Kevin Drum Feed | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2009/07/politics-healthcare%3Bwww.aollatinoblog.com/category/parejas%3Bwww.aollatinoblog.com/tag/RecetasDePuertoRico/%3Bwww.aollatinoblog.com/2008/03/14/salsa-para-enchilada http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Things Donald Trump Will Do In His Second Year http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/things-donald-trump-will-do-his-second-year <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A non-exhaustive list:</p> <ul><li>Make tomatoes great again.</li> <li>Rename Denali to Mt. Trump.</li> <li>Forbid stupid homeowner association rules.</li> <li>Fix Windows once and for all.</li> <li>Eliminate ex-president Obama's Secret Service detail.</li> <li>Annex Cuba.</li> <li>Build a permanent moon base as favor to Newt Gingrich. Also: lots of new zoos.</li> <li>Send Atrios to a reeducation camp until his attitude improves.</li> <li>Build a beautiful new Strategic Petroleum Reserve to handle all the oil he's going to take from ISIS.</li> <li>Nationalize Twitter.</li> <li>Present Sarah Palin with a Kennedy Center Honor for the Performing Arts.</li> <li>Invent really good artificial sugar and fat substitutes.</li> <li>Declare war on Denmark, just to piss off Bernie Sanders.</li> </ul></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 13 Feb 2016 20:09:17 +0000 Kevin Drum 296856 at http://www.motherjones.com Weekend Follow-Up #1: Welfare Reform and Deep Poverty http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/follow-1-welfare-reform-and-deep-poverty <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I'd forgotten about this even though <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/12/new-study-says-poverty-rate-hasnt-budged-40-years" target="_blank">I wrote about it</a> two years ago, but here's yet another chart about <a href="https://courseworks.columbia.edu/access/content/group/c5a1ef92-c03c-4d88-0018-ea43dd3cc5db/Working%20Papers%20for%20website/Anchored%20SPM.December7.pdf" target="_blank">"deep poverty":</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" p="" src="/files/blog_welfare_reform_deep_poverty.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 3px;"></p> <p>In this case, deep poverty is defined as households with income under 50 percent of the poverty line (about $10,000 for a family of three). The calculation is based on more accurate measures of poverty that have since been endorsed by the Census Bureau.</p> <p>Now, this is a different measure of poverty than the one used by Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/take-2-another-look-bernie-sanders-welfare-reform-and-deep-poverty" target="_blank">that I noted yesterday.</a> Their measure is both tighter (looking at even lower poverty rates) and looser (it counts households that are in extreme poverty even for short times). So it's not entirely an apples-to-apples comparison. Still, once you look at the historical numbers, it doesn't look like the 1996 welfare reform act slowed down the growth of welfare spending, nor did it have more than a very small effect on deep poverty.</p> <p>None of this is especially meant to defend welfare reform. But 20 years later, it doesn't look like it really had quite the catastrophic impact that a lot of people were afraid of at the time.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 13 Feb 2016 19:45:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 296846 at http://www.motherjones.com I'm Now a Certified and Legally Responsible Non-Harasser of Women http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/im-now-certified-and-legally-responsible-non-harasser-women <!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_certificate_harassment.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Hey, look what I got. That's right: I've completed MoJo's required course on sexual harassment, no longer limited just to supervisors.</p> <p>This doesn't have much practical value, since I work at home and have no one to harass even if I wanted to. Nonetheless, I was eager to take the course. You see, I'm immersed in opinions about PC culture and diversity and the idiocy of it all etc. etc. But I have no personal experience of it. If you're talking about schools, I graduated 40 years ago and I have no kids. If you're talking about Silicon Valley or Wall Street, I have no clue about either. If you're talking about workplace harassment, it never really came up at any of my previous jobs, and I haven't participated in an actual workplace since 2001.</p> <p>So how was it? Pretty boring, really. If someone rejects your advances repeatedly, back off. Don't fire someone for rejecting you. Don't go into a woman's cubicle a dozen times of day to take a deep sniff. (Yes, that was a real example.) Don't spend three hours a day watching hardcore porn in your office. Don't go around telling black people they're "articulate" or Asian people that "of course" they're good at math. Don't lose your temper. Talk out your problems. Don't be an asshole.</p> <p>Of course I, along with almost everyone who reads this blog, is an overeducated know-it-all who finds all this stuff trivially obvious. That's not true of everyone by a long way, and stuff like this is probably useful for them. This was also a pretty breezy course, not like the 8-hour sessions that are apparently required at some places. (I guess. How would I know?)</p> <p>Bottom line: I didn't learn much, but I suppose plenty of people would. And it really wasn't very onerous. Mostly just common sense, not lefty indoctrination. So what's everyone complaining about?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 13 Feb 2016 12:17:16 +0000 Kevin Drum 296836 at http://www.motherjones.com Hooray! A Brand New Site For Creating Lots of Charts About Democracy. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/hooray-brand-new-site-creating-lots-charts-about-democracy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The world is awash in charts these days. It's a great example of a simple proposition of economics: when something gets cheaper to produce, we produce a lot more of it. Just as computers turned a dozen daily pieces of mostly useful snail mail into hundreds of mostly useless emails, they've turned data laboriously collected by experts and then laboriously converted into clunky bars and lines by the art department into colorful masterpieces that can be created by pretty much everyone at the push of a button or a modest investment in learning Excel. Half the charts I produce for this blog come either directly from my good friends at the St. Louis Fed or indirectly by downloading their handy datasets into Excel.</p> <p>There are lots of sites that produce charts these days, with new ones popping up all the time. <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/02/12/open-data-and-15-million-new-measures-of-democracy/" target="_blank">Joshua Tucker</a> points us today to <a href="https://v-dem.net/en/" target="_blank">V-Dem,</a> which provides "15 million data points on democracy, including 39 democracy-related indices." The V-Dem website tells us that it is "a collaboration among more than 50 scholars worldwide which is co-hosted by the Department of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden; and the Kellogg Institute at the University of Notre Dame, USA." So let's take a look.</p> <p>V-Dem is pretty easy to use: pick one or more countries, one or more variables, and a time period. Click "Generate Graph" and you're off. So let's take a look at a few that I drew more or less at random. Here's #1:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_vdem_paid_campaign_advertising_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p>That's peculiar, isn't it? We're used to thinking of the United States as the king of money in politics, but we're actually the steady blue line right in the middle. Italy apparently spends more than us and Germany spends a lot more. But in the 2000s, Germany plummeted down to middle and Sweden skyrocketed up to the middle. By 2013 we were all pretty much the same.</p> <p>Of course, I have no idea what this is based on. In theory, I could download the codebook and eventually decipher the data sources, but you can probably guess what the odds of that are. So for now it remains a bit of a mystery. Here's #2:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_vdem_political_party_cohesion.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p>This one is less surprising. It tells us that in the mid-1900s American political parties weren't very cohesive. Then around 1980 they started to become much more cohesive, looking more and more like parliamentary parties in Europe. Oddly, though, V-Dem thinks that Democrats and Republicans got a bit <em>less</em> cohesive around 2005. This contradicts the conventional wisdom enough that it might be worth someone's while to look into it. #SlatePitch, anyone? Here's #3:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_vdem_womens_political_participation.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p>Sweden and Germany are the winners here, unsurprisingly. But the US does pretty well too. We've gone from a distant fourth place in 1972 (among the seven countries shown) to a close tie for first. Of course, everyone else has gotten a lot better too. In fact, if you want to zoom way in for the details and take a glass-half-empty approach to things, we're actually in last place now. We were doing pretty well until 1993, but since then we've made almost no progress. Once again, if this is true it would be interesting to investigate. What happened in 1993 to suddenly blunt the rise of women's participation in politics?</p> <p>So that's that. On the upside, there's a lot of data here and it's pretty easy to generate colorful charts out of it. It's interesting too. Three out of three random charts that I created instantly posed challenges to the received wisdom that might benefit from further study. On the downside, it's difficult to figure out the source of the indices or to download the data series themselves unless you're willing to download the entire dataset and load it into your statistical app of choice. That makes further study hard for non-experts. Nothing's perfect, I guess.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 13 Feb 2016 11:52:41 +0000 Kevin Drum 296831 at http://www.motherjones.com Why Do Foreign Singers Sound So American? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/why-do-foreign-singers-sound-so-american <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I'm asking this just out of curiosity. Feel free to mock me about it in comments.</p> <p>Here's my question. When I listen to popular music, I almost never hear a foreign accent. I hear accents perfectly well in ordinary speech, but not when the words are sung. With occasional exceptions, when I listen to U2, Adele, Abba, or Keith Urban, I don't hear Irish, British, Swedish, or Australian accents. To me, the lyrics mostly sound pretty close to my own familiar California accent.</p> <p>So....is this because popular foreign singers deliberately adopt an American accent? Is it due to some inherent property of slow, melodic speech? Is it because my hearing is defective?</p> <p>There are exceptions, of course. The Beatles all had such distinctive Liverpool accents that I usually recognize it in their singing. Beyond that, I don't really listen to enough music to have much sense of how common this is, especially outside of the top 40 realm. Anyone know what the deal is here?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 13 Feb 2016 08:24:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 296826 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 12 February 2016 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/friday-cat-blogging-12-february-2016 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Just look at our little lovebirds. So adorable. So innocent looking. In reality, of course, they are just furry little batteries, recharging for their next romp around the house. In the meantime, though, Hilbert and Hopper remind you not to forget Valentine's Day. Buy your loved one some treats this weekend. Treats are good.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_hopper_2016_02_12.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 12 Feb 2016 20:51:33 +0000 Kevin Drum 296796 at http://www.motherjones.com Raw Data: Income Gains By Age Since 1974 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/raw-data-income-gains-age-1974 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's some raw data for you. It's nothing fancy: just plain old cash income growth for individuals, <a href="https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/people/" target="_blank">straight from the Census Bureau.</a> It gives you a rough idea of how different age groups have been doing over the past few decades. Enjoy.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_median_income_age_2.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 23px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 12 Feb 2016 20:45:48 +0000 Kevin Drum 296791 at http://www.motherjones.com Senator Sanders, Why Do You Hate President Obama? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/senator-sanders-why-do-you-hate-president-obama <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Most of last night's debate was pretty familiar territory. But toward the end, Hillary Clinton <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/02/11/transcript-the-democratic-debate-in-milwaukee-annotated/" target="_blank">unleashed a brand new attack:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Today Senator Sanders said that President Obama failed the presidential leadership test....In the past he has called him weak. He has called <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hillary_debate_2016_02_11.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">him a disappointment. He wrote a forward for a book that basically argued voters should have buyers' remorse when it comes to President Obama's leadership and legacy.</p> <p>....The kind of criticism that we've heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans....What I am concerned about is not disagreement on issues, saying that this is what I would rather do, I don't agree with the president on that. Calling the president weak, calling him a disappointment, calling several times that he should have a primary opponent when he ran for re-election in 2012, you know, I think that goes further than saying we have our disagreements.</p> <p>....I understand we can disagree on the path forward. But those kinds of personal assessments and charges are ones that I find particularly troubling.</p> </blockquote> <p>The problem Sanders has here is that this is a pretty righteous attack. Back in 2011 <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/special/2011/07/22/277124/bernie-sanders-primary-obama/" target="_blank">he really did say,</a> "I think there are millions of Americans who are deeply disappointed in the president...who cannot believe how weak he has been, for whatever reason, in negotiating with Republicans and there&rsquo;s deep disappointment." And he really did push the idea of a <a href="http://www.thenation.com/article/bernie-sanders-talks-primary-challenge-obama-good-idea-our-democracy-and-democratic-part/" target="_blank">primary challenger to Obama.</a> And he really did <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/30/politics/bernie-sanders-democrats-obama-progressives-hillary-clinton/" target="_blank">write a blurb</a> for <em>Buyer's Remorse: How Obama let Progressives Down</em>. So there's not much he can do about this attack except sound offended and insist that everyone has a right to criticize the president.</p> <p>But will it work? It was actually the only hit last night that struck me as genuinely effective. Obama still has a lot of fans who are probably surprised to hear that Sanders has been so tough on their guy. If Hillary Clinton keeps up this line, it might be pretty damaging.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 12 Feb 2016 18:40:39 +0000 Kevin Drum 296776 at http://www.motherjones.com Health Update http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/health-update <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, my chemo regimen changed last month. The Revlimid reduced my M-protein level for a little while, but then flattened out around 0.6, which is still a long way <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_m_protein_2016_02_12.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">from zero.<sup>1</sup> So now we're trying Revlimid plus dexamethasone. Dex is pure evil, but it's also pretty good at fighting multiple myeloma, so let's all give a big round of applause to evil! My first test result came back yesterday, and after only three weeks on the dex my M-protein marker has finally budged from 0.6. It's now down to 0.48. There's still a long way to go, but at least things are once again moving in the right direction.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Standard explainer: myeloma cells produce M-proteins, so measuring them is a good proxy for the level of cancerous cells in my bone marrow. This will never get to zero, but when the M-protein marker reaches zero it means the myeloma is at a very, very low level. So that's the goal.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 12 Feb 2016 17:55:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 296771 at http://www.motherjones.com Take 2: Another Look at Bernie Sanders, Welfare Reform, and Deep Poverty http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/take-2-another-look-bernie-sanders-welfare-reform-and-deep-poverty <!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/2016/02/heres-why-bernie-sanders-doesnt-say-much-about-welfare-reform" target="_blank">A couple of days ago,</a> in a post showing the growth of social welfare spending over the past few decades, I noted that the passage of the 1996 welfare reform act didn't even show up as a blip. In terms of money spent, it's turned out to be a non-issue.</p> <p>This was not meant to be a defense of welfare reform. Believe it or not, I really do try not to write authoritatively about subjects I know little about, and welfare reform is a complicated topic that I'm only glancingly familiar with. I don't really have either the chops or the desire to relitigate it right now.</p> <p>However, that post prompted a response that's probably worth dealing with at least briefly: namely that even if the dollar amount was relatively small, welfare reform did hurt the very poorest. This is a live topic right now because of the recent publication of<span class="a-size-large" id="productTitle"> <a href="http://www.amazon.com/2-00-Day-Nothing-September-Hardcover/dp/B015QNU1HW/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1455295116&amp;sr=1-2" target="_blank"><em>$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America</em>,</a> by </span>Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer. Among other things, Edin and Shaefer focus on the effects of cash, and they note that welfare reform eliminated cash payments to the very poorest, who generally don't have jobs. This was deliberate: the whole point of welfare reform was to link public assistance to jobs as a way of motivating the poor to find work.</p> <p>There remains plenty of disagreement about whether this was a good idea. For now, though, I just want to present Edin and Shaefer's own data about extreme poverty. Here it is:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_extreme_poverty.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 10px;"></p> <p>The green line is the one to pay attention to if you want to know the comprehensive effect of all changes to the social welfare system over the past couple of decades. And what it shows is that the percentage of households with children in extreme poverty increased from about 1 percent to 1.5 percent. That represents an increase of fewer than 500,000 households.</p> <p>In other words, if we simply handed over $10,000 to every household with children in extreme poverty, it would cost only about $15 billion. Given that we spend about $1 trillion annually on social welfare benefits, this is peanuts. It's not money that prevents us from addressing deep poverty, it's political preference. Welfare reform was very deliberately crafted to reduce payments to people who don't work, and one of the effects of that is a small increase in extreme poverty.</p> <p>If you want Bernie Sanders to publicly denounce this state of affairs, this is the issue you need to address. To what extent should our welfare system hand out cash to nonworking adults? For how long? With what strings attached? My guess is that Sanders doesn't really want to dive into this because he knows it's a big hot button and he doesn't want to get bogged down in something that takes the spotlight away from his larger economic message. But that's just my guess.</p> <p>If you want to read more about this, there's plenty available. We've written about it several times at <em>Mother Jone</em>s, including <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/extreme-poverty-unemployment-recession-economy-fresno" target="_blank">here</a>, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/03/kathryn-edin-poverty-research-fatherhood" target="_blank">here</a>, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/03/10-poverty-myths-busted" target="_blank">here</a>, and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2015/07/book-review-2-dollars-day-kathryn-edin-luke-shaefer" target="_blank">here</a>. Over at Brookings, Ron Haskins critiques Edin and Shaefer <a href="http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/social-mobility-memos/posts/2015/09/14-cash-welfare-sipp-complete-picture-haskins" target="_blank">here.</a> They respond <a href="http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/social-mobility-memos/posts/2015/09/17-reform-welfare-reform-edin-shaefer" target="_blank">here.</a></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 12 Feb 2016 17:19:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 296766 at http://www.motherjones.com In Obama's America, Nobody Can Buy a Good Tomato http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/obamas-america-nobody-can-buy-good-tomato <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Julia Belluz writes today about one of my saddest pet peeves: <a href="http://www.vox.com/2016/2/12/10972140/fruits-vegetables-taste-better-europe" target="_blank">the sad state of tomatoes in America.</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Harry Klee, a horticulture professor at the University of Florida, spent years developing a nutrient-dense tomato that also happens to taste great. <strong>It&rsquo;s been called &mdash; by a panel of 500 experts &mdash; one of the most delicious tomatoes on the planet</strong>....Klee&rsquo;s tomato, the Garden Gem, is also eminently durable, with a great shelf life and track record of disease resistance &mdash; properties growers care about. But he&rsquo;s been told the Garden Gem is a little too small (about a half <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_tomato.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">or a third the size of your average supermarket tomato). And that means it&rsquo;d require more labor to pick, and therefore a little more cost. The fact that it's delicious doesn't count for much.</p> <p>"The bottom line here with the industrial tomatoes is that tomatoes have been bred for yield, production, disease resistance," Klee told me....This greatly distresses Klee. "I have a lot of worries, and one is that we are raising a whole generation of people who don&rsquo;t know what a tomato is supposed to taste like," he said. <strong>"If they go to Italy and buy a tomato at a roadside stand, it&rsquo;s a life-changing event."</strong> For now most Americans are stuck with massive, perfectly red, eminently tasteless tomatoes.</p> </blockquote> <p>Well, <em>I</em> want a Garden Gem, even if it is small. Of course, I'd want one even more if it were large. When I was growing up (cue Boomer nostalgia music) we bought tomatoes from a local stand and they were both huge and delicious. We ate them like apples. Were they the best tomatoes on the planet? Probably not. But they were pretty good! Light years better than anything I can get in the supermarket today. So it's not impossible to grow tomatoes that are both tasty and large.</p> <p>Thankfully, this is one of the things Donald Trump will probably fix once he becomes president. There will no longer be any undocumented workers around to pick them, but that's a problem for another day.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 12 Feb 2016 16:00:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 296756 at http://www.motherjones.com U6 Is Now the Last Refuge of Scoundrels http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/u6-now-last-refuge-scoundrels <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>This is getting ridiculous. On Tuesday <a href="http://www.vox.com/2016/2/9/10956660/donald-trump-new-hampshire" target="_blank">Donald Trump</a> repeated his fatuous nonsense about the real unemployment rate being 42 percent. Then <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/11/upshot/the-real-jobless-rate-is-42-percent-donald-trump-has-a-point-sort-of.html?ref=topics&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">Neil Irwin</a> of the <em>New York Times</em> inexplicably decided to opine that "he's not entirely wrong" because there are lots of different unemployment rates. Et tu, Neil? Bill O'Reilly picked up on this theme today, with guest Lou Dobbs casually declaring that unemployment is "actually" 10 percent. Finally, in the ultimate indignity, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/02/11/transcript-the-democratic-debate-in-milwaukee-annotated/" target="_blank">Bernie Sanders</a> decided to take this idiocy bipartisan: "Who denies that real unemployment today, including those who have given up looking for work and are working part-time is close to 10 percent?"</p> <p>Can we cut the crap? Trump is obviously just making shit up, but the 10 percent number is colorably legitimate. It's officially called U6, a measure of unemployment <em>plus</em> folks who have been forced to work part time <em>plus</em> workers who are "marginally attached" to the labor force. Right now it stands at 9.9 percent.</p> <p>But you can't just toss this out as a slippery way of making the economy seem like it's in horrible shape. If you're going to tout U6, you have to compare it to <em>what's normal for U6</em>. And what's normal in an expanding economy is about 8.9 percent. This means that even big, bad U6 is within a hair of its full-employment value.</p> <p>The US economy is not a house afire. That said, unemployment is low. Inflation is low. Wages are finally growing. The economy is expanding. Gasoline is cheap. Interest rates are low and houses are affordable. I'm getting pretty tired of the endlessly deceitful attempts to make it seem as if we're all but on the edge of economic Armageddon, and the last thing we need is for liberals to sign up for this flimflam too. It's good politics, I guess, but it's also a lie.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_u6_february_2016_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 0px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 12 Feb 2016 05:49:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 296746 at http://www.motherjones.com Tonight's Debate Really Drove Home the Bernie vs. Hillary Dilemma http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/hillary <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's roughly how the first hour of tonight's debate went:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>Bernie: Free health care for everyone!</em></p> <p>Hillary: Let's not overpromise. Maybe we can get partway there. You know, one percent at a time.</p> <p><em>Bernie: When I'm president we'll have free college for everyone!</em></p> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_clinton_sanders_debate_2016_02_11.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Hillary: But we have to get the policy right. All the stakeholders need to buy in. It's tricky.</p> <p><em>Bernie:&nbsp; We need radical transformation of our criminal justice system!</em></p> <p>Hillary: A commission had some good ideas recently and I endorse them.</p> <p><em>Bernie: Let the children in!</em></p> <p>Hillary: Yes, but first we need an appropriate process.</p> </blockquote> <p>OK, I'm kidding. Sort of. But this is the bind Hillary Clinton is in. Bernie Sanders delivers all these big, stemwinding proposals and doesn't really have to explain how he's going to pass any of them or get them paid for. But he sure is visionary! Hillary, conversely, is just constitutionally incapable of talking like this. When a problem is raised, her mind instantly starts thinking about what works and who will vote for it and where the payfors are going to come from. And that means she sounds like an old fuddy duddy patiently explaining why your bright idea won't work. No wonder young voters don't care much for her.</p> <p>This has been true the entire campaign, of course, but I thought tonight's debate brought it into much sharper relief than usual. Did it hurt her? I've pretty much given up trying to divine the reactions of the studio audience to these debates, so I don't know. I guess that if you think we need to dream big dreams and the fuddy duddies ought to stand aside, you're more convinced than ever that Hillary is part of the problem, not part of the solution. If you have some respect for how hard the political process is, and how slowly progress is made, you're more convinced than ever that Bernie is talking through his hat and Hillary is the only reasonable choice.</p> <p>And for those who are undecided? I guess we'll find out soon enough.</p> <p><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/02/11/transcript-the-democratic-debate-in-milwaukee-annotated/?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_no-name%3Ahomepage%2Fstory" target="_blank">Debate transcript here.</a></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 12 Feb 2016 04:47:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 296741 at http://www.motherjones.com Republican Tax Plans Will Be Great for the Ri—zzzzz http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/republican-tax-plans-will-be-great-ri%E2%80%94zzzzz <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Our good friends at the Tax Policy Center have now analyzed&mdash;if that's the right word&mdash;the tax plans of <a href="http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/publications/template.cfm?PubID=2000560" target="_blank">Donald Trump</a>, <a href="http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/publications/url.cfm?ID=2000547" target="_blank">Jeb Bush</a>, and <a href="http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/publications/template.cfm?PubID=2000606" target="_blank">Marco Rubio</a>. You can get all the details at their site, but if you just want the bottom line, you've come to the right place.</p> <p>The chart on the left shows who benefits the most from each tax plan. Unsurprisingly, they're all about the same: middle income taxpayers would see their take-home pay go up 3 or 4 percent, while the rich would see it go up a whopping 10-17 percent. On the deficit side of things, everyone's a budget buster. Rubio and Bush would pile up the red ink by $7 trillion or so (over ten years) while Trump would clock in at about $9 trillion. That compares to a current national debt of $14 trillion.</p> <p>No one will care, of course, and no one will even bother questioning any of them about this. After all, we already know they'll just declare that their tax cuts will supercharge the economy and pay for themselves. They can say it in their sleep. Then Trump will say something stupid, or Rubio will break his tooth on a Twix bar, and we'll move on.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_rubio_bush_trump_tax_gain.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 15px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_rubio_bush_trump_tax_cost.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 0px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 12 Feb 2016 00:34:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 296716 at http://www.motherjones.com God Is Testing Marco Rubio http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/god-testing-marco-rubio <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Oh come on. Even Marco Rubio doesn't deserve this. Maybe it's time to ease up on the poor guy.</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Rubio got blueberry pancakes w blueberry syrup. He's trying to eat soft foods, he said, because he cracked a molar on a Twix bar yesterday.</p> &mdash; erica orden (@eorden) <a href="https://twitter.com/eorden/status/697812156939636736">February 11, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 22:29:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 296706 at http://www.motherjones.com No One Wants to Take Orders From Marco Rubio http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/no-one-wants-take-orders-marco-rubio <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>When the "establishment" is trying to figure out who they support in a presidential primary, I figure one of the key issues is: "Can I imagine myself taking orders from this person?"</p> <p>OK, not "orders," precisely. But you know what I mean. The president is the party leader, and one of the whole points of being part of the establishment is that you're the kind of person who accepts the leadership of your president. This explains, for example, why the establishment is horrified about Donald Trump. They can't imagine taking orders from a politically ignorant jackass like him. And they hate Ted Cruz's guts, so they can't abide the idea of taking orders from him either.</p> <p>But what about Marco Rubio? Everyone's been wondering lately why the establishment didn't rally around Rubio earlier, since he seemed like sort of an obvious choice. My guess is that it's not because they hate Rubio, or because they think he's a buffoon. But they do think he's a nervous and overly ambitious young man who's a bit of an empty suit. If he's the nominee, they'll suck it up and support him. But the idea of taking orders from this pipsqueak sticks in their craw.</p> <p>They're in quite the pickle, aren't they?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 20:17:21 +0000 Kevin Drum 296696 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's a Chart That Puts the Bernie Bro Phenomenon In a Whole New Light http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/heres-chart-puts-bernie-bro-phenomenon-whole-new-light <!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_hillary_vote_daughters.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Why do millennials love Bernie Sanders? Here's a weirdly intriguing possibility: because they don't have enough daughters. <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/02/11/a-key-reason-young-people-dont-support-hillary-clinton-they-dont-have-daughters/" target="_blank">According to Michael Tesler,</a> millennial parents with sons overwhelmingly support Sanders. But millennial parents with daughters overwhelmingly support Hillary Clinton. (There's a similar effect among older voters, but it's very small.) And although Tesler doesn't say this, presumably single millennials are big Bernie fans too.</p> <p>Is this kind of eerie, or is it totally predictable? I could make a case either way. But even if it's predictable, the size of the effect is eye-popping. Make of it what you will.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 19:12:50 +0000 Kevin Drum 296681 at http://www.motherjones.com Do Strict Photo ID Laws Massively Depress Minority Turnout? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/do-strict-photo-id-laws-massively-depress-minority-turnout <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Josh Marshall is highlighting yet again a new study that demonstrates a large effect of strict photo ID laws on minority turnout. So why haven't I? Because I honestly can't makes heads or tails of it. <a href="http://pages.ucsd.edu/~zhajnal/page5/documents/voterIDhajnaletal.pdf" target="_blank">Here are the authors:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In the general elections, the model predicts Latino turnout was 10.3 points lower in states with photo ID than in states without strict photo ID regulations, all else equal. For multi-racial Americans, turnout was 12.8 points lower under strict photo ID laws. These effects were almost as large in primary elections. Here, a strict photo ID law could be expected to depress Latino turnout by 6.3 points and Black turnout by 1.6 points.</p> </blockquote> <p>Do you notice something missing? They mention Latinos and multi-racial voters in general elections, but not blacks. Why not? Apparently because of this:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_photo_id_turnout.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p>Their regression suggests that black turnout was <em>up</em> in states with strict photo ID laws. For some reason, though, the result isn't statistically significant, so they ignore it. Conversely, their result for primaries shows black turnout down. But even though it's a weaker result, it <em>is</em> statistically significant, so they report it.</p> <p>And there are other things that make no sense. Not only do the authors report numbers for depressed turnout that are far larger than anyone has gotten before, but they suggest that photo ID laws cause black turnout to rise while mixed-race turnout declines. That's pretty hard to fathom.</p> <p>There are other problems. Their charts are incomprehensible. They rely on data collected over the internet. And the results in this paper are precisely the opposite of what one of the authors reported just a year ago <a href="http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2490043" target="_blank">in a paper using the same methodology:</a> namely that strict photo ID laws <em>do</em> depress overall turnout, but <em>don't</em> depress minority turnout any more than white turnout ("there is little evidence that racial minorities are less likely than Whites to vote when states institute voter identification requirements").</p> <p>Beyond that, the authors have applied so many controls that it's hard to tell if there's any real data left by the time they're done. Check this out:</p> <blockquote> <p>We also control for individual demographic characteristics...age...education level...family income...nativity...gender, marital status...having children, being a union member, owning a home, being unemployed, and religion...and whether the respondent was registered to vote in the pre-election survey...We also have to incorporate other state level electoral laws...early voting...all-mail elections...no excuse absentee voting...the limit on the number of days before the election that residents can register to vote....Finally, to help identify the independent effect of ID laws, our analysis has to include the electoral context surrounding each particular election...political competitiveness of each state...the presence of different electoral contests...whether the Senatorial and Gubernatorial contests are open seats or not, whether the Senatorial and Gubernatorial contests are uncontested or not, and finally the region (South or not).</p> </blockquote> <p>Holy hell! I wonder how they decided on these controls rather than others? They don't say.</p> <p>It's quite possible that the analysis in this study is too sophisticated for me to understand. I'm hardly a statistical guru. In fact, I can't even tell precisely what their regressions are measuring. The numbers in the table don't seem to bear any relationship to the results reported in the text. So maybe I just have no idea how to read this stuff.</p> <p>But for now, I'd take this with a huge grain of salt until someone with the right chops weighs in on it. I don't doubt that strict photo ID laws depress turnout among minorities, but I doubt very much the effect is as big as this study suggests.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 18:04:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 296661 at http://www.motherjones.com Get Your Memes Right: The 1994 Crime Bill Didn't Create Mass Incarceration http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/get-your-memes-right-1994-crime-bill-didnt-create-mass-incarceration <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>German Lopez points out today that the 1994 crime bill <a href="http://www.vox.com/2016/2/11/10961362/clinton-1994-crime-law" target="_blank">wasn't responsible for mass incarceration:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>States preside over the great bulk of the US justice system. So it's actually state policies that fueled mass incarceration....Federal criminal justice policy, including much of the 1994 crime law, focuses almost entirely on the federal system, particularly federal prisons....<strong>In the US, federal prisons house only about 13 percent of the overall prison population.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>That's true. And there's one other thing to add to that: by 1995, when the crime bill took effect, state and federal policies had long since been committed to mass incarceration. <a href="http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=nps" target="_blank">Between 1978 and 1995</a> the prison population had already increased by more than 250 percent. Between 1995 and its peak in 2009, it increased only another 40 percent&mdash;and even that was due almost entirely to policies already in place.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_prison_population_crime_bill_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 20px;"></p> <p>Depending on your reading of history, mass incarceration was either (a) a reasonable response to a huge crime wave, (b) a defensible idea that got way out of hand, or (c) a racist scourge that destroyed the black community. In fact, there's a good case that it was all three of these things: there really was a big surge in crime in the 70s and 80s that created a growing pool of violent offenders; even the defenders of mass incarceration mostly agree that it had already gone too far by the early 90s; and it's difficult to believe that it ever would have gone as far as it did if it weren't for the contemporary media-political inspired hysteria over black "predators" flooding our neighborhoods.</p> <p>That said, whatever else the 1994 crime bill did, it didn't create the carceral state or even give it much of a boost. That had happened many years before.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 16:53:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 296631 at http://www.motherjones.com The NSA's Credibility Takes Another Hit http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/nsas-credibility-takes-another-hit <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Henry Farrell passes along the news that the NSA is merging two of its major divisions <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/02/10/the-nsa-is-massively-reorganizing-itself-thats-going-to-hurt-its-credibility/" target="_blank">into a single directorate:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The NSA has traditionally had two big responsibilities. The first&nbsp;&mdash; spying and surveillance&nbsp;&mdash; gets the lion's share of public attention (and, it would appear, resources). Yet the second responsibility&nbsp;&mdash; protecting U.S. networks from external attack&nbsp;&mdash; is <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_nsa_logo.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">also very important....<strong>Protecting private U.S. networks and computers from intrusion means creating secure cryptographic standards that make it a lot harder for outsiders to break in.</strong> The problem is that other networks in other countries are likely to start using the same standards. This means that the better that the NSA does at securing U.S. computers and networks against foreign intrusion, the harder it is going to be for the NSA to break into foreign computers and networks that use the same standards. <strong>If, alternatively, it cheats by promoting weak standards, the security of U.S. networks will be weakened, but it will also be easier for the NSA to break into foreign ones.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>As Farrell points out, the Snowden leaks showed that the NSA <em>did</em> cheat: they deliberately tried to introduce weaknesses into crypto standards so they'd be able to break into foreign networks. This makes their merger of offense and defense a big problem:</p> <blockquote> <p>When the NSA had visibly separate organizational structures, with separate budget lines for offense (attacking other people's systems) and defense (defending one's own systems), <strong>it helped reassure outside observers a little that the defense perspective has its internal advocates within the organization, even if those advocates often lost.</strong> In a combined structure, that is no longer the case. Outsiders will find it harder to adjudicate whether the organization is prepared to prioritize defense over offense (at least some of the time).</p> <p>And that has consequences....It may make it less likely that businesses will trust the NSA with information about vulnerabilities....It may further erode the dominance of U.S. security standards (and U.S. firms) in world markets. <strong>It will surely make the cryptographic community more skeptical of cooperating with the NSA.</strong> Because the NSA is the kind of organization it is, it has great difficulty in communicating its true intentions and getting others to believe them, even when it wants to. Split organizational structures (which are costly because they go along with budget lines, factional fighting and so on) are one of the very few ways that it can credibly communicate its priorities to outsiders, and reassure them, if it wants to reassure them, that it is interested in protecting networks as well as subverting them.</p> </blockquote> <p>To be honest, I'm surprised the crypto community&mdash;especially overseas&mdash;is willing to cooperate with the NSA <em>at all</em>, given what we now know. They are plainly pretty obsessed with sneaking backdoors into both crypto standards and network devices. If the Snowden leaks didn't destroy their credibility on this subject forever, I'm not sure what would.</p> <p>In any case, this is some boring bureaucratic news that might have some real-world consequences. You'll probably never hear about it again, so I figured it might be worth hearing about it at least once.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 15:44:03 +0000 Kevin Drum 296621 at http://www.motherjones.com Why Are Millennials In Love With Bernie Sanders? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/why-are-millennials-love-bernie-sanders <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Why are the young 'uns all voting for Bernie? If you can avoid the condescension that typically poisons this topic, it's actually an interesting question. It would hardly be worth asking if Bernie were outpolling Hillary by, say, 60-40 percent among millennials, but lately he seems to be outpolling her by about 85-15 percent. That's crazy. Santa Claus would have a hard time pulling numbers like that against the Grinch.</p> <p>So I'm going to noodle over this. WARNING: I'm not planning to come to any conclusions here. I'm just pondering possibilities sort of randomly and taking a look at whatever relevant data I can find. If you're interested, come along for the ride.</p> <p>First up, John Cole offers what I consider sort of the conventional wisdom. Millennials are attracted to Sanders because they're <a href="https://www.balloon-juice.com/2016/02/10/this-not-hard-they-just-have-a-different-perspective/" target="_blank">pissed off about their grim economic prospects:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>When we are talking about the youth vote, we&rsquo;re talking about the people who have been straight up fucked by the current political establishment....They are <strong>saddled with debt,</strong> their economic opportunities are <strong>far more limited</strong> than that of any recent generation, and while they are working three jobs and paying for the SS benefits of current and soon to be retirees, they&rsquo;re <strong>fed catfood commissions by &ldquo;reasonable&rdquo; Democrats</strong> and told they are being selfish by the Boomer generation&nbsp;&mdash; the generation that while achieving many great things, has left a fucking mess to deal with.</p> </blockquote> <p>So what about that? Here's <a href="https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/household/" target="_blank">median income</a> and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/10/student-loan-debt-median-income_n_3573683.html" target="_blank">student debt</a> among millennials since 2000:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_median_income.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 3px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_student_debt.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>Millennial income has certainly gone down, but no more than any other group up to age 55. Relative to everyone else, there's not really much to see there. On the debt front, there's not much question that college students are being squeezed harder every year. Still, since 2000 student debt has only gone up about $10,000&mdash;and that includes all the folks who have racked up $100,000 bills to go to law school or business school. For most undergrads, it's less than that. As for the cat food commissions, even in the worst case they haven't recommended anything more than very small cuts in the rate of growth of Social Security.</p> <p>Next up, here's the <a href="http://polling.reuters.com/#poll/TR131/filters/RESP_AGE:-4,PARTY_ID_:1/suggested/0" target="_blank">Reuters rolling poll of millennials</a> for the past couple of months:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_sanders_vs_clinton.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 5px;"></p> <p>There are two things to notice. First, Sanders <em>isn't</em> ahead 85-15. He's ahead by about 60-40. That's not all that surprising. Second, although Hillary Clinton has been losing millennial support steadily since the middle of last year, there was a huge change over the course of only five days at the beginning of January. Even taking into account poll noise, that's fairly astonishing. What happened during that week? Nothing comes immediately to mind.</p> <p>What else? <a href="https://newrepublic.com/article/129632/millennial-voters-ask-much-hate" target="_blank">Clio Chang</a> offers a couple of additional economic observations: "While unemployment has dropped to 4.9 percent overall, it is at 16 percent for those between the ages of 16 and 19, and 8.2 percent for 20-to-24-year-olds....Young people today are also much less likely to have employer-sponsored health care than in the past." Here's unemployment among millennials compared to the overall unemployment rate:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_unemployment.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 10px;"></p> <p>They move pretty much in sync, and the unemployment rate for 20-24 years olds is about the same as it was in the mid-2000s. On health care, however, Chang is certainly right. Employer health care coverage has <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/health_policy/trends_hc_1968_2011.htm" target="_blank">steadily</a> <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/quarterly_estimates_2010_2015_q123.pdf" target="_blank">declined</a> since 2000, and the cost of health care borne by workers (premiums + out-of-pocket costs) has <a href="https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Affordability-report3.pdf" target="_blank">gone up 21 percent</a> just in the past six years:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_employer_healthcare_coverage_2.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 3px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_healthcare_cost_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>This is a big deal, though it's worth noting that it's affected everyone, not just millennials. If anything, millennials might be less affected by this since they generally have lower health care needs than older workers.</p> <p><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/17/opinions/burns-millennials-bernie-sanders/" target="_blank">Dasha Burns</a> suggests that college-educated millennials feel betrayed by the lack of good jobs after they graduate: "Morale really hit a low as we were figuring out how to pay (or repay) for college while realizing the promised exchange of higher education for good job was a myth from generations past." But according to EPI, unemployment among college grads has <a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/the-class-of-2015/" target="_blank">recovered to nearly pre-recession levels</a> while the college wage premium has <a href="http://stateofworkingamerica.org/chart/swa-wages-figure-4n-college-wage-premium/" target="_blank">continued to rise steadily.</a> And although college grads suffered income hits during the Great Recession, so did everyone else. In fact, college grads actually <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d14/tables/dt14_502.30.asp" target="_blank">fared better</a> than most other groups:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_college_wage_premium_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 5px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_college_income_loss_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>With the exception of student debt, the problems of millennials generally seem little different than those of middle-aged workers. Both have been hit by higher health care costs. Both have suffered through wage stagnation for decades, followed by wage decline during the Great Recession. Both suffered high unemployment following the financial crash, and both have recovered at about the same rate. But if that's the case, why does Bernie Sanders appeal so strongly to millennials but not to older voters?</p> <p>Needless to say, there's only so much that raw data can tell you, especially when it presents a very mixed picture. Maybe it's dispassionately policy based: they like Bernie's dovish foreign policy and hawkish Wall Street policy. Maybe it's all up to intangibles: millennials are simply more attracted to a passionate, straight-talking idealist than middle-aged voters are. Or, for all the talk of how gloomy millennials are, maybe it's because they <em>haven't</em> given up. They're still willing to take a flyer on a guy who says he can fix things without endless compromise.</p> <p>And assuming it's not just a statistical artifact, there's the mystery of the huge Bernie surge during five days in January. What's up with that?</p> <p>Beats me. As I said at the top, <em>h</em><span class="st"><em>ypotheses non fingo</em>. I don't know what's really going on and I'm not going to pretend otherwise. Take all this data for what it's worth&mdash;which might be nothing.</span></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 14:15:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 296576 at http://www.motherjones.com Marcobot Is Now Programmed to Repeat... Repeat... Repeat http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/marcobot-now-programmed-repeatrepeatrepeat <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A friend passes along Marco Rubio's annoyance with all the folks who are mocking his habit of robotic talking point repetition. Here he is on Sean Hannity's show tonight:</p> <blockquote> <p>First of all, it's silly because, yes, it might be the 80th time that reporter heard it, but if I'm at a town hall in Iowa or New Hampshire, that might be the only time that those people hear it....And it may be the 100th time that a member of the press corps heard it, but it might be the first and only time that that voter gets to hear it.</p> </blockquote> <p>"See how different those two sentences are?" asks my friend. "One says 80th and the other says 100th.&nbsp; And it's 'that reporter' versus 'the press corps.'"</p> <p>Poor Marco. This stuff is now so lodged in his brain that he probably couldn't stop himself if he tried. It's amazing how thoroughly Chris Christie has gotten inside his OODA loop.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 06:20:17 +0000 Kevin Drum 296606 at http://www.motherjones.com President Obama Shows How to Defend Pragmatism the Right Way http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/president-obama-shows-how-defend-pragmatism-right-way <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So did President Obama kinda sorta endorse Hillary Clinton and her pragmatic approach to politics in his Springfield speech today? Not really. He was pretty focused on the bitterness and polarization of contemporary political culture and what <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obama_hillary_clinton.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">we could do about it. But there were a few places where he seemed like he was giving Hillary a little boost <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/02/10/remarks-president-address-illinois-general-assembly" target="_blank">if you cocked your ears just right:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I learned by talking to your constituents that if you were willing to listen, it was possible to bridge a lot of differences....<strong>They understand the difference between realism and idealism;</strong> the difference between responsibility and recklessness. They had the maturity to know what can and cannot be compromised, and to admit the possibility that the other side just might have a point.</p> <p>....Our progress has never been inevitable. It must be fought for, and won by all of us, with the kind of patriotism that our fellow Illinoisan, Adlai Stevenson, once described <strong>not as a &ldquo;short, frenzied outburst of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>....Trying to find common ground doesn't make me less of a Democrat or less of a progressive. <strong>It means I&rsquo;m trying to get stuff done</strong>....Rather than accept the notion that compromise is a sellout to one side, we&rsquo;ve got to insist on the opposite&nbsp;&mdash; that it can be a genuine victory that means progress for all sides.</p> </blockquote> <p>Obama's defense of realism vs. idealism and his irritation toward "short, frenzied" outbursts of emotion could be read as implicit criticisms of Bernie Sanders. Likewise, his defense of his progressive record includes a deliberate echo of Hillary Clinton's description of herself as a "progressive who likes to get things done."</p> <p>It's not much, and it was relatively subtle. Still, even when he acknowledged that our democracy "seems stuck" and "we have to find a new way of doing business," he didn't endorse anything revolutionary. Quite the contrary. It became yet another chance to urge pragmatism and hard work: "In a big, complicated democracy like ours, if we can&rsquo;t compromise, by definition, we can&rsquo;t govern ourselves."</p> <p>It's unfortunate for Hillary that she can't defend this kind of politics effectively. Obama somehow makes the hard slog of slow change sound noble and heroic. Hillary makes it sound workmanlike at best and defeatist at worst. She may not ever have the simple kind of elevator pitch that Bernie Sanders has, but if she could make her brand of pragmatism sound just a little more uplifting&mdash;a little more vital&mdash;I'll bet she'd be having a lot fewer problems right now.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 06:10:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 296596 at http://www.motherjones.com Uninsured Rate Ticks Up a Bit at End of 2015 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/uninsured-rate-ticks-bit-end-2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Every quarter I take a look at the CDC's survey of the uninsured to see how Obamacare is doing. So far it's doing pretty well. However, the CDC data is always six months behind, and a few days ago I noticed that <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/188045/uninsured-rate-fourth-quarter-2015.aspx" target="_blank">Gallup's more timely survey</a> showed an increase in the uninsured rate over the last two quarters of 2015. I figured I'd have to wait another month <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cdc_uninsured_q3_2015.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">to see if the CDC confirmed this, but their <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/quarterly_estimates_2010_2015_q123.pdf" target="_blank">latest data</a> came out earlier than I expected. Sure enough, in the third quarter they show a small increase in the uninsured.</p> <p>Unfortunately, I don't have anything trenchant to say about this. The data is a little noisy, and this might be nothing more than the usual bouncing around. Or it might represent a normal uptick at the end of the year, as people lose insurance before the new signup period. It's probably not really possible to say until we have quite a bit more data. And it's worth noting that the uninsured rate is still more than a percentage point below the original CBO projection.</p> <p>But the raw data is the raw data. Good or bad, it's here for everyone to noodle over.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 05:03:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 296586 at http://www.motherjones.com Does Obama Still Have That Old-Time Magic? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/does-obama-still-have-old-time-magic <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In a few minutes President Obama will be back in Springfield making a speech addressed to his supporters. "You've taken on the painstaking work of progress," he says. "You've helped us find that middle ground where real change is won....I hope you'll tune in today at 2:30 p.m. Eastern." <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Obama_FDR.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Andrew Sprung figures this is basically going to be <a href="http://xpostfactoid.blogspot.com/2016/02/coming-today-obama-message-for-hillary.html" target="_blank">an endorsement of Hillary Clinton:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Obama just sent an email to supporters announcing a speech to be delivered this afternoon. I imagine it will be a message "for" Clinton&nbsp;&mdash; both to support her and to model a coherent pitch for incremental change.</p> <p>....Then there's "the painstaking work of progress" and the 'middle ground where real change is won." Those are memes pointed at this moment, in which the frontrunners in both parties are calling for radical, fundamental change.... Incrementalism is a tough sell, but Obama has made it throughout his career, and he does so more effectively than Clinton. He's more successful because he's better at articulating the long-term goal and how the incremental steps move toward them, as well as the historical framework in which those steps fit.</p> </blockquote> <p>But will it work? Personally, I've always viewed Obama as a cautious, pragmatic, mainstream liberal. But his strongest supporters never saw him that way. They really believed he was going to revolutionize Washington DC and end all the bickering. He'd pass universal health care, rein in Wall Street once and for all, and stop climate change in its tracks.</p> <p>But he didn't. And the conventional wisdom says that his supporters from 2007&mdash;when he first went to Springfield to announce his candidacy&mdash;are disappointed in him. He turned out to be just another go-along-get-along guy, and now he wants to foist a go-along-get-along gal on us. Sorry. No sale. We're feeling the Bern these days.</p> <p>We'll see. But I will say this: If Obama really wants to help Hillary Clinton, he can't afford too much subtlety. Any criticism of radical change will be read by liberals as primarily an attack on Donald Trump unless he makes it crystal clear what he's talking about. Tune in at 2:30 and find out!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 10 Feb 2016 19:21:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 296536 at http://www.motherjones.com