The Last Thing We Need Is More Moderates

Academics are given to bemoaning partisan polarization. But the mushy centrism being pushed by the No Labels crowd frequently just amounts to special-interest whoring. Bipartisanship usually means the people get screwed, and the lobbyists win. Latest case in point: the morally corrupt Farm Bill. Congress is claiming it has reformed the program and cut it … Continue reading The Last Thing We Need Is More Moderates

U.S. Infrastructure and Subsidy Spending: Not What You Might Expect

In my last two posts, I showed that the U.S. has a large social welfare state by cross-national standards, maybe even the second-largest in the OECD. However, the U.S. welfare state is much less redistributive from rich to poor than most other welfare states. In this post, I tackle spending on infrastructure ("gross fixed capital … Continue reading U.S. Infrastructure and Subsidy Spending: Not What You Might Expect

Bootleggers, Baptists and Cash for Clunkers

Ah, yes, a bit of nostalgia from the "summer of recovery": the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), also known as Cash for Clunkers. It seemed quite promising to many in the halcyon days of 2009.  Citizens could trade in their old gas guzzlers (which were subsequently destroyed) for a rebate that could be applied to … Continue reading Bootleggers, Baptists and Cash for Clunkers

Toward the Next Financial Crisis?

In 2010, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act “to promote the financial stability of the United States by improving accountability and transparency in the financial system, to end ‘too big to fail’, to protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts, to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices, and for … Continue reading Toward the Next Financial Crisis?

Obama and Homeownership

President Obama visited Phoenix yesterday to give a speech on homeownership. The promotion of homeownership has been on the agendas of the past several presidents (e.g., George W. Bush and the “ownership society) and much of President Obama’s speech could have been written by HUD secretaries Jack Kemp or Henry Cisneros. While there is little … Continue reading Obama and Homeownership

Reform in the Age of Austerity: The Farm Bill

The new farm bill is making its way through the Senate and to the House. As it currently stands, it will cost some $950 billion over the next ten years. To be fair, much of that is for food stamps (or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). As you may know, rural legislators used the original … Continue reading Reform in the Age of Austerity: The Farm Bill

In the News: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Let’s start with the good: the Obama administration is considering removing all US troops from Afghanistan at the end of 2014 (rather than leaving a force of 6,000-15,000 behind).  As coverage in WaPo notes, this option “defies the Pentagon’s view that thousands of troops may be needed to contain al-Qaida and to strengthen Afghan forces.” … Continue reading In the News: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly