|Common Sense Junction|
→ National Review Online - The Corner | 24 Jul 2014 | 3:18 pm MDT
This morning, Paul Ryan offered up a series of significant reforms to federal anti-poverty programs.
He proposed, for instance, to allow states to consolidate their different forms of federal anti-poverty funding (for food stamps, cash welfare, housing assistance, and more) into a single funding stream attached to a work requirement and the sort of “individual responsibility agreements” required by the 1996 welfare reform. This would let states try different anti-poverty approaches and tailor aid to individual needs. He backed an expansion (paid for with spending cuts) of the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults and some simplification of the way the EITC (the most effective and most pro-work component of the safety net) functions. He proposed some reforms and simplifications of federal aid to higher education and some devolution of federal funds for K-12 education to the states. He endorsed a series of bi-partisan ideas for sentencing reform to reduce incarceration levels and help non-violent offenders re-enter society. He called for rolling back “regressive regulations” that do particular harm to low-income Americans and for easing licensing requirements and other barriers to entry to the workforce. And he proposed more rigorous analysis of the real-world effectiveness of public safety-net programs.
The first proposal, which Ryan termed the “Opportunity Grant,” is the most novel, and would constitute the most significant transformation of the welfare system since the 1996 welfare reform. It would very much follow the model of that earlier reform, applying it to a much larger portion of the safety net. Senator Marco Rubio proposed a reform on similar principles—which was in some respects more ambitious and in some respects less so—earlier this year. Ryan’s other proposals largely involved endorsing and further elaborating ideas that have been gaining prominence in recent years. The EITC expansion is similar to another Rubio proposal (and also to an Obama administration proposal, though that version would be funded by a tax increase); the higher-ed and sentencing reforms both track (as Ryan noted) proposals offered recently by Senator Mike Lee.
But Ryan’s endorsement of such ideas, and his formulation of the opportunity grant proposal, marks an important moment in the emergence of the conservative domestic agenda that has been growing broader and deeper in recent months. As the document laying out Ryan’s proposals today repeatedly notes, these ideas embody a conservative vision of public policy that sees government not as the manager of society but as an enabler of bottom-up, incremental improvements made possible by a continuous learning process on the ground. Persistent poverty is persistent because we do not know how to address it effectively. That means that rather than deliver aid through constrained, prescriptive channels, we should use aid as an incentive to draw more service providers and more ideas into the space between the citizen and the state and see what might work best. Ryan’s opportunity grant proposal is an effort to move from the first model to the second, and the rest of his proposals also seek to play this role in various ways—to give people more resources and authority and greater freedom to find new and more effective ways up from poverty.
The logic of this approach is the same one that informed the Medicare reform proposal that defined Ryan’s tenure as chairman of the House Budget Committee. In that case, he sought to take a grossly inefficient single-payer health entitlement and give it a greater market orientation by turning the government from an insurer into a funder—allowing seniors to choose among private insurance providers and thereby using the enormous Medicaid budget as leverage to make the underlying health system more efficient rather than less so. That reform would enable enormous savings of taxpayer dollars while providing seniors the same guaranteed benefit.
It is also the logic of the broader reform agenda that some conservatives and libertarians have been advancing in recent years, and which has increasingly been taking the form of legislative proposals. Indeed, it is becoming harder all the time to sustain the proposition that congressional Republicans aren’t engaged in the country’s major policy debates. In just the past year, we have seen proposed two major tax reforms, several pro-market Obamacare alternatives, several major safety-net reform proposals, a higher-ed reform proposal, several fundamental federal transportation-funding reforms, and several sentencing-reform proposals, among others. Some Republicans have also begun at last to take on corporate welfare, to rethink financial regulation, and to propose piecemeal immigration reforms that would address key problems discretely rather than in an all-or-nothing package that looks worse than nothing.
Some of these proposals have been offered as bills, some have been more like policy papers, and of course none has gotten anywhere near the president’s desk. But has there been another 12-month period when the minority party in Washington has put forward so many elements of a comprehensive domestic agenda? Having so much out there so long before the next presidential election can give Republicans time to debate the merits of these various ideas, to improve them in response to criticisms from both right and left, and to hone the public case for them, so that potential 2016 presidential candidates might have an arsenal of well-developed policy options to choose from.
The Democrats are not going through a similar process, to put it mildly. It would not be easy to say just what Hillary Clinton, or whoever might emerge as the Democrats’ 2016 nominee, is supposed to run on exactly. Head Start for all and a carbon tax? Some particular elements of some of the proposals Republicans have put forward have appealed to some Democrats too (like the EITC expansion and sentencing reform), but the broad vision of a leaner, more effective government far better suited to the decentralized character of 21st-century life in America has not found its match on the left. And on many core elements of a middle-class policy agenda (like health care, education, energy, and taxes) the Democrats are wedded to an unpopular status-quo and have very little room to move, thanks to their electoral coalition and their reticence to raise the subject of middle-class tax increases.
The Democrats will still have Barack Obama in the White House in the course of the 2016 presidential campaign, and maybe they are confident he will be able to continue to take executive actions that set off needlessly divisive public fights isolating groups liberals detest and scaring Democratic constituencies into imagining they are under assault when in fact they are on the offensive. That strategy has paid some political dividends against a Republican Party with relatively little of its own to say to the public. Will it work against a party articulating a coherent conservative agenda and vision? Here’s hoping the right does what it takes to find out.
→ All Gallup Headlines | 24 Jul 2014 | 3:00 pm MDTAmericans are divided on whether Israel's recent actions against Hamas are justified, but overwhelmingly see Hamas' actions against Israel as unjustified. These results echo what Gallup has found in the past.
→ National Review Online - The Corner | 24 Jul 2014 | 2:41 pm MDT
Apparently only conservatives and others on the right can be obstructionists, according to Roget’s Thesaurus.
A search for synonyms of “obstructionist” on Thesaurus.com, which cites Roget’s, reveals that the source considers several words related to conservative and right-leaning political stances to fit the definition of a “person who is cautious, moderate; an opponent of change.” Under antonyms, it lists left-leaning words.
Included in the list of obstructionist synonyms are “right-winger,” “right,” and “rightist” and ”Tory,” the British conservative party.
Other synonyms listed for obscrutionst are “traditionalist,” “conserver,” “conventionalist,” “unprogressive,” and “redneck.”
In its section for antonyms for obstructionist, “left-winger,” “liberal,” and “progressive” are listed.
This is the second time in recent weeks that a reference book has equated a negative quality with conservatism. Earlier this month, the Daily Caller found that both the Oxford English and Merriam-Webster dictionaries included “right-wing” and “conservatism,” respectively, in their definitions of “bigotry.”
→ National Review Online - The Corner | 24 Jul 2014 | 2:32 pm MDT
The Washington Post reports that the Israeli military has revived a policy of demolishing the family homes of West Bank Palestinians who have committed acts of terrorism. I think this is wrong, even repugnant. Since its target is the entire family of such individuals, it amounts to a kind of proxy punishment. Deterrence — if this is an effective deterrent — is no excuse. Deterrence is a legitimate purpose of punishment, but it must be subordinated to the elementary principle of justice that one should not be punished for a crime one did not commit. (If we instead think of such a reprisal within the context of warfare, it amounts to the targeting of noncombatants.)
I hope I will not be accused of having “sided with the terrorists” and indulged in “moral equivalence” and so on. This is not like choosing which basketball team to cheer for. Of course it is a viler thing to kill innocent civilians than to demolish their homes. But acknowledging Israel’s right to exist, and to defend itself and its people, does not mean one must countenance its every tactic, and indeed part of what troubles me about this tactic is its inconsistency with all that I admire about Israel.
→ National Review Online - The Corner | 24 Jul 2014 | 2:27 pm MDT
Kathryn, I was struck by the definition of “chastity” from the Catholic catechism that you gave: “successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being.” I think lots of people in same-sex relationships would read that and say that their relationships have given them just that.
I realize that, from a Catholic point of view, sexual acts contribute to such integration only if they fulfill the behavioral component of the body’s reproductive function. To this a same-sex couple might reply that they aren’t convinced by the particular brand of teleological metaphysics behind that doctrine. Or they might bring the discussion down to earth and say something like, “Well, it’s more important for me to be with the person I love than to have and raise children with a member of the opposite sex.” I think this is perfectly understandable and should be respected.
The choice that the people in the documentary you describe have made — namely celibacy — should also be respected. As should be the choice of anyone who finds himself or herself attracted to both sexes but pursues relationships only with the opposite sex in order for procreation within such a relationship to be possible.
What you have written — and this documentary — could, I think, be helpful to someone who already accepted Catholic teachings on sexuality. It could help a gay or lesbian Catholic to feel better about abiding by those teachings, and a straight Catholic to be more understanding. But the non-Catholic viewer will probably note that the set of alternatives presented in the film — be unfulfilled in your same-sex relationship, or be fulfilled celibate — omits the possibility of being fulfilled in such a relationship, as many are, and will probably find this omission more than a little tendentious.
I certainly would not presume to say that anyone who — to borrow your language — is “open to” the “Creator Himself” will come to accept the Catholic teaching, or any other particular teaching. I did not take that to be the import of your piece, but I do think there is a constant danger of supposing that one’s own understanding of “truth about who we are and what we were made for” must be everyone’s. (I suppose this is where readers might accuse me of propounding some sort of ethical relativism. This a subtle issue whose adequate discussion we’ll have to leave for another occasion, but my short answer is that, while there are things we can definitely rule out of any plausible conception of the good life, there is not a univocal form of human flourishing. With regard to many things — sexuality among them — I think that a variety of good lives are possible, and that it would be wrong to forbid or even disparage any of them. And I think that any theistic ethics must grapple seriously with the diversity of human nature and of reported human fulfillment. To my mind the Declaration of Independence strikes the right note: It asserts in universal terms that the Creator gives us the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but does not specify the proper content of this pursuit. The Creator might help you in yours, but be careful not to assume He’s also talking to your neighbor.)
Anyway, thanks for your characteristically thought-provoking and charitable article.
→ National Review Online - The Corner | 24 Jul 2014 | 2:25 pm MDT
Per the AP. Russia doesn’t seem particularly alarmed, to say the least, about the West’s reaction to the downing of MH-17.
→ National Review Online - The Corner | 24 Jul 2014 | 2:17 pm MDT
Legislation proposed in the House by Democratic representatives George Miller and Rosa L. DeLauro this week would make the labor market even more rigid than it is already. The proposal would regulate part-time jobs by increasing the price of on-call work and limiting flexibility in part-time scheduling will only hurt those the law is ostensibly trying to help.
Of course, Senator Elizabeth Warren thinks this is a great idea, and she plans to propose her own version of this job-killing bill in the Senate.
Economics 101 tells us that — with a few exceptions — when the price of goods and services increases, because of government regulations or other factors, the demand for them decreases. If politicians make the cost of hiring full-time workers more expensive, firms will hire fewer full-time workers. The same is true when politicians increase the cost of hiring people part-time.
We don’t need to look far to see this theory in action. In an already-strained economic environment, employers worried about their financial future and became reluctant to hire new employees full-time. The implementation of the president’s health-care law compounded the problem, inducing some employers to shift their demand for workers in anticipation of higher labor costs. The law requires employers of more than 50 workers to purchase health insurance for any full-time employee — defined as one working more than 30 hours per week — or face a fine of $2,000 per worker.
The results were just as economics predicts. The law gives some businesses an incentive to cap employees’ hours right below the full-time threshold so that they can avoid the extra costs, and the effect started to become most apparent in the retail and fast-food industries. Employers adjusted to the costs imposed by the new law by lowering their labor costs to a level that is sustainable to their businesses.
The health-care law is instructive in another way: Many current federal policies are themselves causing the problems that this new regulation attempts to solve. Rather than create new problems, Senator Warren et al. should stick to repealing their earlier “solutions.”
→ News | 24 Jul 2014 | 2:09 pm MDTPresident Obama made an impromptu stop at a Los Angeles diner on Thursday to have lunch with four people who have written him letters. But he also had a chance to talk about his hoops game.During the diner drop-by, Obama was asked...
→ National Review Online - The Corner | 24 Jul 2014 | 2:09 pm MDT
Reason has posted an interview with the Kentucky senator. An excerpt:
REASON: Reason recently did a poll of millennials, a national poll. Only 22% called themselves Republicans or leaned that way. Millennials, there’s 80 million of them, they’re the future demographically. They overwhelmingly identify in favor of gay marriage, in favor of pot legalizing, in favor of vaping and online gambling. Can the Republican party shed the social conservative issues which seem very central to its concerns? How is that going to work? Can they win millennials without becoming more libertarian?
PAUL: I think Republicans can only win in general if they become more “live and let live.” Grover Norquist will talk about this sometimes, this “leave me alone” coalition. But in order [for the party to] work—and this is what a lot of people don’t realize this and they say “oh well we want the Republicans to be the pro-choice, pro-gay marriage party—it may not be that but it may be that there are people in the Republican party that have those positions and some who don’t, and that we all get along because we believe in limited government and we acknowledge that the federal government isn’t going to be involved in some of these issues anyways. And I think that “live and live, agree to disagree” kind of amalgamation of people in the party will allow us to be big enough to win. I agree with you a lot on young people but I think also some other libertarian issues like right to privacy, the NSA overzealousness. Young people are concerned about their cell phone, that’s the main thing they do with every hour of every day. I think if we became the party that’s going to protect their privacy, you could get a large switch of Republican vote.
I don’t think Republicans need to make a special point of explaining that you don’t have to be pro-life to be part of the party, as opposed to explaining that you don’t have to be against raising the minimum wage, or against Obamacare, or against raising taxes on high earners. I think these sorts of comments by Paul suggest a degree of defensiveness about the party’s pro-life stance, and a tendency to think of the politics of abortion as similar to the politics of same-sex marriage, that the evidence does not justify.
I do agree, though, that the saying “Live and let live” is a good one to think about when we consider the abortion debate.
→ National Review Online - The Corner | 24 Jul 2014 | 2:01 pm MDT
I’m sorry, Mr. Cooke, but you must not read Salon enough. Here is the always-entertaining Heather Digby Parton going for a twofer, taking on “gun nuts” and conservatives at the same time. She’s quite upset at open-carry activists in Dallas, so she draws on some historical . . . errr . . . parallels. Readers, see if you can spot the problem. Key graphs:
The right-wing hatred for John F. Kennedy was in some ways as extreme as the hatred for Barack Obama and nowhere was it more energized than Dallas in 1963. Three years earlier, right-wingers in the city had signaled their anti-Kennedy zeal by turning on its native son, Lyndon Johnson, after he accepted the nomination for vice president. He and his wife, Lady Bird, were accosted by a shrieking mob of conservative women in front of their hotel armed with signs saying he’d sold out to “Yankee Socialists.” It was downhill from there. Over the next three years the simmer burst into a full boil as various luminaries of the John Birch Society such as millionaire oil man H.L. Hunt and the anti-communist fanatic Gen. Edwin Walker, a zealot so far to the right that he even believed Eisenhower was a communist, fanned the flames of anti-Kennedy hatred.
The morning of Nov. 22, the Dallas Morning News featured a full-page ad “welcoming” the president to Dallas. After a preamble in which they proclaimed their fealty to the Constitution and defiantly asserted their right to be conservative, they demanded to be allowed to “address their grievances.” They posed a long series of “when did you stop beating your wife” questions asking why Kennedy was helping the Communist cause around the world. Here’s an example:
WHY has Gus Hall, head of the U.S. Communist Party praised almost every one of your policies and announced that the party will endorse and support your re-election in 1964?
WHY have you banned the showing at U.S. military bases of the film “Operation Abolition”–the movie by the House Committee on Un-American Activities exposing Communism in America?
WHY have you ordered or permitted your brother Bobby, the Attorney General, to go soft on Communists, fellow-travelers, and ultra-leftists in America, while permitting him to persecute loyal Americans who criticize you, your administration, and your leadership?
WHY has the Foreign Policy of the United States degenerated to the point that the C.I.A. is arranging coups and having staunch Anti-Communists Allies of the U.S. bloodily exterminated.
WHY have you scrapped the Monroe Doctrine in favor of the “Spirit of Moscow”?
MR. KENNEDY, as citizens of the United States of America, we DEMAND answers to these questions, and we want them NOW.
You get the drift. And you probably recognize the tone. The subject may have changed somewhat but the arrogant attitude combined with the aggrieved victimization is a hallmark of right-wing politics even today.
You know what’s coming next:
As we all know, later that day the president was gunned down in Dealey Plaza. The entire world was shocked and traumatized by that event and the course of history was changed.
Lee Harvey “Osvaldovich” Oswald, right-wing loon.
→ National Review Online - The Corner | 24 Jul 2014 | 1:57 pm MDT
At least it’s not a wind farm.
The Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium is a “death trap” for migrating birds, according to the Minnesota Audubon Society. The team’s new home, which is currently under construction, will feature approximately 200,000 square feet of glass.
Expected to be completed by 2016, the stadium will be located in downtown Minneapolis near the Mississippi River, a major corridor for migration.
But the team and the Minnesota Sports Facilities said it will not spend an additional $1.1 million to install bird-safe glass; the state currently has guidelines for including this type of glass, but they were adopted after plans for the stadium got underway, according to the Star Tribune. This announcement did not sit well with the conservationist organization.
“We’re talking about a billion-dollar stadium here, and the cost to save perhaps thousands of migratory birds — and make the Vikings a global leader in green stadium design — is about one-tenth of one percent of that,” said the Audubon Society’s executive director. “Hundreds of millions of dollars of public money is going to build this stadium, and we know the people of Minnesota do not want their money killing birds.”
The team will work with the organization and others to help protect birds, including by increased lighting at the stadium.
No word if the stadium’s design will help the Vikings when they play the Cardinals, Eagles, Falcons, Ravens, or Seahawks.
‘Hamas Knows that It Works to Its Advantage, Politically and Diplomatically, as the Civilian Death Toll Mounts’
→ National Review Online - The Corner | 24 Jul 2014 | 1:52 pm MDT
That’s an expert quoted in the New York Times this morning in an article on Hamas and civilian casualties. You know it’s bad if even the Times is taking note of the terror group’s Leninist attitude toward civilian casualties.
→ FrontPage Magazine | 24 Jul 2014 | 12:56 pm MDTHillary is picking up the huge piles of money now.
→ FrontPage Magazine | 24 Jul 2014 | 12:40 pm MDTFood Not Bombs believes that the principal causes of global poverty and hunger are militarism and capitalism—particularly as practiced by the United States.
→ News | 24 Jul 2014 | 11:18 am MDTRep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) on Thursday equated Russian President Vladimir Putin’s involvement in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 to President Obama’s responsibility for the immigration crisis at the southern U.S. border. Franks made...
→ News | 24 Jul 2014 | 11:07 am MDTSen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday said the Obama administration is “throwing Israel overboard” and Secretary of State John Kerry is “bailing Hamas out.” On Fox News’s “Happening Now,” Graham argued Kerry should not be pushing for a cease...
→ FrontPage Magazine | 24 Jul 2014 | 11:03 am MDTThe fatwa applies to females between the ages of 11 and 46.
→ FrontPage Magazine | 24 Jul 2014 | 10:28 am MDT"What specific communications occurred between the FAA and the White House?"
→ FrontPage Magazine | 24 Jul 2014 | 10:20 am MDTThis could have been the worst terror attack in the history of terrorism.
→ FrontPage Magazine | 24 Jul 2014 | 8:40 am MDTThe left has a problem when "some people" make too much money, but not when they do.
→ FrontPage Magazine | 24 Jul 2014 | 8:29 am MDTEgypt, like most of the world, is just slapping Obama around for fun.
→ All Gallup Headlines | 24 Jul 2014 | 8:00 am MDTOne in five U.S. microbusiness owners report taking no vacation days in the past year, with another 21% saying they took a week or less. Half of those who took no vacation days say they don't expect to take any in the next 12 months either.
→ News | 24 Jul 2014 | 7:21 am MDTPresident Obama has dispatched a team to Texas to review whether deploying National Guard troops could help the crisis at the border, White House officials told Reuters on Wednesday. The team consists of officials from the departments of...
→ News | 24 Jul 2014 | 6:58 am MDTbrightcove.createExperiences(); Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) took a tougher line on illegal immigration Thursday, writing in an op-ed that federal law should be changed so...
→ FrontPage Magazine | 24 Jul 2014 | 6:52 am MDT"A missile launch site is basically next door.”
→ News | 24 Jul 2014 | 6:25 am MDTA federal judge on Wednesday ruled that Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, according to Reuters. U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore issued his opinion, but stayed the ruling until Aug. 25, so the case could be reviewed by a...
→ News | 24 Jul 2014 | 6:13 am MDTSen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) on Wednesday said his post-traumatic stress disorder might have contributed to him unintentionally plagiarizing his master’s thesis.“I don't want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a...
→ News | 24 Jul 2014 | 5:46 am MDTHillary Clinton easily tops the 2016 presidential field in the battleground state of Florida in a new poll, while in-state Sen. Marco Rubio is narrowing the GOP gap, as support wanes for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.Just over two-thirds of...
→ News | 24 Jul 2014 | 5:13 am MDTThe Federal Aviation Administration announced late Wednesday that it has lifted its ban on United States flights to and from Israel.“Before making this decision, the FAA worked with its U.S. government counterparts to assess the security...
→ All Gallup Headlines | 24 Jul 2014 | 2:00 am MDTAmericans continue to oppose lowering the drinking age to 18 in all states, with 25% in favor and 74% opposed. Political liberals and those with a postgraduate education are less likely to oppose a lower drinking age.
→ FrontPage Magazine | 23 Jul 2014 | 10:58 pm MDTHuman Rights Watch plays into leftist fantasies of predatory law enforcement.
→ FrontPage Magazine | 23 Jul 2014 | 10:56 pm MDTFor the Left, maintaining the chaos is preferable to the solution.
→ News | 23 Jul 2014 | 9:53 pm MDTFormer New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg assailed CNN’s Wolf Blitzer for his tone of questioning during an interview Wednesday, which Bloomberg said was “insulting to America.” “I think the State Department is just overreacting in typical...
→ All Gallup Headlines | 23 Jul 2014 | 2:15 pm MDTBeer leads wine as the drink of choice among Americans who consume alcohol, by as big a margin as Gallup has seen in six years. The percentage of Americans who report consuming any alcohol is now 64%, similar to recent levels.
→ All Gallup Headlines | 23 Jul 2014 | 2:00 am MDTMost Americans are using cost-saving measures to purchase items this summer. A majority have recently bought generic goods and gone online to find the best deal, while fewer have gone shopping for fun or made major purchases.
→ All Gallup Headlines | 22 Jul 2014 | 1:30 pm MDTFew Americans say companies should be allowed to refuse to hire smokers (14%) or those who are significantly overweight (12%). Americans are more willing to say that smokers and those who are overweight should pay more for health insurance.
→ All Gallup Headlines | 22 Jul 2014 | 6:30 am MDTGallup's U.S. Economic Confidence Index has made up the losses from the prior week, and now stands at -15. Americans' views of current and future economic conditions have ticked upward after several weeks with no improvement.
→ All Gallup Headlines | 21 Jul 2014 | 11:45 am MDTPresident Barack Obama averaged 43.2% job approval during his 22nd quarter in office, from April 20 through July 19. That is a slight increase from his 42.4% 21st-quarter average, but among his lowest as president.
→ All Gallup Headlines | 21 Jul 2014 | 2:00 am MDTFour in five Americans (81%) say the country would be governed better if more people with business and management experience were elected. Meanwhile, 63% say the country would be better governed with more female political leaders.
→ All Gallup Headlines | 19 Jul 2014 | 2:00 am MDTRead about the favorability and familiarity of potential 2016 presidential candidates, the outlook for finding a quality job, how exercise impacts opinions of personal appearance, and more in this week's review.