuchin tells us where the cutoff points are.</p> <p><strong>Doubles the standard exemption</strong> from $12,000 to $24,000. This will help middle-class families, but it's a little hard to know how much it will help them until we get details on....</p> <p><strong>Elimination of itemized deductions.</strong> Which ones? All of them? Good luck with that. But you can be sure that one of the targets will be the deduction for state income taxes, since that mostly benefits the hated blue states of California and New York.</p> <p><strong>Elimination of the estate tax.</strong> A huge boon for the super-duper rich.</p> <p><strong>Elimination of the AMT.</strong> A huge boon for the rich.</p> <p><strong>Elimination of Obamacare's 3.8 percent tax on investment.</strong> A huge boon for the rich.</p> <p><strong>Reduce business tax rate to 15 percent.</strong> A huge boon for corporations and the rich, especially those with income from pass-through businesses. Apparently Mnuchin doesn't care that Senate rules make this almost <a href="" target="_blank">literally unpassable.</a></p> <p><strong>Tax repatriation holiday.</strong> A huge boon for corporations and the rich.</p> <p><strong>Territorial taxation system for corporations.</strong> There's no telling what effect this would have. There are good territorial systems and bad ones. It's all in the details&mdash;though it's a pretty good guess that Trump will opt for one of the bad ones.</p> </blockquote> <p>The driving force behind this appears to be Trump's desire to call this the biggest tax cut in American history. The previous champ was Ronald Reagan's 1981 tax cut, which cost 3.9 percent of GDP. That means Trump is gunning for 4 percent of GDP.</p> <p>The Congressional Budget Office pegs GDP over the next ten years at <a href="" target="_blank">$239 trillion.</a> To get to 4 percent, Trump's tax plan will need to cut taxes by $9.5 trillion. This is obviously ridiculous. Maybe Trump isn't accounting for inflation or something. That would get him down to $4.3 trillion.</p> <p>Really, who knows? I suppose Trump will call it the biggest tax cut in history regardless of how big it is. He doesn't care. The one thing we can be sure of is that the rich will swoon. At a guess, something like 90 percent of that $9.5 (or $4.3 or whatever) trillion will go to the top 10 percent. The rest of us get a few crumbs.</p> <p>Of course, this whole thing is DOA in Congress anyway, which will pretty much ignore Trump and create its own tax plan for the rich. This one-page "plan" is really just a publicity stunt so Trump can say he introduced it during his first hundred days. What a doofus.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 26 Apr 2017 18:47:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 331366 at What's Up With Food Service Employment in San Diego? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Mike Boswell tweets this morning that this is "good data for a @kdrum post":</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">San Diego Restaurant Recession - 6-Mo. Loss of 4,700 food jobs from Sept. 2016-Mar. 2017 matches worst loss on record during Great Recession <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Mark J. Perry (@Mark_J_Perry) <a href="">April 25, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>That <em>is</em> peculiar, isn't it? Why did food service employment in San Diego plummet starting in October? I poked around a bit, and didn't come up with anything. However, the answer is <em>supposed</em> to be "because they raised their minimum wage," so I took a look at that. But it doesn't really fit. In July 2016 <a href="" target="_blank">San Diego</a> raised its minimum wage to 50 cents more than the state minimum. That's a pretty small increase to have such a significant effect, and for three months it <em>didn't</em> have any effect. Food service employment didn't turn around until October. So then I took a look at <a href="" target="_blank">Seattle</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">San Francisco,</a> two other West Coast cities that have raised their minimum wages recently. Here's what food service employment looks like in all three places:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_food_service_employment_2014_2017_1.gif" style="border: 1px solid #cccccc; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></p> <p>I dunno. San Francisco and Seattle raised their minimum wages considerably more than San Diego, and their food service employment has been fine. Combine that with the tiny size of the San Diego increase and the 3-month lag before anything happened, and the minimum wage theory seems a little iffy.</p> <p>But nothing else comes to mind either. Could it be due to an outflow of undocumented workers following Donald Trump's election? Something else unique to San Diego?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 26 Apr 2017 17:42:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 331351 at Trump Aide Ivanka Trump Setting Up New Trump Foundation <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From Josh Marshall:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>This is really quite astounding. In this morning&rsquo;s edition of Mike Allen&rsquo;s not-Playbook from Axios he introduces what seems to be Ivanka Trump setting up something that sounds a lot like the Clinton Foundation, only in this case run from <em>within</em> the White House by a top presidential aide who is also the President&rsquo;s daughter, who also runs her own large international company and who also has two brothers who are currently running the President/Father&rsquo;s company and trying to rake in as much money as possible on the fame and power of the presidency.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Here is Mike Allen:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Ivanka Trump told me yesterday from Berlin that she has begun building a <strong>massive fund</strong> that will benefit female entrepreneurs around the globe. Both countries and companies will contribute to create a pool of capital to economically empower women.</p> <p>"The statistics and results prove that when you invest in women and girls, it benefits both developed and developing economies," she said. "Women are an enormous untapped resource, critical to the growth of all countries."</p> <ul><li>Under the radar: Canadians, Germans <strong>and a few Middle Eastern countries</strong> have already made quiet commitments, as have several corporations, a source said.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li>How it'll work: The fund will provide working and growth capital to small- and medium-sized enterprises.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li>Who's involved: President Trump is a huge supporter of his daughter's idea, and she has <strong>consulted with World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim about how to pull it off in a huge way.</strong></li> </ul></blockquote> <p>I know I should say something about this. But what?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 26 Apr 2017 16:21:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 331346 at Republicans Don't Want to Eat Their Own Dog Food <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In case you missed it in last night's post because I kind of buried it, the latest Republican amendment to their health care bill allows states to opt out of Obamacare's essential requirements. <a href="" target="_blank">But it doesn't apply to Congress.</a> They are exempted. Just to refresh your memory, <a href="" target="_blank">here's the list of essential benefits:</a></p> <ol><li>Ambulatory patient services.</li> <li>Emergency services.</li> <li>Hospitalization.</li> <li>Maternity and newborn care.</li> <li>Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment.</li> <li>Prescription drugs.</li> <li>Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices.</li> <li>Laboratory services.</li> <li>Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management.</li> <li>Pediatric services, including oral and vision care.</li> </ol><p>The state of Wisconsin, for example, could choose to approve plans that don't include doctor visits (#1), hospitalization (#3), or prescription drugs (#6). House Republicans apparently think that's just fine.</p> <p>But for themselves, their plans will include every single benefit on that list. I'm not normally too bothered by political hypocrisy, but this really jumps the shark. Back in 2009, Republicans gleefully proposed an amendment to Obamacare that would make it apply to Congress. They apparently figured that this would show up Democrats who didn't want to eat their own dog food. But no: Democrats were perfectly willing to be covered by their own law. They shrugged, voted for the amendment, and Republicans were then stuck using Obamacare for their insurance.</p> <p>But now that they're in charge, Republicans are dead set on <em>not</em> eating <em>their</em> dog food. And who can blame them? Their dog food sucks.</p> <p>This really ought to drive home just how horrible the Republican health care plan is. And maybe it will. Finally.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 26 Apr 2017 15:24:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 331336 at Trump Plans to Cram His Entire Legislative Agenda Into Days 96-99 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Did Mack Sennett ever make "The Keystone Cops Go to Washington"? No? No matter. That's what it feels like right now.</p> <p>Let's see if I can do justice to our current legislative follies. For starters, it appears that we're going to get health care, tax reform, and infrastructure all in one week. Why? I guess so that President Trump can say he got going on all of them in his first hundred days. Which totally doesn't matter and Trump couldn't care less about it. But he released a <a href="" target="_blank">truly comical list</a> of all his accomplishments anyway. Not that he cares. But anyway. Let's move on.</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Health care:</strong> The House Freedom Caucus has allegedly agreed to an amendment to the previous House bill&mdash;the one that crashed and burned last month thanks to the HFC's opposition&mdash;that now makes it acceptable. They haven't actually said so in public yet, but maybe tomorrow they will. Maybe. Basically, it allows states to <a href="" target="_blank">opt out of the essential coverage requirements of Obamacare.</a> Except for Capitol Hill, that is. Members of Congress will continue to get every last thing on the list. And there's no change to pre-existing conditions except for one teensy little thing: insurance companies can charge you more if you have a pre-existing condition. How much more? The sky's the limit, apparently. Does $10 million sound good? In practice, of course, this means that they don't have to offer coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition.</p> <p><strong>Tax reform:</strong> It turns out the Treasury Department really was taken by surprise on this, so Wednesday's announcement will be <a href="" target="_blank">little more than the same stuff Trump released on the campaign trail.</a> Corporate taxes get cut by nearly two-thirds, to 15 percent. Ditto for "pass through" corporations like, oh, just to pull an example out of the air, The Trump Organization. There will be no offsetting spending cuts. There will be no border tax. There will be nothing much for the non-rich except a modest change to the standard deduction. There will, of course, be no details about which deductions and loopholes, if any, Trump plans to plug. It will be a gigantic deficit buster. And just for good measure, it's probably <a href="" target="_blank">literally unpassable under the Senate's rules.</a></p> <p><strong>Infrastructure:</strong> In a laughable attempt to get Democratic support for his tax bill, <a href=";utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nymag%2Fintelligencer+%28Daily+Intelligencer+-+New+York+Magazine%29" target="_blank">Trump plans to add infrastructure spending and a child tax credit to it.</a> The problem is that Trump's infrastructure plan is little more than a giveaway to big construction companies, and his child tax credit&mdash;designed by Ivanka!&mdash;is little more than a giveaway to the well off. In other words, instead of one thing Democrats hate, the bill now has three things Democrats hate. I'm just spitballing here, but I'm not sure this is how you make deals.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is lunacy. The barely revised health care bill probably won't pass the House, let alone the Senate. Tax reform is just a PowerPoint presentation, not an actual plan. Plus it's such an unbelievable giveaway to the rich that even Republicans will have a hard time swallowing it. And the infrastructure stuff is DOA. It will almost certainly be opposed by both Republicans and Democrats.</p> <p>This is like watching kids make mud pies. I guess that's OK, since this is all terrible stuff that I hope never sees the light of day. Still, I guess I prefer even my political opponents to show a little bit of respect for the legislative process.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 26 Apr 2017 04:59:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 331326 at 2016 Was Not a Tight Race <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I suppose this is hopeless, but I want to try one more time on the Comey thing. The most common response to the suggestion that James Comey's letter was the turning point in the 2016 campaign is this:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>In a race this close, lots of things could have tipped the result. The Comey letter is just one of many.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>But this isn't true. Take a look at <a href="" target="_blank">538's polling numbers in the final two weeks of the campaign:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_538_clinton_trump_last_two_weeks_1.gif" style="border: 1px solid #cccccc; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></p> <p>On the day before Comey sent his letter, Hillary Clinton had a 6-point lead. There is no ordinary campaign event that plausibly could have turned that into a loss. Not dumb ad buys. Not bad internal polling. Not bad speeches by the candidate. Nothing. It's just too big a lead.</p> <p>The Comey letter was a bolt from the blue and it cost Clinton three percentage points. <em>This is the only thing that made the race close to begin with.</em> Once Clinton's lead had been cut by three points, then an extra point of support for Trump in the last couple of days&mdash;which 538 and others missed&mdash;was just enough for Trump to eke out a 2-point popular vote loss and a miracle Electoral College victory.</p> <p>That wouldn't have mattered without the Comey letter. None of those little things that everyone keeps pointing to would have produced a Trump win. It's true that in a tight race lots of things can make the difference between winning and losing, <em>but it wasn't a tight race.</em> Not until James Comey sent out that letter, anyway.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 26 Apr 2017 00:17:41 +0000 Kevin Drum 331316 at Donald Trump Has a Red Button on His Desk <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From the Associated Press:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A man accustomed to wealth and its trappings, Trump has embraced life in the Executive Mansion, often regaling guests with trivia about the historic decor. With the push of a red button placed on the Resolute Desk that presidents have used for decades, a White House butler soon arrived with a Coke for the president.</p> </blockquote> <p>I just thought you'd all like to know.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 25 Apr 2017 23:16:22 +0000 Kevin Drum 331306 at Lunchtime Photo <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>We had our annual local tennis tournament over the weekend, and this poor kid was one of the losers. He was actually doing OK against a better player, and even managed to pull out the first set. But then his opponent figured out that he had a weak backhand and it was all downhill from there. In the final set, I literally don't think more than four or five balls went to his forehand. His opponent hit every ball as far wide as possible, and even though he knew where every shot was headed, it didn't matter. His backhand broke down under the assault and he lost the final set 6-1.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_lunchtime_tennis_score.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 0px 0px;" width="630"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 25 Apr 2017 19:30:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 331271 at Is Latest Victim of Two Minutes Hate <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Have you heard of I hadn't until they suddenly popped up in my Twitter feed because everyone was telling me to uninstall their app and never do business with them again. It turns out that is a company that scans your email and unsubscribes you from all your spam. Useful! And free! So how do they make money? By selling data to folks who will pay them for it.</p> <p>In particular, it turns out that one of their clients is Uber, which was interested in keeping tabs on its biggest competitor, Lyft. helps by scanning email for Lyft receipts and telling Uber whether Lyft's business is up or down. This is what caused the commotion.</p> <p>My initial reaction was: Duh. What did you <em>think</em> was doing to make money? I didn't bother writing anything about it because I didn't really care that much, but today co-founder Perri Chase (who's no longer with the company) comes to the defense of <a href="" target="_blank">her friend and CEO Jojo Hedaya:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Anonymized and at scale why do people care? Do you really care? Are you really surprised? How exactly is this shocking?</p> <p>Or maybe you just hate yourselves because you think Uber is gross but you use them anyway and &ldquo;why are these tech founders such assholes&rdquo; that they have to ruin your experience where you need to delete your apps? And you love and you feel righteous and you have to delete that now too because you need to take a stand against these plain-as-day-in-the-terms-of-service practices.</p> <p>....Let&rsquo;s look at why we are really in this situation. [Uber CEO] Travis Kalanick is out of control and no one can stop him. No one except a board who refuses to hold him accountable for his disgusting behavior. Yeah. As a woman I think he is disgusting. As a founder, the truth is I&rsquo;m like DAMN. That guy is willing to do whatever it takes and I have a mild amount of envy that I&rsquo;m not a shittier human willing to go to those lengths to be successful. See, Silicon Valley rewards it. He is setting the example for the future founders who want to &ldquo;crush it&rdquo; and be unstoppable. It&rsquo;s gross. You don&rsquo;t hate that sells your data. You hate that sells your data to Uber.</p> </blockquote> <p>I still don't know how I feel about this. On the one hand, I'm distinctly unthrilled with the fact that that we all give companies access to so much personal information about ourselves&mdash;and we do it for a pittance. On the other hand, it's pretty clear that I'm in a tiny minority. Even when people know precisely what's going on, they mostly shrug and sign up anyway. That's the world we live in.</p> <p>Chase's "plain-as-day-in-the-terms-of-service" defense is pretty disingenuous since she knows perfectly well that nobody reads the terms of service for the apps they use. But even if they did I doubt that would lose more than a few percent of their customers. Most of them probably wouldn't care if sold their names and email addresses to Uber, let alone a harmless bit of aggregate data.</p> <p>For what it's worth, what I'd <em>like</em> to see from companies like is a really clear explanation on their websites of what they do. Maybe just a short, punchy bullet list: Examples of what we <em>will</em> do and examples of what we <em>won't</em> do. That's what I'd like. And a pony.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 25 Apr 2017 19:15:43 +0000 Kevin Drum 331276 at Is Obama Already Buckraking on Wall Street? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Matt Yglesias is pissed:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Former President Barack Obama's decision to accept a $400,000 fee to speak at a health care conference organized by the bond firm Cantor Fitzgerald is easily understood....</p> </blockquote> <p>Wait. Obama is raking in $400 grand for a Wall Street keynote address? Really?</p> <p>There's something funny here. The report <a href="" target="_blank">comes from Fox Business Network,</a> and I guess it's true. But it hasn't been confirmed or reported by any mainstream outlet. Just lots of conservative sites, who are naturally hooting and hollering about it.</p> <p>Yglesias makes lots of good points about why Obama shouldn't do this, and normally I'd sign on. But I want to wait a bit. I wonder if there's more going on here that we don't know yet?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 25 Apr 2017 17:50:41 +0000 Kevin Drum 331266 at Wells Fargo Board Receives Epic Ass Kicking <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Wall Street is a brutal place:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Wells Fargo &amp; Co.&rsquo;s shareholders are expected to re-elect all of the bank&rsquo;s directors&mdash;<strong>but at uncomfortably low vote totals</strong>&mdash;in a pitched contest over the board that resulted from last fall&rsquo;s sales-practices scandal, according to people familiar with the matter.</p> <p>....While the re-election of directors, if confirmed, will be a relief for the bank, the likelihood that at least a few board members will receive below 60% of votes cast is concerning....<strong>The collective low votes for long-serving directors sends a clear message to the bank of &ldquo;dissatisfaction,&rdquo;</strong> one of the people familiar with the matter said.</p> </blockquote> <p>Tough but fair. After this trip to the woodshed you can be sure that sleazy practices are a thing of the past at Wells Fargo.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 25 Apr 2017 17:35:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 331261 at Everybody Loves (Parts of) Obamacare <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Ron Brownstein is surprised:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">In ABC/WP 78% (!) of aged 50-64 oppose ending nationwide mandate for covering pre-existing conditions <a href="">#AHCA</a> <a href=""></a> via <a href="">@ABC</a></p> &mdash; Ronald Brownstein (@RonBrownstein) <a href="">April 25, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>This is pretty much what I'd expect. After all, it's people aged 50-64 who mostly <em>have</em> pre-existing conditions.</p> <p>This remains the Achilles' heel of the repeal movement. Once you've agreed to keep Obamacare's pre-existing conditions policy, the rest of Obamacare&mdash;or something pretty similar&mdash;is inevitable. This is why the repeal-and-replace movement is having such a tough time.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 25 Apr 2017 16:56:03 +0000 Kevin Drum 331251 at Trump Caves On Border Wall <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>White House aides "signaled" yesterday that instead of money for a wall, they might accept money for tighter border security in the <a href=";utm_term=.e1d858d1ac3f" target="_blank">upcoming budget bill:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>With a Friday deadline looming to pass a new spending bill, the Trump administration projected confidence that a shutdown would be avoided. In the face of fierce Democratic opposition to funding the wall&rsquo;s construction, <strong>White House officials signaled Monday that the president may be open to an agreement that includes money for border security if not specifically for a wall,</strong> with an emphasis on technology and border agents rather than a structure.</p> </blockquote> <p>But apparently that wasn't good enough for Trump. He just went ahead and surrendered completely:</p> <blockquote> <p>Trump showed even more flexibility Monday afternoon, telling conservative journalists in a private meeting that he was <strong>open to delaying funding for wall construction until September,</strong> a White House official confirmed.</p> </blockquote> <p>Quite a negotiator, our president.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 25 Apr 2017 15:02:53 +0000 Kevin Drum 331216 at Health Care Premiums Have Gone Down Under Obamacare <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Someone asked me on Twitter if health care premiums had spiked after Obamacare went into effect. That turns out to be a surprisingly hard question to answer. There's loads of data on premiums in the employer market, where premium growth has slowed down slightly post-Obamacare, but not much in the individual market, which is where Obamacare has its biggest impact. However, a pair of researchers at the Brookings Institution rounded up the best evidence for pre-Obamacare premiums and compared it to premiums in 2014-17, when Obamacare was in effect. <a href="" target="_blank">Here it is:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_average_individual_premiums_2009_2017_0.gif" style="border: 1px solid #cccccc; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></p> <p>Premiums <em>dropped</em> in 2014, and are still lower than the trendline from 2009-13. So no, premiums didn't spike under Obamacare.</p> <p>Now, there are lots of caveats here. The pre-Obamacare estimates are tricky to get a firm handle on. What's more, the Obamacare premiums are for the baseline coverage (second-lowest silver plan), while average pre-Obamacare policies might have been more generous in some ways (for example, deductibles and copays).</p> <p>However, most of the pre/post differences suggest that Obamacare policies are better than the old ones. The old plans had an actuarial value of only 60 percent, while Obamacare silver plans have an actuarial value of 70 percent. The old plans were also limited to very healthy individuals. Obamacare plans are open to everyone. Finally, Obamacare plans mandate a set of essential benefits and place limits on out-of-pocket costs. These and other things suggest that premiums <em>should</em> have gone up under Obamacare.</p> <p>But even with all these improvements, premiums still went down, and they haven't caught up yet. Bottom line: Average premiums in the individual market went down after Obamacare took effect, and they're still lower than they would have been without Obamacare.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 25 Apr 2017 04:55:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 331201 at