You expect to argue with conservatives about policy, but I was really taken aback in the wake of the Affordable Care Act’s passage by the number of conservatives who claimed to believe that repealing the law would be a feasible political agenda. It’s not. And as the latest token of that fact, note that about 61 percent of the public now opposes repeal with 47 percent saying we should see how it works and 14 percent sure it should remain unmodified.
I don’t think it should remain unmodified and I don’t expect it will remain unmodified. We’ll see changes, some of which I’ll like and some of which I won’t like. But the basic structure—an individual mandate to buy subsidized, regulated insurance that will be offered to all customers on a non-discriminatory basis—will be with us for a long, long time.
Various people have been lamenting the various forecasts indicating that it will take five or six years to get back to a decent jobs situation, but Ryan Avent points out that the news may be even worse than that as it wouldn’t be historically unusually for a new downturn to occur faster than that timeframe indicates.
Which is all the more reason it’s important for policymakers to be doing more to bolster growth. With rapid growth and re-employment, it’s possible to make progress on the medium-term fiscal situation. With rapid growth and re-employment, it’s possible to get nominal interest rates up above zero before the time comes to cut them again. With rapid growth and re-employment, people will have a chance to pay down some of their debts and have more of a cushion before the next recession. But if we stagnate, we’ll continue to be exceedingly vulnerable to any kind of negative shocks.
Over 500 Helena, MT residents gathered at the Helena School District’s school board meeting Tuesday night to weigh in on a new K-12 health education plan released last week. The 62-page proposal, developed by community members and health officials over two years, promotes a broad health and nutrition education program for each grade. However, there is a small section dealing with sex education that has ignited a firestorm of backlash among conservatives, both locally and nationally.
The curriculum would teach first graders “that human beings can love people of the same gender;” second graders “not to make fun of people by calling them ‘gay’ or ‘queer;’” and fifth and sixth graders that “there are several types of intercourse.” These ideas spurred right-wing pundits Sean Hannity (and guest Fox News contributor Todd Starnes), Bill O’Reilly, and Laura Ingraham into a tail-spin on their shows this week over the curriculum as a weapon to promote the homosexual agenda:
– HANNITY: What right does a school district that can’t even teach kids to read and write — and this is, generally speaking, around the country — have to impose their values on the kids? [7/13/10]
– STARNES: Sean, this is the report right here. Sixty-two pages. I have read every single word. And I’ve got to tell you something, Jack and Jill go up the hill, and they do some really inappropriate things once they get up there. [...] Rub a dub dub, three men in a tub. [7/13/10]
– O’REILLY: This stuff comes from the school boards and the superintendent. They want to indoctrinate the children. The reason is they don’t want bullying. They want tolerance across the board. So you take a 5-year-old who just wants to play and, all of a sudden, it’s Heather has two mommies or Gary has 18 daddies. I don’t know what it is. [7/14/10]
– INGRAHAM: Children will learn that sexual relationships could happen between two men or two women. Why stop there? Why are they stopping at two? I mean that’s very exclusionary, don’t you think? No plant life invoked. [7/15/10]
Hannity, O’Reilly, Ingraham, and many right-wingconservatives actually have no problem imposing values onto students — as long as they’re the values they champion, as found in programs like abstinence-only education. Medical experts have concluded that not only do abstinence-only programs not curb teen pregnancy, but “there is evidence to suggest that some of these programs are even harmful and have negative consequences by not providing adequate information for those teens who do become sexually active.” Despite clear evidence and increasingrecognition of their inefficacy, such programs continue to receive millions in federal funding.
When it comes to curriculum content, the right-wing watchdogs are clear on what values are acceptable. Hannity slammed an Arizona school district for “refusing to end its Mexican-American studies program,” citing a Chicano civil rights textbook as evidence that the class radicalizes students to overthrow the government. Both O’Reilly and conservative pundit Michelle Malkin insisted that a California proposal to include LGBT history in textbooks was “extreme and dangerous” propaganda that would prevent teachers from criticizing the “gay cannibal” Jeffrey Dahmer.
Supporters of the Helena plan recognize the need to support curriculum that “contains honest, science-based information on wellness and allows students to make better decisions.” As one parent supporting the plan said, “[T]his is about reality and truth so our kids don’t grow up in La-La-Land.” The board will have one more opportunity for public comment before it makes a decision at its August meeting.
Kevin Drum did an excellent post last week debunking the idea that extending the Bush tax cuts is somehow about helping small businesses, pointing out that this is only a tiny share of what’s really going on.
That said, every time this discussion comes up I do want to urge people to resist the frame that says that insofar as a given tax cut really is a way to help small businessmen that that’s somehow super-relevant. Nothing against small businessmen—some of them do some good stuff. But so do some executives at large businesses. So do some highly paid entertainers. The point is that if you own a small business and through your small business you derive an extremely high income, then you’re a rich person. Just like a rich lawyer is a rich person and a rich basketball player is a rich person and a rich Senior Vice President at Gigantocorp is a rich person. So of course when we try to tax rich people via progressive taxes, some of the rich people who pay the tax will be small business owners. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
These are forecasts are generated assuming optimal monetary policy. So the Fed is saying even if it acts in the best possible way it still expects to miss it targets well into 2012.
That’s ignoring the fact that its 2010 – to late to influence – inflation numbers still look a bit rosy to me.
The Fed is literally planning to fail. This is not good. Not good at all.
Either it’s planning to fail or it’s decided to unilaterally change its mission. Which may be the case, since instead of taking responsibility for setting an inflation target (“around two percent”), Congress decided to give the Fed a hazy dual mandate. Then on top of that, members of congress seem to have little interest in asking the Fed what it is it’s doing, money-wise. But if the idea is really that the Fed’s governors are still targeting a 2 percent inflation rate and can’t think of any ways to generate more inflation they ought to resign so we can bring some guys on board from Zimbabwe. Talking about the ins-and-outs of helicopter drops can get wonky and fun, but at the end of the day it ought to be the easiest thing in the world for a central banker armed with a bit of determination to generate inflation.
This week on C-Span, Coburn argued that he’s not against extending the benefits, he just wants the cost to the government to be offset. (He has no such concerns when it comes to extending the Bush tax cuts, however.) “We’re just saying, it’s important now…that if we’re going to do that that we pay for it.” But then Coburn suggested that people don’t even need the benefits anyway, citing a conversation he had with his roommate, Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC):
COBURN: I live with Congressman Heath Shuler. He told me yesterday that a job fair in North Carolina…had over 500 jobs available. Three people showed up. Three people showed up for 500 jobs in an area of unemployment of 10 percent. And his explanation was, “They’re not going do it until the benefits lessen.” And that may not be an exact interpretation of what his words were but the fact is there is a negative aspect to continuing unemployment.
Did only three people show up to a job fair that had 500 jobs available? As Crooks and Liars noted, this seems highly unlikely. ThinkProgress spoke with a knowledgeable source who helped organize the jobs event with Shuler. The source told us that it was actually a “work force training” and that there were “some jobs available,” but not 500 as Coburn had claimed.
And did Shuler really suggest that Americans on unemployment benefits won’t look for a job until their “benefits lessen?” That statement “is not consistent with what [Shuler's] position has been” on unemployment benefits, said the source, who called Coburn’s comment “insulting” because he made Shuler’s constituents “out to look like a bunch of deadbeats.”
Asked for his views on extending unemployment insurance, Rep. Shuler provided ThinkProgress with the following statement:
While it needs to be done in a fiscally responsible manner, I think it is our responsibility to provide unemployment benefits for those who lose work through no fault of their own. I’m holding a variety of events in my district to create a job-friendly environment and to connect my hardworking constituents with job opportunities.
Indeed, according to the source, the congressman has had other job events in his district that were “phenomenally attended.”
… too many of us treat science as subjective “” something we customize to reduce cognitive dissonance between what we think and how we live.
In the case of global warming, this dissonance is especially traumatic for many conservatives, because they have based their whole worldview on the idea that unfettered capitalism “” and the asphalt-paved, gas-guzzling consumer culture it has spawned “” is synonymous with both personal fulfillment and human advancement.The global-warming hypothesis challenges that fundamental dogma, perhaps fatally.
Canada’s conservative National Post has long published anti-science disinformation, as Deep Climate has catalogued and debunked.
But comments editor and Post columnist Jonathan Kay has just published a thermonuclear repudiation of “Global-warming deniers” (his term). And Kay is no liberal — his bio says he is “a regular contributor to Commentary magazine and the New York Post“!
The column deserves to be read in full: Read more
One of those is the Emergency Homeowners’ Relief Fund, a $1 billion fund to help unemployed workers stay in their homes. The brainchild of Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), ushered into the bill by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the EHRF should be in place by Oct. 1. It will offer qualified unemployed homeowners low-interest loans up to $50,000 to help them keep up with their mortgage payments and remain in their homes.
Legislators modeled the program after Pennsylvania’s successful Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, or HEMAP. Since its creation in 1984, HEMAP has helped 41,500 homeowners with $433 million in loans. About half of HEMAP loan-takers have repaid in full to date. And 90 percent of HEMAP participants have avoided foreclosure.
Smallish relative to the size of the economy, but sounds like a good idea to me.
John Quiggin moots the idea that if Republicans secure a majority in the House of Representatives we’ll see a replay of the 1995 budget shutdown. The case against this happening is that conventional wisdom holds that the shutdown was a fiasco for Newt Gingrich that members of congress will be loathe to repeat.
I think the case for it happening is twofold. One is that conservative politics is now much more dominated by a set of overlapping, competing media figures who are more interested in ratings than in majorities. The other is that if John Boehner has the courage of my convictions, he’ll believe that a government shutdown will risk sending the economy into a double-dip recession and that ultimately Barack Obama will be blamed for the bad results regardless of what polling says in the moment. Now does Boehner have those convictions? I have no idea. And would he really be so bold and immoral as to roll the dice on that basis? I also have no idea. But it could happen. To an extent, I think the functioning of our political system depends on the key actors not fully understanding how it works.
This aspect of the financial regulatory overhaul has gotten very little attention, but it’s both important and well-described by a Washington Post infographic, so here goes:
The idea here was that we needed to fear unduly harsh regulators, and make sure agencies had an incentive to be appropriately business friendly. So you get what we had here last financial crisis. The new model is designed to avoid incentives for unduly lax regulation:
This doesn’t single-handedly solve all our problems, and the very obviousness of the idea tended to lead it to be underplayed, but it’s obvious because it’s a good idea and an important one to boot. But it hadn’t been done before because banks liked the old system. Now it’s changing. That’s progress. And this is what I mean by saying that there’s something short-sighted about all the focus on what’s not in the bill. There’s a lot that’s not in the bill. Maybe future bills will tackle some of those issues. But there’s really quite a lot that is in the bill, and it’s basically good stuff.