National Review's Reihan Salam considers a scary hypothetical: how will the public respond to a 2016 GOP presidential candidate if nearly a decade of "Doom Is Coming" fiscal warnings turn out to be less than accurate?
[I]magine 2016 in the unlikely but not completely impossible event that a budget surplus does materialize. Republican elevation of the deficit issue will allow the Obama administration and its Democratic allies to declare “mission accomplished,” all without taking the blame for entitlement reform. The House-passed budget that promised a balanced budget within the ten-year budget window by making unrealistically deep cuts in Medicaid and domestic discretionary spending will continue to be hung around the necks of congressional Republicans.
One hopes that one or several of the GOP presidential candidates will devise a more compelling economic message and reform agenda. But this will have to be done in a near-vacuum, as conservative lawmakers have been emphasizing deficit reduction above almost everything else. This is why it is extremely, extremely important that the GOP find 2014 candidates who are committed to advancing the economic interests of middle-income households, and who can address this subject in a compelling, plausible way.
Typically good work from Reihan, and I'd suggest something more. The GOP should be structuring its agenda to meet the needs of middle-income households no matter what the fiscal outlook looks like over the next three years.
Just a publicity stunt, but this new bra in honor of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is quite something:
The latest "Branomics Bra" follows earlier solar-powered, recycled and "husband-hunting" models but, like its predecessors, will not go on sale. The "Branomics Bra" is a playful take on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's "three-arrow" economic revival plan that combines monetary strategy aiming to reach 2 percent inflation in two years and pro-growth reforms. It features a rising trendline and arrows as motifs and promises a 2 percent increase in volume with extra padding.
Bruce Bartlett asks, counter Niall Ferguson: Did being gay make John Maynard Keynes a better economist?
Although Keynes’s theory was most appropriate to the Great Depression, his followers did indeed believe in its general applicability and the Keynesian medicine was overapplied and misapplied during much of the postwar era, leading to stagflation in the 1970s. Conservatives ... were right about that.
But in their rejection of Keynesian economics at a time when it needed to be rejected, conservatives threw the baby out with the bathwater and are now preventing its adoption when it is badly needed.
The criticism that Professor Ferguson implicitly leveled at Keynes of being excessively short-term oriented, therefore, has a grain of truth in it. But the much greater truth is that we are now holding the economy hostage to policies that are proper for the long-term – like stabilizing the debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio – at a time when we face special circumstances that make such policies perverse.
Libertarians, corporatist conservatives, and neoliberals are united in a push for significantly increased immigration.
A word of caution for those on the right side of the political aisle: if you think open borders are great if we just trim back welfare programs such as Social Security, Medicare, etc., you're being played for a fool. The odds of such an outcome are already unlikely, and your push for amnesty will further dimish said prospects.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
The idea makes sense on the front end. Dramatically increasing the churning nature of a society by bringing in a surge of new immigrants will by definition decrease the solidarity required for a strong welfare state. The idea worked in the New Deal era. (Heck, it worked during the formulation of the New Deal).
Published with the permission of Niall Ferguson, this post originally appeared in the Harvard Crimson.
Last week I said something stupid about John Maynard Keynes. Asked to comment on Keynes’ famous observation “In the long run we are all dead,” I suggested that Keynes was perhaps indifferent to the long run because he had no children, and that he had no children because he was gay. This was doubly stupid. First, it is obvious that people who do not have children also care about future generations. Second, I had forgotten that Keynes’ wife Lydia miscarried.
I was duly attacked for my remarks and offered an immediate and unqualified apology. But this did not suffice for some critics, who insisted that I was guilty not just of stupidity but also of homophobia. I have no doubt that at least some students were influenced by these allegations. Nobody would want to study with a bigot. I therefore owe it to students—former and prospective—to make it unambiguously clear that I am no such thing.
To be accused of prejudice is one of the occupational hazards of public life nowadays. There are a remarkable number of people who appear to make a living from pouncing on any utterance that can be construed as evidence of bigotry. Only last year, though not for the first time, I found myself being accused of racism for venturing to criticize President Obama. This came as a surprise to my wife, who was born in Somalia.
As the Washington Post's Jim Tankersley points out, the controversial Heritage Foundation immigration study is really about a society where anything less than a college diploma is no longer sufficient to achieve the American Dream.
David McNew/Getty Images
So why are we chomping at the bit to legalize a huge population of poorly educated unauthorized immigrants?
And why are we so thrilled to set the groundwork for more of the same in the future?
Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, two of the standard bearers of the Tea Party movement, have introduced a series of amendments to the Senate immigration reform bill.
These amendments almost certainly won't become law, but they provide a model for opposing the impressively lax border security and employment verification enforcement provisions of Rubio/Schumer's invitation for future waves of unauthorized immigration.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
As Cruz's Amendment MDM13528 reads, if the Secretary of Homeland Security does not substantially implement border security provisions within three years of the enactment of the ACT, the budget will be rapidly block granted out to border states instead. In other words, we're going to give you a ton of resources to get this done fast, but if you don't get moving, those funds will go elsewhere.
Ignore the awkward metaphors, casual humblebrags (note my emphasis below), and overly positive ending paragraph. This Tom Friedman column is important because it details the conflict point of the 21st century: water.
We flew down on a Yemeni Air Force helicopter with Abdul Rahman al-Eryani, Yemen’s former minister of water and environment, who minces no words. “In Sana, the capital, in the 1980s, you had to drill about 60 meters to find water. Today, you have to drill 850 to 1,000 meters to find water. Yemen has 15 aquifers, and only two today are self-sustaining; all the others are being steadily depleted. And wherever in Yemen you see aquifers depleting, you have the worst conflicts.”
One of the most threatened aquifers in Yemen is the Radaa Basin, he added, “and it is one of the strongholds of Al Qaeda.” In the north, on the border with Saudi Arabia, the Sadah region used to be one of the richest areas for growing grapes, pomegranates and oranges. “But they depleted their aquifer so badly that many farms went dry,” said Eryani, and this created the environment for the pro-Iranian Houthi sect to recruit young, unemployed farm laborers to start a separatist movement.
Democracy? Not so fast, say Pakistan's religious minorities: the 4% who are non-Muslim, and the additional 10-15% who profess the Shi'ite version of Islam.
Intolerance has been on the rise for the past five years under Pakistan’s democratically elected government because of the growing violence of Islamic radicals, who are then courted by political parties, say many in the country’s communities of Shiite Muslims, Christians, Hindus and other minorities.
On Saturday, the country will elect a new parliament, marking the first time one elected government is replaced by another in the history of Pakistan, which over its 66-year existence has repeatedly seen military rule. But minorities are not celebrating. Some of the fiercest Islamic extremists are candidates in the vote, and minorities say even the mainstream political parties pander to radicals to get votes, often campaigning side-by-side with well-known militants.
More than a dozen representatives of Pakistan’s minorities interviewed by The Associated Press expressed fears the vote will only hand more influence to extremists. Since the 2008 elections, under the outgoing government led by the left-leaning Pakistan People’s Party, sectarian attacks have been relentless and minorities have found themselves increasingly targeted by radical Islamic militants. Minorities have little faith the new election will change that.
Don't get too excited (really, don't), but Russia and the United States are seeking to initiate peace talks between Syria's rebels and government forces. Reports the New York Times:
Mr. Kerry, who was visiting Russia seeking to find common ground on the Syria conflict, told reporters at a joint appearance with Mr. Lavrov in Moscow that the aim would be to push the government of President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian opposition to attend.
The announcement appeared to signal a strong desire by both countries to halt what has been a dangerous escalation in the conflict, with evidence of chemical weapons use, a surge in the number of civilians fleeing combat and a refugee crisis that is overwhelming Syria’s neighbors. Israeli aerial attacks this past weekend on suspected munitions sites in Syria heightened and further complicated the tensions in the region.
From the Appalachian Trail back to Congress. Shameful.
If you're buying farmland as a short to medium-term investment, you're probably about to lose a lot of money:
Data compiled by the regional Fed banks have documented the rapid run-up in farmland prices, particularly across the Midwest’s Corn Belt. The Kansas City Fed said irrigated cropland in its district rose 30 percent during 2012, while the Chicago Fed reported a 16 percent increase.
“Investors who are seeking a positive return on their funds have shied away from bond markets,” the council said. Instead, they opted for real estate “as both a hedge against inflation and a means of achieving better than the negative real return associated with fixed-income securities.”