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

Wow: Cooperation. Should Obama Get Credit?

We saw it on the “fiscal cliff”: enough House Republicans voted for the deal, along with most Democrats, to get something passed. Republicans backed down on the debt ceiling. On immigration, we’re also seeing the two parties working together to craft a solution. This feels like a possible sea change. Should Obama get credit? He’s […]

Republican Governors: Take from the Poor, Give to the Rich, and Suck the Federal Teat

These local stories in Louisiana, Kansas, Nebraska, and North Carolina speak quite eloquently for themselves. Gov. Bobby Jindal is proposing to eliminate Louisiana’s income and corporate taxes and pay for those cuts with increased sales taxes Gov. Dave Heineman made a bold proposal … end the income tax for working Nebraskans and corporations. It […]

Do Businesses Borrow to Invest in Productive Assets? Does the Business-Interest Tax Deduction Encourage That?

J.W. Mason at The Slack Wire gives us a telling and trenchant analysis of that question: Short answer: They used to, but not any more. The correlation in the U.S. between fixed-capital investment and a) debt levels and b) change in debt levels has been vanishingly small since the late eighties. …in the 1960s and […]

Jim Manzi Disappoints on the Devastation of Lead and Crime

And Kevin Drum disappoints in his own defense. Regular readers will know that (at least sometimes) I like to seek out and highlight the very best, most cogent and convincing arguments countering my beliefs, trying to figure out what might be wrong with those beliefs, and hoping to understand what’s really going with the subject […]

Platinum Currency: What’s The Fed’s End Game?

Steve Randy Waldman as usual gets practical about Treasury issuing platinum coins. JKH in comments there does typically likewise. Suppose the Department of the Treasury says: “We have a statutory obligation to pay all amounts that have been authorized by Congress — both expenditure and debt obligations. Since the borrowing limit has been reached and […]

The Human and Economic Devastation of Leaded Gas: How the Visible Hand Saved the Day

With all the well-deserved attention going to Kevin Drum’s excellent Mother Jones article on crime rates and lead in gasoline (more here), I thought it worth revisiting my post on the subject from a year and a half ago, which was itself prompted by Angry Bear’s own inimitable Robert Waldmann. Government Gets the Lead Out, […]

Does Unemployment Insurance Explain (and Cause) High Unemployment?

Casey Mulligan would very much like you to believe it does. “cutting unemployment insurance would increase employment, as it would end payments for people who fail to find work and would reduce the cushion provided after layoffs.” Here’s one pretty well-done data point (several, actually) suggesting that he’s wrong: In theory, greater employment protection should […]

Republican Strategy: “When you’re playing with house money, it makes sense to go all in on every hand.”

David Atkins succinctly nails the situation we face: No matter what Obama does, Republicans won’t care and won’t fold…This is what makes the poker analogy so often used to criticize the President’s negotiating tactics such a weak metaphor. Obama is often said to be the worst poker player in history, consistently bluffing then folding. But […]

Guns and Gun Deaths, State by State

The other day I looked at number of guns versus number of gun deaths by country, in countries like ours that have pretty good rule of law. The correlation is pretty clear: more guns, more gun deaths. But I was also wondering about correlation within the U.S., by state. I’m pleased to find that Sam […]