The Rundown

August 16, 2007
  • Steven Stark at RCP argues that Obama and Edwards are their own worst enemies in the debate format. I don’t disagree.
  • Former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta has some advice for the Bush Administration on how to avoid lame-duckery. I’d bet good money Podesta is wasting his time here.
  • Don Rumsfeld actually resigned the day before the election. How about that.
  • The Democrats really should make a point of passing the South Korea – US free trade pact. They won’t, but they should.
  • Especially not if this is any indication. Please, Democrats, please stop doing this. I want to vote for you. I really do.

The Rundown

August 15, 2007
  • Two big names have recently proposed reforming the farm subsidy system. One wants to retarget subsidies to family farms. The other wants to do away with subsidies altogether. The two people are John Stossel and John Edwards. Guess who proposed what.
  • Could Superfund survive a cost-benefit analysis? Almost definitely not. I am not sure what we should do about it.
  • Big media is out to screw the little guy. I know, that’s not really news, but on the other hand, it is.
  • Fred Kaplan weighs in on the draft at Slate.
  • Robert Samuelson calls for more clear-headed reporting on global warming, and makes the alarming and probably true assertion that we really don’t know how to solve this one. We probably shouldn’t do nothing though. Meanwhile, Matthew Yglesias critiques Michael Gerson’s global warming hand-wringing.

The Rundown

August 14, 2007
  • Matthew Yglesias asks an important question — Would Rudy Giuliani Bomb Iran? (I’ll give you a hint: the answer is “yes.”)
  • In other scary war news, there have been murmurs about the draft again in recent weeks. Steve Levitt of Freakonomics fame makes a pretty persuasive argument against. Fortunately, the Pentagon’s official line is still that the draft is off the table.
  • Via Brad DeLong, Abu Aardvark points out that a Petraeus/Crocker report might, due to the nature of their respective positions, be somewhat schizophrenic.
  • Jesus Christ, why does Chuck Schumer want anything to do with copyrighting fashion designs?
  • The Democratic Strategist thinks election reform is a good idea. So do I. I’d like something even more radically than what the author would like, but anything is better than what we have now.

The Rundown

August 10, 2007
  • Fred Kaplan breaks down the parallels between the British withdrawal from India and a future US withdrawal from Iraq over at Slate.
  • Peter Carlson pens a pretty entertaining farewell to the absurdist tabloid that was the Weekly World News.
  • The quotes in this article from Idaho Rep. Bill Sali need to be read to be believed. Honestly.
  • Atul Gawande has some words of wisdom on medical malpractice (via Overlawyered).
  • Daniel Gross rips Rudy Giuliani’s health care plan to shreds. And rightly so. This thing is awful.

Misinterpreting Taxes

August 5, 2007

Kimberley Strassel of WSJ Opinion Journal wrote a pretty misleading piece on Friday opposing a few Democrat-backed tax hikes. As we have discussed previously, I support some of these more than others. I find the case for the carried interest tax to be a mixed bag; some of the others mentioned I don’t mind, some I do. Regardless, that’s not really the criticism I am trying to make here.

Rather, it is specifically of the comparison of any of these taxes to the (in)famous luxury tax of 1990. Her characterization of that tax is absolutely misleading. She claims that it was repealed because it was a tax-the-rich effort that did damage it did to a number of industries (such as the boat-building industry) and hurt the working class. Of course, that is far from the whole story.

The reason those industries were so hurt was that the luxury tax was horrifically designed. It turns out that if you massively tax things people don’t need to buy (for example, yachts and jewels) … they stop buying them! Go, read up on elasticity, it’s not that hard to figure out. These industries were torn apart because demand was cut drastically in the face of the tax hikes. It is far from clear that any of the taxes under discussion would encounter any similar barriers due to high elasticities.

That isn’t to say any of these taxes would be a free lunch. None are. But to compare them to the debacle that was the luxury tax is disingenuous and contributes little to the debate.


The Rundown

July 31, 2007
  • Princeton’s Anne-Marie Slaughter urges a new approach to promoting democracy.
  • Eugene Robinson finally gets around to pointing out the 800-lb gorilla in the room in an article entitled “Will White America Elect Obama?”
  • Lilly Ledbetter, she of the recent controversial Supreme Court case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Rubber & Tire Co., calls for Congress to take a stronger stance against gender-based pay discrimination.
  • Matthew Yglesias, responding to Stanley Kurtz, basically agrees with the position I took yesterday regarding academic tenure.
  • Tom Ridge and Gen Barry McCaffrey argue for a renewed commitment to improving American soft power and diplomacy.

The Rundown

July 28, 2007
  • CFR’s Peter Beinart uses the ongoing Hillary Obama spat as a jumping point for a pretty good editorial about Pakistan in Time.
  • Reid Wilson writes about the state of the Senate.
  • Things continue to look worse for Alberto Gonzalez, as even more people effectively call him a liar.
  • The NYT gives a handy summary of corruption charges plaguing various lawmakers around the country.
  • Daniel Davies tears the David Kane criticisms of the Lancet study of Iraq deaths that Michelle Malkin has been promoting to shreds at Crooked Timber.
  • Via Jonathan Adler at the Volokh Conspiracy, a new paper by environmental law professor Arnold Reitze suggesting corn ethanol may not work out as planned. Yeah, you don’t say.