30 April 2018

The real reason the Republican tax cut isn’t going to work

Now, the important thing to understand here is that profits are supposed to be like a bat-signal showing businesses where to invest. When they're high, it usually means that there's so little supply of what consumers demand that companies can charge almost anything for it. Other firms, then, should be able to swoop in and compete away some of these profits while still making enough themselves for their upfront costs — the investments they have to make — to be more than worth it. That's what's supposed to be the magic of the market: Just by having everyone pursue their own self-interest, we can figure out how much of everything we need better than any bureaucrat could.

But this process has lost some of its mojo recently. Corporate profits, adjusted for taxes, inventories, and depreciation, have hit an all-time high as a share of the economy the past 10 years, but business investment has not. Nowhere close. It has been average at best.

James Comey isn’t the hero we deserve. But he’s the hero we need

Matthew Yglesias

26 April 2018

Trump is drowning in scandal. He can’t focus on Syria.

It is hard to imagine how Trump can do his job — for example, approving military strikes on Syria — while drowning in this rising tide of scandal. There is an old tradition, more honored in theory than fact, that issues of national security are kept separate from domestic politics, but Trump is utterly incapable of making any such distinction. For him, everything is political — and all politics is personal.”

“It’s hard to imagine that Trump, who in the best of times has the attention span of a hyperactive 8-year-old, can focus on strategy for Syria amid the far more pressing threats that he faces from an ever-expanding criminal investigation.

Max Boot

Econ Majors Graduate With a Huge Knowledge Gap

Noah Smith

24 April 2018

The Bell Curve is about policy. And it’s wrong.

Charles Murray is an incredibly successful — and pernicious — policy entrepreneur.

Matthew Yglesias

The Outlook for Public Transit Isn't All That Bad

The ridership decline is confined to buses. That's no reason to cut overall funding.

Noah Smith

23 April 2018

The emerging plan to save the American labor movement

Dylan Matthews

Democrats Shouldn’t Give in to White Racism

Too many observers treat American politics as a contest between rival groups of white people. It’s how you get dubious claims that Donald Trump broadly represents “working-class” voters, or the related narrative that pits a monolithic “coastal elite” against a so-called “heartland,” ideas that cannot survive contact with any consideration of black political behavior.

Jamelle Bouie

19 April 2018

Econ 101 No Longer Explains the Job Market

Noah Smith

In all fairness, it probably never did. -ed.

Tired of winning yet? You're not alone.

Trump doesn’t define winning the way you and I do. It’s not about giving back or improving people’s lives; as I’ve written before, Trump has never done that anywhere, unless you count remodeling a skating rink.

Winning, in Trump’s mind, wasn’t about us. It was about him.

It’s about ratings and primacy. Trump wants more than anything to exist outside of himself, to occupy your screens and your emotions. He always has.

Losing, to Trump, is receding from center stage. Winning is finding one way after another to keep us riveted to the show.

So Trump is absolutely delivering on his promise. He’s winning and winning and winning. Every day, it seems, he taps some new well of audacity, willing himself to become the overarching story of our time.

But you can’t really blame the president. He told us right from the start that we’d get tired of the whole noisy routine.

We were just too busy gawking to listen.

Matt Bai

18 April 2018

Trump's Latest Domestic Spending Plot May Be To Ignore The Law

Stan Collender

Corruption, Not Russia, Is Trump’s Greatest Political Liability

It is hardly a coincidence that so many greedy people have filled the administration’s ranks. Trump’s ostentatious crudeness and misogyny are a kind of human-resources strategy. Radiating personal and professional sleaze lets him quickly and easily identify individuals who have any kind of public ethics and to sort them out. (James Comey’s accounts of his interactions with the president depict Trump probing for some vein of corruptibility in the FBI director; when he came up empty, he fired him.) Trump is legitimately excellent at cultivating an inner circle unburdened by legal or moral scruples. These are the only kind of people who want to work for Trump, and the only kind Trump wants to work for him.

Jonathan Chait

17 April 2018

It’s harder for Democrats to gerrymander effectively

Matthew Yglesias

Trump-era politics is a surreal nightmare and we can’t wake up

Reality has confounded both expectations, with Trump displaying no hidden depths whatsoever, even as life continues to be basically fine for most people. America has its share of problems to be sure: sky-high child poverty rate, unsustainable greenhouse gas emissions, infrastructure woes, childcare woes, prescription drug affordability woes, you name it.

But these are basically longstanding issues that our political system writ large has failed to address. They don’t hold a particularly close relationship to the fact that the president is a racist buffoon who is possibly being blackmailed by the FSB over some sex tapes.

On the other hand, the fact that the president of the United States has literally nothing to say about any of the country’s most urgent long-term problems is itself a fairly noteworthy situation.

Matthew Yglesias

16 April 2018

Employers are increasingly using their workers as lobbyists. Here’s why that’s a problem.

Alexander Hertel-Fernandez

It’s Time to Stop Yammering About Liberal Bias

The right has plenty of representation in the nation’s opinion pages.

This raises a few obvious questions that are, for whatever reason, rarely asked. If American institutions really were intolerably liberal in 1951 and in 1966, then what would a state of affairs that satisfied the conservative movement actually look like? If, as conservatives have insisted over decades of uninterrupted complaint, the American people really are being indoctrinated into liberalism in their formative years at our schools and colleges and in their adult years by an oppressively slanted press, how exactly does one explain the American political situation in 2018, with right-wing control of the presidency, the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, 33 governorships, and 32 state legislatures? If America’s citizenry really has been spoon-fed leftist propaganda for nearly 70 straight years, isn’t the reorganization of the United States into semiautonomous workers’ republics long overdue?

Osita Nwanevu

13 April 2018

Why Would the Atlantic Hire Kevin Williamson?

Describing a 2014 visit to the impoverished city of East St. Louis, Illinois, Williamson compared a black child to a “primate” and a “three-fifths-scale Snoop Dogg” before likening his own trip through Illinois to Marlow’s journey up the Congo River in Heart of Darkness, all within the space of a single paragraph.

Jordan Weissmann

Who Made the Worst Decision of the Iraq War?

On May 15, 2003, one day after he arrived in Baghdad to head the Coalition Provisional Authority, Bremer issued CPA Order No. 1, which barred members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party from all but the lowliest government posts. The next day, he issued CPA Order No. 2, which disbanded the Iraqi army.

With those two orders, the future of Iraq was doomed, the already-likely failure of the American mission was sealed, and the prospect of a sectarian civil war—enveloping not only Iraq but the entire Middle East—became nearly inevitable. Not only did the orders remove the country’s two main indigenous institutions of authority, they also put 50,000 civil servants and a quarter-million soldiers out of a job, many of them with access to weapons. In other words, Bremer’s orders amounted to a recipe for resentment, anarchy, and violence.

Fred Kaplan

11 April 2018

How the NRA derails gun control debates

The NRA speaks for gun companies. Why should we listen?

Carlos Maza

Make Them Pay

Gun control activists must focus on fighting for the right to sue firearms manufacturers.

Cars became more crashworthy, and hence less lethal and injurious, as a result of tort litigation and federal regulation. Cars are instrumentalities of death and injury, not because producers and purchasers intend this, but because cars are involved in crashes and crashes cause death and injury. Similarly, most of the people who buy guns do not intend to use them for suicide or homicide, but these outcomes can be expected when guns are in use. In the case of automobiles, the law tracks the recognition that cars can be designed and marketed so as to enhance crashworthiness. Damage awards and regulatory penalties have motivated automobile manufacturers to improve crashworthiness and to promote crashworthiness as a desirable feature. Over time, this has yielded major reductions in the rates of fatality and injury from car use.

Heidi Li Feldman

10 April 2018

John Bolton and Gina Haspel Are the Consequences of Our Failure to Reckon With the Bush Years

Americans have been able to comfort themselves over the last 15 years with the notion that the war was a “blunder” or “mistake” rather than an immoral act or crime. (Though, as my colleague Ben Mathis-Lilley noted, 43 percent of Americans, like Bolton, don’t even think it was a mistake.) Certainly, the central architects and advocates of the war have paid little professional price for its consequences.

Joshua Keating

It’s Time to Panic Now

John Bolton’s appointment as national security adviser puts us on a path to war.

His agenda is not “peace through strength,” the motto of more conventional Republican hawks that Trump included in a tweet on Wednesday, but rather regime change through war. He is a neocon without the moral fervor of some who wear that label—i.e., he is keen to topple oppressive regimes not in order to spread democracy but rather to expand American power.

Fred Kaplan

09 April 2018

No Strength, No Peace

Trump is the Willy Loman of foreign policy. He thinks, as does the tragic traveling salesman of Arthur Miller’s play, that “personality always wins the day” and “a smile and a shoeshine” are more important than having something to sell that customers want.

Fred Kaplan

Mick Mulvaney’s Latest Scandal Makes Him Look Like a Craven Hypocrite

This weird and wonky scandal shows how far the administration is willing to go to downplay unflattering data and push through a regulation that will likely hurt working class Americans.

Jordan Weissmann

06 April 2018

Celebrating 50 years of the Chrystie Street Connection

On November 27th, 1967 there was chaos on the New York City subway. That Monday, as strap-hangers began their daily commute, many of them found that trains they had taken every day for years, decades even, were no longer running or were running to new places.


The myth of “forcing people out of their cars”

At the same time, parking takes up land. And in some parts of the country (California certainly included), land is expensive, so paying the full price of a parking space might get expensive. The question is whether towns should require that new developments come with a certain minimum amount of new parking attached (as virtually every city, including New York City, currently does) or whether they should simply allow people to decide how much parking they want to pay for.

Matthew Yglesias

04 April 2018

The Artifice of the Deal

Forget the standard photo ops; his entire presidency, save for a giveaway-laden tax bill that actually originated in Congress, is a string of dramatic flourishes, without even the aspiration to translate them into something like actual governance.

Trump was dead right about our politics over the years — too much of it became a tired kind of stagecraft. But that kind of stagecraft was almost always designed to sell an agenda.

Larry Kudlow, Trump’s new top economic adviser, explained

He’s a die-hard supply-sider for whom corporate tax cuts are the highest goal.

Dylan Matthews

02 April 2018

The real reason the U.S. spends twice as much on health care as other wealthy countries

Carolyn Y. Johnson

Trump wants to liberalize health data. Easier said than done.

The hardest part of liberalizing patient data is that you have hundreds of thousands of hospitals and doctor offices all across the country who have a financial interest in keeping data private. If a patient can take her record from Hospital A and walk down the street to Hospital B to seek treatment, that’s bad for Hospital A’s bottom line.

Sarah Kliff