Muslim Ban 2.0 — First Time Tragedy; Second Time Tragic Farce

I’ll leave it to the more knowledgeable among us to dissect (looking at you, Adam…). But the greatest hits are about what I’d expected.  Iraq’s off the list as we owe too much to too many there.  The other six countries from the original order remain, though the specific restrictions are a little different than in Fear The Furriner version one.  Here’s The Washington Post‘s take:

President Trump signed a new travel ban Monday that administration officials said they hope will end legal challenges over the matter by imposing a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas for citizens of six majority-Muslim nations, authorities said.

In addition, the nation’s refu­gee program will be suspended for 120 days, and it will not accept more than 50,000 refugees in a year, down from the 110,000 cap set by the Obama administration.

 

The goal is obviously to deliver some red meat to the Trump base while sliding past inconvenient judicial reality tests. Trumpistas are already suggesting that the administration should not have to justify the order in court, despite evidence that there is no net national security gain from a Muslim ban:

A Department of Homeland Security report assessing the terrorist threat posed by people from the seven countries covered by President Trump’s original travel ban had cast doubt on the necessity of the executive order, concluding that citizenship was an “unreliable” threat indicator and that people from the affected countries have rarely been implicated in U.S.-based terrorism.

The Department of Homeland Security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, criticized the report as being incomplete and not vetted with other agencies, and he also asserted the administration should not be pressed by the judiciary to unveil sensitive national security details to justify the ban.

“This is not something that the Department of Justice should have to represent to a federal-district court judge,” the official said.

We shall see.

Over to y’all.

Image: Benjamin West, The Ambassador from Tunis with His Attendants as He Appeared in England in 1781, 1781



Interest rates, good policy and good politics

Brad Delong raises an interesting point on short term interest rates set by the Federal Reserve:

I see nothing in the data to suggest that 2% will be reached if the Federal Reserve does not reverse its tightening cycle as ill-judged.

That is all.

Jared Bernstein: Inflation?! We ain’t got no stinkin’ inflation!: “The core PCE deflator rose at an annual rate of only 1.2 percent in 2016Q4…

The betting market is slightly favoring an interest rate hike soon. The Republican Party economists or at least their donor class have been arguing for significantly higher interest rates and harder money. The data so far does not support a need for higher interest rates as there still is no inflation to worry about.

So what should Democrats and liberals do or not do? All else being equal, higher short term rates means a slower economy as investment gets to be slightly more expensive, housing gets slightly more expensive and debt carrying costs increases which means discretionary spending decreases for a given income and debt level. The impact of higher interest rates has a long lag of at least a year or more.

Midterm elections are effectively a vote on the incumbent party. A better economy, all else being equal, means a better vote margin for the incumbent President’s party. It is in the best interest of the Democratic Party to have a shitty economy in 2018. So should Democratic wonks rally against premature interest rate hikes or say it is a dumb idea and then let it be?



Tuesday Evening Open Thread: “What Are the Republicans Afraid Of?”

Excellent question, Madame Pelosi!

She says the Democrats will be “per our traditional standards, courteous” tonight… but she’s wearing suffragette white and purple, and so will many of the other female Democratic legislators.

Out of curiosity, how many of you are gonna hate-watch the President-Asterisk’s speech this evening?



218 in the House

This is interesting. The Republican strategy right now seems to be a game of chicken run against their own members.

The idea is that there are not 24 House members who fear a general election more than their primary or 3 Senators who have either principles or a legitimate fear of a general election to vote against the leadership. They would try to rush through a reconciliation bill that takes out most of the funding of the ACA, the individual mandate, the employer mandate and perhaps add some type of age adjusted subsidies to replace income related subsidies. The idea is that this bill can pass with 50 Republican Senators and the Vice President voting for it in the Senate.

There is a problem:

Now via CNN:

Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, told CNN on Monday that he will vote against a draft of the GOP Obamacare repeal bill that was leaked last week….
Meadows said what is unacceptable to him are the refundable tax credits included in the draft of the bill. Those tax credits, the North Carolina congressman said, are nothing short of an “entitlement program.”

The House Freedom Caucus thinks that the 2009 individual market and Medicaid levels are too generous and too nice. A bill without any age adjusted subsidies of any sort is guaranteed to death spiral the individual market instead of only possibly death spiral the market. The House Freedom Caucus is also sufficiently large to deny a majority to the bill. The challenge is that anything that makes the bill more tenable to the House Freedom Caucus makes it much harder for the twenty three Republicans who are in districts that Hillary Clinton won last year and the dozen or so that are in competitive districts to hide the fact that they are killing the individual market.

Getting to 218 could be much harder than I thought as I always placed my hope on assembling a 51 vote blocking coalition in the Senate.

The following map is where rates for a 40 year old non-smoker would be for the cheapest Bronze plan on the market if there is age adjusted subsidies only. These are plans with $7,000 out of pocket limits. The red zones are very expensive plans for very high deductibles and are the points of local constituent pain that can be used to hammer representatives to look out for their own districts.

Let’s tell local stories with good data of the pain that the House Freedom Caucus wants to inflict on us.



Monday Evening Open Thread: Quick Notes


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Apart from that, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Tom Perez is off to a quick start, good for him…

One more thing to blame Lord Smallgloves (and his fussy little hand tics) for:



Open Thread: Liberals, Never Satisfied!


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The GOP motto: If you can’t eat it, fight it, or market it, what good could it possible be?
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Open Thread: Theme of the Day

Speaking of winsome beasts that hunger after garbage, apparently Scott ‘Cosmo Centerfold’ Brown has given up on finding a state from where he might dogwhistle his way back into the Senate…

The Boston Globe reports:

Brown, who was previously considered for the veterans affairs Cabinet post, has told associates that he believes he will get the nod for Wellington, one of the people familiar with the discussions told the Globe.

The White House declined to comment Friday, and Brown did not respond to several requests for comment…

After losing the 2012 Massachusetts Senate race to Democrat Elizabeth Warren, Brown moved to New Hampshire and unsuccessfully challenged Democratic US Senator Jeanne Shaheen two years later.

During the presidential primary, Brown threw “no-BS backyard barbecues” for GOP contenders, fashioning for himself a role as something of a power broker. He hosted Trump at a Financial District fund-raiser in June, after Trump had all but secured the nomination.

Brown endorsed Trump at a pivotal juncture in the 2016 GOP presidential primaries, after Trump had lost the Iowa caucuses to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and just before the New Hampshire primary…

In a 2015 interview with GQ about his passion for cycling, Brown said, “I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand or Scotland or Wales and just ride 100 miles, hit a pub, drink, eat, sleep, do some exploring, and then get up, ride another 100 miles, do that for a couple weeks.”

Hard cheese, New Zealanders, but us Massholes would be just as glad to wave ‘Scoff’ and his bicycle off to your side of the globe. If he gets on your nerves, tell him it’s considered a feat of strength to wrestle rams into submission. Or that Maori find it hilarious when white people make fun of the haka, just like Native Americans enjoy ‘Pocahontas’ jokes.