Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Oh, Stop, Matthew Yglesias. And COUNTLESS Pundits Like you.

That’s an enormous lowering of expectations, and a reminder to liberals about the formidable barriers to further expansion of the welfare state. The public has long been skeptical of the political system’s practical ability to do the things progressives say they want to do. A health care website that comes in months late, over budget, and still lacking full functionality confirms all those fears when it was initially meant to debunk them. And that’s true whether or not it in some sense “works.”

— Matthew Yglesias, Healthcare.gov Has Already Failed: Website problems won’t stop Obamacare, but they’ve already wrecked progressives’ ambitions. Slate, today

Yglesias was discussing the Obama administration’s statement yesterday that healthcare.gov is now working reasonable well in its capacity to handle log-ons.  The update, Yglesias said, tacitly acknowledged  that “‘t]he government, according to the people who run the government, shouldn’t be expected to do things well.”

That’s right, Matt.  What liberals have always wanted was a healthcare insurance website that works the way Amazon’s does.  They never really much cared whether healthcare insurance, and healthcare itself, was available to people who have a preexisting medical condition and don’t have an employer that provides group insurance, or who just plain can’t afford huge premiums. They just used that as a pretext to get the Amazon-like website, or to try to.

The government shouldn’t be expected to do things well.  If, by “things,” you mean websites.

Just wondering whether I’m the only one who is really, really tired of the punditry’s asinine conflation of means and ends–or, more specifically, of a website’s operations and access to medical insurance and medical care.  I doubt that I am.  I think it’s just that big-name pundits tend to conflate form and substance, because, well, that’s what big-name pundits do.

What a dumb blog post.  Yglesias’s, on Slate; not mine, here.

 

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DFAS and 8 trillion dollars and more since 1996

Via Reuter’s Scot J. Paltrow Part 1

Defense Finance and Accounting Service, or DFAS (pronounced “DEE-fass”). This agency, with headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana, has roughly 12,000 employees and, after cuts under the federal sequester, a $1.36 billion budget. It is responsible for accurately paying America’s 2.7 million active-duty and Reserve soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

It often fails at that task, a Reuters investigation finds.

A review of individuals’ military pay records, government reports and other documents, along with interviews with dozens of current and former soldiers and other military personnel, confirms Aiken’s case is hardly isolated. Pay errors in the military are widespread. And as Aiken and many other soldiers have found, once mistakes are detected, getting them corrected – or just explained – can test even the most persistent soldiers (see related story).

 

Part 2

This account is based on interviews with scores of current and former Defense Department officials, as well as Reuters analyses of Pentagon logistics practices, bookkeeping methods, court cases and reports by federal agencies.

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Ending the Era of Minority Rule

Obstructionism has been the modus operandi by Republicans in Congress to oppose President Obama with special emphasis in the Senate. Through the use of the filibuster, the Senate Republican minority has been able to block presidential appointments or sway them to less likely candidates, block the appointment of Federal Judges to the bench, and obstruct the enforcement of laws by blocking appointments to the NLRB . To bring about the end of a filibuster through cloture, 60 of the 100 senators had to vote in favor of it under the current Senate rules.  

With the appointment of Mitch McConnell as the Republican Senate minority leader, the number of cloture motions filed to break a filibuster has increased with <a href=”http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/reference/cloture_motions/clotureCounts.htm” target=”_blank”>3 of every 10 clotures</a>  filed having occurred since McConnell’s appointment. The numbers are up drastically since Obama became president and McConnell became the Senate Minority leader (redundant alert). Maybe McConnell does not like the president as the current practice is certainly not reminiscence of past practices.

 

cloture_gfx-03

 

Senator Henry Reid decided to employ the nuclear option:

“a Senate procedure that will allow a majority of the Senate to effectively change its rules to limit widespread obstructionism by the minority. As the trigger for this reform involves seven executive branch nominees being held up by Senate Republican filibusters, the likely consequence of this round of rules reform will be to eliminate the minority’s ability to filibuster nominees.” 

The president will now be able to appoint to the judiciary and to legislative positions with just a majority rule vote. If it appears to be unfair, more nominations by President Obama since he took office have been blocked than all other presidents combined.

 

filibusters

 

Maybe they just do not like Barack Obama the man?

 

References:

“Huge, huge victory for Political Sanity today,” November 2013, http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2013/11/huge-huge-victory-for-political-sanity.html

“Why Senate Democrats Had To Invoke The Nuclear Option,” November 2013,  http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/11/21/2972671/senate-democrats-invoke-nuclear-option/

Everything Yo Need To Know About The ‘Nuclear Option And Harry Reid’s Plan To Fix The Senate,” July 2013, http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/07/12/2291781/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-nuclear-opinion-and-harry-reids-plan-to-fix-the-senate/

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The Kosher Butcher Who Was Not a Person Until He Incorporated Himself*

Religious liberty, [Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals] Judge Tymkovich wrote, cannot turn on whether money changes hands. “Would an incorporated kosher butcher really have no claim to challenge a regulation mandating non-kosher butchering practices?” he asked.

Court Confronts Religious Rights of Corporations, Adam Liptak, New York Times, today

Why, yes, Judge Tymkovich, of course an incorporated kosher butcher really would have a claim to challenge a regulation mandating non-kosher butchering practices.  But that’s because the kosher butcher also is an actual human and was one even before he incorporated himself, er, his butcher shop.

The butcher would have a claim as, um, the butcher–Ira Greenberg, human being, exercising his religious right to use kosher-butchering practices to kill his own food, and his religious right to obtain kosher meat in order to limit his meat eating to kosher.  He also would have a due process right to practice his trade and make a living, unencumbered by an utterly arbitrary and irrational prohibition (or, to use legal formality, a prohibition that has no legitimate governmental interest). And Ira Greenberg Kosher Meats, Inc., would have a similar due process claim, a constitutional claim that, unlike campaign-contribution claims or free-exercise-of-religion claims, could be invoked legitimately by a corporation, because it, unlike political contributions and religious practice, actually would concern the right to operate as the sort of business that it is.

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Wall Street executive compensation

Robert Schiller began a look at executive compensation:

Last Wednesday, we presented our findings, “The Squam Lake Report: Fixing the Financial System” (Princeton University Press). Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of theFederal Reserve, helped introduce the book at a conference at Columbia University. He said he agreed with the principle that “the stakeholders in financial firms — including shareholders, managers, creditors, and counterparties — must bear the costs of excessive risk-taking or poor business decisions, not the public.”

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PERNICIOUS IGNORANCE ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY

by Dale Coberly

PERNICIOUS IGNORANCE
ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY
A REPLY TO KRASTING

Bruce Krasting in comments to Bruce’s post on Social Security made a number of claims that deserve a fuller answer than I was able to give in comments.  Below in quotes are Krasting’s claims followed by my replies.  I hope I am reasonably clear.

(Krasting said)

“I could list numbers showing how things have deteriorated at SS… every measure of solvency has gone downhill.”

No.  “Solvency” is not an issue with Social Security.  SS is not a business, much less a business that borrows money or has bills to pay.”   I stated this in my reply to your first comment.  You show no sign of having read it.  This doesn’t mean you disagree with it, but that you are physically incapable of seeing anything that disagrees with your preconception.  The “numbers” you are thinking of are “projections,”  that is, guesses.  And, again, they have nothing to do with SS “solvency.”

“Actuarial solvency” is merely a projection that if taxes remain as they are and the benefit schedule is unchanged the Trust Fund will fall to a reserve  below 100% of one year’s benefits.  This is a “warning” that taxes may need to be raised or benefits may need to be cut.  This is a largely meaningless statement unless someone knows “by how much.”

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