Squashed

Sep 20

Obama Outperforms Reagan On Jobs, Growth And Investing

So am I allowed back there or not?

So am I allowed back there or not?

Sep 18

“I make a heartfelt appeal, that a logic of profit does not prevail, but one of solidarity and justice.” — Pope Francis (via azspot)

(via azspot)

Sep 17

“The 2013 median income remained a whopping 8 percent — about $4,500 per year — below where it was in 2007. The 2008 recession depressed wages for middle-income Americans, and they haven’t recovered in any meaningful way. And 2007 household incomes were actually below the 1999 peak.” — You Can’t Feed a Family With G.D.P. - NYTimes.com (via rhpolitics)

(via rhpolitics)

Sep 16

The Institute to Reduce Spending Answered My, Admittedly Hostile, Question -

I appreciate the answer (below).

I’ve got a question! The Institute to Reduce Spending (which is pretty opaque on where its funding comes from) claims to be concerned about the debt.

I appreciate they’re against wasteful spending. But everybody is against waste, fraud, and abuse. It’s just that sometimes identifying fraud and abuse can be expensive, frustrating, and occasionally wasteful. (Think: IRS auditors). And reducing waste on a scale that impacts the deficit turns out to be similarly hard. (If this sub-department of whatever agency starts replacing office furniture every fifteen years instead of every ten years it’s going to have a negligible effect on the deficit.) Sometimes reducing waste turns out to be politically impractical in the short term. (Joint strike fighter?)

Question: Does the Institute to Reduce Spending care enough about the deficit to advocate for tax hikes as part of a budget-balancing package?

I’m just worried that this hole “reduce spending” stuff is a thin veneer over another of those Koch-affiliated 501(c)(4) organizations putting lofty language on a not-so-lofty attempt to slash the safety net so many Americans depend on to survive. I’d really appreciate some reassurance that this isn’t the case.

Man, there’s a lot to respond to here. First, we’d probably quibble with the assertion that “everybody is against waste, fraud, and abuse,” since there are many programs that fit that category that are adamantly defended. The Overseas Contingency Operations slush fund that allows the Pentagon to spend massive amounts “off-budget” and strong opposition to Pentagon audits are both good examples. Some departments have proverbial waste, fraud, and abuse that certainly not everyone is against (follow the money!) Likewise, recent failures to stop rampant Medicare fraud show that reform is much harder to accomplish than it should be.

You definitely hit on a good point when you say that cutting spending on the scale large enough to affect the debt is difficult. Conservatives especially do themselves a disservice by harping on, let’s say, a couple million dollars for PBS, while ignoring trillions on the broken F-35 program (like you mention) or billions on the MEADS missile system even after the military requested to end it. The odds of ending many of these programs are often slim, but as a 501(c)(3) research institution, our purpose is to provide balanced research and analysis on the spending issue alone.

That’s why we don’t take any position on taxes, for example, (we leave others to fight about that!) except to point out, as the CBO’s recent report did, that spending will rise much, much faster than revenues can within just a few years. If you’re inclined to increase tax revenue as part of the solution, you still have to realize that spending is the key.

As a side note since you mention our funding: it comes from a combination of private individuals and foundations. We don’t, as a habit, publicize our donors out of respect for their privacy, but many of these individuals are more than welcome to talk about their support for us. You also can review our 990s. In our work, we coordinate with many groups across the political spectrum, generally equal parts left and right-leaning, on the issues where we agree. Transpartisan education and cooperation on this single issue is the only way, we believe, to truly solve it.

As a quick caveat for others, although the Institute to Reduce Spending may be a 501(c)(3), the Coalition to Reduce Spending, which shares a President with the Institute, is not. I’m not actually sure how one would go about reviewing the 990s. As best I can tell, they haven’t been filed yet. (If anybody else wants to check, you’re looking for EIN: 61-1701005). So we’re basically talking about a “research” organization connected with a political advocacy organization that is criticizing “corporate welfare” but is also funded by undisclosed corporations.

I realize that sounds harsh, but that’s the gist of it, isn’t it? It would be super cool if ya’ll could have a bit of transparency on who is footing the bills so I don’t feel the need to put a giant disclaimer on everything. Because as it is, I think there’s some incredibly valid criticisms on the military spending and some of the Departments. But it’s a bit like taking medical advice from some dude you met at a truck stop. You just don’t know where it’s coming from. I mean, the dude could be a doctor…. Except the 501(c)(4) designation means the only thing we know is that there is a political agenda.

Budget Cuts Reshape New York’s Public Housing - NYTimes.com -

Sequestration. Still real. Still here.

Sep 15

hipsterlibertarian:

ronpaulproblems:

institutetoreducespending:

Come Join Us Next Tuesday for a Q&A Session about the Economy!!! 

Next Tuesday the Institute to Reduce Spending is having a Q&A session about spending and the economy. If you have any questions you’ve been too afraid to ask about the economy or economic terms, you should check it out. 

This is tonight tomorrow and you should send in a question.

I’ve got a question! The Institute to Reduce Spending (which is pretty opaque on where its funding comes from) claims to be concerned about the debt.

I appreciate they’re against wasteful spending. But everybody is against waste, fraud, and abuse. It’s just that sometimes identifying fraud and abuse can be expensive, frustrating, and occasionally wasteful. (Think: IRS auditors). And reducing waste on a scale that impacts the deficit turns out to be similarly hard. (If this sub-department of whatever agency starts replacing office furniture every fifteen years instead of every ten years it’s going to have a negligible effect on the deficit.) Sometimes reducing waste turns out to be politically impractical in the short term. (Joint strike fighter?)

Question: Does the Institute to Reduce Spending care enough about the deficit to advocate for tax hikes as part of a budget-balancing package?

I’m just worried that this hole “reduce spending” stuff is a thin veneer over another of those Koch-affiliated 501(c)(4) organizations putting lofty language on a not-so-lofty attempt to slash the safety net so many Americans depend on to survive. I’d really appreciate some reassurance that this isn’t the case.

hipsterlibertarian:

ronpaulproblems:

institutetoreducespending:

Come Join Us Next Tuesday for a Q&A Session about the Economy!!! 

Next Tuesday the Institute to Reduce Spending is having a Q&A session about spending and the economy. If you have any questions you’ve been too afraid to ask about the economy or economic terms, you should check it out. 

This is tonight tomorrow and you should send in a question.

I’ve got a question! The Institute to Reduce Spending (which is pretty opaque on where its funding comes from) claims to be concerned about the debt.

I appreciate they’re against wasteful spending. But everybody is against waste, fraud, and abuse. It’s just that sometimes identifying fraud and abuse can be expensive, frustrating, and occasionally wasteful. (Think: IRS auditors). And reducing waste on a scale that impacts the deficit turns out to be similarly hard. (If this sub-department of whatever agency starts replacing office furniture every fifteen years instead of every ten years it’s going to have a negligible effect on the deficit.) Sometimes reducing waste turns out to be politically impractical in the short term. (Joint strike fighter?)

Question: Does the Institute to Reduce Spending care enough about the deficit to advocate for tax hikes as part of a budget-balancing package?

I’m just worried that this hole “reduce spending” stuff is a thin veneer over another of those Koch-affiliated 501(c)(4) organizations putting lofty language on a not-so-lofty attempt to slash the safety net so many Americans depend on to survive. I’d really appreciate some reassurance that this isn’t the case.

Identity politics

politicalprof:

So in response to my post how dominant white males are as elected
Republican members of Congress, I got this reply:

"Only 2% of black people are republican so this makes sense right? Try to turn this into a racist thing?"

Because white people can’t vote for black candidates? Or, let’s say, men can’t vote for women?

#How to not use statistics intelligently

I don’t want to reflexively back your probably-dumb interlocutor—but the statement can’t be dismissed quite that easily. Before candidates can be elected you’ve got to recruit them. If your political party is mostly white men, that’s your candidate pool.

Then you have the problem that basically all politics are identity politics. White people can vote for black candidates. But … for some reason a party disproportionately composed of white dudes elects an awful lot of white dudes.

I don’t think there’s any need to “try to turn this into a racist thing.” Maybe the disproportionate racial makeup of the Republican Party is a coincidence?

“Although every statewide elected official in Kansas is a Republican and President Obama lost the state by more than 20 points in the last election, Mr. Brownback’s proudly conservative policies have turned out to be so divisive and his tax cuts have generated such a drop in state revenue that they have caused even many Republicans to revolt.” — Conservative Experiment Faces Revolt in Reliably Red Kansas - NYTimes.com

Sep 14

Political Identification

Considering the number of radicals I hang out with and the number of strong opinions I’m happy to share, I still think of myself as a sort of moderate. After all, my core political beliefs seem awfully uncontroversial.

  1. The way power, wealth, etc. is distributed in society is affected by relatively arbitrary rules and conventions that should be improved if we can figure out how to do it.
  2. The whole “do unto others” thing still counts (and applies to everybody) when we’re making decisions about this sort of social policy.
  3. The journey is, in many ways, as important as the destination—at least in the sense that nobody who dies on the journey makes it to the destination. So maybe that revolution is a bad idea if it mostly consists of destroying actual things in the name of an improbable goal.

Also a dumb policy supported by clever arguments is still a dumb policy.