One thing that happens when a longshot candidate skyrockets in the polls is his policy proposals start getting more scrutiny. The Tax Policy Center, for example, has a new analysis out of the distributive consequences of Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan. The Tax Policy Center models 9-9-9 as catchy new slogan for a de facto national consumption tax*, and consequently constitutes a tax increase on most Americans but a tax cut for high income people who engage in a lot of savings and investment. I converted their table into two charts:
As you can see, you actually need two charts to illustrate this properly because the magnitude of the tax change for the highest income segments is very large. But basically you’re talking about a nice tax cut for the $200k-$500k crowd and a really big tax cut for people who earn more than that, plus mid-sized tax hikes for everyone else.
* I should note that CAP’s tax guy doesn’t like the way TPC models this, since their analysis really only works in the infinite horizon. The short-term distributional consequences would be even more regressive.
Israeli soldier Galid Shalit returned home today five years after Hamas fighters captured him during a military conflict with Israeli Defense Forces in 2006. In exchange, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to release more than 1,000 Palestinians prisoners.
Today on CNN, host Wolf Blitzer asked now-GOP frontrunner Herman Cain — who’s not exactly a student of foreign policy — if he thought Netanyahu made the right choice. While Cain said he doesn’t know all the facts of the case, he said, “On the surface, you would say ‘one for hundreds, doesn’t make any sense.’” Blitzer then asked if he’d make a similar deal if he were president, and Cain said he would:
BLITZER: Could you imagine if you were president…and there were one American soldier who had been held for years and the demand was al Qaeda or some other terrorist group, “You got to free everyone at Guantanamo Bay” – several hundred prisoners at Guantanamo. Could you see yourself as president authorizing that kind of transfer?
CAIN: I could see myself authorizing that kind of transfer but what I would do is I would make sure that I got all of the information. I got all of the input, considered all of the options. And then, the president has to be the president and make a judgment call. I can make that call if I had to.
Watch the clip:
As Matt Yglesias noted, the Galid Shalit case is a uniquely Israeli one:
The contrast between Mahmoud Abbas getting nothing from Israel through international law and advocacy for two states, and Hamas getting a lopsided deal through kidnapping, violence, and unreasonable demands must be palpable.
But what Herman Cain is saying here is that he would negotiate with a terrorist organization. But not only that, he’d agree to release every prisoner at Guantanamo Bay — regardless of their danger to the national security of the United States — in exchange for the release of one American in captivity. Be on the look out for a sharp increase in al Qaeda kidnappings in a Cain administration.
CUOMO: Ultimately, there was no answer by the opposition. There isn’t! There really isn’t. And as soon as you ask the question, and you probe the answer, the only answer is ‘I want to discriminate against gay people.’ And that is anti-New York, it’s also anti-American.
I’m working my way through the first season of The X-Files right now, and one of the things that strikes me most about the early episodes of the show is how much trouble it has figuring out how the cases are going to work, and whether they’re going to seem more like science, or like magic.
Take the first-season episode “Squeeze.” If Buffy the Vampire Slayer wasn’t four years in the future, I’d say the main creature is a straight steal from Buffy. He’s a humanoid who is really good at squeezing through small spaces, hibernates in Hellmouth-y conditions most of the time, and has emerged because (among other things), he really wants to eat Scully’s liver. He’s even got yellowish eyes, like Buffy’s vampires when they get with the crinkly faces and the biting. Other than his hibernation, there’s no real scientific design, or principal to be explored. He’s just profoundly unsettling and creepy. Of course, that’s always essentially going to be the case: this stuff isn’t real, so the faux-science is always going to have a tinge of magic to it.
But I think the show, at least what I’ve seen of it so far, is much better when it at least makes a gesture towards actual science — and actual thought experiments. Take the episode “Ice.” I don’t actually believe that worms from another age are going to mess with a bunch of chemicals in my head and cause me to go nuts on my coworkers. But the episode actually has an idea, namely, what happens to people working together in isolated, stressful conditions? What would it be like to have serious and inexplicable medical problems far away from anyone who could actually help you — which, as we know, can be a real problem? By making a gesture to actual science and actually plausible situation, the show is a lot scarier and more unsettling.
New York Police Officer Charged With Civil Rights Violation For Falsely Arresting A Black Man And Bragging He’d ‘Fried Another N*gger’ |
New York City police officer Michael Daragjati was arrested yesterday and will be charged with a civil rights violation for arresting a Staten Island African-American man without cause and then telling a friend he had “fried another n—–.” Daragjati falsely accused the man, who was caring no firearm or contraband, of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest “by flailing his arms and kicking his legs.” Because of this “false police report,” the man “spent 36 hours behind bars, investigators said in a Justice Department news release.” Investigators also have 12 phone calls in which Daragjati used derogatory terms toward black people. He has been suspended from the force and faces one year in prison or a $100,000 fine if convicted.
Freshman Tea Party Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) was one of several Republicans who refused to hold free and open town hall meetings this summer, choosing to meet only with those who were willing to pay a fee. After a contentious town hall meeting in Hazleton yesterday, it’s not hard to understand why Barletta wanted to avoid his angry constituents.
The Standard Speaker reports that protesters grilled Barletta on everything from jobs to Social Security:
Emotions ran high during Barletta’s fifth stop on his “Home to House” town hall tour at Hazleton City Hall, with a handful of attendees who packed Council Chambers questioning the congressman’s voting record on free trade, health care and jobs.
“You’re not doing your job, Mr. Lou,” said Stroudsburg resident Jennie Schaefer. “Stop treating people like we’re the dogs waiting under the table for some scraps.”
Watch a clip of the town hall, distributed by Pennsylvania Democrats:
Schaefer was essentially asking Barletta to support policies that would help average Americans instead of consistently siding with corporations. Another constituent kept yelling “that’s a lie” when Barletta tried to justify his position on jobs and the economy. Allentown resident Jody Weidrich asked whether the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare would increase if Barletta had his way. He replied that he supported the Paul Ryan budget, which would drastically cut entitlement services.
Roxanne Pauline, a coordinator with the Northeastern Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation, called on Barletta to “tax the rich.” Barletta responded that he didn’t think that approach would improve America’s financial standing.
At one point, Barletta defensively asked the protesters whether they had questioned their previous representatives, noting that he has only been on the job nine months. This isn’t the first time Barletta has treated constituents’ concerns dismissively and suggested that those who challenge his positions are part of a coordinated Democratic campaign.
At a town hall meeting in April, Barletta literally laughed at constituents who questioned his vote to maintain billions of dollars in subsidies for Big Oil. Another constituent told him, “You’re our congressman, don’t laugh at us!” At another event he was rebuked by a 64-year-old woman who wanted to know why he backed “a plan that will destroy Medicare.” The congressman’s office brushed aside the complaint and tried to smear the woman.
The Tax Policy Center adds that “a taxpayer in the top 0.1% (who makes more than $2.7 million) would enjoy an average tax cut of nearly $1.4 million, increasing his after-tax income by nearly 27 percent” under Cain’s plan.
Three Gay Marines Discharged For Sham Marriages |
Three Marine corporals have received bad-conduct discharges for entering sham opposite-sex marriages in order to receive housing benefits and live with their same-sex partners. Because unmarried couples (including all same-sex couples) are not permitted to live together on base, these fake marriages were the only way they could qualify for the for the $1,200/month spousal housing benefit to supplement living together off-base. Though gay and lesbian servicemembers can now serve openly, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act still denies them the same spousal benefits that opposite-sex couples are eligible for. Cpl. Ashley Vice, Cpl. Jeremiah Griffin, and Cpl. Joseph Garner were each fined $5,000 and sentenced to confinement for from three to six months after pleading guilty to stealing from the government through fraud.
One way to measure inflation is with a consumer price index which measures, as you should be able to guess, the prices consumers pay for things. Another measure is called the GDP deflator which also measures other stuff. In an economy like China where a large share of production is for export, it’s perfectly possible for the price of “stuff in general” to rise faster from the price of “stuff people buy” on a consistent basis. And, indeed, this is what seems to be happening:
Kash Mansouri notes that this implies that Chinese wages are rising faster than productivity which reflects the fact that Chinese manufacturing wages used to be much lower than the marginal productivity of the manufacturing sector. He attributes that “the communist, command-economy system that dominated in China prior to the 1990s, which kept wages artificially depressed.” I think it probably has more to do with the low labor productivity of wet rice cultivation. But either way, the point is that there was this basically one-off opportunity to build a modern factory and hire a bunch of Chinese dudes to work there for much less than their marginal productivity. Economic theory predicts that you can’t keep doing this forever, and now the window of opportunity looks to be closing.
This should be good news for working-class Americans, who’ve borne a lot of the adjustment costs of this arbitrage, but unfortunately they’re now suffering through a catastrophic shortfall in aggregate demand.