Thank my Reagan fascination for remembering this August 1986 press conference in which reporters questioned administration’s South Africa policy (kudos to a feisty Chris Wallace). Watch him at the 19:00 and for the next three minutes slither with particular ineptness away from his vituperative statement about South African blacks who thought he was full of shit, and again at 23:00; it will not look right, after all, to slander by association Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu. To hear Reagan intone, “This is a sovereign nation. You can’t go in there and tell them what to do with their country” after the horrors of El Salvador and what Reagan himself did months earlier in coaxing Filipino president Ferdinand Marcos to abdicate makes me marvel at his acting skills and the credulity of the American press. Two months later, the Republican Senate dealt the president a body blow: it overrode his veto of the Anti-Apartheid Act: the defeat of the League of Nations notwithstanding, the first time it had rebuked presidential foreign policy in this way in the twentieth century.
How can you tell I’m not a boomer? I don’t give a shit about John Fitzgerald Kennedy or his presidency, but who am I kidding? Like fights about taxes and Applebee’s, JFK is woven into the fabric of American-ness. Fortunately the number of men with long graying hair who work for the Council of Foreign Relations continues to drop, thanks to death and diminishing tenure opportunities; and the more we learn about his predecessor’s revulsion towards the military men over whom he towered (and his predilection for skullduggery in, oh, Iran) the worse the New Frontier looks. Ike called his nuclear policy the “New Look,” but JFK’s bear-any-burden twaddle deserves the title: fluffy hair and youthful energy meant giving Ford Corporation presidents carte blanche over missiles and advisers. The New Look meant the Old Aggression. How many of the sycophants crowding the green rooms of cable channel headquarters this week are going to discuss the excellently named Strategic Hamlets program — the forced relocation of thousands of Vietnamese into government-run compounds for the purpose of “protecting” them from Communist insurgents?
The program was a horrific failure: torn from their homes, which were burned before their eyes, Vietnam’s peasants turned on the Diem regime with a vengeance. The compensation money that was supposed to go to the dislocated villagers instead filled the pockets of Diem’s corrupt officials, and the hamlets, which were soon infiltrated by the Viet Cong, turned out to be not so strategic after all. The ranks of the communists increased by 300 percent.
Kennedy, instead of holding his advisors—or himself—responsible for this abysmal failure, instead did what he always did: he blamed the other guy. After the Bay of Pigs ended in what the historian Trumbull Higgins called “the perfect failure,” Kennedy put the onus on the CIA—although he had approved the original plan, which called for U.S. air support for the Cuban exile force, only to withdraw his promise on the eve of the invasion. Similarly when it came to the unraveling of South Vietnam, he blamed Diem.
What happened next replayed itself again and again in the next fifteen years: in Indonesia, the Dominican Republic Greece, Allende’s Chile. When the caprices of fate thwart American plans, change the script:
By 1963 Diem had opened back-channel talks with the North Vietnamese and sought to end the war with a negotiated settlement, but Kennedy was having none of it. The president soon concluded that the increasingly unpopular Diem was the cause of America’s failure in the region and—disdaining the advice of the Pentagon—agreed to a State Department plan to overthrow him.
A cash payment of $40,000 was made to a cabal of South Vietnamese generals, and on November 2, 1963, the president of the Republic of Vietnam was murdered, along with several members of his family. The coup leaders were invited to the American Embassy and congratulated by Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge.
Chaos ensued, and the Vietcong was on the march. In response, U.S. soldiers increasingly took the place of ARVN troops on the battlefields of Vietnam. The Americanization of the war had begun. According to Robert Kennedy—and contrary to Oliver Stone’s overactive imagination—JFK never gave the slightest consideration to pulling out.
. In that action [DRAMATIC PAUSE] lay the Vietnam War. Is Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. still dead?
Mark Halperin is so awful that even my millisecond-length view of him as I flip channels past MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” calcifies my oatmeal. He isn’t a reporter, pundit, writer, or wit — he’s a courtier who serves no interests except the permanent Beltway class that buys his “books.” Michael Kinsley, who as creator of “Crossfire” knows about white noise and once a good columnist, turns the John-Heilemann-”cowritten” Double Down to confetti. “Politics is a macho, macho world as Halperin and Heilemann portray it,” Kinsley observes. A wobble or hesitation is enough to dismiss a presidential candidate; and yet the pols “melt into a puddle at the slightest hint of an insult — even if they have to fake indignation.” The art of umbrage, in Kinsley’s phrase:
Typically an umbrage episode began when someone would say something he or she shouldn’t have. This may be because it’s not true. More often, it’s all too true. Remember this one from Gov. Rick Perry of Texas? “If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart.” I thought this was the sweetest thing I’d ever heard Rick Perry say. But Halperin and Heilemann make clear it was a terrible mistake, because it suggested that anyone who disagreed with him on how to treat people who were brought to the United States as young children, and had no other home country to go to, was heartless. (Romney’s position was that if you make it unpleasant enough for them to stay, people will “self-deport.” How dare you call him heartless!)
Mitt Romney “pounded away at the Texan on the issue for a solid month.” Halperin and Heilemann call it “an act of political suicide, . . . verbal seppuku.” Newt Gingrich committed a similar gaffe, calling for a “humane” immigration policy, and taking a similar pounding from Romney for that.
The authors lend a sympathetic ear to Karl Rove, the Republican Rasputin, as he describes his disgust at hearing that Newt Gingrich took a few hours off one Saturday morning in Chicago to go see the dinosaurs at the Field Museum. Can you spot the gaffe? It’s not Rove dissing Gingrich for going to a museum. The gaffe is Gingrich taking time off from politics to go to a museum. Shame on him! As the authors put it, he “frittered away” valuable time.
Although I appreciated the evaluation of Halperin-Heilemann neologisms, professional authors who use “double down” in conversation deserve a ruler slapped against the back of their thighs. However:
All the usual Washingtonians talked to them not for the sake of history, or even to make sure their side of the story got told, but because they wanted to be included. People buy the book for similar reasons. No one can compete.
The usual Washingtonians talk to them because they’re afraid of what their friends and fellow Safeway shoppers will say about them if they don’t.
“The unintended story of the ACA will turn out to be the redistribution of money from poorer States, to richer ones, an outcome imposed by the poorer states, upon themselves”
Most states will also have increased spending if they expand Medicaid; for North Carolina, in 2016 Kaiser estimates that the state will have to spend $390 Million to leverage around $4 Billion in extra federal money, and reduce the ranks of the uninsured by around 375,000 persons (about 475,000 more would be covered by Medicaid). To put the foregone $4 Billion in context, North Carolina’s total Medicaid budget in fiscal year 2014 is around $14 Billion, and there is certainly no alternative proposal as impactful on the uninsured in my state at any cost.
States that are not expanding Medicaid have historically received more in federal spending per dollar of federal taxes paid by the state ($2.18) as compared to States that are expanding ($1.85) and those that are considering expansion ($1.53), all in 2009, a year with a very large federal deficit. In year 2000, the last year of a federal surplus, those states rejecting expansion received $1.36 in federal spending per tax dollar paid as compared to $1.10 for those undertaking expansion (the fence sitters were net donor states, $0.87). Similar patterns held in both 1994 and 2004 (other years shown in this table I put together using IRS & Kaiser sources Tax Flows Table.10.25.13_blog).
While the Medicaid program is not the only means through which richer states have cross subsidized poorer ones, it has been a large and consistent source of such flows. By choosing not to expand Medicaid, the poorer, mostly politically “red” states are redistributing money toward the richer, mostly politically “blue” ones (there are exceptions; red Kentucky is both expanding Medicaid and has one of the best functioning State exchanges). Further, those States that are expanding Medicaid have also tended to set up state-based insurance exchanges, which are currently operating much better than the federal one, meaning that income based subsidies associated with the purchase of private health insurance may flow less freely to poorer states, at least in the short term. And there is a court case that could stop the flow of such subsidies to states not operating their own exchange all together. I have not tried to estimate the magnitude of these sources of redistribution from poor to rich states under different scenarios because things are so fluid, but the Medicaid numbers outlined are potentially just the start.
The income inequality feared by economists and to which shameless Republicans allude on occasion gets exacerbated by states rejecting the Medicare dough. Note this line: “The unintended story of the ACA will turn out to be the redistribution of money from poorer States, to richer ones, an outcome imposed by the poorer states, upon themselves.”
Seriously. We’re already talking “entitlement reform,” aka “raising the retirement age of people in no condition to work harder.” Kevin Drum:
I’m not at all convinced that President Obama even wants to do away with the sequester. He says he does, of course, and his budget proposal includes higher levels of spending. But his actions over the past three years speak louder than words. His pivot to the deficit in 2010 seemed quite genuine, and his active push for a grand bargain in 2011 confirmed that he takes the deficit fairly seriously. It’s true that the sequester is a lousy way of addressing the deficit, but I suspect that Obama thinks it’s better than nothing. If he could negotiate some kind of swap between short-term discretionary cuts and long-term entitlement cuts, he’d do it, but if he can’t he’s not going to invest a lot of energy in fighting the weather.
Can we repeat this: “We are baffled by the idea that the pace of deficit reduction needs to be increased”
The Beltway political class takes deficit reduction for granted. Peer behind the jargon and there’s nothing beyond the kind of rebarbative thinking that believes an analogy exists between how the federal government should manage its budgets and how we manage our own. Saving money is good, right? Cutting waste we can agree is bad, yes? With the deficit dropping fast and the economy still wobbly, the obsession with waste and “fraud” mystifies me.
Annie Lowrey, Nathaniel Popper, and Nelson D. Schwartz report:
A new report from Macroeconomic Advisers, prepared for the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, estimates the costs of the fiscal uncertainty of the last few years. Its model suggests that uncertainty since late 2009 has increased certain corporate borrowing costs by 0.38 percentage point; lowered economic growth over that period by 0.3 percent a year, costing at least $150 billion in lost output; and left this year’s unemployment rate higher by 0.6 percentage point. That translates to 900,000 jobs lost.
The unusually rapid pace of deficit reduction, concentrated on goods and services the government delivers, has had a further damping effect on growth, swamping the cost of the relatively brief shutdown, economists said. Macroeconomic Advisers estimated the impact at about 0.7 percentage points of G.D.P. a year, equivalent to over $300 billion in lost output over the last three years. Additional cuts would slow the economy even more, economists say.
“We are baffled by the idea that the pace of deficit reduction needs to be increased, given how rapidly the picture is improving already,” Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist of Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note to clients.
“A great portion of the courtier press that now expresses horror at what is going on now went gleefully along for the ride as it became inevitable.”
When early in 2008 when it looked as if for thirty hours Mike Huckabee stood a chance of stealing the nomination from John McCain, a Republican relative was horrified. “What am I going to do?” she wailed. “I’m not going to vote for a religious zealot!” Tough shit, I told her. You asked for it. Since Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign the party has courted, stroked, and given tax exemptions to educational Treblinkas run by those charlatans. The bright star of Sirius Huckabee was the culmination of thirty years of lip service.
It hasn’t stopped, not when you’ve got a whole party full of charlatans. Charles Pierce is mad as hell. Who wouldn’t be?
Ted Yoho has been coming for years. Ted Yoho was made inevitable by the NCPAC campaigns of the late 1970′s and by the elevation of Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1980 and, subsequently, to an artificially exalted place in our history after he left office. The Republican party revelled in all the forces that are now tearing it apart. The Democratic party was criminally negligent and abdicated its profound responsibility to fight against those forces; indeed, it spent the better part of the 1980′s and 1990′s trying to surf the wave itself. The Democratic Leadership Council, and Blue Dog Democrats generally, bear a heavy burden of responsibility for failing to demonstrate to the American people in election after election how extreme the Republicans were becoming.
The fault also lies with the commentators most appreciated by cable news and NPR for their reasonableness, the kind of reasonableness that heads for the hills and shakes its head sadly when when the Yohos and Cruzes and before them the DeLays and Gingrichs and Santorums rumbled unreasonably:
That means you, Roger Simon of Politico, who was so shocked the other day to discover that racism may have afflicted the process of government since the president’s election, but who once claimed to right to make candidates like Gore “jump through hoops” for the pure hella-fun of it. That means you, Chris Matthews, who chased the presidential dick for two years, all the way through an impeachment process that was a constitutional absurdity, but who now discovers that the campaign of destruction never truly stopped. That means you, Andrew Sullivan, with your current existential torment over How It Came To This. (Pro tip: The Bell Curve? Betsy McCaughey on health-care? Fifth-column liberals? You helped.) This means you, David Brooks, sucking your thumb on book leave while the monster that you got rich feeding grows into its full power. This means all of you who went along for the ride on torture, and on Iraq, and who hid under the bed after 9/11.
If things do pan out this way, it will have been the third cycle in a row in which the Tea Party will have cost Republicans their shot at taking the Senate. One wonders if the Kochs and the rest of the assorted plutocratic puppet masters still think they made a wise investment.
Remember, these folks are running out of time to get their Social Security and Medicare cuts before their voters age out of the electorate and a far more progressive electorate replaces them. They’ve got 15 years tops–and more likely 10 or less–before the politics get nearly impossible for them unless they attempt a shock doctrine/coup scenario. That’s partly what they’re doing with the shutdown, of course, but in 10 years even half measures like a government shutdown won’t be enough, or even possible for them. They just won’t have the numbers to sustain it: a lock on the South, a split decision in the Midwest and a smattering of the least populated portions of the mountain west just aren’t enough to get it done.
Federal workers say they were hugely relieved by last week’s House vote to guarantee the missed pay after the furlough’s over. But that hasn’t eased their anxiety over the bills stacking up in the meantime. Some parents are stretching to pay for day care they don’t need just so they don’t lose their slots while waiting to go back to work. All around the region, the furloughed are looking for money to satisfy their creditors or begging them for more time to pay their bills.
“A lot of our members have been asking to skip a payment,” said Pamela Hout, chief executive of the Census Federal Credit Union. Her staff has been working a few hours a week at the nearly deserted Census Bureau headquarters in Prince George’s County to meet the demand. “We’ve been accommodating them; all they have to do is show us their [furlough] letter.”
The Ferrises, who lived through the shutdowns of the mid-1990s as young EPA staffers, moved fast to get cash, taking out a loan from their federal retirement program to cover the mortgage for two months. If the standoff goes longer, they will consider a second note on their house to keep bill-paying money on hand.
“I’m the kind of guy who really would be up every night worried about how to pay the mortgage,” John Ferris said.
Updated 11:30 a.m. | Senate Democrats are considering leaking a series of emails between the chiefs of staff of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker John A. Boehner regarding employer contributions to congressional staff health care plans, multiple top-level sources said late Monday.
Senate Democratic chiefs of staff discussed the emails between Reid chief David Krone and Boehner chief Mike Sommers at a recent meeting, according to a source with direct knowledge of the meeting.
Leaking the emails would be unusual, given the taboo over disclosing personal communications between top staffers. But the missives also would reveal Boehner’s position on employer subsidies for congressional staff. Democrats believe the Ohio Republican’s decision to attach an amendment to revoke those contributions to the most recent House continuing resolution was a direct shot at vulnerable Senate Democrats up in 2014 and would like to highlight the contradiction between Boehner’s public and private stances on the issue.
Senate Democrats believe that Republican efforts to force a vote on what some in the GOP have characterized as a congressional “exemption” are designed to politically corner Democrats like Kay Hagan of North Carolina or Mark Pryor in Arkansas, who represent more conservative states. Democrats contend that Republicans just want to campaign on the issue, while hoping the amendment will not pass.
As the first morning of a government shutdown unfolds, I was pleased to see that our Beltway masters haven’t much lamented the collapse of Tip ‘n’ Ronnie-esque bipartisanship, in part due to the latest polls showing the public blames the GOP for the shutdown by margins that would have made Reagan’s ’84 election team blush. The normally useless Jonathan Chait posted this yesterday; his points are worth remembering:
The first element of the strategy is a kind of legislative strike. Initially, House Republicans decided to boycott all direct negotiations with President Obama, and then subsequently extended that boycott to negotiations with the Democratic Senate. (Senate Democrats have spent months pleading with House Republicans to negotiate with them, to no avail.) This kind of refusal to even enter negotiations is highly unusual. The way to make sense of it is that Republicans have planned since January to force Obama to accede to large chunks of the Republican agenda, without Republicans having to offer any policy concessions of their own.
Republicans have thrashed this way and that throughout the year. Republicans have fallen out, often sharply, over which hostages to ransom, with the most conservative ones favoring a government shutdown threat and the more pragmatic wing, oddly, endorsing a debt default threat. They have also struggled to define the terms of their ransom.
States whose economies most depend on government employment will most likely vote Republican, the New York Times reports:
Consider one measure, the proportion of civilian employees in each state with government jobs, whether federal, state or local. Nationally, the proportion last month was 16 percent, the lowest figure since 2001.
But the variance among the 50 states is large. At the top of the list, with one out of four workers employed by the government, is Wyoming. At the other extreme is Pennsylvania, with just one in eight.
Wyoming is among the most Republican states, and that is part of a pattern. Of the 15 states with the highest proportion of government employment, 10 voted for Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, in last year’s presidential election. (The District of Columbia, with more than 30 percent of the employees working for the government, is not included in the list because it is not a state, but it voted for President Obama.) Of the 15 states with the lowest level of government employment, only two — Indiana and Tennessee — voted for Mr. Romney.
If only the 25 states with the lowest level of government employment had voted in the election, Mr. Obama would have won the national popular vote by a landslide margin of 7.3 percentage points, much larger than his actual margin of 3.9 percentage points…
Check out the chart.