Things I want to have at the forefront of my brain--for when I am surprised, as I will be, by an unexpected question from an unexpected direction while talking to reporters, phone callers, passers-by, radio interviewers, cable TV interviewers, etc....
A baker's dozen:
Debt ceiling Kabuki: Stan Collender: "The Dirty Secret About Today's "Clean" Debt Ceiling Vote: The House Republican leadership wants everyone to think that the expected large “no” vote this evening on a “clean” debt ceiling will demonstrate that there’s no support for increasing the government’s borrowing limit unless deficit reductions are attached. That’s simply not true.... [A] debt ceiling increase with deficit reductions attached would also very likely... if not certainly... be rejected [by the House]. In other words, just because a debt ceiling increase that doesn’t include spending cuts or revenue increases can’t be adopted doesn’t automatically mean that, as the [House] leadership wants us to believe, a bill with them will pass..."
Republican smears of Elizabeth Warren--and journalistic complicity: Ryan Chittum: Elizabeth Warren Is Smeared, and the Press Is Along for the Ride: "You’d think the press could resist the he said-she said copy when the truth is easy to discern. Congressman Patrick McHenry’s smearing of Elizabeth Warren is a good test of how the press handles dishonest politicians and their lies. And most of the press gets a big fat F on this one. On Tuesday, McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, called Warren a liar, both on CNBC before she testified and during her actual testimony. Here’s how The New York Times, with its delicate sensibilities, put it: "Decorum Breaks Down at House Hearing." Goodness! Pass the smelling salts!... But for anyone half paying attention, much less a beat reporter, this is not a close call: McHenry is full of it..."
Stephen Moore's 62% top marginal tax rate again: Ryan Chittum: "Zombie Lie Laboratory Creates 62 Percent Tax Rate Plan: CJR: Stephen Moore of The Wall Street Journal editorial board hacks out an instant classic on how to mislead people with numbers. The question-as-headline is your second red flag that this just might be a deeply disingenuous op-ed (the first is that it’s on The Wall Street Journal op-ed page): "A 62% Top Tax Rate?" The top marginal tax rate is just 35 percent now, of course. So how does Moore come up with the idea that Obama and the Democrats are pitching a 62 percent tax rate for the rich? Disingenuously..."
On Ruth Marcus's complaints about Democrats' use of "Mediscare": Matthew Yglesias: ‘Mediscare’ Works Because The Consequences of Privatizing Medicare Are Scary: "Here’s what’s true: If you go back and look at the quotes from the time Congressional Republicans tried to privatize Medicare in the mid-1990s they do sound a lot like the quotes from the time Congressional Republicans tried to privatize Medicare in 2011. That’s because many people believe that it would be a bad idea to privatize Medicare, so every time the congressional leadership tries to privatize Medicare you have people speaking up against this idea. And we speak up against it in similar terms because the terms that have been used in the past are politically effective. And they’re politically effective because the consequences of privatizing Medicare are scary..."
Another Republican who used to be for the health-care mandate: Jon Huntsman In 2007: ‘I’m Comfortable’ With Individual Mandate, Would ‘Make System More Efficient’: "I’m comfortable with a requirement [to have coverage]. You can call it what you want, but at some point, we’re going to have to get serious about how we deal with this issue. And that means there will have to be a multitude of different policies that are available in the market place. It means that it will be incumbent upon citizens to look at responsibility, their own responsibility in terms of health and the choices that are made…. There is a mandate today, let’s not forget, it’s called the emergency room…. We’re living today in an environment, to be sure, where there’s a mandate in place. It’s whether you really want to make the system more efficient."..."
RERUN: On Republican claims that 51% of households don't pay any taxes: Mark Thoma sends us to Chuck Marr and Brian Highsmith: "The 51 percent figure is an anomaly that reflects the unique circumstances of 2009.... In a more typical year, 35 percent to 40 percent of households owe no federal income tax.... The 51 percent figure... ignores the substantial amounts of other federal taxes... households pay.... [O]nly about 14 percent of households paid neither federal income tax nor payroll tax in 2009.... Most of the people who pay neither federal income tax nor payroll taxes are low-income people who are elderly, unable to work due to a serious disability, or students, most of whom subsequently become taxpayers..."
RERUN: Caroline Baum's claim that the upward-sloping yield curve means that we should be optimistic: Paul Krugman: "[T]he long-term rate is a prediction of future short-term rates. If investors expect the economy to contract, they also expect the Fed to cut rates.... If they expect the economy to expand, they expect the Fed to raise rates, making the yield curve positively sloped. But here’s the thing: the Fed can’t cut rates from here, because they’re already zero. It can, however, raise rates. So the long-term rate has to be above the short-term rate..." The normal relationship between the slope of the yield curve and expectations of growth simply breaks down when interest rates are very low.
RERUN: On the Republican claim that Obama has increased nondefense discretionary spending by 80%: Paul Krugman: "The number comes from taking nondefense discretionary spending as reported — which rose 26 percent from 2008 to 2010 (Table 8.7) — and then adding the entire discretionary spending part of the stimulus.... [N]ot all of the stimulus funds were spent in 2010... [and] stimulus spending is already in those discretionary spending numbers. So this GOP talking point is a complete fraud; it’s based on counting the same spending several times over." This is not a mistake you can make by accident.
RERUN: On Tim Pawlenty's claim that President Obama is setting up this false choice between default and raising the debt ceiling: Pawlenty claims "you can take away that false choice by ordering the Treasury to pay the obligations to outside creditors first..." Failing to pay people inside the United States to whom the U.S. government owes money has a name, Tim. It's name is "default." It's not an alternative to default, it's a type of default.
RERUN: On Glenn Hubbard's claim that Obama has "ruled out long-term entitlement spending restraint": Nancy Ann Min De Parle: "[T]he tools in the Affordable Care Act and other steps... already taken will save nearly $120 billion for Medicare over the next five yearss.... While we’ve made real and significant progress, there is more work to do... the President’s framework... includes reforms that would save at least an additional $200 billion for Medicare over the next decade. The framework would: (i) Bend the long-term cost curve by setting a more ambitious target of holding Medicare cost growth per beneficiary to GDP per capita plus 0.5 percent beginning in 2018, through strengthening the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). (ii) Reduce Medicare’s excessive spending on prescription drugs and lower premiums for beneficiaries without shifting costs to seniors or privatizing Medicare..."
RERUN: On Stephen Moore's claim that "in reality" the Democrats are proposing a 62% top income tax rate: Moore's op-ed is simply not reality-based. There is no such proposal for a 62% marginal top income tax rate, not from any Democratic office holder or advisor. Moore claims that "in the late 1980s, the U.S. was nearly the lowest taxed nation in the world, and a quarter century later we're nearly the highest." The U.S. today has a smaller tax share of GDP than every single other G-7 nation. The reason that the U.S. collects a larger share of taxes from the rich is that our incomes today are much more skewed toward the rich than those of other G-7 nations.
RERUN: On Republican opposition to raising the debt ceiling: Right-leaning Clive Crook: "Tea Party true believers may be salivating.... Shutting down the government [by blocking the debt-ceiling increase is a button [Republicans] dare not press.... To do it in 2011, with the economy laid low and financial markets still twitchy, would be the limit of irresponsibility. It would be betting the recovery to make a point. This time, political annihilation might follow, and the party would deserve it..."
SPEAKS FOR ITSELF: Rand Paul: I’m not for profiling people on the color of their skin, or on their religion, but I would take into account where they’ve been traveling and perhaps, you might have to indirectly take into account whether or not they’ve been going to radical political speeches by religious leaders. It wouldn’t be that they are Islamic. But if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that’s really an offense that we should be going after — they should be deported or put in prison.