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Tag Archives: United States Politics and Government

Republicans Have Their Own Private Autocracy

I’m a huge believer in the usefulness of social science, especially studies that use comparisons across time and space to shed light on our current situation. So when the political scientist Henry Farrell suggested that I look at his field’s literature on cults of personality, I followed his advice. He recommended one paper in particular, by the New Zealand-based researcher Xavier Márquez; I found it revelatory.“The Mechanisms of Cult Production” compares the behavior of political elites...

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How Big Spending Got Its Groove Back

The way it was: Some years ago I attended a meeting in which President Barack Obama asked a group of economists for unconventional policy ideas. I distinctly remember him saying: “Don’t tell me that I should spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure. I know that, but I can’t do it.”The way it is: Top Democrats have agreed on a proposal to spend $3.5 trillion on public investment of various kinds, to be passed via reconciliation on top of a $600 billion bipartisan plan for physical...

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The Durable Myth of Urban Hellholes

Over the weekend J.D. Vance, the author of “Hillbilly Elegy” and now a Trumpist candidate for U.S. senator in Ohio, tweeted that he was planning a visit to New York, which he has heard is “disgusting and violent.” Vance, a graduate of Yale Law School who currently works as a venture capitalist, surely knows better. But he presumably hopes that Republican voters don’t.But why do so many Americans still believe that our major cities are hellholes of crime and depravity? Why do so many...

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The Trumpian Roots of the Chip Crisis

What’s the current state of the U.S. economy? A quick summary might be “booming with bottlenecks.”And some of those bottlenecks reflect the mess created by Donald Trump’s trade policy.Where we are now: Employment is growing at a rate we haven’t seen since 1984. So, probably, is gross domestic product, although we don’t yet have an official estimate for the second quarter. We are, however, suffering from shortages of many items, which are crimping production in some areas and leading to sharp...

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It’s Morning in Joe Biden’s America

Last Tuesday President Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers published a blog post warning everyone not to make too much of any one month’s employment report. It presumably released this in advance of Friday’s report to fend off possible accusations that it was just trying to make excuses for a weak number. As it happened, however, the report came in strong: The economy added an impressive 850,000 jobs. The job gain was especially impressive given widespread claims that businesses couldn’t...

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The Right Goes All In on Ignorance

As everyone knows, leftists hate America’s military. Recently, a prominent left-wing media figure attacked Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declaring, “He’s not just a pig, he’s stupid.” Oh, wait. That was no leftist, that was Fox News’s Tucker Carlson. What set Carlson off was testimony in which Milley told a congressional hearing that he considered it important “for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and widely read.”The problem is obvious....

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Why Won’t Republicans Rebuild America?

On June 26, 1956, Congress approved the Interstate Highway Act. Dwight Eisenhower signed the bill three days later. The legislation allocated $24.8 billion in federal funds for a down payment on the construction of an interstate highway system. That’s not a lot of money by current standards, but prices are far higher now than they were then, and the economy is vastly bigger. Measured as a share of gross domestic product, the act was the equivalent of around $1.2 trillion today. And the...

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Can the Rich Pay for a Better America?

The budget proposal released by the Biden administration last week calls for almost $5 trillion in new spending over the next decade — that is, outlays in excess of its “baseline” estimate of the spending that would take place without new policies. Some of the extra money would be borrowed, but most of it — $3.6 trillion — is supposed to come from new revenues. President Biden has, however, repeatedly promised not to increase taxes on households making less than $400,000 a year. And his...

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What Joe Biden’s Proposed Budget Gets Right

Many reports about the Biden administration’s budget proposal, released Friday, convey the sense that it’s huge. President Biden, scream some of the headlines, wants to spend SIX TRILLION DOLLARS next year. (Sorry, can’t help doing my best Dr. Evil imitation.) It takes some digging to learn that the baseline — the amount the administration estimates we’d spend next fiscal year without new policies — is $5.7 trillion. In fact, one of the most striking things about Biden’s budget initiative —...

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Republican Cowardice Endangers American Democracy

America’s democratic experiment may well be nearing its end. That’s not hyperbole; it’s obvious to anyone following the political scene. Republicans might take power legitimately; they might win through pervasive voter suppression; G.O.P. legislators might simply refuse to certify Democratic electoral votes and declare Donald Trump or his political heir the winner. However it plays out, the G.O.P. will try to ensure a permanent lock on power and do all it can to suppress dissent. But how...

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