Paul Krugman at The New York Times writes Charlatans, Cranks and Kansas:
Two years ago Kansas embarked on a remarkable fiscal experiment: It sharply slashed income taxes without any clear idea of what would replace the lost revenue. Sam Brownback, the governor, proposed the legislation—in percentage terms, the largest tax cut in one year any state has ever enacted—in close consultation with the economist Arthur Laffer. And Mr. Brownback predicted that the cuts would jump-start an economic boom—“Look out, Texas,” he proclaimed.George Will at The Washington Post hauls out the tired criticisms of the anti-R*dsk*ns movement with a piece that sounds like it popped into his email directly from team owner Dan Snyder's PR operation. In his column, Will includes a problematic 2004 poll that claimed the vast majority of American Indians have no problem with the nickname "R*dsk*ns. But he ignored a 2014 poll in which all the participants were verifiably American Indian. Sixty-seven percent of them said R*dsk*ns is racist.
But Kansas isn’t booming — in fact, its economy is lagging both neighboring states and America as a whole. Meanwhile, the state’s budget has plunged deep into deficit, provoking a Moody’s downgrade of its debt.
There’s an important lesson here — but it’s not what you think. Yes, the Kansas debacle shows that tax cuts don’t have magical powers, but we already knew that. The real lesson from Kansas is the enduring power of bad ideas, as long as those ideas serve the interests of the right people.
Kevin Horrigan at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes Cashing in on public service is as American as the 4th of July:
“We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” Clinton told ABC’s Diane Sawyer on June 5. [...]See more excerpts from pundits below the fold.
The last president to be remotely broke when he left the White House was Harry S Truman, who had only an Army pension of $112.56 a month to live on, equal to about $1,000 a month today. In his 1992 biography, “Truman,” David McCullough wrote that Truman sold his memoirs for a flat $670,000, later calculating that after taxes and paying his assistants, he netted only $37,000. Had he not sold some family property, the former president said in 1957, “I would practically be on relief.”
Andy Kroll at Mother Jones writes Unions Should Brace Themselves for a Major Supreme Court Loss:
It's official: The Supreme Court will wait until Monday, the final day of the current term, to issue its decision in Harris v. Quinn. As I explained in May, Harris is a blockbuster case that could, in a worst-case scenario, wipe public-employee unions such as SEIU and AFSCME off the map. And the chances of a damaging decision in Harris just increased—here's why.Jeffrey Toobin at The New Yorker writes The Supreme Court's Constitutional Folly in Canning:
Heading into Thursday, the Supreme Court had Harris and three other cases left to decide. The justices chose to issue their opinions concerning presidential recess appointments (Noel Canning v. National Labor Relations Board) and so-called buffer zones keeping protesters at a distance from abortion clinics (McCullen v. Coakley). Justice Stephen Breyer, a liberal member of the court, wrote the Canning opinion; Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, took the lead in McCullen.
This makes it more likely that Justice Samuel Alito, who we've yet to hear much from, will write the opinion in Harris, which points to bad news for public-employee unions. "There's almost no question [Justice] Alito has this opinion unless he lost his majority along way," tweets Rick Hasen, a University of California-Irvine law professor. "Anti-union is his signature issue."
The Noel Canning decision was probably correct. All nine Justices agreed on the core issue, after all. In their view, the method by which President Barack Obama made recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board violated the Constitution. But think about what that means: President Obama will continue to struggle to staff and run his Administration. Republicans will continue to block and delay Presidential appointments at all levels.Rebecca Traister at The New Republica writes A Woman Should Run for President Against Hillary Clinton. Or Many Women.:
This is what the Constitution, apparently, allows. So maybe the problem isn’t the Justices; it’s the Constitution. [...]
The madness of Senate confirmations. About twelve hundred executive-branch positions are subject to Senate confirmation. Does the Senate really “advise and consent” on this many Presidential appointments? Of course not, or not in any thoughtful way. Neither the executive nor the legislative branch could function if this many people were seriously evaluated. Rather, the process is a needless gauntlet for the nominees and a vehicle for expressing congressional pique.
spent a lot of 2008 feeling crushed. It was exhilarating covering Hillary Clinton’s historic run for the presidency, but there was so much about the race that was backward and retro, more 1958 than 2008. It wasn’t just the media’s goggle-eyed questions about whether the country was “ready” for a female president or the inane things that spilled out of people’s mouths on cable television—though let’s remember that Christopher Hitchens called Clinton “soppy and bitchy,” Mike Barnicle compared her to “everyone’s first wife standing outside a probate court,” and Keith Olbermann suggested that the Democratic Party needed “somebody who can take her into a room and only he comes out.” All of that was grim. But it was symptomatic of a far bigger problem: that in the first decade of the twenty-first century, the nation still had difficulty imagining a female president as anything other than an exception, a somewhat threatening anomaly.Madeline Janis, director of the Jobs to Move America Project and the national policy director of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, at the Los Angeles Times writes High-speed job creation for California:
Should she run, as she almost certainly will, people will be idiots about Clinton this election, too. They’ll call her a bitch and express their distaste for her through fantasies of misogynistic violence. But when I consider the distance we have traveled since 2008, I find myself strangely hopeful about what’s ahead. The degree to which our cultural attitudes about women in politics have matured is astonishing. [...]
But we haven’t come far enough. Instead, we’re in a tricky, potentially explosive stage: bursting with ideas about how to normalize the concept of women in power, but still constrained by a system that politically, economically, and culturally remains dominated by white men. We are tweens, caught between an awareness of the injustices of our past, yet not grown up enough to seize control and right them.
So how do we catapult out of this cusp period? Having a woman in the White House would certainly help. But in advance of that, and perhaps just as crucially, other women in the Democratic Party need to do what they’ve so far shown no stomach for: They need to challenge Hillary Clinton for the nomination.
Currently, there is not a single company operating in the United States capable of manufacturing the high-tech aluminum trains the rail system will use. To address that issue, California's rail authority decided to team up with Amtrak, which was also in the market for new high-speed trains. The idea was that the two agencies together would wield enough purchasing power to create a market for U.S.-manufactured rail cars.Dan Hancox at The Guardian writes World Cup fever really has hit America—Ann Coulter thinks football is socialist:
In January, they put out a request for proposals from manufacturers interested in building the high-speed trains domestically.
The request for proposals required companies interested in bidding to spell out exactly how many U.S. jobs they anticipated creating, as well as what kind of outreach they would do to hire unemployed workers and what kind of wages they would pay. The winning bidder would have been expected to purchase 100% of its major rail car components from U.S. factories, which would have led to additional American jobs making those parts.
On Friday, though, Amtrak and the rail authority canceled their joint manufacturing plan, having concluded that the needs of the two agencies were too different to be addressed in a single contract.
With Team USA suddenly in the round of 16, and World Cup fever allegedly sweeping the nation that football forgot, the American right has sprung into action. Determined to preserve American exceptionalism against a rising tide of baguette-munching ball-juggling pinko Europhile hippy surrender-communism, Ann Coulter has come to the rescue: "Any growing interest in soccer," she wrote to widespread amusement, "can only be a sign of the nation's moral decay."Amitabh Pal at The Progressive writes Economic Policy Kills:
Her reasons for hating football are manifold, and typically hilarious—chiefly, the suspiciously popular game with the round ball seems to show all the key indicators of socialism. The New York Times likes it. It's foreign. Foreigners like it. Obama likes it. It is even, somehow, "like the metric system". For arch conservatives like Coulter, the culture wars never stop, and the sudden spike in interest in the World Cup is just the latest assault on The American Way, accompanying the barrages of promiscuity, multiculturalism, Islam, R'n'B, and trains: "The same people trying to push soccer on Americans are the ones demanding that we love HBO's Girls, light-rail, Beyonce and Hillary Clinton."
“There has been a substantial rise in ‘economic suicides’ in the Great Recessions afflicting Europe and North America,” the paper, published earlier this month in the British Journal of Psychiatry, states. “We estimate that the Great Recession is associated with at least 10,000 additional economic suicides between 2008 and 2010.”David Sirota at In These Times writes No Bad Tree Bears Good Fruit:
This is a significant rise in a distressing social phenomenon.
"The size of the rise in suicides is particularly striking," lead researcher Aaron Reeves of Oxford University tells The Progressive. "These 10,000 excess suicides are over and above the trend, or over and above what we would have expected if previous trends had continued."
The researchers maintain that this upsurge was “avoidable.” They note that “job loss, debt, and foreclosure increase risks of suicidal thinking. A range of interventions, from upstream return-to-work programs through to antidepressant prescriptions, may help mitigate suicide risk during economic downturn.”
A few weeks ago, I took a trip to Tennessee—a state that has been called the most corrupt in the country. That’s right, according to a 2010 Daily Beast analysis compiling data about convictions on charges of public corruption, racketeering, extortion, forgery, counterfeiting, fraud and embezzlement, the Volunteer State is America’s single most corrupt. Similarly, a 2012 Harvard study lists Nashville as one of the nation’s most corrupt capitals.
Since I was traveling to the state for a conference about technology and innovation, I had a simple question on my mind: How does such rampant corruption shape state policy?
One analysis comes from researchers at Indiana University and University of Hong Kong. They compared data from 25,000 convictions in public corruption cases with state spending data. As Governing magazine reports, the researchers document that the most corrupt states like Tennessee “tended to spend money on construction, highways, and police protection programs, which provide more opportunity for corrupt officials to use public money for their own gain.” Governing adds that those “states spend less on health, education, and welfare, which provide less opportunity for officials to collect bribes.”