Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2009/08/succession-politics-and-health-care-reform/politics/2002/11/.http%3A/www.boston.com/news/politics/2002/11/http%3A/www.%24www.bidpalace.com/photos/whitehouse/3818150328 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Trump Has No Idea What's In His Health Care Bill http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/trump-has-no-idea-whats-his-health-care-bill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I'm going to go out and throw some frisbees around. In the meantime, enjoy John Dickerson's interview with Donald Trump <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-interview-full-transcript-face-the-nation/" target="_blank">about his health care bill:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>JOHN DICKERSON: So but in the bill, as it was analyzed, there were two problems. One, and you talked about this with Congressman Robert Aderholt, who brought you the example of the 64-year-old who under Obamacare the premiums--</p> <p>PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But that was a long time ago, John.</p> <p>JOHN DICKERSON: But has that been fixed?</p> <p>PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: <strong>Totally fixed.</strong></p> <p>JOHN DICKERSON: How?</p> <p>PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: <strong>How? We've made many changes to the bill.</strong> You know, this bill is--</p> <p>JOHN DICKERSON: What kind though?</p> <p>PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: --very much different than it was three weeks ago.</p> <p>JOHN DICKERSON: Help us explain because there are people--</p> <p>PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The bill--</p> <p>JOHN DICKERSON: --out there wondering what kind of changes.</p> <p>PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: <strong>Let me explain. Let me explain it to you.</strong></p> <p>JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.</p> <p>PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: <strong>This bill is much different than it was a little while ago, okay? This bill has evolved.</strong> And we didn't have a failure on the bill. You know, it was reported like a failure. Now, the one thing I wouldn't have done again is put a timeline. That's why on the second iteration, I didn't put a timeline.</p> <p>But we have now pre-existing conditions in the bill. We have -- we've set up a pool for the pre-existing conditions so that the premiums can be allowed to fall. <strong>We're taking across all of the borders or the lines so that insurance companies can compete--</strong></p> <p>JOHN DICKERSON: But that's not in--</p> <p>PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: --nationwide.</p> <p>JOHN DICKERSON: --this bill. The borders are not in--</p> <p>PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: <strong>Of course, it's in.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Needless to say, it's not in. It might be in a future bill, but it's not in the current bill. On the bright side, I'm impressed that Trump even knows about the high-risk pool, even if he doesn't quite know what it's called.</p> <p>We also learned that Trump's response to North Korea's missile test is that he's not happy. What does that mean? "I would not be happy. If he does a nuclear test, I will not be happy."</p> <p>Roger that.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 30 Apr 2017 15:48:38 +0000 Kevin Drum 331631 at http://www.motherjones.com Kevin's Photography Tip O' the Day http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/kevins-photography-tip-o-day-0 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's a useful tip. Suppose you do something stupid and crack the body of your camera. This happened to, um, a friend of mine recently, who quickly learned that ordinary superglue is useless. It works about as well as kindergarten paste. What you need is glue that's specifically designed to work on polypropylene and similar plastics. Allow the Glue Guy to explain:<sup>1</sup></p> <p><iframe align="middle" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/aZlKvxBRNsA?start=0" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>My friend stupidly left his camera on the roof of his car before pulling out of a parking lot. What an idiot! The camera fell off at the first stop sign, producing a nasty crack in one corner. The two sides of the crack were pulling away from each other with considerable force, but this Loctite stuff worked great anyway. It wasn't especially pretty when it was done, but it's stayed solidly glued together for over a month now.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>I have not been paid for this endorsement. As far as you know, anyway.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 29 Apr 2017 18:45:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 331611 at http://www.motherjones.com Wednesday Was the Most Dangerous Day So Far of the Trump Presidency http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/wednesday-was-most-dangerous-day-so-far-trump-presidency <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>By now we all know the story of President Trump's sudden U-turn on NAFTA earlier this week. But just to refresh your memories, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/i-was-all-set-to-terminate-inside-trumps-sudden-shift-on-nafta/2017/04/27/0452a3fa-2b65-11e7-b605-33413c691853_story.html?utm_term=.a55589fd275e" target="_blank">here is the <em>Washington Post</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;I was all set to terminate,&rdquo; Trump said in an Oval Office interview Thursday night. &ldquo;I looked forward to terminating. I was going to do it.&rdquo;...At one point, he turned to Kushner, who was standing near his desk, and asked, &ldquo;Was I ready to terminate NAFTA?&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;Yeah,&rdquo; Kushner said, before explaining the case he made to the president: &ldquo;I said, &lsquo;Look, there&rsquo;s plusses and minuses to doing it,&rsquo; and either way he would have ended up in a good place.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>The basic story here is that Trump is a child. He was all ready to pull the trigger, but then his advisors <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-says-nafta-partners-persuaded-him-to-keep-u-s-in-trade-pact-1493320127" target="_blank">brought in a colorful map</a> showing that lots of red states and counties would be harmed by pulling out of NAFTA. Eventually Trump calmed down and normalcy reigned for another day.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_map_saved_nafta.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></p> <p>But here's the part of the story I still don't understand: what happened on Wednesday that suddenly put a burr up Trump's ass to pull out of NAFTA? Just a few weeks ago he sent a <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2017/03/donald-trump-nafta-changes-reality-236712" target="_blank">list of negotiating points</a> to Congress, and both Mexico and Canada have agreed the treaty needs some updating. Things were moving along fairly normally, and then suddenly Trump woke up one morning and decided to light off a nuclear bomb.</p> <p>What was that all about? Was it really because of Trump's obsession over having some kind of accomplishment to show for his first hundred days? Did he eat a taco that didn't agree with him? Did Steve Bannon have a late-night talk with him?</p> <p>This was the reason all along that Trump was a far more dangerous candidate than Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. From a liberal point of view, his incompetence was a bonus that might restrict the short-term damage he could do. But Trump also brought to the table a noxious racist appeal, an ugly nationalism, an appalling level of ignorance, and a mercurial temperament. All of these were on display Wednesday. Apparently out of nowhere, and for no particular reason, he just strolled into the Oval Office and decided he wanted to formally withdraw from NAFTA.</p> <p>Why? And what are the odds he's going to do this again on something more important? Something that, for whatever reason, his aides can't talk him out of with a colorful map and another diet Coke?</p> <p>I'm not sure everyone realizes that this is the most dangerous thing Trump has done so far. It was a close-run thing, but next time it might not be. And we still have 1,361 days left to go of Trump's presidency.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 29 Apr 2017 17:49:41 +0000 Kevin Drum 331621 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 28 April 2017 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/friday-cat-blogging-28-april-2017 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Our cats' favorite activity is playing under the sheets after we strip the bed and put on freshly laundered bedclothes. Last week I stuck the camera under the sheets and snapped a few photos while the cats went nuts. Look at those eyes! Like saucers! This was taken during one of the few microseconds when Hilbert wasn't just a blur.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_2017_04_28.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 0px 0px;" width="630"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 28 Apr 2017 19:09:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 331591 at http://www.motherjones.com GDP Growth Anemic? Blame the Weather! http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/gdp-growth-anemic-blame-weather <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A reader emailed this morning suggesting that GDP growth in the first quarter was low because GDP growth in the first quarter is always low:</p> <blockquote> <p>Something I&rsquo;ve long wondered is if the seasonal adjustments BLS is making on these numbers is artificially skewing the 1Q results every year. As you recall 1Q09 was the bottom of the Great Recession, it feels like they are overcorrecting for that phenomenon. When you look at the quarterly progression of every year (minus 2015 it looks like) 1Q sucks and then you get q/q improvement during the year.</p> </blockquote> <p>I remember having read some <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/upshot/why-you-cant-put-faith-in-reports-of-first-quarter-economic-slumps.html" target="_blank">criticisms</a> of BEA's seasonal adjustments, so I got curious. <em>Is</em> Q1 growth routinely lower than later quarters?</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gdp_growth_by_quarter_1.gif" style="border: 1px solid #cccccc; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></p> <p><strong>[NOTE:</strong> The original chart I used showed GDP growth compared to the previous year. That's not what BEA reports. The headline number is annualized growth from the previous quarter. I've revised the chart, which significantly revises the text below too.]</p> <p>On average, reported first quarter growth really is considerably lower than it is in the other three quarters. Nor is this an issue of unusually high revisions from the advance print to the final print. For the past seven years, the advance number has been a little <em>higher</em> on average than the final revision.</p> <p>FWIW, if you look at GDP compared to the previous year (i.e., Q1 of 2017 compared to Q1 of 2016 etc.), average growth rates are about the same in all four quarters. This is probably a better measure.</p> <p>While we're on the subject, though, the weather is one of my favorite topics when it comes to making excuses for poor growth. <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/28/business/economy/economy-gross-domestic-product-first-quarter.html" target="_blank">Here is Nelson Schwartz in the <em>New York Times</em> today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Michelle Meyer, chief United States economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said healthier business investment indicated that the overall economy was performing better than the headline numbers would suggest. <strong>&ldquo;Warm weather meant consumers weren&rsquo;t spending as much on electricity and natural gas and home heating,&rdquo;</strong> Ms. Meyer said. &ldquo;Government spending can also be affected by seasonal factors, and defense spending is especially volatile.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Here is Nelson Schwartz in the <em>New York Times</em> <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/01/business/economy/us-economy-barely-grew-in-first-quarter.html" target="_blank">three years ago:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In their initial estimate for growth in the months of January, February and March, government statisticians said output expanded at an annual rate of just 0.1 percent, <strong>although experts noted that figure was affected by one-time headwinds like unusually cold weather</strong> and slower inventory gains after businesses aggressively built up stockpiles in the second half of 2013.</p> </blockquote> <p>Too hot, too cold, the weather is never just right, is it?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 28 Apr 2017 19:04:44 +0000 Kevin Drum 331586 at http://www.motherjones.com Presidenting Is Hard http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/presidenting-hard <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Poor Donald Trump. Being president is <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-100days-idUSKBN17U0CA" target="_blank">harder than he thought:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>"I loved my previous life. I had so many things going," Trump told Reuters in an interview. <strong>"This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier."</strong>...Midway through a discussion about Chinese President Xi Jinping, the president paused to hand out copies of what he said were the latest figures from the 2016 electoral map.</p> <p>"Here, you can take that, that's the final map of the numbers," the Republican president said from his desk in the Oval Office, handing out maps of the United States with areas he won marked in red. <strong>"It&rsquo;s pretty good, right? The red is obviously us."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>There are three takeaways from this. First, Trump's old life was pretty easy because other people ran his companies and he didn't really do much. Second, he thought presidents just consulted their guts and made decisions, sort of like <em>Celebrity Apprentice</em>, and then stuff magically happened. Third, he still can't maintain discussion of a real topic (Chinese President Xi Jinping) for more than a few moments before getting sidetracked by one of his obsessions (his huge victory in November). Here are the maps he handed out. He obviously had copies made just for the occasion:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">here's a pic from reuters of Trump with the electoral maps he showed to reporters yesterday <a href="https://t.co/1X3edpeJDQ">pic.twitter.com/1X3edpeJDQ</a></p> &mdash; Gideon Resnick (@GideonResnick) <a href="https://twitter.com/GideonResnick/status/857948601984614405">April 28, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>But Trump still hasn't learned his lesson. I've dealt with lots of people who will regale you endlessly with tales of how complicated their own business is, but the less they know about some other business the easier they think it is to fix. For example:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Trump tells Reuters: I want to see peace with Israel &amp; Palestinians. There is no reason there's not peace between them - none whatsoever</p> &mdash; Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) <a href="https://twitter.com/BarakRavid/status/857823195927367680">April 28, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Sure, Donald. You can't even get Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon to stop squabbling, but the Middle East? Piece of cake. There's no reason to think this is a difficult problem that requires a lot of hard work. It's just that all the presidents before you have been really, really stupid.</p> <p>Still, they were all bright enough to know that if you want to get things done, you need to get people who support your agenda running the bureaucracy. <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/04/27/so-far-trump-gets-a-failing-grade-at-managing-the-executive-branch/?utm_term=.621946fc55e3" target="_blank">Trump still hasn't figured that out:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_presidential_nominations_100_days.gif" style="border: 1px solid #cccccc; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></p> <p>It's hard to find Republicans to work in the federal government in the first place, and harder still to find Republicans willing to work for a man-child like Trump. Even at that, though, he's barely even trying. Not counting cabinet positions, he's managed to nominate about three people per week. That's pathetic.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 28 Apr 2017 18:11:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 331571 at http://www.motherjones.com After Only 3 Months Covering Trump, 63 Percent of White House Reporters Have Been Lied To http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/after-only-3-months-covering-trump-63-percent-white-house-reporters-have-been-lie <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>Politico</em> has released its fourth annual survey of the White House press corps. <a href="http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/04/28/poll-trump-white-house-press-corps-journalists-215051" target="_blank">Here's an excerpt:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_politico_press_survey_2017.gif" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></p> <p>A full 63 percent of the press corps has been lied to by the Trump administration. It might even be as high as 88 percent. And that's in just the first three months.</p> <p>For comparison, the only other time <em>Politico</em> asked this question was in 2014. After six years of covering the Obama White House, 50% of the reporters said they had been lied to. That's not exactly a result to be proud of, but I imagine that if Trump is still in office in 2022, his number will be hovering right around 99 percent.<sup>1</sup></p> <p><sup>1</sup>The remaining one percent will be a reporter who had just been assigned to the White House beat the week before.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 28 Apr 2017 16:23:50 +0000 Kevin Drum 331556 at http://www.motherjones.com Paul Ryan Isn't Even Trying to Pass a Health Care Bill Anymore http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/paul-ryan-isnt-even-trying-pass-health-care-bill-anymore <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The <em>LA Times</em> reports that House Republicans have steadfastly refused to reach out to Democrats in an effort to pass their health care bill. This is no surprise. They're well aware of how they suckered Democrats in 2009, killing months of time in "talks" even though none of them ever planned to support Obamacare. They figure Democrats would do the same to them, and they're right.</p> <p><a href="http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-obamacare-republican-bubble-20170427-story.html" target="_blank">But then we get this:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>And senior House Republicans and White House officials have almost <strong>completely shut out doctors, hospitals, patient advocates and others who work in the healthcare system,</strong> industry officials say, despite pleas from many healthcare leaders to seek an alternative path that doesn&rsquo;t threaten protections for tens of millions of Americans.</p> <p>....Health insurers, who initially found House Republicans and Trump administration officials open to suggestions for improving insurance markets, say it is increasingly difficult to have realistic discussions, according to numerous industry officials. <strong>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re not interested in how health policy actually works,&rdquo;</strong> said one insurance company official, who asked not to be identified discussing conversations with GOP officials. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s incredibly frustrating.&rdquo;</p> <p>Another longtime healthcare lobbyist, who also did not want to be identified criticizing Republicans, said he&rsquo;d never seen legislation developed with such disregard for expert input. <strong>&ldquo;It is totally divorced from reality,&rdquo;</strong> he said.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's increasingly obvious that Republicans aren't actually trying to pass a health care bill. They just want to be able to tell their base that they tried. And President Trump wants to erase the taste of defeat from the first health care bill.</p> <p>If House Republicans were serious, they'd engage with the health care industry. They haven't. If they were serious they'd care about the CBO score. They don't. If they were serious they'd be crafting a bill that could pass Senate reconciliation rules. They aren't even trying. If Senate Republicans were serious they'd be weighing in with a bill of their own. They aren't wasting their time.</p> <p>In the beginning, I think Paul Ryan really did want to pass something, mainly so that it would make his tax cut plan easier to pass. But he's given up on that. At this point he just wants a piece of paper that gets 218 votes and demonstrates that the Republican caucus isn't hopelessly inept. He knows it will be DOA in the Senate, but at least it will get health care off his plate once and for all. Then he can move on to cutting taxes on the rich, which is what he really cares about. And he'll have no trouble rounding up votes for <em>that</em>.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 28 Apr 2017 15:56:41 +0000 Kevin Drum 331551 at http://www.motherjones.com Economic Growth in the First Quarter Sucked http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/economic-growth-first-quarter-sucked <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>GDP growth was terrible in the first quarter, <a href="https://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/gdpnewsrelease.htm" target="_blank">rising at an annual rate of only 0.7 percent.</a> That's the worst quarterly performance in two years:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gdp_2017_q1.gif" style="border: 1px solid #cccccc; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></p> <p>Unfortunately, the details behind the headline number are bad too. Growth was driven almost entirely by investment in buildings, both residential and nonresidential. Personal consumption was up an anemic 0.3 percent. The most common excuse for this miserable performance is that it's for the first quarter, and first quarters are always bad. There's some truth to this: first quarter growth has averaged 1.0 percent since 2010. However, we've had a pretty mild winter in 2017, so there's no weather excuse this year.</p> <p>We'll see. Maybe the revised numbers will be better. Maybe we'll make up for this in the second quarter. Maybe.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 28 Apr 2017 15:18:01 +0000 Kevin Drum 331546 at http://www.motherjones.com Why Is President Trump Trying So Hard to Piss Off South Korea? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/why-president-trump-trying-so-hard-piss-south-korea <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Let me get this straight. First, Donald Trump pisses off South Korea by parroting the Chinese president's claim that Korea was once part of China. Then he pisses them off again by saying the USS Carl Vinson is on its way to the Yellow Sea when, in fact, it's cruising around in Indonesia. Then, today, he pisses them off <em>again</em> by saying he might terminate our trade agreement with them, and then demanding that they pay us a billion dollars for the anti-missile system we're installing there.</p> <p>But...we need good relations with South Korea if we're planning to take on North Korea in some way. Right? Why would we be going out of our way to piss them off repeatedly?</p> <p>It is a mystery. It is a Trumpism. Perhaps Trump still doesn't realize that it's not like the old days, when doing something stupid would get him some attention for a couple of news cycles and then go away. I thought maybe he'd finally figured that out after the whole Obama wiretapping fiasco.<sup>1</sup> I guess not.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>In retrospect, it's pretty obvious that he was delighted with those tweets at first because they turned the spotlight back on him and that's all he wanted. He figured it would be like the campaign, when he'd do this kind of stuff, bluff his way through it for a couple of days, and then everyone would get tired and let it go. I imagine he was pretty shocked that everyone took it seriously for weeks on end. <em>Come on! It was a weekend tweet! It's not like I'm the presi&mdash; Oh.</em></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 28 Apr 2017 05:08:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 331531 at http://www.motherjones.com The Most Important Free Speech Question Is: Who Decides? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/most-important-free-speech-question-who-decides <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <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="https://newrepublic.com/article/142218/colleges-right-reject-hateful-speakers-like-ann-coulter" 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="https://newrepublic.com/minutes/142325/ann-coulters-berkeley-controversy-isnt-really-free-speech" 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 http://www.motherjones.com Lunchtime Photo http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/lunchtime-photo-15 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <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="http://www.asceoc.org/project/tustin_mcas_blimp_hangars" target="_blank">biggest wooden frame structures in the world.</a> You can read a book about them <a href="http://www.militarymuseum.org/NAS-Santa-Ana-History.pdf" target="_blank">here.</a> Or watch a 25-minute video about them <a href="http://www.tustinca.org/depts/ed/legacy/legacy/hangars.asp" 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="https://www.motherjones.com/files/blog_lat_blimp_story_0.jpg" 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="http://www.ocregister.com/2013/04/29/eight-memorable-oc-film-shoots/" 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 http://www.motherjones.com The Dry Bulk Market Is More Exciting Than You Think http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/dry-bulk-market-more-exciting-you-think <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The <em>Wall Street Journal</em> has an <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-dryshipss-founder-could-profit-from-stocks-wild-ride-1493297774" 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 http://www.motherjones.com Mexico Finally Has Donald Trump Figured Out http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/mexico-finally-has-donald-trump-figured-out <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <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="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/27/world/americas/mexico-trump-nafta-trade.html" 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 http://www.motherjones.com Chart of the Day: Obamacare's Triumph—Except in the South http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/chart-day-obamacares-triumph%E2%80%94except-south <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The CDC has a new report out on the chronically uninsured. <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/erchronicunins_1016_f.pdf" 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 http://www.motherjones.com Quote of the Day: This Shit Is Hard http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/quote-day-shit-hard <!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.politico.com/story/2017/04/27/the-education-of-donald-trump-237669" 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="http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/27/the-education-of-donald-trump-237669" 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 http://www.motherjones.com When Can We Stop Pretending That Republicans Care About the Deficit? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/when-can-we-stop-pretending-republicans-care-about-deficit <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/26/us/politics/trump-tax-plan-budget-deficit.html" 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 http://www.motherjones.com It's Not a Big Mystery Why Jason Chaffetz Is Quitting Congress http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/chaffetz <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <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="https://twitter.com/jasoninthehouse">@jasoninthehouse</a> now says he's got to be OOO for surgery ASAP <a href="https://t.co/VHYUMZ8nhS">pic.twitter.com/VHYUMZ8nhS</a></p> &mdash; Garance Franke-Ruta (@thegarance) <a href="https://twitter.com/thegarance/status/857398727522361344">April 27, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" 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 http://www.motherjones.com One Chart Shows How the Trump Tax Plan Will Totally Pay For Itself http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/one-chart-shows-how-trump-tax-plan-will-totally-pay-itself <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's the first quick-and-dirty estimate of how much Donald Trump's tax plan would cost. It comes from the <a href="http://www.crfb.org/blogs/fiscal-factcheck-how-much-will-trumps-tax-plan-cost" 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 http://www.motherjones.com Lunchtime Photo http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/lunchtime-photo-13 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <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 http://www.motherjones.com It's Embarrassing To Be an American These Days http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/its-embarrassing-be-american-these-days <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <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="https://t.co/WVWhpPAZp0">pic.twitter.com/WVWhpPAZp0</a></p> &mdash; Matthew Nussbaum (@MatthewNussbaum) <a href="https://twitter.com/MatthewNussbaum/status/857290028250263552">April 26, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" 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 http://www.motherjones.com Trump Tax Plan Unveiled! http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/trump-tax-plan-unveiled <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <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="https://t.co/WVWhpPAZp0">pic.twitter.com/WVWhpPAZp0</a></p> &mdash; Matthew Nussbaum (@MatthewNussbaum) <a href="https://twitter.com/MatthewNussbaum/status/857290028250263552">April 26, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" 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 deduction </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="http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2017/04/25/donald_trump_s_corporate_tax_cuts_can_t_pass_congress.html" 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="https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/reports/52370-budeconoutlook.pdf" 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 http://www.motherjones.com What's Up With Food Service Employment in San Diego? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/whats-up-food-employment-san-diego <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <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="https://t.co/U8lbwdQtHg">pic.twitter.com/U8lbwdQtHg</a></p> &mdash; Mark J. Perry (@Mark_J_Perry) <a href="https://twitter.com/Mark_J_Perry/status/856972132844281857">April 25, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" 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="https://www.sandiego.gov/treasurer/minimum-wage-program" 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="http://www.seattle.gov/laborstandards/ordinances/minimum-wage" target="_blank">Seattle</a> and <a href="http://sfgov.org/olse/minimum-wage-ordinance-mwo" 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 http://www.motherjones.com Trump Aide Ivanka Trump Setting Up New Trump Foundation http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/trump-aide-ivanka-trump-setting-new-trump-foundation <!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://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/this-is-amazing-6" 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="https://www.axios.com/ivanka-trump-berlin-visit-business-entrepreneurship-fund-2379517583.html" 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 http://www.motherjones.com Republicans Don't Want to Eat Their Own Dog Food http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/republicans-dont-want-eat-their-own-dog-food <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <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="http://www.vox.com/2017/4/25/15429982/gop-exemption-ahca-amendment" target="_blank">But it doesn't apply to Congress.</a> They are exempted. Just to refresh your memory, <a href="https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/18022" 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 http://www.motherjones.com