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Today in Stupid

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Today’s winner in stupid punditry goes to Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry for his piece about Vox and “the intellectual stagnation of the left.” I’m not even going to address the idea that Vox is somehow on the left, which it is only if our definition of left is “slightly left of center.” For conservatives who don’t pay attention to the actual left, it’s all pretty much the same. But what’s the problem with the modern left? We are so out of touch with our boring old ideas:

Meanwhile, two things are particularly striking about the current Democratic agenda. The first is that it’s so tired. Raising the minimum wage, raising taxes on high earners, tightening environmental regulation — these are all ideas from the ’60s. The second is that nobody on the left seems to be aware of it.

Oh, those liberals and their tired ideas like wages and the environment. BORING!!! The cool kids are totally into the extra fresh ideas of Herbert Hoover’s economic model, Gilded Age taxation structures, and belching smokestacks. And look, the conservative writers Gobry talks of as counter to the boring old Democrats are very, very forward looking:

A flurry of innovative young writers like Yuval Levin, Reihan Salam, Ross Douthat, Tim Carney, and Avik Roy put out fresh, 21st-century ideas on everything from tax reform to health care to social mobility to poverty to curtailing the power of Big Business. Many of these ideas are now compiled in a seminal new book. And many of these ideas have been adopted by the most prominent GOP politicians and presidential candidates. Only with the right leader will the GOP truly embrace what’s been called reform conservatism, but it’s clear that the GOP is becoming the party of ideas again.

Totally the party of all the ideas! There’s Ross Douthat, longing for projecting his imagined view of 1950s gender and sexual relations onto the American people! And Reihan Salam promoting a permanent occupation of Iraq! Why, I bet these writers in this seminal book new also promote such cutting-edge ideas as busting teacher unions, destroying the social welfare net, expanding dirty energy production, and bombing nations of brown people! Why, I wonder if these groundbreaking ideas might, just maybe, promote the interests of the rich? These are ideas never before thought of in American history! I for one feel the left is permanently doomed by these brazen new models of thought. Thomas Kuhn wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolutions precisely to describe this level of brilliance and insight! We will never be the same!

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  • Fresh Young Conservative

    Meester Loomis, can I interest you in a cutting edge brand spanking new fresh off the vine idea called tax cuts for the rich?

    I attribute your lack of response to you being bowled over by the freshness of this new idea and being so excited by it you cannot speak.

    PARTY OF IDEAS!

    I would tell you about my fresh new idea called restricting voting for minorities, but I’m not sure your weak, old, liberal heart could handle it.

    • Mike G

      fresh, 21st-century ideas

      Like a 6000-year old flat earth, and denial of climate science.

    • gocart mozart

      To be fair, the “Jesus riding a dinosaur” idea is relatively new as is the “Religious freedom of corporations” idea. Palin and Golmert, et al are innovators on the cutting edges of stupid.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        they must be well loaded up with teatnus shots for all the fooling with dull rusty blades

      • tsam

        I have to admit, the Jesus on a dinosaur thing does make me laugh. I’d be more mortified by it if there weren’t hundreds of shows on television claiming that ghosts are real, showing dudes out hunting them and shit. It’s not that weird that people believe in that sort of stuff.

  • Trollhattan

    Meanwhile, two things are particularly striking about the current Democratic agenda.

    False flag! He didn’t write “Democrat agenda” so is totally a phony.

    Suck it, libs, we’ll factcheck yo ass.

  • Brandon

    Avik Roy? hahahahahaha

    #voxpitch

    • Brandon

      wait, in my rush to ridicule, I misread who was saying what. Still, you have to be an idiot to promote Avik Roy.

      • drkrick

        Worse than Douthat?

  • Yeggman

    Maybe it’s my inner luddite speaking but “21st century ideas” and its various derivatives are some of the most obnoxious phrases around. Even if we were to pretend that most of the ideas given that label are actually new novelty is not an argument, which you’d think someone who calls themselves conservative would understand.

    • rea

      You’d think someone who calls themselves conservative would not be proudly announcing that his political philosophy is less than 14 years old, and his opponents are old fuddy-duddies with 50-year old ideas.

      • postmodulator

        The first inkling I had that the modern conservative movement was full of shit — I was nine or ten — was reading a newspaper columnist asking why these “conservatives” were “obsessed with tinkering with the Constitution.” Our younger readers won’t remember that all through the 80s and early 90s we had to hear about antiabortion amendments, school prayer amendments, balanced budget amendments, amendments to outlaw flag burning…

    • DrDick

      Particularly when his “21st century ideas” has inverted the “1” and the “2”.

      • Warren Terra

        “Inverted” would be 51st century ideas. You mean “transposed”.

  • Jordan

    1) I continue to grumble to myself about people using “epistemic closure” to mean something like “I just get info from a set of interlocking sources”. IT MEANS WHETHER AN EPISTEMIC OPERATOR IS PRESERVED BY LOGICAL ENTAILMENT!*

    2) Structure of Scientific Revolutions is really good!

    3) “The word “derp” entered our lexicon to mock forehead-slappingly stupid statements, defined by the liberal blogger Noah Smith as “the constant, repetitive reiteration of strong priors.”

    NO IT DID NOT. IT ORIGINATED WITH THE SOUTH PARK GUYS. SPECIFICALLY IT STARTED WITH THEM SMELLING USED UNDERWEAR.

    *No, it doesn’t, in general. Still.

    • stubydoo

      I looked up “derp” in Urban Dictionary.

      Definition number 1 is the South Park one.

      The Noah Smith one eventually appears at number 13.

      And for those who are into such things, definition number 19 is an unusual sex act.

      Definition number 2 might also be worth considering.

      But no-one has the actual correct definition.

      A derp is an exercise in which I work my triceps and pectoral muscles by lowering then raising my body while gripping two lateral bars which are in a fixed position.

      • Jordan

        Usually I don’t get things on LGM because I am not well read or well watched enough. Now I don’t get something because I am not well worked out enough. Le sigh.

        • the NSA

          Oh, you’re well watched enough. Trust us.

        • stubydoo

          The usual spelling for my definition is “dip”

          • Jordan

            doh! In my defense, I’m not very smart.

      • Anonymous

        Uh, “dip”.

    • joe from Lowell

      I continue to grumble to myself about people using “epistemic closure” to mean something like “I just get info from a set of interlocking sources”. IT MEANS WHETHER AN EPISTEMIC OPERATOR IS PRESERVED BY LOGICAL ENTAILMENT!

      Nice.

      If you’re going to have a pet peeve, make it an original one.

      • Jordan

        :).

        As many philosophy dorks do, I used to be annoyed by uses of “begging the question” to mean “raises the question.” But that is overplayed now, so I’m now going full philosophy-nerd with “epistemic closure”.

        • Hogan

          It’s true. Even philoproles like me are annoyed by “begging the question.”

          • Jordan

            Yeah, I lied, I’m still annoyed.

            But at least there is a legitimate number of people who use “begging the question” that way. Only politics dorks use “epistemic closure” to mean “That person only takes in fox news/redstate/townhall” or whatever. There is still time to make debates about whether knowledge is closed under multi-premise entailment matter!*

            *no, there is not.

            • The thing is, “begs the question” in the sense of “raises the question” is not just an idiomatic expression but a natural one: “beg” being akin to “ask, request, demand, implore”, the plain meaning can be read as “begs us to ask the question”.

              That is: even in a universe where the jargon expression “begging the question” was not created by an awkward translation from Latin, the words “begs the question” would still make sense to an alien using a English-to-Xlqurlx dictionary.

              • Guest

                THANK YOU. I’m so sick of people bitching that most people use “begging the question” to mean what it LITERALLY MEANS.

      • Katya

        Mine is people misusing the expression “Hobson’s choice” to mean a choice between two equally crappy things. Hobson’s choice means “take it or leave it.” Grgh.

        If you’re going to have a pet peeve, make it a nerdy one.

        • Malaclypse

          My boss has used “irregardless” on an almost-daily basis for the eight years I’ve been here.

          • Hogan

            Makes me think of this.

        • Bloix

          You are allowed to have this pet peeve only if you know who Hobson was. No googling!

          • Lee Rudolph

            The first prize in the competition is being photographed mounted on a dead horse!

        • Streep

          the other one is a Sophie’s choice

  • dmsilev

    If you’ll accept blatherings on Fox News as ‘punditry’, the winner really has to be this, in which a Fox panelist argues, apparently with a straight face, that the World Cup was designed as a way of distracting people from Obama’s evil ways.

    • Nobdy

      You can’t underestimate a sneaky Kenyan who had the foresight to plant a false birth announcement in an American newspaper because he knew, as the infant son of a teenaged mother and a black foreign national, that he would eventually be a viable presidential candidate.

      Someone that sneaky? He’s going to know how to start a world cup tournament back in 1930 well before he needs it and then use that tournament to hide BENGHAZI! BENGHAZI!

      • JMP

        Of course, in Fox-land Obama is always going through the worst moments of his presidency, beset by whatever imaginary scandal of the day only those watch Fox credulously believe in, and so is in constant need of distracting the American people from BENGHAZIRSFASTFURIOUSPOWCOMINGHOMEGATE.

        • joe from Lowell

          Oh, you think that’s sneaky?

          That Krafty Kenyan is going to sneak in cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits, and he’s going to do it under the radar so that nobody notices it’s happening.

    • tsam

      My favorite was the dust-up over Santa being a white guy, and some lady’s insistence that Jesus was white!

      Also War on Christmas (and the War on everything else that decent, hard working (ie–affluent white) Americans love and cherish.

    • Keith Ablow is arguably the dumbest man on Fox, and that is a distinction that takes a long record of sterling achievement to attain.

      • Sly

        Keith Ablow is arguably the dumbest man on Fox

        No one on Fox is dumber than the three airheads who host Fox and Friends, even if you treat them as a single collective consciousness.

        • Philip

          A collective consciousness that manages to be significantly less than the sum of its parts. Which is pretty impressive if you think about the parts.

          • NonyNony

            Eh, it’s only “less” than the sum of its parts from a particular perspective.

            Another way of looking at it is that if you get three ignorant people together the sum total of their ignorance is more than their individual bits of ignorance.

            It’s just the ignorance of the mob with nice clothes and a morning TV show.

          • So-in-so

            Youv’e never attended a committee or planning meeting, I take it. Lucky you!

        • tsam

          I don’t know–claiming to be a professional in a real profession (not TV pundit) and then entirely embarrassing that profession on TV to help advance an agenda of denying science and reality is not only dumb, it’s disingenuous and evil. My hottest hate goes to Ablow.

        • Alvin Alpaca

          They share one brain cell as the Graeae shared one eye.

          Would you believe, half a brain cell?

      • Warren Terra

        Keith Ablow is arguably the dumbest man on Fox

        Anyone who watches enough Fox to really make a judgment on this, and isn’t being paid to do so (by, say, Media Matters), mystifies me (except the wingers, of course; their dedication to Fox saddens but doesn’t mystify).

        • runsinbackground

          Masochism.

        • Origami Isopod, Commisar [sic] of Ideology for the Bolsheviks

          Never heard of hate-watching?

  • Blanche Davidian

    The Republican Party has been the “New Ideas of 1870” party for the last..140 years. No shade of lipstick is going to make that sow into a governing coalition.

    • Maybe 138? But those new ideas of 1870 belonged to the Democrats! END RECONSTRUCTION NOW they said.

  • waspuppet

    Well, come on – income redistribution and giving a hand up for people who didn’t have much was the (gradually expanding) main idea behind U.S. domestic economic policy from 1900-1980. And it’s not like the country got any better over that time.

    • HNPS

      Might be a good idea to double-check your facts.

      I too pushed to dig out and post the links, but a fast Google search can yield statistics on the degree to which poverty has been alleviated by the passage of FDR’s Social Security, LBJ’s ‘Great Society’ agenda (Medicare, etc.).

      The huge increase in poverty is partly due to the 90’s abolition of the New Deal Program (AFDC) Aid to Families and Dependent Children, among cutbacks in other social welfare programs.

      It is the bipartisan neoliberal agenda which has eviscerated many federal transfer programs for the poor which has ushered in greater income inequality and a huge increase in poverty in the United States.

      But don’t take my word for it, Google the 2010 US Census: 1 out of 2 Americans are now poor or low income.

      (I linked to this AP piece in an earlier comment.)

      • joe from Lowell

        A. Your irony meter needs calibrating.

        B. Whatever the (de)merits of welfare reform, it was not remotely large enough to cause the increase in poverty between the 2000 and 2010 census.

        • waspuppet

          Yeah, I thought I was being over-the-top stupid enough to be obvious, but there’s probably someone out there making this argument with a straight face.

        • HNPS

          Okay, you might want to read my comment a bit closer.

          I didn’t attribute the nixing of the AFDC to be the sole cause of the huge increase in poverty.

          I said:

          The huge increase in poverty is partly due to the 90′s abolition of the New Deal Program (AFDC) Aid to Families and Dependent Children, among cutbacks in other social welfare programs

          .

          And I made no reference to a specific time frame.

          Yes, the census is conducted decennially.

          But where in my comment did you read that I attribute this huge increase in poverty solely to the period covered by the 2010 Census?

          I didn’t.

          I quoted this particular census simply because it is the one that had this finding.

          Frankly, I don’t know the figure of the rate of poverty from the previous census. Nor do I care.

          What I do know is that it is beyond hideous that in the United States, literally every other person that one ‘lays eyes on’ is either “poor” or “low income.”

          That isn’t the America that I was born into. And it is a disgrace.

          • joe from Lowell

            Okay, you might want to read my comment a bit closer.

            OK: It is the bipartisan neoliberal agenda which has eviscerated many federal transfer programs for the poor which has ushered in greater income inequality and a huge increase in poverty in the United States.

            I read your comment just fine the first, Mr. Irony-eludes-me.

            It was NOT anything having to do with “many federal transfer programs for the poor” which ushered in a huge increase in poverty in the United States. You’re just flat-out wrong. Poverty fell in the aftermath of those bills passing Congress. It rose because of the Great Recession.

            And this is because – and pay attention here – the actual state of the economy is a great deal more important to the issue of poverty than the changes in the welfare state in the 1990s.

            Your lack of caring about whether you have facts right explains a great deal here.

            • HNPS

              It “Ms Irony-Eludes-Me” to you, thank you.

              ;-)

              Job training (funding cuts), and Social Security Disability (in 1996, eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits was eliminated for anyone whose disability was related to addiction. This is in spite of the fact that alcoholism is classified by the AMA as both a psychiatric and a medical condition, with strong genetic and environmentalism tendencies/causes. I saw scores of both soldiers and airman who had actually quit drinking for decades (IOW, beat their addiction against all odds) who in their 60’s or 70’s (by then, partially due to aging) developed cirrhosis, and yet were denied disability benefits.

              I never thought anything like this would happen. Much less during a Democratic Party Administration.

              Oh, BTW, the job training programs are really getting the final axe under this Administration. Of course, they call it “reform.”

              [Warning: This is not your Father’s Democratic Party. So if you hear a Democrat say the word “reform,” you’d best run for the hills.]

              Also, Democrats are working on this with PBO’s best Republican buddy, Senator Tom Coburn, who looked directly into the camera on C-Span’s Washington Journal and threatened, “If you’re on Social Security Disability, I’m coming for you.”

              Check it out. It’s in the C-Span video library.

              There is one thing I agree with you on, which is that the changeover to the TANF program from the AFDC, was not as glaring a failure during a time of economic expansion. But of course, that stands to reason.

              Problem is, when one reforms a social service program, one should consider all future contingencies–not just how the program will work at present.

              • ;-)

                Do you really think this kind of cutesy bullshit (this, and the “LOL”s strewn in random places) helps your argument?

                • HNPS

                  stepped pyramids,

                  Why the hostility?

                  You’re joking, right?

                  Luckily, most bloggers that I interact with don’t take to insulting people on the basis that they disagree on a issue, or even because they have differing political ideologies.

                  But I guess ‘there are exceptions to every rule.’

                  Seriously, I was simply trying to make the best of an insulting remark, instead of returning it in kind.

                  Never crossed my mind that it would be considered a transgression.

                  But just for you . . .

                  LOL!, LOL!, LOL!, LOL!, LOL!, LOL! LOL!

                  ;-) ;-) :-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-)

                  Feel better now?

                  Your friend,

                  HNPS

          • joe from Lowell

            BTW, can you name, let’s make it easy, two additional changes to social welfare programs that go along with the TANF to make up “the bipartisan neoliberal agenda which has eviscerated many federal transfer programs for the poor?”

            Just two?

  • Scott Lemieux

    The real fresh idea is getting rid of libraries and copyrights. All of the money will totally go to the poor instead because something.

    • Jordan

      Nah, that dude works for (true leftist) Vox.

    • rea
      • Manny Kant

        I don’t see how that helps much.

    • Aaron B.

      Actually he did stipulate to give this money to the poor directly, and eliminating copyright would fulfill the same function as a library of making all works more readily accessible. I think it’s probably worse for public policy than the status quo but it’s not obviously a less _progressive_ idea since it actually transfers wealth and access to books more directly to the poor.

      • Nobdy

        Poor people use libraries for Internet access and poor children often use libraries as safe study spaces in dangerous neighborhoods or in homes that may be crowded.

        It is unclear that giving a small stipend of ex-library funds has more utility to poor people collectively than the services libraries provide even absent copyright.

        • Marc

          Not to mention the “paying writers for their books” concept. Or the “paying librarians to help people” concept. Or the “not everyone has a computer” concept.

          • Aaron B.

            Those are great reasons why spending money on libraries is good public policy. My point is just that the political orientation of “give poor people money directly instead of spending it on libraries” is progressive. All it requires is the assumption that if poor people think their lives would be best improved through greater access to books or the Internet they would spend their new wealth obtaining it.

            • Nobdy

              Assuming that they can obtain it for the amount they are given. Let’s say you have a homeless person and the value they seek is “A safe place to use the Internet.” You give them $200 a year. How are they supposed to obtain what they want?

              • Aaron B.

                Internet cafes, I guess. Again, not sticking up for this as a good public policy idea. Just tired of people always treating Yglesias’ liberal contrarianism as conservative just because some of his ideas are dumb. He very clearly shares progressive values, just differs frequently about empirical questions.

                • Malaclypse

                  Internet cafes, I guess.

                  They love poor people who can’t afford to buy overpriced coffee and/or baked goods.

                • Aaron B.

                  Missing the point. Also, Internet cafes != cafes. Internet cafes make money by selling access to the Internet.

                • Aaron B.

                  It’s how your average working-class person in India and China access the Internet.

                • Malaclypse

                  Internet cafes make money by selling access to the Internet.

                  Which makes them worse for the poor. Yay, unemployed people need to pay to access monster.com.

                • Aaron B.

                  That’s compensated for by giving people library money as a direct transfer.

                • Malaclypse

                  Yay, unemployed people get to choose between spending 5 bucks on 5 pounds of pasta so they can feed their kids for a week, or an hour of internet access.

                  I understand the idea. Really, I do. The idea remains stupid. The internet is infrastructure, not a private good.

                • Aaron B.

                  Sure, and my point is just that some progressive ideas are stupid and some stupid ideas are progressive.

                • sharculese

                  That’s not a point. That’s a laugh-line that’s trying way too hard to elicit even a chuckle.

                • Jordan

                  Or, that some ideas that count as “progressive” on some technical individualized taxation/spending level definition aren’t actually “progressive”.*

                  *Many people do not understand the No True Scotsman fallacy, and it doesn’t apply here.

                • Aaron B.

                  That’s not a point. That’s a laugh-line that’s trying way too hard to elicit even a chuckle.

                  I’m serious. It is important that we not draw ideological lines on whether or not we think an idea is a Good Idea or not. Personally I don’t care at all for rent controls as a housing policy or price controls as an economic policy but they’re still recognizably progressive.

                • Aaron B.

                  The question I’m thinking about is: are the ideological categories that certain policies fall into based on means or ends? If it’s based purely on ends that seems a. Pretty self-serving because you can just exclude ideas you don’t like from your ideological category and b. Like it basically erases differences between ideologies because then a conservative is a progressive who really, truly believes that tax cuts for the rich make life better for the poor. I think these categories have to take both factors into account.

                • sharculese

                  I straight up don’t care for even a millisecond.

                  What label we get to attach to an idea is literally the least important thing in the world.

                • Aaron B.

                  That’s clearly not true, or else Scott wouldn’t have kicked off this discussion by trying to use one of Yglesias’ policy ideas to make a point about the location of Vox on the political spectrum. We’re social apes and whether you like it or not we’re going to spend a lot of time and energy constructing complicated pictures and stories about our tribal politicking.

                • Malaclypse

                  It is important that we not draw ideological lines on whether or not we think an idea is a Good Idea or not.

                  Okay. Given the track record of 35 years of experimenting with shrinking the realm of public goods, getting rid of libraries and replacing them with some variant of tax cuts is a Bad Idea. And given the absolutely fucking clear historical record, the burden is on the privatisers to show why we should not pelt them with rotting garbage.

                • sharculese

                  That’s clearly not true, or else Scott wouldn’t have kicked off this discussion by trying to use one of Yglesias’ policy ideas to make a point about the location of Vox on the political spectrum.

                  I mean, I’m not going to put word’s in Scott’s mouth, but I buy this not at all.

                  What I read was a bit of snark directed at the obvious point that using Vox, a website that has been up for all of a few months and represents a small subset of liberals, to attack a monolithic body called ‘the left’ is fucking shallow as all get out, not to mention wrong and dumb.

                • Aaron B.

                  Seemed like it to me.

                • jb

                  Okay. Given the track record of 35 years of experimenting with shrinking the realm of public goods, getting rid of libraries and replacing them with some variant of tax cuts is a Bad Idea. And given the absolutely fucking clear historical record, the burden is on the privatisers to show why we should not pelt them with rotting garbage.

                  This, to me is the key point.

                  Ever since the late 1970’s, most governments in the Western World have either deregulated or sold off an astounding number of things. I can think of only a few examples where this has actually worked well, and almost none of them are in the US. In the vast majority of cases here, the effects have been disastrous. (And the results haven’t been too good elsewhere in the West either).

                • jb

                  Personally I don’t care at all for rent controls as a housing policy or price controls as an economic policy but they’re still recognizably progressive

                  I’m not sure this is really true with regard to price controls. Yes, imposing them does conflict with lassiez-faire economic doctrine, but there have been quite a few right-wing governments that have resorted to them in certain situations. (Richard Nixon is far from the only example).

                • guthrie

                  Certainly here in the UK, actual internet cafes have disappeared (for reasons such as increased broadband and computer penetration, smartphones etc). Instead you have cafes with some wifi, which requires you to have your own computer. Homeless and those too poor to have a good computer connection need libraries.

            • Hogan

              And we need to forget everything we know about economies of scale.

            • Hogan

              How is this different from “abolish retirement insurance AKA Social Security and let people put that money in the stock market”?

              • Aaron B.

                In pure dollar terms abolishing Social security would be income regressive while abolishing libraries and giving the money to people in poverty would be progressive (as I note below, libraries are generally funded out of local property taxes and the nicest, best-funded libraries are in the richest towns and districts. The net effect of the policy as proposed is distributionally progressive.

                • Hogan

                  So how we fund libraries is the problem.

                • Jordan

                  Again, though, this is only (certainly) true if there aren’t any collective benefits to having a public library. But there are, so you have to account for that as well.

            • Yolo Contendere

              …the political orientation of “give poor people money directly instead of spending it on libraries” is progressive.

              No, it is not.

              All it requires is the assumption that if poor people think their lives would be best improved through greater access to books or the Internet they would spend their new wealth obtaining it.

              This is a variation on “A person knows how to spend their own money better than the government does.” Which is definitely a political philosophy, and one I’ve heard parroted many times. Interestingly, never from progressives though. Perhaps the next time I hear a wingnut spout it, I should inform them it is actually progressive policy, so they’ll shut up and stop advocating for privatization and smaller government.

              • Aaron B.

                I’m sorry, I thought redistributive taxation and minimum basic income were progressive positions. Perhaps I’m not a progressive.

                • joe from Lowell

                  Spending the revenues of a progressive tax on programs with broad public benefits, especially ones that provide the greatest benefit to poorer people, is redistributive taxation. The idea that only cash, and not collective solutions, count as aid to the poor is a very conservative one.

                  And eliminating libraries won’t produce a minimum basic income. The money just isn’t there.

                • Col Bat Guano

                  They may be, but not at the cost of other public services that aid the poor.

                • Aaron B.

                  I have never said only cash counts as aid to the poor, I said that cash _also_ counts as aid to the poor, and that a dispute over whether a particular program is more beneficial than simply disbursing its budget to poor people is a sort of debate that makes sense between progressives.

                • Well, how about school vouchers? Is abolishing public schools and replacing them with vouchers a progressive position? Does replacing the vouchers with cash make it more or less progressive?

                  In the US political context, privatizing a public good and replacing it with a cash disbursement is almost universally a conservative position. Although minimum income can be a progressive position (I support it fervently), it is only progressive when it’s a complete and sufficient replacement for cash and cash-equivalent entitlements like Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, housing subsidies, etc.

                  That is, in cases where the government is paying the private sector to provide a service to a recipient, there is a progressive case for giving the money directly to the recipient. That doesn’t apply in cases where the government is already directly providing a service, and it doesn’t apply if the payout is insufficient. In the case of libraries, it’s essentially impossible for the recipients of this hypothetical subsidy to use the money to more efficiently provide the services of libraries, and virtually unbelievable that they ever would bother to.

                • Aaron B.

                  What I’m basically trying to do is turn “eliminate service X and replace its budget with cash disbursements to poor people” into the “replacement level” test of progressive government services. I’m pretty convinced, especially after the discussion in this thread, that libraries pass the test.

                  But, even though policies like that are often advocated by conservatives in the American political context, I think they’re more naturally progressive. They definitely do not constitute “privatization” but rather the replacement of in-kind services with cash disbursements, both provided by the government. And insofar as the consequences would make income distribution somewhat more progressive (as “get rid of the libraries” would, since 1. property taxes are not clearly progressive distributionally and 2. the benefits of property tax revenues flow disproportionately to wealthy areas) there’s a strong a priori case that this is, in fact, a progressive policy.

                  And a dumb one. The current progressive policy of publicly funded libraries is far better, or the even better policy of fixing libraries’ funding stream to be more egalitarian in nature.

                • Malaclypse

                  They definitely do not constitute “privatization” but rather the replacement of in-kind services with cash disbursements, both provided by the government.

                  We’ve now clearly established that you don’t understand what the word “privatization” means.

                  Look, once government stops providing the basic service, who the fuck to you think does? Magical elves, or the fucking private sector?

                • DrS

                  Although minimum income can be a progressive position (I support it fervently), it is only progressive when it’s a complete and sufficient replacement for cash and cash-equivalent entitlements like Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, housing subsidies, etc.

                  I support a universal minimum income as well, but not as a replacement for social programs. There are inherent efficiencies in providing some of these as goods and not just cash that we should maintain and extend.

      • Yolo Contendere

        Actually he did stipulate to give this money to the poor directly, and eliminating copyright would fulfill the same function as a library of making all works more readily accessible.

        And exactly how would it fulfill that function? Where exactly are all these works going to be readily accessible?

        I think it’s probably worse for public policy than the status quo but it’s not obviously a less _progressive_ idea since it actually transfers wealth and access to books more directly to the poor.

        How, exactly, is this a progressive idea? What progressive ideals does it fulfill? And while giving money may transfer wealth “more directly”, how is access to books transferred more directly?

        • Aaron B.

          1. Because books are no longer a scarce good that one must first purchase a copy of to access. Granted, we discussed above how internet access facilitates access to media so that may undermine the effectiveness of this.

          2. It fulfills the progressive value that income inequality is socially problematic (either for moral or pragmatic reasons, or both) and attempts to redress it through redistribution of wealth. This isn’t hard.

          • J R in WV

            This is total bullshit! Books cost $25/per. They also take up a lot of space and are hard to keep readable over any long period of time.

            Computer files can be less expensive – I see them going for about 25% less than the hardback book. Not counting the cost of the computer, internet connectivity, and a college degree level of expertise to maintain a network of computers and a RAID to preserve the computer files.

            Seriously, anyone who proposes replacing libraries with anything computer-based is too young to have suffered a hard-drive failure, or the failure of an on-line storage company to make material available FOREVER due to cost of storage technical failure, financial failure, or just to make more money by shafting customers. Or is just a stupid person in general.

    • sleepyirv

      If I remember correctly (I will not read more of Yglesias than I have to), Yglesias heartily defends the value of bookstores where you can sit around and read while drinking coffee. One wonders why he draws a distinction between bookstores and libraries. It couldn’t possibly be poor people use libraries and middle-class white people hang around bookstores, could it?

      • Aaron B.

        Libraries are paid for out of taxes and bookstores are paid for out of profits. Libraries, furthermore, are paid for out of local property tax revenues and the areas with the highest-use, nicest libraries are whiter, richer, and better-educated than average.

        • Manny Kant

          Large cities, which generally have lots of poor people, also generally have very large central libraries with large (although probably often older) collections.

    • Marc

      Small child: If I can’t see you, you can’t see me

      Matt Y: If I don’t use something it shouldn’t exist.

    • Warren Terra

      I don’t think he can be being serious. For better or worse, Yglesias is paid to write, and is often accused of blindness to poverty because he benefitted from the wealth of his author father, and so it’s fairly inconceivable he thinks it should be made impossible for a writer to profit from their efforts.

      • sleepyirv

        Read the whole discussion. I don’t think Yglesias has enough Swift in him to hold this line of thought if he’s being satirical.

        • Bloix

          Matt Y is a writer and the son of a writer. Copyright is the source of his income and his inheritance. OF COURSE he’s being satirical.

          • Aaron B.

            Actually he’s pretty skeptical where copyright issues are concerned. That’s not that much of a tell for me.

          • Manny Kant

            What is he satirizing, exactly? It seems to be a genuine defense of neoliberalism against further left criticisms of it, by arguing that neoliberalism helps the poor more than people like Konczal defending libraries.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Matt Y is a writer and the son of a writer. Copyright is the source of his income and his inheritance. OF COURSE he’s being satirical.

            Uh, his inheritance has already been earned, his books aren’t where he makes most of his money, and more to the point he’s been making similar arguments forever. His position on copyright appears to be perfectly serious.

          • Bloix

            I think I’m wrong about him being satirical. (1) he’s a big believer in alleviating poverty through direct cash transfers, (2) he does think that copyright protections are too strong, and (3) he has a way of combining his ideas and taking them out to more or less “logical” conclusions with no regard for their real-world consequences.

            So maybe he means it.

      • James Gary

        it’s fairly inconceivable he (Yglesias) thinks it should be made impossible for a writer to profit from their efforts.

        Huh? Yglesias has been riding the “Information-Wants-To-Be-Free” hobbyhorse for at least a decade now. Go back and peruse his ThinkProgress posts.

        • J R in WV

          ” Go back and peruse his ThinkProgress posts.”

          NO!

  • Isn’t new ideas a bad thing to conservatives?

  • JMP

    I’m not sure who some of those other writers mentioned are, but Ross Douthat has “fresh, 21st centuries ideas”? Really? This is the man who spends most of his columns bemoaning how awful it is that modern society no longer condemns women who dare to have sex lives as slutty slut sluts, and gay people as deviant perverts. His work would is more like 1st century ideas.

    • Nobdy

      He has twenty fresh* first century ideas.

      *freshness subjective. Like if you accept that the universe is 14 billion years old [WRONG!] these ideas are pretty damn fresh.

      • Keaaukane

        Chunky Reese Witherspoon sounds like a great new idea for a Ben and Jerry flavor.

        • JMP

          That whole passage of Douthat’s is so telling of his pathological views on sex and women.

          First, he recounts this story of one time he nearly had sex as a college student in a manner which completely slut-shames the woman he was with, and gives enough information about her that people who knew both of them might be able to figure out her identity.

          Then he tells us how, as soon as she mentioned she was on the pill, he lost all interest in sex – somehow knowing that she wouldn’t get pregnant killed his boner. What kind of a weird fetish is that, where even with a casual hook-up, a man only has interest if there’s the risk of pregnancy?

          And then he recounted it in his book in a way it’s clear he thinks this is a positive story about him. He actually thinks this pathology is normal, and wants people to know he loses interest in sex if it’s safe. That’s a really fucked up view of fucking.

          • Keaaukane

            So you’re saying it will need lots of nuts?

            • Ahuitzotl

              crushed, preferably

          • Aimai

            He didn’t lose his erection because she couldn’t get pregnant–he lost interest in her because her ability to choose to have sex and her foresight in having used contraception made her scary to him. It made the whole thing too impersonal and too rational for him to be able to imagine himself succumbing to a grand passion. In a way he seems to have needed something like the classic women’s romance fantasy of sex without choice because choice leaves the woman open to the accusation of sluthood. Ross really didn’t like being in bed with someone who wasn’t swept away by circumstances but was actively choosing sex as a fun activity because it made her a bad, conniving, sexual being and by extension also made him responsible for “choosing” deliberately.

            Its the same reason, in a way, that makes evangelical would-be-virgins so likely to get pregnant or get STDs from unprotected sex. Its not the sex that’s so wrong, in their culture (though it is wrong) its willfully and consciously engaging in it rather than sort of falling into it in a moment of irrational passion.

            • he lost interest in her because her ability to choose to have sex and her foresight in having used contraception made her scary to him. It made the whole thing too impersonal and too rational for him to be able to imagine himself succumbing to a grand passion.

              Another possible reading is that he lost his desire for her because she had consented to him, had used her free choice for him. After all, even Douchehat wouldn’t want to belong to a club that has him as a member.

              • djw

                After all, even Douchehat wouldn’t want to belong to a club that has him as a member.

                One of the rare occasions I find myself seeing eye to eye with him.

                • Tom Servo

                  rekt

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              a long time since I read that. but it seems like in D’s case there must be a sort of power game involved, that he wanted to be the seducer/manipulator/experienced lover and when ‘reese’ made it clear she thought she knew what she was doing that’s when lil’ ross went awol

            • Rob in CT

              That makes a TON of sense.

  • Scott Lemieux

    And many of these ideas have been adopted by the most prominent GOP politicians and presidential candidates

    [Cites omitted] [“I am not a crank” implicit.]

  • Joe

    Christianity … so old school. That’s why Romney is the coolest … he has sped things up to the 19th Century.

  • Jake

    Those stupid, boring Democrats, with their dumb stupid ideas about trying to make the economic system work for average people. How dumb and stupid can you get.

  • Joshua

    Who would have guessed, even six months ago, that Vox and 538 would turn out to be such giant turds? I mean, one of them, sure, but both?

    • CaptBackslap, YOLO Edition

      Eh, Vox has some good stuff. Five Thirty-Eight has had some…issues, though.

      • Jordan

        I dunno. I liked that “are you masturbating more or less than normal” 538 post.

        • PrettyNeatPerson

          I actually Googled to see if that was real. It turns out I masturbate WAAYYYYY more than the respondents in that survey. Maybe it’s because I’m recently single, though.

    • FMguru

      They’re both up against the same wall. To pay the bills you need clicks, which means lots of content (a steady stream of short dashed-off articles), headlines that over-promise, and content that’s “provocative”. Half their potential audience is conservative or conservatarian, so they need to “balance” their output and throw them a fair amount of red meat. All of which point directly away from the sort of deep data-driven analytical pieces that they are supposed to be putting out as their raison d’etre.

      Shorter Me: All news sites eventually become BuzzFeed, no matter how well-intentioned their founding may have been.

  • Malaclypse

    Speaking as a liberal, there is nothing I fear more than Ross Douthat appealing to Da Yout of Today by telling them how icky sex is. That’s a message that’s bound to resonate and appeal. Please, conservatives, don’t give Young Master Ross a wider platform.

    • Socrets

      I will meet your Douthat and raise you a David Brooks.

  • JDM

    Those old boring lefty writers, like Rachel Carson saying “Let’s try to not fuck up so bad” and Abby Hoffman grinning and suggesting we steal his book instead of paying him for it. Meanwhile the rightwing has that NKOTB, Ayn Rand, with her “You are so totally gonna pay for my book; now turn your back so you don’t see me cash my Social Security check”.

    Yeah, us olden lefties are so oldy old old.

    • toberdog

      You forgot to mention Saul Alinsky, who from the grave is still pulling the strings of all lefties.

  • Warren Terra

    Gravity is a boring old idea, too. I blame my sheer intellectual laziness for my not floating up near the ceiling as I type this.

    Someone should tell this jackass that looking both ways before you cross the street is an old, old idea, old even in his grandfather’s time.

  • tsam

    Douthat is a pre-Enlightenment Catholic, isn’t he? His ideas aren’t 21st century on the Gregorian calendar.

    • DrDick

      More like the 10th century.

      • Nah, 10th c. was before priestly celibacy. Totally liberal.

        • cpinva

          “Nah, 10th c. was before priestly celibacy.”

          I believe priestly celibacy, in the catholic church, became mandatory in the 6th century. I could be wrong.

          • Ahuitzotl

            You are wrong. It was forced into place, more or less, during the 11th century Investitures Struggle & the reform by Gregory the … I forget.

  • HNPS

    Mr. Gobray need not worry.

    Saw a video of Klein and Roy last week, and was appalled at ‘how little they disagreed’ regarding to enacting very conservative so-called fixes, or reforms to the ACA.

    Klein is not a liberal by my definition.

    Is Gobry kidding about Democrats raising taxes on high earners?

    In attendance at a June 16-17 conference, Senator Ron Wyden told a forum of CFO’s to “discuss global financial leadership,” that he is planning to lower the top marginal tax rate by one-third.

    [He’s replaced Max Baucus as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.]

    IOW–a top individual and corporate federal income tax rate of 24%.

    Oh, and Wyden believes that there will be ‘a prime 15-month window’ from now until the August 2015 recess, maybe early Fall, to effect this bipartisan tax reform.

    Sounds like Mr Gobry has been listening to Democratic Party [corporatist wing] talking points, not actually listening to Committee hearings, reading business and industry news, etc.

    Oh, BTW, Wyden calls this “draining the swamp, LOL!” Of course, this is pro-growth tax reform.

    What a piece of work!

    • panda

      Just like the Grand Bargain that will kill Medicare, tax reform that will totally slash top marginal tax rates is always just behind the corner.
      In the meanwhile, besides the somewhat meh deal of moving the cutoff of Bush tax cuts from 250K to 400K, the most important news on taxation in Obama era was the extension of Medicare taxes to investment income.

      • HNPS

        You’ve got it, panda.

        And don’t forget about the “tweaks” to Social Security–which are anything but tweaks if all the various cuts are enacted.

        IOW, cuts amounting to 36-38% for the highest income earners, if ALL the proposed cuts were enacted.

        I’ll post Rep Jan Schakowsky’s Reuters Op-Ed on this topic, when I’ve got a bit more time.

        • panda

          None of the cuts were of course ever enacted, nor are they on anyone’s agenda anymore.
          Details, details.

          • HNPS

            panda, they are very much on the Democratic Party’s agenda–they ARE the Grand Bargain that the President and corporatist Dems have been frantic to strike since Bowles-Simpson issued their Chairman’s Mark, The Moment Of Truth.

            Please read the Section V on Social Security. They discuss the Social Security cut called the “Chained CPI” in Section VI, Process Reform. (They don’t specify the Medicare cuts.)

            IOW, the raising of tax revenue (that Democrats want) is in exchange for cutting entitlements.

            I’ve read White Papers that give the percentage of Social Security cuts up to 38%. Schakowsky quotes the slightly lower 35% figure.

            Please see below:

            Reuters Op-Ed, “The Sham Of Simpson-Bowles”

            by US Representative Jan Schakowsky

            . . . It has been nearly two years since the commission they chaired, which I served on, finished its work. The duo’s proposal has attained almost mythical status in Washington as the epitome of what a “grand bargain” should look like.

            But everyone look again. They will discover that it is far less than meets the eye.

            Have Simpson-Bowles’ champions read it? Given any real scrutiny, this plan falls far short of being a serious, workable or reasonable proposal – from either an economic or political analysis.

            In one of its few specific points, for example, Simpson-Bowles mandates a top individual tax rate of 29 percent “or less.” . . .

            Somehow, being willing to cut “entitlement” benefits has been called a “badge of courage” for those who purport to be serious about deficit reduction– despite the fact that Social Security has not contributed one thin dime to the deficit.

            Under Simpson-Bowles, long-term solvency for Social Security is achieved mostly by cutting benefits. Seventy-five years out, the ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases is 4 to 1.

            They propose raising the age of full Social Security benefits to 69 – claiming that everyone is living longer. But a sizable percentage of Americans, mostly lower-income workers, especially women, are actually living shorter lives, and a large chunk of other Americans just can’t work that long – even if they can find a job. Their plan cuts benefits for current and future retirees by reducing the cost-of-living adjustment.

            For future retirees, all these changes taken together would reduce the average annual benefit for middle-income workers – those with annual earnings of $43,000 to $69,000 – by up to 35 percent.

            Simpson-Bowles also targets Medicare and Medicaid – though the real problem is rising healthcare costs across the board. Yet it would cap them at arbitrary rates and simply shift the growing costs to patients, providers and employers. To start, they would ask Medicare beneficiaries – seniors and disabled people – to pay $110 billion more out of pocket.

            Please don’t believe that this issue is off-the-table. It’s just not talked about very openly, for fear of blow back.

            You can read the White House Press Briefing transcripts, and find that former Press Secretary Jay Carney has declared umpteen million times that the President is still interested in striking a Grand Bargain. (See Transcript Editors at Daily Kos.)

            Thanks for your interest in this topic. Anymore, most people yawn when the Grand Bargain is mentioned. Maybe it’s because they don’t realize that it is still at the top of the Democratic Party’s agenda. They’ve simply quit talking about it publicly. It just so happens that Mr HNPS and I are part of that small crowd, that you could fit in a broom closet, that still listen to C-Span.

            Lawmakers plan to “fast-track’ it. They also want to do it in regular order, and are considering passing it in smaller packages. Easier to do under the radar.

            [Rather pushed–please excuse typos/poor syntax.]

            • joe from Lowell

              When the strongest evidence you can muster for your theory is the existence of a Blue Ribbon Commission whose ideas were never implemented, while you studiously ignore all of the actual, non-imaginary policy reforms that have been implemented, it means you need a new theory.

              Anymore, most people yawn when the Grand Bargain is mentioned. Maybe it’s because they don’t realize that it is still at the top of the Democratic Party’s agenda.

              Or perhaps it’s because the monster under your bed isn’t real.

              • HNPS

                As I said, Joe,

                You can read the White House Press Briefing transcripts, and find that former Press Secretary Jay Carney has declared umpteen million times that the President is still interested in striking a Grand Bargain. (See Transcript Editors at Daily Kos.)

                Do you truly think that Carney would verify to the White House press pool that this issue is still a high priority for the Administration, if it wasn’t?

                The ‘Grand Bargain’ has been discussed, dissected, and documented ad naseum at several other blogs, including Daily Kos.

                So you might want to check out their “Pushing back at the Grand Bargain” Group. I have thousands of comments there–I’d guess that more than 90% of them address the Grand Bargain (both entitlements and tax reform).

                It GB Group hasn’t been updated a whole lot since the furor broke out in Spring of 2013, but there is a tremendous amount of “detail” about what has been proposed/negotiated in the past.

                We’re also going to address this topic in the website that we’re building, to be launched by early 2015 (we hope). I’ll be including the url address in my username when this happens.

                From all the forums, hearings, etc., it’s safe to say that the Grand Bargain legislation (tax reform or entitlement cuts) won’t be passed BEFORE the midterms.

                That would be utter suicide, especially since Repubs are expected to pick up seats in the House and the Senate, as it is.

                BTW, the best source for keeping abreast with this is C-Span. We listen to literally thousands of hearings a year in order to transcribe them.

                BTW, Wyden and company are also looking at proposing a carbon taxes and a “VAT” tax–which we will strongly advocate against because of its ultra-regressive nature.

                And, no, that’s not a figment of my imagination, either.

                It’s also in the Wyden/Seib video from the CFO Conference!

                ;-)

                [Pushed, please excuse typos/poor syntax.]

                • Random

                  Since the Democrats really want this Bargain and the Republicans really want this Bargain and the President really wants this bargan then why hasn’t this passed after 5 years?

                • joe from Lowell

                  Yes, as you said, we should take the public pronouncements of political figures, and not their actions, and the definitive evidence of what they’re up to.

                  It doesn’t get any more plausible the second time around.

                  Do you truly think that Carney would verify to the White House press pool that this issue is still a high priority for the Administration, if it wasn’t?

                  Oh, hell yes. You’re seriously asking this? Not “Is that what’s happening this time?” But you’re seriously asking if it’s possible for a White House Press Secretary to pay lip service to something. Yes, HNPS. It is.

                  The ‘Grand Bargain’ has been discussed, dissected, and documented ad naseum at several other blogs, including Daily Kos.

                  Let me correct you there: the Grand Bargain story has been blah blah blah. Yes, I know it was. It was also beaten to death here. Those of us, such as myself, who described it as a ploy have been proven right. Those such as yourself continue to insist that you aren’t wrong on the internet.

                  Since you’ve discussed this so much, you already know this argument four or five steps ahead. For instance, you have your answer to Random’s comment below, and you know his response, and you have your reply to that response ready to go. In my experience, people who insist on walking through the preliminaries that everyone has already gone through a thousand times do so because they end up on the wrong side of the argument when it gets played out.

                  You have your little predictions about when the Grand Bargain is going to pass. Tell me, how have your predictions about that worked out in the past? Because my “never” has held up remarkably well since I first made it in 2011.

                • I have thousands of comments there–I’d guess that more than 90% of them address the Grand Bargain (both entitlements and tax reform) am a single-minded obsessive, please interpret all of my remarks with that in mind.

                • Hogan

                  Do you truly think that Carney would verify to the White House press pool that this issue is still a high priority for the Administration, if it wasn’t?

                  You’re so cute I could just put you in my pocket.

                • DrS

                  Hogan, if you can’t take the White House press secretary at his word, who can you trust?

                • Hogan

                  In my experience, White House press secretaries never lie unless it’s absolutely convenient.

              • JMP

                Oh come on, we all know that Obama is a secret Republican who longs to destroy Medicare and Social Security! Otherwise people like HNPS’s smug holier-than-thou douchebaggery would be completely unjustified.

                • HNPS

                  Okay, guys, believe as you will.

                  But, anyone interested in tax reform may want to watch the machinations of the Senate Finance Committee over the next 15 months–per Wyden’s comments to WSJ’s Gerald Seib.

                  Especially since the passage of a tax reform package is ‘key’ to striking a Grand Bargain.

                  When that happens, so-called entitlement reform (cuts) won’t be far behind.

                  Bottom line, if a tax overhaul package [which lowers marginal tax rates by broadening the base and/or closing loopholes passes], and/or an entitlement reform package [which cuts Social Security and Medicare benefits] does not pass by the end of this Administration–then I will own up to having been ‘bamboozled.’

                  But not before then . . .

                • Malaclypse

                  Bottom line, if a tax overhaul package [which lowers marginal tax rates by broadening the base and/or closing loopholes passes], and/or an entitlement reform package [which cuts Social Security and Medicare benefits] does not pass by the end of this Administration–then I will own up to having been ‘bamboozled.’

                  Are you willing to take bets?

                • DrS

                  I won’t believe that this thing that hasn’t happened won’t happen until it can’t happen.

                  P.S. I am not a crank

            • cpinva

              “despite the fact that Social Security has not contributed one thin dime to the deficit.”

              every time someone makes this claim, it’s clear they can’t tell the difference between a budget and an income statement. if SS Trust Fund bonds must be cashed in, to make up any shortfalls in FICA receipts for the year, and there is a budget deficit, one could (sort of reasonably) argue that some SS payments “contributed” to the deficit. just as one could “reasonably” argue that any cash expenditure “contributed” to the deficit.

              krugman consistently makes this same mistake. in his defense, he is an economist, not an accountant.

              • HNPS

                No, I don’t bet.

                • Malaclypse

                  Smartest thing you’ve said on this thread.

    • Hogan

      Are you talking about this? It doesn’t mention individual income tax rates.

      • HNPS

        No. I’m talking about Wyden’s statement to WSJ Business Reporter Gerald Seib at a recent WSJ CFO conference.

        After our company leaves next week, I’ll see if I relocate and post the video of this interview (I think I can, it’s just a matter of having the time to do so).

        It’s really not too surprising when you think about it. This is in keeping with the President’s Fiscal Commission’s recommendations (Bowles-Simpson).

        And while Ron Wyden may be somewhat left on a couple of issues, including civil liberties, I’m pretty certain that he was a DLCer, and he’s definitely a neoliberal fiscal conservative of the highest order. (Which is “why” he’s replaced Baucus, LOL!)

        • Hogan

          This, maybe?

          (I promise I’ll leave you alone after this one until you’re freed up.)

          • HNPS

            No bother, Hogan.

            This is the same interview, but I didn’t listen to all of this clip (which was clearly about tax inversions, as you said), since the part of the video that I’m referring to had nothing to do with inversions.

            Just top marginal tax rates, period.

            The full interview was just under 30 minutes, and Wyden addressed the complete overhaul of our tax system, and the lowering of both individual and corporate marginal tax rates within about the first 5 to 10 minutes, IIRC.

            Actually, the President’s so-called “Buffet Rule” means only that the highest earners “should” (not must) pay at least the equivalent of a 30% tax rate. And the “Buffet Rule” is a tax philosophy–not an actual tax policy.

            I have the White House White Paper (not to mention articles with Gene Sperling explaining it) the Buffet Rule. “Kabuki.”

            Anyhoo, I’ll try to come back to this post (assuming I can find this post) in a week or so, and post a link to it–no problem.

            It will be time-consuming to find, because the title didn’t mention the name of the conference, or Seib’s or Wyden’s name. I happened upon it when I was searching for congressional hearings.

            I mainly have a problem with the tax cuts, because the “trade-off” is slashing Social Security, and enacting relatively deep cuts to Medicare.

            It is sorta hard for me to imagine Democrats doing this before the 2016 election.

            But they are so effective at neutralizing their base, guess they don’t give a hoot about suffering any political fall-out.

            Anyway, good luck searching for it!

            • Hogan

              To be clear: I don’t believe Wyden endorsed a cut in the top marginal rates of individual income taxes, so I’m going to need some seriously convincing evidence that that happened.

              • HNPS

                That’s cool, Hogan.

                As they say, “To each, their own.”

                I know that it sounds preposterous.

                But, as I mentioned up thread, Wyden also said that they are looking at a carbon and a VAT Tax.

                There have been numerous hearings (C-Span) on this topic. One was held the day after the President was re-elected in 2012.

                And Bill Clinton and Paul Volcker have tagged team on this topic. See below:


                Clinton, Volcker give qualified support to VAT

                . . . Both Clinton and Volcker, who is an outside adviser to President Barack Obama, told a private forum on fiscal issues that they saw benefits for the United States from a VAT, a tax on goods at each stage of production.

                But they also acknowledged that a VAT would be a tough sell politically. . . .

                If I didn’t know this, I’d be suspect of individual tax rates being lowered so drastically, too.

                If you read Schakowsky’s Reuter’s Op Ed that I posted a few comments ago, the plan is to increase taxes on the poor, working, and middle classes. Among the bipartisan Washington Elite, the most enthusiasm for “loophole closing” is the break for mostly lower and middle class Americans on group health insurance.

                Wyden has put an approximate 15-month timetable on the tax overhaul. So you and everybody will know their plan soon enough, LOL!

                One last thing, he mentioned his work with Judd Gregg, and more recently with Dan Coates. If you Google (and I haven’t had time to, and won’t) Wyden and Coates tax plan, maybe something will come up which will clarify for you the individual tax rate.

                [Pushed, please excuse typos/poor syntax.]

                • Col Bat Guano

                  So Ron Wyden’s one off comment is now official Democratic policy? I think a little more evidence is in order. And do you really believe Republicans would agree any sort plan at this point?

                • Ron Wyden and Dan Coates? That’s an unbeatable pair! I well remember how that Wyden/Ryan Medicare reform plan was rushed straight to Obama’s desk, where he signed it forthwith.

                  Seriously, Wyden has always been an outlier among Democrats on tax issues. The guy is basically a euroliberal transplanted into the US context — good on social issues, good on civil liberties, strongly in favor of free trade, lots of shitty “reformist” ideas for entitlements. Using him as a bellwether for the Democratic Party is a ridiculous idea.

  • Tiny Tim

    I actually agree with Matt Y on many or even most of his policy desires. But he loves to troll the left with bargains which aren’t on the table and will never will be. Should we closed libraries and give money to poor people? Should we cut teacher’s salaries and give money to poor people?

    There’s a lot of political (and foundation) support for public libraries, less for teacher’s salaries, and none at all for handing cash to poor people. Close the libraries and they aren’t coming back. There’s a good reason The Left tries to preserve what public institutions that are preservable and useful even if there is some hypothetical better use of the money.

    And he never does the math. My total made up (but close enough) back of the envelop calculation is that cutting local teacher salaries by 20% would give you $100/month per student overall, let’s say that’s $300/month if you just gave it to “poor” (up to and slightly above poverty line) students in my city which has decent amount of poverty. That’s not nothing, of course, but it’s a fairly small amount given the obvious long term consequences of making a mostly not lucrative position which involves caring for and teaching our children 6.5 hours per day much less lucrative.

    My pretty good library system has annual expenses of $42 million. Divide that up between people under the poverty line and everyone gets a whopping $105. I suppose if you sell off the real estate there’s a bit more to go around, but still. The bigger point is that it won’t “go around” as “giving cash to poor people” is the least popular way to help people.

    As a general rule I do think advocating that we stop our generally expensive Rube Goldberg way of helping poor people (and governing generally) and just give them some damn money. But trolling The Left about relatively inexpensive ways poor people get public services that the government has long been involved in is pretty ridiculous.

    Often the Matt Y political agenda is actually very liberal, but he’s more interested in winning freshman dorm bong debates than getting the Matt Y agenda enacted.

    • Jordan

      Right, but all this neglects the fundamental collective action problem and the fundamental public support/politics issue.

    • L2P

      I actually agree with Matt Y on many or even most of his policy desires.

      This is a “level of abstraction” problem. I mean, at the right level of abstraction everybody wants the same thing. Matty wants less poverty, just like every Republican in congress.

      Matty’s annoying because he always looks for the “easy” answer. Look at his big issue, licensing. Just get rid of regulations and licenses! The poor will make mint cutting hair! Ignoring that (1) hairdressers, by and large, make squat; (2) getting rid of licenses doesn’t stop the people that actually OWN the salons from making even more money; and (3) reasons people actually kind of like the licenses.

      He’s pointless. All of his “liberal” policies are exactly what a rabid capitalist would want, and he never stops to think why that might not be such a good thing for the poor.

      I’ll pay attention when he starts proposing an economic idea that : (a) Anyone but him and the people he drinks coffee with would support; (b) Wouldn’t obviously make the rich richer and (c) Actually improves the lives of any significant number of poor people.

      • Lee Rudolph

        just like every Republican in congress.

        [citation omitted]

        • mds

          Uh, there’s presumably less poverty if the poor die in ditches like the worthless parasites they are.</GOP>

        • Yolo Contendere

          You think they enjoy their taxes going to pay for the prisons and workhouses?

          • witless chum

            Yes, I do. Ever hear a conservative talking about sending someone to prison? They’d pay a lot to feel that good.

      • cpinva

        “He’s pointless. All of his “liberal” policies are exactly what a rabid capitalist would want, and he never stops to think why that might not be such a good thing for the poor.”

        well, thinking is hard! better (especially for mr. Y and his wallet) to just throw a bunch of (mostly stupid shit) ideas against a wall, and see if anything sticks. in his case, 99.999999999999999999999% won’t, but he still has his column done for the week, and his paycheck direct-deposited, so what does he care?

    • tt

      “giving cash to poor people” is the least popular way to help people.

      Only if you only give it to poor people. The social programs which give cash to poor people and non-poor people are some of the most popular.

      Really, though, while I appreciate at some level MY trolling the left with arguments for giving money to poor people, public goods are very efficient uses of public money. I wish MY would troll with neolib arguments for job guarantee.

    • mds

      I actually agree with Matt Y on many or even most of his policy desires.

      What a coincidence. I actually agree with Matt Y on how awesome it is that unicorns shit rainbows.

      Should we closed libraries and give money to poor people? Should we cut teacher’s salaries and give money to poor people?

      Yes and yes. Step one of both of those is already on the table, and frequently in an all-too-bipartisan way. So by all means, let’s provide additional “liberal” cover for the idea of closing public libraries. Once the libraries are gone, the citizenry will gladly support continuing to pay the same level of property taxes in order to give handouts directly to the poor.

  • tsam

    Living wages for everyone, fair taxation and not ruining the only planet we have….YAWN. What a bore. Hippies are hilarious.

  • joe from Lowell

    Republicans have been breaking through as the Party of Ideas my entire adult life. It’s sort of like how each subsequent REM album is the one that gets back to the great music of their heyday.

    • anthrofred

      Nobody said they were the party of good or original ideas.

    • FMguru

      Someone made a list of Rolling Stone reviews of Bob Dylan albums from the mid-1970s on, and almost every one had the reviewer declaring that classic Dylan was back.

      A recent New Order album had a sticker quoting a review saying it was “their best new album in fifteen years!”. Left unmentioned was the fact that, due to a long hiatus, it was only their second new album in fifteen years.

      • JMP

        Dylan had many great albums in the 1970s, and later from Time out of Mind on.

        His 80s / early 90s work, starting with his Christian period, however, is another story. There’s still some great individual songs in their, but each album contains a lot of junk as well.

        • FMguru

          And every one of those albums was regarded as a brilliant return to form when they came out, just like how (as JfL points out) every late-career REM album was a long-awaited return to their indie/college radio roots. I’ll bet the same applies to every Bowie album that’s come out in the last 20 years.

          • Random

            Bowie at least had a couple albums in the 90’s/00’s that were all techno-ey and what not, and he got lauded instead for being all modern. So Bowie’s kind of the reverse-case of Stock Reviews for Geezer Musicians.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            it doesn’t say much about us as consumers of art that we expect our artists to just do the same sorts of thing over and over

            heard r.e.m.’s “discoverer” on the radio earlier, and that’s a pretty damn decent song even if it isn’t “don’t go back to rockville” or “can’t get there from here”

  • Socrets

    Oh please. Guilded Age was sooo 2008. Feudalism is de moda right now.

  • RogerAiles

    Yuval Levin, Reihan Salam, Ross Douthat, Tim Carney and Avik Roy are dead peoples’ idea of innovative young people.

    • anthrofred

      If those people haunt me after I die, I’m going to be one seriously pissed off ghost.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        you can be haunted by ghosts *after* you die, too?

        seems kind of unfair, but not surprising really

        • anthrofred

          I will be haunted by the ghost of mixed metaphors, as I am in life.

    • colleen

      This is literally true. The ‘new’ ideas in the Republican party are ideas I argued with my conservative, fundamentalist grandparents about. I am now almost 70.

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    As a former professional health policy wonk, please allow me to say that Avik Roy is the hackiest sack of hack that ever hacked. Any time he gets in a debate with anyone remotely familiar with the US health system, he gets mollywhopped.

    GOP health policy post-Nixon has basically been like this Onion article (“Taco Bell’s Five Ingredients Combined In Totally New Way”)

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/taco-bells-five-ingredients-combined-in-totally-ne,3781/

    What makes Roy “21st Century” is that he serves those same 5 ingredients…on a blog!

    • panda

      Isn’t he the guy who ‘proved’ that ACA balloons insurance rates by comparing exchange prices to teaser rates on ehealthinsurance?

      • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

        Ding ding ding! He’s also the only person shameless enough to still push the “Medicaid makes you sicker than being uninsured” BS which was thoroughly debunked years ago. There’s at least one researcher who had to publicly disavow Roy’s interpretation of his work.

        • panda

          Well, he is innovative, in the sense that no one who has a modicum of shame or concern for reputation would use his research methods, so its QED as far as Gobrey is concerned.

        • “Medicaid makes you sicker than being uninsured”

          Wow. That’s some high-test stupid.

          • J R in WV

            So is “Let’s close all the libraries, since books are free now!”

            Very hi-octane stupid! Too stupid to talk and make sense at the same time!

            • I see that Gobry is a Catholic pundit punditizing Catholicness so that’s his happy dancing over Doutwhat is explained.

  • Linnaeus

    Resetting the clock to zero and trying to present old conservative ideas as new conservative ideas (while at the same time pretending that they were for certain liberal reforms all along) has been a well-used right wing tactic over the last couple of decades.

  • I thought that “The Week’s” main business model was: troll liberals.

    Mission accomplished?

  • When I saw the teaser on Twitter I expected something mildly stupid.

    Holy mother of cod. This isn’t Today in Stupid. This is This Year in Stupid. Perhaps even Makes Goldberg and JenKnob Look Like Geniuses Stupid.

    And many of these ideas have been adopted by the most prominent GOP politicians and presidential candidates.

    Here’s to many more years of GOP presidential wanna bes embracing the cutting edge. Real tight.

  • Many of these ideas are now compiled in a seminal new book.

    Just because the RWNJs cream their underwear at thought of it doesn’t make it seminal.

  • Jeffrey Beaumont

    This is a masterpiece of sarcasm

  • jon

    As a radical I’m so conservative, I like ideas that work. I don’t think feudalism was all that much fun the first time around. So exciting concepts that would resurrect the Inquisition or debt peonage don’t thrill me all that much.

  • Random

    This Reihan guy, where did he come from? His Hackery is at least level 8, possible 9.

  • Tristan

    The fact the title of the ‘seminal new book’ is as appallingly bland, unimaginative and cliched as “Room to Grow” really says it all.

    And Christ, that cover design. If it weren’t for the copy it would look like the pinnacle of the shitty dad humour books given as gifts by adolescents to emotionally distant fathers whose interests they’re not yet aware of.

  • Gwen

    Shorter Gobry: “Liberal hipsters are too current. I prefer conservative thinkers. You’ve probably never heard of them.”

    • LeftWingFox

      Ha!

  • jkay

    And isn’t he mispelling fresh and new Dark Ages ideas like stupid and evil empires and evil?

  • The one idea that has most differentiated successful countries from less successful ones is the production of value added goods rather than the export of only raw materials and the import of manufactured and processed goods. This is a pretty old idea, but hasn’t gotten a lot of support in most of the world outside of parts of Europe and East Asia for a few decades. But, all other economic policies in the face of a lack or a decrease in value added production are not addressing the real basis for increased prosperity.

  • Chris

    Today’s winner in stupid punditry goes to Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry for his piece about Vox and “the intellectual stagnation of the left.” I’m not even going to address the idea that Vox is somehow on the left, which it is only if our definition of left is “slightly left of center.”

    I occasionally look at the parts of the punditocracy that gets called “liberal” and wonder when the hell the word started applying to rich assholes preaching Bourbon economics.

  • Only with the right leader will the GOP truly embrace what’s been called reform conservatism, but it’s clear that the GOP is becoming the party of ideas again.

    At least the cretin recognizes the G.O.P.’s authoritarian mindset & that no brilliant new ideas will be embraced until a Great White Father tells them to believe it or else.

  • NorthLeft12

    If only those 1960ish ideas of the Left were ever actually implemented and kept current, perhaps they would not have to be brought up every election cycle, hmmmmmmmm?

  • JKTHs

    To be fair, the idea that Social Security and Medicare suppress birth rates is pretty innovative. I never knew that people have children just so that they can use them as piggy backs 40 years later.

    • Lee Rudolph

      Essentially that is often asserted to be true (I do not know with how much accuracy) for, e.g., China. (And that applies with either “backs” or “banks”!)

  • tomk

    I skimmed the article, followed a link reporting the “fact” that health outcomes in non-single payer countries are better than in single payer countries. The link went to a National Bureau of Economic Research article comparing Canadian and the U.S. health care. This sentence appears somewhere in the middle of the paper. “Focusing on whites (to sidestep differences in the racial composition of the two populations and the problem of racial disparities in health outcomes…”

    • Reasonable 4ce

      That’s because black and brown people don’t count, silly.

      And if we focus exclusively on the standardized test scores of white kids, the US has one of the better public education systems in the world. Funny how the “reform conservatives” with their voucher schemes never mention that.

  • Patricia Kayden

    “A flurry of innovative young writers like Yuval Levin, Reihan Salam, Ross Douthat, Tim Carney, and Avik Roy put out fresh, 21st-century ideas on everything from tax reform to health care to social mobility to poverty to curtailing the power of Big Business.”

    So do any of these hip, young dudes support voter rights? Same sex marriage? Reproductive rights (abortion and birth control)? Immigration reform? Efforts to fight climate change? Efforts to increase the minimum wage?

    Republicans have made it clear that they want to go back to “the good old days” when women and Blacks knew their place. And where gays were firmly in the closet. Unfortunately for them, demographics don’t bode well for their future, despite their army of innovative young writers.

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    you made running a blog look easy. The full glance of your website is great,
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