NYTimes’ Condescending Quote of the Day


You Know Who’s Dumb? You Are. Know Who’s Smarter? New York Times

“Few voters know that the 2009 stimulus bill contributed heavily to the nation’s economic recovery, saving and creating 2.5 million jobs.”

White House talking points, in the New York Times? Never!


The Liberal Agenda: Being Good to Liberals

crony-liberals writes:  The many jaundiced assessments of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on the fifth anniversary of its enactment were understandable, given that the sluggish recovery, now drowsing through the second half of its fifth year, is historically anemic. Still, bleak judgments about the stimulus spending miss the main point of it, which was to funnel a substantial share of its money to unionized, dues-paying, Democratic-voting government employees. Hence the stimulus succeeded. So there.

This illustrates why it is so sublime to be a liberal nowadays. Viewed through the proper prism, most imagesliberal policies succeed because they can hardly fail. Each achieves one or both of two objectives — making liberals feel good about themselves and being good to liberal candidates.

Consider Barack Obama’s renewed anxiety about global warming, increasingly called “climate change” during the approximately 15 years warming has become annoyingly difficult to detect. Secretary of State John Kerry, our knight of the mournful countenance, was especially apocalyptic recently when warning that climate change is a “weapon of mass destruction.” Like Iraq’s?

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How ObamaCare Wrecks the Work Ethic

The health-care law, starting Jan. 1, will begin driving up marginal tax rates—well above 50% for many.

A new wave of redistribution will arrive in America on Jan. 1, primarily thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The president’s health-insurance plan forces those who hire, work and produce to pay full price for health care, while creating generous discounts for practically everyone else.

This second redistributionist wave of the Obama era will follow a first wave of tax hikes, additional unemployment benefits, food-stamp expansions, waived work requirements for welfare benefits, etc. These measures were supposed to be temporary, intended to help people cope with the recession. The recession officially ended in mid-2009, but many of the administration’s measures continue.

Regardless of whether redistribution is achieved by collecting more taxes from families with high incomes, levying employment taxes on businesses, providing more subsidies to families with low incomes, or all of the above, an essential consequence is the same: a reduction in the reward for working. In a National Bureau of Economic Research paper issued in August, I quantify the combined effect of the two redistribution waves and higher payroll taxes on the financial reward for working.

The chart nearby shows an index of marginal tax rates for non-elderly household heads and spouses with median earnings potential. The index, a population-weighted average over various ages, occupations, employment decisions (full-time, part-time, multiple jobs, etc.) and family sizes, reflects the extra taxes paid and government benefits forgone as a consequence of working.
ED-AR326B_Mulli_D_20131002171505The 2009-10 peak for marginal tax rates comes from various provisions of the “stimulus” programs in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the extension of unemployment benefits to 99 weeks in some states. At the end of 2012, the marginal tax rate index reached its lowest value since 2008: 43.9%. A little over a year later (January 2014), the index will be close to 50%, driven up by the expiration of the payroll tax cut and multiple provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA employer penalty, delayed until 2015, adds more than a percentage point in that year alone, while other ACA provisions strengthen their disincentives for the various reasons cited above.
By 2016, the index exceeds 50%, which is at least 10 percentage points greater than it was in early 2007. Read the rest of this entry »

The Obama Delusion: Who Needs Results When There’s a Future to Shape?

For Michael Grunwald, the president’s vision matters more than his results


The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era, by Michael Grunwald (Simon & Schuster, 528 pp., $28)

Journalist Michael Grunwald wants to convince readers that it’s not President Obama’s record that matters but his ideas. In The New New Deal, his book on Obama’s stimulus plan, Grunwald argues that because the stimulus will transform American industry in the long run, it doesn’t matter that the immediate employment situation has improved so little. The “change” that Obama promised, contends Grunwald, “is a direction, not a destination.” Put differently: the stimulus was “only partly about stimulus” and “also about metamorphosis.” Who needs results when you’re busy shaping the future?

President Barack Obama announces the Economic ...

Administration officials certainly saw the stimulus the way Grunwald does. “Stimulus czar” Matt Rogers, for instance, said of biotech investments that “we don’t know which of these approaches will work. . . . We don’t care.” Grunwald endorses this nonchalance, touting the Obama administration’s efforts at industrial policy—such as rejuvenating the renewable-fuel industry and expanding clean-technology loans—as a bold new direction for the American economy. But Grunwald also shows that Obama didn’t always favor such flightiness. On the campaign trail, Obama conceded that investing in alternative energy would “not . . . deal with the immediate crisis” but would “use economic hardship as a rationale for enacting an ideologically driven policy agenda.” As the crisis deepened, however, Obama and his advisors realized that it would allow them to implement bigger projects, and they began referring to the stimulus as a “down payment on long-term goals.” As Grunwald delicately puts it, this was the president’s “one shot to spend boatloads of money pursuing his vision.”

This new attitude drastically changed the nature of the stimulus. Whereas Obama’s advisors had previously stressed “timely, targeted, and temporary” investments, they now made quick and capricious decisions. One advisor described the process as “Someone would make a single phone call, and suddenly it’s, ‘All righty. Put a billion dollars over there.’” Seeking to recreate FDR’s public-works projects, Obama encouraged this haphazard approach. And Grunwald approves, arguing that “it made sense to fund things that deserved funding anyway.” Moreover, he asks rhetorically, would it have been better for Obama to “fill out the $800 billion with things he didn’t want to do?” The idea seems to be that Obama had to spend that sum. Grunwald is so convinced by the righteousness of the stimulus that he cannot conceive of an alternative.

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