Five Best Wednesday Columns

Annie Lowrey on marriage as a poverty cure, Gabriella Coleman on Snowden's Anonymous revelation, Steve Benen on Obamacare and labor, Erik Wemple on the CBO report and the media, and Nick Gillespie on the GOP's "suicide pact." 

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Annie Lowrey at The New York Times Magazine asks if marriage can cure poverty"With Democrats and Republicans pitted against one another in a vicious election-year battle over how to alleviate poverty, marriage is the policy solution du jour," Lowrey writes. "Economists have done studies showing that if you snapped your fingers and suddenly all the country’s poor, unmarried partners were hitched — including gay and lesbian couples legally precluded from marrying in most states — the poverty rate would drop," she explains. "It’s a rare policy solution that data-crunching geeks and Bible-thumping crusaders can agree on — albeit for very different reasons." And Washington has known the benefits of marriage for years  — both Bill Clinton and George W. spent money on marriage promotion. But "in an economy that offers so little promise to those at the bottom, family planning in the name of upward mobility doesn’t make much sense. ... "from an economist’s perspective, our collective allergy to matrimony might be a macroeconomic issue: In order to save marriage, we’d have to end poverty," Lowrey argues. Ezra Klein recommends the piece.

Gabriella Coleman at Wired on the danger of Snowden's new revelation. "The latest Snowden-related revelation is that Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) proactively targeted the communications infrastructure used by the online activist collective known as Anonymous," Coleman writes. The U.S.' NSA was likely aware of what the GCHQ was doing. "Whether you agree with the activities of Anonymous or not — which have included everything from supporting the Arab Spring protests to DDoSing copyright organizations to doxing child pornography site users — the salient point is that democratic governments now seem to be using their very tactics against them," she explains. Why does that matter? "The key difference, ... is that while those involved in Anonymous can and have faced their day in court for those tactics, the British government has not. When Anonymous engages in lawbreaking, they are always taking a huge risk in doing so. But with unlimited resources and no oversight, organizations like the GCHQ (and theoretically the NSA) can do as they please. And it’s this power differential that makes all the difference," Coleman argues. Glenn Greenwald tweets, "At Wired, Anonymous expert : 'The New Snowden Revelation Is Dangerous for Anonymous — And for All of Us.'"

Steve Benen at MSNBC on Obamacare and labor. "The biggest political story of the day yesterday was a Congressional Budget Office report that a few too many Republicans and reporters didn’t understand. Much of the political world apparently forgot that labor supply and labor demand aren’t the same thing, which made it easier for critics of the Affordable Care Act to push a claim that was 100% wrong: 'Obamacare to cut over 2 million jobs,'" Benen writes. On top of that, some pundits think it doesn't matter if Republicans are lying. "The New York Times’ Jackie Calmes acknowledged that much of the reporting and Republican rhetoric is 'inaccurate' ... but she said the story is a 'problem' for Democrats anyway ... 'If you’re explainin',' she said, 'you’re losin’.' A rational public discourse struggles badly under conditions like these," Benen argues. Working America writer Seth D. Michaels tweets this line: "What possible incentive would a political actor have in this environment to tell the truth?"

Erik Wemple at The Washington Post on the CBO report and the media. "Many-o-many media outlets misconstrued the CBO findings. For a while [Tuesday] morning, the Internet was hopping with job-killing hype, when in fact the truth was vastly different," Wemple argues. "Obamacare’s impact, the CBO concluded, would lessen the supply of labor by encouraging certain folks not to work: 'The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor, so it will appear almost entirely as a reduction in labor force participation and in hours worked ...' For someone approaching retirement ... Obamacare could well mean that they needn’t hold onto a bad job just to keep health insurance," Wemple explains. "That’s a far different dynamic from job-killing." The Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, Politico, Forbes, The Hill, National Review, and others have all changed their headlines about the CBO report because they were inaccurate. Salon's Brian Beutler tweets, "Bang up job." 

Nick Gillespie at The Daily Beast on the GOP's "suicide pact." "As political momentum in Washington, D.C. swings toward tackling immigration reform, the Republican Party once again is ready to squander a mighty electoral advantage heading into the 2014 midterms," Gillespie, the libertarian editor of, argues. "The GOP faithful is crying that 'Amnesty=Suicideand Republican leaders are calling for massively invasive new rules that will only increase the size, scope, and spending of the federal government. And this is the party of small government? No wonder the country is so screwed," he writes. "The simple fact, one that Republicans should embrace, is that governments don’t really control aggregate immigration flows any more than they control aggregate consumer demand. Immigration is the result of far larger forces than even totalitarian governments can control, including economic opportunity in the destination country and material conditions in the home country," Gillespie argues.

Photo by mast3r via Shutterstock. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.