Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to David Greenwalt, 64.

Some good stuff:

1. Joshua Huder with the case that it's internal Congressional incentives, rules, and procedures that produce the extreme polarization we're seeing. I have no argument with that; however, I'll note that the presidency, too, has become far more partisan than it has been. Regulars know what I think: strong parties, including strong party networks, are a significant factors in all of this.

2. I don't think that Ross Douthat's argument about the radicals and policy really holds up...but it's worth taking seriously.

3. Medicare Advantage is doing just fine? That's what Kate Pickert reports.

4. More from Ray La Raja on campaign finance.

5. And Dan Drezner on a potential Marx comeback in political economy. I can't really speak to that, I guess; I think of Marx as an important political theorist, but weak on economics.


  1. Regarding Drezner and Marx, I always thought that Marx's critique of capitalism was largely undone by the New Deal, which showed that capitalism was, or at least could be, flexible and responsive in ways that Marx never predicted. After all, we went for half a century without an "inevitable" financial crisis. Then Reagan came along and declared that government was the problem, not the solution, and ever since then the world has been looking more and more like the one Marx described. That said, I should think it capable of showing its flexibility again, maybe after the next crash.

    1. Leave it to Republicans to prove Marx right.

  2. In a link at the bottom of his piece, Douthat characterized the branch of the Republican party protecting the rich and big business interests as "committed to a reckless, pointless budget brinkmanship". In a Howard Beale moment this morning, I realized separately that Douthat's conclusion not only couldn't be more incorrect, but it also is at the heart of understanding what's going on.

    Remember the sequester? That was the sop for the last round of budget brinksmanship. The sequester was designed to be an all-purpose poison pill, but we remember what happened when air travelers (i.e. the "rich and big business interests") were inconvenienced.

    Says here that a similar sop will be put in place this weekend, designed to be all-around painful, until the rich and big business interests are harmed, and their pain will be taken away. Also a short-term CR, which will force us to endure this all again at Christmas.

    What, then, is the cumulative effect of these sops as quarterly concessions to keep the government running? Well, the "rich and big business interests" can't exactly come out and say they want to cut social programs to nothing because the poor are ne-er-do-wells and they hate them.

    The current strategy, I think, must be the next best thing.


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