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Mickey Kaus

Neoliberalism Works

Reminder -- Welfare Reform's Success: One reason Michael Bloomberg wasn't a bad mayor, despite all the self-righteous nannying, is that he had Rober Doar running his welfare department. Doar summarizes his 6-year experience here. His slogan: "If you work, we will help you." That's a popular and effective Clintonian/neolib thread that Obama lost (in part by letting long-time enemies of work requirements, Sharon Parrott and Mark Greenberg, run the federal welfare effort under Kathleen Sebelius).  .... After the work-oriented 1996 welfare reform, Doar notes, New York City's cash welfare caselaod plummeted (from 1.1 million to below 347,000), work by single mothers rose, and child poverty fell (42 percent in 1994, 28.3 percent in 2008). The late, sainted Senator Moynihan, who opposed the '96 law and predicted dire consequences, turned out to be wrong.**...

Obamacare’s Core Flaw?

3:30 AM 04/19/2014

Risk-filled sump, update: If everyone knew the risk pool on the Obamacare exchanges would be sicker-than-normal -- as the last sentence of this NYT piece suggests --- then why throw the hapless unsubsidized people (e.g. singles making $46,000) into that pool, where their policies will inevitably be more expensive, with more restrictions, than if they were in a more normal pool? Did Obamacare's designers think they'd be happy about it? This seems like the program's core flaw, no? It's why, despite all the seemingly impressive numbers, Obamacare leaves a bad taste. ... $350,000 a year lawyers with fancy employer plans get care from the best doctors and check into Sloan Kettering if they need it, while even previously insured $46,000-a-year suckers can't, and are told that's just the price of insuring the uninsured. Or else they have to choose between good docs and good hospitals.  ... [Is this fixable? I'm sure Vox can explain-ed With enough subsidies anything is possible. Even Vox.]

Eric Cantor — The New “Mr. Amnesty”?

11:56 AM 04/15/2014

The Threat of Cheap Denham: Don't be fooled by press accounts that downplay the significance of Rep. Jeff Denham's attempt to add something called the ENLIST Act to the defense authorization (NDAA) bill. It's a significant push for a substantial immigration amnesty, and it has a good chance of succeeding. Opponents of an "Amnesty First" approach to immigration should be worried.


1:50 AM 04/14/2014

I want to lay down a potentially embarrassing Yglesias-style marker about the likelihood that Obama will take some sweeping executive action this summer to end deportations if Congress doesn't act on a legislative immigration overhaul. The marker is: It's not going to happen. Why? 1) It won't help Democrats that much in the 2014 elections (key Senate races, for example, are mostly not in Latino-heavy states) and might even motivate the GOP base; 2) It would lower the chances of getting some legislative amnesty passed before the end of the current Congressional term. Legislative amnesty's not dead, and even if it were Obama would probably be reluctant to give up on it. There's always the lame duck session.

GOP official says his party’s full of bigots!

2:30 PM 04/08/2014

Finesse? Not Since Jefferson Dined Alone ... : A man named Shaun Kenney was recently named Executive Director of the Virginia Republican party.  Here is a post of his from the blog, Bearing Drift.  In it he argues that "Conservatives have a moral duty to drive out nativism once and for all." It becomes clear by the end of the post that when he says "nativist" he's including more or less everyone in the party who opposes "comprehensive immigration reform."

3 predictions I couldn’t make if I had an editor

6:43 AM 03/31/2014

Mindless Dateline Dept.: For his piece on the State of  Obamacare, National Journal's Ron Brownstein travels to San Antonio to visit a "local coalition working to enroll this city's legion of uninsured," in particular its lower-income population. But if you want to assess Obamacare's survival prospects, isn't that pretty much exactly the wrong place to look? The government can't be so incompetent that it will fail to eventually sign up the previously uninsured for what are in effect freebie or heavily subsidized policies.  If Obamacare collapses, it will be because the unsubsidized--those unlucky enough to be in the individual market but whose income is greater than 400% of the Federal Poverty Line--are unhappy with the quality and terms of the coverage that Obamacare makes available to them, no? Brownstein doesn't talk to those people. Here's one of 'em. ....

Amnesty backers gettin’ frazzled?

12:56 AM 03/31/2014

Sharry on the rocks! OK, let me get this straight. "Comprehensive"--i.e. 'legalization first'--immigration reform is stalled in the GOP-led House.  So Latino activists are pressuring President Obama to instead take executive action to halt deportations, even though a) Obama's record as ''deporter-in-chief" is mostly a PR mirage designed to a give a false impression that he's relatively tough on immigration, and b) unilateral executive action would probably anger Republicans and scuttle efforts to pass an actual piece of legislation.

The 1 percent vs. the .1 percent

12:32 AM 03/31/2014

The "1%" vs "99%" was always a political marketing gimmick when it came to talking about rising money inequality.  Based on casual empiricism (i.e. living) I  usually feel the real divide is something like the top 30% vs. the bottom 70%, in part because that financial divide seems to roughly coincide with a skills/education/taste/cultural divide.  Come now Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman to argue that, when it comes to wealth (as opposed to income)  the real divide isn't between the top one percent and the 99 percent, but between the top one percent and the tippy top tenth of one percent, who are the only people who've been increasing their wealth share.  This has sparked a wave of mock concern for those who  are stuck in the mere 1%, but not the .1%.

Will Asians Kill Race Preferences in California?

3:29 AM 03/15/2014

Overlooked: 'Coalition of the Ascendant' Goes to War--With Itself; If you're looking for moments when tectonic issue shifts seem to become visible--like the moment when Dems realized they had to give up on gun control, or the (coming) moment when there are enough charter school parents to defeat teachers' unions--here's one:  the moment when California Democrats abandon a push to reinstate race preferences because of constituent-driven opposition from Asian Americans in their own ranks. ...

Obamacare: Show Us Your Fixes!

8:16 PM 03/12/2014

It's Past Time to Talk About Obamacare Repairs: Byron York notes the pathetic answers Dem congressional candidate Alex Sink gave when she was asked (by her now-victorious opponent, David Jolly) how she'd fix Obamacare:

Are patients disappearing?

10:57 AM 03/11/2014

Mickey's Assignment Desk: A New York doctor friend of mine says patient visits have fallen dramatically -- people stopped coming in after January 1, 2014. He and his colleagues are trying to figure out why. Hard to believe it doesn't have something to do with Obamacare! ... It could be a good thing --higher co-payments cause people to avoid unnecessary visits, the health cost curve starts bending, etc. (assuming the docs don't just raise their fees to make up the difference). ... It could be a bad thing, if the patients guess wrong about which visits are unnecessary. ... It's almost certainly a bad thing if the cause is patients who've lost their insurance. ... Further journalistic investigation required. ... Remember: If there is some new trend, you'll hear it first in gossip from friends and random people you run into.  The academics will be the last to know.  The first people who knew about the "Gran Salida" of immigrants back to Mexico were schoolteachers facing empty classrooms. It took Pew researchers years to acknowledge the trend. ...

Kaus vs. Coulter: This Time It’s Personal!

11:15 PM 03/06/2014

Pre-Fight Hype: I'm debating Ann Coulter on Saturday at CPAC (at 1:30 PM). I intend to find something to disagree with her about--there's plenty, actually--and then cunningly turn the crowd against her. I'm betting the CPAC crowd now contains more journalists there to sneer at CPACers than actual CPACers. ....

VW Boss–Unionize or Else!

7:17 PM 03/01/2014

The Man Bites Dog: The United Auto Workers, having lost their big vote at VW's Chattanooga factory, have  filed an "unfair labor practice" complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  It's not a high-percentage shot--the UAW's main complaint is that Republican Tennessee politicians (including Sen. Corker) threatened loss of tax breaks, and said  that VW would bring more work to the plant if the union was rejected.  But Corker and the other politicians aren't VW officials or employees--the parties the NLRB traditionally regulates.