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

Paul Krugman, Angry Bear, and Jazzbumpa

Update: Noahpinion takes on the same in How to win arguments by pretending to be stupid.  The comments section offers other points of view.

Ron T. aka Jazzbumpa received an unusual thank you from Paul Krugman for this post on a Mish Shedlock post about debating PK.

Krugman recommended Beverly Mann  on January 15th this year as part of a  recommended reading post.

Other Angry Bear contributors gaining mention and recommendation by name in the recent past that immediately come to mind are Mike Kimel and Bruce Webb.

Despicable Me – Paul Krugman

Funny: Angry Bear finds some of the usual suspects explaining How to Debate Paul Krugman, and the answer appears to be this: invent a straw man who bears no resemblance at all to the economist/columnist of the same name, and ridicule that imaginary person. I have to say, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I could play the role of History’s Greatest Monster to so many people. Thank you for the honor!

Aside from the silliness of the exercise, this little exchange is another illustration of a point I’ve noticed before: the way hard-right commentators assume that the other side must be their mirror image. They insist that no government intervention is ever justified; so liberals must support any and all government interventions. They want smaller government, as a principle; liberals must want bigger government, never mind what for. They believe that deficits and printing money are always evil; liberals must be for deficits and money-printing under all circumstances.

An hour spent browsing this blog would quickly refute all of this, together with the bizarre charge that I never look at evidence; you may not agree with my conclusions, but I sure do post a lot of numbers. But obviously looking at what I actually write would just be too painful.

Anyway, thanks guys, you made my day.

The Republican Congressional Delegation’s Oddly Faulty Memory of 2004 — UPDATED

House Republicans argue that voters handed their members a mandate as well, granting the party control of the House for another two years and with it the right to stick to their own views, even when they clash strongly with the president’s.
And many Republicans remember well when the tables were turned. After Mr. Bush’s re-election in 2004, Democrats eagerly thwarted his push for privatization of Social Security, hobbling Mr. Bush’s domestic agenda in the first year of his second term.

Events Recall a More Bipartisan Era, and Highlight Gridlock of Today, Michael D. Shear, New York Times, today.

Whoa.  Funny, but I too remember the weeks following the 2004 presidential election. Which immediately followed the 2004 presidential campaign.  Which I also remember; it wasn’t all that long ago.  

And I remember that during that campaign, Bush never mentioned his plan to privatize Social Security.  

Yes, that’s right.  Bush waited until immediately after the election to announce his intention to privatize Social Security–outraging not just Democrats but millions of Independents, some of whom had voted for him, and even some Republicans.  

The main focus of the 2004 presidential campaign was national security.  Privatization of Social Security was not an issue at all in 2004.  Not until after the campaign, that is, when Bush not only announced his plan but also then campaigned intensely for public support for it, to no avail.  The proposal quickly proved deeply unpopular.  And congressional Republicans began to run from it.  The Republicans, who controlled both houses of Congress, did not even put it up for a vote, in either house, if I recall correctly.

So if Republicans think they remember that the tables were turned–a metaphor that refers to actual similarity, or at least some semblance of it–they might consider seeing a neurologist.  Or maybe just reading news accounts from the period between Bush’s announcement of his proposal and the death of that proposal early in 2005.  They also can search for reports of any mention–any suggestion at all–by Bush during the campaign that he was planning to propose the privatization of Social Security.  I wish them luck.

As for their claim to a mandate because they retained control of the House, the speciousness of this assertion has already been documented and discussed in the mainstream media, largely because a Washington Post reporter (I wish I could recall his name, but I can’t) meticulously researched the campaign results, congressional district by congressional district, and then did something that modern Republicans don’t: math.  Republicans lost, albeit narrowly, the aggregate popular vote in House elections nationwide.  They retained control of the House only because of extreme gerrymandering last year in some states, most notably in Pennsylvania and Texas, but in other states as well.  

The word “mandate” in this context leaves room for debate about what percentage of victory in the popular vote constitutes one.  But a victory in the popular is a prerequisite to that debate.  The Republicans don’t have the prerequisite, nor do they claim to have it; they simply misuse the word “mandate”.  Like so many other words.  

But at least it’s not false for them to note that they did retain control of the House.  What is baldly false, though, is their characterization of late 2004 and early 2005 as tables turned.  Unless, of course, there’s such a thing as a retroactive mandate for a policy that wasn’t disclosed during a campaign and is announced as a surprise only afterward.  Immediately afterward.

Which, now that I think about it, probably is what happened in 2004.  no, the public isn’t clairvoyant.  But we did know during the campaign that a Republican president and a Republican-controlled Congress in the current era will always want to privatize Social Security, and will waste no time (literally, in that case) in trying to do that when they hold the White House and majorities in both congressional houses.  We just forgot that, to our near-detriment–a mistake that, I trust, we the public won’t make again, however much Republican candidates insist otherwise during the campaign.  Because the Dem candidates will remind the public, during the campaign, of what happened after the election of 2004.  And of the current congressional Republicans’ claim in that New York Times article that a clear election victory is not a mandate on issues that were at the express and constant heart of a national campaign, because, after all, the opposition party doesn’t recognize as a mandate a vital policy proposal made only after the election that retroactively turned out to be all about that vital policy issue after all.  I mean, who knew?  Well, the Republicans did.

And now we do too, and it will be a prominent factor in campaigns to come.  The sheer trickery;  the attempt, in 2004 and now, to utterly undermine the very concept of democracy.  The current congressional Republicans’ express equating, as Shear reports, of a policy issue clearly at the heart of a campaign with a policy not even mentioned during the campaign.  It’s of a piece with the Romney campaign’s modus operandi of incessant, outright misrepresentations of fact.  And also of a piece with state and federal Republican legislative and executive-branch officeholders’ policy of delegating to lobbying groups the actual writing of legislation, including during lame-duck periods, enacting policies never proposed and, in some instances, expressly rejected by the officeholders, pre-election.  (Think: Michigan, Dec. 2012.)

But there’s also a separate issue of the messenger’s’–Shear’s–curious acceptance of the false equivalence of Bush’s and Congress’s handling of the Social Security privatization issue in late 2004 and early 2005 and resolution of the tax and spending issues of the fiscal cliff.  Shear mentions that Obama’s current approval rating in this week’s polls is his highest since shortly after bin Laden was killed.  He doesn’t mention that Obama’s approval rating has been above 50% throughout the post-election period, including the period before the Newtown shooting rampage, when the cliff talks were the news story, daily.  And that Bush’s approval rating plummeted once he announced his Social Security privatization plan.  And that the juxtaposition of the drop in Bush’s approval rating and that announce was not coincidence; the polling on that issue was awful for him.

We all are, by now, used to the news media’s acquiescence in the Republicans’ false-equivalency game. This Times article, by a reporter whose reporting is normally of high quality, makes me wonder whether there’s just is no limit to even the reporter-as-mindless-stenographer-for-fear-of-appearing-to-be-anti-Republican mindset at even the very highest level of the mainstream media.*

*This sentence had a large cut-and-paste error in it, and has now been corrected.


UPDATE:  Well … in the comments to this post, reader CasualObserver wrote:

Watch at the 5 min mark you will find that the faulty memory is all yours.

To which AB regular contributor Bruce Webb responded:

Well I don’t relish being the skeleton at the feast here, but Bush made his intentions on SS crystal clear when he set up his CSSS (Commission to Strengthen Social Security) in 2001 with six specific guidelines. one of whic categorically ruled out Payroll tax solutions of the sort Dale and us put forth as the ‘NW Plan’ and another nandated that private accounts had to be part of the package.

CSSS rolled out its recommendations right on time, unfortunately for Bush that time was right after 9/11. Absent that, which the Bush Administration was not expecting at all, we could have expected some analogue of the 2005 Social Security Tour being rolled out in 2002. The Bush Administration apparently took the intention for the deed and after fighting out the mid-terms and the 2004 presidential elections almost solely on national security somehow got the idea that yhe time was ripe to push the ‘Bi-Partisan’ Model 2 CSSS Plan, though at first with the flimsy vover of the near identical Posen Plan. because Posen, like a full half of the CSSS was a Democrat.

Anyway by Nov 26th 2004 Bush could plausibly claim that his plans for Social Security were fully spelled out after a ‘bi-partisan’ process for the last three years and so were at least implicitly on the table during the 2004 campaign. perhaps counting on the fact that no one was paying attention. and he almost won that bet, the fond belief by Dem leaders that they shot down Model 2 is not supported by the chronology instead the SS Tour was stopped in its tracks by the blogger led ‘There is No Crisis’ movement (in which I had an informal role but which was led by Dave Johnson and some others).

So no there was little to no talk of Social Security privatization on the hustings, and unless you were predisposed to be a SS geek that “I have got capital” move would indeed come out of thin air. Me I set up a new Social Security blog within 48 hours ( and started lobbing SS Report tables at figures with abandon. Because for my sins I was already seven years into this SS thing. And as such knew what Bush was about.

For which I am deeply grateful, Bruce, since after I read CasualObserver’s comment and did watch the video clip–which shows presidential-debate moderator Bob Schieffer asking Bush about his proposal to allow people to use part of their Social Security taxes to invest in the stock market rather than have the money go to the U.S. Treasury–I was dismayed.  How could I, who was downright obsessed with the 2004 presidential campaign and its outcome, not recall that Bush had campaigned in 2004 on his plan, announced years earlier, to partially privatize Social Security?

The answer, it turns out, is that Bush didn’t campaign on that plan during the 2004 campaign.  Schieffer was asking him about what had transpired before 9/11, and his commission’s recommendations, released in 2002.  To his credit, Bush, unlike a certain Republican presidential candidate in 2012, didn’t deny that he had done and said what Schieffer said he had.  Nor did he flip-flop.  He answered, straightforwardly, that this was his intention, and made a brief argument for the policy.

But Bush himself did not raise the issue during the campaign, and certainly did not campaign on the issue; that answer to Schieffer’s question probably is the only time he mentioned it during that campaign, unless maybe some other reporter asked him about it at some other point.  And Republicans had held control of both houses of Congress throughout Bush’s term, yet neither Bush nor the congressional Republicans had attempted to enact this into law.  That, of course, is because it was a very unpopular proposal.  

So CasualObserver is right, and I was wrong, that Bush made clear at some point during the campaign that he wanted to propose a plan to partially privatize Social Security.  But CasualObserver is wrong in suggesting that Bush campaigned on this.  He did not; he said, once or perhaps twice, in answer to a question, that he planned to do this.  But there was little expectation that such a proposal, if actually presented as a bill in Congress, would go very far.  And it did not go very far, not, as the current Republican congressional delegation claims, because the Senate Dems threatened a filibuster, or whatever, but because the polls were consistently showing–to Republican members of Congress as well as to Dem ones–that there was strong, broad-based opposition to it among the public.  So strong, in fact, that Bush’s 2005 attempt to have this policy enacted played a role in the unexpected change of both houses of Congress to Dem control in the 2006 election.  This, even though there weren’t enough Republican members in either house in 2005 to push this through.

The 2004 election was almost entirely about national security–at a time when, polls showed, about half the public still believed that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, and many still thought he had had weapons of mass destruction.  Virtually no one, Republican or Democrat, viewed the central issue in the campaign as anything else.

Suffice it to say that it is delusional–or maybe just a desperate political gimmick–for the current Repub crowd to claim an equivalence, in any substantive respect at all, between the 2005 Social Security privatization issue and the fiscal-policy controversies at issue in the current situation.

Including, not incidentally, that the Social Security privatization issue didn’t threaten to bring down the economy in 2005.

Recommended reading on Social Security

Eric Larson is interviewed about Social Security and his new book The People’s Pension: The War Against Social Security from Reagan to Obama (AK Press, Spring 2012):

Eric Laursen is an independent journalist who’s been covering political and financial news for more than a quarter-century. He’s been studying Social Security for the past 15 years, and just published a smart and exhaustive (800-page!) book called The People’s Pension: The War Against Social Security from Reagan to Obama (AK Press, Spring 2012).

If you want to put the current struggle over Social Security’s future in context, read this book. Eric chronicles the history of Social Security from the 1930’s to the present, with a special focus on the ideological and political attacks on the system. He starts with the Reagan years and connects the dots to the current efforts to undermine Social Security from the right. (I also recommend highly Nancy Altman’s The Battle for Social Security).
ALSO SEE: “People’s Pension” Author: Social Security Cuts Would Hurt Ethnic Families Most

You will  find Angry Bear Bruce Webb’s thinking on this subject.  

2012 Social Security (and Medicare) Reports: due Monday

If past file conventions hold true these links should work immediately on release of the 2012 Social Security and Medicare Reports Monday morning.

This link  SHOULD get you to the CURRENT summary. Which means 2011 until it means 2012. When it does.
Social Security and Medicare Summary Report BTW from all evidence 99% of all Social Security reports found in the lamestream media (because on this one the Snow Queen is right) are cribbed from the Summary which also is much the same as the introduction to the full Report. But the real juice is in the Tables and Figures which among other things show alternate projections besides the standard ‘Intermediate Cost alternative’ always cited.

I haven’t posted at AB for a while and Blogger is all different so the FSM Him/Her/Itself knows how and whether this will render and beyond that whether the links will even work tomorrow. Until then you are pretty much guaranteed a 404 Error either way. Except the first link should get you to the 2011 Summary in the meanwhile.

Reading the Social Security Report: "What is crisis? In context?"

The first link is to the 2011 Report and is meant as a teaching tool. The Table shows projected income, cost, and balance projections over what the Trustees consider the ‘short term’, which is the same ten years used by OMB and CBO in their scoring. Table IV.A3.—Operations of the Combined OASI and DI Trust Funds, Calendar Years 2006-20 
Traditionally income came in three primary forms: contributions from payroll (FICA), tax on benefits, and interest on Trust Fund principal. In 2011 the loss of income due to the payroll tax holiday was projected to be replaced by General Fund transfers so adding a fourth (offsetting) category. Cost also comes in three forms with benefits constituting more than 99% (including Railroad Retirement Board interchange) and admin just under 1%. In any year when total income including accrued interest exceeds total cost the Table shows a surplus ‘Net increase during year’ and a corresponding addition to the Trust Fund balance ‘Amount at end of year’. And taken ON ITS OWN TERMS, combined OASDI shows continuing surpluses through the ten year window to a total of something over $900 billion in surpluses. Which BTW score as such on the top line number CBO and subsequently the press report as THE Budget Surplus/Deficit. Okay then where is the crisis? What part of ‘near a trillion dollar surplus’ don’t we understand? Well there are a couple of answers to that, which to start with will require some longer range outlook. New table below the fold.
Table VI.F8.—Operations of the Combined OASI and DI Trust Funds, in Current Dollars, Calendar Years 2011-85 This table shows longer term projections under the three different economic and demographic models used by the Trustees of which ‘Intermediate Cost’ is the standard one. Here we can see that under IC projections surpluses vanish soon after the ten year window of Table IV.A3 and that year end balances start shrinking ultimately to vanish in 2036. Now the end of surpluses and even depletion of Trust Fund balances doesn’t mean that there simply are no funds to pay any benefits, even in 2035 ‘Income excluding interest’ STILL will exceed $2.2 trillion a year. On the other hand projected Cost under the scheduled benefit would be a little over $2.8 trillion, leaving a 22% or so gap. And since under current law Social Security has no ability to borrow would require an abrupt drop in benefits to 78% of the schedule. So THAT is the agreed definition of ‘crisis’: ‘sudden immediate drop in benefits by 22% at the point of Trust Fund Depletion’. But that is also the point where agreement stops as a divide arises between what I will call Social Security ‘supporters’, ‘reformers’ and ‘Rosserites’ (a term I just invented). For ‘supporters’, that is for advocates of traditional Social Security crisis focuses on ‘drop’. As a result their range of policy responses mostly revolve around ways to avoid the cut altogether, which given a system where non-benefit costs (i.e. admin) represent 1% of total costs, requires boosts on the income side. Hence approaches ranging from ‘lift the cap’ to Dale Coberly’s ‘good grief, it is just 40 cents a week to start if you gradually boost FICA’. On the other hand while some ‘reformers’ pay at least lip service to ‘drop’ their real concern is the ‘sudden immediate’ part and what they anticipate will be the political reaction: which in their imagination means millions of screaming ‘Greedy Geezer’ Boomers descending on Capitol Hill demanding that all scheduled benefits be paid in full no matter what. So their range of policy responses fall into two basic approaches plus a blend. One approach is to appeal to the Magical Fairy Dust of Equity Markets and claim that private accounts will simply make up the difference. Another approach is just to avoid the ‘sudden’ part by simply phasing in the cut by such things as means testing, retirement age adjustments, changes in CPI whatever that end up with the same 22% (or more) cut but with less drama. And the more cynical ones combine both approaches by pretending (or believing) that Magical Fairy Dust will just offset those gradual cuts and everyone (but especially account managers of private accounts) will live happily ever after. But either way this leaves ‘supporters’ and ‘reformers’ talking past each other with the former focused on avoiding cuts altogether while the latter concentrate on making them imperceptible. But which makes them just not hear solutions that would actually cost them anything, because ‘cuts’ as such are not where they see the problem to start with. Now somewhere between ‘supporters’ and ‘reformers’ are the distinct minority of ‘Rosserites’. And by ‘distinct minority’ I mean Professor Barkley J Rosser and your (not-so) humble blogger. (Although such luminaries as Prof K and Dean Baker at least acknowledge that we exist and have a point). Now Rosserites are opposed by the non-Rosserites (which mostly means AB commenter Dale Coberly, we could have a joint meeting of both sides in a phone booth-if such existed anymore)who I think misjudge us. That is where Rosserites are making an observation, and drawing a theoretical conclusion, we are not in fact ADVOCATING that outcome, just pointing out that the 22% cut at Trust Fund Exhaustion is not in full context a ‘crisis’ at all. And that understanding this allows us to modulate our responses to what all agree is a problem, whether that be defined as ‘cut’ or ‘sudden’. Rosserites, or at least this Rosserite, point to the following 2002 Congressional Budget Office Report: The Future Growth of Social Security: It’s Not Just Society’s Aging and particularly to Figure 2 on page 2. Now in what may be the least known aspect of Social Security it turns out that the scheduled benefit under current law actually results in increased REAL benefits over time. That is measured in terms of actual purchaseable basket of goods the average benefit was projected to rise from $14,000 in 2002 dollars to $26,000 in 2002 dollars between 2002 and the end of the 75 year projection period. Or close to a 85% REAL INCREASE for the retiree of 2077 as opposed to what my Mom got in 2002. Which Rosserites take as an argument to put the 22% cut in 2036 in the context of this upward sloping baseline. That is per CBO benefits at the point of Trust Fund Depletion (using 2002) projections were scheduled to be about 140-150% of then current benefits and a 25% cut to THAT still rendered what I cheekily call ‘Rosser’s Equation’ (Barkley can’t decide whether to be ‘bemused’ or ‘amused’ by this), that is 75% of 150% = 115%. Meaning that the real world consequence of that ‘sudden’ ‘cut’ would still be a check 15% better than my Mom gets today. In real basket of goods terms. Which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take steps to avoid or at least mitigate that cut, just to point out that it is hard to parse ‘15% better real benefit’ into ‘Boomer Geezers giving Gen-X a bone job’. Or in less crude terms ‘what the heck kind of ‘intergenerational warfare’ are we talking here?’ Well it is getting close to Report release time and I want to leave time for people to do some fact checking and link following. All I ask is that people keep the reality of the current baseline of the scheduled benefit in mind when assessing ‘crisis’ if and when the Trust Fund actually goes to zero balances.

Estimated returns from the MLR (administrative costs to medical costs)

Bruce Webb on Angry Bear was among the first of bloggers to point out that this aspect of the Medical Loss Ratio begins in 2009 and  here and points again to the MLR as it comes into play.

A non-profit group estimates if the Affordable Care Act provisions had been effect in 2010, U.S consumers would have received $2 billion in rebates.

Sara Collins, vice president of the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation supporting independent research on health policy, said the medical-loss ratio rules that went into effect in 2011 were designed to control private insurance administrative costs for consumers and government.
The rules require a minimum percentage of premium dollars to be spent on medical care and healthcare quality improvement — not administrative costs and corporate profits. Insurers must meet a minimum medical loss ratio of 80 percent in the individual and small-group markets, and 85 percent in the large group market — and issue rebates if they do not, Collins said.

Read more: here and here.

The report by the Commonwaelth Fund: The Commonwealth Fund estimates returns to customers from insurance companies who did not comply last year for all fifty states.

Fiduciary duty and self-interest

Lifted from comments from Linda Beale’s post Graphs Show It Clearly–the richest are much richer and most of us are poorer discussing the main points and data from David Cay Johnston’s Reuters article The richest get richer is Bruce Webb’s thinking on how the American market system was designed over time:
Defenders of Goldman who base that defense on “greed is good” reductionist understanding of capitalism are simply ignoring the legal and I would say moral structure in which banking and management were embedded: that of fiduciary responsibilities and principal/agent law.

Before Glass-Steagal repeal (and similar legal and business culture changes dating back to the fifties) there was an understanding that commercial bankers had a fiduciary responsibility to their customers,that the relation in question was one of agent to principal. And the same for management, managers were agents of the owners whether directly in a private firm, or indirectly via the Directors of either a joint-stock company or as in insurance of a mutual structure where policy holders were ‘owners’. On the other hand investment banks ad law firms and reinsurance companies like Lloyd’s and it’s ‘Names’ we’re generally set up on a partnership basis where the agents were principals, at least at top levels.

  But that distinction broke down, maybe as early as the rise of the Conglomerate and the Multinational where the link between the manager/agent and the principal/owner the principal/mutual holder became attenuated to the point of near nonexistence with the result that what had been agents, say a plant superintendent, now reported to an executive suite at ‘Corporate’ where one-time agents were de facto principals. As exemplified by the bastard blend of President and Chairman of the Boardand Chief Executive Officer into a single person whose theoretical agency relation to ownership was at best mediated through a board of Directors often largely serving under his direction.

  And this attenuation of Agent-Principal relations broke down entirely when Glass-Steagal and other actions simply smushed together the partnership and joint-stock/mutual models where the formal and legal structure remained the latter even as the decision making went with the former.

  Thus Goldman-Sachs Corporate culture. Instead of maximizing profits for the partners on one hand or for the shareholders on the other and all while maintaining a fiduciary responsibility to the customer/depositor, the executives and traders, who in law are simple hired help, i.e agents promoted themselves in their own minds to principals. Something complicated by the fact that various forms of stock based compensation made certain top executives both de facto and de jure principals quite beyond their selected/elected Chairman/CEO/President blended position.

  This obviously needs some polish, it is a blog comment after all, but I think I am on to something, something I have been bouncing around in my mind since I first took a course on Post WWII American History back in the early eighties, that is post multi-national conglomerate but prior to the barrier break represented by Glass-Steagal repeal. That is we are seeing a confluence of several streams that have mostly reduced all notions of fiduciary responsibilities and/or principal-agent law into a fetishizing of maximizing individual self-interest as if every trader at G-S was in the same legal and moral position as a medieval chapman selling goods from his pack purchased with his own money from the producer.

  So yes capitalism is organized around the principle of principals maximizing their self-interest. But not everyone is, or should be considered,a principal. And no “Well duh, capitalism equals maximizing return” does not in itself wipe out the entire legal and moral structure that grew up around it. Agency and fiduciary responsibilities still are or should be operative. That is you don’t get to operate Wall Street on the principle “We eat what we kill” no matter what some hot-shot MBA trader might think.

(Dan here…Title added, introduction edited for  clarity)

Rush Limbaugh Says Tax Money Pays For Students’ and Employees’ Jogging Pants As A Welfare Entitlement

Seriously.  In the rambling press release that he self-styled an apology to Georgetown U. law student Sandra Fluke for calling her a slut and a prostitute, Limbaugh groused:

Amazingly, when there is the slightest bit of opposition to this new welfare entitlement being created, then all of a sudden we hate women. 

He then explained his position thusly:

I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities.  What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?

So even as late as yesterday afternoon when he released the statement, he’s claiming that taxpayerswould be paying the part of employee and student healthcare premiums that cover contraceptives.  And that taxpayers pay for running pants, shorts and tank tops for employees and students who jog, but don’t pay for the Nikes and Reeboks. 

He apparently doesn’t read Angry Bear (see “Will ‘We’ Really Be Paying Sandra Fluke’s Healthcare Insurance Premiums?”, below.)  He should, though.  Dana Loesch, though, clearly does.

What? You’ve never heard of Dana Loesch?  Well, you’re in good company.  Mine.  I’d never heard of her until this morning, when I read the New York Times articleabout Limbaugh’s statements.  The article says:

At least one conservative commentator, Dana Loesch, appeared to back Mr. Limbaugh’s original sentiments, writing on Twitter on Saturday, “If you expect me to pay higher insurance premiums to cover your ‘free’ birth control, I can call you whatever I want.”

So, whatever the merits of her claim to a right to libel anyone whose medical insurance coverage and use raises “her” insurance premiums, Loesch at least does recognize the difference between private insurance premiums and coverage and taxpayer-funded welfare entitlements.  Limbaugh does not.   

Happily, a mainstream media pundit understands this non-trivial distinction, too, and mentions it.  In her New York Times column today, Maureen Dowd writes:

[Limbaugh] said insuring contraception would represent another “welfare entitlement,” which is wrong — tax dollars would not provide the benefit, employers and insurance companies would. And women would not be getting paid just “to have sex.” They’d be getting insurance coverage toward the roughly $1,000 annual expense of trying to avoid unwanted pregnancies and abortions, and to control other health conditions.

So, AB readers, do you think Dowd reads AB?  Nah.  She probably figured it out all by herself. But Loesch probably reads AB.  Okay, or Forbes online. (Thanks for linking to it, Tim Worstall!) For better or worse.  I mean, I’d hate to be, say, (as Bruce Webb points out in a comment to my earlier post) a skier or mountain climber who works for the same employer that Loesch does, or at least has the same insurance carrier that she has.

Wouldn’t want Loesch to accuse them of having murdered their mother, or something.