Do Republicans think Milton Friedman was a big government liberal?
How much can you get wrong in just three sentences? A whole lot, it turns out.
Consider Mitt Romney's most recent fundraising email titled "Another Bailout?!?" -- not exactly a policy document, but still -- about the Fed's latest round of quantitative easing. See if you can spot anything that might correctly be called "correct".
Barack Obama is at it again -- spending your tax dollars to bail out his failed economic plan. It's more of the same from an out-of-touch president with no plan to fix our economy and put Americans back to work.
This past week, the Federal Reserve announced it would print $40 billion every month to prop up this administration's jobless recovery -- that's money we can't afford for jobs we will never see.
Okay, the Fed did announce that it would buy $40 billion of mortgage bonds a month until unemployment starts coming down -- which is, more or less, "printing" money -- but the rest is nonsense.
First, Barack Obama had nothing to do with the Fed's decision to do QE3. Only the Fed had anything to do with the Fed's decision to do QE3. It's independent.
Second, the Fed isn't spending tax dollars. As Team Romney acknowledges two sentences later, the Fed is printing money to buy bonds.
Third, this isn't a bailout. It's not even clear who is supposedly getting "bailed out". Is it the government? We can already borrow for basically nothing for 20 years. Is it the banks? The Fed is just swapping one interest-bearing asset for another when it buys long-term bonds and gives the banks more reserves.
Fourth, QE3 isn't more of the same, because it's a new kind of open-ended commitment from the Fed. That's why markets are excited.
Fifth, President Obama actually does have a plan to get the economy moving again. It was called the American Jobs Act -- remember it, from last year? -- and it died where all good ideas go to die: Congress. More specifically, Republicans on Capitol Hill killed it, and then they turned around and blamed Obama for the weak economy. It was a neat political trick, but it meant we didn't get the 2.1 million additional jobs that Macroeconomic Advisers estimated the bill would create.
Sixth, there's no way we can't afford printing money, because ... we're printing it. Taxes aren't going up. Neither are deficits -- the opposite, actually. As Ben Bernanke pointed out in his press conference, the Fed expects to make money from its bond-buying, which it is then legally required to remit to the Treasury. In other words, Fed policy is reducing the deficit -- by $76.9 billion in 2012 and $78.4 billion in 2011.
That's a lot of errors crammed into 73 words. But there's a bigger error here. That's Romney's approach to monetary policy. He's repudiating a generation of conservative economic thought. It used to be that conservatives championed monetary demand management as the superior alternative to fiscal demand management. It was an intellectual battle between Milton Friedman and John Maynard Keynes -- and Friedman very much seemed to carry the day. Economists from both sides of the aisle agreed that the Fed rather than Congress should manage the business cycle, unless short-term interest rates were stuck at zero, like they are now. As Paul Krugman has pointed out, this was the mainstream Republican position as recently as 2004 -- current Romney adviser and former Bush adviser Greg Mankiw wrote then that "aggressive monetary policy can reduce the depth of a recession". (To his credit, Mankiw has been a voice of reason on the right about the Fed in recent years). But that is an idea non grata among conservatives nowadays. Paul Ryan's hard money views have won the day instead. Inflation is always just around the corner -- never mind that it isn't -- jobs be damned.
Don't believe me? Here's something to remember: Bernanke himself is a Republican. He's become such a political punching bag for the right that it's easy to forget, but he hasn't done anything that Milton Friedman wouldn't have approved of.
The question is if Mitt Romney does too, or if he means what he says. A magic eight-ball might be a better guide there than an Etch A Sketch.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s assertion that the National Mall was "full when the president took the Oath of Office" is demonstrably false.
On January 21, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer issued a statement criticizing journalists for their coverage of President Trump's inauguration. Some media outlets, Spicer claimed, were using photographs of the event in misleading and deceptive ways. To back this claim up, Spicer made a number of assertions that turned out to be false. He offered incorrect D.C. Metro-ridership numbers, and said that white ground coverings had never been used on the Mall during Inauguration before, when they had been employed in 2013. Two days later, during his first press conference, Spicer blamed the bad Metro numbers on an "outside agency" and stated that his claim about the "largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," was meant to include all viewership, in person and online, rather than referring to the in-person crowd specifically.
The technology has been used to create sped-up videos that falsely depict a response to stimulus.
One of the first measures that Republicans in the 115th Congress proposed was the “Heartbeat Protection Act.” On January 11, a group led by Steve King of Iowa introduced a bill that would require doctors nationwide to “check for a fetal heartbeat” before performing an abortion, and prohibit them from completing the procedure if they found one. In December, Republicans in the Ohio state legislature put forth a similar measure. Governor John Kasich vetoed it, observing that such a law would almost certainly be struck down as unconstitutional, but approved a 20-week abortion ban.
Opponents of the heartbeat bills have pointed out that they would eliminate abortion rights almost entirely—making the procedure illegal around four weeks after fertilization, before many women realize that they are pregnant. These measures raise even more elementary questions: What is a fetal heartbeat? And why does it matter?
Overshadowed by headlines about chaos and infighting, the new administration is notching a string of early victories.
From some angles, the Trump presidency is off to a rocky start. There were the somewhat disappointing crowds at the inauguration, and then the needless lies about them, presented as “alternative facts.” There’s the controversy over Trump’s remarks to the CIA, and precisely who in the crowd cheered his visit. On Monday, the president repeated a dumb and unnecessary lie about illegal ballots having cost him the popular vote during a meeting with members of Congress. The Washington Post reports in detail on White House infighting and an attempted reboot—just four days into the administration. ABC’s The Notefrowns, “He can’t help himself, and he isn’t helping himself.”
But what if the Trump presidency is actually off to a surprisingly effective start? For months, Trump has shown a perverse ability to overshadow his own message with chaos and disorder, and the first five days of his administration fit right into that pattern.
The president repeated his belief that the U.S. should have taken Iraq’s oil, ominously adding that the CIA may “have another chance.”
Every American, regardless of who they voted for in the election, should be furious with President Donald Trump for what he told the CIA during a recent meeting at its headquarters. I do not mean his digressions about the size of the crowd at his inauguration and the number of times he has appeared on the cover of Time magazine, although it does not inspire confidence to see the president waste fleeting time with national-security employees on his vanity rather than our security.
It’s his comments on Iraq that ought to make Americans apoplectic, for in the space of seconds, Trump managed to utter words that are 1) morally repugnant, 2) certain to be exploited as a recruiting tool by America’s terrorist enemies, and 3) likely to help foreign adversaries diminish America’s reputation and power. For the sake of an indisciplined, self-indulgent riff, Trump made Americans less safe.
As the party struggles to agree on a replacement, a group of GOP senators unveil a bill that would give states the option to keep it.
The vast majority of Republicans in Congress haven’t budged from their longstanding vow to completely repeal the Affordable Care Act. But as the party struggles to write a replacement, a few GOP lawmakers are declaring their support for keeping the law on the books in some form indefinitely.
A group of senators on Monday unveiled legislation that would give states the option of preserving Obamacare, securing federal support for a more conservative health-insurance system, or opting out of any assistance from Washington. Offered as a middle ground in the partisan health-care fight, the proposal breaks with years of Republican orthodoxy on the 2010 law, which party leaders have pledged to rip out “root and branch.”
The White House hasn’t released the executive order yet. Here’s some of the text that the president signed.
On Tuesday afternoon, President Donald Trump signed a memorandum ordering the Secretary of the Army to expedite approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,100-mile pipeline linking the North Dakota oil fields to a river terminal in Illinois. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied final approval to the project late last year, after months of protests from the local Standing Rock Sioux tribe and from Native people nationwide.
The text of Trump’s executive memorandum has yet to be made public, which has made reporting on his actual order difficult. The only version available right now is what is visible in an image from an Associated Press photographer. That version is missing at least a page, and some words are so blurry as to be non-parseable. While I fully expect that the White House will soon release the full text of the memo, there is great interest in its contents right now, so I’ve transcribed the visible text and posted it below for curious readers.
For people sick of high deductibles, Republicans offer high-deductible plans as replacements for Obamacare.
Obamacare’s days are numbered. That was the message of the executive order President Donald Trump signed Friday, instructing government agencies to “minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the [Affordable Care Act].”
When I spoke with a handful of Trump supporters after the inauguration Friday, they said they eagerly awaited Obamacare’s end. Tanya, a woman from Virginia who was rolling a walker down I Street to the inaugural parade, said she was struggling with her $6,750 deductible. “As a business person who is self-employed, it’s killing me,” she said.
Nearby, Marlita Gogan, from Houston, said she just wants Trump to “do what he says”—repeal and replace Obamacare. Her daughter’s insurance premium has risen from $250 to $375, with a $5,000 deductible. “It’s too much,” she said. “You can’t even use it.”
The president declared his own inauguration a national holiday. But the language he used says something more.
You could be forgiven for forgetting the National Day of Patriotic Devotion—technically, it happened before it was ever declared. Donald Trump established it with a stroke of a pen sometime after his inauguration; the official proclamation appeared Monday in the Federal Register.
That bit isn’t all that unusual. Presidents christen National Days Of Things all the time. President Barack Obama, for example, proclaimed the day of his own inauguration in 2009 a “National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation,” calling “upon all of our citizens to serve one another and the common purpose of remaking this Nation for our new century.” He annually declared September 11 to be “Patriot Day.” But “Patriotic Devotion” strikes a different note—flowery, vaguely compulsory.
A No. 1 bestseller by a respected physician argues that gluten and carbohydrates are at the root of Alzheimer's disease, anxiety, depression, and ADHD. What to make of the controversial theory?
“If you could make just three simple changes in your life to prevent, or even reverse, memory loss and other brain disorders, wouldn’t you?”
So asks Dr. David Perlmutter, in promotion of his PBS special Brain Change, coming soon to your regional affiliate. Three changes. Simple ones. Wouldn’t you?
The 90-minute special is a companion to Perlmutter’s blockbuster book on how gluten and carbs are destroying our brains. In November it became a New York Times number one bestseller. Since its September release, as Perlmutter told me, “It’s never not been on the bestseller list, frankly.”
“Is it still number one?” I asked. A pause over the phone as he checked. In modern interview style, we were both also on our computers.