Michael McAuliff: 'Zero Dark Thirty' Wrong On Torture, Top Senators Say: "'Based on what I know, I don't believe it is true', said [Senator] Feinstein…. 'It's wrong. It's wrong. I know for a fact, not because of this report -- my own knowledge -- that waterboarding, torture, does not lead to reliable information... in any case -- not this specific case -- in any case', said Sen. John McCain'…. 'I would argue that it's not waterboarding that led to bin Laden's demise', said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a member of the Armed Services Committee. 'It was a lot of good intelligence-gathering from the Obama and Bush administrations, continuity of effort, holding people at Gitmo, putting the puzzle together over a long period of time -- not torture'…. 'In this particular instance, a scintilla of evidence was given up that happened to lead to this', said Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho). He added that he did not draw a 'general conclusion; that torture works. 'That does not mean I support it. I do not', Risch said. 'Where enhanced interrogation turns into torture, of course, becomes a grayish line. But having said that, some of the things that were done were things that I wouldn't want to see done.' For Risch, the efficacy of torture is irrelevant. 'The issue isn't does torture work or not. The issue is, is torture right, or is torture wrong?' Risch said."
Ev Williams: What I Learned Building Medium (So Far)
Duncan Black: Eschaton: Things That Aren't Explained: "There is a large deficit reduction plan which is current law. Villagers who spend all of their time hating deficits hate the deficit reduction plan. A few hate it for the right reason, that contractionary policy is contractionary, though you can't get them to admit that expansionary policy is expansionary. Most hate it simply because it raises taxes on rich people, cuts the Defense gravy train that their friends dine out on, and doesn't punish the poors and the olds quite enough."
Stephen Walsh: Stalingrad: The Infernal Cauldron, 1942-1943
Maura Calsyn and Lindsay Rosenthal: Raising the Medicare Eligibility Age Would Harm Seniors and Increase Health Care Spending
Josh Marshall: Quite Sane: "Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (R) announced today that he plans to build a health insurance exchange in his state as mandated by ‘Obamacare’… [because of] his 'continued determination for Idaho to be actively engaged in making the best possible choices - to the degree we are allowed - in the interest of more accessible and affordable health care for our citizens'. This is that rare thing today in GOP discussions of health insurance policy: it makes sense."
Sam Stein and Ryan Grim: Obama Administration Stimulus: White House Sees Fiscal Cliff Deal As Last, Best Hope: "Senior Democratic officials on Capitol Hill and in the White House say that the media and Republicans are mistaken to assume that the stimulus measures were included as mere bargaining chips. In fact, the Democrats say, they're important building blocks for President Barack Obama's second term in office. That's because the 'fiscal cliff' deal may be Obama's last, best chance to win spending or tax-code concessions from Republicans…"
Matthew Yglesias: "In Facing Up, a 1993 Concord Coalition manifesto, Peterson argued for raising the full-retirement age to 67, for an 'affluence test' to make the wealthy pay more for Medicare, for higher Medicare premiums, and for more taxes on benefits…. 'The Clinton plan doesn’t come close to balancing the budget, even in the near term', wrote Peterson. 'Inevitably, Clinton’s deficit path will mean a much larger public debt.' Five years later, Clinton was presiding over a balanced budget and a smaller public debt…"
Jon Michaud: Why The Hobbit is a Better Book than The Lord of the Rings: "Smaug combines the haughty condescension of a one-per-center and the killer instinct of an apex predator. He’s Gordon Gekko with a flamethrower…"
Jonathan Bernstein: Fed’s big decision is victory for liberal economics: "In the 'elections have consequences' department, add today’s announcement by the Federal Reserve that it will not only tolerate somewhat more inflation, but will do so until unemployment drops below 6.5 percent. It’s a decision that pushes the Fed more and more in the direction of liberal economists.. it’s a sign that the current Fed board is increasingly taking the 'dual' part of its dual mandate…. And so today’s decision is a consequence of an election… the November 2008 election."
Joe Weisenthal: The Fed Announces 'Evans Rule' — A Historic Change In Monetary Policy: "There has been a huge, historic monetary policy statement from the Fed. It's now linking future monetary policy moves to hard economic thresholds on unemployment and inflation…. 'To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee expects that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends and the economic recovery strengthens. In particular, the Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that this exceptionally low range for the federal funds rate will be appropriate at least as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6-1/2 percent, inflation between one and two years ahead is projected to be no more than a half percentage point above the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run goal, and longer-term inflation expectations continue to be well anchored. The Committee views these thresholds as consistent with its earlier date-based guidance. In determining how long to maintain a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy, the Committee will also consider other information, including additional measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial developments. When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent.'… The fact that the Fed is going to hard thresholds now is definitely a surprise…. 'BI: So in the meantime do you expect the Fed to adopt something close to an Evans Rule, where it’s not necessarily NGDP targeting, but where they’d get rid of the date-based targets and come up with some other threshold? HATZIUS: That’s very much the signal that I would take away from what we’ve heard over the past couple of months. In particular, the speech by Janet Yellen the day before the last set of FOMC minutes – and it's very much for the reasons that Woodford made out in his Jackson Hole paper – which is that they’re conceptually much happier with forward guidance that specifies how the economy performs as opposed to forward guidance that's specified in the calendar. So my expectation is that they will adopt an Evans-style rule or threshold guidance, probably not at the meeting next week, but I would expect it for sometime in the first quarter. One thing I would say is I don’t think it’s a done deal yet. While I expect it, I don’t think it’s a 90 or 95 percent probability.'… This has been a year of incredible evolution for the Fed, and in its final meeting of the year it delivered."
Ezra Klein: The GOP’s dangerous debt-ceiling gamble: "Boehner and the Republicans don’t want to give up the leverage of the debt ceiling forever, or for 10 years, or even, as John Engler, head of the Business Roundtable and a former Republican governor suggested, for five years. But the White House isn’t very interested in compromising on this issue, as they figure that if there needs to be a final showdown over the debt ceiling, it’s better to do it now, when they’re at peak strength, then delay it till 2014 or 2015, when their own vantage might have ebbed."
Steven Davis and Till van Wachter: Recessions and the Cost of Job Loss
Doktor Zoom: Heritage Foundation Very Proud Of Its Incoherent Bondage Porn Filibuster Tumblr Message: "So above is the Heritage Foundation’s invocation of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, aimed at Harry Reid’s proposal to change how filibusters work. We will now pause, class, for you to ponder what is wrong with this picture. Oh, yeah, right. Requiring future “Mr. Smiths” to stand up and talk like in the movie will actually, uh, silence “Mr. Smith” because then he can’t bring the Senate to a halt silently anymore! Harry Reid hates free speech and wants to duct tape Jimmy Stewart’s affable corpse! The Heritage Foundation is so proud of this image that when a reader suggested it was maybe just a little meaningless, they reblogged the comment with a smart answer: 'jasencomstock: “We don’t have a case so look, a movie.”' 'theheritagefoundation: Sometimes the simplest examples make the best points.' Yes, especially when anyone who’s seen the movie knows that image makes no sense! We guess that the Nino Scalia School of Rhetoric is more influential than we thought!"
Aaron Carroll: JAMA Forum: States Wrangle Over Obamacare’s Health Insurance Exchanges: "Way, way back in the long ago, when Obamacare was just a bill and not yet a law, a robust debate was conducted on how the health insurance exchanges should be set up…. Should there be 1 national exchange or many more state-based or regional exchanges? Some people, especially those who leaned towards the progressive side, argued that a national exchange made more sense…. In the end, the progressives in the House lost…. Exchanges would be located in the states, unless they could not or chose not to create them. In such cases, the federal government would take over…. [A]n odd turn of events has unfolded in the world of exchanges. It’s the liberal states that have chosen to create their own insurance exchanges. Most states run by conservative governors have chosen not to create exchanges…. [S]ome people are portraying every state’s refusal to set up an exchange as a blow to the law. I’m not so sure…. The arguments for and against the national exchange still hold, though. There were good reasons to prefer one before, and the fact that states have switched sides for political reasons doesn’t change those rationales. The media may like to portray a preference for a federal exchange rather than a state-based one as a blow to progressives and their hopes for the law. But progressives may just be getting what they had wanted in the first place."
Counterparties: "Bernanke: 'It's fair to say we've overestimated the pace of growth… from the beginning of the recovery' (Ya, think?)"
Duncan Black: Eschaton: Is It Jan. 1 Yet?: "I just can't see the downsides of having the Bush tax cuts expire, as the entire conversation then becomes disconnected from that baseline. Obama the Benevolent can then propose a bunch of tax cuts for poor and middle class people which have nothing to do with the Bush rates."
Jeff Merkley: “I do a lot of town halls. I can’t tell you how many times someone will come up to me and say, ‘Here’s the thing. I’m 61, and I have these major health problems. I don’t have insurance. I’m praying I make it to 65.’ The idea that we’re going to take all these folks with diseases setting in as they get older, and move them two years later? Absolutely unacceptable.”
Miles Kimball sends us to Raj Chetty's Public Economics Lectures
Adam Posen: Osborne needs a change of direction
Binyamin Applebaum: Fed to Hold Rates Down Until Jobless Rate Is Below 6.5%
Joe Weisenthal: Fed Announces Evans Rule
Jonathan Chait: Why Republicans Can’t Propose Spending Cuts
Mark Thoma sends us to Tim Taylor on Susan Houseman: Cautionary Details on U.S. Manufacturing Productivity
Why ask Ben Bernanke about monetary policy which he controls when you can bug him about the fiscal cliff instead? #journalism— Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) December 12, 2012
The best part was when Dalio came up with "agricultural property in Australia" as the only desirable long position in the world.— John Carney (@carney) December 12, 2012