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I like this Ed Kilgore post

by Robert Waldmann

I like this Ed Kilgore post

Ed Kilgore wrote (among other things) “accept the validity of other religions”, ” Erick Erickson’s denials that I’m a Christian at all”, “the confusion of belief with fundamentally secular efforts to advance laissez-faire capitalism, American nationalism (and sometimes militarism), partriarchal family structures, and what God-hater Ayn Rand called “the virtue of selfishness.” ” and “the very old but much-forgotten historical fact that secularism has been very good for religion in America.” I meant to write an approving comment to make up for yesterday but the interested reader (if any) can read what I actually wrote. There is something about Kilgore that sets me off. In other words, I find him extremely intellectually stimulating. I don’t know what it is. My comment

I think this is a brilliant essay. It is very beautiful. I also think you are fundamentally right.

Some thoughts

1)Your belief that Christianity implies social solidarity and help for the least among us is different from their belief that Ayn Rand was a Christian.

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Political Journalists Should Follow the Lead of Insurance Industry CEOs and Read Angry Bear Regularly. Seriously.

Meanwhile, health insurers warned that Rubio’s legislation [to kill the insurance risk-corridors provision in the ACA] would lead to the government-run health-care system that most alarms conservatives. And there was the awkward fact that the risk corridors were the same mechanism Republicans used in the 2006 prescription-drug legislation.

From Obamacare to the IRS scandal, Republicans are ignoring the facts, Dana Milbank, Washington Post, today

Hmmm.  It’s interesting that the insurance companies finally are catching on.  Their CEOs must read AB.  But, given the importance of this insurance-industry awakening, I wonder why this has not (at least to my knowledge) been reported elsewhere in the mainstream media.

My suggestion to mainstream political journalists: Follow the lead of insurance industry CEOs and read Angry Bear regularly!

 

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Republicans and Dana Milbank Solve the Unemployment Problem in Germany, Canada, Taiwan and Australia: Those countries just need to repeal their universal-healthcare laws and tie healthcare insurance to full-time employment at large corporations!

It’s worth appreciating the perverse nature of the [Republicans’] lie on display [in a new web ad against North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan here. Because Republicans are absolutely wedded to their “Obamacare is a job killer” talking point, the CBO report’s findings are being distorted into proof that the law will inflict job losses on millions of workers who, in this telling, become Obamacare’s helpless victims — a labor demand argument. In reality, the report actually found it would impact the choices workers receiving the law’s benefits make — a labor supply argument.

Some conservatives have dealt with the report’s actual findings directly by arguing they prove the case against the law — that government subsidies reduce the incentive to work. Many of the good wonky writers — Jonathan Cohn, Brian Beutler, Jonathan Chait, Jared Bernstein — have already engaged this argument effectively. But that is at least a legitimate debate to have within the context of the CBO’s findings.

Morning Plum: Republicans double down on another Big Lie about Obamacare, Greg Sargent, Washington Post, today

Okay, look, folks.  As Sargent recognizes, there are two distinct issues concerning the Republicans’ and the news media’s treatment of the CBO report’s statement that approximately 2.3 million people will voluntarily retire or reduce their weekly hours from full-time to part-time because they no longer need to work or to work full-time in order to have access to healthcare insurance insurance.

One of those issues is the bald misrepresentation, deliberately or unwittingly, that the report said that an estimated 2.3 million workers will be involuntarily laid off because of Obamacare, and its punditry-proffered corollary that although that’s not at all what the report actually said, what the report actually said is just too complicated for the Democrats to explain to the public between now and November.

Unfortunately for the Washington Post, two of its preeminent political-analyst pundits, Dana Milbank and Chris Cillizza, have become the poster journalists, respectively, for the former and the latter.

The other issue is the question of whether we should return to a healthcare insurance system tied almost entirely to full-time employment, so as to effectively preclude voluntary early retirement (raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67!) or voluntary reduction from full-time to part-time work–or the decision to leave a corporate job and start a business–for millions of Americans, lest we encourage sloth among working-age Americans.  In a transparent attempt at a sleight of hand to quietly backtrack on his jaw-dropping initial misconstruction of the CBO report, Milbank today makes himself the poster mainstream-journalist for support of repeal of Obamacare on this  ground. He says that, with a single exception, the report is “otherwise unhelpful to the health-care law.”  Suffice it to say that the exception is not the uncoupling of access to healthcare insurance from full-time employment at a large corporation; that, he maintains without explanation, is part of the unhelpful stuff.

It is, or course, Milbank rather than the report that is unhelpful, and the absent explanation is that he does not want to admit that he either misread the report on Tuesday or didn’t read it all before posting a full-length column about it.  But why does Sargent–who interpreted the report correctly from the outset–treat this as a legitimate policy dispute?  Yes, it certainly is a policy dispute.  But is it really a legitimate argument that it’s better for the economy to continue to tie access to healthcare insurance to full-time employment at a large corporation?  What evidence is there that this is so?

The United States is the only modern economy in the world that has that system.  But it is not the most successful economy in the world.  Germany, Canada, Australia and Taiwan all (I believe) have more vibrant economies these days than the United States.

As for Cillizza’s claim, reiterated yesterday after criticism of it the day before, I’ve been at an utter loss to understand why journalists and pundits think that the public won’t know by November that the people at issue in that part of the CBO report are those who have wanted to retire or work just part time but haven’t been able to because they need the healthcare insurance benefit–and that their choice to retire or reduce their weekly work hours means openings for others.  

This isn’t rocket science. This option is a fact of life in every advanced economy other than ours, and it’s a concept that almost everyone is very familiar with right here in this country.  Is the unemployment rate higher in Germany, Canada, Australia and Taiwan because their healthcare insurance systems aren’t based on full-time employment by a company that provides it to its full-time but not to its part-time employees?  Really?

This isn’t hard to explain and it’s not hard to understand.  As Sargent says today:

Indeed, even CBO director Douglas Elmendorf directly contested the characterization of jobs being “lost” during yesterday’s House hearing, noting that when people decide to ease up on work for good reasons, “we don’t sympathize. We say congratulations.” Elmendorf even added that those impacted this way could include older people who decide to retire earlier than they otherwise might have, or spouses who choose to reduce work hours to stay home with a new baby.

But instead of simply refuting the anti-Hagan ad with one showing a clip of that part of Elmendorf’s testimony, or of someone in his or her early 60s who is ecstatic to now be able to retire, or a young mother who can now choose to reduce work hours to stay home with a new baby–as they obviously should, and presumably will–the Democrats should do this as well: point out in ads that the Republicans apparently have trouble understanding basic English-language declaratory sentences, such as the ones in the CBO report.

Rather than attacking the Republicans for dishonestly, the Democrats should take them at their word.  Their word being that they are too stupid to understand a clearly written CBO report.

Then again, I suppose the Republicans could invoke Dana Milbank and a few other mainstream journalists to show that they are not alone in that.

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Dana Milbank and the "Fact Free Zone"

by Robert Waldmann

Dana Milbank and the “Fact Free Zone”

I expected to enjoy Dana Milbank’s article entitled “From Obamacare to the IRS scandal, Republicans are ignoring the facts” But Milbank decided that he should Ballance his observation that Republicans are indifferent to facts with the following paragraph.

Rubio’s fact-free approach to Obamacare is puzzling because plenty of damning things can be said about the health-care law that are perfectly accurate: It does little to curb entitlements, it disrupts insurance plans for millions, it leaves 31 million Americans without coverage and, as the CBO forecast, it would take the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time workers out of the workforce.

Yep that’s showing em Dana. 1. “little” is a nice weasel word, but the ACA eliminated the huge Medicare advantage extra payments and massively cut the rate of growth of regular Medicare payments. It also made hospitals responsible for the costs of treating the infections people pick up there. I don’t claim that the sudden complete utter change in US entitlement spending is mostly due to the ACA but the assertion “little” is based on completely ignoring those data which are inconvenient to the quest for Ballance, that is all of the relevant data.

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Obamacare Killing Jobs . . . again

Cost of Obamacare

picture hat tip TPM DC

 

After shown to be wrong by Factcheck.org in its analysis, the Fox News group and Republicans are at it again  with a worn out commentary on how Obamacare kills jobs. This time they are using the CBO’s new analysis on the impact of Obamacare. Sometimes, I wish the CBO’s Douglas Elmendorf would simply shut up and keep his calculations and thoughts to himself. From Healthcare taking over the economy which Louise Sheiner and Glen LaFollette debunked and Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism portrayed; to Fair Market Valuation of Student Loans for risk even when Student loans can not be discharged in bankruptcy and make a greater return in default; and now the nebulous wording in a recent CBO report;

“The reduction in CBO’s projections of hours worked represents a decline in the number of  full time-time equivalent workers (page 117) of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024.”

What this really means is Labor can work fewer hours as a result of Obamacare causing healthcare insurance to be less costly. The number of hours needed to work would decrease 1.5 to 2%. People may want to work less and it sounds like they will opt to work less. The Republicans and Tea-baggers (their right of right brothers) just made their own version of the CBO’s report. The entire blog-o-sphere is laughing at Fox News and the Republicans with their obvious effort to distort the report.

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50 Best Investing Blogs

Daily Reckoning’s Jason Farrell lists Angry Bear in his top fifty…

The new year is off to an interesting start. With inflation dove Janet Yellen helming the Fed, another recession possibly imminent and Wall Street still making a killing, it’s as good a time as any to review some of the best sources of independent financial and economic thought out there.

Besides, of course, our own numerous free publications and some of the bigger blogs like Zero Hedge and Seeking Alpha, there is a broad selection of outstanding investing blogs that cover everything from ETFs to metals to disaster prepping. We decided to put together a list of some of our favorites.

….

Angry Bear: This popular blog has made several lists, including The Wall Street Journal’s and Minyanville’s list of most influential blogs. They cover global economics, taxes, regulation, healthcare and a variety of other topics.

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What the Associated Press Should Have Added to Press Releases About Scalia’s and Alito’s Current Warm-Weather Junkets

Here are the press releases dutifully passed along by the Associated Press:

HONOLULU (AP) – U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia will be teaching a class at the University of Hawaii law school.

The university says Scalia’s guest lecture Monday at the William S. Richardson School of Law will be followed by brief remarks on constitutional interpretations. He’s also expected to take questions from students.

Scalia was appointed to the nation’s highest court in 1986, which makes him the longest-serving justice currently on the court.

The 77-year-old New Jersey native isn’t expected to do any interviews or answer questions from the media.

Justice Scalia to lecture at Univ. of Hawaii, today

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is giving a lunchtime speech to a South Florida audience.

Alito is scheduled to speak Monday in West Palm Beach to a joint meeting of the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches and the Palm Beach County Bar Association. The topic of the speech wasn’t immediately available.

Alito generally votes with the nine-member court’s conservative wing. He was nominated by President George W. Bush and has served on the high court since January 2006.

Before that he was a federal appeals judge and was U.S. attorney in New Jersey.

Supreme Court Justice Alito speaking in Fla., Associated Press, today

Here’s what they should have added–and what the AP and other news organizations that report on such activities should include in every report of this sort, going forward:

The Supreme Court annually receives about 9,000 petitions, known as certiorari petitions, requesting the Court’s review of lower federal and state appellate court rulings, it hears oral argument in about 70 of those cases, usually two arguments a day, five days a month during* the first seven months of its nine-month annual term, and issues short opinions in an additional four or five cases, usually in order to reverse a lower federal appellate court’s ruling favoring a state-court criminal defendant.  In addition to its three-month summer break, the Court effectively adjourns for nearly a month for the winter holiday season, for another several weeks beginning in late January, and for two weeks in the remaining months in which it hears ten arguments.  Although the filing fee is $300, the actual cost of filing a petition totals roughly $5,000-$7,000 in order to meet the Court’s peculiar requirement that petitions be in special-publishing-house heat-press- or saddlestitch-bound, small-perimeter book form and that 40 copies be submitted.  While any litigation party who has lost a lower-court appeal and who can afford to do so is entitled to file a petition, the Court in recent decades effectively limits its annual 75 opinions mainly to cases in which the petitioner is a government or a government official or employee, or whose petition counsel is one of the approximately 30 Washington, D.C.-based Supreme Court specialists whose specialty is prompting a justice or two to open the cover of the petition on which the attorney’s name appears as counsel, for a fee of roughly $1,000 per hour. There are a few exceptions each year.

Seriously. Seriously.

—-

*Typo-corrected word originally said “ruling” rather than “during”.  Now, the sentence makes sense.

 

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News from hřbitov Nové Město na Moravě, Czech Republic “Stupid is as Stupid does Edition

- “Missouri Republicans have drafted a bill that would allow parents to pull their children from science classes that are teaching the theory of evolution. According to the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), Missouri’s House Bill 1472 would effectively “eviscerate” the teaching of biology in the state.” Stupid is as stupid does. “Missouri GOP: Allow Parents to Pull Their Kids From Science Classes Teaching Evolution”

- “Drop Dead, Detroit!” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson admitted, “Anytime I talk about Detroit, it will not be positive. Therefore, I’m called a Detroit basher. The truth hurts, you know? Tough shit.”
“I made a prediction a long time ago, and it’s come to pass. I said, ‘What we’re gonna do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and the corn.’” Stupid is as stupid does. Michigan GOPer:’Herd all the Indians’ to Detroit, build a fence and throw them some corn” Stupid is as stupid does.

- “Fox News host Martha MacCallum on Monday asserted that the solution to the arrest gap between black and white Americans was for African-Americans to smoke less marijuana. ”Fox’s MacCallum: Solution to high minority arrest rate is for blacks to smoke less weed. “Fox’s MacCallum: Solution to high minority arrest rate is for blacks to smoke less weed.” Stupid is as stupid does.

- “Sitting around that table we felt like a rag-tag grouping of Davids, in the historic Biblical story,” DeVos told me in an email. “But we left the table committed to doing our best to change Michigan’s future for the better.” Another wealthy wingnut trying to buy influence in government. As if he has not done much to influence the Michigan courts through his funding. QOTD: Dick DeVos Stupid is as stupid does.

- “On Thursday, an Orlando man shot and killed a 21-year-old who was fleeing his yard. He didn’t appear to be stealing anything, according to witness accounts. He didn’t appear to be threatening anybody. But Claudius Smith said he feared he was a burglar, followed him over the fence to a neighboring apartment complex, where he shot him after he said he felt threatened, according to a confession documented in an Orlando Police Department report. Smith even said he feared victim Ricardo Sanes was armed “because his pants were falling down” and his hands were in his hoodie pockets, according to a report obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.” Get off my lawn or I’ll shoot you dead. Stupid is as stupid does.

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Christie’s powerful when he shouldn’t be

Via Think Progress comes Alyssa Rosenberg’s comments on one lesson from the news of Chris Christie’s politics in NJ:

What happened to people who were affected by the traffic closure was ridiculous. But a willingness to inflict ridiculous consequences on innocent people is actually a rather serious thing to do. People who want Chris Christie to suffer the consequences of the tone he appears to have set in New Jersey would do well to remember that. Lampooning him as fat (a subject on which Linda Holmes has a great number of eloquent things to say) or childish both falls into the same sort of tactics Christie himself uses, and misses the point that Christie’s vindictiveness and hectoring style has made him extremely successful. That doesn’t mean we can’t mine humor out of the bridge scandal, and anything else might follow. But that humor needs to be in service of the idea that Christie’s powerful when he shouldn’t be, rather than assuming that everyone shares the idea that he’s laughable.

And she points to Springsteen’s new parody using ‘Born to Run’ under the fold.

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Obamacare horror stories

Maggie Mahar at healthinsurance.org takes a look at stories easily fact checked in Anatomy of an Obamacare horror story

For months, health reform’s opponents have been feasting on tales of Obamacare’s innocent victims – Americans who lost their insurance because it doesn’t comply with the ACA’s regulations, and now have to shell out more than they can afford – or go without coverage.

Trouble is, many of those stories just aren’t true.

The paper describes them as among Obamacare’s “losers,” but the truth is that they didn’t want to be winners. Two hadn’t even attempted to check prices in the exchanges.

Meanwhile, it appeared that no one at the Star-Telegram even attempted to run a background check on the sources, or fact check their stories. I couldn’t help but wonder: “Why?”

The answer will surprise you.

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