• comment on a post The Best Days Of My Life over 7 years ago


    Thanks, sincere thanks, for everything you've done here to bring back progressive politics in this country. I don't want to sound all schmaltzy here, but what the hell -- you are truly one of the truly brilliant people to come out of the netroots and I am sure you are going to keep making irreplaceable contributions to progressive ideas and politics in your new gig.

  • comment on a post Make The Case For Your Candidate over 7 years ago

    My ideal candidate would be a mixture of three:

    1. Kucinich - for all his flaws he is still the only one with a serious program to change politics, the economy, and foreign policy in a progressive direction: public investment, jobs & living wage, Medicare for All, universal high-quality education pre-K thru college, clean energy, sustainable agriculture, defense and foreign policy reform. Nobody else has had the guts to stake out such bold progressive positions on this full range of issues.

    2. Dean - still the one person who really gets the politics we need better than anybody else. A politics of contrast ("I want to know . . . "), the 50-state strategy, fighting for working class voters who have become estranged from the party.

    3. Obama - the charisma, the speaking ability, he's a superstar, no doubt about it. His 2004 convention keynote and Knox College commencement speeches are still about the best thematic defense of progressive politics out there.

    The thing is, no one person has it all. Kucinich has the program, but not the politics or the charisma to seal the deal. Obama is too programatically cautious and too wrapped up in the "bring us together" theme that is not really appropriate politics at this particular time (but may be appropraite later, once we have vanquished the right). Dean was also pretty middle-of-the-road on program.

    Having said all that, I'm not committed yet but leaning Edwards. He seems to have the best combination of all of these qualities right now.

  • Without the lies and the "blame the boomers" crap, of course. But the rest of it -- organizing existing stakeholders, reassuring current beneficiaries, convincing people the current health care system is irreparably broken -- would seem tailor-made for the health care issue. And we wouldn't even have to lie.

    Oh, and one more lesson: be in this for the long-term. The original SS deform article from the Cato Journal is 25 years old. One we didn't learn back in '93-'94.

  • comment on a post Social Security Crisis and Cato's 'Big Lie' over 7 years ago

    Can we learn some lessons from this approach? Like, say, applying it to national health insurance?

  • comment on a post Where's Your Core? over 7 years ago


    I'm glad University of Chicago economist Austan Goolsbee is helping Democrats. He's a very smart guy. He's reported to be advising Obama. Now he is also a Senior Economist for the Progressive Policy Institute and the Democratic Leadership Council. They are flogging a new paper of his called "Why Deficits Still Matter."

    We have some quibbles.

    . . . As for other popular doctrines espoused vociferously by the best and brightest of the profession, time has not been kind. Investment has had its rocky moments, but interest rates have been historically low, more or less through thick and thin.

    Like our neo-con Middle East experts, however, the deficit hawks are not discouraged. Nor is any embarrassment evident. They are back with new reasons to support what they have always thought, not unlike the changing rationales for the Bush tax cuts.

  • on a comment on What is Transformational Change? over 7 years ago

    . . . . sounds like a great idea . . .

  • on a comment on What is Transformational Change? over 7 years ago

    This isn't true -- long-term rates hardly budged during the 1990s. The real 30-year treasury bond rate was 4.5%-4.7% in 1989-91, spiked to 5.4% in '92, down to 4.3% in '93, spiked again to 5.4% in '94 (well after the Clinton tax hikes), then back down to 4.6% in '95 where it stayed until 2000.

    So long-term rates, with the exception of a couple of blips, were not particularly high during the late '80s/early 90s; in fact they were much lower than they had been from 1982 to 1988, but the break comes in '88-'89, when the real 30-year T-bond rate dropped from 5.8% to 4.6%, not '93-'94.

    Not only that, but even economists sympathetic to the Clinton approach have trouble finding much correlation between them and the '90s economic boom:

    . . . did the policy mix [tight government budgets and (relatively) easy monetary policy] really drive the investment boom of the 1990s? Our two macroeconometric models are doubtful . . . lower interest rates . . . also boost stock market values -- which in turn spur consumption (via the wealth effect) rather than investment. . . . The main impetus to investment, it appears, came from the surge in productivity.

    And what's more, you may not even be able to chalk up all of the 1990s deficit reduction to Clinton's fiscal policy at all:

    . . . Barry Bosworth has shown that the extent of deficit reduction/surplus expansion cannot be attributed to legislative actions. Clinton & the Dems deserve credit for an important change of direction in the deficit trend, but not the extent of subsequent progress.

    Oh, and 1994? It was the economy, stupid:

    The 1994 election was disastrous for the Democrats. But their troubles were not uniform across all groups in the population. Compare 1992 and 1994 levels of Democratic support by education. Democratic support dropped 10 points among high school dropouts, 11 among high school graduates, and 12 among those with some college -- all groups hit by serious long-term wage decline. . . .

    . . . Why would voters with declining living standards direct anger at the Democrats, supposedly the "party of the common man," rather than Republicans, with their historic commitment to the interests of the wealthiest Americans?

    The answer reflects an asymmetry between the political effects of and short- and long-term economic changes. Short-term recession simply hurts the incumbent party -- the party on whose watch the decline takes place (vice versa for short-term growth). But the effects of such longer-term changes as falling living standards depend on voter beliefs about the roots of those changes. The Democrats are being hurt by declining living standards because, in or out of office, they get the blame in the standard public story about long-term economic shifts.

    According to that story, long-term decline results from a combination of wasteful government spending (especially on the poor, minorities, and immigrants, who are themselves seen as causes of declining living standards), high taxes, inefficient and obtrusive regulation, selfish behavior by interest groups, and excessive social tolerance. All of this is readily blamed on the Democrats -- the party that has promoted activist government, represented poor people, minorities, and all manner of interest group, and endorsed social liberalism. . . .

    This fits right in with the whole theme of this diary.

  • OK, to be fair they also say this:

    Smart market design could overcome most problems with tradeable permits: price caps could prevent undue harm to the economy; and intelligent regulatory regimes could prevent other forms of gamesmanship.

  • Well, they did also say:

    Both carbon taxes and markets put undue burden on the poor. Governments should counter such regressive carbon taxes by lowering taxes on labour.

    So there you go.

  • The Financial Times agrees that we need carbon taxes (h/t European Tribune):

    The burgeoning regulated market for carbon credits is expected to more than double in size to about $68.2bn by 2010, with the unregulated voluntary sector rising to $4bn in the same period.

    The FT investigation found:

    • Widespread instances of people and organisations buying worthless credits that do not yield any reductions in carbon emissions.
    • Industrial companies profiting from doing very little - or from gaining carbon credits on the basis of efficiency gains from which they have already benefited substantially.
    • Brokers providing services of questionable or no value.
    • A shortage of verification, making it difficult for buyers to assess the true value of carbon credits.
    • Companies and individuals being charged over the odds for the private purchase of European Union carbon permits that have plummeted in value because they do not result in emissions cuts.


    While short-term politics favour markets, taxes would be better in the long term, because industry needs certainty for investments years hence. A government committing to painful taxes signals the seriousness of its intentions.


    . . . markets are bound to be more complicated than taxes. When in doubt, keep it simple. Markets for carbon are potentially good. But taxes would be better.

  • comment on a post Obama's Foreign Policy Speech over 7 years ago

    This is appropriate:

    One good test as to whether folks are doing interesting work is, Can they surprise me? And increasingly, when I [listen to Obama], it doesn't surprise me. It's all just exactly what I would expect.

  • comment on a post Doug Schoen To Democrats: Cave On Iraq over 7 years ago

    Yep, seems like every few weeks we go through something like this:

    Matt Yglesias: Baer on Pelosi

    . . . It's worth just noting the fact that a Democratic-aligned political consultant is harshly criticizing [Democrats] in exactly the terms which the Republican Party is currently deploying all throughout the media. One doesn't remark much upon things like this, because it actually happens quite frequently. . . .

    That, in turn, tells you a lot about the relative distribution of power inside the Democratic Party. The consultants -- the important ones at least -- are more powerful than the people they nominally work for. . . .

  • on a comment on Open Thread, and 1984 over 7 years ago

    Right - Mondale was gut-punching Hart and Hart needed to counter with something like a right cross to the jaw (given the problems of the Carter administration it shouldn;t have been that hard). But Hart didn't have it in him to do that.

  • on a comment on Open Thread, and 1984 over 7 years ago

    You guys are missing the point.

    If all there was to it was this:

    Of all the candidates, Hart probably had the most specific and dynamic policy proposals

    then Hart would have had no problem answering the criticism. Policy proposals was not fundamentally what the "where's the beef" line was about.

  • on a comment on Open Thread, and 1984 over 7 years ago

    Here's a Time magazine article on Hart's ads from the March 12, 1984 issue, right after Hart upset Mondale in the New Hampshire primary. Note the emphasis on "high-tech" ("computer," "digital") and "future" in the ad:

    TIME: Playing Video Games

    There is no background music, but the theme from Star Wars would be appropriate. On a white grid that rolls off into blue infinity, the name Gary Hart appears in silvery letters. With the aid of computer animation, the screen seems to become a book, flipping open page by page. Page 1: a close-up shot of a youthful-looking Hart in a coat and tie speaking directly into the camera. "The politicians of yesterday are trading our future by asking our price instead of challenging our idealism." Page 2: Hart framed from fore head to chin by the television screen. "My candidacy is for those who still dream dreams . . . who will stand together once more to build an American future." Intones an unseen narrator: "Gary Hart ... a new generation of leadership."

    Below the turning pages, the letters in Hart's name, glowing like the numerals on a digital clock, never move.

    The 30-second "generation" spot was one of seven high-tech ads that the Hart campaign team hurried onto New Hampshire television screens during the last three weeks of the race.

    Maybe primitive, but damn effective in 1984.


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