Open thread Feb. 23, 2021 Dan Crawford | February 23, 2021 8:02 am Hot Topics Tags: open thread Comments (18) | Digg Facebook Twitter |
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/23/upshot/inflation-interest-rates-biden.html?smid=tw-shareWhat the Bond Market Is Telling Us About the Biden EconomyA recent rise in interest rates hints that a recovery is on the way, but it could also mean harder choices ahead on spending.NY Times – Neil Irwin – February 23While Washington debates the size of a new economic rescue plan, the bond market is sending a message: A meaningful acceleration in both growth and inflation in the years ahead looks more likely now than it did just a few weeks ago.That would be mostly good news, suggesting an economy recovering quickly from the pandemic. Interest rates remain very low by historical standards, even for the longest-term securities. Bond prices imply that inflation will be consistent with the Federal Reserve’s target of 2 percent annual rises in consumer prices, not a more worrisome spiral. …
This asshole would probably be writing about the economic effects of war time spending when Germany and Japan were trying to conquer the world.
It is not a economic recovery program, it is a DISASTER RELIEF PROGRAM!.
What the Bond Market Is Telling Us About the Biden Economy
NY Times – Neil Irwin – February 23
While Washington debates the size of a new economic rescue plan, the bond market is sending a message: A meaningful acceleration in both growth and inflation in the years ahead looks more likely now than it did just a few weeks ago.
That would be mostly good news, suggesting an economy recovering quickly from the pandemic. Interest rates remain very low by historical standards, even for the longest-term securities. Bond prices imply that inflation will be consistent with the Federal Reserve’s target of 2 percent annual rises in consumer prices, not a more worrisome spiral. …
… What is happening is known as a “steepening of the yield curve,” with long-term rates rising as short-term rates hold still. It tends to presage faster economic growth; it is the opposite of a “yield curve inversion,” which is known as a harbinger of recessions.
But the flip side is that the moment appears to have passed when bond markets were giving the government an all-clear signal to do whatever was necessary to boost the economy, essentially making endless funding available at extraordinarily low cost. That could have implications for how the Biden administration approaches the rest of its economic agenda.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has emphasized that low interest rates, which keep the cost of debt service low, are important in her thinking about how much the government can comfortably borrow and spend. …
Hugh Hewitt says Senate should confirm Tanden
Conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday called for the Senate to confirm Neera Tanden as Office of Budget and Management (OMB) director after several key centrist senators have said they will vote against her nomination.
In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Hewitt said that though he had suffered “Tanden-inflicted scars” in controversial tweets Tanden had sent while serving as the head of the liberal Center for American Progress, he thought that senators voting against her over tweets would be punishing political opinions.
“She’s a serious left-liberal, though not as far to the left as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, so she’s left some marks on Team Sanders as well. She should also be confirmed as OMB director,” Hewitt wrote.
“All political people, especially senators, should live with the same rules of political debate as the rest of us. They should not use their confirmation power to protect themselves from online criticism, however hurtful,” Hewitt wrote. “Everyone draws the line at threats. But Tanden has just clobbered people the good old-fashioned way: with words.” …
(An unlikely wise observation from Hugh Hewitt. Go Figure.)
Neera Tanden has indeed publicly threatened people, including a Democratic member of the House of Representatives.
CNN: For years, Neera Tanden, Biden’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, has feuded — most frequently and famously on Twitter, where she is prolific and pointed — with Sanders supporters. Those clashes have occasionally pitted her against personal allies of the Vermont senator and tapped into the left’s frustrations with the internal practices of the liberal think tank she’s led for nearly a decade.
By the time she was introduced by Biden on Tuesday, alongside other senior members of his economic team, Tanden’s path to Senate confirmation already seemed in some peril — but not because of dissent from the left. The pugilistic president of the Center for American Progress and longtime aide to Hillary Clinton has punched both ways during her long political career. Some Senate Republicans were quick to highlight her past attacks on the right as a reason they might oppose her confirmation. …
CNN – December 3
Neera Tanden repeatedly and ferociously attacked Democrats as well as Republicans, over the years as president of CAP. Tanden attacked public policy advocates who were independent. Tanden attacked CAP employees as well. The bashings were personal. I only know of the bashings because Tanden gained so much media attention expressly for them.
Centrists vs Progressives among the Dems
(Centrists represented by The Third Way, an outgrowth
of Clinton’s DLC; Progressives by Bernie Sanders &
friends, or CAP – Center for American Progress?)
Centrists have lost the debate over which ideas should animate the Democratic Party
via @slate – July 25, 2018
Last week, moderate Democrats gathered for Opportunity 2020, an invite-only convention in Columbus, Ohio, hosted by the prominent centrist think tank Third Way. “Unlike a traditional conference, expect a stimulating mix of thought provoking presentations and interactive small-group sessions focused on the urgent need for the next generation of Democrats to offer a new social contract for the Digital Age,” the event’s webpage read.
NBC News’ account of the event suggests it wound up being little more than a group therapy session for Democrats fretting about the rise of an insurgent left energized by Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign and recent high-profile victories for candidates like democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who scored an upset win over Queens Democratic Party boss and incumbent congressman Joe Crowley in a Democratic primary last month. “Third Way unveiled the results of focus groups and polling that it says shows Americans are more receptive to an economic message built on ‘opportunity’ rather than the left’s message about inequality,” reported NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald. This was heartening stuff for moderates like Delaware’s former Gov. Jack Markell. “The only narrative that has been articulated in the Democratic Party over the past two years is the one from the left,” he lamented. “I think we need a debate within the party.”
That debate over the party’s direction is, of course, well underway, and the left has indeed dominated it. Six proposals to expand the government’s role in providing access to health care have been advanced by Democratic leaders and analysts in recent months. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for all bill, specifically, has been endorsed by 2020 candidates in waiting Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris. In April, Chuck Schumer announced that he would be introducing a bill to decriminalize marijuana, a move that followed Booker’s introduction last July of the Marijuana Justice Act, which would decriminalize marijuana and provide reparative measures for convicts and communities deeply impacted by the war on drugs. Late last summer, the Democratic Party released its “A Better Deal” policy platform, which called for, among other proposals, a $15 minimum wage and a reinvigoration of antitrust policy to tackle corporate concentration. In her memoir What Happened, Hillary Clinton wrote that she had considered proposing during her campaign a universal basic income program—a welfare measure that would provide cash payments to every American.
But the most significant development in the Democratic policy conversation over the past year has been the rise of proposals for a federal job guarantee, which would have the government directly create employment for all who seek it—an idea with roots in New Deal programs like the Works Progress Administration and Democratic pushes for “full employment” in the 1960s and 1970s. Bernie Sanders is on board along with a few unlikely advocates. Cory Booker, who came to prominence in the early 2000s as a committed moderate backed by groups like the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, announced in April that he would introduce legislation to pilot job guarantee programs in 15 local areas around the country, and Kirsten Gillibrand, formerly a prominent member of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition who has also broadly endorsed the concept of a guarantee, is a co-sponsor along with Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. The Center for American Progress, a think tank in the Democratic mainstream, released its take on the idea last year.
The interest in a job guarantee—an idea only recently revived by a small group of progressive economists without the fanfare and activism that have slowly pushed single-payer health care into the mainstream—is perhaps the clearest sign yet that the Third Way centrism long at the heart of Democratic policymaking is, as a source of new ideas compelling to both the Democratic Party’s rising leaders and the broader public, essentially dead.
Third Way’s wonks and pundits have spent most of their time since the 2016 election hoping against hope that some cash and a lightning strike might revive it. In January 2017, the group announced it would put $20 million of the money it raises largely from corporations and the finance industry into an effort to assess what had gone wrong for Democrats throughout the Obama years. …
February 23, 2021
Two paths to controlling COVID with vaccinations
As vaccination is rolled out across advanced economies, the main danger has become mutations of the virus, or variants. We all know about the B.1.1.7 variant that emerged in the UK in September and helped generate the rapid rise in cases in December. We also know about the ‘South African’ variant (B.1.351), which appears to reduce the effectiveness of all vaccines to some degree. But these are just two of the better known variants, which seem to be emerging all the time.
COVID variants are the reason that so many countries have now severely restricted travel (‘almost closed borders’) into their countries in recent weeks. One of these variants could severely reduce the effectiveness of a country’s vaccination programme. It is likely that scientists would be able to change their vaccines to deal with these variants, but that will still mean at least another year before everyone is re-vaccinated and therefore means another year of lockdowns. We also do not know whether scientists could ever win a race between vaccine development and the ability of the virus to mutate.
Virus variants arise when there is a large amount of the virus about. One of the many failings of Western countries during this pandemic is to believe that you could safely vaccinate in an environment where domestic cases were high. That is exactly the environment that encourages mutations that are better at avoiding vaccines. If Western countries had followed an elimination strategy after the initial outbreaks in Spring last year, it would have been possible to keep borders open between these countries and the chances of producing a variant that can bypass vaccines within these countries would have been eliminated. In addition we would have had a small fraction of the deaths we have seen, with much less disruption to the economy.
Western countries now face a choice of how they handle COVID as vaccines are rolled out. Although no doubt reality will be far more complex than this, I think we can illustrate two types of outcomes available to them by thinking about two possible paths. I will call these two alternative paths ‘elimination’ and ‘living with COVID’. As with any attempt to look into the future, it assumes an existing technology that could change, and it involves some assessments that may prove wide of the mark (or maybe just wrong).
— Simon Wren-Lewis
It has become a rite of the modern presidential transition: The gods of politics demand a human sacrifice, the Senate torpedoes a nomination, the new administration takes a hit, and everyone moves on.
But the case of Neera Tanden, President Biden’s embattled choice to direct the Office of Management and Budget, presents a new twist.
Tanden is amply qualified for the job. She is not accused of failing to pay her taxes or hiring an undocumented household worker. She is not on the ideological fringes. There has been no scandal in her personal life.
Her supposedly unpardonable sin is . . . incivility. Specifically, she used intemperate language on Twitter.
With the defection of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, her nomination looks to be sunk in the evenly divided Senate if she cannot win the support of at least one Republican.
It doesn’t help that many of the social media posts at issue were directed at senators themselves. Tanden referred to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as “Voldemort,” the Harry Potter villain, and “Moscow Mitch.” She labeled Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) “pathetic” and “the worst.” And she declared that “vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz,” the widely reviled Republican senator from Texas.
Granted, her tweets were rude and juvenile. But they were fairly tame compared with what one sees on Twitter every day. According to the media intelligence platform Zignal Labs, McConnell has been called “Moscow Mitch” on Twitter nearly 11.9 million times over the past two years.
Tanden has deleted the worst of her posts and apologized. Which is more than can be said for Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who in November tweeted this about Tanden and a clergyman who is now his Senate colleague from Georgia: “.@neeratanden’s tweets read like a @ReverendWarnock sermon: Filled with hate & guided by the woke left. Just as he’s unfit to serve in the U.S. Senate, she’s unfit to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.”
The sanctimony of Republican senators is newfound and rich, given how unstirred they were by the most powerful social media bully on earth leading their party from the White House for the past four years. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), who has declared Tanden “radioactive,” said last June, after Donald Trump tweeted one of his egregiously false conspiracy theories: “You know a lot of this stuff just goes over my head.”
Manchin’s calculation here is a little less obvious. It may be that, coming from one of the reddest states, he feels the need to show some independence from the Biden administration.
But his stated reason, the “toxic and detrimental impact” of Tanden’s “overtly partisan statements,” is hard to take at face value.
Manchin, after all, voted in 2018 to confirm Richard Grenell as ambassador to Germany. He was apparently unconcerned — as were 55 of his Senate colleagues — with the diplomatic skills of a social media troll who in the past had tweeted that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “is starting to look like Madeleine Albright” and that MSNBC host Rachel Maddow should “take a breath and put on a necklace.” Grenell’s social media lowlights also included mocking the hairstyle of Callista Gingrich, who was later named Trump’s ambassador to the Vatican.
Nor has sharp-elbowed partisanship previously been a disqualifier for budget directors. Mick Mulvaney, confirmed 51 to 49 in 2017, helped found the hard-right Freedom Caucus in the House during his time as a South Carolina congressman. The lone Republican dissenter was Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who cited Mulvaney’s past votes to slash defense spending — a legitimate difference over policy.
It seems fair to wonder whether sexism is a factor working against Tanden in the male-dominated Senate — or, as conservative strategist William Kristol put it, whether “these tweets sound harsher to these old guys because they’re coming from a woman.”
All of this has surprised the Biden White House. While its vetters were aware of Tanden’s tweets, they did not expect them to emerge as a major roadblock to installing the president’s pick for budget director during a national economic crisis. On the other hand, their fears of strong pushback from the left, stemming from Tanden’s frequent criticism of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), have not materialized as a major threat.
For now at least, the president is standing behind Tanden, and White House officials gamely say they believe she still has a path to confirmation. They have stepped up lobbying efforts on her behalf, and Tanden herself has met with 44 senators so far to plead her case.
But given the general climate on social media, Republicans would do well to worry what might happen to a GOP president’s nominees in the future. If senators really want to usher in a new standard of civility, the first thing they might want to consider is whether it should begin with forgiveness.
It appears Manchin has a personal bone to pick with Tanden.
“Office of Management and Budget director nominee Neera Tanden previously sent a tweet taking issue with the salary of former CEO of pharmaceutical company Mylan, Heather Bresch, who is the daughter of Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV).”
In August 2016, Tanden shared a screengrab of an article about Bresch which focused on a significant rise in her pay while at Mylan. It highlighted that the company’s board said this was justified as she had “contributed significantly to the company’s growth in recent years.”
And here is what Fierce Pharma had to say about Mylan of EpiPen’s fame.
A little background on Bresch, Mylan and EpiPen:
“this is a strategic move along the lines of Pfizer selling off the marketing of EpiPen to Mylan and keeping the manufacturing of it. Pfizer owned Meridian Medical Technologies manufactured EpiPen for Mylan and it will now be a part of the sale to Mylan. EpiPen was a huge success story for Mylan. A quadrant strategy of milking of a cash cow to fund new ventures.
Including EpiPen, ‘Mylan’s operating profit for its Specialty segment grew from about 35% in 2012 to roughly 60% in the second quarter of 2016.’ Most of this can be traced back to the change in design of the EpiPen (cap) , exclusivity of it due to design changes which was covered by patents, and the rejection of Teva’s generic by the FDA due to a difference in application.
Mylan changed Pfizer’s EpiPen design to achieve patented exclusivity. Teva could not duplicate it as a generic because patients could not use the Mylan instructions in applying the Teva generic. According to FDA’a rules, the Teva product could not be cast as a generic for the Mylan EpiPen in the marketplace as it could “not” be used in the same manner.”
Joe Manchin opposing Tanden smacks of his getting even with Nerma Tanden due to her commentary on his daughter and not other government officials who are largely open to criticism if one takes a look at what they have done “Nothing” in protecting the public from the large prices increases for EpiPen that can not be justified due to just a mechanical application.
CEO Heather Bresch reported to a congressional committee Mylan pays $69 per two-pack to the Pfizer subsidiary Meridian Medical Technologies. The price of a two-pack of EpiPens is ~10 times its cost.
If I were Tanden, I would have said far more than what she said about Manchin’s daughter. The EpiPen debacle was a mechanical change after Mylan took possession of the product and costs about $20 in materials.
Thanks. I had forgotten that episode. I see Manchin as another small state shakedown artist, and dirty. His, and Collins, moderate schtick has long since grown old with me.
Collins is backing away from the LGBTQ + Rights Bill.
Romney is doing similar due to his stance of having “strong religious liberty protections in legislation on this issue, and since those provisions are absent from this particular bill, he is not able to support it” In other words religions and a person’s religious belief allow both to still discriminate. SCOTUS has been backing that meme and having Amy on SCOTUS makes it more apparent they will push religion over individual rights.
OMB scores budget impact of legislation. It stands on a history of non-partisan achievement, except when it wasn’t nonpartisan. Her reception by Republicans and a red-state blue dog was more than predictable. Trump is gone, but DC is still inside the DC Beltway. Biden is politically astute enough to know that. I can only imagine that he really had someone else in mind all along that was not so popular with the AOC crowd, so had to first put forwards a sacrificial calf to make it go down.
Interesting idea. The ‘none so indignant as scoundrels’ is what I saw.
When the president of CAP, chooses to attack and try to defame and even punch. When the president of CAP chooses to try to defame a Democratic member of Congress, a representative who was overwhelmingly supported by voters, an enlisted soldier who served in Iraq and rose to the rank of Major, possibly the judgement of the president of CAP is subject to question. The president of CAP in question, along with Donald Trump, would in writing advise the taking of oil fields in Syria to pay for American military involvement. I found this bothering, but could as usual been wrong to have been bothered. I, after all, was never punched as an employee of CAP was punched.
Attacking and trying to defame a Democratic member of Congress, a soldier who had honorably served this country in Iraq and risen to the rank of Major, a member of Congress who was always conscience-driven, is a problem for me that I am unable to move past in thinking of the selection of a person for the President’s Cabinet. I am no doubt wrong, but still…
Opinion | The GOP should forgive Neera Tanden
WSJ – Hugh Hewitt – February 20
… Neera Tanden, head of the liberal Center for American Progress, is a lawyer, activist, former senior Hillary Clinton aide and ubiquitous presence on cable television and Twitter. Because Tanden is smart, funny and quick, she’s capable of leaving a mark. I know — I have more Tanden-inflicted scars than the villains in all the Zorro movies and television episodes combined. She has displayed the same cutting ruthlessness on Twitter as she has on set. Which is to be expected. She’s a serious left-liberal, though not as far to the left as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, so she’s left some marks on Team Sanders as well. She should also be confirmed as OMB director.
All political people, especially senators, should live with the same rules of political debate as the rest of us. They should not use their confirmation power to protect themselves from online criticism, however hurtful. Everyone draws the line at threats. But Tanden has just clobbered people the good old-fashioned way: with words. By 19th-century standards she is actually tame. …
One or more GOP senators should step forward and set a precedent for the next Republican administration: “I am voting to confirm Neera Tanden despite what she has said or written about me or my fellow senators because the president deserves his first team on the field early. And we expect the Democrats to play by the same rules in four or eight years.”
(Not the WSJ piece linked previously.)