Posts tagged ‘Ezra Klein’

Impeachment and the Failure of Our Constitution

Ezra Klein wrote a piece yesterday that everyone should read on impeaching the President.  At this point most sane people have arrived at the conclusion that having a racist, misogynistic, pathological liar, who is unstable and may be losing his grip on reality for President is a very dangerous situation.  Ezra argues that impeachment should be used more frequently to protect America from temporary moments of insanity. Then he chronicles why it hasn’t.  I will just summarize here.

First the Founders put high crimes and misdemeanors as the justification, and then rejected defining those terms.  To make a long story short, it is up Congress.  We seem to be locked into the idea that it must be an actual crime or mental incapacity (25th Amendment) when in fact, it can be anything they want.  Ezra makes a good case that utilizing the 25th Amendment could cause a civil war as the deplorables who have their own reality, would see this as usurping power by the Republican elites.  It is a good point.

He also points out that the Founders put into place many checks and balances to ensure we would not be found in the situation we re in today, starting with the electoral college where the political elites were suppose to assert their better judgement when the rabble got it dangerously wrong.  Today we have a rubber stamp electoral college that overrides the popular vote.

He also points out that the Founders did not foresee the two Party system we have today that basically protects their own no matter how bad.  He noted that the impeachment process only happens when the opposing party to the President occupies Congress.  Today we see that in operation as a man who even many Republicans are calling unstable, protect him to protect an agenda.  But as Ezra pointed out, the Presidency is not what the Founders envisioned and the amount of power it has today is unparalleled.  In a moment he can destroy the modern world.

Yes, we should use impeachment more often, but as Ezra pointed out, not likely.  I think we are reaching a point where our Constitution does not work anymore.  On the tax cut debate, I listened to Bruce Bartlett, economist, historian, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan, and Treasury official under George H. W, Bush, ask if we had lost our brains.  He is a traditional Republican who believes in controlling our debt.  He points out that the Republican Congress is in an alternate reality,  tax cuts have never paid for themselves, we are almost at full employment, and business are awash in money. A tax cut is not even called for, but tax reform is.

Further he makes a really insightful observation, the majority of the country is against this tax cut, and Republicans don’t care.  He points out that it is possible under our Constitution for 40% of the population to elect a super majority.  In other words we have a system where our representatives are not responsive to the electorate, but only to their donors with no fear of retribution.  In other words, our system doesn’t work any more, from the electoral college and gerrymandering, to unfair representation by rural states.

I really wonder as Ezra did if we have the wrong system for today’s world and we need a system similar to a parliamentary system where a vote of no confidence would force an election where the people can speak again and not wait 4 years.  We have a lot to fix and it is becoming clear that under our system, we can’t fix it.

There is one bright side, assuming with the latest with Flynn going for a plea bargain doesn’t send the President over the edge and start launching missiles, the Republicans may get their way on tax cuts and other policies, but the result will be a slow crash and burn because these policies don’t work.  See Republican Bruce Bartlett above.  As the nation is wrecked, Americans just might come out to the polls in 2018 and 2020 and turn this around.

I will add this caution. It is clear looking at the contacts with Russians, that there was collusion, they had a hold on Trump, probably through money laundering.  It is no coincidence that Mueller interviewed Kushner just before we find out Flynn pleaded guilty.  He was going to catch him in a lie and probably did.  Our unstable President will get more unstable and hopefully the generals in the White House will have a 24/7 watch on him.  The noose is around the neck and tightening and he could do anything.  We live in very dangerous times. If we get through this, we have a lot to fix.

 

Another Moment of Absolute Truth

Ezra Klein has written a SOTU address President Obama should have given if he wanted to be totally honest. It basically says the system we have now simply can’t work. Agreement and getting along is political suicide. I strongly recommend you read it and ponder how we fix it. As it is now, the only way government will work is if we become a single party system, or said another way, one party has complete control of the government and the levers of power.

Here are some pertinent exerts:

The hard thing I have to say to you tonight is that I was wrong. When I ran for president, I believed that the political system could be repaired by people of goodwill, who genuinely wanted to agree, to reach out, to compromise. I ran for president telling you that the problems in American politics could be fixed through elections. But the problems run deeper than the people serving in Washington at any given moment, and the way all of us in this room are elected is making them worse.

… The refrain I hear all around the country is, “why can’t you guys just agree?” It’s the right question. … No one likes the answer I’m about to give, but it’s the right one. The political system isn’t built like a family. It’s not designed like a business.

You want to know the truth? Government, or at least the political system, is like a football game. You ever think about why football games are they way they are? You have all these guys hitting each other so hard they cause each other permanent brain damage. So why do they do it? Why do kids who aren’t getting paid a cent do it?

They do it because that’s how the game works. They do it because the rules are you line up in front of the other team and then you hit them as hard as you can. They do it because, for one side to win, the other has to lose. And they do it because, if they don’t do it, they’re off the team. Football has no place for conscientious objectors.

The honest truth is that that’s how politics works, too. We’ve got two teams. And only one of them can win the election. So they line up and they hit each other as hard as they can. They don’t cooperate because the rules don’t let them cooperate. They don’t agree because agreeing means losing — and losing is political death. Losing means you can’t help the people you came here to help.

If this was just about policy, we could come to agreement. I promise you we could. When you’re just talking about policy there are lots of ways to make both sides happy. But this isn’t just about policy. It’s about power. It’s about who will win the next election and govern the country. And while policy questions have answers that can make both sides happy, elections only return answers that make one side happy.

Well there it is. And maybe that explains why Republicans can’t except when they have things wrong. They can’t admit it because it makes the other side right and that can never happen. It is a dangerous world and I have no idea how to fix it but to throw the other guys out.

So What’s Ahead?

It’s that time of year when all the news (unless Air Asia or politicians (this year Republicans) provides us a distraction) is all about the 10 best, 10 worst, top stories of 2014, and what to expect next year.  It puts me to sleep because I was awake last year and my top 10 list turns out to be quite a bit different from the mainstream media’s.  They are all running in a herd.  But having said that, politically let me tell you what is going to happen next year.  NOTHING!

Oh there will be smoke and mirrors, fire in the hole, sparks and small explosions, but we are in a climate where nothing is  really going to change.  Do you hear anyone saying the number 1 crisis facing us is the environment? And why is this important?  Because for most of us who are not in the 1%, it is really all about the economy stupid.  As Ezra Klein and Paul Krugman discussed in their interview, we are gridlocked, “It seems possible that we’re looking at a decade or more in which we have a political system that is essentially unable to make any forward motion on major problems. It might be able to respond to a crisis, but it cannot affirmatively legislate.”

Oh wait, the Republicans, due to some very stupid voting by the rabble, put them in charge of the Congress and our economy.  And according to political editor for MSNBC, Kari Dan, Republicans, if they can get by all their internal distractions, have “big bold ideas” to  put forward.  But I have to ask, what big bold ideas?  They don’t have any.  We have an economy that is moving further right and what we have been doing under Democrats and Republicans is facilitating the rapid growth of economic inequality.  So is Obamacare the problem?  Are immigrants causing the problem?  Are high taxes on the rich causing these problems?  Are too many regulations and government interference causing these problems?

The answer is mostly no yet the Republican big bold ideas are just more of what we have been doing, only more extreme.  And it is what has caused all these problems.  Obamacare, Immigration reform, reforming the tax code to be more fair, government regulations and looking at government regulations and seeing where improvements can be made are all attempts to address problems with solutions.  The Republicans are all about just undoing them.  How does that help? The problems don’t go away.  So no, we are not going to see big bold plans, just more attacks on the progress we have made.  That is their big bold plan, bring in the wrecking ball.

An aside here.  I just heard a Republican complain about how her insurance just went up.  So does that justify tearing down Obamacare?  What about the full coverage you now get including birth control, not being able to deny you insurance, and keeping your kids enrolled until they are established in their own lives?  Isn’t that how insurance works, those who are healthier pay more so those who are sick can be treated?  Do you want low insurance so others get none and when you really do have a problem, your claims can be denied?  If you have a pre-existing condition insurance can you now be denied, or in the small print, you are not covered? Oh, these people hurt my brain.  But the point is they don’t like it, but have not yet presented a better option (like a single payer plan?).

So there is a silver lining here in nothing getting done.  We really have some systemic problems that are not going to be addressed by minor tweaks of our economic system. Republicans are going to fracture into the Know Somethings (KSs), and the Know Nothings (KNs).  The KSs know that they must get somethings done even if they don’t want to really change anything.  The KNs want to gutt government and really don’t want it to be effective because they don’t believe it is.  So we are going to see internal ideological wars and the exposing of their inability to have any new ideas or lead.

On the Democratic side there is a choice to make.  Nothing is going to get done, at least nothing important.  Immigration reform has been purposed as a candidate.  It is never going to happen.  See the KNs and how they control primaries.  So if we are to ever move forward, the Democrat Party has to draw the line and move away from their middle of the road approach.  The beltway media will go crazy with their both sides do it, but in reality as the Democrats have compromised, the voting population doesn’t see much difference with the two parties and nothing is getting fixed.  It is time to clearly define the problem by not comprosing with it.

So what could get done is that the Democrats get their mojo back.  If they can resist the temptation to get something done, anything, to look productive going nowhere, they can redefine the conversation.  The new conversation is about populism and helping the middle class.  The conversation and the policies that follow are about redistributing the pie for the benefit of everyone.  They have to convince even the 1% that this growing inequality is going to be bad for them too.  After all, when they have all the money, who are they going to sell their stuff to?  I could make a list of the things that need to be done, but the critical one is to refocus the discussion on how to grow our middle class.  Once that is seen as the goal instead of growing the rich and waiting for handouts (called flowdown), the policies will follow.  Until we have changed the conversation we will be chained by the KSs, and the KNs to old arguments that get us nowhere.  That is what the next two years should be about.

 

 

End of Year Great Quotes From Paul Krugman and Ezra Klein

Ezra Klein interviewed Paul Krugman on Vox.com and here were a few gems (unless indicated they are from Paul) ([ ] are from me.):

Yeah, the way Ebola was covered was about at the same level as media coverage of shark attacks.  The Public would have learned nothing.

Our intelligence is really lashed to a lot of things that aren’t about intelligence, like endless generations of social competition in the evolutionary fight for the best mates. [Emotioal Intelligence anyone?]

I think at this point. Elizabeth Warren is now the visible embodiment of the wing of the Democratic Party that’s determined not to return to Clinton [Bill}/Blairism.  That makes her useful even if she doesn’t run as – I don’t know – a ghost or something looming over Hillary. [Clinton/Bairism was just moving the country right during a bubble in the economy, solved nothing and hastened the final collapse]

Ezra:  Can a president be successful amidst divided government in Congress?  Paul:  I’d say basically no … You can have the economy expanding, no foreign crises, and you can preside over a time of prosperity, which is kind of what happened with Bill Clinton.  But if anything actually has to be done, no.  Everybody in Washington has learned this very damaging lesson, which is that if somebody else holds the White House, by you have blocking power, sabotage works. [Italics mine]

Ezra:  And I agree with you, I think you have a level of political polarization that makes successful legislating very, very difficult amidst divided government. It seems possible that we’re looking at a decade or more in which we have a political system that is essentially unable to make any forward motion on major problems. It might be able to respond to a crisis, but it cannot affirmatively legislate. [That is where we are today with the Republican with no ideas and blocking everything]

One of my pet peeves actually is that people talk about policy as if, as long as you’ve avoided a hot crisis, things are okay even when they’re obviously not. The pet peeve that affects me personally is the cancellation of the Hudson Rail Tunnel in New York City, and it’s kind of perfect. Essentially, because of political partisanship, we still have the world’s greatest city totally dependent on a tunnel completed in 1910 for all public transit linkage to the west. That doesn’t show up in an abrupt collapse, but those sorts of things show up in a steady degradation of our prospects. [Total lack of imagination by Republicans and their continued austerity policies]

Yes, the unemployment rate is down, but we still have a lot of long-term unemployment. We still have a really lousy environment for new college graduates. This doesn’t show up in any dramatic event, but it means that we’re seeing a lot of dreams getting killed in ways that are going to take a toll on national morale, with hardly any focused political pressure to do anything about it. [The numbers look good, but most of us don’t see it]

I think if you really did something about wage stagnation you would find that it would have a pretty strong effect in curbing incomes at the top as well. I think if you try to understand the factors behind soaring incomes at the top, they are many of the same forces that are leading to stagnating incomes for workers. [It really is one pie and how you cut it]

Kind of sums up for me most of the major issues we face and the real problems solving them.  Too bad this, like all really good journalism, will get ignored.

 

 

Democrats Getting the Right Message

The Cycle today (MSNBC) pointed out that more and more young people are not becoming Democrats, but becoming independent.  Many when polled say they don’t see much difference between either party.  Now as an old guy, this is crazy, but true.  They don’t see much difference but they will feel it.  Ezra Klein wrote a piece on Vox entitled Are the Democrats out of new ideas? and in it he cites the Republican view:

The Republican Party is thick with ambitious young politicians arguing over big ideas. Rep. Paul Ryan’s budgets have taken over the GOP. Sen. Rand Paul has begun a war with the neoconservatives. Sen. Mike Lee has been fighting to move Republicans beyond supply-side tax reforms.

… “For Democrats, the election should in part be a warning about their overwhelming intellectual exhaustion,” wrote Yuval Levin, a leader among conservative reformers, in a triumphalist, but sharp, post-election analysis.

Now I would argue that this is the wrong message for Democrats and I think they get it.  First Ezra says that the Republicans are arguing over big ideas.  Really?  At the heart of it is smoke and mirrors and provenly failed policies, just more extreme.  But in the article that Ezra wrote, he quotes from Neera Tanden, the Center for American Progress’s president at their  annual policy meeting about how they see the problem:

I asked Neera Tanden, the CAP’s president, and a former policy staffer for both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, whether Democrats were intellectually exhausted. No, she said, but the thinking on the left had become too small; as a side-effect of being in power, Democrats had become too obsessed with ideas that could plausibly pass. “The difficulty for progressives in the last few years has been that trying to think up ideas that can make it through the House Republicans has limited the debate.”

But now, she continued, “we’ll have to think beyond the Obama era, beyond the congress of today, to what we should be doing in the long term.,,, Republicans have heretofore put forward ideas that are counterproductive. But Democrats have put forward ideas that are insufficient.”

Bingo!  We thought too small and we really did look like the other guy.  When you try to find things that they will agree to, in this world, you become them.  Ezra goes on to say that pushing harder on the core Democratic  principles will sound like Obama retreads, oh hum.  I don’t agree.  Look at the Republicans going big on the same old supply side BS and he called it “big ideas”.  So Democrats could learn from this, go big.

A real agenda would be to refocus on who is your base and it is middle America.  People get excited about Elizabeth Warren because she is not afraid to say what we all know, we are being gutted by the present system that protects and favors the wealthy.  So Democrats need to realign their ideas around the basic premise that we are going to level the playing field and then build policies around that.

These might be increasing the minimum wage, making the tax code fair, aid to students, a better healthcare system with Medicare for all, a social security system that pays more and is a retirement program for everyone, making banks to big to fail divest, and a major program of investment in our infrastructure (investing in tomorrow through people and infrastructure).

Right now the Beltway groupthink is all about what political risks are being taken by issuing an executive order over immigration and the Republicans are threatening all kinds of retribution.  From mainstream media this is upsetting the apple cart and there may be more strife. Be afraid.

From Steve the Contrarian, this is what tells all those young people both parties aren’t the same.  It should be just the beginning of large battles, not thinking small to see if we can move the needle slightly and look more and more like the problem, but changing the direction of the needle and define us for the next election.  The way to get back in the game is to stand for something and the Democrats forgot that when they thought anything bipartisan must be progress.

Getting Distracted by the Wrapings

Ever as a child been really excited about a present under the Christmas tree because you think it is really special because of the ornate packaging and open it to find socks? I make my living in the consulting world by trying to figure out what the present should be, not how to wrap it. It is amazing how people get distracted by the wrappings and forget about the present. Wrappings can be important to get attention, but in the end it is about what is in the package that counts.

There were two things I read this morning that reinforced that concept of not judging a package by its wrapping. The first was an a really good takedown of McKay Coppin’s Buzzfeed’s piece (Paul Ryan’s Inner City Education) on Paul Ryan by Matt Yglesias. Matt’s point here was that the piece was all what Paul Ryan said about his concern for the poor, not what his budget actually told us he really thinks. The Buzzfeed piece was a well written piece that was all packaging and nothing inside. Welcome to the majority of reporting these days, form over substance

The second example was an truly interesting interview by Ezra Klein with Frances Lee, Professor of American Politics at University of Maryland. The gist of the interview was that we think we send politicians to Washington to work together (except for the Tea Party of course) to solve problems and do the best thing for the country. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Politicians are simply about winning. The classic example is Obamacare which once the Republicans were for and now are against. We have such a evenly split electorate, that the minority party’s only interest is in opposing everything that the party in power proposes to differentiate themselves in order to win the next election. Think of it like this: Why would you vote for the minority party if they were working with the majority party to implement their solutions? What’s to change?

And then as Ezra brought up, enter Pyscho-Politics. When you look at the flip-flops on issues because the other party has proposed your idea, you come up with ever more complex rationalizations to justify your new position. So the bottom line here is that if you thought both sides were ever going to work together when either side has the potential to win back power, you are dreaming. It is not about finding the most optimal solution to our problems and implementing them. It is about winning, solutions be damned.

Americans see their political system (wrappings) as a system where there are honest disagreements, and compromise works to craft a solution that will both pass and will work. The reality (what’s in the package) is that politics in our times is about winning, and what you are for I am against. Said another way, dysfunctional government. We see it every day.

How to fix all this? We are a country that focuses on the packaging, not on the contents. We have few real policy discussions in our news, just political discussions, and no they are not the same. The day we start voting for people whose policy positions, and not their persona are our focus, will be the day we start turning this around. Oh, and we would need a media that rationally investigates and analyzes policies so we could be informed about them. Yes, I know. I dream.

More on Economic Inequality

Vox.com had an interesting article on economic inequality and why it is increasing written by Ezra Klein. He did a much better job than I did with my bullets yesterday. One thing that is left out of the discussion is how oligarchy is self-defeating. If we really are a market economy and we want to continue to grow, then people have to buy stuff from us. How can that happen if we are sucking up all the money to the top .1% and the rest are living on subsistence wages?

It can’t and oligarchies are self-destructive. Of course that might be okay if you have a zillion dollars and then that gets cut to one half zillion, but the economy that must grow and expand to benefit the rest of us just shrinks. So in a democracy, if this form of capitalism only benefits the very rich, why wouldn’t we vote it out? Just how long can the oligarchy keep a lid on things with their wealth and resulting power? See the problem?

Actually we are seeing this played out in real time in today’s politics. Oh, it is being hidden under rocks on health care, immigration, minimum wage, equity in women’s pay, and fear the deficit, but the real issue is one party that is focused on transferring more and more wealth to the .1% and solidifying their control by manipulating the polls through operation hours and voter ID laws. I just wonder how long it is going to take for people to wake up and quit voting against their own interests.

One last thought: While Thomas Piketty has identified that capitalism in its present configuration will bring us ultimately lower growth and the super rich, let us not forget the economist Joseph Stiglitz and his work to show how the inequality hurts us and our future, not to mention some more ideas than just a wealth tax on how to make capitalism work for all of us.

UPDATE: Matt Taibbi has written a book called “The Divide”:

… to demonstrate that unequal wealth is producing grotesquely unequal outcomes in criminal justice. You might say that’s an old story, but Taibbi believes that, just as income disparities are growing ever wider, so, too, are disparities in who attracts the attention of cops and prosecutors and who doesn’t. Violent crime has fallen by 44 percent in America over the past two decades, but during that same period the prison population has more than doubled, skewing heavily black and poor. In essence, poverty itself is being criminalized. Meanwhile, at the other end of the income distribution, an epidemic of white-collar crime has overtaken the financial sector, indicated, for instance, by a proliferation of record-breaking civil settlements. … that any aggressive prosecution of big banks could destabilize the economy, Wall Street has come, under President Obama, to enjoy near-total immunity from criminal prosecution. (NYT Book Review)

To me this just demonstrates how this inequality is building frustration that will eventually lead to violence. That 47% that Republicans so hate are a creation of their own politics and if they continue them, their fear may be well justified. Gross economic inequality will be their downfall.

Connecting the Dots

I would write about politics, but what is there to say? I think I pretty much described the situation in So How Are Republicans Driving Us Off a Cliff Again?. Basically nothing is going to happen. Democrats do not have everything right, but they are willing to address problems with proposed solutions. Republicans hold on to the status quo with promises of lower taxes and less regulation and let you try to figure out how that is going to address global warming, our frayed infrastructure, social injustice, or our economy. And the economic inequality just soars.

There was the foray by Jeb Bush into politics with a show of empathy for undocumented aliens. There are many interpretations of this, but I read it quite simply. He cannot get elected without the Hispanic vote. So he is testing the base to see if he can get by the primaries being rational. I could be wrong, but I don’t think he craves the White House so much that he wants to be a tool for the Tea Party and knows if he is, he can’t win the general election. The Republicans have created a monster that they can no longer control.

Ezra Klein has his new website up and running (Vox.com) and he wrote about one of my favorite topics, how our politics colors they way we see the facts, or more appropriately how we selectively choose our facts (Knowing What We Know Part II). The problem with the article, and maybe because he is starting a new enterprise and he wants to attract a broad cross-section of readers, is that he describes the phenomenon as symmetrical, both conservatives and liberals suffer the same blinders equally. But as Paul Krugman points out:

But can anyone point to a liberal equivalent of conservative denial of climate change, or the “unskewing” mania late in the 2012 campaign, or the frantic efforts to deny that Obamacare is in fact covering a lot of previously uninsured Americans? … Or look at how liberals reacted to the woes of healthcare.gov. We heard a lot of talk about how it was Obama’s Katrina, or his Iraq. But was there anything like Bush’s “heckuva job” moment — which was matched by widespread insistence on the right that he was actually doing a great job? Was there anything like the years-long denial that anything was going wrong with the Iraq occupation? On the contrary, liberals were quick to acknowledge that the rollout was a disaster, and in fact sort of freaked out — which, as Noam Scheiber says, is what they usually do in the face of setbacks. And what’s more, as Scheiber says, that’s a good thing: faced with setbacks, liberals rush to fix things, rather than denying the problem. Hence the stunning Obamacare comeback.

Paul goes on to pose the critical question, why is it asymmetrical? “People want to believe what suits their preconceptions, so why the big difference between left and right on the extent to which this desire trumps facts?” I think I have answered that question and he attempts to, but if we are to move forward more people need to quit blaming both sides (partisan arguments) and see where the real problem is.

Finally, Frank Bruni brings us a real gem in insight into what may be the reason that the younger generation is much more disconnected and sort of rudderless in a time when we should be fighting for a new direction. He describes his experience as a university teacher making allusions to past events, music, or common cultural phenomena and gets blank stares.  She who must not be mention here has related the experience in her teaching career to me many times.  Frank, I think, hones in on maybe the root cause:

But the pronounced narrowness of the cultural terrain that they and I share — the precise limits of the overlap — suggests something additional at work. In a wired world with hundreds of television channels, countless byways in cyberspace and all sorts of technological advances that permit each of us to customize his or her diet of entertainment and information, are common points of reference dwindling? Has the personal niche supplanted the public square?

I am sure you have experienced the same thing in social media where one of your younger friends posts in a language of truncated code and you have no clue what they are trying to communicate.  They are living in a niche culture you are not familiar with.  But to complete my connecting the dots, think about the blog I wrote yesterday mentioning Zachary Fine’s op-ed about why millennials are disconnected, and undecided having been raised in an environment where acceptance of more diverse lifestyles and ideals has led to a false belief in equivalence.  I opined that maybe they lack critical thinking skills to analyze these various ideas to determine which are superior.  But Frank offers an even more compelling argument that maybe we are losing our common culture to make these value judgements that are critical to our future. And maybe that is why we are seeing crazy conservatives.  They sense that their foundations with the new generation is a foundation built on sand that is shifting rapidly.

Yeah all this stuff connects in amazing ways if we are paying attention.

 

Who Said It Best Today: Paul Krugman and Jonathan Chait

Two things struck me in the news today.  One was Paul Krugman’s blog noting the loss of Ezra Klein from the Washington Post, and the other is some thoughts on the way forward for Republicans by Jonathan Chait.  Both noted something important about our news and thinking these days.

Paul pointed out the obvious, that Ezra and his staff at the Wonkblog filled in a sorely missed ingredient in our political dialogue, people knowledgeable about policy and facts that can read a spreadsheet.  Instead of the he said/she said usual reporting, the Wonkblog look deeply into the details and facts around policy issues to give us a real look at the pros and cons of a policy.  As Paul pointed out:

What Ezra and company brought was a combination of sophistication about policy issues and skepticism toward the Very Serious People…Wonkblog has generally come off as liberal-leaning, but that’s just because the facts have a well-known liberal bias.

Or said a different way, when you drilled down into actual impacts and implications, progressive policies just come off better than Conservative nonsense.  Ezra saw a real need and hunger for this type of reporting, but the Washington Post, in their more VSP type reporting would not go along.  Ezra is leaving to start his own reporting (which I will happily pay for) to fill this gap.  As to the Washington Post, they also ignored Politico type reporting and the offshoot has been very lucrative.

The other article by Jonathan Chait pointed out the obvious about Republican policies toward the poor.  He looked at all their proposals for new concern for the poor and their promise to keep them revenue neutral and pointed out that the math just doesn’t add up.  The only way they can do what they are promising is to go back to the Bush days where deficits didn’t matter.  Then you can have tax cuts for everyone and help the poor and damn the deficits.  As Jonathan pointed out:

Swinging from utter complacency about deficits to bug-eyed fear as they move in and out of the White House is a natural transition for both parties, but especially so for Republicans. Dick Cheney easily went from insisting, “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter” during his own administration to warning of a“debt crisis” under Obama’s.

The real point is that none of what Republicans promise, they cannot deliver.  Their whole economic plan does not pencil out.  They are not making sense and you would think moderate Republicans would figure that out, but apparently they don’t read the Wonkblog to have someone crunch the numbers for them.  Well, that is not quite true, math apparently has a liberal bias.

Who Said it Best Today: Ezra Klein on the Budget Deal

I think Ezra kind of summed up what the budget deal between Paul Ryan and Patty Murray was really all about, not shutting down the government. It did nothing else:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said so himself at the news conference announcing the agreement. “From the outset, we knew that if we forced each other to compromise a core principle we would get nowhere,” he said. “That is why we decided to focus on where the common ground is.”

That meant no taxes. It meant no changes to Medicare, Social Security, or Medicaid. It meant letting unemployment insurance expire. It meant doing nothing about crumbling infrastructure or Obamacare. It meant leaving most of sequestration in place…

Yes, this deal prevents a government shutdown three months after the last government shutdown. But that’s the only crisis or cliff it solves. Unemployment is still expiring for millions of long-term jobless workers. The debt ceiling still needs to be raised in the spring — and Ryan is now trying to tie it to the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The vast majority of sequestration remains in place. There’s no serious hope of progress on overhauling the tax code or reforming the immigration system or passing legislation to fight global warming.

Ryan and Murray struck the best deal they could without compromising on anything either side really cared about. But that just goes to show that doing anything significant requires compromise. This deal doesn’t show that Congress is finally working again. It shows that the two parties have accepted that it’s broken.

My thoughts exactly. While everyone is throwing confetti and saying the good times are here, I see no movement except in the wrong direction.